Tamron Hall elected to Board of Trustees, meeting interrupted by protesters

President Theobald was interrupted minutes into his speech during the meeting.

A 15 Now protester addresses President Theobald during a Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 13, 2015. | Patrick Clark TTN

Tamron Hall, an alumna who graduated with a broadcast journalism degree in 1992, was unanimously elected to join the Board of Trustees at a public meeting at the university’s Health Sciences Campus Tuesday afternoon.

Hall claims the seat formerly occupied by Bill Cosby, who resigned from the board last December. Chairman of the Board Patrick O’Connor compared Hall’s upbringing to that of the late Lewis Katz, and lauded her commitment to Temple.

“The story for me is her story,” O’Connor told The Temple News after the meeting. “Her parents didn’t even know where Temple was … she drove all the way from Texas, looking at this big city. She lived in one of our dorms that’s not like Morgan Hall, she worked three jobs, she studied her brains out.”

O’Connor added electing an African-American woman to the board helps, but also that diversity among the trustees isn’t a “numbers game.”

“It’s about getting quality people of diverse backgrounds on this board because that’s the microcosm Temple University is,” he said. “Temple University isn’t 36 white people, or black people, or Hispanic people. It’s a polyglot … we have Asians, we have African Americans, we have women. Yeah, we have much more to do, I’m not proud of it, but again, I only have say over 24 [seats].”

Of the university’s 36 trustees, 12 are selected by the state legislature. The remainder are selected by Temple.

Early on in the meeting, several 15 Now members interrupted President Theobald during his regularly-scheduled speech to the trustees.

The protest, which lasted about 10 minutes, started moments after Theobald began speaking. The activists said several times President Theobald hasn’t responded to their emails, and refuses to meet with them about the issue of minimum wage.

15 Now members added the university could be doing more to help those in deep poverty in Philadelphia. As members of the organization were being led out of the meeting by Temple Police and security, one man shouted, “Bill Cosby is a rapist!”

Following the meeting, O’Connor—who was unanimously elected to retain his position by the trustees Tuesday—said 15 Now’s protest “missed the point,” because the university already helps the poor in many ways.

“This is an institution, a university, a medical school that freaking is down there taking care of social issues that everyone else ignores,” O’Connor said. “Let’s get some credit for it. We don’t beg for it. But I thought they missed the point.”

After the protest, Theobald showed a brief video showcasing new construction and events occurring at Temple, including the start of the new library on the Barton Hall demolition site and improvements to Liacouras Walk.

President Theobald and Chairman of the Board Patrick O'Connor listen to a speech at a Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 13, 2015.
President Theobald and Chairman of the Board Patrick O’Connor listen to a speech at a Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 13, 2015.

The board unanimously approved the allocation of $170 million for construction and design of the new library, as well as $22 million for development of new athletic fields and facilites at the site of the shuttered William Penn High School.

Senior Vice President of Construction, Facilities and Operations Jim Creedon said the approval of the funds in both projects “keeps everything on schedule.” Construction of the library should start next spring, and William Penn should be finished by Fall 2016, he added.

The board also approved the renaming of the Center of the Arts to the Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts. The new establishment encompasses the Boyer College of Music and Dance, along with the newly-named School of Theater, Film and Media Arts. The Tyler School of Art is now an independent school.

The meeting was Student Body President Ryan Rinaldi’s first as a non-voting member of the board. He delivered a speech about the success Temple has had since the start of the semester, citing the value of a Temple degree and a sense of pride around campus.

“It was exciting,” Rinaldi said of his first meeting. “There are a lot of very accomplished people in the room. It’s pretty cool to give the exciting State of the Students Address to that group of people because they don’t see campus every day, and they don’t necessarily see what students are up to.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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