Temple’s Faculty Senate voted to formally oppose the university’s current proposal for an on-campus football stadium last Wednesday.
Faculty Senate members voted 24-1, with three people abstaining, to pass a resolution that states the university should further research the feasibility and safety issues of the proposed on-campus football stadium.
The 2,200-member Faculty Senate is a representative body for the university’s full-time faculty members. It sits on the Board of Trustees, but has no voting power for the Board’s decisions.
In the resolution, the Faculty Senate outlines three goals, urging:
- The Board of Trustees to reverse its decision to submit the university’s proposal for an on-campus multipurpose facility to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission
- The Board and university administration to provide clearer details about the “current and projected state of this project,” including responses to the concerns outlined in the Faculty Senate’s resolution, details from the university’s feasibility studies, the amount of money fundraised so far and backup plans if the stadium costs more than it projected $150 million
- A joint task force of faculty members and university administration to review “potential health harms” to football players
The resolution was introduced at a special session with President Richard Englert, who gave a similar presentation to what he has already released to the Temple community, university spokesman Brandon Lausch said.
“Temple continues to solicit comments from all interested parties as part of the ongoing process involving the multipurpose facility,” Englert said in a statement to The Temple News. “I respect and appreciate the opinion of those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting of the Faculty Senate as input in a continuing conversation involving multiple constituencies about this project.”
This special session was rescheduled, with the original vote planned on the same day as the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade that caused Main Campus to close on Feb. 8.
Englert will host an informational town hall about the multipurpose facility on March 6 during Spring Break at 6:30 p.m. in Mitten Hall. This will be the first town hall that Englert will host as university president.
Although only 25 members of the Faculty Senate voted, more than 40 were in attendance at some point during the two-hour meeting, but couldn’t stay for the entire time, said Steve Newman, an English professor and co-proposer of the resolution.
The resolution was introduced by Newman and past Faculty Senate presidents Tricia Jones and Paul LaFollette, who have been preparing it since Englert released the multipurpose facility proposal in January.
“We appreciated President Englert coming and sharing his vision for the stadium with us and answering questions, and then had a productive discussion on the resolution, which passed with overwhelming support,” Faculty Senate President Michael Sachs wrote in an email.
In 2017, the university paid $1.73 million in rent and average gameday costs for each football game at Lincoln Financial Field.
According to a 2016 report by Chief Financial Officer Ken Kaiser that was sent to the Faculty Senate, the annual rent at the Linc will triple in 2018. Englert said the university would save $2 to $3 million if an on-campus stadium was built.
The stadium would be funded by private donations, bonds and money that would have been used to rent Lincoln Financial Field, according to the university’s project proposal.
The resolution raises more than a dozen concerns about the university’s current proposal, including safety concerns for football players and increased tension with community residents.
The proposal also notes that research suggests football stadiums are poor financial investments. It questions whether funding could be better spent on addressing student food and housing insecurity and hiring and retaining tenure-track faculty
Early plans for the proposed 35,000-seat multipurpose facility show 28,000 square feet in retail space. The proposed stadium plans also feature a concussion research center and classroom space.
A university spokesperson on behalf of the football team declined to comment on the resolution. Both Sachs and Newman did not know if members of the football team were included in conversations while drafting this resolution.
Although many members supported the resolution, there were several professors, like communications professor Scott Gratson, who said they believe the stadium would benefit students but did not vote due to prior obligations.
“At the end of the day, these are my students that are benefitting from this in the same way when [Temple] built the Science and Education Research Center,” Gratson said. “I’m not in science and engineering, but am I thrilled for that portion of our community? Of course I am. … These are helping students with their individualized crafts, why wouldn’t we do that?”
Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes was at the meeting last week and said he supports the Faculty Senate’s resolution. TSG plans to conduct its own survey of student opinions — created with an independent company — on the stadium after Spring Break, Mann-Barnes said.
“You could tell it was from very different perspectives, so you saw it was from an education point of view, a health point of view, a finance point of view,” Mann-Barnes said. “[The resolution] brings a necessary nuance to this conversation that hasn’t necessarily been heard yet.”