Federal prosecutors have found a former dean of Temple University’s business school guilty of faking data to boost his school’s position in national rankings.
Moshe Porat, 74, used fraudulent data between 2014 to 2018 to boost the rankings of the university’s Fox School of Business. During the years that Porat falsified data, the school’s online MBA program was ranked best in the country by US News & World Report.
Porat conspired with then-professor Isaac Gottlieb and accounting manager Marjorie O’Neill to submit false information to the publication. The former dean used these rankings in Fox’s marketing materials to attract more students and donors.
Porat has been convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“Moshe Porat misrepresented information about Fox’s application and acceptance process, and therefore about the student-body itself, in order to defraud the rankings system, potential students, and donors. This case was certainly unusual, but at its foundation it is just a case of fraud and underlying greed,” US Attorney Jennifer Williams stated.
Gottlieb and O’Neill have pleaded guilty, and each faces a sentence of five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Thousands of aspiring college students consult US News & World Report and accept its rankings as authoritative. In recent years, several schools have provided inflated metrics to secure top spots in the publication’s survey.
In 2012, California-based Claremont McKenna College admitted submitting false SAT scores for years to publications including US News & World Report to grab the spotlight in college rankings.
Institutions such as Baylor and Iona College in New Rochelle, New York also admitted to faking not just test scores but also graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, and alumni donations.
Porat’s arrest has affected Temple’s rankings, and the school’s online MBA has since fallen to 100th place.
University President Will J. Jordan said while he wasn’t entirely surprised by Monday’s verdict, he wishes there were “more checks and balances in place” to prevent the incident from becoming a federal case.