Temple Update’s Meredith Haas sat down with Temple President Dr. Jason Wingard on Wednesday. Topics discussed included campus safety, the idea of a football stadium coming to main campus, and how his first 9 months in this new role have gone. Watch here.
Temple University President, Dr. Jason Wingard, sat down with Temple Update’s Meredith Haas to discuss how the first few months of his Presidency have been.
The President’s discussion became more personal when he spoke about the past two years of the pandemic.
“I came into a situation where we were on Zoom, so I have not had a chance to do things the normal way,” he said. “Going back to what the Temple community does, we pivot, we persevere and we thrive anyway.”
Wingard spoke openly about crime, Covid-19, why a football stadium won’t be built on campus, and the relationship the University has with the North Philadelphia community.
“Our health system has stepped up and provided care to Philadelphia, first and foremost, to the North Philadelphia community and Temple community,” Wingard said.
In the past week, crime involving multiple shootings near campus have occured. The President was asked to address this issue.
Dr. Wingard said in a recent survey by the University, 70% to 80% said they feel safe on campus, while 60% living off campus feel the same.
“We have some work to do with the city of Philadelphia, with the broader community to make sure that we can provide safety for our students and our community, even when they are not on campus,” Wingard said.
The President said he spoke with both Mayor Kenney and Commissioner Outlaw the day before. He mentioned to them that Temple students do not feel safe when leaving campus.
In response to the shooting that occurred near campus over the weekend and crime that followed throughout the week, Wingard said the University is always proactively preparing for and talking about safety for the students.
“These opportunities do give us a chance to reflect on, and to learn from others in the community on ways that we can continue to improve,” Wingard said.
He went on to mention the extra safety provisions that have been put in place around campus, which includes more lighting, cameras and patrol.
“If we do all of this and people don’t know about it, then it won’t work, so we have to make sure we communicate very clearly what’s available,” he said.
The conversation continued about the parents who recently set up their own security force to watch their children in light of the recent crime.
President Wingard shared how he too is a parent to a college student who attends a University within a big city, and said he empathizes with parents who are worried.
For those who are worried about safety when it comes to the pandemic, Wingard said he has spoken with many specialists who have given strong fact based advice on how to move forward.
“The decisions have to be data driven and they have to be able to pivot and change, and I feel really good about how we have adjusted,” he said.
Regarding the masks and the guidelines that continue to change, the President said students should feel safe at Temple University.
He responded to students who question why the University still requires masks in the classroom.
“You don’t have a choice to go to class,” he said. “We’ve followed all the guidelines, and for that reason, our rates are lower than most.”
Near the end of the conversation Dr. Wingard was asked about the proposed football stadium that could be built on Temple’s campus.
He mentioned how excited he is for all the new additions to Temple’s athletic programs, including the new Athletic Director and Football Coach.
“I am excited about the future of our football program and all of our revenue and non-revenue sports,” he said.
Dr. Wingard said the University is about to renew the contract they hold with Lincoln Financial Field.
“We have a good place to play, it’s a world class facility, where recruits come to see that there is a competitive advantage, where we are able to play in the same place where the Philadelphia Eagles play,” he said.
The President said the University does not have any plans to pursue building a stadium on campus at this time.
To end the conversation, Dr. Wingard gave a few pieces of advice for the graduating class of 2022.
Part of his onboarding process, the President mentioned that he has had to speak with Temple Alumni, and he said that he heard they felt more prepared than most.
“I would say to our seniors graduating now, understand that you have been prepared in a very world class way, so have the confidence to get the job, do well in the job and don’t be meak about who you are as a Temple Owl,” he said.
He finished up by mentioning the world class faculty he and students are surrounded by.
“Moving forward, I want us to learn from the experiences we have, and implement the strategy we learn to improve the experience for you, the students,” Wingard said.