David Adamany, Temple’s eighth president, died Thursday at the age of 80 after a short illness, according to a university news release.
Adamany was named president in 2000 after Peter Liacouras’ 18-year stint as president. He continued the capital projects started in Liacouras’ time, said James Hilty, the university’s historian.
During his tenure, Adamany oversaw the construction of 1300 Residence Hall in 2001 and helped preserve the Temple Performing Arts Center. In 2003, the American Institute of Architects designated it as a Landmark Building. In 2006, Adamany’s last year as president, he oversaw the construction of the TECH Center.
Adamany graduated from Harvard College in 1958 and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1961. Before coming to Temple, he spent 15 years as the longest-serving the president of Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan.
“He was a hardworking, caring, and thoughtful leader at Detroit’s largest university,” former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer told The Temple News. “He cared deeply about students, faculty … He always found a way to give back to the community. He was a remarkable role model.”
At the request of Archer and former Michigan Governor John Engler in 1999, Adamany returned to educational leadership after two years of retirement and spent one year as the interim chief executive of Detroit Public Schools Community District.
“[Adamany] meant a lot to the city of Detroit, Wayne State University and the Detroit Public School students during his time with them,” Archer added.
After years of planning capital projects with Liacouras, the university hired Adamany, who brought those plans “on the drawing board to fruition,” Hilty said.
“I don’t think people knew the warm side [of Adamany],” President Richard Englert told The Temple News. “He was fair, very honest, hard driving, direct. There’s no doubt about it that you knew where you stood with him. … He was a really fun human being to be around, and I don’t think a lot of people saw that.”
Englert said he and Adamany became good friends over the last four years, when they both served as chancellors for the university and sat in adjacent offices.
“He had a good sense of humor,” Englert added. “He just delighted in talking about everyday things like vacation and art.”
Hilty, who was the dean at Ambler Campus while Adamany was president, said he remembered one night when administrators and a prospective employee went out to dinner.
“We happened to choose a restaurant that David had just walked into before us,” he said. “And he came over and sat at our table and gave a great pitch to the recruit, who ended up choosing Temple.”
Englert said Adamany was instrumental in creating Temple’s policy and review procedures. They worked closely on both, he said, because Englert was the vice president for administration and then the deputy provost under Adamany. He added that Adamany’s focus was on building a system to make decisions in the right way for the right reason.
However, Adamany faced controversy while at Temple and Wayne State when dealing with faculty unions. Hilty said Adamany came to Temple with a reputation for strong financial management and as a “no-nonsense” administrator.
He said faculty were expecting the same type of leadership they had heard about from Adamany’s reputation at Wayne State. Even though there were two faculty strikes before his arrival, Adamany was able to negotiate a contract with faculty, and continued to compromise throughout his presidency, Hilty said.
After stepping down from Temple’s presidency in 2006, Adamany became one of the university’s chancellors and stayed on as a professor in the Beasley School of Law.
“He was committed to high educational standards and, as a lawyer and political scientist, was a champion for interdisciplinary education,” Provost Joanne Epps said.
“He was a giant who really had a major impact on the university,” Englert said. “He used to like to eat in [Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria], just so he could see students and talk with students.”
“He’s a special man and a great loss.”
Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChristieJules.
Amanda Lien and Kelly Brennan contributed reporting.