It seems like Temple University is becoming synonymous with controversy after a barrage of incidents and scandals involving the university in the past few years.
Last semester, Temple’s trustees took aim at Marc Lamont Hill, whose comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stirred national outcry. Chairman Patrick O’Connor said because of Hill the university could stand to lose significant funding from donors.
But did he forget the $5.4 million-and-growing price tag on the Fox School of Business’ data reporting scandal? Or the two years of Bill Cosby’s trial, during which Temple — unlike dozens of other schools — refused to take any action until a jury returned a guilty verdict?
What about the ongoing conflict between Temple and our North Philadelphia neighbors as the school pushes for an on-campus stadium? There was also that time former president Neil Theobald fired former provost Hai-Lung Dai, the Board voted no confidence in Theobald, and Dai then sued the president.
“One more headline risk or legal risk with Temple, I’m withdrawing my promise gift,” alumna Ronnyjane Goldsmith told The Temple News. Goldsmith agreed to donate $2 million to the university at the time of her death, a hefty individual donation that could be in jeopardy.
She said liabilities before Hill’s speech, like Temple’s proposed stadium and cuts to Temple Athletics in 2014, had already put her donation on shaky ground.
While Temple’s current controversies will have a lasting impact, it’s inaccurate for O’Connor and the Board to claim Hill’s comments are the main reason for donors losing confidence in the university. Internal missteps have been leading up to this moment for years, and several donors’ testimonials are evidence of this.
Hill’s comments are simply one more challenge for the university added to an existing pile of reputational problems. Instead of pointing fingers and laying the blame on one man, the university should instead focus on improving and moving forward after each controversy.