Temple University's Fox School of Business has been ensnared in public controversy since a report published this spring alleged the school had been knowingly submitting inaccurate data to U.S. News and World Report in order to pad the school's rankings.
The Inquirer first reported of the probe in March, two months after U.S. News dropped the Fox School from its rankings — a particularly shocking move, as Temple's online MBA program had held the number one spot for four years straight.
An employee who discovered the falsifications self- reported them U.S. News, and Temple then launched an internal investigation. In the past week, the school has come under unwelcome publicity even more intensely, with the ouster of the business school's dean and questions about his legacy, more scrutiny from U.S. News, a lawsuit and an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office. If you're looking to catch up on the drama surrounding Fox, here's a recap of the wild week for the business school.
The revealing report
After the Fox School's online MBA program was dropped from the prestigious rankings due to the problematic data, international law firm Jones Day conducted an investigation and found in its report that the business school had padded the data it reported from a number of categories. Here's a breakdown of the erroneous data that's prompted problems for Temple:
GPAs: The Jones Day report found that Temple used various methods to inflate the reported average GPA for the online MBA program, including rounding up to the next tenth of a point (for example, a 3.22 GPA became a 3.30). This was done with both graduate and undergraduate GPAs.
Offers of Online MBA admission: The school underreported the number of admissions offers it extended. This made the program appear more selective than it actually was.
Student debt: Schools are asked to only include students that actually have debt when compiling average debt reports. Jones Day found Fox also included students without debt, "resulting in a lower average debt figure." It is unclear whether this error was intentional.
Gradute Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores: U.S. News asks graduate schools to provide the GMAT or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores of admitted students. Jones Day said a Fox School employee converted GRE scores to GMAT scores, and falsely reported all individuals admitted had submitted GMATs and none submitted GREs.
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Faculty ratios: Schools submitting data to U.S. News are asked to provide ratios of full-time faculty to technical-support staff. Fox "likely underreported" the number of faculty members, resulting in an inflated ratio of technical-support staff to faculty, according to Jones Day.
The falsified data has also prompted questions about whether universities are going too far in their quest for top spots on rankings lists.
Following the report's release, Moshe Porat was removed July 9 from his job as dean of the Fox School of Business, a position he had held for 22 years.
Temple University president Richard M. Englert and provost JoAnne A. Epp "asked Porat to resign," the Inquirer reported, but Porat declined.
Porat, 71, remains a tenured professor.
His removal stunned the university community, with supporters questioning whether the powerful dean was pushed out too quickly. During his tenure, Porat raised tens of millions of dollars for the school by leading a massive fund-raising campaign.
Rising scrutiny: Data certification, lawsuit, AG probe, audit
Since the allegations have been made public, Temple has faced both external and internal scrutiny. Here are some of the ways Temple's practices are being looked in the aftermath of the false data:
Other data being examined: U.S. News has asked the university to certify its data for its other ranked schools, "including its graduate programs in education, engineering, law, medicine, and nursing, and its undergraduate program," the Inquirer reported.
Other institutions watching closely: Among other collegiate institutions monitoring the situation are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an international association of business schools and accrediting body, and The Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Legal matters: A lawsuit against the university involving about 30 Temple students — though only nine are named — has been filed as well. James Brown, a lawyer representing the students, said more have reached out to him as details emerge.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has announced its Bureau of Consumer Protection would begin its own investigation into the incident to find out if any laws were broken.
University also probing further: Temple itself is hiring an external auditor for at least three years to review Fox School data submissions and "spot check" submissions from other Temple programs.
The university said it would also institute a variety of new practices, including updated employee training.