McKee earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from SUNY– Cortland and traveled a
few miles south to become director of minority recruitment at SUNY–Binghamton.
There, he recruited capable minority students, whose qualifications often
were reflected in individual achievements as much as (if not more than)
Appointed to Temple’s Board of Trustees in 2002 and now serving as vice
chairman of the student affairs committee, he finds similarities here.
“Temple works hard to ensure we get good students without penalizing some
who may have had to work a job during high school or could not afford to
take a battery of SAT preparation courses,” he said. “They are the kind of
students who might not be able to compete at the same quantitative level,
but they certainly can at the qualitative level.”
McKee left his minority recruiting job for law school at Syracuse
University, planning on a career in community service. But when his wife
opted to attend — and pay for — medical school, McKee sought higher-paying
jobs in cities where she was applying. Mrs. McKee went to Hahnemann; her
husband to Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, the firm where he met leading
lawyer Howard Gittis, now chairman of Temple’s board.
McKee held stints in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as deputy city solicitor
and as Common Pleas Court judge. In 1994, President Clinton nominated McKee
to his current judgeship in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
“This is a wonderful experience,” McKee said. “The government pays me to
write and to read and to think about great issues.”
Because of that inquisitiveness and love for learning, McKee “always wanted
to be involved at the board level with an institution of higher learning. In
a democratic society, nothing quite rivals academic institutions for
fostering the competition of ideas and for training people to engage in
“Universities reflect society,” he added. “There is no issue in broader
society — housing, labor, race — that’s not reflected in the governance of a
McKee praised Temple for its diversity and “the extent to which the school
is really committed to maintaining academic standards while ensuring that
students who want a good, solid education, and who have demonstrated the
capability of doing the work, don’t get turned away. Diversity is not about
lowering standards, but about getting a more realistic assessment of
potential that helps everybody — the student who has to work compared to the
one who doesn’t; a poor kid compared to a wealthy kid whose home included a
library. It levels the playing field for everybody.
“We need to continue to push toward academic excellence in the faculty and
students we recruit without turning away students from all backgrounds who
can do the work. That’s Temple’s strength, and that’s what we’re committed
Being relatively new to Temple and working on many weekends, McKee still
hopes to become more involved in Temple’s campus life. He enjoys women’s
basketball and is hoping for an opportunity to introduce his daughters to
coach Dawn Staley.
“That,” he said, “would be great.”
- By Mark Eyerly
© 2004 Temple Times