President’s vision strikes chord with Temple
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / Temple University
|Standing before the Temple university community, alumni, friends and delegates from academic institutions across the country, President Ann Weaver Hart outlined Temple’s goals for the 21st century, pledging greater attention to academic excellence, community involvement, the environment, international presence and the contribution of alumni donors.
In her address after being officially invested last week as the university’s first female president, Hart laid out a clear mission to increase Temple’s excellence, reach and influence.
“Today, Temple lights the way for students, faculty and neighbors. Tomorrow will bring the opportunity to cast that light even farther, to illuminate a new century of learning and understanding,” she said to a round of roaring applause.
Hart addressed attendees to her formal investiture following an academic procession, which included nearly 130 delegates from other colleges and universities, as well as Temple’s own faculty. The marchers, who wore the academic regalia of their own institutions, traveled from as far away as Louisiana and Utah to witness the celebration of Temple’s ninth president.
Interspersed with musical selections from the Temple University’s Symphony Orchestra and Concert Choir and a poetic tribute by English Professor emeritus Sonia Sanchez, were greetings from a representative each of the faculty, alumni, students and staff.
Then, Hart took center stage and got down to business, announcing two initiatives to make Temple more international while affirming its rich history in North Philadelphia.
In her address, Hart urged more students to study abroad at Temple's international campuses in Japan and Rome, as well as in places such as Paris, London and Ghana.
As an incentive, Hart said, she and her husband, Randy, will pay passport fees for first-time student travelers through a fund they will establish.
Bob Bonner, the assistant dean of M.B.A. programs at the Fox School of Business, agreed that a global academic experience is vital to the development of students.
“[Hart’s] emphasis on creative innovation and international education are both things we passionately believe in and embrace in the business community, and that can be beneficial for all students in any field,” he said.
Hart also spoke of Temple’s commitment to its local surroundings.
“I will soon launch an effort to encourage Temple employees to live where they work — in our neighborhoods,” she said.
In partnership with the city of Philadelphia and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the university will offer financial resources to help faculty and staff buy homes in close proximity to Temple. The targeted area will stretch from Main Campus south to City Hall, and north to the Health Science Center. More details of the initiative will be available later this spring, Hart said.
David Drasin, a 1962 Temple graduate and delegate from Purdue University, credited Hart for her proposed initiative to encourage revitalization in the area surrounding the university. Drasin, recalling his own experience, said that the idea is something that will have a profoundly positive impact on university life.
Echoing Drasin’s sentiment, Walter Weidenbacher, a financial assistant in the College of Science and Technology, said he was thrilled with the idea.
“I’d move in a heartbeat,” the current southern New Jersey commuter said.
Along with being supportive of her initiatives, Weidenbacher was also awed by Hart’s personality and presence.
“I was very favorably impressed with her speech because she comes across as a genuine and sincere person,” he said. “And, from the times I have met with her one-on-one, I know that what you see is what you get.”
Junior political science major Juan Galeano said he also has had first-hand experience working with Hart through his involvement in Temple Student Government and has felt the warmth in which she exudes to everyone she meets.
“Dr. Hart is able to connect with everyone so well,” Galeano explained. “The energy and excitement that she brings to everything she does makes her a pleasure to work with.”
One person who Hart connected with was men’s basketball Head Coach Fran Dunphy.
“I thought the president’s goals incorporated all aspects of the Temple community and the university’s relationship with the Philadelphia community,” Dunphy said.
“Her personality, her way of speaking, her excitement is a very catching attitude.
That kind of positive, upbeat attitude will be able to get Temple through the good and bad times.”
In addition to the initiatives Hart laid out, she also called on alumni donors to help Temple continue to its commitment to access.
Despite having 240,000 living alumni, Temple “does not enjoy the huge endowment incomes of other institutions, nor their long traditions of private giving by alumni and friends. We must create that tradition now,” she said, citing that 76 percent of Temple undergraduates demonstrate “financial need.”
At the ceremony, Hart also used the opportunity to announce the selection of the new provost, Lisa Staiano-Coico, currently the dean of Cornell University's College of Human Ecology. Staiano-Coico will officially take over the position of the university's chief academic officer on July 1.
The announcement marked the first time in Temple history that both the president and provost positions will be held by women, something that other women involved with the university took great pride in.
“This is a very proud moment for all women who have attended Temple,” 1948 alumna Aggie Stegmuller said.
As the only woman chair in the College of Science and Technology, Shohreh Amini said the presence of two women in high-level institutional positions is “very significant” for her and every other woman serving Temple.