Temple business dean forced out over falsified MBA data used in rankings

After 22 years, M. Moshe Porat is out as Temple’s business school dean, following an investigation into wrong data given to U.S. News and World Report.

The longtime dean of Temple University’s business school was asked to resign Monday after a study commissioned by the university blamed him for falsified data about the school’s online M.B.A. program, resulting in inflated national rankings.

Moshe Porat’s removal from his leadership position comes less than a year after U.S. News and World Report dropped Temple’s fast-growing program from its online M.B.A. rankings for misrepresenting data. Before the misrepresentations were discovered, the Fox School of Business’ program had topped the national list for four straight years.

Porat, 71, once rumored to be a possible contender for university president, had led the business school — which touts an enrollment of more than 9,000 students and has more than 200 full-time faculty — for 22 years.

He also led Temple’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and has left that position as well, the university said.

Temple president Richard M. Englert, in an email to the university community Monday, said he and provost JoAnne A. Epps asked Porat to resign.

Porat declined to resign, Kevin Feeley, a university spokesperson, said. But, Feeley said, Porat no longer oversees the business school.

Porat, Englert said, initiated the disbanding of a longstanding committee in place to ensure the accuracy of rankings data, and the “absence of checks and balances, together with an undue focus on rankings, enabled such misreporting.”

Under Porat’s leadership, Englert wrote, “the Fox School … knowingly provided false information to at least one rankings organization about the online M.B.A. In addition to the misreporting of the number of students who took the GMAT from 2015 to 2018, the average undergraduate GPA was overstated, and there were inaccuracies in the number of offers of admission as well as in the degree of student indebtedness.”

The inaccuracies made it appear that the school was more selective than it was and that its students had lower debt, the report found.

Porat did not return a call for comment.

Other employees were implicated in the Jones Day law firm’s investigation and report, but were not named. Englert declined to name who submitted the false data or say whether that employee still worked for Temple.

Temple’s error concerning the reporting of standardized test scores by applicants came to light earlier this year. U.S. News penalizes online M.B.A. programs if fewer than three-quarters of entrants submit a GMAT or GRE score — considered a staple for graduate business education — because the lack of data makes it unlikely the scores are representative of the class. Temple said all 255 of the program’s latest incoming class submitted GMAT scores to get into the program.

The school later acknowledged that only 50 students, or 19.6 percent, submitted GMAT scores.

In the previous three years, the school also claimed that 100 percent of students submitted the scores.

After the misrepresentations became public, a Temple M.B.A. student sued the university, alleging that he and others were defrauded. That suit is pending.

A Fox School employee discovered the error and the school self-reported it to U.S. News, said Epps. The university commissioned the law firm to investigate. The firm also found that the business school provided false information to U.S. News about other programs, but did not elaborate.

Fox, the report said, employed a “rankings-focused strategy,” which contributed to inaccurate reporting of data.

“Moreover, the dean’s focus on rankings, coupled with his personal management style, caused Fox personnel who interacted with the dean on ranking-related matters to feel pressure to perform in this regard,” the report said.

Some Fox personnel, the report found, raised concerns about questionable data before submission, but changes were not made.

Englert acknowledged Porat’s role in the business school’s success, but said, “A line was crossed and it must be addressed.”

“What happened at the Fox School cannot happen again,” he said.

The online M.B.A. has been a major money-maker for the business school. More than 300 students are enrolled in the program, which charges about $60,000 a student and has grown considerably in recent years.

The online M.B.A. was launched in fall 2009 under Darin Kapanjie, who came to Temple in 2003 as a faculty member in statistics. Temple said Kapanjie is still employed but declined to comment further.

Porat has worked at Temple for about four decades and has led the business school since 1996. He received his undergraduate degree in economics and statistics and his M.B.A. from Tel Aviv University, and got his doctorate at Temple.

The university also plans to look into whether false data were reported for other surveys and to establish practices to prevent problems, the school said.

An interim dean will be named within a month and a national search launched for a replacement, the school said.