Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Anatomy Of Temple Business School Rankings Fraud

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Poets & Quants, Anatomy Of A Business School Rankings Fraud:

Temple University (2018)The beginning of the end occurred at an early morning dean’s meeting on Jan. 9 of 2018. At the tense session, several administrators at Temple University’s Fox School of Business read aloud a Poets&Quants article that cast doubt on the school’s number one ranking for its online MBA program in U.S. News.

Every person gathered for the meeting expressed concern that Fox’s No. 1 ranking had been based on an inaccurate submission of data to U.S. NewsPoets&Quants skepticism led everyone in the group to fear that the school’s years-long efforts to game the ranking by routinely submitting false data would soon explode into a crisis.

Everyone, that is, except Dean M. Moshe Porat. Ambitious and strong-willed, Porat seemed undisturbed by his colleagues’ concern. He had been dean of the school for nearly 22 years, ruling over it with iron-clad control as if it were his personal fiefdom. In truth, Porat was as much a presence at the university as anyone, the second-longest-tenured dean in Fox School’s history. Including his days as a doctoral student at Temple in the late 1970s, the insurance professor and dean had been at Temple University for parts of five decades.

After the meeting, in fact, he was scheduled to give a champagne toast at a reception to announce the No. 1 ranking, the fourth consecutive time Fox’s online MBA had won top honors from U.S. News. But Fox deans and administrators urged him not to mention the ranking since it appeared to be based in part on false and inaccurate data.

Porat abruptly dismissed their worries. He would do his toast, anyway, and also instruct his marketing staff to send out an email to donors trumpeting the news of the school’s No. 1 ranking. Early the next morning, however, he would ask one of the school’s statistics professors to calculate where the school’s rank would have been if the school had not intentionally misled U.S. News about the number of new students enrolled in the online MBA without a standardized test score, a key component of the rankings’ methodology.

Among other things, Fox told U.S. News that 100% of its newest 255 students had handed over a GMAT score for admission when only 42 actually did. Alarmed by the misrepresentation, several Fox staffers urged Porat to contact U.S. News and correct the data. Porat would have none of it. “It’s not like U.S. News is a federal agency,” he told a Fox employee. “I just wish you would all stop being so ridiculous.”

Isaac Gottlieb, the statistics professor contacted by Porat, agreed. In an email to Porat, he wrote that the school would have been ranked sixth, instead of first, if it reported its standardized test data correctly. “In my humble opinion,” Gottlieb advised Porat in an email, “we should not reach out to U.S. News. They have not done anything in the past when they were notified about school collaboration. Furthermore, if they change our rankings they will create the impression that they read the Poets&Quants article.”

Porat conveyed his response in a simple one-word reply. “Agree,” he wrote in an email.

These new details, alleged in a criminal indictment filed today (April 16th) in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, for the first time disclose the origins of an elaborate fraud meant to increase the school’s U.S. News rankings over many years. The deceit would ultimately cost him his $600,000-a-year job as dean, destroy the careers of a professor and another subordinate, lead to years of investigations, lawsuits, fines and headlines that would tatter the business school’s and the university’s reputation, and cost Temple a minimum of $17 million in “remediation costs.” It may now land Porat and two of his associates in jail. ...

Despite the mounting evidence against him, Porat seems determined to fight the charges until the end. His lawyer issued a statement Friday. “We are disappointed that, after cooperating with the government in its investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office decided to bring these charges, which Dr. Porat vigorously denies,” wrote Porat’s attorney Michael A. Schwartz.

“Dr. Porat dedicated forty years of his life to serving Temple University, first as a faculty member, and ultimately as Dean of the Fox Business School, and he did so with distinction. He looks forward to defending himself against these charges and to clearing his name.”

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal)  Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

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