Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday settled with Temple University regarding years of false reporting by its Fox Business School to publications, including U.S. News and World Report, in order to get a No. 1 ranking for its online MBA program.
The settlement includes $250,000 in new scholarships for Fox students.
The false reporting, “done intentionally and knowingly to boost the school’s rankings, elevated Fox Business School as the nation’s top online MBA program for several consecutive years," Shapiro said in a statement. "The school used this ranking to attract prospective student applicants.”
“This behavior misled students, alumni, employers and the public about the quality and value of these Temple programs. Temple University has accepted responsibility for its role in this conduct and has been proactive and cooperative in addressing it.” he added.
"Temple University has agreed to terms that will ensure students and their families are making informed choices moving forward. It’s critical that students and alumni alike have confidence in the value of their degree or certification from Temple University or any other institution.”
Temple cooperated with the investigation. The phony numbers incorrectly earned Fox a No. 1 online ranking nationally by U.S. News for several years running.
As part of the settlement, Temple will fund $250,000 in scholarships for Fox Business School students over the next decade, at $25,000 a year. The scholarships will begin in 2020.
Temple has also agreed to institute various policies, procedures, and training, including:
Reform its data aggregation, collection, inspection, verification, and submission practices. Temple must standardize the rankings data procedures for each school, college, and degree or certification program within the university and may not submit any data unless it has been processed in full accordance with those procedures.
Provide consumers with accurate information about Fox’s rankings history. If any prospective applicant or enrolled student requests any information about the rankings status and/or history of the affected Fox programs, Temple must provide an information sheet in the form of an FAQ detailing Temple’s misconduct and the measures taken to correct it.
Maintain proper oversight and training of its employees. Temple is required to implement mandatory annual training in data integrity and ethical standards for all Fox Business School employees involved in the aggregation, collection, inspection, verification, and submission of data to rankings organizations. The university must also maintain an anonymous hotline for reporting suspected falsification of student data.
Perform annual compliance assessments. Temple must perform annual assessments to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement, and these assessments must be submitted to the state within 30 days of their completion.
The compliance agreement will be filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.
In 2018, Temple ousted its popular, high-profile business school dean, Moshe Porat, after the rankings scandal.
In May, Porat filed a lawsuit against the university and its president, Richard Englert, and held a news conference to address what he said were false accusations — that he personally ordered and directed the manipulation of Fox’s rankings data.
Temple stood by its decision to remove Porat, which was bolstered by the findings of a university-commissioned investigation by an independent law firm.
“The university’s decision to remove former dean Porat was based on the comprehensive findings of the independent review conducted by the Jones Day law firm, a summary of which remains publicly available,” Temple said at the time.
On Thursday, Englert, the university president, issued a statement saying that “Temple is pleased to reach a resolution of this matter, which follows a comprehensive and ongoing effort by the university to create a set of internal controls to ensure that Temple’s data is collected and reported transparently and accurately."
Temple first discovered the reporting issues at the Fox School in early 2018, launched an investigation, and implemented robust improvements in its data gathering, reviewing and reporting systems, Englert said.