Temple’s vice president for student affairs honored for contributions to student experience
Theresa A. Powell was recently recognized as one of Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s 2022 Women’s History Month honorees. She also received special recognition at the Symposium for Black Women in Higher Education, which was held earlier this month.
In 2002, when Theresa A. Powell was hired at Temple University as its vice president for student affairs, then-President David Adamany laid out very specific marching orders.
“He said, ‘We need you to change Temple from a suitcase campus to a residential campus. People go home on the weekends, and I want students to stay on campus on the weekends,’” Powell recalled. “I remember saying, ‘Why would they stay here? There's nothing to do, and there's no place for them to go.’ And he said, ‘Exactly. That’s why you’re here.’”
Fast-forward to the present, 20 years later, and it’s clear that the on-campus experience for students has drastically changed. One of the hallmarks of Temple is its vibrancy. There are more than 300 active student organizations, and there is never a shortage of cocurricular activities or events for students to take part in.
Part of the reason for the transformation is the steadfast leadership of Powell, who worked diligently to reimagine the Division of Student Affairs upon joining the university. Powell’s commitment to both Temple and higher education was recently recognized with two awards.
She was recently recognized as one of Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s 2022 Women’s History Month honorees. She also received special recognition at the Symposium for Black Women in Higher Education, which was held earlier this month.
“It was an honor to have my career recognized in this way. I know that I have played a significant role in helping Temple University and especially the Division of Student Affairs to be in the position that it is today, and that is a wonderful feeling,” Powell said.
When she looks back at how much things have changed throughout the years, Powell recalls how move-in day used to be handled when she first arrived. As part of the residence hall check-in process, students would have to wait in a long line. Sometimes, it took hours, and their reward for making it through the line was a “barbecue” held the day before classes.
“We would call it a barbecue, but this was not barbecue,” Powell said with a laugh. “We’d give them hot dogs and hamburgers.”
Today, move-in day is much more efficient and is the start of an extensive Weeks of Welcome program, which is held at the beginning of each semester for new students. The program is key in ensuring that first-year students start their tenure at Temple on the right foot. Additionally, students now attend Convocation, a program that Powell initiated on Temple’s campus.
“Dr. Powell's career is distinguished for many reasons. First, her laser focus on the needs of college students. Second, her national service to the profession of student affairs. And third, her mentorship and guidance of so many, especially women of color,” said Stephanie Ives, associate vice president and dean of students. “At Temple, our students, faculty and staff have benefited tremendously from her leadership, expertise, enthusiasm and compassion. A quick journey across campus for anyone else is a lengthy odyssey for Dr. Powell, as everyone stops her for a hug, with words of appreciation and with requests for her time. She's truly beloved.”