Moshe Porat, Former Dean of Temple Fox School of Business, Convicted of Academic Ranking Fraud – NBC10 Philadelphia
What there is to know
- Moshe Porat, 74, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Was convicted of deceiving school applicants, students and donors into believing the school offered premier business education programs order, so that they pay the tuition and donate to Temple.
- Porat was initially charged with one count of conspiracy and wire fraud in April.
- Two other Temple trustees were named in the indictment: Isaac Gottlieb, professor of statistics, and Marjorie O’Neill, who submitted data to magazines that rank college programs.
The former dean of the Fox School of Business in Temple, who was ousted after investigations revealed the school manipulated data to become the nation’s number one online MBA program, has been convicted of fraud Monday.
Moshe Porat, 74, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Was convicted of deceiving school applicants, students and donors into believing the school offered premier business education programs order, so that they pay the tuition and donate to Temple.
Porat was initially charged with one count of conspiracy and wire fraud in April.
Two other Temple trustees were named in the indictment: Isaac Gottlieb, professor of statistics, and Marjorie O’Neill, who submitted data to magazines that rank college programs.
Temple’s Online MBA was ranked the country’s best program by US News and World Report as of 2015, the first time online MBA programs were ranked by the magazine. And it remained number one for another three years – a lucrative rank used to attract potential students and earn donations to the Fox School of Business.
Fox kept 87% of the income generated by its online MBA program, according to the indictment.
But that number one rank was built on falsified data, several surveys have since found.
Porat, Gottlieb and O’Neill falsified the numbers of students who got standardized test scores to enter, falsified the GPAs of incoming students, made the college appear to be more selective than it is was and have reduced the amount of loans to its graduates, according to the accusation.
These results were similar to those of other Fox surveys.
The indictment also stated that Fox manipulated data in its part-time MBA program, amalgamating its data with other programs to achieve higher rankings. This program had gone from No.53 on the US news list in 2014 to No.7 in 2017, the indictment says.
In 2018, US News called Fox’s online MBA data fake and removed the school from its rankings. In the process, Temple had to pay $ 700,000 to the US Department of Education. The school also settled a class action lawsuit brought by the affected students and offered $ 250,000 in scholarships to students enrolling in these programs in the years to come.
Temple also asked Porat, who was then dean of the Fox School, to resign. In subsequent court documents, Temple called Porat the “mastermind” of filing fraud, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
After learning – from O’Neill – that US News did not audit data reported by schools, Porat selected a small group of employees to focus on rankings.
The group included statistics professor Gottleib, who reverse engineered the magazine’s criteria, according to the indictment. Porat also named O’Neill as the only person to submit data to the magazine, telling administrators he didn’t want a large group of people to have access to the data.
“He designed it, controlled it and kept it hidden, then tried to cover it up,” lawyer Carolyn P. Short wrote in court documents cited by the Inquirer. “Mr. Moshe Porat bears personal responsibility for the Fox School’s intentional submission of false ranking data.
Porat said he was Temple’s scapegoat and sued the school for libel. This prosecution was suspended due to the indictment.
Porat faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $ 500,000.
“Today, a jury reaffirmed that wire fraud is a federal crime even when perpetrated in the higher education system in the United States,” said United States prosecutor Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Moshe Porat distorted information about Fox’s application and acceptance process, and therefore about the student body itself, in order to defraud the ranking system, potential students and donors. This case was certainly unusual, but at its core it is just a case of fraud and underlying greed. We respect the verdict of the jury and thank its members for their service.