Posted September 22, 2021

More from a conversation with President Wingard

In this excerpt from his conversation with Klein student Niccolas Uff, President Wingard explains what being the university’s first African American president means to him.

Temple University president Jason Wingard
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg

President Jason Wingard recently sat down with Niccolas Uff, Class of 2022, to talk about all things Temple. 

In this Q&A—the last in a series of highlights from their conversation—he shares what being the university’s first African-American president means to him.

Niccolas Uff: You’re Temple’s first African American president. How does that make you feel?
Jason Wingard:
That makes me feel proud to represent that this country has evolved to a point where we can have an African American president. Where I can be welcomed and embraced the way I have been. It also makes me feel sad because it’s taken a long time. And so it’s important for me to be a good representative of the culture, of the race, of the leadership, and also to bring others along. We, as a community, need to do more for all races, all cultures, all identities in order that our country continues to thrive the way we want it to. Diversity matters. Diversity makes the best corporations. Diversity makes the best sports teams. Diversity makes the best learning experiences. And I’m proud to be in this position. Some would say it’s taken longer than it should have, but it has happened. Temple has done it. We are leaders in this space. Now it’s up to me to demonstrate and be a role model for what success can look like when we break down these barriers.

NU: You obviously love Temple, but how did you know that Temple was the right fit for you when you were making the decision?
I grew up in what I call the Wawa circle. Now they go down to Florida and they go out to Ohio, New Jersey, etc. But I grew up when it had a certain catchment area. So if you grow up in that area, then you know Temple. I spent my early childhood coming to Temple. My father was a graduate student [here]. I went to a basketball camp, Coach John Chaney’s basketball camp. I played in the Sonny Hill league here in North Philadelphia. So I know Temple. I grew up with Temple being part of my blood. When I was approached about this job, I thought what a fantastic privilege and opportunity to be affiliated at any level with Temple University. But to be its president, and to be able to proudly sit here and speak with you about the [university’s] excellence and commitment to serving our students in a way that’s going to change the world? It couldn’t be a better experience.

Watch the full interview and follow President Wingard on Instagram.

—Edirin Oputu