Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee visited Main Campus on Wednesday for a tour and hearing on the importance of the Commonwealth’s annual investment in Temple University.
Sen. Jake Corman, the committee's chairman, said members wanted to visit each of the four state-related universities to have a more in-depth conversation about the roles these schools play in the Commonwealth. The committee has already visited Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh, and will visit Lincoln University later this month.
During the three-hour hearing, committee members heard five panel discussions, focusing on Temple’s regional impact, the Temple 20/20 framework and its value to the city, Temple’s academics and research, the student and alumni perspective on the university's value, and the challenges and contributions of Temple’s health enterprise.
The panels featured Temple President Ann Weaver Hart, joined by Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick J. O’Connor, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and university deans and administrators, faculty students and alumni.
President Hart said Temple is a vital part of the state's economic engine.
"The long-term economic health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania demands a highly educated workforce to attract these jobs to the state and to keep them here," Hart told the committee. "Preparing Pennsylvania students for jobs in knowledge-based industries and for entrepreneurial leadership will ensure a workforce that can rebuild the state’s economy and keep it strong and competitive in the decades to come."
Her comments were echoed by Mayor Nutter, who said that "Temple is an anchor institution for the city that creates jobs, generates tax revenue, revitalizes neighborhoods and provides healthcare and other services to some of the city’s most needy residents." The mayor pointed out that in its effort to help local students, Temple offers nearly $12 million in scholarships and financial aid to Philadelphians.
Robert C. Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, praised Temple's role as a vital part of the region's economy. "Each year, Temple generates about $3.7 billion in economic impact within the city, supporting about 34,000 jobs and $72 million in local taxes," he said. In addition, the university contributes about $6.2 billion in economic impact within the Commonwealth, supporting about 71,000 jobs and roughly $192 million in state taxes.
All of this activity is a valuable asset to the city and state, but Temple has also benefited from its partnership with the Commonwealth and the financial support that comes from being a state-related university, panelists said.
State support for Temple is vital, said Trustees Chair O'Connor. "We rely on the Commonwealth for its generous support in completing these noble initiatives and keeping the costs of a Temple education down," he said. "Without that support our impact on the region would be greatly diminished."
Committee members expressed their support for Temple and higher education in Pennsylvania, and seemed impressed by the value of Temple to its students, and the return on the Commonwealth’s investment.
For example, Corman made a point of highlighting the discount in-state students receive when compared with the costs Temple charges its out-of-state students. Pennsylvania residents pay substantially less because of the Commonwealth Appropriation, he said, and if that support were reduced, tuition for in-state students would have to rise.