2017 State of the University Address

Introduction

Good morning and thanks to all of you for taking the time to be here.

Last year, I came to you after only a few months in office. I offered you my hopes for the future of this amazing university.

In return, you gave your incredible support to JoAnne Epps, the executive vice president and provost, and to me.

We could not be more grateful

In the 12 months since my last address, I have had the pleasure of discovering, once again, just how special Temple University is.

I want to share with you some of my discoveries, and talk a bit about where we are today and where we are headed.

Students

The theme of today’s talk is discovery, and I have a great announcement: More students have discovered and enrolled at Temple University than ever before.
In fact, Temple broke a record this year for the most students ever enrolled at the university.

This year, there are forty thousand, two hundred and forty (40,240) students enrolled in Temple!

In an era when other schools are struggling to make their class, Temple’s breaking new records for enrollment

That’s great news and I thank all of you for your efforts.

New students come to Temple not because of people like me, but because of people like you.

New students are impressed with the quality of our faculty, our students and our administrative staff—along with the opportunities you offer them to develop themselves and to excel in life.

I think it’s worth noting that it’s not just the number of students that has changed. As I’ve engaged with students around campus, I’ve seen how they are discovering the joy of being a Temple Owl.
That joy is symbolized in the new Owl statue in O’Connor Plaza. The Owl has become one of the most photographed landmarks on campus.

The reactions of students have been heartwarming. One told me, “It’s sick!” When I asked her whether she didn’t like it, she said, no, she loved it. “It’s sick!” Then I understood that for this generation, “it’s sick” means “it’s cool” or too good for words.

I truly believe their pride in Temple is something that is permanent and will grow through the years.

***

We also saw the Temple family come together in another way just a few days into the school year in response to the tragic death of Jenna Burleigh.

Led by our students, we gathered to grieve, to remember and to heal.

I was with her family at the viewing in the evening and then again for the funeral the next day. Her family members are such wonderful strong people. They set up a charity in Jenna’s memory.

I want to remind you to honor Jenna’s life by supporting Jenna’s Blessing Bags for the Homeless, as I have, through Univest, an online charity vehicle. By doing so, we will be helping her legacy to live on.

***

In considering discovery and our students, I wanted to recognize the efforts of our International Affairs team.

Knowing that this has been a difficult time for students who want to come to America, the International Affairs team has created a nationally recognized program called “You Are Welcome Here.” Both our Provost and I participated in this effort, as well as so many university family members.

The campaign has encouraged prospective students from around the world to come here and discover that Temple is a caring place to live and learn.

The program has now been emulated at more than 100 other higher education institutions around the country.

I want to thank everyone in International Affairs—and everyone who participated—for their terrific efforts.

Speaking of our students, I want to recognize the current Temple Student Government leadership.

From the first day of classes, TSG leaders were engaging students, listening to their ideas and serving as student advocates throughout the university.

In addition, they are a model for leadership. Not only are they a voice for the student body, but they are actually doing the work—taking proactive steps to make things better.
For example, they spearheaded a very engaging week-long sexual awareness campaign.

The campaign was so effective that Gov. Tom Wolf himself praised the efforts of our TSG students. The governor selected one student speaker from all the colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to speak at his press conference about sexual assault. It didn’t surprise me that the person he selected is our own student body president. All of us share his assessment.

I also want to point out that the the Princeton Review ranked our student government the 13th most active in the nation.

TSG deserves this recognition, but I would quibble with the Princeton Review because I would rank our student government as No. 1 in the country. I invite TSG President Tyrell Mann-Barnes, and Vice Presidents Kayla Martin and Paige Hill, and Shawn Aleong to stand.

Thank you for your outstanding leadership on behalf of our wonderful student body.  We are so proud that you are Temple students and that  you have represented the university so well in Harrisburg.

The Commonwealth Appropriation

With regard to Harrisburg, we continue to work with the governor, legislators and their staffs on the university’s commonwealth appropriation. I continue to be optimistic that our elected leaders recognize the essential role that Temple has in economic development, in the education of the state’s talent and leadership, in conducting groundbreaking research and in providing vital clinical services within the commonwealth.

As our elected leaders deliberate, it always helps for the Temple University community to continue to let them know of how important the annual commonwealth appropriation is to keeping tuition affordable for Pennsylvania students.

I urge you to use the university’s TALON network to voice your support for Temple University.

Leadership Changes

I am privileged to work with amazing leaders. Provost JoAnne Epps, Faculty Senate President Michael Sachs and Dean and Senior Executive Vice President Larry Kaiser have all been mentors to me and I am grateful for their guidance.

We have also seen other amazing leaders who are discovering that coming to Temple —or staying here while taking on new duties—is a great move.

The newest member of the university’s cabinet is Jim Cawley, our vice president for institutional advancement. Jim oversees the fundraising and alumni operations at Temple.

Although new to this role, Jim has a long history with the university. He has both his undergraduate and his law degrees from Temple and he has served as a member of the Board of Trustees. And he also served a term as lieutenant governor for Pennsylvania, where he was a staunch supporter for Temple. 

Jim, will you stand and be recognized?

I want to mention that Jim is coming onboard after an impressive year for fundraising at Temple. Once again, our development team broke a record, exceeding 90 million dollars in gifts and commitments in one year. 

In an era where private dollars continue to be vital to our success, that’s the kind of record we will need to break every year!

While I’m on the topic of fundraising, I want to give a shout out to the members of our Board of Trustees. They are unpaid public servants who devote enormous amounts of time and energy to champion Temple. 

They share their wisdom and they oversee our operations. They are also the most ardent supporters of our students and mission. 

They are extremely generous with their financial support. For example, 17 of our board members have given more than a million dollars each to the university, with a number having donated more than $10 million.

I want to thank them all, and especially single out for accolades the chairman of the board, Patrick J. O’Connor. Not only is he a member of the million-dollar club, but he also continues to work with legislators, the governor and other public officials to ensure our commonwealth appropriation each year, as well as convincing foundations and private donors to invest in Temple.

Mr. O’Connor’s passion is helping students, especially the most needy, and he ensures that the board every year keeps Temple’s tuition affordable, much lower than our competitors do. 

Because of him, and all the board members, our fundamental values as an institution continue to be affordability, accessibility, persity, excellence and community engagement.

Turning back to the university’s leadership team, I would also like to acknowledge Hai-Lung Dai who has assumed the role of vice president of international affairs. 

Hai-Lung is well known to the Temple community. In fact, he’s celebrating a decade here at Temple. 

Not only is he a world-class professor and researcher in the field of chemistry, he is also responsible for forging numerous relationships with universities abroad thereby enhancing our recruitment and enrollment of international students. 

As the number of students in the domestic pipeline decreases across the United State, international students will be more and more important to our future. 

We are delighted to have you at the university in this vital role. Please stand so we can thank you, Hai-Lung, and know that we wish you the best as you forge even more partnerships. 

I would also like to introduce two new deans.

Susan E. Cahan joined Temple July 1 as dean of the Tyler School of Art. 

A respected arts education administrator, scholar and curator, Susan served as associate dean and dean for the arts at Yale College, Yale University’s undergraduate liberal arts college.  I think I embarrassed her last night by saying she had “traded up.” Susan, welcome. Please stand so we can recognize you.

And I am happy to re-introduce Greg Mandel, the new dean of the Beasley School of Law. 

Greg is no stranger to the university. He came to the law school in 2007 and served as the interim dean after JoAnne Epps was appointed executive vice president and provost. 

I know everyone has told Greg he has big shoes to fill, I’m confident he will continue the law school’s excellence and build on the foundation that JoAnne and her predecessors so carefully laid.

Please stand, Greg. Thank you for your service as acting dean and we all look forward to continued great things at the School of Law.

Reasons to Celebrate

We have other reasons to celebrate this year at Temple, because we have several important anniversaries. 

I want to start with the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, which is having its 20th anniversary this year. Would anyone associated with STHM please stand?

The Honors Program at Temple is now 30 years old. If Ruth Ost and her team are here, would they please stand?

I know there might be only a few folks who have been to Temple University Japan here, but the school is celebrating 35 years. If anyone has been to TUJ, please rise.

Three units are celebrating their 50th anniversary: The Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple Theaters and Temple Rome. Will anyone associated with those three programs please stand?

And finally the senior member of this group: The Fox School of Business is having its 100th anniversary this year. Will those with any relationship to the Fox School please rise?

Wow. There will be a lot of cake and candles on campus this year. 

Community Engagement

Discovery is not limited to the classroom or the campus. We have also been building new and vital bridges with our wonderful neighbors in North Philadelphia and the city as a whole. Let me cite just one example.

I hope by now you’re aware of Symphony for a Broken Orchestra. It’s one of the most innovative efforts I’ve seen in my 41 years to have an impact on Philadelphia’s schools. 

Led by Temple Contemporary out of the Tyler School of Art, in partnership with The North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council, Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is taking more than a 1,000 broken instruments that once sat unused from across the Philadelphia school district and giving them new life.

A concert on the broken instruments will take place in December as a way of bringing attention to the need for music education in our schools. 

The instruments will then be repaired and returned to the schools, with kits to help keep them in order. 

I want to commend Rob Blackson at Temple Contemporary and the North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council for their brilliant work in this effort. This is a great partnership — Temple University, North Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, foundations and private companies such as Comcast, along with local musicians. 

Speaking of our relationship with our neighbors, we are working with them on concerns over trash, noise, and student behavior off campus.

Our neighbors are such great partners, and we collaborate on a whole range of matters associated with the quality of life in the local communities adjoining our campuses.

We also continue to study the potential for a multipurpose facility, including a stadium, classrooms, research space and a retail complex. We are especially studying the potential ramifications of such a facility on the neighbors adjacent to Main Campus.

If such a facility were to be built, our goal would be a multi-purpose facility that would have benefits for our neighbors as well as the university.

As we continue our research and analysis regarding this, clear evidence is emerging that Temple could save money by building our own facility over continuing to rent the Linc.

In fact, we believe that owning our own facility, rather than renting, would result in a net $2 million to $3 million in annual cost savings.

Additional analysis continues on this project, and you’ll be hearing more in the months to come as the data become clearer.

Faculty and Research

Faculty are at the forefront of discovery at Temple, in both expected and surprising ways.

For example, Temple faculty are pioneering the transition from Blackboard to Canvas. The change was inspired because our faculty wanted more effective ways to engage with students. 

More than 450 courses are being taught this fall with Canvas and the reviews so far have been very positive. 

Our faculty deserve great credit for leading the way in this effort, along with Vice President Cindy Leavitt and her team.

Faculty researchers are also doing amazing work all around the University. In 2016, the last year for which we have full data, there were some $250 million in research expenditures. 

Our faculty’s work ranks 18th worldwide in Google scholar citations. 

And the future continues to look bright, with 211 new full-time faculty, including 68 who are on the tenure track. 

Faculty research discoveries are also promising. 

In the last few months, Jeff Martoff in physics received a $1.2 million grant from the prestigious Keck Foundation to study one of the great mysteries of the universe, dark matter. 

He is at the cutting edge of understanding some of the fundamental building blocks of our universe. 

Just a few days ago, the National Institutes of Health awarded scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine an $11.6 million grant.

The money will be used to explore the development of stem cell-based treatments for heart repair and regeneration.

Temple researchers are also at the forefront in discovering new and more effective techniques for combating opioid addiction. 

The treatments they create will have an impact in Philadelphia and around the country. 

Overall, our faculty are amazing: I know of no other university where the faculty so artfully combine excellence in teaching with prominence in research, outstanding engagement with our neighbors and all of society, along with vital clinical services to those in need. 

Before I move on from the faculty, I want to say how pleased I am to see the University and TAUP have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. 

I want to thank everyone who was involved in that effort.

Telling the Temple Story

I’ve been talking today about discovery and will conclude on this observation: When it comes to Temple University, the world is discovering just what an incredible school we are. 

One way to view this is by looking at college rankings. Inpidual rankings are always tricky to trust, but we are seeing a trend that can’t be denied. 

Let’s just look at U.S. News.

In the annual US News rankings, Temple is at number 115 for national universities, our highest ever. 

Over the last six years, we’ve climbed 17 spots, our biggest leap in those rankings.

U.S. News also shows Temple at 53 among public universities, our highest position ever.

We came in at 92 among the nation’s best values among national universities, ahead of University of California-Berkeley, and Penn State.

The university is also making waves in rankings by Money magazine, the Princeton Review and Washington Monthly.

Those points don’t include our inpiduals schools, colleges and programs, which are gaining attention in ways that are too numerous to mention here. 

The bottom line is this: The work that you—all of you—are doing at Temple is making a difference and the world is discovering that fact.

We are very proud of what we do at Temple. The university’s marketing and communications team continues to find new ways to help others discover that pride, especially through the web and digital media. 

Here is just one example of how we’re telling the world that discovery has a home at Temple University.

Conculsion

As you have seen, the age of discovery is at Temple today. 

This is the message that others are discovering:

  • We know who we are.
  • We know what we value.
  • We will work tirelessly on behalf of our students.

That is what makes Temple University great.

And Temple is on the move.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your vital role in generating and sustaining Temple’s momentum.

You’re the best!

Thank you.