Less than two months before his inauguration, President Neil Theobald has been a cultivator for change during his first year in office.
Four deans have been named to positions that were previously filled by interims, a permanent provost was put in place and he has been at the helm for most of the first year of a scholarship campaign that has led to the largest fundraising year in the university’s history.
But as he seeks to fill one more deanship and two interim vice presidencies, the university is working on its master plan through Visualize Temple which could change the face of Main Campus, including the potential of a new library on the east side of Broad Street and an increase in residence halls.
“We spent the summer trying to gather information from students, from faculty, from staff,” Theobald said. “The goal here is to say ‘what is the strategy over the next decade and how do you operationalize that?”
Temple has been working with SmithGroup, an architectural and planning firm, throughout the process to design a new master plan for the university, and is receiving input from a Visualize Temple website where students and faculty could weigh into the discussion with their own ideas.
A signature change that could alter Main Campus would be the addition of a new library that was mentioned in the 20/20 plan, which was the basis for a number of construction projects including the newly-minted Morgan Hall.
Previously, the library was slated to be built on the west side of Broad Street, but Theobald said that it is going to be on the east side of Broad Street.
“It’s certainly going to be on the east side of Broad and by October or November, we’ll have an exact site,” Theobald said.
The master plan will be finished in February, but Theobald said a preliminary version would be announced in the fall to solicit input on any changes that could be made.
Of the changes that could be made to the campus, none would be bigger than an on-campus football stadium, which Theobald said has also entered the discussion.
“Every university would like an on-campus stadium,” Theobald said. “Certainly we’re looking at it and it’s under consideration.”
As the 27-story Morgan Hall enters its first academic year in operation, Theobald said more residential housing would most likely be a part of the plan.
“We have excess demand for student housing, so there almost certainly will be housing of some sort [in the plan],” Theobald said. “Clearly we’re going to have more on-campus housing.”
Other than working with the administration on the university’s master plan, the president is also embarking on a new freshman leadership course with his wife, Sheona Mackenzie, which will meet once a week.
She was a school psychologist in Indiana and retired when Theobald took the job at Temple and said he can share the sense of transition with the freshmen in their class.
“I’m in a position now where I can share learning with them,” Theobald said.
He is set to lay out his agenda and vision for Temple during his inauguration this fall, which he said will center on issues that he has harped on since he was announced as the university’s 10th president in August 2012.
Of the issues facing higher education, he said he will make affordability and student debt a large part of his inaugural speech and is focusing on discussing Temple’s role in the area.
“We’re not Penn, we’re not Villanova, we’re not St. Joseph’s. We’re Temple. We’re Philadelphia’s public university,” he said. “What does that mean and what does that imply?”
The inauguration is set for Oct. 18 and will be held at the Baptist Temple on Broad Street.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.