Several Temple University senior administrators are adjusting to their new roles after President Jason Wingard shuffled their positions two months ago, including creating new chief of staff and chief administrative officer positions, The Temple News reported.
Wingard created the new positions in an effort to streamline his administration and achieve his goals of rebranding the university, said Michael Gebhardt, the new chief of staff.
“I am very excited about the team we have in place, including faculty leadership, and confidently anticipate the consequential impact we will have on the Temple community, the Greater Philadelphia region, and the future of higher education,” Wingard wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Wingard picked his administration from staff already employed by the university to use their experiences to accomplish his goal of improving the public perception of the university, said Valerie Harrison, vice president of public affairs.
“President Wingard prioritized meeting with people within the university, and he recognized the beauty of institutional knowledge, so he chose all of his cabinet members from within the university,” Harrison said.
Members of Wingard’s administration do not believe he enacted the reorganization to drive out certain personnel, they said.
Here are the changes Wingard made to his administration.
Chief of staff
Gebhardt is serving as Temple’s chief of staff, a position created by Wingard to oversee daily university operations and the administration, improve donor relations and aid the president in his search for a new provost, Gebhardt said.
“My job is to make sure the president’s universe, between leadership and public relations and donor relations, is protected and organized,” Gebhardt said.
Delegating day-to-day tasks to Gebhardt will allow Wingard to focus on goals like improving community relations and job placements among graduates, Gebhardt said.
Prior to this role, Gebhardt served as the University Counsel, in which he oversaw the university’s contracts and legal disputes, Gebhardt said. This experience in university affairs allowed him to transition easily to the chief of staff position.
“In the University Counsel we see every contract, and every dispute,” Gebhardt said. “So I had a really broad view of the university that was significant to the idea that I could fill this role as chief of staff.”
Chief administrative officer
Ken Kaiser is now serving as chief administrative officer to the university, a position Wingard created to oversee the financial affairs of the university, Kaiser said.
Kaiser previously served as the university’s vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer. Kaiser will continue focusing on budget lines and spending issues as chief administrative officer, with additional responsibilities for overseeing campus safety, construction projects and facilities management, he said.
“He is going to analyze what we spend the most money on,” Gebhardt said. “It is not as though he is doing anything brand new.”
Kaiser wants to keep student debt and university costs down while facilitating construction projects like the renovation of the Paley Library, he said.
David Marino, who previously served as associate vice president and controller, will be interim treasurer while a search for a permanent treasurer takes place, Gebhardt said.
There is no update on the search for a long-term treasurer, Gebhardt said.
Vice president of public affairs
Harrison is now serving as the vice president of public affairs, where she oversees Temple’s relationships with external groups like the local community and the government, Harrison said.
“The first priority for me is to help Dr. Wingard implement his priority brand strategy,” Harrison said. “He wants to make sure that our reputation is strong.”
In June, Wingard announced his intention to raise funds and elevate public perception of the university, The Temple News reported. His administration aims to accomplish this by increasing their engagement on social media, with Wingard himself making appearances on TV and radio, like his interview on 6abc. Harrison herself is helping Wingard fulfill this goal by connecting the community with university resources, she said.
The administration also wants to improve Temple’s relationship with North Central and Philadelphia overall, Harrison said.
“We have struggled in this area somewhat, we have not always effectively managed disruptive student behavior, for example,” Harrison said. “There is a priority on community affairs.”
The university has a strained relationship with the community after residents resisted efforts to build a new football stadium, saying it would add to student noise and trash issues in the North Philadelphia community, The Temple News reported.
Prior to this position, Harrison served as a senior advisor to the president for equity, diversity and inclusion, she said.
“Valerie to me is a uniquely intelligent and broad-based person,” Gebhardt said of Wingard’s decision for the position. “She has skills in diversity training and is very relational and authentic, these things will absolutely help her in public relations.”
Harrison will also oversee WRTI, Temple’s university-run radio station and will manage university strategic marketing. She will continue to provide counseling to the Diversity Nexus program of the university, she said.
Gregory Mandel is serving as Temple’s interim provost while Wingard searches for someone to permanently fill the position.
In this role, Mandel is overseeing the university’s 17 schools and colleges and handling academic and faculty affairs. He also supervises services like Information Technology Services, International Affairs, the Division of Student Affairs and University Housing and Residential Life, he said.
“I have been getting asked a lot in the past month, like ‘What does the provost do?’” Mandel said. “I just found out last week the marching band fell under my jurisdiction, so it’s a pretty wide portfolio.”
Mandel wants to help Wingard expand the educational capabilities of the university by improving student and faculty research projects, he said.
“Sometimes the capability that we have here is not very broadly known, and he wants to change that,” Mandel said.
Prior to this role, Mandel served as the dean of Beasley School of Law, where he reported to the provost.
Gebhardt did not provide an update on the search for a permanent provost.
Senior advisors to the president
JoAnne Epps, the former executive vice president and provost, is on sabbatical and will return as a Beasley faculty member and senior advisor to the president on legal matters and issues involving the City of Philadelphia, Gebhardt said.
Kevin Clark, former chief operating officer, is now one of the senior advisors to the president, The Temple News reported.
Clark has a background in construction and athletic operations and will advise the president on operational developments, like new construction and student issues, Gebhardt said.
“Senior advisor positions are flexible, they can tell us advice on things that they are familiar with,” Gebhardt said.