History of RCC

The Russell Conwell Educational Services Center was named in honor of the founder of Temple University, Dr. Russell Conwell, who founded the institution in 1884 as an informal adult-education outgrowth of his Baptist Temple ministry. Temple College was chartered in 1888 and became Temple University in 1907. Over time the Center has become popularly known as the Russell Conwell Center or RCC, which will be used hereafter.

The RCC was started in 1977 as an umbrella organization to serve the pre-admissions and academic needs of women, minorities, low-income students and veterans. The RCC has evolved into a full service, comprehensive learning center for underprepared students, facilitating their academic success and retention. The original mission of the Conwell Center was to promote and encourage access to higher education for those to whom admission to Temple had been previously denied. Originally the Center consisted of eight programs in 4 categories, see below:

Special Recruitment:

  • Special Recruitment and Admissions Program (SRAP) was developed in the 1960's to address the low number of minority students being admitted to Temple University. These students were admitted to the SRAP Program, not to Temple, and were required to complete a series of SRAP classes (32 - 36 credits) before they were eligible to take the University Placement Test and enter Temple. SRAP was discontinued in 1993 because it was decided that these students could be better served by a community college. The SRAP students who had formally matriculated to Temple were transferred to the RCC for services.

College Admissions:

  • Act 101 Program, Special Services Program (SSP), and Educational Services Component (ESC) served high school graduates as alternative admission programs. The following criteria was used to allow students to matriculate into Temple from the Alternative Admission Programs:
  • Graduation from any high school in the five county area (Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Philadelphia counties) allowing students to commute to the Summer Program.
  • SAT´s between 650 - 899 (whereas a minimum score of 900 was required for regular admission to Temple during the 80´s and 90´s) or ACT´s below 21.
  • Class rank in the top 60% of high school class.
  • First Generation College, low- income and/or minority students.

Adult Education:

  • Adult Program and Veterans Affairs on Main Campus and Educational Services for Adults at Temple Center City served adults who were returning to school after a considerable absence from education or first time freshmen who were over 22 years old. Funding for these programs was discontinued in 1995.

Pre-College Preparation:

  • Upward Bound Program served 66 first generation, low-income high school students from three of the lowest performing area high schools in the city.
  • Biomedical Sciences Program served 100 high school students from any Philadelphia high school, who were interested in the science field. Funding for this program was discontinued in the early 90´s.

The Alternative Admission Programs formed the largest programs in the RCC. Their original function was to increase access for the target populations. In the 1990´s, the University had a major strike of the teachers union (Temple Association of University Professionals) and there was a drastic decline in freshmen enrollment. Consequently, enrollment management was seen as an additional mission of the RCC with the percentage of newly admitted RCC students ranging between 17 - 24% of all new Temple freshmen.

RCC students were admitted directly to their schools and colleges where they received academic advising. Prior to meeting with their college advisor, RCC Counselors reviewed the courses students should take using their performance, strengths and weaknesses demonstrated in the six-week Summer Bridge performance. There were often occasions where the RCC Counselor had to intervene on the student´s behalf because the roster suggested by the departmental Advisor was not in the best interest of the student. The advising success of the RCC Counselors resulted in all RCC Counselors given registration privileges for all first year RCC students.

The ethnic composition of the student body was diverse with approximately 42% African American, 40% Caucasian, and less than 20% were Latino, Asian, Native American or other minorities. There were usually more female students than male. Academically the students were not prepared for college, yet due to RCC services were retained between 65-70% from the freshmen to sophomore year.

In 1995 the University began looking at the number of students coming through Alternative Admissions and realized that the number of admitted RCC students had reached 24% of the incoming student population. At that time, an agreement was made by Senior University Leadership to reduce the number of RCC admits each year until RCC students were no more than 14% of any incoming student group by 1999. Concomitant with the new direction of Temple University to increase its national profile and admit students with higher test scores and academic profiles, and the popularity of Temple, a steep increase in enrollment occurred. An outcome of this trend and the direction of the institution was another executive decision in 2003-04 to limit the number of incoming RCC students to 250 of the incoming freshmen class. The resulting impact on the RCC reduced the RCC admits to less than 5% of the entering freshmen class.

Due to grant funding changes, the program composition of the RCC has changed as well, yet contains many of the original programs. The RCC is now comprised of:

  • Math Science Upward Bound Program
  • Upward Bound Program
  • Act 101 Program
  • Educational Services Component
  • Student Support Services (Classic)
  • Student Support Services (STEM)
  • Ronald McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program
  • Supplemental Academic Scholarship Program


The RCC freshmen class remains the most diverse student body at Temple and student retention has increased to the degree that rivals their better prepared Non-RCC peers. The Program offers a strong Structured First Year Experience beginning with the Summer Bridge Program and continuing throughout the academic year. Program services are built on national best-practices and various programs have been replicated and/or recognized.