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Temple University on Apr. 2, 2021. Credit: Avi Singh

Former dean of Temple University's Fox School of Business Moshe Porat saw his first day on trial for falsifying admissions data to improve the business school’s national rankings last week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

Porat and two other Temple employees, Statistics professor Isaac Gottlieb and former administrator Marjorie O’Neill, were indicted for inflating data on the business school’s online MBA program to improve its ranking in U.S. News and World Report, NBC Philadelphia reported. The falsified data led to the business school’s online MBA program being ranked No. 1 for four consecutive years, according to NBC Philadelphia.

The indictment claims that Gottlieb reverse-engineered the data required by the ranking system to benefit Temple, and O’Neill submitted the manipulated data. This included falsified GPAs and how many incoming students took tests, as well as falsified information regarding how much graduates owned in loans.

The Inquirer reported that the trial will likely last about three weeks and is thought to be the first in which a university administrator faces criminal prosecution for falsifying college ranking submissions. Over 40 witnesses, including current and former Temple employees, may be called to testify in the trial.

According to Poets&Quants, Temple increased enrollment in its online MBA program by 57% following its No. 1 ranking in the U.S. News and World Report.

Ibrahim Fetahi, a graduate of Temple’s online MBA program, testified at the beginning of the trial that he chose to attend Temple based on its high national rankings. When he learned of the misconduct, he felt disappointed and angry because he believed his MBA degree was devalued as a result of the scandal.

“In my mind, I paid for fine dining, and I got McDonald’s,” Fetahi told the Inquirer. “I will always have a scar on my résumé.”

In 2018, U.S. News and World Report claimed Temple's online MBA data was false and booted the school from its rankings, according to NBC Philadelphia. Temple then settled a class-action suit brought by MBA students and graduates affected by the ranking, awarding $250,000 in scholarships to students enrolling in the programs in coming years. Temple was also required to pay the United States Department of Education a settlement of $700,000 for the fraud. 

The indictment against Porat also alleges that the school manipulated data for its part-time MBA program, which led the business school to climb from No. 53 to No. 7 in the rankings, NBC Philadelphia reported.

In 2020, Temple’s online MBA program returned to the rankings at No. 88. This year, it is tied for No. 100 with 11 other online business programs.