Moshe Porat, 74, was the dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management from 1996 to 2018. His federal trial started November 10, and jurors returned the responsible verdicts on Monday.

According to an April 2021 indictment, Porat conspired with Isaac Gottlieb, a statistics professor at Fox, and Marjorie O’Neill, supervisor of finance at Fox, to give false info to US News about Fox’s on-line MBA (OMBA) and part-time MBA (PMBA) packages. In explicit, they falsely acknowledged what number of college students took the GMAT, their common work expertise and the share of college students who have been enrolled half time, the indictment states.

Gottlieb and O’Neill have each pleaded responsible to conspiracy and haven’t but been sentenced, in accordance to courtroom data.

“Today, a jury reaffirmed that wire fraud is a federal crime even when perpetrated within the system of higher education in the United States,” US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement Monday. “Moshe Porat misrepresented information about Fox’s application and acceptance process, and therefore about the student-body itself, in order to defraud the rankings system, potential students, and donors.

“This case was definitely uncommon, however at its basis it’s only a case of fraud and underlying greed,” she added.

Cheat. Bribe. Lie. Here's how the college admissions scam allegedly worked

Attorneys for Porat didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The trial comes only a couple years after prosecutors arrested dozens of parents, college coaches and administrators in the sprawling college admissions scam often called “Operation Varsity Blues.”

In addition, the case highlights the enduring power of the US News and World Report college rankings, which attempt to turn the complex experience of higher education into hard and fast rankings. Over the years, these rankings have taken on a major role in how people decide where to apply, and the schools themselves have adjusted accordingly.

The Best Colleges rankings have long been criticized by higher education experts. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University, has called them a “racket” and said schools feel pressure to game the rankings.

“Just as athletes use steroids and playing occurs at Rick’s, schools and universities succumb to their very own set of pressures, together with the need to be on prime within the rankings,” he wrote in a 2012 opinion piece for NCS.

In 2019, for instance, the US News & World Report stated the University of Oklahoma gave “inflated” data on its alumni giving charges for 20 years, boosting its placement in a number of of their rankings. The college stated it found the “misreporting of donations” in 2018 and provided the updated information to US News immediately afterward.

How the scheme worked

The scheme devised by Porat, Gottlieb and O’Neill was, for a time, remarkably successful.

Using the juiced numbers, US News ranked Fox’s OMBA program as the best in the country from 2015 to 2018, and Fox’s PMBA program rose in the US News rankings from 53rd in 2014 up to 7th in 2017. Porat used these rankings in the school’s marketing materials, and enrollment in the programs increased significantly, the indictment states.

And then it all came crashing down. On January 8, 2018, the website Poets & Quants published an article about the MBA rankings that noted suspiciously that Fox claimed all of its OMBA students had taken the GMAT. Fox administrators and officials saw the article and, in a meeting with Porat and others, became concerned because they knew that data was inaccurate, the indictment states.
University of Oklahoma gave false data to U.S. News college rankings for 20 years

Despite that assembly, Porat gave a champagne toast touting the college’s newest No. 1 ranking, and some hours later despatched out a advertising e-mail boasting of the most recent prime ranking, the indictment states.

Two weeks later, US News announced it would remove Fox Business School from its OMBA rankings due to the data difficulty. Temple hired the outside law firm Jones Day to examine the incident, and Porat, Gottlieb and O’Neill gave “false or deceptive” statements to the investigators, the indictment states.
The Jones Day overview discovered that Fox had misreported data for its OMBA program since no less than 2014, generally deliberately, and had related misreporting in a quantity of different graduate packages. In 2019, Temple and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General agreed to a settlement creating $250,000 in new scholarships for college students.
On its web site, Temple University has arrange a dedicated FAQ section explaining the scandal and how the school has responded. University spokesman Stephen Orbanek also issued a statement on the guilty verdict.

“We respect the justice system and the jury’s resolution on this matter. The proof introduced on the trial speaks for itself however just isn’t consultant of Temple or the overwhelming majority of the hundreds of academic professionals serving our college students,” Orbanek said. “This is an sad second for our college students and alumni, however our focus stays on delivering the absolute best outcomes for our college students.”