Robert A. Rovner

In 1961, Trustee Robert A. Rovner’s freshman classmates at Temple elected him president of his class. Forty-five years later, the University still can’t seem to get enough of his leadership.

Rovner’s classmates liked him so much that they elected him president again in his sophomore, junior and senior years, and student body president in 1964-65. Then Rovner went to Temple Law School, where once again he was elected president of each of his classes, as well as student body president in 1967-68.

Now the former Pennsylvania state senator has been appointed to Temple’s Board of Trustees for the second time — first in 1996 by a Republican, Gov. Tom Ridge, then by a Democrat, Gov. Edward G. Rendell, earlier this year.

To Rovner, it seems as if he never left. “Temple has been a part of my life ever since I set foot on campus,” he said. “The University helped shape who I am.”

Although Rovner is senior partner in the Feasterville-based law firm of Rovner, Allen, Rovner, Zimmerman & Nash, he is perhaps better known as a radio talk show host. He has a Friday afternoon show on WNNR 1540 AM called “Senator Bob Rovner Talks to the Stars” and a Saturday afternoon show on WWDB 860 AM with Philadelphia Councilman Frank Rizzo.

Rovner was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia. His father was a labor leader for a hotel and restaurant workers union. Rovner worked his way through college and law school as a waiter at hotels, weddings and banquets to earn his Temple tuition.

After receiving his J.D. in 1968, Rovner took a job as assistant district attorney under Arlen Specter while serving as Temple’s director of bequest and deferred giving, then he successfully ran for office as a Republican, becoming the youngest state senator in Pennsylvania history in 1970.

As a trustee, Rovner is thrilled with Temple’s rising academic reputation, faculty hiring, new facilities and vibrant residential community. Yet of all the issues engaged by the board, Rovner is most energized by Temple’s fast-growing international programs.

“The sun never sets on Temple University,” Rovner said. “I’m proud of the efforts the University has made to bring Temple to Japan, Rome, and Temple Law’s innovative programs in China.”

A tireless advocate for the benefits of studying abroad, Rovner believes that globalization has made international programs more essential than ever. “It’s good for Temple students and faculty members to go to see the world,” he said, “and it’s good to bring the world closer to the Temple community in Philadelphia.”

Rovner hopes that his rise from “poor kid” to successful politician, attorney, community leader, businessman and philanthropist offers today’s students an example of Temple’s transformative powers.

“If you work hard, set a goal and go after it,” he said, “any Temple student can do it.”

— Hillel J. Hoffmann

2006 Temple Times