Temple profs hit university president with no confidence vote over campus policing

84% of the faculty union supported holding a vote of no confidence against the president, provost, and Board of Trustees chair.

Over 92% of students disapprove of the president’s handling of university affairs, saying that safety is the number one challenge facing the university.

The Temple Association of University Professors (TAUP) overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday in favor of a vote of no confidence in Temple President Jason Wingard, Provost Gregory Mandel, and Board of Trustee Chair Mitchell Morgan as rising crime rates in Philadelphia continue to have negative impacts on the campus community.

Of the 917 TAUP members who participated, 84% supported holding the no-confidence vote, according to the student news outlet The Temple News. An overwhelming 97% of no-confidence voters support a vote against Wingard, while 87% and 79% seek to oust Morgan and Mandel respectively.

Local Philadelphia news reports emphasize the faculty’s concerns regarding declining enrollment and the handling of the graduate student workers strike, which ended after six weeks of tough negotiations as Campus Reform previously reported.

Campus Reform Higher Education fellow Ilya Buynevich, however, contends that the lack of leadership with respect to crime is the more important factor.

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Although Buynevich is not a member of TAUP, he has been a professor at Temple for 14 years and is a father of a current student. He says that, although Temple’s security has improved from 20 or 30 years ago, the past few years have been “a lot of hardship” for students.

Buynevich thinks “a lot has to do with the defunding the police,” which both students and faculty called for in 2020, as Campus Reform covered at the time.

“[The administration’s] priorities are wrong,” Buynevich says, as the school “is focusing everything [on DEI] instead of [on] safety.”

This week, Rossman Shaffer of the Temple University Police Association (TUPA) told Campus Reform that the administration “still has not provided enough resources to retain all the police officers they hire” and that the University needs to “value their police officers appropriately” to improve campus safety.

“If Temple decides to stick to the status quo, we’ll continue to see violent crime run rampant on campus,” Shaffer warns.

Polling data from The Temple News shows that the majority of students feel safety is the biggest problem facing the university community.

Over 92% of students disapprove of Wingard’s performance in this and other key areas, with an equal percentage saying the school is going in the wrong direction.

Many students surveyed expressed that Wingard is inaccessible to the student community. One anonymous student opined, “It feels like he’s running Temple like a company with students and their education being akin to a product he’s trying to sell rather than what it actually is – a place of learning with real human beings.”

Ray Epstein, president of the Student Activists Against Sexual Assault organization, shared with Campus Reform her unique insight on the Wingard administration’s lack of attention to growing crime on campus, including sexual violence.

In 2021, Temple recorded 19 sex-related crimes, but Epstein clarified her group works with increasing numbers of survivors who do not report their experiences to the university.

Although underreporting is a systemic problem in sexual violence cases, Epstein notes that survivors are not incentivized to report their experiences to the school if the administration does not take crime seriously.

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“We have right now someone who cares about PR,” Epstein says of Wingard. “We don’t have someone who cares about assuring the student body that they are safe with real facts or just even addressing that maybe they’re not safe and how we can try to protect ourselves.”

Temple has yet to respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment, but Communications Director Steven Orbanek told The Temple News that the administration is “ready and willing to engage and work closely with faculty, deans, staff, students and all other dedicated groups to confront the challenges facing our great university … We are confident that together we can address the pressing issues before us.”

The vote of no confidence is scheduled for the week of April 10. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.