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December 01, 2016

Former Temple president says he resigned on 'principle'

Theobald claims stories about his exit 'aren't accurate'

Former Temple University President Neil Theobald was ousted this summer because of a budget shortfall, according to the school's board of trustees.

Theobald disputes that.

Currently one of three finalists for the job of president of the University of Northern Iowa, Theobald spoke to an open forum at the college Tuesday. During his remarks, he said that he resigned not because of the school's financial woes and the board of trustees' vote of "no confidence" in him, but instead because the board wanted him to pick a dean without faculty input.

Per The Des Moines Register:

Toward the end of his opening remarks, Theobald addressed why, after four years, he is now the former president of Temple University, challenging the accuracy of some media accounts about his resignation earlier this year.

Theobald said the issue came down to the Board of Trustees calling on him to hire an individual to an open dean search without faculty input. After consulting with the provost, who was against the appointment, he said he “chose not to break the covenant of shared governance.”

“The consequence of standing for that principle is I had to leave,” he said. “I am fine with that.”

Theobald added that many of the media stories about his resignation “aren’t accurate” and said that he didn’t give press conferences afterward because he believed it was best for him and Temple to move on.

Video of his comments can be viewed below:

Theobald resigned in August, making him the shortest-tenured president in Temple history. The terms of the deal struck for his resignation were kept confidential.

The board gave its "no confidence" vote after the discovery of a $22 million over-allocation of merit scholarships in the school's 2016-17 budget.

Provost Hai-Lung Dai was let go by Theobald about a month before his own resignation because of his apparent connection to the budget, but the board said it believed that Theobald knew about the shortfall in 2015.

The board explicitly stated in an email sent to faculty that the reason for Theobald stepping down was because of the budget issue.

Theobald's comments suggest he was removed for another reason. It's unclear what dean position Theobald was talking about in his remarks Tuesday. A Facebook message to Theobald seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

Kevin Feeley, a spokesperson for the board, said the board had no further comment at this time.