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Fox School of Business at Temple University. Photo: Temple University
Fox School of Business at Temple University. Photo: Temple University

Former Temple Business School Dean is found guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud

He, along with two other former staff members, submitted false data to increase the school’s national ranking.

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Moshe Porat, the former dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of all charges against him. He’s facing a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine. 

Porat and his co-conspirators, Isaac Gottlieb and Marjorie O'Neill, began to falsify data in 2014. They fudged acceptance rates and made it look like all of their online students were taking the GMATs. In reality, only about 20% took the exam. The data was then given to U.S. News & World Reports. 

The high number of GMATs is actually what tipped off the MBA publication, Poets & Quants. They published an article that was skeptical towards Fox’s data, which led to the truth being exposed.  

With the help of the false data, Fox’s professional MBA went from ranking 53rd to 7th in 2014, and its online MBA went from 28th to 9th. The online MBA climbed to 1st the next year. They now rank 41st and 100th, respectively. 

During the trial, the prosecution had members of Fox’s administration (former and current), former students, and investigators testify. This includes the retired senior vice dean of Fox, Diana Breslin-Knudsen. She testified that at the dean’s meeting on Jan. 9, 2018, senior members of the administration learned about the article and the fake data. This meeting happened right before a champagne toast that celebrated the ranking.  

Porat tried to claim that the meeting had been split in two, one half before the toast and one after. According to him, he was made aware of the data in the second half. Every witness that was at the meeting testified that it hadn’t been split. Later testimony also revealed that Fox administrators continued to use the number one ranking on donors as late as Jan. 22, 2018. Temple was taken off of the list on the 24th. 

This is not the only legal action to come out of this scandal. In 2018, a group of Fox students filed a class action lawsuit against Temple. This was settled in December of the same year for $5 million. Porat also sued Temple for defamation after he was fired and a statement was put out blaming him for the falsified information. This suit was put on hold after he was indicted. 

How Fox benefited from the ranking

In addition to increasing their student population, these false rankings helped Fox increase their presence on campus through construction.

Their expansion project was first announced in late 2017, with a goal of being done by fall 2018. The plans included turning the space in 1810 Liacouras Walk into classrooms and building a sky bridge to connect this location to Fox’s main location across the walkway. 

The project cost $49 million and was partially funded by donors. The project was still under construction when the story first broke, but has since been completed. 

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