humorist Sidney Joseph Perelman apparently never met Temple Trustee Mitchell
L. Morgan, for Perelman once described someone as having "the lazy insolence
of a shoe salesman."
Morgan is founder of a real estate investment, development and management
company -- Morgan Properties -- that has 500 employees, 17,000 apartment
units and real estate worth more than $1 billion. Morgan started out as a
shoe salesman; lazy insolence has never been one of his attributes.
"Selling shoes was how I paid for school," explained Morgan, who holds
Temple degrees in accounting (1976) and law (1980). "I may have learned more
about marketing from selling shoes than I did in my marketing classes!"
As an undergraduate, Morgan took classes between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m.,
spending his afternoons in a shoe store at Germantown and Lehigh avenues.
After receiving his accounting degree, he enrolled in Law School night
classes, not because he wanted to be a lawyer but because he thought a legal
education would be helpful in a business career.
"The shoe store taught me a lot about buying, marketing, budgeting and other
aspects of business," he said. "Law was an area I had no experience in."
While studying law at night, Morgan took a huge pay cut and left the shoe
store for a $1.65-per-hour accounting job, just to get the two years of work
experience necessary to become a certified public accountant. After
finishing at the Law School, he worked briefly for an international
accounting firm and then for a client in the apartment business, before
striking out on his own in 1985.
"I had no idea things would turn out so well," Morgan said. "I just focused,
kept my head down and put together an amazing company with remarkable
After earning his law degree in 1980, Morgan did not step on the Temple
campus again until he returned in 2002 for his first meeting as a trustee.
Now he is chairman of the facilities committee, applying his professional
expertise to planned construction projects at Temple totaling $400 million.
Those projects include moving the Tyler School of Art to Main Campus,
building a new School of Medicine and expanding The Fox School of Business
"All of those projects will help take Temple to the next level," Morgan
said. "For me, Temple was just a commuting school. Park, go to class, get
out as quickly as possible. Now, Temple has a campus life; it has more of a
university feel to it. And we're doing a much better job of reaching out to
our alumni to re-establish relationships."
As for serving as a trustee, "It's a lot of work," Morgan said. "I have
tremendous respect for my colleagues and their dedication to Temple. When
people get involved with Temple, it's to help keep our mission going. Being
involved here is like giving back to the community, because Temple provides
opportunities that can transform lives. It did for me."
Although the shoe store helped a little bit, too.
-By Mark Eyerly
© 2004 Temple Times