UPDATE on May 2 at 4:35 p.m.
Moshe Porat, the former dean of the Fox School of Business, is filing a $25 million defamation lawsuit Thursday against Temple University and President Richard Englert following his public ouster over a national rankings scandal that rocked the business school.
The news comes 10 months after Porat was terminated for refusing to tender his resignation to Temple officials following the university’s admittance that it had knowingly falsified rankings filings with its Online MBA and several other programs to The U.S. News and World Report.
“The administration at Temple took away the job I loved, damaged my health, and destroyed my reputation and the legacy of my life’s work I spent decades building,” Porat said in an extensive statement posted to his law firm, Clare Locke LLP.’s website. “They did this with a false narrative invented for its expediency in public relations – and to deflect attention from the University’s own role in all of this.”
Porat could not be immediately reached for comment.
The conclusion reached by Porat and his attorney allege that one Fox employee responsible for data collection and submission acted without the former dean’s knowledge in falsifying data.
He accuses the university of health and reputational damages from alleged defamatory statements he said the university made in its public statements stemming from the rankings scandal.
A Temple spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Temple News on Thursday afternoon that its decision to seek Porat’s resignation was based on the findings of an independent investigation by law firm Jones Day.
“The Jones Day findings are compelling and the university continues to stand by its decision. Dr. Porat’s allegations are meritless. Going forward, we will carefully review his statements made public today to determine any legal remedies the university may pursue,” the spokesperson wrote.
Porat disputes the findings in the Temple and independent investigation by law firm Jones Day, which reported that Porat played a role in the misreporting at the business school.
Fox’s Online MBA program was ranked first on The U.S. News and World Report rankings for four consecutive years.
He denies having knowledge that he or other Fox leadership had purposely falsified rankings or made attempts at dismantling rankings oversight.
Instead, Porat said he immediately reported the rankings issues to Temple and The U.S. News and World Report officials when rankings concerns initially surfaced in January 2018.
Porat said he then took steps in the immediate aftermath to remove Fox’s participation in other rankings and began to restructure rankings oversight.
“The evidence that supports this conclusion, as well as significant other information that the University disregarded in its rush to scapegoat me and my senior staff, is detailed in my court-filed complaint,” Porat said in his statement.
Porat’s complaint was filed Thursday in the city’s Common Pleas Court. It doesn’t include alleged breaches in Porat’s employment contract, which his lawyer said will be addressed “at a later time.”
Porat will give a “significant gift” to Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development, an institution he created while leading the school, if his lawsuit is successful, his statement said.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Department of Education opened investigations into the rankings scandal last July to determine if there are legal repercussions and if the university has further liability to students in the affected programs.
Temple settled a more than $5 million class-action lawsuit in December brought by former Fox students and made other concessions, including the creation of a $5,000 ethics scholarship for a student interested in studying business ethics and enrolled in one of the programs involved in the suit.
The settlement did not include any admission of liability, the university said in a statement at the time.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the impact these failings have had on our students,” Porat said in his statement. “I can only imagine how my students have felt knowing they made critical life decisions based, in part, on erroneous data the University did not validate when required to do so by its own rules.”
“Temple’s students deserve better than this,” he added.
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UPDATE: This story has been changed to include an updated university statement.