Fox School of Business adjusts after dean of 22 years is forced out

Ron Anderson, the interim dean of the Fox School of Business, in his office at Alter Hall on Thursday. | HANNAH BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Fox School of Business is dealing with the aftermath of a rankings scandal after an investigation by international law firm Jones Day determined the school had knowingly misreported data to U.S. News & World Report for at least four years.

Daniel Korschun, an associate professor of marketing at Drexel University, said when a school faces a “crisis of this magnitude,” he advises it to acknowledge the mistake and quickly set up a concrete plan to address it.

“It took Fox and the university a very long time to address this, but it seems as though the university has made a commitment to fixing the problems and admitted the mistakes the college made,” Korschun said. “[Fox] seems to be on the right track at the moment.”

In January, Temple self-reported that it had sent inaccurate data to the U.S. News & World Report.

Porat was dean of Fox from 1996 through 2018. In this time, he was focused on getting the school recognized on a national scale. In recent years, this was illustrated in his dedication to high rankings.

Art Hochner, who retired in 2017 and is a former president of Temple Association of University Professionals, taught a course in the school’s Online MBA program. Hochner said Porat had a clear vision to improve the school, including prioritizing research and expanding academic programs.

“He took it upon himself to change the place,” Hochner said. “There were more programs and a focus on moving up in rankings. He was very successful with that.”

Interim Dean Ron Anderson said in July that he wants to move away from Porat’s focus on rankings and toward championing quality student education.

“I don’t want to be rankings oriented,” he said. “I want to be focused on high-quality programs, and I want to focus on student outcomes.”

But Porat’s influence on the school will stretch further than the rankings scandal that led to his removal.

Twenty years ago, Porat created the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which is now known as the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. Porat oversaw that school as well, serving as its top official throughout his deanship. He advocated to add programs like financial planning and management information systems to Fox as well.

Hochner said Porat’s forthright personality and connections with members of the Board of Trustees and local business moguls helped him establish Fox’s reputation as a competitive school.

“[Porat] was the most successful dean ever in my time at the business school,” Hochner said. “He is outspoken and forceful.”

Porat was the mastermind of Alter Hall, the building that houses the business school and is named after university trustee Dennis Alter, for his $15 million donation to the project. It is equipped with modern classrooms, event space and a mock-stock trading room.

Construction on a skywalk between Alter Hall and 1810 Liacouras Walk —  a project conceived and funded during Porat’s time as dean — is winding down. Despite the school’s recent developments, Korschun said it could take three to five years for the school to fully recover from a rankings scandal of this scale.

“What it’s going to take is a very committed, university-wide effort to answer questions and show extra transparency, above and beyond what most schools are expected to do,” Korschun added.

Porat’s absence will be felt by many Fox faculty. But current leaders like Anderson are ready to get to work to repair the school’s image.

Anderson told The Temple News in August that he is working on creating a system of checks and balances for all decision-makers within the school to prevent misreporting.

“If someone is making a decision, then someone is checking it,” he said. “And if it’s not right, we’re balancing off to do the right thing.”

Anderson said that he is dedicated to making the school look “attractive again,” and apologized to students, faculty and staff.

“We have stained ourselves a little bit here,” Anderson said. “But more than look attractive, I want it to be attractive. I want to have really high-quality programs, I want internal control systems in place and I want a culture that values integrity and credibility.”

Alyssa Biederman
can be reached at alyssa.biederman@temple.edu Or you can follow Alyssa on Twitter @BiedermanAlyssa Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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