Administrators, faculty, students and alumni gathered at Temple Student Government’s general assembly meeting Monday to mourn the loss of Arnold Boyd, 57, longtime program coordinator for the Office of Student Activities.
Boyd, who arrived at Temple in September 1981, died Friday, Nov. 3 while he was in his office in the Student Center. Representatives from Campus Safety Services and the Office of Communications could not confirm the cause of Boyd’s death when contacted by “The Temple News” Monday.
As program coordinator for the Office of Student Activities, Boyd was responsible for registering more than 150 student organizations, offering workshops in conjunction with the Student Assistance Center and planning events for the Office of Student Activities. During his tenure, Boyd helped coordinate several events including Homecoming, Spring Fling, Memorable Moments, African American Heritage Month and Student Leadership Retreat programs.
Temple Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Theresa Powell and Dr. John DiMino, director of Tuttleman Counseling Services were present at the meeting to help students deal with the loss of Boyd and to share their thoughts about the sudden passing of their colleague.
“There is probably not one person in this room this afternoon who did not know Arnold or had an opportunity to interact with him,” Powell said.
Powell said she believed that Boyd had two passions. One was his love for jazz and the other was “his love and empowerment for students.”
DiMino, who moderated the forum, called Boyd a “Temple institution.”
“I had conversations with Arnold about his work and it was clear to me how much he loved working with [students], loved his job and really cared about what he did and about your success,” DiMino said. “So it’s a big loss for all of us … Whenever someone like that who is an elder in this community is lost, it’s a loss for everyone.”
Several students and alumni at the meeting walked up to the podium in Kiva Auditorium to share their feelings about Boyd.
TSG President Raysean Hogan, like many other students said he was devastated when he heard the news.
“It was very, very hard to comprehend what had happened because you see him everyday,” Hogan said.
Hogan said TSG is working on several different ways to honor Boyd, including a proposal to name The Village – the student organization offices in the Student Center Annex – after him. Boyd was heavily involved in creation of The Village.
Representative Nick Bardoutsos said Boyd made an impression on him and his brothers in Alpha Kappa Lambda.
“I’ve never seen a man in any administrative position before, and, really, in life before, just try so much to help someone out,” the sophomore said.
Bardoutsos said he saw Boyd Friday afternoon and talked to him about the university and student organizations.
He said he could remember how Boyd smiled throughout the entire conversation.
“Throughout this year I’ve had so many meetings with Arnold that I remember at some point I told people ‘I see him everyday. I have too many meetings,'” Bardoutsos said. “I’ll tell you right now, I had too few.”
Bunmi Samuel had several meetings with Boyd when he was TSG president from 1998 to 2001. He said Boyd’s door was always open.
“He is the reason why a lot of you guys are here, why I’m here,” Samuel said. “As a freshmen coming into Temple University he introduced me to what Temple University was about. I’m sure that for a lot of you guys the activity on campus wouldn’t be the same if Arnold Boyd wasn’t present.”
Samuel said students must maintain Boyd’s legacy.
“Many of the things you see now were not present four or five years ago,” Samuel said. “[Student] organizations were not as active four or five years ago.
“Diversity was not an issue that was brought up in many cases without Arnold Boyd bringing it up,” he said. “I look across the room and a lot people here are of many different backgrounds obviously and it wasn’t like this. There was the black people on one side, the white people on one side … Everybody had their own little niche and things that they did on campus but Arnold Boyd his goal was to bring everybody into the center of what it was to be active on campus.”
Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, a theater professor, who met Boyd 20 years ago, rushed to the meeting once she received the e-mail about his death.
“I had to quickly change clothes and make it here,” Williams-Witherspoon said, “so that I could just say something.”
Fighting back her emotions, Williams-Witherspoon told the general assembly about a serious car accident she was in when she was five months pregnant.
When she arrived at Delaware County Community Hospital she told the doctors to call her father and Boyd, because he had expected her to give a performance at a Black History Month event on campus. She told Boyd that she would be unable to make the event.
Three days after the accident, Williams-Witherspoon lost the baby she was carrying. Five days later, she said she received a check from Boyd in the amount that she would’ve earned had she made the performance.
“I have loved him for 20 years,” Williams-Witherspoon said.
“…He had an appetite for this [job] that was just amazing,” she said. “He worked late hours, would call me at 10 o’clock and I’d say ‘Arnold where are you’ [imitating Boyd] ‘I’m still in the office’ ‘Go home.’ But he worked so hard because he loved each and every one of you.”
Boyd was also heavily involved in the Leadership Challenge, a way for different organizations on campus to unite through teaching students principles of leadership.
At the LeaderShape Institute, Boyd was the family cluster facilitator for several TSG members including Vice President of Academic Affairs Priya Patel, Director of Internal Operations David Lynch and former Diversity Affairs co-chair Daniela Mendoza.
Patel said students at the Institute called Boyd, “Daddy Boyd” because he was “everything that a father figure embodies.”
“For those six days that we were at the LeaderShape Institute we really became his adopted children,” he said.
Lynch said his interactions with Boyd were always pleasant.
“A lot of times when we hear about someone dying all we remember are good things. We can never think of a bad thing,” Lynch said. “But in this case I cannot think of a bad memory about Arnold Boyd.”
Powell said Boyd was always “dapper” and a “consummate gentleman.”
“He always wore a suit and you would never see him without his hat,” Powell said. “Arnold wanted to look good all the time. And on the days when were having activities and we needed Arnold to wear a T-shirt, you had to keep reminding him, ‘Arnold you can’t wear your suit tomorrow. You need to wear a T-shirt.'”
Powell said Boyd would always dress immaculately because he wanted to be a role model.
Dealing with Boyd’s death has been difficult for everyone in the Temple family, she said.
“I feel cheated that he left us way too soon,” Powell said. “But I want you to know that he left an indelible mark on my heart and I’m sure that he did on the hearts of others.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.