Students, leadership, react to Temple University President Jason Wingard's resignation
It officially takes effect today. AL DÍA also heard from student organizations about their expectations and the future of the university.
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Temple University announced on Tuesday evening that the board of trustees had accepted President Jason Wingard's resignation — which takes effect today.
Wingard was the first Black president at Temple and had been serving the position since July 2021.
The news came after some turbulent couple of months on Temple’s main campus. A 42-day strike led by Temple University Graduate Student Association (TUGSA) for better working conditions and the death of Temple police sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald while on duty in February, impacted Wingard’s reputation among students. The Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP), the faculty union, was also preparing to hold a vote of no confidence in Wingard.
While looking for substitutes, the university will be led by a small group of senior Temple leaders.
The overwhelming events around campus and the way Wingard and the administration were dealing with it made many students celebrate the news of his resignation — it was the case of Manasa Gopakumar, Contract Negotiations Member at TUGSA. The resignation came as a surprise for her, even though she expected it to happen at some point.
“We’ve seen how this administration has dealt with some of the really important issues that have affected the university in the past few months,” she added. “We really need an administration that prioritizes education and that puts people over profit. We need a president that is attuned to the problems faced by the university community and Wingard’s resignation is a step in the right direction and I hope the university finds a suitable replacement.”
For Gopakumar, the university has a lot of damage repair to do in terms of its reputation, and relationship with students, staff and the community around the institution. Temple is moving in the right direction, but it needs to have a moment to reflect on everything that has happened in the past months and make an effort to address the issues and repair the harms, she added.
Bethany Kosmicki, past TUGSA president, also wasn’t expecting the resignation, but was not surprised when she heard the news considering the growing discontent with Temple's upper leadership.
“Wingard was entirely absent during our strike, while simultaneously active in the decisions to cut our benefits and refusal to bargain a fair contract,” Kosmicki said. “The Temple community saw his absence as a failure of leadership to address the concerns of the campus.”
She argues that Wingard is a small part of the larger crisis in the institution. For her, Wingard's resignation is a result of the rejection of his and upper administration's vision to try and change higher education for the worse — by moving “Temple in a direction of corporatizing higher education by disinvesting and devaluing the education and research it provides.”
“I hope that the search for a new President takes seriously the need to invest in Temple and prioritize the primary goals of teaching and research as a public, higher education institution,” she added.
Temple Student Government
Temple Student Government (TSG) President Gianni Quattrocchi also shared a statement about Wingard’s resignation earlier this week. Besides highlighting the community union, it stated that TSG will work closely with the administration for a smooth transition.
“During these times, we also want to emphasize that our university is bigger than any one individual. Our faculty, staff, administrators, and student leaders are dedicated to providing all of us with a quality education and supporting you in achieving your goals.
As we look forward to next steps, the Temple Student Government will continue to work with university leadership to advance the interests of the student body and call for expanded student involvement in university decision-making. As the university looks to address ongoing concerns such as campus safety and declining enrollment, students, as the most fundamental unit of the university, should be part of these critical conversations.”
A message from the university
Earlier this week, Board of Trustees Chair Mitchell Morgan shared an official message announcing the acceptance of Wingard’s resignation. He thanked Wingard’s for his devotion to the university and mentioned the issues the new group of leaders will keep working on.
“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. 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. We understand that a concerted and sustained effort must be undertaken as we attempt to solve these problems.
At the same time, we acknowledge that these issues adversely affect all of the University’s constituencies. 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.”
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