Temple Times Online Edition
    OCTOBER 28, 2004
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The Fox School receives
$15M for new building

The gift from Gisela and Dennis Alter is the largest in The Fox School’s history

Photo by Lisa Godfrey
Dennis and Gisela Alter at The Fox School’s 2003 Musser Award for Leadership Dinner, where Dennis Alter was the award recipient.

Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management today gratefully accepted a lead gift of $15 million from Gisela and Dennis Alter to build Alter Hall, a new building for The Fox School.

This transformational gift, the largest in the history of The Fox School and the second largest in the history of Temple University, comes at a crucial point for The Fox School, which has outgrown its current home, Speakman Hall. Fox School faculty and students occupy space in nine other University buildings. Alter Hall will be constructed adjacent to Speakman Hall and will include the site where Curtis Hall currently stands.

The construction of Alter Hall, which is expected to begin in early 2006, will dramatically increase the existing space for business education with a new $78 million, 200,000-plus-square-foot, seven-story, state-of-the-art facility being designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves in collaboration with Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates of Butler, Pa. The construction of Alter Hall is part of more than $400 million in construction and renovation projects at Temple University, including new buildings for the School of Medicine and the Tyler School of Art.

“Gisela and I are proud to continue our support of Temple University and The Fox School of Business. I spent nine years studying at Temple, doing undergraduate and graduate work,” said Dennis Alter, chairman and chief executive officer of Advanta Corporation. “Temple has had a transformational impact on my life and my subsequent career. We hope this gift helps make it possible for thousands of others to be educated and influenced by Temple, including my grandchildren, of which I presently have none.”

The $15 million Alter gift is supported by a $25 million capital appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and $25 million in University bond proceeds. An additional $13 million will be raised by The Fox School of Business to complete the financing for Alter Hall through a campaign: “Building Fox, Transforming Lives.”

“We are most grateful to Gisela and Dennis for their generous commitment to provide this transformational gift to fund Alter Hall,” said President David Adamany. “This new facility will significantly enhance the academic experience for our students, will foster interdisciplinary interaction among Fox and other Temple faculty, and will enable The Fox School of Business to be a very strong regional and increasingly national and international center for business and management education.”

Dick Fox, the Temple trustee for whom the school is named, said, “This generous gift to improve business education in Philadelphia is yet one more of Gisela and Dennis Alter’s ongoing contributions that will make a significant difference in our community.”

The construction of Alter Hall will allow for a consolidation of all existing departments, centers and institutes, as well as classes currently spread among nine different buildings on campus. It also will accommodate a potential increase in enrollment over the next 10 years, focusing on the continued improvement of the quality of honors undergraduate and graduate students. Alter Hall will provide for the expansion of key research centers and institutes, integrating new designs for today’s business education with an emphasis on The Fox School’s highly regarded interdisciplinary programs in globalization, innovation and entrepreneurship, and information technology, as well as its core disciplines.

“A physical environment that reflects the business culture to which our graduates aspire will ensure that our students are well-prepared and competitive when they embark on their professional careers,” said M. Moshe Porat, dean of The Fox School. “It will also strengthen our partnerships with the business community and our ability to maintain a leadership role in business management education in the region and beyond. Alter Hall will truly help us to build, invest and transform the future of The Fox School of Business.”

Plans also call for a major renovation of Speakman Hall, the current home of The Fox School, which was built in 1965 for a student population that was roughly one-third the size of the school’s existing population of more than 5,500 students. A new complex consisting of Alter and Speakman halls will provide a home to all Fox School faculty and students, as well as faculty and students of The School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and will create an environment conducive to learning, research and interdisciplinary studies.

A native of Philadelphia and a 1966 graduate of Temple University, Dennis Alter began his career in education, teaching English in the Philadelphia public school system from 1966 to 1969. In 1969, he joined TSO Financial, the family business founded by his father, which provided loans to teachers. Alter continued to grow the company, acquiring Colonial National Bank and beginning a national credit card marketing initiative. The company went public in 1985, changed its name to Advanta in 1988 and began to focus on mortgages and the needs of the small business market. Today, Advanta (NASDAQ; ADVNB; ADVNA) is one the nation’s largest issuers of business credit cards to America’s small businesses through its subsidiary Advanta Bank Corp. Gisela and Dennis Alter support many causes in the Philadelphia region, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Federation of Jewish Agencies.

In the Greater Philadelphia region, The Fox School of Business strives to be recognized as the premier center of business and management education, with national recognition in selected programs and with overall recognition among the top 10 percent of all accredited business schools in the world. The Fox School is committed to the following five major mission-driven themes: providing quality, student-centered business and management education; engaging in state-of-the-art-research; integrating cutting-edge information technology into teaching, learning and research; providing the best professional development opportunities for students, faculty and staff; and linking, through its curriculum, research and outreach to the dominant and growth industries in the region.

The Fox School of Business and Management is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the Greater Philadelphia region and among the largest in the world, with more than 5,500 students, 150 full-time faculty and 45,000 alumni. Accredited by AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), The Fox School’s programs are ranked internationally and nationally by leading business publications, including Financial Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and Entrepreneurship magazine.

- By Julie A. Davidson and Lisa Z. Meritz