On Thursday, President Neil Theobald delivered his second annual State of the University Address, and summarized the current success of Temple in one word.
“Temple is having a historic year … The state of the university, in a word, is excellent,” he said in his speech.
Theobald highlighted recent achievements for Temple, current developments underway, and directions he wishes to take the university in coming years.
“Excellence, accessibility and affordability are inseparable,” Theobald said, adding other universities are unable to provide all three to their students.
“It’s the one area we continue to work on,” Theobald said of tuition after the address, adding that during the past three years, tuition has been raised only 2.4%.
Emphasis was put on new programs Temple currently offers students, like the Temple Option, which helped students less likely to attend college get accepted. Theobald said students using the Temple Option were from areas ignored by many universities, were first-generation students or came from an underprivileged background.
Theobald also addressed the impact of faculty on the wide scale of the university, from the students, to the citizens of Philadelphia, and “Temple’s 300,000 living alumni, in all 50 states and in 145 countries.”
“The connection…is you, our faculty and staff,” Theobald said. “When you inspire and assist our students day to day…you make an impact on our community and on our world.”
Theobald described Temple’s rise among national rankings from graduation rates to its place among global universities.
“What struck me was as really important was the focus on global outreach,” said Tricia Jones, president of the Faculty Senate and professor in the School of Media and Communication. “It lets the world know the quality of our programs and our students.”
Temple has created partnerships with China’s South University of Science and Technology and Zhejiang University and South Korea’s Kookmin University.
Jones said the collaboration will “give [Temple] access to the continent and billions of people.”
“It’s like adding a second dimension,” Jones said.
Improvements from the Campus Master Plan were also highlighted, specifically upgrades to classrooms in Wachman Hall. Jones said faculty had been asking for improvements before Theobald became president.
“Our classrooms are going high tech,” Theobald told the faculty. “They’re catching up to the caliber of your instruction.”
Theobald said the master plan focused on non-academic features in the school, like buildings, bike and pedestrian safety, transportation and reducing Temple’s carbon footprint.
The next focus of Theobald’s address was his hope to spread what he called the “Temple Story.”
“Telling our story helps secure our position as a rising university at the epicenter of a value revolution,” Theobald said, crediting Temple football’s first victory over Penn State in 74 years for “drawing the community together.”
“Sometimes we become associated with a story we cannot celebrate,” Theobald added. “That has been a challenge for us with the Bill Cosby story.”
Theobald said there was a “silver lining” which resulted in improvements towards education, awareness and access to resources.
“We restate our unwavering commitment to a safe and respectful campus environment for every daughter and son of Temple,” Theobald said, garnering the first applause from attendees.
All major points of the address fell into the “6 Commitments” Theobald brought to the university when he started two years ago.
Jones said she had hoped Theobald would make a stronger statement about part-time faculty and the university’s commitment to them.
“They’re paid a lot less, don’t get benefits or the office space they need because they only teach one or two classes at a time,” Jones said. “Our adjunct faculty is very talented. Many of them are Ivy League graduates and are very successful. They’re here because they want to teach and they deserve better.”
The entirety of Theobald’s address can be read and watched here.
Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JulesChristie.
Video shot by Abbie Lee and edited by Sean Brown.