Dr. Jason Wingard, the first black president of Temple University in Philadelphia, resigned on March 28. Temple’s board of trustees accepted Wingard’s resignation, according to a statement Tuesday.
In the midst of Wingard’s short and rocky tenure, crime around campus worsened, a graduate student strike, and a loss of confidence in his leadership among some faculty.
“Given the pressing issues now facing the university, particularly campus security, the board and administration will ensure the highest level of focus on these serious issues,” wrote Mitchell Morgan, chairman of Temple’s board of trustees.
Gun violence is prominent in the city of Philadelphia, with 516 homicides in 2022, according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department. In February, Temple Police Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald was shot and killed near a campus in North Philadelphia. Temple student Samuel Collington was killed near campus after an apparent robbery and carjacking a year earlier.
Wingard also faced a 42-day strike by Temple University Alumni Association graduate students demanding better wages and benefits.
And earlier in March, the faculty and staff called for a vote of no confidence in Wingard, said Dr. Danielle Scherer, vice president of operations for the Temple Association of University Professionals.
“It really seems to miss a lot of what education is supposed to be about, in terms of producing citizens who care about humanistic principles and think about the cultivation of individuals as anything other than employees,” she said.
Faculty were also concerned about Wingard’s views on higher education, including questioning its value and embracing technology, taking students out of classrooms, Scherer said.
“At one time, a college degree was seen as a ticket to career success and advancement, but we live in a capitalist society and we know what happens when money is at stake,” Wingard wrote in a 2022 opinion piece. “The key to maintaining the value of a degree from your own institution is to ensure that your graduates have the skills to change in any market.”
Union officials still intend to censure Morgan and Gregory Mandel, Temple’s provost and law professor.