Temple’s search to fill a vacancy of the top job in its fundraising office has drawn out for several weeks after President Theobald removed a controversial finalist from consideration due to internal backlash, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
The defunct finalist, Matt Kupec, is the former vice chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who resigned in 2012 after it was found that he spent close to $17,000 of school money on personal trips.
In late February Kupec interviewed to be Temple’s senior vice president in charge of institutional advancement and was considered to be a top candidate until some involved in the university’s decision making learned about his malpractice at UNC and voiced their concern, according to two sources who requested to remain anonymous to discuss the situation.
It’s unclear where specifically the backlash came from – faculty, the administration, trustees or elsewhere – but Kupec’s history is easily accessible. The first result of a Google search of his name is a news report on his resignation.
According to a UNC audit, Kupec took 14 personal trips between December 2008 and September 2012, often spending university money with his girlfriend, Tamara Hansbrough.
Hansbrough, who worked as a major gifts officer in the UNC Student Affairs office, is the mother of former UNC basketball player Tyler Hansbrough and former Notre Dame basketball player Ben Hansbrough. The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported in 2012 that some of the couple’s trips coincided with Ben Hansbrough’s basketball schedule.
Both Kupec and Tamara Hansbrough resigned in September 2012. Kupec worked at UNC for more than 20 years and helped raise more than $4 billion, according to a 2012 UNC press release announcing his resignation.
Tilghman Moyer has been Temple’s interim senior vice president of institutional advancement since former vice president David Unruh resigned in December 2012. Temple hired the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer to find Unruh’s replacement.
Typically for vice presidential positions, Temple hires an outside firm to conduct a search for a large pool of candidates. The university has its own search committee, usually made up of trustees, administrators and faculty, to narrow the field.
Representatives from Witt/Kieffer declined to comment and attempts to contact Kupec were unsuccessful. An interview request with Theobald was not granted.
Student Body President Darin Bartholomew declined to comment specifically on Kupec, but lauded other administrative hires Theobald has made.
“I’m sure [Theobald] will make the right decision for the Temple community,” Bartholomew said.
Temple’s initial interest in Kupec could be taken as a pragmatic approach to university operations or a lapse in judgment during a search to fill one of the university’s most public executive positions.
Either way, it demonstrates the administration’s willingness to mobilize its fundraising office, which is moving forward with major projects this year despite a scant alumni giving rate.
In its operating budget for Fiscal Year 2014, Temple proposed an increase in its advancement budget of $1.3 million. The new money is to allow for a “substantial increase” in the university’s number of gift officers, according to Witt/Kieffer.
Last year, Temple raised a university record $65.8 million in new gifts and pledges. The advancement budget has increased 17 percent since 2008.
A $290 million library will be a part of the university’s next master plan, expected to be released sometime before June. Theobald has also indicated that the plan could include an on-campus football stadium.
Temple’s alumni giving rate last year was 7 percent, compared to the University of Pittsburgh’s 35 percent and Penn State’s 30 percent. Temple’s goal for 2014 is to increase its participation rate and raise $4 million more than last year, Moyer told The Temple News earlier this month.
This past November, trustee Lewis Katz pledged to donate $25 million, which would be a university record, but hasn’t specified what it would be used for or when it will be offered.
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.
UPDATE: The headline of this story was updated for clarity.