Buildings show university’s early history

Many campus buildings are named after past presidents or benefactors.

Several of Temple’s buildings are named after university benefactors who donated money, while others are named after past presidents. Some, like 1300 and 1940 residence halls and the SERC, are not named after anyone. | Allan Barnes TTN
Several of Temple’s buildings are named after university benefactors who donated money, while others are named after past presidents. Some, like 1300 and 1940 residence halls and the SERC, are not named after anyone. | Allan Barnes TTN

For many buildings on Main Campus, past presidents, administrators and faculty members are chosen as namesakes for their dedication to the university, whether through money, service and/or overall achievement in their respective careers.

However, if it weren’t for public funding, many structures at Temple wouldn’t be standing at all.

“If you just went on money alone, most of [Temple’s Main] Campus would be named after the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said James Hilty, professor emeritus of history and a Temple historian. “Around 1955, the Department of General Services under the Commonwealth started appropriating money back to state-affiliated colleges, which is what Temple was at the time.”

A decade later, Temple became a state-related university. Hilty said this change brought “a big burst of state money,” helping expand the university throughout the next couple of decades.

Many central buildings on Main Campus are named after past presidents and administration. Conwell Hall – named after the university’s founder and first president Russell Conwell – was dedicated on Jan. 23, 1924.

Another example of this trend includes Johnson Hall, which was dedicated on Nov. 27, 1961 for former president Robert Johnson, who served from 1941-59. Likewise, Anderson and Gladfelter halls were dedicated to Millard Gladfelter and Paul Anderson, two other former presidents.

Although many of the university’s older buildings were named for significant figures in Temple’s history, most of the funding for construction was through public outlets, whether through the state’s General Assembly, federal government, city or other sources.

One exception to this was Mitten Hall, which was named after Thomas Mitten. Mitten, who was chairman and president of the now-defunct Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, was a close friend of Conwell.

Much of Mitten Hall’s $550,000 cost was raised by Arthur Mitten, Thomas’ son. Arthur collected much of the funds through his father’s former employees, and the building was dedicated on Feb. 27, 1931.

Hilty said that after the university started an expansion phase in the 1950s and 1960s, more individuals started to donate money toward the construction of new buildings, matching a pattern that has continued across the country today.

“It’s a trend nationwide with university fundraising,” Hilty said. “Temple has changed the name of some buildings, or have added a name on, because of a donation.”

The most recent example of such a building at Temple is Morgan Hall, a $216 million residence hall and dining complex which was named after Mitchell Morgan – an alumnus and Board of Trustees member – and his wife, Hilarie, at a naming ceremony on Oct. 9, 2012. The couple personally donated $5 million toward the project.

By comparison, in 2007, late Temple trustee Lewis Katz donated $15 million to Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. Two years later, the school named the Lewis Katz Building after him. The building houses the law school and the School of International Affairs.

In 1998, Jon Huntsman Sr., a chemical business magnate and father of the former Republican presidential candidate who serves on the Board of Trustees, donated $40 million to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The donation was the largest ever made to a business school at the time, according to the Inquirer, and was reflected in the dedication of Hunstman Hall on the school’s University City campus.

Hilty said that during the 1980s, then-president Peter Liacouras developed a specific policy concerning naming rights.

“Liacouras actually sat down and enumerated the amounts of money that were necessary to get your name on something,” Hilty said. “You had to give a certain amount to get a garden, a room, department, college or building.”

In November 2013, Katz gave $25 million to the university which he said would help support Temple’s School of Medicine.

The pledge represented the largest donation in Temple’s history, and the Board of Trustees will name the School of Medicine for Katz because of the gift.

However, some recently constructed buildings on Main Campus have been funded through sources other than the namesake. One such case is the Tuttleman Learning Center, which was dedicated to former trustee Edna Tuttleman and her husband, Stanley, on Oct. 12, 1999.

As the first academic building built on Main Campus in 20 years, Tuttleman’s $25.2 million cost was funded through $10.4 million in capital funds from the state, with the remainder coming from private sources, according to the university’s dedication ceremony brochure.

Decades prior, Paley Library was built for about $5.3 million through Pennsylvania’s General State Authority. The facility was dedicated to Samuel Paley – a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Broadcasting System from 1930-60 – on Oct. 21, 1966. Additional donations from the Paley Foundation, totaling more than a million dollars, were used to equip and furnish the library.

A significant change during the past 15 years is the lack of buildings named for the university’s last two presidents. David Adamany and Ann Weaver Hart, who served from 2000-06 and 2006-12, respectively, are the only two presidents in the university’s history who do not have a building named for them, with the exception of current president Neil Theobald.

Hilty said Adamany and Hart’s short terms might have changed the way the university views the position, leading to the current lack of recognition.

“It essentially opened the door to a new kind of administrative value system or ethos,” Hilty said. “The trustees really believed that they could hire a president and keep them under contract … in some respects, I guess the trustees didn’t want to see anyone take root in the office for too long.”

However, the requirements for any individual earning a building name on Main Campus are significant, a university spokesman said.

“The naming of buildings at Temple represents one of the highest honors a member of the university community can receive,” the spokesman said in an email. “At Temple, and on many college and university campuses, building names recognize distinguished service or philanthropic support. Building names, which are approved by the Board of Trustees, also serve as a consistent reminder of the contributions and legacies of some of the most notable figures in our history.”

Because of this, some buildings are not named after people, including 1300, 1940 and Temple Towers, all residence halls on Main Campus. Hilty said 1300 and 1940 are named for their respective street addresses, while Temple Towers was named by former president Peter Liacouras.

Like most buildings on Main Campus, some of these residence halls may eventually be named – but not without an individual making an important contribution to Temple, Hilty said.

“I guess eventually, for one reason or another, people will look around and put a name on a building,” he said. “But generally, it’s a honor.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at, @Steve_Bohnel.

Joe Brandt contributed reporting.

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