Temple stakeholders note lack of accessibility, awareness of Board of Trustees

University stakeholders believe Temple would benefit from improved accessibility to the Board. Trustees acknowledge the needed improvements, but wonder if the public is truly interested in their operations.

Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Mitch Morgan on Oct 10, 2023. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

At the end of every conversation with faculty, alumni or parents, Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Mitchell Morgan provides his personal cell phone number and email address to whomever he’s meeting with that day. 

He says he responds as quickly as he can to any follow up comments in an effort to be accessible to university stakeholders. 

“Everytime I meet with the faculty, everytime I meet with deans, everytime I meet with senior leadership, everytime I meet with alumni and parents, I’m all yours,” Morgan told The Temple News in an exclusive interview in January. 

Despite Morgan’s efforts, some stakeholders believe Temple’s Board of Trustees — the university governing board composed of 36 voting members — are lacking needed accessibility and transparency. Many Temple students share that same notion, unsure of what it is the Board actually does.

“I don’t [know what they do],” said Angilina Julia, a senior journalism major. “I would assume they discuss tuition rates and campus property, maybe in charge of planning new development?”

Julia also thinks students would benefit from knowing more about what the Board discusses. The Board does not post meeting information on any student-friendly platforms like social media or student portals, but dates for all public session meetings are advertised on the Board of Trustees website. The meetings can be live streamed or accessed through Zoom.

The Trustees acknowledges it can improve its means of accessibility and engagement with stakeholders and students and has outlined plans to do so, including speeding up the process to approve meeting agendas and minutes, holding more in-person meetings and increasing conversations about the Board.

“The Board has its role and does what it does and deals with the issues that it deals with,” Michael Gebhardt, university secretary, told The Temple News. “It can only be better at that by being more informed about what students care about, what faculty care about, what employees care about. So, this increased level of awareness and engagement is a two way street.”


Of the Board’s 36 voting members, 24 are elected and 12 are appointed by Pennsylvania government officials. Trustees weigh in on larger, overarching issues the university faces. They’re involved in approving renovation projects, like the current Paley Hall construction, and authorizing university operating budgets, including tuition increases and budget cuts, which Temple has enacted for the past three academic years. 

The Board has most recently been charged with tapping the university’s next president. The university has developed a Presidential Search Committee consisting of various Temple stakeholders, and enlisted Spencer Stuart, an executive leadership firm, and Collective Genius, a research and strategy firm, to help guide the search. 

Members of the Temple Board of Trustees at a meeting on Oct 10, 2023. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Morgan expects the committee to recommend a candidate to the Board for approval in late March or early April. 

Trustees are also faced with a tumultuous scene in Temple Athletics, marked by Temple’s inability to adapt to the evolving NIL space and immense coaching turnover.

The Board restructured itself approximately two and a half years ago, consolidating committees and “raising the bar” of what the Trustees discuss, Morgan said.

“I was the chair of facilities and we talked about, you know, $2,000 a month leaks, that’s not what a trustee should be talking about,” he added.

Ultimately, trustees don’t, and should not, have a say in the day-to-day operations of the university, Morgan said.

“The accessibility that you might be looking to and asking for might be something that management should be doing more often than the Board of Trustees,” Morgan added. “Because we come and we meet with the presidents, with our different committees, with our deans, with our Provost, with senior leaders, where they present us with recommendations and ideas, not the other way around.”

The Board has also been working on addressing campus safety issues and adapting to the changing college athletics landscape, Morgan said. 

The Board holds public session meetings every academic year to discuss these pertinent issues, as required by The Sunshine Act, which requires Pennsylvania agencies, including  state-related universities like Temple, to hold business in an open and public setting. 

During the 2023-24 academic year, Trustees have held or will hold public session meetings in October 2023, January, May and July. The Board also has eight executive committees that largely decide the agenda and what will be up for vote during public sessions. These committees also have public meetings, but they are not routinely advertised through any university-wide announcement or platform. 

“Some people figure it out,” Morgan said. “Because when we go from executive to public, people were coming into the meetings, so some people have figured it out.”

The Sunshine Act does not require public comment during Temple’s Board meetings, Gebhardt said.

Some fellow state-relateds, like Penn State, offer a Public Comment Form on its Board of Trustees website, allowing stakeholders to voice their thoughts before an upcoming public session meeting. 

There is currently no time carved out for public comments during public sessions and the Board currently has no plans to do so, Gebhardt said. Instead, any public comments are directed to Gebhardt’s university secretary email. Constructive comments are then delivered to Trustees and acknowledged via email, he added.

However, Gebhardt rarely receives emails containing issues that will be conveyed to the Board. 

“It is nowhere near every week that I get a message that is of substance to go further,” Gebhardt said. “It’s a lot less than that.”


The Temple News routinely observes public session meetings, including those that don’t begin on time. The first meeting of the academic year in October 2023 started 45 minutes late and lasted about 20 minutes. 

The delayed start time is often caused by the Board finishing conversations from committee meetings that occur prior to the public sessions. The Board aims to invite any participants from the public into their committee meetings, Morgan said.

“If you’re not aware of that, you should be aware of that,” Morgan said. “And if you don’t know wherever that may be, it’s our fault that you and a broader audience is not aware that they have the right to come into the public sessions of those committees. So that’s important, because if you knew that, you probably then wouldn’t feel that the Board’s meetings are as quick and short and non-interactive as they are. They do appear to be non-interactive.”

Stakeholders believe that the university’s Board of Trustees lacks the necessary accessibility and transparency, leaving them uncertain about the Board’s actual functions. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, whose district includes Temple’s Main Campus, introduced a bill in April 2023 that would add additional state-appointed lawmakers to Temple’s Board of Trustees.

The bill has yet to come up for a vote in the House, but Kenyatta is still trying to improve the current construction of the Board of Trustees and recognizes its public accessibility is an issue.

Kenyatta also supported an amendment related to Temple’s appropriation that would expand transparency and oversight at the university.

“I love my alma-mater and I’m grateful for our ongoing partnership for a variety of issues impacting North Philadelphia and beyond,” wrote Kenyatta, a 2012 public communications alumnus, in a statement to The Temple News. “The public and students deserve greater access to these meetings and I’m confident that we can work together on this as well.”

Most community members who involve themselves with the Board of Trustees also share Kenyatta’s concern. Judith Robinson has been attending public Board meetings for more than 15 years and has almost always been the only member from the community regularly in attendance.

Robinson agrees that public accessibility to the Board is an issue, and if better efforts were taken to improve access for community members, more people would likely show up, she said.

“I had been coming to the Trustee meetings myself just as an individual, just coming to observe,” said Robinson, chairperson of the 32nd Democratic Ward Registered Community Organization. “I really didn’t see anybody that I could identify as being like myself, just an average citizen from the community.”

Robinson’s main takeaway from the dozens of Board meetings she’s witnessed is that if members of the community had easy access to the Board, change could be made, she said.

“[The Board spends] a lot of money, I can say that,” Robinson said. “They’re always fixing up some building. Hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars. So that’s one thing I’m cognizant of as I sit there all the time through all of these meetings. If the people who lived in this neighborhood just got a little piece of that money, boy we would be a thriving community.” 

Public session agendas, which outline the main topics for that day’s gathering and can include needed approval for capital projects, also aren’t posted on the website far in advance, same for the minutes after a meeting ends. This can occur because materials discussed in agendas are not finalized far enough in advance.

David Goldberg, a 1994 journalism alumnus and university stakeholder, has also been a vocal critic of the Board. He’s even taken it upon himself to organize meetings with select trustees and other Temple stakeholders about athletics, and has found they typically come with mixed results, he told The Temple News.

“I’m not someone who probably should be meeting with the Board,” Goldberg said. “But there were very few of us realizing that there are serious problems at Temple and we need to hear from them.”

The Temple News first reported that key university stakeholders met with members of the Board in November 2023 to discuss issues facing athletics, like underwhelming fundraising, NIL deficiencies and the ever-changing NCAA landscape. Attendees said it was among the most productive meetings they’ve ever had with Board members.

Other key stakeholders have recently met with a small number of Board members to discuss upcoming obstacles the Board faces, mainly relating to finances surrounding athletics. While these meetings can be a chore to set up, Goldberg has identified certain members of the Board that are motivated and seem willing to help, he said.

When meetings with Board members seem to be going well, things come to a halt. There has yet to be any sustained momentum when it comes to continued access to members of the Board. Goldberg hopes that changes in the future.

“That’s a great question, and it’s the ultimate question,” Goldberg said about whether meetings will continue.

Between 2022 and 2023, the Board had also been unresponsive to Temple Parent Safety Group’s rapid response campaign about campus safety issues and the availability of former President Jason Wingard, said Fadia Halma, a parent of two former Temple students and a leader of Temple’s Parent Safety Group.

The group’s most recent attempt in reaching out to Trustees was roughly nine months ago, Halma added.

“We rolled out emails, we made phone calls and we had, I want to say, over 50 parents doing that, really to no avail,” said Halma, the regional director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. “It wasn’t until [Vice President for Public Safety] Dr. Griffin started to work with us that we really started to see some changes. I would say for the most part, the Board was very silent, working with the parents group.”

The Board has engaged more actively with constituents since last summer, including parents through the university’s Parent and Family Council, Morgan wrote in a message to The Temple News. 

Halma believes it’s important for the Board to make themselves more available to students and parents because they represent the university. 

“The average parent or even student for that matter, has no idea what the Board is doing,” Halma said. “Even the limited newsletters that do go out, really don’t talk about what the Board is facing, whether it’s fundraising, whether it’s opening up another building just every once in a while you get an announcement here and there, but for the general well being of the students, we don’t really hear that much.”

This is not the first time the Board has been under scrutiny from stakeholders. In April 2023, Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union, voted no confidence in Morgan and Provost Gregory Mandel amid concerns about the university’s handling of the TUGSA strike and campus safety.


“I think it was a wake up call,” Morgan said of the vote. “I mean, people are upset. They’re not happy, and therefore, they’re sending a message and the message is, ‘We’re not happy with the safety. We’re not happy with enrollment. We’re not happy with what’s going on post-COVID,’ and therefore we hear them loud and clear. So, I’m not offended by the vote of no confidence. I take it as a learning tool.”


In the first public session meeting of 2024, just two weeks after speaking with The Temple News, Morgan verbally addressed accessibility concerns, hoping to return to more in-person meetings. 

“I know that virtual meetings are a blessing and a curse, sometimes they’re easier to access, but perhaps a little detached,” Morgan said in the Jan. 30 meeting. “Going forward I’ve expressed to my fellow trustees that we try our best to have more in-person meetings and attendance. I hope those of you who are interested in the board’s work will be able to attend those public meetings.”

Some trustees have also engaged in a series of “listening tours” since the Fall 2023 semester, and the Board will continue to listen to the Temple community, Morgan said. The Presidential Search Committee was also present for the listening tours. 

Board leaders have recognized that changes need to be made in increasing the transparency of the Trustees’ processes and discussions.

Gebhardt wants to set harder deadlines for Trustees to finalize their documents and paperwork ahead of time, so that agendas can be posted well in advance of a public session meeting. 

He is also working to create a process where meeting minutes are approved more quickly, attempting to produce them within two weeks of a meeting as opposed to waiting for the next public session for their approval. 

“The Board is very open to the idea of there being more awareness, and certainly doing the kind of engagement roadshow meetings, conversations whatever you want to call it, that helps to the extent that it’s really useful to students or anyone else, understand,” Gebhardt said.

Temple Student Government could play a stronger role in facilitating conversations, feedback and familiarity between students and the Board, said Rohan Khadka, TSG president. 

Khadka, who is allotted time at public session meetings to deliver a statement on behalf of the student body, also suggested the Board use social media, newsletters or televisions around campus to reach out to students. 

TSG president, Rohan Khadka, at the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct 10, 2023. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“The Board of Trustees can go to the students where they’re at to get better information about what the students are experiencing, how the students are feeling as one of the major stakeholders at the university,” Khadka said.

Ultimately, Morgan has noted a drop-off in public interest with the Trustees, but acknowledged that better communication from the Board may aid this issue. 

“I’m surprised that in the public sessions, sometimes no one comes in and with my fellow trustees, also, so to the same level that you think that we are doing things in private, I as a trustee, I’ve always noticed that people don’t come into the public sessions, and we wonder if they’re even interested,” Morgan said. “So maybe there’s a communication problem. And I’m happy to work with [Gebhardt] to solve that.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.