Temple Times Online Edition
    MARCH 23, 2006
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Summit gathers volunteer leaders

Later this week, Temple will be hosting an unprecedented gathering of the University’s volunteer leaders. The inaugural Leadership Summit will bring together more than 400 board and council members from around the nation for a three-day meeting, an event that signals the continuing mobilization of Temple’s fast-growing community of dedicated alumni and friends.

For the first time in Temple’s history, leaders representing every board and council at the University — including the Board of Trustees, the President’s Advisory Board and the General Alumni Advisory Board, as well as school and college boards of visitors and alumni association boards — will meet in one place at one time.

“I’m very excited about the Leadership Summit,” said Robert M. Tarola, a 1973 graduate of The Fox School of Business and Management and chair of the President’s Advisory Board. “What energizes me the most is the opportunity to meet many of Temple’s internal leaders, as well as friends and alumni who share my view that Temple is a great university, and who are willing to support it.”

The summit begins on Friday with individual gatherings of about 20 different boards and councils, some of which will be conducting their inaugural meetings.

“Three years ago, only a small fraction of Temple’s schools and colleges had boards of visitors,” said Melissa Coopersmith, Temple’s associate vice president for campaign programs. “Now, all have boards of visitors or advisory councils, each filled with talented alumni and friends who are eager to provide guidance to their schools and colleges.”

On Friday evening, summit events will be held in locations throughout the city, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Liberty Museum, the Kimmel Center and even a 76ers game at the Wachovia Center.

Saturday’s plenary session includes presentations from senior University administrators on subjects ranging from academics to finances; a keynote address from philanthropy expert and former New York University Senior Vice President for External Affairs Naomi Levine; campus trolley tours; and the annual Founder’s Celebration at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Touring campus may seem like an unusual activity for a group of loyal alumni, but a surprising number of them haven’t returned to Temple for many years, partly as a result of feeling “neglected” by the University, according to some volunteer leaders.

“The saddest thing I hear is ‘no one ever asked me to participate,’” said Trustee and General Alumni Association President Loretta Duckworth, who holds degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Tyler School of Art. “But that’s changing. The voices and concerns of alumni are now being heard, and alumni are far more interested in the University and getting involved. We’re connecting with them, forging relationships and bringing everyone back.”

One alumnus who has been drawn back into the fold is President’s Advisory Board member and 1971 School of Communications and Theater graduate Doug Maine, a retired IBM and MCI executive who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“Until Bob Tarola invited me to join the President’s Advisory Board, no one had ever asked me to come back to Temple,” Maine said. “The first meeting of the board last year was my first step on campus since I graduated. I was very impressed with where the University was going. I like the fact that our purpose isn’t simply to tap alumni on the shoulder and ask them to write a check, but to take action do something positive.”

Maine is one of dozens of volunteer leaders who are traveling great distances to attend the summit. Others will be arriving from the Pacific Northwest, southern California, Florida and elsewhere.

“The fact that so many volunteer leaders are coming from so far away to participate is a powerful statement,” said Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Stuart P. Sullivan.

“It shows that there’s a groundswell of support among Temple’s alumni and friends.”

The summit concludes on Sunday with a meeting of board and council chairs, followed by 25th and 50th reunion activities, a dinner in recognition of endowment donors and a performance by the Boyer College of Music and Dance’s combined choirs and orchestra at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“This is only a start,” said Board of Trustees Chair Howard Gittis. “Temple’s 240,000 graduates around the world, as well as corporations, foundations and friends, represent an enormous source of potential strength for the University.

If we follow the example of other great public universities across the country, and can mobilize our alumni and friends as full, proud participants in the life of the University, the impact on Temple and its students will be inestimable.”

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann