After creating the university's bold academic vision and a framework to reshape the physical campus for a new generation of students, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart announced Friday that she will leave the presidency June 30, 2012 after six years of leadership.
"After much thought and consideration, I have decided to step down as president of Temple University, effective June 30, 2012. I am tremendously proud to have served as Temple’s president and did not come to this decision lightly," said Hart. "I have treasured my time at Temple and am proud to have been a part of this extraordinary academic community, which is so central to the vibrant future of our city, region, nation and world."
In accepting her letter of resignation, Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick J. O'Connor praised Hart's contributions since being named president in May 2006.
"Ann Weaver Hart has been responsible for tremendous accomplishments and progress at Temple University during her time as president," said O'Connor. "We look forward to her continued leadership of the university during the current academic year."
O'Connor said a national search for Hart's successor will begin immediately, with a goal of having a new president in place when the next academic year starts in the fall of 2012.
The timing of President Hart's decision was purposeful. She cited a growing need to be nearer to family in Utah, while at the same time recognizing that Temple will need a president who can make a multiple-year commitment to the university.
"I felt that it was important to make this announcement at the beginning of the year, so that the Temple Board of Trustees can embark on a thoughtful and measured nation-wide search for a new president for Temple University," Hart said.
Hart's decision comes at a time when Temple's academic reputation has never been higher. The university attracts high quality students and, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Temple's graduation rate is increasing at the second fastest rate among public research universities nationwide.
During Hart's tenure, Temple faculty, staff and students came together to create the Academic Strategic Compass, a five-year academic plan for the institution's future. Using the Compass as a guide, the university focused on academic achievement and opportunities, research excellence, a global commitment and strengthening the relationships with the greater Philadelphia community. These efforts have drawn praise from groups like the 2010 Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation review committee, which said Temple showed "impressive results in a short period of time" toward the goals articulated in the Academic Strategic Compass.
After creating the academic plan, President Hart in 2009 unveiled the Temple 20/20 framework for campus development, which is the guide for a state-of-the-art living and learning environment taking shape today.
Already underway is construction of a new 1,200-bed residential and retail complex on North Broad Street, a dramatic renovation of Pearson and McGonigle Halls that will revitalize the student recreation experience, and a new Architecture Building that will allow both architecture and the College of Engineering to expand. Plans are being completed for a science, education and research facility that will include new space for the colleges of Science and Technology and Engineering, a new parking garage and more.
The academic qualifications of new students at Temple have grown during President Hart's tenure. The average SAT score of Temple freshmen increased sharply from 1088 (67 points above the national average) in the fall of 2006 to 1114 (97 points above the national average) in the fall of 2011. The average high school grade point average of Temple freshmen increased from 3.26 to 3.41 during that same period.
Enrollment in Temple's Honors Program has also risen, and Temple students now routinely win the nation's most prestigious and competitive academic awards. For example, 18 Temple students have won Fulbright awards in the last four years alone — an unprecedented streak of success. This was accomplished while retaining the diversity of Temple's student body. In fact, Temple's student body today has a significantly higher percentage of students who self-identify as minorities (nearly a third) than it did 25 years ago.
Many new world-class interdisciplinary research centers and programs made their debut during Hart's tenure, including the Center for Obesity Research and Education; the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research; the Center for Preparedness, Research, Education and Practice; and the Public Health Law Research Program (established with the help of $19 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).
President Hart successfully concluded the university's first comprehensive fundraising campaign in 2009. The campaign raised more than $380 million, exceeding both its original goal ($300 million) and its extended goal ($350 million). During her tenure, several of Temple's schools and colleges received the largest gifts in their histories. The Fox School of Business received $15 million from Temple alumnus Dennis Alter and his wife Gisela to build Alter Hall, the school's new home. Madlyn and Leonard Abramson gave $10 million to name Temple's School of Dentistry after Ms. Abramson's late father, Maurice H. Kornberg, a graduate of Temple's dental school. The Tyler School of Art also received its largest gift ever.
Under President Hart, Temple's community engagement programs — including hiring and housing initiatives, educational support, health services, arts and cultural activities and volunteer efforts — have grown and become more coordinated. These efforts have earned the university the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and a spot for three straight years on the Corporation for National and Community Service's President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. She also created the university's first Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs, which fosters stronger ties to elected officials, while creating a focus for enhanced engagement with the local communities in North Philadelphia.
Temple's global initiatives have grown during this time. In 2010, for the first time in the university's history, more than 1,000 Temple students studied abroad during one academic year, capping a period of explosive growth in study abroad. New study abroad and exchange programs were launched in Europe and Asia and articulation agreements with more than a dozen international universities were established. And new programs were created, such as the Ann and Randy Hart Passport Scholarship and the Diamond Ambassadors Program.
Temple's flagship athletics programs are also experiencing a national renaissance. After a long drought, Temple's football team has had two straight winning seasons and played in its first bowl game in three decades in 2009. Temple's men's and women's basketball teams have won conference titles and become fixtures in the NCAA tournament. Coaches hired under President Hart lead all three programs.