Trustee Leonard Barrack speaks about Temple, the past, present and future
weave themselves into a web of loss and victory.
“My father came to this country in 1923 from a small town in the Ukraine,
where he would have been shot and buried in a mass grave with his mother and
sisters,” Barrack said. “My father arrived with no education and could not
speak English. He used to tell me that nothing is more important than for
his children to receive an education.
“Three of us were graduated from Temple.”
Graduated from Temple, that is, after Barrack’s father and older brother
died in an airplane crash, bringing Len, then an 18-year-old Emory
University freshman, home from Atlanta to take care of his mother while also
pursuing his father’s dream of an education.
“I am forever grateful that Temple provided me with a quality education at
an affordable price,” Barrack said. After majoring in accounting and earning
a bachelor’s in business administration, Barrack studied at Temple Law
School while supporting a wife and son by selling insurance, doing part-time
accounting work and waiting tables for $25 a night at catered functions.
Today, he is the senior and founding partner of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, a
nationally recognized law firm that represents public and union pension
plans around the country and specializes in securities and antitrust
litigation. He has served as national finance chairman of the Democratic
Party and has been extremely active in Jewish communal work.
He attributes his success not only to the knowledge he gained at Temple, but
also to what the University taught him regarding a useful approach to life.
“My entire work ethic was developed at Temple,” said Barrack, who joined the
board in 2001. “Temple people hustle. They work, they learn, they get things
accomplished. They know where they want to go and what they have to do to
As chair of the trustees’ academic affairs committee, Barrack sees even more
greatness in Temple’s future.
“We must continue to attract and retain the best faculty, build world-class
facilities, improve academic programs and increase the level and quality of
research,” he said. “We can continue to improve and still serve the
community in which we live,” Barrack added, citing dual-admit programs with
community colleges and the flexibility to admit students “who might have
borderline qualifications but attributes that lead us to believe they can
succeed if given the opportunity.”
“Temple should always be a place that provides a world-class education to
people from all walks of life,” he added. “Go to commencement and see the
incredible diversity of our graduating classes. I am proud of this
University’s history, and I am excited about where this University is
Barrack has never forgotten the web of victory and loss that first brought
him to Temple and influenced his lifelong commitment to public service. For
one, his philanthropy includes a program to help Law School graduates who
are engaged in public service repay their students loans. For another, the
campus building that bears his name — Barrack Hall — actually does not bear
his name. It is named for his parents, Morris and Sylvia Barrack.
“I give from my heart,” Barrack explained. “I give when I am touched within
and when I believe that my gift might make a difference.”
-By Mark Eyerly
© 2004 Temple Times