Following community concerns regarding Temple University’s selection of Jason Wingard as its new president despite his involvement in the Tides Foundation, which donates to “antisemitic,” “anti-Israel” organizations, Wingard addressed the criticism.
“I am not an antisemite and condemn antisemitism in all its forms,” he said.
Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein wrote in a Jewish Exponent op-ed on July 1 that the Tides Foundation, at which Wingard served as a board member, funded the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Adalah Justice Project, Palestine Legal and Dream Defenders, organizations that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the delegitimization of Israeli statehood.
Calling for the rescinding of Wingard as Temple president, Klein expressed concern that his appointment would bring “Tides’ hateful ideology to Temple’s 37,000 students, potentially via appointing anti-Israel, Jew-hating deans and faculty and programming.”
Wingard, Temple’s first Black president in its 137-year history, said that though the Tides Foundation has provided funding for the Adalah Justice Project, Palestine Legal and Arab Resource & Organization Center, Tides has also provided funding to Jewish organization, such as the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, in addition to 139 Israeli grantees.
The funding of the three aforementioned anti-Zionist organizations make up less than 1% of Tides’ $1.4 billion budget, according to Wingard.
Moreover, Wingard, who previously served as the vice dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said he had no jurisdiction over Tides’ decision to give money to these organizations.
“As a volunteer board member and chair, I did not approve or support the programs in question,” Wingard said. “They were engaged prior to my arrival on the board.”
Additionally, volunteer board members, according to Wingard, are not privy to the selection of grantees and partner organizations. This decision is determined by the CEO and Tides staff, of which he said he was not a part.
Dan Shannon, chief partnerships officer at Tides, confirmed that Wingard was not part of Tides’ decision to build relationships with the organizations.
“Dr. Wingard was not yet a member of the Tides board when the board approved Tides’ fiscal sponsorship of these partners, and Dr. Wingard played no role in approving their affiliation with Tides,” he said.
The Tides Foundation, a public charity organization founded in 1976 with the mission of “advancing the issues of equality and human rights, a sustainable environment, quality education, and healthy individuals and communities globally,” affirmed a commitment to serving Jewish populations.
“Antisemitism is one of the many forms of discrimination and oppression that Tides combats every day,” Shannon said.
However, Tides was also clear in its support of the organizations in question.
Shannon said, “Tides is proud of the important work done by our partners at the Adalah Justice Project, Palestine Legal and Arab Resource and Organization Center.”
Neither the Tides Foundation nor Wingard addressed the Tides Foundation’s relationship with AROC Executive Director Lisa Kiswani and AJP Executive Director Sandra Tamari or the funding of Dream Defenders.
Despite apprehension from the ZOA, Temple’s board of trustees feels confident in Wingard’s ability to build connections with Jewish students.
“Dr. Wingard is a scholar of education, a firm believer in the exchange of ideas and a champion for equity and justice for all,” Chairman Mitchell Morgan said. “The Temple community, including the Jewish student community, will be better for his leadership.”
The Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia, which has worked with Temple’s administration, faculty, campus safety, Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership and Hillel to address antisemitism, also expressed optimism about Wingard as Temple’s new president.
“ADL has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with Temple University,” said Shira Goodman, regional director of ADL Philadelphia. “We are hopeful that this partnership will continue to expand under President Wingard’s leadership, and we look forward to meeting with him to provide resources and recommendations for ensuring Temple University remains a welcoming and inclusive campus for all students.”
Wingard is aware of concerns of antisemitism and is conscious of “discomfort” Jewish students have felt on some American college campuses. He hopes to garner the trust of Jewish students over the course of his presidency, which began on July 1.
“I will seek out and work with students, faculty, administrators, trustees and others to ensure that Temple is a model of tolerance and understanding,” Wingard said.
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