What to Know
- Former Fox School of Business Dean Moshe Porat is suing the university for $25 million.
- He claims the school defamed him and made him a "scapegoat" following a rankings scandal.
- An investigation found that the Fox School of Business for years submitted false data to inflate the rankings of its online MBA program.
A former Temple University dean is suing the school for $25 million, months after his ouster for his alleged role in falsifying information to inflate the college business school's rankings.
Moshe Porat, the former dean of the Fox School of Business, also names current Temple President Richard Englert in his suit, which claims the university defamed him by implicating him in the yearslong rankings scandal.
"The administration at Temple took away the job I loved, damaged my health, and destroyed my reputation and the legacy of my life's work I spent decades building," Porat said.
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Porat was asked to resign following an investigation commissioned by the college into allegations that the Fox School of Business provided incorrect data to U.S. News & World Report in order to inflate the rankings of its online MBA program. These rankings are often used by students when weighing which university to attend.
"You made decisions to attend our university based in part on ranking data you thought to be accurate, data that should have been accurate," Porat said, addressing students. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about the impact these failings have had on you. I can only imagine how you have felt knowing you made critical life decisions based in part on erroneous data the university provided."
For years, the university's online MBA program was ranked No. 1. Today, following the scandal, the program is unranked.
In a statement, the school pushed back against Porat's lawsuit, citing the need for "integrity" and the findings by the Jones Day law firm in defending its decision to seeks Porat's resignation.
"For these reasons, the university stands by its decision. We absolutely deny that Temple's actions were in any way improper or unjustified, and we look forward to rigorously defending our actions in court," the university said.
The rankings scandal blew open in January of last year, when Temple publicly announced that the Fox School of Business had provided false information to U.S. News & World Report.
The university commissioned the Jones Day firm to investigate, and the firm found that the school of business had provided false ranking metrics dating back to at least 2014.
The findings released by the university concluded that Porat and others at the business school "had in place a concerted, rankings-focused strategy including detailed analyses of U.S. News's rankings methodology and strategies tied to specific U.S. News data metrics" and that "the environment fostered by the school's emphasis on rankings contributed to the reporting of inaccurate information to U.S. News."
The investigation also said Porat's "focus on rankings, coupled with his personal management style," pressured business school personnel to falsify data.
However, the university did not release the full findings of the report, instead cherry-picking information that absolved it from responsibility while falsely casting Porat as the main culprit of the scandal, said Tom Clare, an attorney representing the former dean.
In fact, when Fox School of Business employees came to him in January 2018 and told him ranking data was potentially inaccurate, Porat himself was the one to contact U.S. News and Temple officials to notify them of the problem, the former dean said.
He maintains that he always tried to ensure employees provided accurate ranking data and that the university smeared him and made him a "scapegoat" by purposely hiding information from the public in order to create a "false narrative" and absolve itself from its own responsibility in the rankings scandal.
The school also played a large role in the scandal by not providing accurate oversight of ranking data, Porat said.
Since 2014, proposed ranking data from individual schools in the university was required to be submitted to - and audited by - Temple's Institutional Research and Assessment office, but the IRA's role in verifying the data was purposely omitted by the university in order to make itself look blameless, Porat said.
Porat left his post in July of 2018. He also said the university violated his employment contract and is preparing a separate lawsuit in that case.