Temple University President Jason Wingard resigned on Tuesday as the Philadelphia campus struggles with a violent crime wave that has deterred applicants from enrolling at the school.
The Temple University Board of Trustees announced that it has accepted Wingard’s resignation, which will take effect on Friday, according to a report by Associated Press.
Wingard’s resignation arrives amid graduate students striking for more than 40 days. Additionally enrollment has dropped 14 percent since 2019, with deposits for next year having plummeted by 25 percent compared with the same time last year, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Meanwhile, the faculty union Temple Association of University Professionals was planning to hold a vote of no confidence for Wingard.
Temple University has been struggling with how to increase safety measures in the area around campus after the February 18 fatal shooting of Temple Police Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, 31, while on duty.
Officer Fitzgerald was shot after pursing three people dressed in black and wearing masks in an area where there had been several robberies and carjackings. Fitzgerald, who was the first Temple University officer killed in the line of duty, was a father of five children.
“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 Philadelphia Inquirer.
“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 university president added.
In a statement, Temple Board of Trustees Chair Mitchell Morgan said, “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,” Morgan added. “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.”
Morgan went on to say that “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,” Morgan said. “At the same time, we acknowledge that these issues adversely affect all of the University’s constituencies.”
The board added that it will designate a small group of senior Temple leaders to guide the school.
“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 has been president of Temple University since July 2021. Before that, he was a dean for Columbia University, and had also worked at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford.
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