Temple University president resigns amid campus crime and safety crisis

President Jason Wingard issued his resignation effective March 31, less than one week after the announcement of an upcoming vote of no confidence.

After significant student, faculty, and media backlash, the Board of Trustees recognizes that campus safety must be a top priority of the next administration.

The Temple University Board of Trustees accepted President Jason Wingard’s resignation on Tuesday, which will take effect as of March 31.

Campus Reform has covered several major concerns at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania over the past several months, including the graduate student workers strike and growing crime impacting students, which culminated last week in a scheduled vote of no confidence against Wingard and two Board of Trustees members from the faculty union.

[RELATED: Temple University hires 8 new officers, but campus police say more needs to be done to address ‘rampant’ violent crime]

Safety on campus has been a top concern for students and faculty as crime in northern Philadelphia has increasingly encroached upon campus, leading to the tragic death of Temple police officer Chris Fitzgerald (31) last month.

In the announcement of Wingard’s resignation, Board of Trustee Chairman Mitchell Morgan directly addressed security concerns as a contributing factor to the President’s decision.

Given the urgent matters now facing the University, particularly campus safety, the Board and the administration will ensure the highest level of focus on these serious issues. We understand that a concerted and sustained effort must be undertaken as we attempt to solve these problems,” Morgan states.

Morgan is also up for a faculty union vote of no confidence scheduled for the week of April 10. Of those who approved the no-confidence vote, 79% stated they would remove Morgan from his position.

Temple student and Campus Reform correspondent Oscar Buynevich told Campus Reform that he sees Wingard’s resignation as a positive development.

Buynevich says that Wingard was “not in touch with the reality of the school safety situation” but the next president “will have no choice but to make campus safety a central focus.”

Wingard “was willing to go on TV and say that he feels safe at Temple after a string of armed robberies on Temple students. This was seemingly just to invalidate [the] concerns of students who were being robbed at gunpoint and scared for their safety. In the meantime, he failed on his promise to beef up our police force,” Buynevich observes.

Morgan’s announcement clarified that a “small group of senior Temple leaders to guide the university” will “provide a stable foundation for us as we look toward the search for our next president” and that this leadership will require significant investment from the Temple community.

“As we enter this new phase for Temple, your engagement and collaboration will be critical to our efforts to emerge stronger and more united as an institution, and a community, than ever before.”

[RELATED: WATCH: Campus crime is surging, ‘eleven students were taken hostage at gunpoint’]

Buynevich says that “the new president will come into the position knowing that Temple students, staff, police, alumni, and parents are not afraid to speak their mind publicly if they see something is wrong.” 

“If you are our president,” says Buynevich, “you will not have the luxury of doing absolutely nothing regarding campus safety, to ignore our cries for help, and to ignore our police association. We have made it clear that we will not accept this level of negligence at Temple.”

Temple University spokesman, Steve Orbanek, responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment by highlighting Morgan’s Tuesday statement. This story will be updated as the situation develops.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.