Just five years into her career at Temple, President Ann Weaver Hart made an unexpected announcement of resignation to the university community today, Sept. 9.
Hart will leave office effective June 30.
In a phone conference with The Temple News, Hart said her decision was both personal and professional.
Citing her accomplishments, Hart said the goals she set forth when becoming president have been accomplished, marking a fitting time period for a new leader to succeed her.
“That’s a good time for a new leadership to take over a university, right at the beginning of lots of new initiatives so that the new president has a chance to really have a new impact,” Hart said.
On a more personal note, Hart said the declining health of her mother, who lives in Salt Lake City, played a role in her decision to leave.
“I just felt like it’s a good personal and professional time for a transition,” Hart said.
Hart said she began considering the leave over the summer.
“I began to talk about it with my family this summer, and decided soon after I returned from vacation,” Hart said.
Hart said the fact that her contact was established by the Board of Trustees on a year-to-year basis did not play a role in deciding to step down.
“That was part of our contract from the very beginning,” Hart said.
Members of the university community expressed various viewpoints on Hart’s tenure at Temple and her accomplishments thus far.
“We have always greatly appreciated President Hart’s strong support of the Temple University Libraries. We are glad that she will remain involved at Temple, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” Carol Land, interim dean of university libraries, said in an email.
When sophomore, Jess Wallick, a business pre-law major, heard that Hart resigned she immediately asked, “Is tuition going down?”
Wallick said she attended Temple last semester, but is currently taking a year off due to financial reasons. “What did she really do [at Temple]?”
“She had numerous accomplishments, the academic strategic compass. The concern there was that we always provided opportunities for success, research excellence and global commitment, she’s very strong in global commitment,” Richard Englert, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said.
Temple Student Government Student Body President Colin Saltry said he “thought something was up” regarding the status of Hart.
“But we were still a little surprised about the news,” Saltry said.
Saltry said he hopes students will have a role in finding Hart’s replacement.
The university has announced a national search for Hart’s successor.
The search will most likely be discussed at the Oct. 11 Board of Trustees meeting, Saltry said.
Sophomore engineering major Sarah Ali said she was “shocked” by the announcement, which she learned of by speaking to The Temple News.
“I wish I had heard about it,” Ali said.
In the past, Hart’s presence on campus and interaction with students has been questioned by some students.
“I’m not sure exactly where the folks [have] been but I have made a very intense effort to work with the student body officers, to go to the student assembly, to give state of the university presentations that are open to all students twice a semester,” Hart said. “I go to student activities, to games, interact with the students there.”
“I think that there are 39,000 students at Temple University and when I do walk around campus, it always surprises me, when I say hello to people, how few recognize me,” Hart said. “But that’s to be expected on a very large campus.”
Senior psychology major Aadil Patel, president of the Muslim Students Association, said he had never met Hart in person, but added that she was “very informative” at the TSG meetings he attended last year.
And while word of Hart’s resignation comes months before her departure, she said she will continue to exercise all of the powers of the president until she leaves.
Being labeled a “lame-duck president” isn’t something Hart is worried about, she said.
“This is going to be an incredibly busy year,” Hart said, alluding to another hectic year in Harrisburg. “The revenue numbers don’t look good, this is not encouraging…I think there will be enough to do that there won’t even be a chance to think about that.”
For a longer, more in-depth article on Hart’s departure and her conversation with The Temple News, pick up a copy of The Temple News on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Brian Dzenis, Angelo Fichera and Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.