Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Clarence Armbrister will be leaving his office in Sullivan Hall for City Hall as Mayor-elect Michael Nutter’s chief of staff.
Armbrister will leave his post in January. But he said neither his spacious office nor the lofty pay he currently receives will be the toughest things to give up.
“The toughest thing is leaving the people, quite frankly,” Armbrister said. “You work anywhere for four-and-a-half years, and you develop relationships with people. You’ve developed strong bonds and strong relationships and that’s the toughest part about leaving.”
Armbrister was hired as senior vice president in May 2003 by former President David Adamany. He was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer by President Ann Weaver Hart. Those changes took effect in Jan. 1, 2007.
He said his new position in some aspects like the position he is leaving.
“Running a university is like running a small city,” Armbrister said. “You have a very large and very wide range of responsibilities and very large and wide range of people for whom we are responsible. It’s a smaller version with many of the same issues.
“We want to make sure people feel they are getting the most out of their tax dollars and that the customers are happy with the quality of service they’re getting,” he said.
Armbrister is no stranger to City Hall.
From 1994 to 1996, Armbrister was Philadelphia’s treasurer under Mayor Ed Rendell. As treasurer, he was responsible for the city’s cash management, investments and debt issuance.
After serving as treasurer, Armbrister served as managing director of the School District of Philadelphia, where he was responsible for all non-instructional aspects of the 215,000-student public school system.
His wife, Denise McGregor Armbrister, currently serves on the School Reform Commission. Armbrister, who views his new position as public service and not politics, said his wife has backed him in his decision.
“This comes at a particular time in my life where I have the opportunity to go back into public service,” Armbrister said. “My wonderful wife Denise and the family have agreed to make some sacrifices.
“Financially, it’s not as rewarding as the private sector. Time-wise, I probably won’t be as available to my children as I have in the past. I applaud her endeavors into public service and we think education is the great equalizer. She’s been very supportive and I commend and thank my wife for the opportunity to allow me to do this.”
Upon leaving, Armbrister named a number of Temple staff members that he had the pleasure of working with, including Tim O’Rourke, vice president of Computer Information Services, for his work in increasing smart classrooms around campus, and William Bergman, vice president of operations, for his work on Alter Hall and other construction projects on campus.
Despite not working directly with her this year, Armbrister also mentioned Vice President of Student Affairs Theresa Powell.
“I’ve enjoyed my working relationship with Theresa Powell in terms of taking the campus from what was traditionally a commuter school and making it a residential campus.”
According to Petersons.com, nearly 20 percent of the university’s 24,674 undergraduate students live on campus. Nearly 9,000 students live on or near campus, according to the Alter Hall Web site.
Although he is leaving the university, Armbrister said he believes Temple has not yet reached its zenith.
“The sky is the limit for Temple,” Armbrister said.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.