Believe it or not, there are still Americans that do not know the name of our President, even after Sept. 11, 2001, the Second Gulf War, and the endless skits on Saturday Night Live and Conan O’Brien. There are even a few who think that Bill Clinton is still in charge of the country. Others think the President is Dick Cheney, even though there are only about two people in the country who know his undisclosed location.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about George W. I had a president closer to home in mind. Do you know the name of Temple University’s president? Take a second to think about it, because many of students that I asked needed more than that.
His name is David Adamany. When I brought his name up in the past, referring to him simply by last name, I’ve often gotten confused looks as students asked, “Who?” Admittedly, I was once among these confused students and thought that former president Peter Liacouras, of Liacouras Center fame, ran the school. Then I remember seeing the name Timm Rinehart on some letters from Temple, but all he turned out to be was the Director of Admissions. Finally, I found out our president was actually Adamany. And to be perfectly honest, I did not even know what he looked like I saw him in the news a few weeks ago.
Today and in the past, presidents of small colleges and large universities alike have taken it upon themselves to make sure that they are a visible presence to students. Many have an open door policy, eating lunch in school cafeterias with students and going out of their way to make themselves available to meet and talk with students.
For a man who makes decisions daily affecting 30,000 students and 2,000 faculty members, he is still largely an unknown to the Temple community. It only makes things worse that Adamany has a reputation for invisibility and avoiding press. There are rumors he sometimes lunches in the Johnson-Hardwick cafeteria, but what good is that if most students do not even know what he looks like?
To give Adamany some credit, running a large university and overseeing Temple’s dealings with the city school system is an incredibly busy job.
But when your position directly affects so many students, shouldn’t making your presence known to them be your first priority? It’s noble that Adamany and Temple are helping out inner-city youth in Philadelphia’s troubled public school system, and it is understandable that his job is difficult and time-consuming, but he must remember where his job’s priorities lie.
Torin Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.