Temple University has 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 when he takes the helm 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.
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 as a senior contributor.
Following a 10-month search, Temple’s board of trustees unanimously approved Wingard’s appointment at a board meeting Tuesday.
“He understands the future of education is changing,” said Mitchell Morgan, chair of Temple’s 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 in various roles at the university, the last five as president. He comes to Temple as higher education institutions across the country 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.
Wingard has never been a college president but has served in leadership positions at Columbia, Penn and Stanford. His most recent leadership role was as dean of the school of professional studies at Columbia until last July.
He 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 got 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.
Wingard and his wife, Gingi, have lived in Chestnut Hill for about 20 years and have five children, ages 11 to 21. The oldest two attend Columbia and Barnard and the younger students Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. In 2019, they hosted at their home a fundraiser for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, who was running for president. Booker, 52, also attended Stanford and played football there. Wingard said he knew Booker in school and got to know him better later.
Morgan, the board chair, noted Wingard’s knowledge of Philadelphia and love for it and how it works as a plus. While Englert spent a lot of time in Philadelphia prior to his presidency, the previous two presidents, Neil D. Theobald, and Ann Weaver Hart, had come 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 the workforce, including dealing with vaccine hesitancy, making employees of all ages 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.
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.