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Temple hires Chestnut Hill resident and former Ivy League school dean as its next president

“My career and research span academia and business, and have provided me with key insights into both sectors,” said Jason Wingard. He'll be the first Black president in the school's 137-year history.

Temple University President Jason Wingard
Temple University President Jason WingardRead moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Temple University on Tuesday tapped a Philadelphia resident whose career has straddled both business and academia, with previous leadership appointments at two Ivy League universities and Stanford, as its next president.

Jason Wingard, 49, who grew up in West Chester, currently lives in Chestnut Hill, and once worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, will become the first Black president in Temple’s 137-year history on July 1.

He currently is a Columbia University professor who served for five years as a dean before stepping down from that post last summer.

» READ MORE: Temple University launches search for new president

Wingard also has worked in the business world, once serving as managing director and chief learning officer of Goldman Sachs, overseeing employee education and development programs. And he founded and served as chairman of the Education Board Inc., a Philadelphia-based consulting firm that offers executive coaching and corporate advising.

“My career and research span academia and business, and have provided me with key insights into both sectors,” Wingard says in his profile on the website of the business magazine Forbes, where he writes regularly on leadership strategy.

After a 10-month search, Temple’s trustees unanimously approved Wingard’s appointment Tuesday.

“He understands the future of education is changing,” said Mitchell Morgan, chair of the board of trustees. “Dr. Wingard recognized that and wrote about that before COVID hit.”

Morgan declined to release Wingard’s salary.

Wingard replaces Richard M. Englert, who is retiring after 45 years at Temple, the last five as president. He arrives as the nation’s higher-education institutions emerge from a pandemic that has created financial and enrollment challenges. He will be charged with overseeing the full reopening of the 37,000-student university and its 17 schools across eight campuses.

» READ MORE: A new president at Lafayette adds to a flurry of leadership changes

Wingard has never been a college president but has served in leadership positions at Columbia, Penn, and Stanford. His most recent was as dean of the school of professional studies at Columbia, a post he held until last July.

Wingard said he stepped down after his term ended.

“The things I’m writing about are critical of higher education,” he said. “So it’s tough to be a dean selling education when you’re writing about and questioning whether the value of higher education is worth it.”

Temple, he said, already embodies the principles that he has written about as critical for making higher education essential.

“We are accessible,” he said. “We are inclusive and we have partnerships with the right employers so that students who graduate from here have the right competencies.”

At Wharton, he spent about four years as vice dean, leading the executive education division.

He also served as executive director of the educational leadership institute at Stanford, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and played varsity football and ran track.

Born in Pittsburgh, Wingard moved to West Chester when he was 4. His father, Levi, was a principal and superintendent in the Downingtown Area School District and attended Temple for graduate school. As a child, Wingard said he spent time at Temple and got to know basketball coach John Chaney and played for him in camps. He said he sought advice on the keys to success from Chaney, who was his idol.

“He said two things: You get up early and work harder than the next person,” Wingard said. “So I get up early and I do my best to work harder than the next person.”

Wingard said his father taught him how to engage with the Temple community and any community.

“Talk to everybody,” his father told him. “Whether it’s the janitors, maintenance staff, administrative assistants, security guards, coaches, everybody has a story to tell of value.”

Wingard has a master’s degree in education from Emory University, a master’s in technology in education from Harvard, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Penn.

His appointment drew praise from faculty, student, and administrative leaders.

“He brings so much to the table in his understanding of the educational landscape, the employment landscape, Philadelphia and the community and the history and legacy of Temple,” said David Boardman, dean of the Klein College of Media and Communications.

Will Jordan, faculty union president, also was impressed.

“His pedigree is sort of impeccable,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Wingard and his wife, Gingi, have lived in Chestnut Hill for about 20 years and have five children, ages 11 to 21, all whose names begin with the letter J: Jaelyn, Jaia, Jazze, Joye, and Jaxen. The two oldest attend Columbia and Barnard and the younger ones are students at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

The couple had become politically active through the late Peter Buttenwieser, a Chestnut Hill philanthropist and major supporter of Democratic and progressive candidates.

“He was very keen on engaging me in politics, getting to know both sides of the aisle, … how politics work,” Wingard said. “He would invite us to plated dinners and fund-raisers he would hold at the Rittenhouse Hotel,” including a fund-raiser for Barack Obama before he became president.

In 2019, the Wingards hosted at their home a fund-raiser for Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat running for president. Booker, 52, also attended Stanford and played football there. Wingard said he knew Booker in school and later got to know him better.

Morgan, the board chair, noted Wingard’s knowledge of Philadelphia and love for it and how it works. While Englert spent a lot of time in Philadelphia prior to his presidency, the previous two presidents, Neil D. Theobald and Ann Weaver Hart, were from outside the area.

Wingard has written several books on talent development and leadership, including The Great Skills Gap: Optimizing the Talent Pipeline for the Future of Work, just released Tuesday.

For Forbes, he most recently wrote about how businesses should prepare for the return of workers, including dealing with vaccine hesitancy, making all employees feel appreciated, and considering a hybrid model of in-person and remote work. In recent months, he’s also written on ways male leaders can support gender equality and what President Joe Biden’s tenure means for business leaders.

In a 2018 interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he touted the importance of all kinds of diversity in the workforce, noting that companies that embrace it do better than those that don’t.

“You want to think about race, culture, religion, gender, physical ability … all these things,” he said.

On being Temple’s first Black president, he said: “This is historically significant, and I’m proud of that.”

Morgan said he was focused only on getting the best candidate for the job and that’s Wingard.

“Color never came into it,” he said.

Bradley Smutek, president of Temple’s student government, said it was long overdue.

“The Temple student body and the communities we serve are diverse groups, so I am happy to see that Temple’s leadership is beginning to reflect the strength of our diversity,” he said.

When Wingard starts next month, four of Temple’s top faculty and administrative positions will be filled by Black academics for the first time: JoAnne A. Epps as provost; Jordan, who became faculty union president this spring; and associate professor Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, who was elected faculty senate president this spring.

“We’re sort of positioned to do something about issues of racial justice, social justice, diversity, and inclusion right on our own campus,” Jordan said.

An avid mountain bike rider, hiker, and jazz fan, Wingard said he was honored to have the appointment at such a critical point in the country’s history and intended to focus on career readiness and making sure students have the skills employers want.

“Schools that figure out the ways to develop students with those desired competencies in terms of those market needs, those are the ones that are winning,” he said.