Why Didn’t This Happen At Temple University?
Economic Implications for the Here, the Now and the Future
By Michael Sirover, Professor of Pharmacology
“Judge not, that ye be not judged” Matthew: 7.1
Temple used to be Philadelphia’s University. For better or worse, it’s become now a multinational corporation whose headquarters happens to be located in North Philly. When we were the former, like the City University of New York (CUNY), we were the blue collar school as compared to Penn, like CUNY was to New York University and to Columbia. So, during that time, we were an academic institution where working class students matriculated at night after work, on their time off from work and may have been the first in their family to attend college (let alone finish high school).
In accord with our role as Philadelphia’s University, our endowment was diminutive; we lacked significant donor contributions and our buildings were, for the most part, unnamed and anonymous. During the author’s three and a half decades here, this was a continuing reality acknowledged by both the faculty and the administration. However, it was accepted, grudgingly. The consensus was that the paucity of endowed funds and buildings was something that we had to live with, understanding Temple’s unique mission as stated by Russell Conwell.
Now, Temple University is a multinational corporation. With that metamorphosis, several things have changed. One is the composition, mindset and philosophy of those in the Administration. Simply put, they are not what we used to call “Temple people.” Instead, as with any international corporation, they represent a professional managerial class which is set apart from the faculty, talk primarily to each other and who may view the latter as employees, servants or serfs. As noted by others, they do not remain at Temple University for a long time but instead move onward and upward to higher jobs at other institutions. Our previous Provost, Lisa Staiano-Coico. is a representative example. Although she was a reputable individual, her ties to Temple University were tenuous; she remained here for a few years which was sufficient to provide the credentials for her next move. That being said, we all wish her the best of luck as the President of the City University of New York.*
Another change which has occurred is the implementation of a new management philosophy by the Administration. In the past, the faculty was evaluated for the totality of their efforts in light of the basic Temple University philosophy espoused by Russell Conwell, i.e., teaching, scholarship and service. This is no longer true. Now, the productivity of the faculty as judged by the Administration can be reduced to a single sentence, “How much money did you generate for us this year?” If an individual faculty member received what was considered an appropriate sum of extramural funding, that individual was productive. In contrast, if said faculty did not produce such funds, that individual was unproductive.
So, with respect to research funding, in the Faculty Evaluation Matrices established by the Powers That Be, they decided that the minimum requirement for salary generation is 30% of an individual’s pay from an extramural grant (with full indirect costs). Anything below that is deemed as non-productive. Accordingly, if an individual earned by his/her own merit a 4 year NIH grant which provided for 15% of his/her salary each year (with full indirect costs) that individual was deemed unproductive and unworthy (according to their administrative matrix).
As such, this corporate philosophy is no different from that of a sales company who judges their sales force by the number and amount of orders that are written. It is no different than a worker on an assembly line or a seamstress at her sewing machine being judged, respectively, by the number of units or garments that are made. In this comparison, the author means no disrespect to those individuals. His father, an immigrant from Russia, toiled for his entire life, from a young lad of 12 or so (having to leave public school to go to work) in the New York City garment center until his retirement some 50+ years later, successfully providing for himself and for his family. Rather, this comparison is intended to critique the aforementioned corporate philosophy which disregards the purpose of an education. The latter may be embodied in the old saying, “Catch a fish for a person and you feed him for a day. Teach a person how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
As indicated above, the Temple University multinational corporation seeks to judge us by the profit motive of revenue generated. For that reason, the purpose of this article is to apply the same standards to their efforts. How good a job are these corporate officials doing in the generation of extramural funds? How proficient are they in the amount of alumni funds generated, the donors who provide endowments and interested individuals who provide funds of the magnitude necessary to view their names on our facilities, colleges or schools?
As indicated by recent articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local news-papers, it appears that this multinational corporate administration is not doing that well. Over the past year, there have been numerous articles concerning the suc-cessful efforts of Drexel, Penn and even Virtua Hospital in South Jersey. Each is a formidable achievement for which the respective corporate administrators should feel a large measure of satisfaction. In contrast, there do not appear to be any such articles about Temple. Where are the donors who have given us such sums? Aren’t its corporate officers as good as their counterparts at Abington Hospital which contains the Zipley Parking Garage? How would our current budgetary situation be different if they were more productive?
In response, it may be argued that this is an invalid argument. Do we not have the Gittis Student Union, the Fox School of Business, the Boyer College of Music, the Beasley School of Law and the Kornberg School of Dentistry? Don’t we have a Medical Education and Research Building in which numerous donors are recognized?**
As with the faculty member who provides 15% of his/her salary as compared to the 30% floor and is judged as unproductive, it is only reason-able to evaluate Temple University’s corporate administration by the standard they themselves have set. For all of the name schools cited above, during the author’s thirty plus years here, the School of Dentistry was only recently so named, and, on the Health Sciences Campus, the Schools of Pharmacy and Allied Health remain anonymous. How many such schools on the Main Campus are similarly unnamed? What about Temple Japan or Temple Rome? Further, during those three plus decades, our endowment has remained pitiful and the number of endowed chairs embarrassing.
Table 1: Revenue Based Matrix for the Assessment of Administrative Productivity***
School or Administrative Unit Alumni
Number of Donations
CLA Science and
Law Medicine Pharmacy TU Hospital Board of Trustees Office of the President Office of the Provost
***(Some illustrative examples of Schools, Colleges and Administrative Units are provided. Note that the request is only for the number of donations at specific amounts NOT the identification of the individual, family or groups. Tuition and individual extramural grants are excluded. The former represents the commitment of students seeking to better themselves in this world. The latter represents the efforts of the individual to whom the grant is awarded.)
For that reason, the Faculty Senate may wish to consider the use of Table 1 as a means to evaluate, at the start of each Academic Year in September, the pro-ductivity of our corporate administration. In conjunction with our remembrance of President Hart’s $700,000 salary (what will be the package for the next President?), the funds used to support the Temple University corporate administration, the cost of the Athletic Program and the continuing refusal of its corporate officers to reveal the fate of the million dollar apartment which they bought for then President Adamany, the use of our own matrix to evaluate administrators may be particularly illuminating especially when we are told how tough things are, how budgets need to be slashed and how faculty and staff need to be reduced.
In response, our corporate administrators may assert that, we, as company employees, have no right to criticize their efforts. They may argue that, as in any business, if an employee does not like the corporate philosophy and its method of operation, that individual is free to leave and seek employment else-where. That indeed is an appropriate philosophy in a capitalistic society.
With respect to that assertion, let’s consider the following: Temple University, along with the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, are state-affiliated universities. All three receive quite generous amounts of taxpayer funds (in spite of the reductions this year). Many of our faculty, their family and their friends are citizens and taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If the current economic situation and the continuing concerns about governmental budgets and spending establish anything, it is that all taxpayers, citizens and voters have a fundamental right to question how their money is spent (as with Penn State’s recent request, see below).
As the constituents of a member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly, of the Pennsylvania State Senate and of the Governor of the Commonwealth, they also have the inalienable right to seek redress of grievances. As such, as taxpayers, citizens and voters we outrank the administrative officers of the Temple University multinational corporation.
The author is a Professor of Pharmacology in the Temple University School of Medicine, a Past President of the Medical Faculty Senate, a former Secretary of the All University Faculty Senate and has the privilege of serving as the Chair of a National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel on Cancer Prevention. He resides in the 142nd Pennsylvania General Assembly District and in the 6th Pennsylvania Senate District.
*This article was composed prior to President Hart’s resignation letter. All of us, whatever our differences, wish her and her family well in their personal lives.
** Although significant funds were raised for the Medical Education and Research Building, those funds were accumulated over an 8-10 year interval. Accordingly, the amount of funds raised has to be averaged over that interval.