Trustee Leonard Barrack
When Trustee Leonard Barrack speaks about Temple, the past, present and future weave themselves into a web of loss and victory.
“My father came to this country in 1923 from a small town in the Ukraine, where he would have been shot and buried in a mass grave with his mother and sisters,” Barrack said. “My father arrived with no education and could not speak English. He used to tell me that nothing is more important than for his children to receive an education.
“Three of us were graduated from Temple.”
Graduated from Temple, that is, after Barrack’s father and older brother died in an airplane crash, bringing Len, then an 18-year-old Emory University freshman, home from Atlanta to take care of his mother while also pursuing his father’s dream of an education.
“I am forever grateful that Temple provided me with a quality education at an affordable price,” Barrack said. After majoring in accounting and earning a bachelor’s in business administration, Barrack studied at Temple Law School while supporting a wife and son by selling insurance, doing part-time accounting work and waiting tables for $25 a night at catered functions.
Today, he is the senior and founding partner of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, a nationally recognized law firm that represents public and union pension plans around the country and specializes in securities and antitrust litigation. He has served as national finance chairman of the Democratic Party and has been extremely active in Jewish communal work.
He attributes his success not only to the knowledge he gained at Temple, but also to what the University taught him regarding a useful approach to life.
“My entire work ethic was developed at Temple,” said Barrack, who joined the board in 2001. “Temple people hustle. They work, they learn, they get things accomplished. They know where they want to go and what they have to do to get there.”
As chair of the trustees’ academic affairs committee, Barrack sees even more greatness in Temple’s future.
“We must continue to attract and retain the best faculty, build world-class facilities, improve academic programs and increase the level and quality of research,” he said. “We can continue to improve and still serve the community in which we live,” Barrack added, citing dual-admit programs with community colleges and the flexibility to admit students “who might have borderline qualifications but attributes that lead us to believe they can succeed if given the opportunity.”
“Temple should always be a place that provides a world-class education to people from all walks of life,” he added. “Go to commencement and see the incredible diversity of our graduating classes. I am proud of this University’s history, and I am excited about where this University is headed.”
Barrack has never forgotten the web of victory and loss that first brought him to Temple and influenced his lifelong commitment to public service. For one, his philanthropy includes a program to help Law School graduates who are engaged in public service repay their students loans. For another, the campus building that bears his name — Barrack Hall — actually does not bear his name. It is named for his parents, Morris and Sylvia Barrack.
“I give from my heart,” Barrack explained. “I give when I am touched within and when I believe that my gift might make a difference.”
-By Mark Eyerly