As the new academic year begins, I am looking forward with enthusiasm to all the opportunities ahead of us. Whether you are returning to campus or joining Temple for the first time, your presence and contributions make our academic community the special place that it is.
While last year was not without its challenges, I enter this fall semester with a renewed sense of optimism. A significant reason for this optimism is all of you. You—our highly talented faculty and staff—are the backbone of this institution. Even during difficult times, your commitment to our students is unwavering. I know that I have said it before, but it bears repeating: It is clear that you care, so I thank you for all that you do.
Last Thursday, I helped welcome to the university the Class of 2027—nearly 4,000 students in total from more than 50 different countries—as part of our annual Convocation ceremony. Many of you joined me there for the occasion. This is a special time, and an opportunity for self-reflection. Seeing the first-year students, who are both earnest and hopeful, at their first formal collegiate gathering reminds us of why we are here. Before long, they will look to you for support as their teachers, mentors, advocates and role models. Time and time again, you have proven that you are up to the task, and I know that will be the case this time as well.
The year ahead will present its own distinct challenges. The ever-changing higher education landscape calls for us to unite in tackling urgent matters such as campus safety, enrollment growth and prudent financial stewardship. Planning for the university’s future requires collaborative approaches and building bridges across traditional boundaries. Interdisciplinary efforts and innovative ideas that draw from our diverse expertise will be the catalysts to move us forward. You have my pledge that I will keep your input as well as Temple’s mission and well-being as the guiding principles of my leadership this year.
As you saw in my message last week, we made significant strides this summer in our public safety and anti-violence efforts. Our work reflects not only our dedication to the Temple community, but also our commitment to addressing issues vital to our neighborhood and to the success of our city. We are pursuing a reinvigorated enrollment strategy, firmly grounded in proudly telling the story of what makes Temple distinctive. Soon, you’ll see a refreshed strategic plan that will continue our forward momentum and outline our strategic initiatives for the coming year.
We have work to do, and I am excited to get started. As we chart our path forward, we may have differing approaches, but I am confident that, working together, we will ensure that Temple continues to flourish. We are a community that is at its best when we are united and focused on our shared commitment to our mission and to doing what is best for our students and our university. I look forward to handing off to my successor a vibrant institution continuing on its way to becoming the best Temple it can be.
JoAnne A. Epps