Interim dean named at Temple's business school

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Ronald C. Anderson, a professor and chair of the finance department at Temple’s Fox business school, has been appointed interim dean of Fox.

The chair of the Temple University business school’s department of finance will take over as interim dean in the wake of the rankings scandal, the school announced Monday.

Ronald C. Anderson, 59, has been a professor and finance department chair at Temple’s Fox school since 2012. His appointment, which also includes leading Temple’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management, is expected to last two years.

A national search for a replacement will be conducted during the 2019-20 school year, university leaders announced.

Anderson replaces Moshe Porat, who was forced out  this month after the university released findings of an investigation that showed the school knowingly submitted false rankings data about its online M.B.A. program to U.S. News and World Report. Porat had led the school since 1996.

“Ron has led significant growth in the department of finance, which is one of the most popular majors at Temple,” Temple president Richard M. Englert said in a statement. “He is an accomplished researcher and a well-regarded teacher who takes great pride in his students’ success. His professional experiences, both in industry and academia, are well suited for this critical leadership role.”

Fox, which is celebrating its centennial this year, enrolls more than 9,000 students and employs more than 225 full-time faculty across nine departments.

Temple self-reported its data errors to U.S. News, which earlier this year stripped the school of the No. 1 ranking for its online M.B.A. program. A law firm hired by the university to investigate found that over multiple years, Fox reported inaccurate data concerning the number of entrants who provided GMAT scores, the mean undergraduate GPA of entrants, the offers of admission, and student debt. The firm asserted that the inaccurate data was not limited to the online M.B.A. program, but did not specify the other areas where problems were found.

Since then, Temple has moved to put new practices in place to ensure such missteps don’t recur. Last week, the school requested that it be removed from another list of school rankings — this one by Best Value Schools — saying it neither sought nor provided the information to be included in its rankings.

“We respectfully request that we not be included in this ranking in any form,” Debbie Campbell, Fox senior vice dean, wrote to Best Value Schools.

Meanwhile, the state Attorney General’s Office has launched a probe into Fox’s inaccurate data reporting. One accrediting agency is investigating, another is monitoring. Some students are suing, claiming the reputation of their degree has been harmed. And internally, some professors are questioning how the school became so focused on rankings, while others have complained that the former dean hasn’t been treated fairly.

Temple’s faculty union last week also weighed in in an email to members.

“This scandal has damaged the trust that students in and outside of Fox as well as the general public place in our university,” said the Temple Association of University Professionals and its president, Steve Newman.

The union also took aim at Temple’s focus on rankings.

“This scandal is in part the result of an unhealthy fixation on rankings that warps the priorities of our university as a whole,” Newman wrote. “We understand that rankings matter in recruiting students, but their effect on fiscal and pedagogical decisions at Temple is entirely too strong.”

Both faculty and the administration should work harder to make sure shared governance is respected, with faculty playing a significant role in the decision-making. And despite the good that Porat did while serving as dean, “he bears responsibility for the practices of the school he oversaw,” Newman wrote.

Porat remains a tenured member of the faculty.

The new dean, Anderson, previously worked at American University and is an expert in internal control systems, corporate governance, and executive compensation, Temple said. Before his academic career, he held positions at Schlumberger Ltd., a Paris- and Houston-based oil field services company.

A native of Franklin in Western Pennsylvania, Anderson got both his bachelor’s degree in engineering and M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctorate in finance from Texas A&M University.

Jonathan Scott, a longtime Fox finance professor and deputy chair of the finance department under Anderson, called Anderson “a person of integrity” who is “transparent” and  “has a passion for what he believes in.”

Faculty have been dismayed about the scandal, he said.

“We were just hoping we could get through the process of identifying an interim dean and get on with righting the ship,” he said. “Ron is the right person to get us back on track.”