Students express support for Wingard’s decision to step down

Temple announced Jason Wingard’s resignation after serving as president for almost two years.

Emma Holtzman believes it was smart for Wingard to take responsibility and resign on his own, rather than being pushed out. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Saad Farooqui knew that students would push for President Jason Wingard’s removal when Temple University administration took more than a month to reach an agreement with TUGSA members striking for improved working conditions.

“I know a lot of people wanted him out after the way he handled the whole TA thing,” said Farooqui, a freshman neuroscience major. “I know there was some other issues, I knew he was a questionable president.”

Roughly two weeks after the university struck a deal with TUGSA, Board of Trustees Chairman Mitchell Morgan announced Tuesday that Wingard will resign on Friday after almost two years as university president. Most students agreed that Wingard made the right decision by stepping down.

“If somebody has to resign from the Presidential position, that’s a pretty big deal obviously, and there has to be some sort of disapproval,” said Thomas Chiomento, a junior business management major. “I think that’s been pretty obvious through the majority of the student body that there hasn’t really been some overall approval.”

More than 92 percent of students said they did not approve of Wingard’s performance as president, according to a March 2023 poll by The Temple News. Students focused their disapproval around his relatability and highlighted concerns about the university’s response to the TUGSA strike and safety. 

Just a week before his resignation, Temple Association of University Professionals authorized a vote of no confidence against Wingard and other leaders that was scheduled to take place during the week of April 10.

The decision to hold a no confidence vote came after the union sent an email to faculty stating their concerns regarding declining enrollment rates, financial issues, labor disputes and millions of dollars spent on trips.

“I think it’s a smart decision [to resign] because he was getting under a lot of scrutiny and such and he was probably going to have that vote of no confidence go against him anyways,” said Emma Holtzman, a junior environmental science major. “Why not take the responsibility and just do it himself?”

Wingard had faced intense backlash from the university community in recent months following the death of Temple Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, who was fatally shot while responding to a robbery at 17th Street near Montgomery Avenue.

The incident led some students to question how committed Wingard was to keeping students safe on and near campus, said Riley Brady, a sophomore English major.

“As someone who lives on the block that [Wingard] was going to move onto, I can definitely attest to the fact that the university has had a really poor response to student concerns about not only Jason’s behavior personally but the safety of everyone on campus,” Brady said.

Safety was not the only concern students had with Wingard. While leaving his office in Sullivan Hall on March 2, a group of striking TUGSA members blocked his car and chanted as he tried to exit campus.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative public opinion, some students believe Wingard is not completely at fault for some of Temple’s recent challenges.

“I just feel bad because I feel like he had ideas and good promises,” said Morgan Bailey, a freshman musical theater major. “I was very shocked and I feel kinda that he was in a way almost forced out by either TUGSA striking or people being angry at him for not having enough safety around the school.”

While Temple searches for its third president in three years, the Board will designate a small group of senior leaders to govern the university. Each will have individual responsibilities for Temple’s core functions as the Board searches for the university’s next president, Morgan wrote.

Despite not knowing what will come next for Temple’s administration, students are ready for the change.

“I’m a freshman,” Farooquie said. “I don’t know what it’s like with a different president, I don’t know if it’ll be good with him out or bad with him out necessarily, but I know it’ll be something different, which I’m looking forward to seeing.”

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