Student protesters disrupt Board of Trustees meeting

Temple's FMLA President Martha Sherman (center) is escorted out of the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday by a Temple Police official after disrupting the meeting to express her concerns with the university's ties to Bill Cosby and its lack of sexual assault resources. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, when members approved several motions, including a $10 million gift from trustee Steve Charles for the new library set to open in May 2019, which will be named the Charles Library.

The Board was repeatedly interrupted by students protesting its chairman as well as the university’s response to sexaul assault.

The disruptions

The Board of Trustees meeting was interrupted several times by students from Temple’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, who criticized the university’s ties to former trustee Bill Cosby and its lack of on-campus sexual assault resources.

Outside Sullivan Hall, FMLA and other student and community organizations protested O’Connor Plaza, which was named after the Board’s chairman.

“What do you think of your colleague Patrick O’Connor?” said FMLA President Martha Sherman as Leonard Barrack, the chairman of the Alumni Relations Development Committee, presented the Charles Library’s dedication for approval. “How do you feel about his defense of Bill Cosby?”

“You’re out of order,” Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor quickly responded. In 2005, O’Connor represented Cosby in a civil suit brought on by former university employee Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of sexual assault.

Cosby is criminally charged with sexually assaulting Constand and will go to trial in Montgomery County early next month. In June, a judge declared Cosby’s first sexual assault trial a mistrial.

As more disruptions occurred during the rest of the meeting, the phrase “You’re out of order” was repeated several times by various university officials.

“Why aren’t you talking about a sexual assault crisis center?” Sherman asked the trustees during President Richard Englert’s presidential report. “You’re not listening to what university students have to say.”

Sherman was later escorted out of the Board meeting by Temple Police Captain Edward Woltemate after she interrupted the meeting several more times.

University spokesman Brandon Lausch said in a statement to The Temple News that the university “has not ignored FMLA’s request.” Rather, the university has not established an on-campus sexual assault crisis center because he said it found that “it is not best practice.”

Several trustees were unsure FMLA members’ concerns because they could not hear the students’ disruptions.

The agenda items

Despite the disruptions, the Board passed several measures that will affect student life at the university over the next several years.

Charles’s $10 million gift to Temple for the library is one of the largest in Temple’s history, according to a university release.

“I learned around Christmas time that we needed to get people to donate to endow the funds necessary to actually maintain it over its life,” Charles told The Temple News. “I love the idea of this library. … It’s going to be the center of the universe [at Temple].”

Temple trustee Steve Charles (center) stands up as his fellow trustees applaud him for donating $10 million to the new library, which will now be named the Charles Library. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Board approved several other matters, including a 2.9 percent increase in student housing costs and a 2.6 percent increase in meal plans for the 2018-19 academic year. In its agenda reference, University Housing and Residential Life reported that the most expensive residence hall on campus — Morgan Hall — will cost $15,094 next year for a full academic year with the increase.

The Board also approved nearly $9 million in changes to on-campus infrastructure.

The College of Public Health will be relocated to Paley Library once the Charles Library is completed in May 2019. The relocation will cost $5 million.

The Board approved more than $200,000 to fund renovation designs of the IBC Student Recreation Center, which is attached to the rear of the Liacouras Center. The designs will likely eliminate the racquetball courts on the center’s second floor, update the group fitness rooms and consolidate lockers in the building.

These renovations will be made to match the design and function of the Student Athletic and Recreation Complex that opened at 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue in Fall 2017.

Updating the IBC Recreation Center is important now because the Board of Trustees intends to end the university’s lease for the space that currently houses Temple University Fitness in 2020, officials said at a facilities meeting on Monday.

Temple Rome’s library will also be renovated for $3.8 million to include amenities like a lounge for students, an updated dining area and breakout spaces. The university has a long-term lease for the library’s space at Temple Rome through 2035.

In addition to infrastructure changes, the Board considered alterations to several majors and minors in the Boyer College of Music and Dance, the College of Public Health, the College of Science and Technology, the College of Engineering, the Tyler School of Art and the Fox School of Business. The alterations, which were proposed by the Academic Affairs Committee, are as follows:

  • Terminate the concentration in curriculum and instruction for the kinesiology master’s and doctorate degree programs


  • A minor in nutrition
  • A doctorate degree in bioinformatics
  • A bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering
  • A concentration in supply chain management for the master’s of business administration
  • An optional concentration in horticulture for the bachelor’s in landscape architecture


  • The doctorate in music therapy
  • The bachelor’s of public health

Englert used his time in front of the trustees to highlight recent philanthropy at the university, including gifts from Charles and trustee Gerry Lenfest.

O’Connor also noted the trustees’ recent philanthropic donations.

“The trustees around this table have contributed $70 to $75 million to the welfare of this university for the mission that we honor: accessibility and diversity,” O’Connor said.

Faculty Senate President Michael Sachs thanked Englert for attending the Faculty Senate meeting last month, during which members passed a resolution asking the Board to provide more information about Temple’s proposed on-campus football stadium.

Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes reported to the Board about recent Temple Student Government initiatives, like last month’s opening of the Cherry Pantry, which is Temple’s first food pantry for food-insecure students, and its Peer-Mentorship Program to help nontraditional students transition into college life.

He also noted upcoming events, like TSG’s annual trip to Harrisburg to lobby for state funding and its upcoming release of a survey that details student opinions on the proposed football stadium.

Mann-Barnes reiterated TSG’s stance on the proposed football stadium proposal: TSG will not support any stadium that negatively impacts the North Philadelphia community.

Kelly Brennan
can be reached at Or you can follow Kelly on Twitter @_kellybrennan Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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