Pennsylvania's auditor general announced Thursday that he would begin an audit of Temple University, probing in part the accuracy of the academic statistics it presents to the public, in the aftermath of the Fox School of Business rankings scandal.
Eugene DePasquale said his interest in academic statistics was prompted by the university's disclosure this summer that its business school had supplied false data to a magazine for its rankings.
"You're making significant decisions based on those statistics," DePasquale said at Temple's main campus. "So if the university isn't putting out an accurate description, you're not giving students and families the necessary information to make the right choice."
Several other agencies have launched probes, including the U.S. Department of Education and the Attorney General's Office.
The audit, DePasquale said, also will look at the university's tuition hikes and capital improvements, including its controversial plan to build an on-campus football stadium. But the look at the stadium proposal, he said, will be limited to making sure no state dollars would be spent on it.
Ken Kaiser, Temple's chief financial officer, who stood with DePasquale during the news conference, said no tax dollars would be used.
The audit also will look at the effectiveness of Temple's sexual harassment policies and background checks for employees — which also were areas of focus at other universities audited by DePasquale.
He declined to give a timeline for the audit and acknowledged that enforcement of his findings is limited to applying public pressure to the school to make changes or seeking legislative assistance to require them.
"My remedy is the bully pulpit to drive change," DePasquale said.
DePasquale said that after he conducted an audit of West Chester University, the school added a seminar on sexual harassment prevention. He also said the University of Pittsburgh closed the loop on background checks for camp counselors after an audit there.
In 2017, DePasquale audited Pennsylvania State University and found missing background checks. The audit also knocked Penn State for tuition increases.
Rising tuition costs will be an area of focus in the Temple audit, too, he said. Temple raised tuition 2 percent for in-state students, despite calls from some legislators to hold the line in light of a state funding boost. Temple undergraduates who live in Pennsylvania will pay $16,080 this year, up $312 from 2017-18.
"This audit will examine, among other things, Temple's efforts to control costs where possible and hold the line on tuition increases," he said.
Kaiser said the university would cooperate with the auditor general and make information on its academic statistics and other areas of interest available.
Earlier this summer, Temple announced that its business school in some cases knowingly provided false data to U.S. News and World Report for its Online M.B.A. rankings. Temple's Online M.B.A. was ranked No. 1 for four consecutive years. A university-commissioned study found the false reporting occurred over a number of years and was not limited to the Online M.B.A. The school ousted its business school dean and instituted new practices to ensure that misreporting does not happen again.