Temple University President Jason Wingard resigned Tuesday as the north Philadelphia campus struggles to deter violent crime.
The Temple University Board of Trustees announced that it accepted Wingard’s resignation, which will take effect on Friday. The 51-year-old has led the 33,600-student university since July 2021. Before then, Wingard was a dean for Columbia University and also previously worked at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford.
“Among the priorities the Board set for Dr. Wingard were developing and executing a strategy to enhance the value proposition, reputation, and external profile of the University,” Temple Board of Trustees Chair Mitchell Morgan said. “He demonstrated unwavering commitment to that mandate, and his contributions to advancing the University’s mission have been significant. We are confident that the University will benefit from the strategies and initiatives launched by Dr. Wingard, in the years to come. We thank him for his leadership and dedication to the Temple community.”
“Given the urgent matters now facing the University, particularly campus safety, the Board and the administration will ensure the highest level of focus on these serious issues,” Morgan, the founder and chairman of Morgan Properties, who has led the Temple trustees board for more than three years, said in the statement. “We understand that a concerted and sustained effort must be undertaken as we attempt to solve these problems.”
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“At the same time, we acknowledge that these issues adversely affect all of the University’s constituencies,” the statement continued. “We recognize that solutions will be most effective, impactful and long-lasting when they reflect the perspectives of so many different groups who care deeply about Temple’s future. We remain confident that the University can overcome these challenges with your support.”
The board said it will designate a small group of senior Temple leaders to guide the university. “This group will have many years of experience at Temple and devotion to its mission. Each will have discrete responsibilities for the university’s essential functions and provide a stable foundation for us as we look toward the search for our next president,” the statement said.
Wingard’s departure comes as graduate students have been striking for more than 40 days. The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing a source close to the dean, reported that enrollment has dropped 14% since 2019, with deposits for next year having plummeted by 25% compared with the same time last year.
The Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union, was reportedly planning on holding a no confidence vote for Wingard, Morgan and provost Gregory N. Mandel next month amid concerns over falling enrollment, financial issues, and labor disputes.
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Wingard, the first Black president at Temple University, told a panel of state lawmakers last week that Philadelphia’s homicide rate has wrought a climate where students, faculty, parents and staff are afraid.
A Temple University police officer was shot and killed near the north Philadelphia campus last month.
Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, 31, was shot after pursing three people dressed in black and wearing masks in an area where there had been a series of robberies and carjackings. Two youths were arrested nearby, and an 18-year-old suspect was taken into custody the following morning in neighboring Bucks County. Fitzgerald was the first Temple University officer killed in the line of duty, Temple University Public Safety Director Jennifer Griffin said. A father of five children, Fitzgerald joined the school’s police force in October 2021.
In a statement to the Inquirer Tuesday, Wingard said safety and enrollment challenges proved a “perfect storm of societal crises” that “drastically and disproportionately” impacted Temple.
“While I am confident in my ability to pivot and lead Temple through this crisis, I understand, and it has been made clear, unfortunately, that too much focus is on me rather than the challenges we seek to overcome,” Wingard told the newspaper. “In order for Temple to overcome these safety and enrollment challenges — and all of the related issues they instigate, the campus community must work in collaboration and minimize divisiveness.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News