The walls of trustee Bob Rovner’s law offices are covered in photographs.
Rovner is in every one, shaking hands with prominent political figures or smiling next to old friends. Each one documents his rise from student body president at Temple in 1965 to an active member of Temple’s Board of Trustees today, a story he likes to tell often.
“I’m someone who came from humble beginnings,” Rovner said. “I was able to get a great education at Temple, and achieved great success in my personal life and for Temple.”
Rovner said he has always had political ambitions, going back to his years as an undergraduate at Temple in the 1960s. He was president of all his classes up until his senior year, when he became the student body president. After graduating from Temple law school in 1968, he became the Assistant District Attorney for Philadelphia, and from there, he won a seat on the Pennsylvania State Senate.
Since 1996, Rovner has served on Temple’s Board of Trustees, and today he is the chairman of the board’s student affairs committee. Rovner said he makes an effort to meet with students and make sure the board hears their voices.
“We have to make sure the university acts responsibly to the students,” Rovner said.
Another key contribution Rovner has made to Temple has been fundraising. Rovner said he tries to gather as many donations as he can, often recruiting the help of wealthy friends, some of whom, he said, have donated over a million dollars to the university.
Rovner said his political know-how has helped when trying to raise funds from the state as well.
“I’m able to lobby the State House and State Senate, the governor and the lieutenant governor on different issues affecting the university.”
After all he has accomplished, Rovner still looks upon his years as a student fondly. His proudest achievement as student body president at Temple came when he successfully petitioned the state to repeal the sales tax on textbooks.
Rovner said one of the highlight achievements from his time as a trustee was when he asked Temple’s president to merge the Pennsylvania School of Podiatry with Temple in 1998.
“Now we have more professional schools than most universities, and it was through my leadership that we merged it,” Rovner said.
Today, Rovner said he shows his pride for Temple not only through his work on the board but also by attending almost every football and basketball game, and many community events. He has visited many of Temple’s international campuses as well.
“I love the fact that we give students the opportunity to go overseas and study, whether it be in Japan or China or Rome,” Rovner said. “When I was a student we didn’t have that opportunity.”
More than his own accomplishments, Rovner is proud of Temple’s contributions to students and the community, and he looks forward to what the university can achieve in the future.
“We can make sure we will keep Temple as a leader for the next 128 years, just like we’ve been for the last 128 years,” Rovner said.
Joe Gilbride can be reached at email@example.com.