Lenfest Circle to be created at heart of Main Campus
The new installation will honor H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest, a highly respected member of Temple’s Board of Trustees.
Temple University’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday decided to honor one of its most respected leaders with a tribute at the university’s most iconic structure.
A newly landscaped circle at the base of the historic Bell Tower will be created in honor of Trustee H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest. In the fall, Lenfest Circle will be installed at the heart of the university’s Main Campus.
“Those of us who have had the honor of working with Gerry over the years know he is a humble, down-to-earth person with a heart of gold,” said Board of Trustees Chair Patrick J. O’Connor. “The entire Temple University community has benefited from Gerry’s wisdom and experience, and we are delighted to approve this project as a sign of our deep admiration and respect.”
President Richard M. Englert agreed.
“Creation of a dedicated space around the Bell Tower’s base will enhance the area and be a permanent tribute to Trustee Lenfest,” he said.
“The Bell Tower is home to decades of memories for hundreds of thousands of Temple alumni. I can think of no more appropriate place to make known this university’s esteem and regard for Gerry Lenfest,” Englert said.
In addition to Lenfest Circle, the Bell Tower structure will be cleaned, while the entire structure is resealed against damage from the elements. The work is in keeping with the Verdant Temple landscaping plan for campus.
Built as part of the construction of Paley Library, the tower was completed in 1966. Formally called a campanile, the 100-foot tower was erected in sections over the course of several weeks.
In the half-century since, the Bell Tower has been home to rock concerts and protests, barbecues and bake sales. Alumni who have not been back to campus for generations and feel overwhelmed by the dramatic improvements often start their re-acclimation at the familiar Bell Tower.
For Lenfest, the new honor is the latest in a series of associations with Temple.
For example, Lenfest's support led to the naming of Lew Klein Hall in the Temple Performing Arts Center, in recognition of Lenfest family friend Lew Klein. Just this year, Lenfest made another significant gift on behalf of Klein for the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. Also at Klein College, thanks to Lenfest’s support, is the Joe First Media Center named in honor of Lenfest's mentor.
In 2014, Lenfest donated $3 million to help renovate the East Park Canoe House, the traditional home to Temple's rowing and crew teams. The gift provided a safe and modern space for the teams, while preserving a historic city landmark.
Temple awarded Lenfest an honorary doctorate in 2002 and presented him with the Russell H. Conwell Award in 2003. He received the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from Temple’s Fox School of Business in 2006.
Early in his career, Lenfest was corporate counsel for Triangle Publications, which owned various media, including several radio, television and cable stations, newspapers and magazines.
He went on to form his own company, which became Lenfest Communications, Inc. The company, of which Suburban Cable was a subsidiary, eventually became one of the top 12 cable television companies in the U.S. In 2000, he sold Lenfest Communications to Comcast Corporation.
In 2014, Lenfest and fellow Temple Trustee Lewis Katz won an auction for the media company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. Lenfest retained control of the company after Katz’ untimely death, and later donated the company to a media institute.