The chairman of Temple’s Board of Trustees responded to a reporter’s questions about the number of women on the university’s governing body with profane remarks, according to an account published in Philadelphia Magazine Monday.
Patrick O’Connor, a lawyer in the city who has chaired the board since 2009, allegedly told Philadelphia Magazine reporter Victor Fiorillo “I’m tired of this s—,” when asked to comment on the board’s behalf for Fiorillo’s story on the relatively small number of women on Temple’s board compared with other universities.
“This is freaking ridiculous. This is pathetic journalism… what are you, an imbecile?” O’Connor allegedly said, according to Fiorillo’s story.
Following a public meeting of the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Dec. 9, O’Connor backed away from those remarks and apologized.
“We are going through a difficult time at this university because of Mr. Cosby’s resignation, I should have been more temperate, and I apologize for that,” O’Connor said.
Fiorillo told the Temple News Tuesday that he was not surprised by O’Connor’s remark.
“I wasn’t really taken aback,” Fiorillo said. “It’s a very Philly kind of response.”
O’Connor and the Board of Trustees have come under fire in recent weeks after new reports of sexual misconduct by former trustee Bill Cosby received national attention. Cosby resigned his position on the board Dec. 1.
In 2005, former Temple Director of Women’s Basketball Operations Andrea Constand, accused Cosby of molesting her in his Cheltenham home. O’Connor, the vice chairman of the law firm Cozen/O’Connor, defended Cosby in that case, which was later settled out of court.
Last December, a Temple News reporter called O’Connor at his office requesting comment about a pending FDIC lawsuit against trustee Dennis Alter and a phone number to reach the trustee who was sued.
“You call the chairman of the board asking for a f—ing phone number?” O’Connor said.
“Like I’m your secretary,” the chairman followed up. “Would you like a sandwich too?”
Women make up around 9 percent of the board, filling 3 of its seats. This is the lowest percentage of 14 area colleges and universities, according to Philadelphia Magazine’s review.
O’Connor rejected those numbers, Fiorillo reported, because 12 of the trustees are appointed by the state. The three women on the board – Loretta Duckworth, Judith Felgoise and Jane Scaccetti – are among the 24 voted upon by the board members.
“If Temple is the lowest with one-eighth, I can live with that,” O’Connor allegedly said, referring to the number of women among the board’s elected body.
A replacement for Cosby’s seat has not yet been voted upon by the board.
A spokesman for the university declined to comment on O’Connor’s remarks Monday.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.