What we don’t know

With new faces at the helm of university administration, we have a lot of questions.

Was the Board of Trustees in total agreement when 32 of the trustees met in July to plan the shake-up in the university’s administration — in other words, the departure of President Neil Theobald, not long after he had fired Provost Hai-Lung Dai? Were there any trustees who advocated for Theobald to stay?

Do Temple students know that the Board tends to meet privately first, and then “vote” publicly later, and the public vote is almost always “unanimous”? Have they also heard that student government representatives are barred from attending private meetings? And again, is the public supposed to believe that 36 people — assuming all trustees vote — can fully agree on anything?

Do the trustees know that The Temple News Editorial Board thinks Richard Englert, the acting president, will be a fine leader, as will Provost JoAnne Epps, but we’re nonetheless concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding the decisions made this summer, with all the accusations and nondisclosure agreements? Do they know we have had a hard time explaining these changes to curious students, because there’s so much that we don’t know?

Why did a spokesman emphatically tell editors at The Temple News that Theobald was not a member of the faculty, while the man himself told us he was studying on Main Campus as part of his yearlong sabbatical?

Why did the Board not announce that Theobald was going on sabbatical? Theobald signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Board, but who decided that he should spend a year apart from the university?

Why did the Board decide not to conduct a national search for a Provost, and assent to the replacement chosen by Theobald, who they were planning to remove anyway? Will there be a national search for a new president, or will the trustees opt to appoint from within? Will that come before or after ground is broken on a possible on-campus football stadium? Will the Board be the primary decision-maker on whether or not to even build it, once they receive the results of a commissioned study into the logistics?

Since the Board expressed “no confidence” in Theobald’s leadership, and since it was Theobald’s decision to fire the former provost, Hai-Lung Dai, does that mean Dai can come back? Or is Dai going to stay out of Temple’s administration altogether?

Did you like Dai’s speech at convocation last year, when he turned his name into a pun and said, “Don’t get high, study long, and never die”?

What about Theobald’s, where he talked about the construction of the new library and sports complex as part of what makes Temple a “red hot” destination for students?

Did you know that if you want to learn who has fallen from grace recently at Temple University, all you have to do is look at who’s not speaking at convocation?

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