In a major reorganization, Temple University has moved out its provost, chief operating officer, head of advancement and two other senior administrators.

The moves came on the first day of classes and less than two months into the tenure of new president Jason Wingard and as colleges around the country face another challenging year, with COVID-19 cases surging again.

“This action will forge a leadership foundation for the next phase of Temple University’s evolution and advancement,” Wingard said in an announcement to the university community Monday evening after The Inquirer asked about the changes. “If our goal is to achieve best-in-class status as an academic enterprise AND optimize the visibility and reputation of the Temple value proposition, a high-performance and collaborative management structure is critical.”

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In all, the changes involve 16 employees, including some who have decades of experience at the 37,000-student university with its main campus in North Philadelphia.

“This is a shocker,” said Will Jordan, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union. “I did not see this coming at all.”

Other sources characterized the moves as indicative of a new president shaping his own team, though some wondered why the changes came so suddenly rather than allowing time for searches.

“I hope there will be a truly national and even international search to choose our next provost,” said Steve Newman, former faculty union president.

JoAnne A. Epps, former law school dean, came in as provost — the university’s chief academic officer — in 2016 after Hai-Lung Dai was removed from that position. An employee of Temple for more than 35 years, she will be taking a sabbatical and returning to the law school faculty, as well as serving as senior adviser to the president, according to multiple university sources.

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Wingard said in his announcement that Epps had decided to take the sabbatical. Epps did not respond immediately to an email for comment.

Replacing her as interim provost will be Gregory Mandel, current law school dean. Rachel Rebouché, associate law school dean, will step in as interim dean. Dai, now vice president for international affairs, will report to the interim provost.

Kevin Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Jim Cawley, a former lieutenant governor who was vice president of institutional advancement — essentially the chief fund-raiser — also will no longer serve in their roles, according to the sources.

Clark will become a senior adviser to the president, and Ken Kaiser, vice president and chief financial officer will be taking over all finance and business functions under the new title of chief administrative officer. Cawley is leaving the university, Wingard said.

William T. Bergman, vice president of public affairs who has worked at the university for decades, will be retiring, Wingard wrote. Anne Nadol, university secretary, also is leaving. Valerie Harrison, currently senior adviser for diversity, equity, and inclusion, will be taking over Bergman’s role.

The university also announced that Michael Gebhardt, formerly university counsel, would be the new chief of staff and interim university secretary.