Philadelphia, PA – January 21, 2017: Temple University has reached a settlement with previously ousted provost Hai-Lung Dai and he will be coming back to the university. Dr. Dai will be returning as vice president for international affairs. The settlement also states that the sexual harassment complaint against him could not be substantiated and holds him harmless for a shortfall in the university’s merit scholarship budget, a spokesman for the board of trustees confirmed, as reported by Susan Snyder of Philly.com.
There is also a monetary settlement, but Temple University officials would not release details. Dr. Dai declined to comment on the settlement, but said he was pleased with the terms of the agreement. “The most important thing is that my name is cleared,” Dai said Friday. “And also I am certainly excited about the continuing opportunity for me to serve the mission of educating students.”
Then-Temple president Neil D. Theobald abruptly removed Dai from his post in June, amid a growing rift between them as concerns mounted over a $22 million shortfall in the merit aid budget for 2016-17. The board subsequently took a vote of no confidence in Theobald, holding him responsible for the shortfall and setting a date for a termination vote. Theobald subsequently resigned.
Kevin Feeley, the board spokesman, said at that time that Theobald had sent an email to university officials suggesting that he removed Dai because of sexual harassment allegations. The board appointed a committee to look into the harassment complaint.
Dai at the time decried the allegations as “complete and utter fabrications” and said, “I will not rest or retreat until I have pursued every avenue available to me, including through a court of law, to restore my good name.” As part of a three-paragraph statement Friday, Temple University said an independent firm investigated the complaint and could not substantiate it.
Dr. Dai was represented by employment attorney Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC in Philadelphia [who] said in response to the outcome “It was our honor to represent Dr. Dai. It was our mission to see his good name restored and see him continue his good work at Temple. Mission accomplished!”
The university statement said the scholarship budget shortfall was the result of “the unanticipated popularity and success” of the program. “This program, together with other initiatives implemented by the university in recent years, had a positive impact on applications, enrollment, diversity, and student success,” the statement said.
Dai was particularly pleased about that part of the statement. Although the university overspent on the scholarship program, the program brought more talented students to the university, which ultimately boosted the university’s overall budget, he said.
Feeley said the university continues to hold Theobald responsible for not informing the board early on about the shortfall in its budget. The university only had positive words for Dai on Friday. “We are grateful to Dr. Dai for his distinguished service to Temple, and we welcome him back to our administrative team in his new role,” the university statement said.
Dr. Dai, a chemist, has been on campus doing his work as a research professor. He said he would talk with Temple president Richard Englert about a date to begin his new vice presidential role. His prior job of provost is now filled by JoAnne A. Epps, the former law school dean.
Dr. Dai said he was grateful for support from the board of trustees, faculty, and students throughout the ordeal. “They have shown great moral courage and judgment in the entire matter,” he said. “I’m very grateful for that.”