Temple makes acting president permanent

Temple University President Richard Englert had the acting removed from title on Tuesday.

Richard M. Englert began his career at Temple University 40 years ago as a professor of educational administration. Since then, he's been a vice president, an associate dean, a dean, a deputy provost and provost, chief of staff, chancellor, and acting president, twice.

His resumé became complete Tuesday when Temple's board named him president.

"He's earned the right to this appointment," said Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Temple's board. "He has the full confidence of the board."

Englert, 70, stepped in as acting president in July after the board forced out Neil D. Theobald over a deficit in the merit scholarship aid budget, and his firing of the provost.

The board still plans to conduct a search for a new president, and Englert by choice will not be a candidate, Feeley said.

But the search process probably won't begin until the summer, and that means Englert likely will serve as president of the 39,000-student university for the rest of this academic year and the next one.

Englert said while he had been acting with full authority of the president, his permanent appointment sends that message to the outside world.

"I think the big difference is that when I meet with donors, when I meet with legislators, when I meet with various foundations, when they see the word president, I think they have a slightly different image than when they see the words acting president," said Englert, who will earn $625,000 annually.

In July, Englert was charged with steadying the North Philadelphia university's leadership after one of its most tumultuous periods in the school's history. The university had lost its top two leaders, Theobald and provost Hai-Lung Dai, in less than a month.

The discord erupted publicly on June 28, when Theobald announced without explanation that he had relieved Dai of his administrative duties.

On the same day, the university acknowledged it was facing a deficit in its merit scholarship budget, and Theobald blamed Dai for the gap. Some faculty members decried Dai's removal and started a petition to save his job that drew over 4,000 signatures.

Unhappy with Theobald's handling of the dismissal, the board took a vote of no confidence in Theobald and he subsequently agreed to resign.

Englert and new provost JoAnne A. Epps, former Temple Law School dean and a longtime colleague of Englert's, have been working together to heal the university.

"The two of us made a real concerted effort, going out and talking to students and faculty in all kinds of forums, every forum we could get to, and listening to them," Englert said.

He said he was honored by the board's appointment.

"Let's just say this is without a doubt a high point," he said.

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