Patrick J. O'Connor will step down as chair of Temple University's board of trustees on July 31, 2019, after 10 years in the position, the university announced Tuesday.
The announcement came as the board met on campus and elected O'Connor, vice chairman of the Cozen O'Connor law firm, to his final one-year term and said Mitchell L. Morgan, founder and chairman of Morgan Properties, would become chair next year. The 27-story Morgan residence hall that opened in 2013 is named for Morgan, a Temple alumnus who joined the board in 2002, and his wife.
"Good governance calls for clear succession planning, and at the end of 10 years as chairman, I believe it is time to move to the next generation of leaders," O'Connor said in a statement.
O'Connor has led the university through record fund-raising and growth, but has saw his tenure marked by controversy. In 2016, the board forced the resignation of then president Neil D. Theobald, who had fired the provost, causing leadership upheaval on the more than 40,000-student campus. O'Connor also faced calls to step down from some faculty who claimed he had a conflict of interest when he represented Bill Cosby in a civil suit filed by former Temple employee Andrea Constand, who maintained Cosby had sexually assaulted her. Cosby was convicted of the crime this year.
Both Temple and O'Connor said that there was no conflict of interest, and that O'Connor had disclosed to the board he was representing Cosby in the 2005 proceedings and that it did not violate board policy. The representation occurred before O'Connor was elected board chair but while both he and Cosby were serving on Temple's trustee board.
"You should honor his decades of service to Temple and his generosity," Steve Newman, faculty union president, said, "but obviously [the union] disagreed with him on some pretty serious issues, not the least of which was Mr. O'Connor's role in the Cosby scandal."
O'Connor joined the board in 1971 as the youngest trustee in the university's history — he was 28 — and served until 1984. He returned in 2001 and became chair in 2009.