In January 2018, the Fox School of Business reported it had submitted inaccurate data to U.S. News & World Report for the 2018 Best Online MBA Programs rankings. Temple retained the nationally respected law firm Jones Day to perform a comprehensive review of data and processes within Fox. The review found that Fox had misreported data for its OMBA Program dating back to at least the 2014 survey. In some instances, the misreporting was intentional; in other instances, the Fox School misreported information based on its own questionable interpretations of survey questions.
Further investigation by Temple identified similar misreporting for multiple years in other programs, namely the Executive MBA, Global MBA, Part-Time MBA, Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Master of Science in Digital Innovation in Marketing. These programs all had issues related to the reporting of one or more metrics, including the number of new entrants providing GRE/GMAT scores, student indebtedness and applicants’ undergraduate GPAs. For the Online Bachelor of Business Administration, Temple’s review found misreporting related to student indebtedness.
The university also reviewed Fox’s survey responses to other rankings agencies and determined that, during the same period of time, certain inaccurate data points were also submitted to the Princeton Review Best Business Schools rankings survey as well as the Financial Times, The Economist and Business Week. Further, misreported data was used in Poets & Quants’ business rankings surveys.
The university has publicly disclosed a summary of Jones Day’s findings and recommendations and has issued regular updates and announcements regarding the review of Fox data misreporting. Information can be found here at Temple’s data integrity website.
In December 2019, Temple also agreed to an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General following the AG’s investigation of the data misreporting allegations. As part of the settlement, which can be found here, the university will establish and fund $250,000 in scholarships for Fox Business School students and has agreed to additional remedial measures designed to help ensure such misreporting never happens again.
What else is Temple doing in response to the misreporting and what is planned going forward?
On July 11, 2018, Temple announced the implementation of a variety of measures at Fox. These measures include the creation of a new performance analytics unit responsible for accreditation and rankings; the implementation of a new workflow for data aggregation, inspection, verification and submission; and the coordination between Fox and the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to develop and implement these steps to ensure data integrity. More recently, these processes have been further updated to integrate the university’s Data Verification Unit into the data integrity measures.
Temple also has taken measures to ensure accurate reporting across the university, including at Fox. Specifically:
- All schools and colleges have developed and implemented revised processes for data collection, verification and submission.
- The new Data Verification Unit has a full-time staff dedicated to the review of data reported to rankings agencies.
- The office of Information Technology Services will identify interface gaps among existing data systems and pursue the implementation of new systems where appropriate.
- Temple has developed and/or continues to improve policies to address:
- Temple's commitment to ethics and compliance, including the integrity and accuracy of the information it maintains and shares;
- standards for collecting data;
- standards for verifying and cross-checking data;
- procedures for submitting data, including required reviews and approvals;
- certification of integrity and accuracy of data by deans and applicable unit heads, both prior to and after submission; and
- mechanisms for questioning or raising concerns, directly or anonymously, about the integrity or accuracy of data.
- Temple has engaged an external auditing firm to ensure the effectiveness of new measures on data integrity.
- Temple launched a data integrity website that contains information about the university’s commitment to promoting data integrity.
Since being appointed, Fox School of Business Dean Ron Anderson has undertaken purposeful and comprehensive measures to improve internal controls, ensure accuracy in data reporting and create an atmosphere that honors transparency and accountability. Specifically, Dean Anderson has:
- Publicly acknowledged the Fox School’s past reporting errors and issued apologies to stakeholders;
- Restructured key administrative functions (i.e., enrollment management and marketing, finance and human resources);
- Examined and adjusted responsibilities of management personnel; appointed a business/finance manager and appointed a director of human resources;
- Met and will continue to meet with various stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff, to address concerns and answer questions; and
- Committed to continuing conversations with faculty and staff to establish a culture that focuses on positive outcomes for Fox students.
Temple continues to develop its remediation efforts and will update the answer to this question with further actions and progress.
Does this affect the Fox School’s accreditation?
The Fox School continues to be accredited by AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction that the Fox School has maintained continuously since 1934. After notification of data misreporting, AACSB moved up its accreditation review for the Fox School to January 2019 and AACSB is conducting reaccreditation review in January 2020, as originally scheduled. Temple has responded to AACSB’s requests for information and has been providing regular updates to the organization about the aforementioned remedial and corrective measures.
What is Fox’s U.S. News ranking now and what will happen to Fox School rankings in the future?
Following Fox’s disclosure to U.S. News last January that it had submitted inaccurate data, U.S. News removed the Online MBA program’s No. 1 national ranking and moved the program to the “unranked” category. In light of the data issue with the Online MBA program, the Fox School asked to be withdrawn from consideration in the then-upcoming 2019 rankings for U.S. News and remained in the “unranked” category for that year’s rankings. For the 2020 U.S. News rankings, Fox submitted verified and audited survey responses and was ranked No. 88 nationally.
Where does Fox stand with other ranking surveys?
On July 27, 2018, Temple notified The Princeton Review that it would not be submitting the 2017-2018 survey and will refrain from doing so pending review of its internal systems for ensuring the accuracy of data submitted by Fox. Similarly, Fox elected not to submit rankings survey data to other organizations until fall 2019. Rankings from those submissions will be forthcoming.
Do the problems with data reporting change the quality of a Fox education?
No. Fox’s graduate and undergraduate programs remain excellent. The school’s focus remains on the delivery of high-quality programs and student services. The misreporting of data is in no way a reflection of the school’s outstanding academic research, its award-winning faculty, its highly accomplished students, the success of its alumni or its world-class programs.
Where do I go if I have additional questions?
For more information, go to Temple’s data integrity website. If your questions remain unanswered, please contact Dean Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Provost Epps at email@example.com.