On March 28th, Temple University President Jason Wingard officially resigned. Wingard is the first Black president and has held the position since July 2021. During his tenure, he came under scrutiny as the school continues to face concerns about high crime rates that negatively affect enrollment numbers.
Just last month, Christopher Fitzgerald, 31, a Temple University police officer, was shot and killed near campus. He was pursuing three individuals who were dressed in all black and wearing masks in an area that had been experiencing carjackings and robberies. Within 24 hours, three people were arrested in connection with his death.
Since the start of the pandemic, crime rates throughout Philadelphia have been on the rise, and Temple has not been immune to the growing unrest. Since 2018, the number of shootings near Temple University has gone from 9 non-fatal and 2 fatal shootings/year to 25 non-fatal and 1 fatal in 2022, almost tripling.
Meanwhile, enrollment at the school has dropped by 14% since 2019, and deposits for the incoming fall class have dropped 25%. To make matters worse, at the same time, the university was also dealing with a 42-day strike by graduate students who were demanding better compensation for their teaching services.
To some, Wingard’s resignation seems abrupt, but perhaps he was simply reading the writing on the wall. The Temple Association of University Professionals was planning on holding a vote of no confidence in regards to Wingard. In addition, a survey from Temple News revealed that Wingard had a 92% disapproval rating among students.
According to Mitchell Morgan, who is chair of the board of trustees, the school is facing an “unprecedented confluence of serious challenges.” Wingard acknowledged these challenges in his own statement,
The Board of Trustees accepted Wingard’s resignation and thanked him for his service.
Moving forward, the board will provide more oversight as they work to make students feel safe while searching for a new president to lead the school through these trying times.