RAFT statement on the new president of Temple University

July 12, 2021

We, members of the Rank and File caucus at Temple (RAFT), in the Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP), have serious concerns about the recent appointment of Temple’s new President Dr. Jason Wingard.

We are especially concerned about Dr. Wingard’s credentials as they relate to leading an institution of public education, one that serves especially working class students and first generation college students, and operates in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The needs and interests of wealthy private corporate institutions do not coincide with, and should not shape, public education. 

When looking at his many achievements, for example his book on “Reinventing Corporate Education,” we have questions about how this could helpfully apply to Temple, which is in many ways the opposite of corporate education: an urban, public-adjacent school in a poor and working-class city. The mission and value of Temple University should not be diverted to simply producing employees for existing employers. The short-sightedness of education-as-a-path-to-employment not only deprives students of the skills and relationships they need to be engaged and liberated citizens and community members, but also prevents students from developing themselves into people who can respond to changing social contexts. Employers come and go – but society, with the potential for exploitation, creativity, resistance, and change, remains. As educators, we wish to see a commitment to preparing students for redefining and bettering the world, not for finding their niche in the destructive and limiting systems we are currently faced with.

Dr. Wingard’s previous work with Goldman Sachs and membership in a board of directors of the multinational consultancy firm Kroll appears to link him with entities that are directly responsible for public education’s increasing financialization and privatization, which discourages workers’ organization, job security, and encourages reduced spending on teaching and learning His work with the Education Board Foundation includes serving clients like the NFL (scandal-ridden due to the exploitation and poor life expectancy of its main employees) and wealthy private institutions like the Wharton School, Stanford University and The Aspen Institute, none of whom serve the communities we primarily serve. As a PepsiCo executive, Dr. Wingard also appears to work for a notoriously anti-labor and environmentally destructive organization. We would like to know: how do these experiences contribute to an ability to lead an institution to be a better employer, neighbor or educator of students from working class families?

Alongside our concern for all employees at Temple whose right to organize and define a humane work life is threatened by ongoing resistance from Temple, we are especially concerned for the wellbeing of departments and workers in the humanities, ethnic studies, critical scholarship, and primary research, all of which contribute to a more humane, ethical, and deeply knowledgeable community, but many of which are historically devalued by corporations and corporate funding.

We urge Dr. Wingard to keep in mind the communities Temple serves and should serve and make sure that Temple fulfils its obligation to the public, including students, workers, and the North Philadelphia community. We would like to see Dr. Wingard demonstrate a commitment to something besides corporate goals and corporate interests.

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