Dear members of the Temple family,
On Jan. 18, you received information announcing that Temple is taking the next step—but not the final step—in the process of developing an on-campus multipurpose facility, including a football stadium.
This next step, expected to take about four to five months, includes three concurrent discussions of the potential facility and its impact on North Philadelphia and Temple.
The discussions are:
- a continuing conversation with our North Philadelphia neighbors;
- dialogue within the university community; and
- the formal processes of the Philadelphia Planning Commission and other city agencies, which engage multiple constituencies.
Let me elaborate on the second of these, the campus conversations we will have about this project.
I want to invite thorough and open comment in the best traditions of academia. A diversity of views is what makes a university great, and Temple is no exception. Respecting the academic calendar, the next three months or so provide the best opportunity to gather additional input. To that end, I will have a series of discussions with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Temple. I have always been proud of our ability to have thoughtful and respectful dialogue on matters that will help shape the university’s future.
I’m going to initiate this discussion by being open about where my own views stand as of now. They have been shaped by data and input I’ve reviewed over the past 18 months. I remain open to even more input that will further shape my views. The potential on-campus multipurpose facility has become attractive to me for the following reasons.
1. Exploring the idea for the facility has provided, and will continue to provide, the opportunity to work with community members to improve our relationships with North Philadelphia. We need to listen more and become better neighbors by responding to their concerns on this and other matters. This facility would need to be good for our neighbors as well as for the university.
2. The facility would offer an opportunity to show off our ever-improving campus environment, as well as our outstanding faculty, academic programs and research achievements, to the general public and our peers from other universities. Too many of our academic colleagues have never seen our campus first hand. Those who have always walk away very impressed.
3. I believe we could significantly augment campus life by providing a first-rate game day student experience through on-campus tailgating, engaging and interacting with alumni and faculty at school-sponsored activities, and linking athletics and academics.
Providing opportunities for deeper institutional pride and college spirit is key to forging lifelong connections with current students and reconnecting with our more than 300,000 alumni and donors, many of whom have not set foot on campus in decades. This facility could give many of them a reason to re-engage with their university and provide another venue to unite us.
4. The prospect of an on-campus facility makes financial sense, letting us control costs and reap greater rewards, resulting in substantial savings compared to leasing an off-campus site that is too large for our needs.
5. It would truly be a “multipurpose facility.” It would include not only a stadium but also much-needed classrooms, research and event space, as well as adjacent retail and mixed-use facilities that would benefit the campus and surrounding community.
6. The project would support the 125 student-athletes in our football program. They have a sterling academic record, including an overall graduation success rate of 83 percent. In fact, since 2014, a total of 83 out of a possible 87 players will have graduated by this May. In addition, year after year, they engage in wonderful volunteer work in the local community. I am so proud of our student-athletes.
7. The project would generate economic benefits for our neighbors through construction and retail jobs and retail business opportunities and services.
8. Field signage and TV exposure would increase Temple’s name recognition nationally. Name recognition will be very important in the years ahead as we expand our recruitment efforts for the best students and faculty in a climate in which the pipeline for future students from the northeast region continues to contract.
9. Finally, based on my personal experience with an earlier project, I believe this project would have a long-term benefit for the university and its adjacent neighborhoods. Built more than 20 years ago, the Liacouras Center has become an anchor for bringing people to campus, while spurring economic development for North Philadelphia. The multipurpose facility would have the potential to do the same.
I look forward to hearing your views. I very much want to hear from you directly. Please email your thoughts to me at email@example.com.
Temple University is what it is today because of you: our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and other supporters. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do on behalf of our university. You are the reason why I have enjoyed each of the 42 years I’ve been at Temple.
Richard M. Englert