Temple University dean is on trial for ‘submitting false numbers to climb in university rankings’

Ibrahim Fetahi testified against Temple University’s former dean of business Moshe Porat on Wednesday

A former Temple University MBA student has hit out at the school’s crooked former dean for inflating its rankings and saddling him with $120,000 of debt as well as a qualification that’s now worthless.   

Ibrahim Fetahi lashed out after it was discovered that Moshe Porat, the former dean who ran Temple’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia for more than two decades, sent false data to US News & World Report’s online MBA program rankings to bolster the school’s 30th place score. 

‘In my mind, I paid for fine dining, but I got McDonald’s. Yes, I got food, but I didn’t get the quality I paid for, or the service,’ Fetahi told the jury on Wednesday.  

Porat, 74, was let go from Temple in 2018 when the university discovered he had been misreporting student surveys and grades in the online business program since 2015, according to the school. Temple’s Philly school did not have enough students to be ranked, so Porat combined its figures with others from the college’s Japan offshoot, despite ranking rules explicitly banning universities from doing so. 

Temple’s online program had enjoyed prestige after it ranked ninth in 2015 and then stayed in first place from 2016 to 2018. 

It now ranks at 100th place after being previously unlisted in 2018 when the scandal first broke out. 

Moshe Porat, pictured in 2019, is on trial for allegedly submitting false numbers to get a better ranking for Temple University's online business program

Moshe Porat, pictured in 2019, is on trial for allegedly submitting false numbers to get a better ranking for Temple University’s online business program

He served as the dean of the University's Fox School of Business for more than 20 years

He served as the dean of the University’s Fox School of Business for more than 20 years

Temple University's online MBA program now ranks at 100

Temple University’s online MBA program now ranks at 100

Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania district court claim Porat masterminded the ranking inflation in order to defraud the school’s applicants, students and donors. 

He faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.  

‘This is a case about cheating … for money, power and prestige,’ assistant U.S. attorney Nancy Potts said.  

Fetahi, who was one of seven students to file a federal lawsuit against the school, said he was attracted to the school for its prestige and hoped it would help him further his career, Poets and Quants reported. 

‘To me, it was important to go to a university with a good brand and good ranking. Being in the corporate realm, I wanted to be able to compete in the marketplace’ of open jobs at top firms, he said. 

Porat faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if he's found guilty

Porat faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if he’s found guilty

He joined the online program in 2015 and borrowed $120,000 to pay for tuition. He also spent money on fees and other expenses tied to the program. 

When he graduated in 2018, the scandal broke out, and Fetahi told the jury he was angry and shocked. 

‘I just spent three years of my life studying hard, travelling … spending all this money, and I didn’t know what this meant for me because I was graduating from a program that was unranked,’ he said. 

‘I will always have that scar on my resume. As soon as you Google Temple a ranking scandal pops up.’

He added that he had received more than $7,000 in two payments from his lawsuit against Temple. 

Porat’s defense has argued that the former dean did not knowing commit any fraud and that it was not against the law to inflate numbers for a contest. 

Meanwhile, on the same day of evidence, Temple’s Administrator Christine Kiely recalled what she claimed was a threat by Porat not to provide accurate ranking information.

‘He looked at me and said, ‘If this is the way you feel, then maybe this isn’t the right place for you, Kiely said during the opening day of testimony in the conspiracy and fraud trial of the ousted dean, which was reported by the Philly Inquirer.

She added: ‘I took that as a threat.’

Defense attorney Richard Zack said that fault would fall on Fox School of Business staffer Margorie O’Neill, who allegedly worked with Porat on submitting the altered numbers. 

O’Neill had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charged in May and is expected to testify against Porat during the trial.  

Zack added that Porat was simply going with the culture of the university at the time, which demanded higher rankings ‘at all costs.’

‘It’s not a crime to be a difficult boss … or even to want high rankings,’ Zack said. 

Porat is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. 

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