This year at Temple University, we celebrated major milestones in growing the rich diversity of our student body.
- Nearly 45% of Temple’s Class of 2025 are students of color—up from 31% just five years ago—representing the largest student of color community Temple has welcomed in at least 25 years.
- First-year Black students increased 23% over last year, with 831 enrolled.
- The percentage of Latino/a/Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American students more than doubled in the last 25 years.
- The four–year graduation rate for Black students more than doubled in the last 25 years.
In spite of these facts, an article published by the Inquirer this week emphasizes a trend that ended five years ago, zeroing in on a decline in Black students from 2000 to 2016, and without exploring our growing diversity since then or the real complexities that impact the recruitment of diverse students nationwide.
Instead of calling out one university, Temple, which has a higher proportion of Black students than most of its peers, the focus should be on encouraging all to do more of the hard work of understanding the issues and helping all primary and secondary education systems build the resources necessary to prepare all of their students for success.
Access to education isn’t only about getting in to college, it’s about academic success and degree completion. After all, the job of higher education institutions is to retain and graduate students, empowering them to pursue their dreams.
We are tackling this complex problem in meaningful ways that improve outcomes for the city’s public school students.
The university continues its commitment to student access by working closely with community colleges on dual admission agreements. These institutions are critical partners in the higher education continuum for many students. Students are accepted to Temple if they take specific, preapproved courses and earn a specified GPA at any number of community colleges, including Community College of Philadelphia. This way, students have the chance to learn academic skills and develop solid study habits while taking on less debt.
Temple also is helping public schools prepare their students for success by providing academic enrichment through after-school programs, STEM camps, mentoring, tutoring, science fairs, and scholarship programs for students living near campus like the Cecil B. Moore Scholars program.
Notably, members of the university faculty help public school educators with curriculum development and training. And in recent years, a senior administrator provided expertise and leadership to the Board of Education at The School District of Philadelphia.
We know there is more to do.
Last year, Temple’s President, Dr. Jason Wingard, issued a call to action for demonstrable results in the form of increased diversity. In the next five years, we are committed to materially increasing the number of underrepresented students coming to, and graduating from, the university. We will create this real and tangible impact by creating ever more robust academic pathways from high school to college for students in North Philadelphia, increasing financial assistance, expanding mentoring and partnerships, and targeting high-need professions. We will move the needle.
Our eyes are fixed on the prize and the promise of successful degree completion for all our students. A “Million Miles Away”? No. Right here, in North Philadelphia, the work is being done and progress is being made.