Last week, Temple’s Board of Trustees nominated MSNBC anchor and Today Show host Tamron Hall to a seat formerly occupied by embattled star alumnus Bill Cosby.
Hall, a 1992 alumna, is the fourth woman to join a Board that has come under scrutiny from The Temple News’ editorial board for a lack of female membership.
The increased diversity Hall brings is a positive for a Board still dominated by white men—white men who, paradoxically, are prompted to clap and nod when President Theobald says “Diversity University” in a speech; these are white men, particularly Chairman Patrick O’Connor, who shrug at the low percentage of women on the board and say it’s partially the fault of the state government, which appoints 12 of the 36 trustees. The state legislature picks eight and the governor picks four.
Four women out of 36 makes the board 89 percent male. Four women out of 24, using O’Connor’s logic that the university is not responsible for the state’s appointments, and the board is still dreadfully imbalanced at 83 percent male. We hope it’s clear to the Board that one hire should be seen as a step toward correcting the diversity problem and not a complete solution. “We’ll have more women,” O’Connor told the Inquirer Wednesday. “It’s been on our agenda for a while.”
During the past few years of O’Connor’s tenure, our editorials have often been the sour footnote to prominent university news. Cosby resigned amid allegations of sexual abuse from dozens of women: we wished it was sooner. The university restored two of seven cut sports: we wished more were saved. We understand we can’t seem to pipe down while the Board (supposedly) decides what’s best for the university and its students.
Still, Hall will be the only black woman on the board when she is formally elected Tuesday. There will be a sizable to-do about her race bolstering the diversity of the board. Hiring a black woman who is a pride to the university was a great decision, but it is far from enough. We hope Hall is the first of many.