Katz’ Board of Trustees position to remain open

Administrators said the board will elect a new trustee at a later date.

Lewis Katz died in May, leaving his position on the board open, something administrators said isn’t an immediate issue. COURTESY TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
Lewis Katz died in May, leaving his position on the board open, something administrators said isn’t an immediate issue. COURTESY TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

The death of Lewis Katz four months ago left the university’s Board of Trustees with one of its 36 positions left open. Although the position opened in May, the trustees will give more consideration to who the replacement will be rather than when it will happen.

“The Board can function effectively with 35 trustees,” said Michael Gebhardt, interim university counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees.

The committees are functioning as usual as none of the committees Katz served on were at the minimum membership requirement at the time of his death.

Technically speaking, the replacement process works the same as the regular appointment process for the Board’s 24 perpetual four-year term positions: the full Board votes to approve a current member for four more years after receiving the nomination from the Trustee Affairs committee.

The Trustee Affairs committee is chaired by Daniel Polett and includes board Chairman Patrick O’Connor, who chooses the rest of the committee members as well.

How the new member comes before the Board is also codified. He or she will be nominated by the Trustee Affairs committee, which will then notify the entire board “at least 30 days prior to the meeting of the Board at which the vacancy is to be filled,” according to the university bylaws. If the nominee has never served on the board before, his or her qualifications will accompany the notification.

This particular replacement is more complex due to Katz’s prominence on the board. Katz served as an influential senior member of the Board and donated significant funds to Temple.

In November 2013, Katz pledged $25 million to the university. It was announced in May that the money would go to the School of Medicine and would adorn his name.

“You just don’t find a lot of people like that in the world,” Gebhardt said. “When he said something, people listened.”

Ultimately, that vacuum may need to be filled by a current member of the Board who has already earned the respect of his or her peers.

In selecting a candidate, the trustees value a connection to or interest in Temple as an institution and a community on some level, Gebhardt said

“That’s not only something we value but [it could also be] the reason they want to serve as well,” Gebhardt said.

While the Board will continue to focus on the individual they hope to complete the search by the end of the year. O’Connor issued a statement through a spokesperson.

“Conversations are ongoing to fill the vacant seat on the Board, with the goal of an announcement later in the fall,” the statement read.

Katz and six others died on May 31 during a takeoff from an airfield near Boston after attending a fundraiser. Days prior to his death, Katz and fellow trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest won a bid for co-ownership of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.

In early June, a memorial service was held on Main Campus with hundreds in attendance including former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Ed Rendell.

The first full Board meeting of the school year is scheduled for Oct. 14.

Bob Stewart can be reached at robert.stewart@temple.edu

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