Temple’s presidential profile reports show increased focus on community

The university’s position specification for their new leader has similarities to the last presidential search prospectus.

The Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee are closing in on their selection of the university's 15th President. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With Temple preparing to announce a new president this spring, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee has spent the past months evaluating and interviewing candidates. The candidate pool has been narrowed down to a “very small group of highly qualified individuals,” the committee announced, in an April 8 message to the community.

The search committee has been guided by a presidential profile that used community input gathered from The Collective Genius, a research and strategy firm that has been assisting with the search. This year’s profile, also called a position specification, has similarities to a 2020 presidential prospectus that resulted in the selection of former president Jason Wingard.

The position specification was created by executive leadership search firm Spencer Stuart with review by the search committee, wrote Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer, in an email to The Temple News. Spencer Stuart does not comment on ongoing searches.

The university has maintained confidentiality throughout the process. The search committee was advised by Spencer Stuart and some of the candidates that a breach of confidentiality could lead to withdrawals and potentially spoil the process, the committee wrote in the April 8 message.

Former Temple Student Government President Rohan Khadka is the sole student representative on the search advisory committee. He believes the competitive nature of presidential searches requires confidentiality to allow the candidate to be open throughout the interview process.

“Being able to really offer that intimate connection where what they say in that room, the ideas and the hopes that they have for Temple and even areas of opportunity here,” said Khadka, a junior secondary education-social studies major. “Those are things that could be held against someone or things that can be plastered everywhere. They have the confidence of the committee that when they interview we are all on the same page.”

Khadka and the 16 other members of the committee have taken feedback from the community to meetings and interviews in an effort to bring a wider range of input into the search. That feedback, along with the presidential profile, will hopefully help the committee submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees in May, Khadka said.

Here are some of the key details from 2023’s presidential profile and how they compare to the 2020 prospectus for Temple’s 12th president.

Institutional Overview and Mission Statement

The first few pages, starting with the cover page, of the 2020 and 2023 presidential position specifications are relatively unchanged. Much of the language from the 2020 search is carried over to this search’s document.

The institutional overview in both documents is essentially identical, covering Temple’s key role in the City of Philadelphia, its variety of experiences between eight campuses, and its nearly $300 million research portfolio. The mission statement of providing access to affordable education, creating a collaborative community and promoting service and engagement in the city are also unchanged.

The statistics listed in the section reflect changes in enrollment and employee numbers in the three years since the last search. The number of faculty and staff Temple employs is more than 8,600, up from 8,000 in the last profile. The total number of enrolled students is more than 30,000, down from 37,000 in 2020. 

Temple has dealt with low enrollment numbers during the last four years with enrollment decreasing by 21.8% in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The language in the section of the position specification for finances is also similar, highlighting the operating budget and the percentage of the budget raised from tuition and fees. It also highlights donations and student support.

Job Description 

While the job description for Temple’s 15th president has evolved since the 12th president search in 2020, there are still similarities. The introduction of the “Leadership Opportunity” section in the most recent profile highlights a president who will lead an institution passionate about its founding mission.

“Temple University’s next president will advance the university’s reputation and quality in a rapidly evolving higher education landscape,” according to the report. “This will require an experienced, talented, and engaged leader who will empower and motivate all members of Temple’s diverse community.”

Though there is an additional focus on possessing a “deep knowledge of and respect for higher education,” the description is nearly identical to the 2020 report.

In 2020, the university sought out a “visionary leader” who would advance “Temple’s place in the rapidly evolving higher education landscape” by empowering and motivating all members of Temple’s community to constant reflection, improvement and growth,” according to the 2020 prospectus.

The key priorities in the job description of the 15th president also have similarities to the previous description, including expanding Temple’s reach nationally and internationally, prioritizing deeper ties with the North Philadelphia community, expanding the university’s network, growing the endowment and connecting with Temple alumni internationally.

The current search also has some added priorities. Though “leveraging diversity of backgrounds and perspectives” is included in 2020, the most recent report develops it by including “making sure all campus stakeholders are included and heard.”

The new job description also includes a “leadership style characterized by authenticity, collegiality, empathy, transparency, integrity, and collaboration and an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Desired experience and leadership skills

At the top of the qualifications section in the 2020 prospectus is “significant fundraising experience and business acumen” and the ability to find the resources to deliver on the mission of Temple.

Wingard, the result of that selection process, held positions at business firms like Goldman Sachs, in addition to his administrative positions at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University.

Board of Trustees Chairman Mitchell Morgan believes that to avoid a “revolving door” at the president position, the university will need to find someone who has academic leadership experience.

“This can’t be someone who needs to learn how to be a president with on the job training,” Morgan said, in a Jan. 17 interview with The Temple News. “This has to be someone who’s done it before. Either in a small university or a big position, as a dean or provost in another university, because we are in the business of education. We’re not in the real estate business and we’re not in the communications business. We’re in the business of education.”

The current search’s “ideal experience” begins with a demonstrated academic stature and intellectual curiosity. It also requires proven success in building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive environment. Additionally, the new description requires “experience successfully navigating difficult public conversations with civility across a range of cultural and political issues.”

Wingard resigned in March 2023 as the university faced mounting pressure regarding safety concerns on and near Main Campus and a graduate student union strike that lasted 42 days and drew responses from state and federal lawmakers.

The new job description also includes “critical leadership capabilities” that include strategic leadership based on establishing priorities focused on short-term needs and the long-term health of the institution. It also covers a commitment to community building, inclusivity and profile raising and fundraising.

The updated job description is in part the result of the “University Voices” report created by The Collective Genius and released in November 2023. TCG gathered material from more than 30 hours of listening sessions and 2,144 survey responses from university stakeholders.

TCG’s report found that participants highlighted a commitment to diversity, safety, community engagement and balancing a financial future as some of the most important priorities and qualities of the next president.

“I don’t expect the next president to know every aspect of these problems we have,” Morgan said. “But I expect the next president to be able to understand these issues, and then deal with it with empowering people around he or she.”

Fallon Roth contributed reporting.

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