Posted April 18, 2008

Celebration marks creation of Watson Chair in Urban Education

At a celebration of the Bernard C. Watson Endowed Chair in Urban Education, the chair’s namesake reminded everyone that opportunity was the real coin of the realm.

  • Photo by David DeBalko Joseph Neubauer (left), fundraising co-chair and chairman and CEO of Aramark, C. Kent McGuire, dean of Temple University's College of Education and Bernard C. Watson former academic vice president at Temple were among those who gathered at the Pyramid Club on April 1 to celebrate the Bernard C. Watson Chair in Urban Education at Temple University. The reception, which was sponsored by PECO Energy, celebrated the chair's endowment.

Appreciative to be the namesake of the first endowed chair at Temple named for an African American, Bernard C. Watson urged those at the naming celebration to look past him to what the chair represents.

“The only thing that I had in life was a belief that I could do anything,” he said. “All that I needed was an opportunity. Through this chair, we can provide opportunity. What people do with it is up to them.”

Watson, a former academic vice president and professor of urban studies and urban education at Temple who has also served as an assistant superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia, was honored on April 1 at the Pyramid Center in Center City with a ceremony marking the creation of the Bernard C. Watson Chair in Urban Education. The chair is the result of about $1 million in fundraising through events like the reception, which itself raised more than $7,000.

The event, sponsored by PECO Energy, gathered together educators, education advocates and others whose lives Watson has touched. About 150 people were on hand, including fundraising co-chairs Constance Clayton, former superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia; Judges Nelson Diaz and Arlin Adams; Joseph Neubauer, chairman and CEO of Aramark; City Councilwoman Marian Tasco; C. Kent McGuire, dean of the College of Education; and School Reform Commission member (and director of Temple’s Urban Education Collaborative) Heidi Ramírez.

The purpose of the Watson chair is twofold. In addition to providing the funds to attract high-caliber faculty in urban education to Temple, the chair is also designed to encourage research and scholarship in urban education by awarding fellowships and scholarships to outstanding students, McGuire said.

But the emphasis on community buy-in is what makes this chair unique, said Valerie Gay, director of development for the College of Education. In addition to the fundraising efforts, students are engaging in a series of community service projects related to education known as Watson Works (W2) as a tribute to Watson and his commitment to community, Gay said.

A gala to celebrate the Watson chair and Temple’s efforts in urban education will be held at Mitten Hall on May 15.