Ousted Temple U Provost Defends Himself

July 14, 2016

When Temple University President Neil D. Theobald ousted Provost Hai-Lung Dai last month, Dai did not directly respond to reports that he was responsible for a deficit of $22 million in the financial aid program. Leaks, however, suggested that this was the reason he lost his job as provost.

But this week, the board said it held Theobald responsible and said it was moving to fire him. Then Wednesday, Dai released a statement about the deficit: "I would like to address the allegations concerning the $22 million deficit. This involves a program that has greatly enhanced Temple’s reputation and has benefited many students. It has also resulted in a net gain to Temple in student enrollment and tuition. I was not informed of any deficit until March of this year. As the Board of Trustees said yesterday, the responsibility for managing budgetary matters rests with the president. I was never, at any time prior to March of 2016, asked by President Theobald to manage this issue. Once this issue was brought to my attention in March of this year and prior to my unjust dismissal, I actively began to take steps to address the overexpenditure."

Dai released a second statement disputing a statement Theobald reportedly circulated Monday saying that he fired Dai in part because of an allegation of sexual harassment against him. A Temple spokesman said that the board considered that charge to be baseless but felt obliged to investigate. In his statement Thursday, Dai said Theobald appeared to be referring to a retaliation complaint filed against him after Dai disciplined the person for "performance failures." Dai said that this mischaracterization of the complaint was unfair to him and his reputation.

"It has taken me a lifetime to build a name that I and my family can be proud of," Dai said. "My good reputation for integrity, honesty and professional excellence has been built day by day, challenge by challenge over the course of 62 years. It is my most precious possession. In the last several weeks I have stood silent and watched my personal and professional reputation be shattered by lies, half-truths and malicious innuendo because I trusted that truth would emerge from slander. But after yesterday’s events, I can no longer remain silent."

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