Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 9, 2022

As Temple Dean Begins Serving 14-Month Sentence For U.S. News Rankings Fraud, Tenured Professor Is Defiant At Sentencing Hearing: 'Every Single University Has People Doing The Same Exact Operations'

Following up on my previous post, Former Temple Dean Sentenced To 14 Months In Federal Prison For Rankings Fraud:  

Temple University (2018)Poets & Quants, Moshe Porat, Denied Bail, Will Begin Prison Sentence On May 9:

Philadlphia Inquirer, Ex-Temple Employees Sentenced to Probation for Fraud Tied to Business School Rankings:

A former administrator and a retired statistics professor at Temple University were sentenced to probation this week for assisting the former dean of its business school in a scheme to inflate its position in national rankings publications.

But standing before a federal judge in Philadelphia, Marjorie O’Neill, a onetime finance manager at the Fox School of Business, and Isaac Gottlieb, who was a tenured professor, struck vastly different tones when it came to accepting responsibility for a scandal that has since cost the university millions in legal settlements.

O’Neill admitted last year that she, under the direction of former dean Moshe Porat, had falsified data on students at the school to help propel it to the top of influential lists like U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of top business school programs. She told U.S. District Judge Gerald A Pappert during a hearing Thursday that she was “thoroughly ashamed.” ...

Meanwhile, Gottlieb — who helped Fox cheat more effectively by reverse engineering the criteria by which U.S. News ranked schools — showed flashes of defiance at his sentencing hearing Wednesday. “Every single university in the United States has people doing the same exact operations,” he said. ...

“It is important for other institutions to realize that this chase for rankings is not worth it,” the judge said Thursday. “There are lines you can’t cross. It’s important for people to see there are going to be criminal consequences and penalties for doing that.” ...

O’Neill, 69, who agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of her former boss, fared far better. She received one year of probation and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. Gottlieb, 73, was ordered to serve six months of house arrest, three years’ probation and pay a $100,000 penalty.

Pappert distinguished their cases by noting that O’Neill risked losing her job if she defied Porat’s demands. Gottlieb, as a tenured professor, had job protection that should have made it easier to push back.

Lists like U.S. News and World Reports’ are the subject of fierce competition among universities as top spots can attract nationwide interest from potential students and millions in tuition dollars. And since Porat’s trial last year, at least three other schools including Rutgers University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. ...

[Porat], O’Neill, and Gottlieb began routinely misreporting everything from the selectivity of admissions to Fox’s online and part-time MBA programs, the GPAs of incoming students, the number who had taken graduate entrance exams and the average amount of debt they incurred after enrollment.

Their lies rocketed Fox’s online MBA program up the list from No. 28 in 2013 to No. 1 within two years — a position it would hold for the next four. And the distinction helped double enrollment for both the online and part-time MBA programs, generating millions in tuition payments.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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