During his time at Temple, Richard Englert has held what seems like an endless amount of administrative posts.
From a short stint as interim athletic director, to his current role as acting president, Englert has been a jack of all trades and a constant in an academic world promoting movement from one university to another.
While he said he hasn’t held a position for more than five years during his 36-year stint at Temple, his contributions consist of far reaching personal relationships with students, faculty and administrators that his peers laud as a skill that’s “refreshing” among the current crop of academic professionals.
“What you see is the real Dick Englert,” said Robert Reinstein, former dean of Beasley School of Law.
Englert came to North Broad Street from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976 as assistant to the dean of the College of Education while he was finishing his doctorate. As he rose through the ranks at Temple, he said, he was able to learn from a multitude of mentors.
“Moving around, gives you not only a different vantage point, but it gives you different mentors to work with,” Englert said. “I’m the kind [of person] where I’ll adapt when I see something that’s working with somebody [else].”
“I’ve been blessed, there’s no doubt about it, to get to work with some of the top people around,” he added.
Englert said he learned how to deal with crises through his mentors.
“It’s especially good to see people during crises moments,” Englert said. “You learn not to panic.”
This ability to deal with crises showed itself during the tsunami in Japan in 2011 while administrators talked with members of Temple Japan’s administration. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Assessment Jodi Levine Laufgraben said Englert was accessible at all times during conversations with the Temple Japan staff.
“He was on every call no matter the time of the day and some of those calls were in the middle of the night,” Laufgraben said.
During his time, he’s served in a number of interim roles, which Englert said he did because “it’s always a great opportunity.”
When he was asked by former President Peter Liacouras to serve as interim athletic director, he was surprised by the move, which Liacouras said he did because he trusted Englert.
“I was very surprised when President Liacouras asked me to serve as interim athletic director, because I had no experience in it,” Englert said. “[Liacouras] said, ‘You know what? I trust you and I need somebody I can trust in that position.’”
While Englert said he simply took the positions because of the opportunity each presented, Reinstein said the reason was greater than that and speaks to the commitment he has toward the university.
“He did not do things for ambition, power, but because he felt it was a public service,” Reinstein said.
Neil Theobald will take the role as president on Jan. 1, 2013, at which point Englert will take a year sabbatical before returning as a full-time faculty member, which he said he’s never been at Temple since he’s been a full-time administrator since he joined the university. He said he’d like to teach courses in intellectual heritage and educational administration, with a focus in managing universities.
As Theobald prepares to take the reigns as president next month, Englert said he had been helping him get a handle on the culture of Temple.
“[Theobald] comes with enormous skills,” Englert said. “He comes not knowing Temple. I think I can help him understand Temple.”
Theobald lauded Englert for how he has prepared him during the last several months, and said Englert has talked with him on an almost daily basis during that time.
“I cannot be more appreciative of how helpful [he’s been],” Theobald said. “He understands the culture of Temple, so quite often that’s exactly what I’m calling and asking is, ‘OK, I’m not quite clear what’s happening here,’ and he can explain it all very well. He just can’t be more helpful.”
During his short time as president, Englert said he’s been able to see the “richness of the institution” from a different vantage point. But the highlight, he said, was the base-tuition freeze, combined with the administration’s efforts to increase financial aid.
“That has long-term effects on students and their lives in terms of keeping debt low, giving students access,” Englert said. “What could be better than that?”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.