A former dean of the Temple University business school was convicted on Monday of using fraudulent data between 2014 and 2018 to improve the school’s national ranking and boost revenues, federal prosecutors said.
Former Dean Moshe Porat, 74, was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in a scheme to boost the Fox School of Business’s ranking. University of Philadelphia, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. said Monday in a statement. The school’s online MBA program was ranked the best in the country by US News & World Report in the years it tampered with the data.
Prosecutors said Mr Porat conspired with Isaac Gottlieb, then a business professor, and Marjorie O’Neill, then the school’s finance and accounting officer, to submit inflated metrics to the publication on enrollment , test scores and student work experience.
No date has been set for Mr Porat’s sentencing, said Jennifer Crandall, spokesperson for the US attorney’s office. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $ 500,000, prosecutors said in April.
Mr Gottlieb pleaded guilty in June and Ms O’Neill in May to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mr Gottlieb is expected to be sentenced in March and Ms O’Neill in December, Ms Crandall said. They each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $ 500,000, prosecutors said in a statement in April.
A lawyer for Mr Porat did not respond to emails and phone calls on Monday. It was not clear which lawyers represented Mr. Gottlieb and Ms. O’Neill.
“This case was certainly unusual, but at its core it is just a case of fraud and underlying greed,” Jennifer Arbittier Williams, the US lawyer for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said Monday. She said Mr Porat distorted information to “defraud the grading system, potential students and donors”.
Between 2014 and 2018, due to the fraudulent data, the business school’s online and part-time MBA programs saw a sharp rise in US News & World Report rankings, prosecutors said. Colleges and universities often vie for a high position in the publication’s annual college rankings, which are closely followed, so they can attract talented students and raise funds.
Temple’s part-time MBA program fell from 53rd place in the country in 2014 to seventh place in 2017, prosecutors said. He is now ranked 41st. The online MBA program was ranked among the best in the country between 2015 and 2018, but it is now ranked 100 out of over 300.
Prosecutors said Mr Porat “bragged about these rankings” in the business school’s marketing materials.
“Enrollment in Fox’s OMBA and PMBA programs has increased dramatically over the past few years, resulting in an increase in tuition income of several million dollars per year,” prosecutors said in a statement Monday.
In a statement in April, Terry Harris, a special agent in charge of the education ministry’s inspector general’s office, said Porat abused his position of trust to defraud students.
“We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who defraud students or rig the system for their selfish ends,” she said.
Mr Porat, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Was the dean of the business school between 1996 and 2018, until he was fired for tampering with the data, prosecutors said. The school reported to US News & World Report in 2018 that it had distorted the data. Temple hired law firm Jones Day to review the business school’s data reporting process, and the firm found the school had misreported data as early as 2014, according to the university’s website .
Temple paid about $ 17 million in settlements to former students, the US Department of Education and the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, a university spokesperson said Monday.
In a statement released on Monday, a spokesperson for the university said: “This is an unfortunate time for our students and alumni.”
“The evidence presented at the trial speaks for itself, but is not representative of Temple,” he said.
Temple University isn’t the only institution that has been caught manipulating the college ranking system – in particular, the much-watched US News & World Report rankings – by twisting the meaning of the rules, selecting data. or simply by lying.
In 2011, Iona College in New Rochelle, upstate New York, admitted that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, retention of freshmen, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni donations.
Claremont McKenna College, a small and prestigious California school, admitted in 2012 that it had submitted false SAT scores for years to publications like US News & World Report.