Five university presidents gathered on Thursday to discuss issues facing education and health in Philadelphia and the role that their institutions play in resolving these problems.
“I think that people were very optimistic, looking to the future, looking for ways to forge new partnerships among our institutions and institutions within Philadelphia,” Temple President Richard Englert told The Temple News after the panel. “That could be to the benefit of everybody. So it’s that notion of partnerships and optimism I think is really important.”
The event, “The University and the City,” was hosted by The Philadelphia Citizen, a solutions-based news organization, as part of its “Citizen Speaks” series. The panel discussion took place at the Barnes Foundation from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a short reception afterward.
The panel also included President Donald Generals from the Community College of Philadelphia, President John Fry from Drexel University, President and CEO Stephen Klasko from Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health and President Amy Gutmann from University of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Citizen Chairman Jeremy Nowak moderated the event and asked the presidents a variety of questions about how they plan to deal with the future of their institutions and how they think Philadelphia leaders can change their strategies to improve the city.
The presidents discussed tuition costs, gentrification, diversity, global health care, student debt, social networking and globalization.
During the panel discussion, Englert touched on the issue of lowered state funding for universities.
“We have to struggle with, as a public institution we are getting fewer state dollars, how do we keep the sticker price of tuition low enough so that people who are first generation kids or families won’t be afraid of looking at a high price,” Englert told the audience.
Temple, like other state-related universities in Pennsylvania, did not receive any funding increase in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2017-18. The school’s funding remained level at about $150 million. Temple suffered a 19 percent budget cut in 2011, and has since gained back about a third of the lost funding.
Englert said that some of the answers to this problem are to continue to work with partners within the state, keep administrative and institutional costs lower, provide programs like Temple’s “Fly in 4” to ensure that students graduate in four years and provide scholarships to those most in need.
In terms of solving problems as leaders, the presidents agreed that social networking must be improved in Philadelphia.
“We’re creating more jobs, innovating the ecosystem,” Gutmann said to the audience. “We have to collaborate more, but I am very positive about this city.”
Taylor Horn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Gillian McGoldrick, the Assistant News Editor for The Temple News is also a Junior Editor for The Philadelphia Citizen. She had no role in the reporting or editing of this story.