Former Temple Business Dean Convicted of Fraud

Moshe Porat is an older white man with grey hair and wiry glasses. He is wearing a black suit, white shirt and striped tie smiling to the camera.
Moshe Porat | Courtesy of Temple University Fox School of Business

Former Temple University Fox School of Business Dean Moshe Porat was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for using false data to boost the school’s national ranking.

Bala Cynwyd resident Porat, 74, conspired with statistics professor Isaac Gottlieb and Fox employee Marjorie O’Neill, submitting false data to the U.S. News and World Report on the school’s online MBA and part-time MBA programs, according to the Nov. 29 conviction. They inflated the number of students who had taken the Graduate Management Admission Test, the work experience of the PMBA students and the number of students enrolled part-time.

During the trial which began on Nov. 10, Gottlieb and O’Neill both plead guilty to conspiracy charges separate from Porat’s charges. The jury reached its decision after less than an hour of deliberation.

All three Fox employees lost their jobs in 2018, following the discovery of the misrepresentations. Porat had served as the business school’s dean since 1996 and worked at Temple University for more than two decades before becoming dean.

From 2015 to 2018, U.S. News and World Report ranked Fox’s OMBA program No. 1 in the U.S. The PMBA program peaked at a No. 7 ranking in 2017. The OMBA program now rests at No. 100. These rankings are desirable markers for prospective students.

“We live in a time where a lot of applicants and parents of applicants — for higher education — look to the rankings to help them make a determination of where to go to school,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubnoff said. 

To Dubnoff’s knowledge, this case is the first time a university administrator was criminally prosecuted for ranking fraud.

“It’s a traditional fraud case in the sense that you have somebody who made misrepresentations in order to get money,” Dubnoff said. “In some senses, it’s a non-traditional case, because we’re not aware of other cases that were brought up in the context of higher education in the rankings.”

This case has the potential to deter other university administrators from committing similar crimes, Dubnoff said, which is important due to the steep tuition students pay to attend master’s programs.

“These are incredibly expensive investments that people make,” he said. “It’s important to protect people from people who would defraud them.”

Media outlet Poets & Quants reported a 57% increase in enrollment in Fox’s OMBA program during the program’s inflated ranking period. 

OMBA student Ibrahim Fetahi testified in federal court that Fox’s high rank compelled him to apply for the OMBA program.

“I paid for fine dining, and I got McDonald’s,” Fetahi said.

Following the report of the falsifications in 2018, former Fox OMBA students filed a class-action lawsuit against the school, claiming their degrees had been devalued. Temple University paid $5 million in settlements for that lawsuit, in addition to $17 million in additional settlements and $700,000 to the federal Department of Education.

“This was not a victimless crime,” U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said during the April indictment announcement. “The victims are students, graduates and donors to the Fox School as well as other universities and their students who were cheated out of their legitimate rankings.”

Temple University affirmed its commitment to “student-centered education” in a statement following the conviction.

“We respect the justice system and the jury’s decision in this matter,” Temple University Associate Director of Issues Management in Strategic Marketing and Communications Steve Orbanek said. “The evidence presented at the trial speaks for itself, but is not representative of Temple or the overwhelming majority of the thousands of educational professionals serving our students. This is an unhappy moment for our students and alumni, but our focus remains on delivering the best possible outcomes for our students.”

Porat received his undergraduate degree and MBA from Tel Aviv University and his doctorate from Temple. He was active in several local Jewish organizations and was listed as a board member of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce in his Temple bio. In June 2016, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia honored Porat for his campus leadership and advocacy for Israel.

Porat could face up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. After the March 11 sentencing hearing, Porat will likely lose his position as a tenured professor, where he earns $316,000 annually, Billy Penn reported.

Porat’s attorney Michael A. Schwartz did not respond to requests for comment.

[email protected]; 215-832-0741


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here