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Temple University on Apr. 2, 2021.

Credit: Avi Singh

Moshe Porat, former dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, was convicted of committing fraud to raise Temple’s business programs in national rankings.

Porat served as Temple dean for over 20 years until he was fired for misrepresenting the school in ranking submissions in 2018. On Nov. 29, he was found guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud by embellishing several data points, including GPAs, the number of students who took graduate admissions exams, and average debt accrued after enrolling in the school, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Porat's conviction is the first in which a university administrator faced criminal prosecution for falsifying college ranking submissions, according to the Inquirer. A date for Porat's sentencing has not been determined yet, according to the United States attorney's office, The New York Times reported.

The fraudulent data led Temple’s online MBA program to achieve a No. 1 ranking on U.S. News and World Report's list of best online MBA programs from 2015 to 2018. The school’s part-time MBA program also rose from No. 53 in the country to No. 7 in 2017.

Temple's business school more than doubled its enrollment in the program between 2014 and 2017 due to its increase in the rankings. The Inquirer reported that the school collected millions of dollars in tuition from students and donors, and Porat was even considered as a replacement for Temple President Richard Englert, who retired last year.

Porat still holds a position as a tenured Temple professor, earning approximately $316,000 annually for this role despite no longer holding his deanship, Inside Higher Ed reported.

In 2018, Temple settled a class-action suit brought by MBA students and graduates due to the scandal. As per the settlement, Temple was to award $250,000 in scholarships to students enrolling in the programs in future years. Temple was also required to pay the U.S. Department of Education $700,000 for fraud.

The online program ranked No. 100 in 2021 and its part-time MBA program ranked No. 41.