The former dean of Temple's Fox School of Business is being charged with federal crimes after being ousted due to an investigation that found the school "manipulated data" to become the number one ranked MBA program in the country.
Former dean Moshe Porat was indicted on one count each of conspiracy and wire fraud, according to NBC Philadelphia. His lawyer "vigorously" denied the charges.
Isaac Gottlieb, a statistics professor, and Marjorie O'Neill, who submitted data to magazines that rank college programs, were also named in the indictment, according to the report.
Temple's online MBA had been ranked top in the nation by U.S. News and World Report since 2015. The university stayed at the top of the list for 3 years after that and used its ranking to attract students and win donations.
Porat allegedly hand picked a small group of employees to focus on the rankings, including stat professor Gottleib, who was also to reverse engineer the magazine's ranking criteria. Porat appointed O'Neill as the sole liaison between the university and the magazine.
The indictment "claims Fox manipulated data in its part-time MBA program, conflating its data with other programs to drive better rankings," NBC reported.
U.S. News called out Temple's online MBA data and stripped the school of its ranking. Temple was then forced to pay the U.S. Department of Education $700,000 and later settled a class action suit by offering $250,000 in scholarships.
Temple called Porat the "mastermind" of the fraud and asked him to resign.
Attorney Carolyn P. Short wrote in court papers: “He conceived it, controlled it and kept it hidden, only to try later to cover it up. M. Moshe Porat bears personal responsibility for the Fox School’s intentional submission of false ranking data.”
Porat says he is being used as a scapegoat by Temple. His lawyer commented: “We are disappointed that, after cooperating with the government in its investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office decided to bring these charges, which Dr. Porat vigorously denies."
"Dr. Porat dedicated forty years of his life to serving Temple University, first as a faculty member, and ultimately as Dean of the Fox Business School, and he did so with distinction. He looks forward to defending himself against these charges and to clearing his name," the statement continued.
The kicker? Porat is still a tenured professor at the university and is making $316,000 per year. He hasn't taught a class or published research since 2018.