1. Marc Lamont Hill causes national controversy
Media studies and production and urban studies professor Marc Lamont Hill caused controversy across the country when he used the phrase “from the river to the sea” in an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian speech at the United Nations on Nov. 28. Many Jewish advocacy groups and scholars said Hill was anti-Semitic and calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. This prompted CNN to fire him the next day from his commentator position. Pro-Israel groups also called for Temple to cut ties with Hill, who is the first endowed Klein College Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions. Palestinian liberation groups, including the Temple Students for Justice in Palestine, defended Hill, who is a longtime social justice advocate for the Palestinian cause, and hosted and supported him at a protest on Main Campus on Dec. 6.
The Temple News published an in-depth analysis of the controversy, including student and faculty reactions, the history behind the “river to the sea” phrase and the university’s response to Hill’s comments, which are protected as free speech under Temple’s faculty contract.
President Richard Englert sent out a statement to the Temple community on Nov. 30, expressing Hill has academic freedom and the university condemns hate speech. However, the university was put in a tough position when Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor made comments to the Inquirer the same day, calling Hill’s remarks “lamentable” and “disgusting.” O’Connor has now said the Hill controversy caused “immeasurable” damage to the university’s donations, and the Board issued a unanimous condemnation of Hill’s remarks.
2. Bill Cosby tried and sentenced for sexual assault
Former trustee Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexually assaulting former Temple employee Andrea Constand on April 26. The university revoked Cosby’s honorary degree after the verdict, following several area universities like Swarthmore College, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania which had already severed ties with Cosby once allegations and criminal charges came against him. Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison on Sept. 26, making him the first celebrity sentenced to jail time for sexual assault during the #MeToo movement.
3. Fox School of Business falsified data to bolster rankings
The Fox School of Business claimed responsibility for false reporting of data to the U.S & World Report in January. The university enlisted the help of Jones Day, an independent law firm, to investigate the extent of the school’s data falsification. The report concluded Fox fostered a high-rankings culture and began misstating data in 2014. As a result, the school was placed under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, longstanding dean Moshe Porat was fired and Temple established improved data programs university-wide. Fox also lost its place as the nation’s top online MBA program in U.S. News’ rankings. Six other Fox master’s programs misreported data to the ranking agency. Earlier this month, the university settled a class-action lawsuit of more than $5.4 million with Fox students who sued the school.
4. Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter removed, former president charged
The Temple chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi was removed from campus and lost its national charter on Oct. 5 after it was investigated by the university for drug, alcohol and social event violations, plus allegations of sexual assault against its former president, Ari Goldstein. Goldstein faces fourteen different sexual assault-related charges in two separate incidents and his trial will begin as early as 2019. Both alleged victims testified this summer that Goldstein sexually assaulted them in the Temple AEPi fraternity house in 2017. Goldstein’s lawyer told The Temple News in August that Goldstein maintains his innocence, and has indicated he will plead not guilty to the charges.
5. O’Connor steps down as Board chair
After serving as chairman of the Board of Trustees for 10 years, Patrick O’Connor will step down in July 2019. He will be succeeded by Mitchell Morgan, a 1980 law alumnus and university trustee. O’Connor will continue to serve on the board, which he was appointed to in 1971 as the youngest trustee in university history.
O’Connor’s time as chairman was marked by widespread academic and financial growth, as well as controversy. Temple’s enrollment and endowment have both grown since his tenure began in July 2009. He’s also overseen major on-campus development, including the $170 million Charles Library, which will open in Fall 2019, and O’Connor Plaza, named after the chairman and his wife, Marie.
O’Connor faced calls to step down as chair because he represented former trustee Bill Cosby in a 2005 civil suit by former Temple employee Andrea Constand. He also made headlines for his comments in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the controversy surrounding professor Marc Lamont Hill.
6. Time is out for an on-campus stadium by 2020
Temple is stalling its plan to build an on-campus stadium.The university will have to seek an extension with the Philadelphia Eagles for Temple football to play at Lincoln Financial Field, as its 15-year lease with the Eagles will soon expire. Its plans for building an on-campus stadium were delayed and not submitted to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission by Temple’s self-imposed deadline over the summer. The university agreed to revisit its relationship with the community, which has shown opposition to the stadium, before going forward with construction. Temple had already extended its current contract with the Eagles, which expired in 2017, so the Owls could play their home games at the Linc during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The 35,000-seat, proposed on-campus stadium is projected to cost $130 million and take 20 months to two years to complete, and construction has not yet begun.
7. Pushback against on-campus stadium
Community residents were active throughout the year expressing their opposition to an on-campus stadium and the Alpha Center, a proposed 70,000-square-foot community facility to be built on Diamond Street near 13th. Community groups organized multiple protests and marches against campus development, including in May, when protestors marched from Main Campus to City Hall. In March, the university and community organizations held separate town halls about the proposed stadium. University President Richard Englert spoke for 13 minutes at Temple’s own town hall before halting due to protestors’ disruption, which ended the event early. At the community’s town hall, seats were left empty for Englert, Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor and City Council President Darrell Clarke. Neither Englert, O’Connor nor Clarke attended the event. Later that month, Clarke, who represents the city’s 5th District encompassing the area surrounding Main Campus, acknowledged community responses and reaffirmed his opposition to an on-campus stadium.
8. Parliament struggles to move legislation
In 2018, Temple Student Government’s Parliament struggled with keeping seats filled and passing effective resolutions. The body began the year with 11 unfilled seats, and only elected half of the 36 possible body members during the 2018-19 elections. Parliament still has seven seats open. The body passed 13 resolutions in 2018 — more than ever in its nearly two year lifespan — which included the creation of a youth financial literacy week and the construction of a university dog park. The Parliamentary Counselor mandated in November that the body propose 15 resolutions before the end of Fall 2018, and as a result, six total resolutions were passed. Five of them were written to improve internal operations.
9. Joshua Hupperterz to begin trial for the murder of student Jenna Burleigh
Junior film and media arts major Jenna Burleigh was a first-week transfer student at Temple when she met former student Joshua Hupperterz at the off-campus bar Pub Webb on Aug. 30. Hupperterz was later charged with Burleigh’s murder, which police believe occurred on Aug. 31 in Hupperterz’s apartment on 16th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Early that morning, Noelle Sterling, a graduate student living in Hupperterz’s building, called Temple Police twice after hearing screams and banging noises. Sterling testified about her calls and Temple Police’s response during a seven-hour preliminary hearing in November 2017. Evidence and nine other witnesses, including Hupperterz’s cousin by marriage Erik Carlsen, were introduced at the hearing. Carlsen testified that he helped Hupperterz transport a plastic bin from the off-campus apartment to Hupperterz’s mother’s home in Jenkintown, and Burleigh’s body was later found on Hupperterz’s grandmother’s property in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Hupperterz has maintained his innocence since the beginning, said David Nenner, Hupperterz’s lawyer. Earlier this month, Hupperterz rejected a guilty plea deal that would have sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. If convicted of first- or second-degree murder, Hupperterz could be given a life sentence. His trial is set to begin on Jan. 7.
10. Cherry Pantry opens to fight student food insecurity
In response to a report that found one-third of Temple students experience food insecurity, the university opened the Cherry Pantry on Feb. 19 in Student Center North. Students can pick up free, non-perishable food items and other essentials once per week by showing their OWLcards. The pantry has received support across Main Campus and beyond, including more than $14,000 in funds raised by Challah for Hunger, the student organization that bakes and sells the traditional Jewish bread every week. In October, the pantry received a record donation of more than 900 lbs. of food and personal hygiene products from Giant Food Stores.