A year after rankings scandal, Fox dean pushes for transparency and stability

Ron Anderson was named permanent dean of the Fox School of Business on Thursday after serving as interim for a year.

Newly named Dean of the Fox School of Business Ronald Anderson speaks in Alter Hall on June 21, 2019 about his plans to improve the school amid a data integrity scandal that began last summer. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

This story was updated at 7:00 p.m. on June 21.

The interim dean of the Fox School of Business who oversaw the school’s restructuring after a rankings scandal will assume the position permanently beginning July 1, the university announced Thursday.

Ron Anderson, who formerly chaired the school’s finance department, was appointed interim dean last July after the school removed former dean Moshe Porat who was found to have disbanded a committee that oversaw the reporting of rankings data, President Richard Englert said in a university announcement last year.

A law firm hired by the university last year found that Fox had overstated GPA and enrollment data of its Online MBA program that were sent to U.S. News and World Report, which triggered investigations from the U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

The school was ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for four consecutive years before the scandal erupted.

“We hurt ourselves back last summer, and so we’re still resolving some of these issues,” Anderson said.

The university later admitted rankings data in six of its graduate programs were falsified.

Porat, still a tenured professor but no longer teaching at the school, is suing Temple for $25 million for alleged defamation, The Temple News reported.

The university continues to be engaged with groups investigating the school’s data practices, wrote university spokesperson Ray Betzner in an email to The Temple News.

“When I look at Fox and STHM moving forward, particularly given what’s happened over the last year, I think the most important thing for us at this point is stability,” Anderson said.

Enrollment in master’s-level programs at Fox is down around 15 percent from last year entering the fall semester, which Anderson attributes to people not feeling like they need to return to school. Nationwide, applications to graduate business programs fell 6.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a study by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

One of the top goals for Anderson is to reestablish Fox’s national reputation in the wake of the scandal which he expects to take about four years, Anderson said.

Anderson also wants to create new master’s programs in management and wealth management as well as to reevaluate the undergraduate core curriculum, he said.

“The pillars that make you a good school, great student outcomes, high-quality research, a good place to work, they’re all here,” Anderson said. “What we have to do is stay consistent to that story, that theme.”

As part of the school’s restructuring, the school also established a seven-member data integrity unit to screen data sent outside of the university, which must be approved by the Dean’s office.

The marketing and admissions office, which previously operated under the same administrative unit, have been separated, Anderson said, to avoid a conflict of interest.

“You only earn trust back one way: consistent behavior,” he said.

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