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Transcript of Interview with President Ann Weaver Hart
Q: How are you acclimating yourself to Temple, how are you settling in?
A: This is in the middle of my eighth week, so it’s been very exciting. The good side of this is that it feels like much longer, in the good way, because Temple is such a welcoming place. One of the things that has really struck me about Temple is how warm the welcome I have received from all the students I’ve met with, all the faculty, all of the staff. And the broader Philadelphia community. So I’m feeling very at home. And, I know that my husband and I talk about that a little bit. It was such a quick opportunity for us, and we didn’t get our heads around it, and then we’re here, and it feels just right. So, I’m feeling very, very good. I like it a lot. I’m just beginning now, as you know, the school year has just begun, to get to the different groups. My first meeting with the Faculty Senate was just last week, and I’ll be at the student senate and have a chance to talk with them. I’ve met with a lot of different groups. It’s been very exciting to have that happen.
Q: What were some of your first concerns when you got here, and what were some of the first things you’ve done since you’ve been here?
A: Well, when you say concerns, you really mean about Temple and about the future? I think one of the most important things for me is to think about, sort of the broad view of Temple. Where we came from, the leadership role Temple can play in higher education, nationally and in our region, would be. Big universities in great cities, especially public great universities, are actually sort of a new development in the sense that the urban university is emerging as a major force that shapes the city and the cultural, social, intellectual and economic life of the city, as well as each individual student, and their ability to prosper by attending the university. So I’m very interested in thinking through very proactively, with all of the groups that are committed to Temple, about Temple’s leadership role among great urban universities. I’ve heard it said that great universities need great cities, and great cities need great universities. I think that’s a wonderful synergy that we should seize and take advantage of. Temple, as you know, was founded 125 years ago, in an urban setting, by people committed to a great urban center. So we were at the birth of the modern urban university, in the United States, and we are growing rapidly, building a national reputation, and have an opportunity to be the incubator of the future of great universities like ours. So that’s one of the first things that I have tried to get my head around, because it’s not only current, but it’s the future of the time that I will be at Temple and that we will all contribute to Temple. You know, you’ve been here, as students, I’ll bet you those four years have gone very, very quickly. And you think about your time, moving through Temple, what impact its had on you, but also what impact you’ve had on Temple. And, institutionally, that’s why I love this kind of job. It isn’t dependent on any given individual at any time, because of our structured interdependence and each of us contributes to the institution. So that’s really been a focus for me. We are very much engaged in thinking about increasing private philanthropy and giving to Temple. The university does not have a long tradition of tapping private donors to advance its important mission, though there are many people working very hard on improving that situation. I will be focusing a lot, in the next year, on planning for the future to increase our ability to raise private dollars in support, as well as retaining our very good relationship with the state, and continuing to be deeply imbedded in our neighborhood. That’s a third issue. Temple and its immediate community. When I said great cities need great universities, and great universities need great cities, I don’t mean just Philadelphia as a government. I mean, we are imbedded in a neighborhood. And, there are many wonderful things happening in our community, in the immediate community, that are Temple based, and that are interactive. I would like to find ways to increase the visibility of those activities. We have our four partnership schools, with the Philadelphia School District. We’ve just gotten the test results of the students who study in those schools, and have found that they are among the top performers in their improvement. Schools that struggle, but they are doing well. And they’re successful. How can we build that partnership and get more attention for that contribution to the neighborhood. We have our neighborhood community education center. How can we make it more visible, how can we get more people engaged in the community in that way. We have many courses that engage our students in service based learning in the immediately surrounding neighborhoods. Each of them builds a strength and a resource that, with more attention, can actually have a cumulative effect that’s greater than its whole. So that’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. I’ve met with Senator Kitchen, I’ve met with Councilman Darrell Clarke, I’ve met with Mayor Street. I have wanted to better understand very quickly Temple’s unique position in our neighborhood and in our city. So those are a few of the things I’ve been working on. That, and we just hired a really wonderful new Dean. So, I confess to having spent a great deal of the summer recruiting and landing Dean Hai-Lung Dai [Dean of Science and Technology] And, he is a person you will want to meet. To talk about the future of science on our campus. He has wonderful credentials, he is a world-class chemist himself, he’s bringing his research with him, so he’s going to remain an active scholar. And he really does exemplify, in his own vision for science and technology education, the K-16-Graduate stream of understanding science and expanding our ability to teach science effectively. So, he will be a fantastic contributor. And he does exemplify part of that personality of Temple that is so exciting, and was part of the reason why I really wanted to come here. He is an expert in, and does research on, and has an MSF grant in, K-12 science education, and how you can improve teaching so that we don’t just repeat the mistakes of our science teachers that we all studied with. You know, sort of that serial incompetence where we walk in and do a science class and say ‘How do I do this?’ ‘Well, my science teacher did XYZ, so that’s what I do,’ so, he does research on teaching. He is also intrigued by, and can talk about, teaching and higher ed. So how can we say Temple where be a center where students can come and major in the sciences and succeed. Not drop out. But succeed. And, he’s a superb world-class scholar and researcher himself, who can bring the spirit of inquiry-based activity, which I think will contribute a lot to science. So, another activity for me is focusing on bringing strong leaders to advance us academically.
Q: Before you came to Temple, what kind of research did you do on the university and the city?
A: Well, my first experience at Temple was over a decade ago as an external reviewer of the educational leadership program in the College of Education. So, my first role here was as a person invited to criticize. In our program review process, the norm of higher education is peer assessment, and peer judgment. And so a lot of people in other professions think that professors are hyper-critical, because we in fact advance our fields by developing new ideas and then sending them out to our peers to be criticized. Which is an amazing way to make your living, and you have to kind of have a thick skin. So, the first research I did was a long time ago. And I was struck then, by the commitment of the faculty at Temple, both to their disciplines, and to the city and the community. And, so that was my first experience with Temple. My work in the city, or my understanding of the city, had come as a professional, coming to Philadelphia for conferences, and then as a tourist and visitor, experiencing the city as a person who came here because it was a gathering place. And then, when I was called by the search firm, I jumped on the whip. That’s how we all quickly try to get back in tune with both the institution and the city. So I went to the Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce site, and I looked at Temple’s various sites. Because you see a different view of Temple when you go to the “For the Students site” than when you look in the academic affairs section, and just look up a college, or look up a department. You can see, when we get on the web, how we want to present ourselves to potential students, and I wanted to see what the sense-making at Temple is about who we are. And that was very, very helpful to me. And then I made some very discrete telephone calls to people that I know have had business and personal contacts with Philadelphia, but who also have personal current contacts and a historical touch with Temple. So, there are some folks in New Hampshire who are Temple alums who gave me the straight, inside story on both what it was then, and how they feel about their affiliation with Temple as alumni, looking back and connecting. So, those were just my due diligence efforts.
Q: Was it immediate for you when you heard that you were being nominated for the presidency? Did you know that it was something you wanted to pursue?
A: Well, it happened for me in a very quick way. And, so, I would say that it was… it developed very quickly. It wasn’t a ‘yes, I’m sure I want this,’ because I was very established in a wonderful community and a wonderful university, and so the out-of-the-blue e-mail from the search firm, followed the next day by a telephone call, my first reaction was ‘Why me?’ I haven’t been to Temple personally for over a decade, and no one mentioned this to me, I didn’t know anybody who had nominated me for the position, so that’s my first question, is ‘Why me?’ And it was a Friday, so I was, you know, planning for the weekend. And the search firm was very supportive, very quick to say ‘This is a very interesting opportunity, see what you can find out over the weekend, but send us your, we call it “Curriculum Vtae,” your C-V, and just let’s see if it feels like there’s a match. And it developed very quickly from there. I spent the weekend on the web, and talking to my husband about what it would be like to take on another great urban area, because we had gone, as you know, from Los Angeles, to New Hampshire. And, we loved our experience in Los Angeles, so, it was a family evolutionary process. But once I met the search committee, which was a group of extraordinary human beings who are so committed to Temple, everyone from faculty members, to the Temple Alumni Association, to the members of the Board of Trustees, then I would say, my interests grew very quickly and became very intense.
Q: You’re coming in with a lot of new leadership on campus. Do you feel that it’s been easier for you to come in with these new people?
A: I love the mix. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have a strong leadership team on campus that you can build upon. And I would first say that that was one of the things that I found immediately very strong. Very strong team of leadership in the deans, the leadership in the provost’s office that made Dr. [Richard] Englert available for an interim role was also strong. So, I was very grateful to be able to come in with a strong group of existing leaders who understand Temple, and are committed to Temple. And yes, it is fun to be able to bring some new members to that team. Any great institution and group really changes as strong participants in the group changes. If you’ve ever been a part of a small social group, you know how the culture and nature of the group can change with great new members. And the interrogational dynamics, the ideas, and enthusiasms, the energy that come with being new, and there is a real start of energy that comes with being new to a different rule. Has been great. So, in some ways, this is the best of both worlds. Strong existing and committed leaders, and some key positions that are available to search for new partners.
Q: Did anyone from your staff come with you from UNH?
Q: Having the opportunity to sit down with President Adamany last year, we can’t help to make some comparisons, because we really delved into what he was thinking in his final year. How would you like to set yourself apart from what he did?
A: Well, I don’t actually think about it as setting apart. I think that leaders and institutions have life cycles. And that each leader brings a different set of talents and interests to the institution that builds on the leaders that preceded her. And so, it’s not a matter of seeking an agenda that sets apart from a predecessor. It’s a matter of building of the contributions of the predecessor and adding your own personal and individual strengths. And that’s how I see my time at Temple, is to build on the contributions that President Adamany and others on his team made to the university, and then finding ways where I might differ, to add, not to change, but to add, that’s how you build an institution. That’s why you’ve
heard the expression ‘We stand on the shoulders of giants.’
Q: What kind of advice did President Adamany give you?
A: President Adamany’s advice was ‘Be yourself and love Temple. And I’ll be here if you need me.’
Q: How important do you think your accessibility is to your student body, and how are you going to make yourself accessible to the student body?
A: Well, I think that the most important immediate and interactive group has got to be your elected student government. The students have committed to those student leaders, they are leaders, I expect the leaders of student government to know what the student’s questions and issues are and rely on them to share that information with me. So first of all, I think it’s important that you’re senior leadership in student government knows how to reach me and I know how to reach them. So we have a deal that any time they need to see me, on any day, regardless of how busy my schedule is, if I’m here, that they can call Joyce Greenlee and say ‘We have to see her, we have to talk to her.’ And they haven’t done that yet, but I’ve done that in my other leadership roles, and I have found that that’s absolutely critical. The students have to be able to ask the president for ten minutes if they’ve got to get in there. So, if the student body officers need to see me, they know they can do that. Consequently, I have their e-mail, they have mine, I’ve got their cell phone numbers. We are set up to communicate. I also plan to meet with and talk to the senate at large, just as I do with the faculty senate. That’s another… the student government is a group of elected folks who represent the university and we need to be able to stay in touch. And then, in an institution as large as Temple, with 34,000 students, the other thing that I think is a part of the sort of ebb and flow of organization life, is to try and get around to see what students are doing. So, I hope to go to student performances. I have always made it a point of going to the dance and the jazz and the concerts and to the art exhibits for our fine arts programs. And to, when possible, participate, especially in activities that include students and faculty on academic issues, as much as I can, recognizing that in a five year period, in an institution as complex as Temple, I’m unlikely to make it to everything, even every different organization. So part of the, the other thing I rely on, is wonderful people like Dr. [Theresa] Powell, who works very directly with our residence life folks, because there are always issues related to students, and student life, with the student government leaders, we have professionals in student affairs who worked very very closely with the student government leaders and so I rely on them very heavily to make sure that those contacts are strong.
Q: Do you ever see yourself implementing an open-door policy, or office hours, or an open e-mail policy?
A: E-mail is… I receive over 100 e-mails a day already, and open e-mail policy, I perceive, as an invitation not to be able to respond. Though, we have an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and we respond to those e-mails and pay attention to them when students have issues, and they do send me e-mails, and we always try to respond, either me personally, or if I’m not the one with the answer to the question, which is actually more often the case than not, I make sure that that query goes to people who can respond to an issue or answer a question. And then I ask to be informed about what the answer was, so what the follow-up was. So that students have access to getting the information they need, but they don’t necessarily get it from me. I think that an example that recently occurred in the president’s office was one of our first-year, first time students was just having a really difficult time adjusting, and his father actually sent me an e-mail, which is why I knew about this, thanking me for the team that helped his son. And over the weekend, the family was talking about how difficult a time he was having and how unhappy he was, so when he came back to school at the beginning of the week, his dad cam here. Because he didn’t know where else to go. And the team in the president’s office got on the phone, sent him to the college, the advisor, the dean, all the right people that could help put our first-year student’s dad in touch with the people he needed to get his problem solved. So, the message is, serving our students is not just being personally able to answer the question, but caring about making sure the right people get the service to them they need. And I received this wonderful e-mail from the father, who basically said, ‘I’m not writing to you to tell you what a great job you staff did, I’m writing to tell you that having an culture and expectation that people will try and help when something goes awry, creates that problem solving environment.’ I have in the past, of course, I do have an open door, absolutely any time, with your student leaders, and I think that’s critical. Later on, when I settle in and my calendar isn’t 16 hours a day, some open office time, I have found, has been very helpful. You’d be surprised at how few students take advantage of it when everything’s going well in their lives and how many need it when things aren’t going well in their lives.
Q: At UNH, you used the student newspaper to talk to students…
A: I did. A lot. And I would love to do that.
Q: And a State of the University speech…
A: Which I am going to initiate. Absolutely. I am going to begin a State of the University next fall, after I’ve had a year here, and the inauguration will be in April, after I’ve been here for a while. And my address to the university will be about my experience and my hopes and dreams for the future at that time. I would love to have a relationship with all of you, where I could write periodic op-eds for the paper. And if you’re receptive to that, I would like to do that. It’s a good way, especially when an issue starts, to sort of weigh in, but also just to talk about things we face in higher education together.
Q: And you did have some interesting issues to contend with at UNH.
A: Yeah, we did have some unfortunate patterns of unrest. Riots following sporting events. And not just UNH sporting events, but also professional events. Disrespectful of our community and something that we weren’t proud of. So we’re very proud that we were able to end that practice. And the student leaders at UNH were very instrumental in making that change possible.
Q: You said earlier that you’d like Temple not to be so much its own neighborhood, but an extension of the neighborhood. Do you intend to have Temple expand into the neighborhood?
A: Oh, no. No. Temple… you can see by the map here on the tripod, that there are a few places that we are hoping to finish up, but we’re surrounded by residential neighborhoods and we have the opportunity within that footprint that currently exists to make it a more beautiful, more welcoming space, and we really don’t need to expand into the neighborhood. What I mean by that is, for example, one of my dreams would be to be able to raise funds for an endowment that made it possible for any young student, young man or woman in our immediately surrounding neighborhood who was prepared to answer Temple and be successful to have the financial support they needed to be able to do that. And to really dedicate some of our financial aid to our neighborhood. To concentrate the work we do in service learning in our neighborhood. To get our art student projects into the same schools, our four partnership schools, for example, that our teacher education students are working in. Where our new dean’s science education project is involved. So that you can really feel a difference in schools and community education centers and in the neighborhoods because Temple is here. I think that’s what I mean, more than expanding. Because when you expand in the neighborhood, you sort of… you displace.
Q: With that, Temple might not be physically extending its borders within North Philadelphia, but with the housing situation where students aren’t provided housing after a certain period of being here, it’s kind of inevitable that students will…
A: Yes, they rent. Absolutely.
Q: How will you combat Temple’s seemingly strained relations with the surrounding community?
A: Well, first of all, I would disagree with you a little bit about Temple’s relationship being strained with its neighbors. There are differences, strong differences of opinion, but I’ve been in relationships that are much more strained than we experience. And in part, it’s because we have a team at Temple that pays attention to our neighborhood. Tabb Bishop, his job is local and community relations. And he stays in touch with our legislative delegation, the senators and representatives, in Harrisburg, from our neighborhood. We work very directly with Darrell Clarke, who is our city councilman. We meet with neighborhood groups. I met with a representative group on the East side of the railroad tracks where our station is, which is a more Latino / Latina neighborhood. So, we really work hard on that. At the same time, there is a natural disconnect with the lifestyles of young adults and the lifestyles of… let me say, more mature people of my age. I lived right in the center of campus in Durham, so… you all are way too young to remember, there used to be a public service announcement that said “Parents: It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” Well, my answer is ‘Yes. They’re getting dressed to go out.’ And that is certainly the lifestyle of young adults. That’s why the Student Center is open as much as it is, that’s why the computer… the TECH center is 24/7 much of the year. It’s because your lives do not follow the same rhythm as our lives. Where, it’s 10 o’clock… I’ve been half asleep for an hour… I’m exaggerating a little bit. So there are natural tensions that exist between the lifestyle of college students and the lifestyle of, even adults with young children, and certainly adults who are older. So, making sure that you talk about it all the time. That we pay attention to talking about what it means to be a good neighbor. Also staying in touch with our neighbors. You know, the protest that you covered was an important thing for us to hear. In Durham, what we did, was we developed a very specific plan, which we have also here, but we named it in Durham, because we had so many stresses that we had to deal with very, very quickly, and we called it ‘Durham: It’s where you live.’ We need to do that at Temple. We need to talk with the Temple students who live in our neighborhoods, and maybe even in our residence halls, because they walk through our neighborhoods as they go from one activity to another. What it means to be… this is where you live now. How you treat the place where you live. And think about that in very different terms. And we need to listen to that, and we need to pay attention to that, we need to listen to our neighbors, we need to respond very quickly when there’s a stress point that we can alleviate. I think one example of that is the community groups and conversations that we have, senator Kitchen made it very clear that she wanted to continue to stay in close touch with us about her constituents, as did Councilman Clarke, so, we really need to pay attention, on all levels, from simple lifestyle differences between young adults and older adults, to where our students live and from whom they rent, and ways in which we can continue to provide housing for them. With the opening of the opening of the new private development across Broad, we now have about 11,000 students living in the immediate area in our housing. But, we still have about, not counting TUJ and Rome, and Center City campuses, you know, there may be 20,000 undergrads who move in and out of this region. So, there’s a lot to be done, a lot to pay attention to. I believe that stress points will be there, and they are new, and they depend on what’s happening at the moment. Our responsibility is to never be complacent and to always respond.
Q: So, you’ve made it clear that Temple isn’t looking for the campus to expand…
Q: So does that mean that admissions are at a cap right now?
A: Well, we have grown so quickly in the last six years, it’s been very, very exciting, to go from 30,000 to 34,000 students in a six-year, seven-year period… is tremendous, is huge growth. And we’ve done that with great students who are prepared to be successful here. We also, we need to pay attention to the service we provide those students once they’re here. So what I am focusing on right now is making sure that the infrastructure of support for those students is there, so that you get the advising you need, so that you have the academic support you need, so that you have the health service you need, so… you see where I’m going with this. So, I am not planning to pursue, in the next five years, a pattern of significant growth in size. I plan to pursue and build on, the growth in quality and opportunity and diversity of experience and diversity of individuals that Temple is so well known for. One-third of our entering students describe themselves as people of color. That includes our transfer students and our first-year, first-time students. We have, this fall, 4,000 first-year, first-time students and 2,650 wonderful transfer students, and anticipate admitting another 1,000 transfer students in Spring semester. So, when you look at that, and think through it, that’s a tremendous, tremendously varied group of students. Part of the reason we’re so successful is because we have so many partnerships. We have five community colleges in the neighborhood. We need to strengthen those partnerships so that the transfer students who come here are successful and graduate at the same rate, or better, as the students who come as first-year. And that’s where I want my emphasis to be, on growth in the quality and reputation our academic programs, the success of our students, focusing on outcomes, not inputs, and the solidification of our visibility and profile in Philadelphia.
Q: You spoke of growth and quality of the students. One thing that has transpired over the last several years is that the academic standards of this university have risen. Do you think that students at Temple now wouldn’t be admitted in ten years?
A: That’s a favorite alumni topic, by the way. That’s a favorite alumni topic. Could I get in my own university if I applied today? Russell Conwell’s concept of acres of diamonds was, I read it, that talent is in your backyard. Not that it’s not talent. I believe that we advance that vision by identifying, nurturing and promoting the talent in our own backyard. So we commit to make sure that the young men and women in our own backyard get what they need to be able to be successful at a first-rate, world-class university. Access to excellence is what we promise. Not access so you can flunk out. And there are open-admission universities. They also flunk out a third of their freshmen. And that’s not what we want. We want to take the responsibility to provide access and excellence, and then pay attention to the value added that a Temple education provides to everybody who comes here. You notice I dodged your question about if any of you would be able to get in…. but I predict you would.
Q: Is Temple on an Ivy-League tract?
A: No. No. That’s not our mission. The Ivy League is the Ivy League, and it has a very important role to play in the United States. We are an urban, public affiliate, commonwealth institution. And we have a very clear mission that is completely different than the Ivy League. And there is no danger, do not fear, none of us aspire to apart of that. It’s not what we’re about.
Q: What kind of philosophy do you have about tenure for faculty members?
A: The tradition of academic freedom and tenure is a little over 100 years old, if you read the history of the American Association of University Professors, which was originally not a union, but a professional association, which it is now, as well, too… was developed in an era when while we argued that university professors were the experts in their disciplines, also functioned in an environment where institutions sometimes made idiosyncratic and not discipline-based decisions. My favorite story is Stanford, at the turn of the Twentieth Century had offered a position to the famous British philosopher Bertrand Russell, and he had accepted the position and was literally on a ship traveling to the United States, when Mrs. Leland Stanford, the widow of the founder of Stanford University, who endowed it and gave it all its money and its land, heard about Bertrand Russell, and said ‘That Godless communist is not going to teach at my university.’ And by darn, Bertrand Russell went back to the United Kingdom. This is a very long story in answer to your questions. But, the notion that an academic within his or her field of discipline, has a reasonable period of time to secure an academic position and then develop as a scholar and a teacher, demonstrate their independence as an expert in their discipline, and then shape the field going into the future while by students and developing new knowledge is at the core of academic freedom and tenure. And tenure developed to prevent the kinds of stories I just told you about Mrs. Leland Stanford, who, because her husband was the donor, decided she could select the faculty in the philosophy department, instead of the philosophy faculty. I believe that if we preserve that quality and respect that expertise, that tenure serves a very strong role in modern universities. As long as we remember that it is based on expertise. And you must all know that tenure does not protect a faculty member from dismissal for cause. It protects a faculty member from dismissal for doing research, publishing and teaching the results of that quality inquiry and contributing to the development of the discipline, according to the standards and rigor of the discipline, instead of according to the whims of politics and personal preference. And it is very important that we remember that every human being has speech rights, free speech rights. Faculty academic freedom and tenure are grounded in a very different set of principles, that I think we need to respect, in order to preserve the right to do research, to publish the results of that research, and to teach the results.
Q: Will the faculty tenure guidelines at Temple be changing any time soon?
A: Right now, we have a TAUP contract, which we negotiate directly with the faculty representatives who are elected, and then we have faculty guidelines, and the faculty handbook has not been revised for a long time. So the senate, and faculty members on a committee that I asked this summer to give me their counsel, have asked that the senate leadership and the provost’s office work together to revise those guidelines. Those guidelines are not the promotion and tenure criteria. That’s different. They are guidelines about how we go through that process. What will be changing is some of the procedures that our academic leaders and faculty go through. What I did this summer was to appoint a task group of faculty and academic leaders to recommend some changes in those processes, unrelated to the criteria of expertise, and unrelated to our faculty contract, which we all must respect, but will streamline the process for us a little bit. And I have received their report, have talked to a lot of groups about that and received feedback from them, and those process guidelines have been streamlined and are going out in the next little while. And we can get those to you directly. I can get you just one example, so that you’ll understand what I mean by process: We had a self-imposed deadline of Feb. 1 for tenured track, or tenured appointments to have been… the searches to be completed and the files in the president’s office. What we discovered after living a year with some of those guidelines, was some dysfunctional, unintentional outcomes. Which always happens in institutions. You run into them in your own running of the newspaper. That we had imposed deadlines on ourselves that were preventing us from being successful. The Modern Language Association, for example, which is where all of the potential English faculty, literary critic writing folks will go, which is the place for aspiring young faculty to go on the job market, the Modern Language Association conference is at the end of December. Well, it doesn’t take much to figure out that if you call in the semester break in January, and you don’t even meet all of the new crop of PhD’s who are coming out and are at the Modern Language Association conference until the end of December, that a Feb. 1 self-imposed deadline isn’t going to work. So those are the kinds of guidelines that are going to be streamlined, not the criteria for promotion.
Q: What’s your main goal for this year?
A: My main goal is to get my head around the dreams, aspirations and talents of this place. In a way that allows me to function as a leader and representative of the tremendous talent at Temple University.
Q: There was an article in the Gainesville Sun about Temple’s football program, and it said that Temple should drop down to Division I-AA. What do you think about that?
A: Well, we talked about that a lot during the time you all have been here, there was a huge discussion in athletics and among the Board of Trustees about whether Temple should invest in success at the I-A level, or commit to the II-A level, or eliminate football. I mean, that’s how serious the discussion was. The community at Temple, and the trustees, decided to commit to I-A football. I came in at the end of that decision. I think we should do everything we can to support Al Golden and our football team to help them to develop the kind of team that represents Temple well. And I intend to support Coach Golden and our football players, I think the men deserve our support, and I know it takes time. When I joined the University of New Hampshire, they were struggling in football at the II-A level. They’re now leading the country. And a lot of people have placed them, I-A, II-A, doesn’t matter. Right in the top ten. Now, you can debate that. But what I learned from that experience is that you hire the right people, you share the right values, and then you stick with them through the developing years. And that’s what I want to do.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Always tell the truth and learn to say no.
Q: What’s your biggest mistake as a university president?
A: I’m not going to answer your question exactly as you asked it. I believe that when I have made decisions that I would do a different way, regret, it’s been because I didn’t follow that advice, and that I thought I was being more kind by not making the hard decision, than I ended up being. Because sometimes a really hard decision that is difficult for some people is necessary to prevent harm from spending very broadly. So, what is more difficult in the particular, prevents a greater harm. And my biggest regrets are when I lost view of the greater harm that a search term decision might cause in the long term.
Q: Who had offered you that piece of advice?
A: My mother.
Q: Have you gotten a chance to meet with your counterparts in the area?
A: Some of them, yes. Dr. Amy Gutmann gave a wonderful reception, invited the leaders of higher education but also government philanthropy foundations and business, and it was just wonderful. We had a great time. And there is also a council on higher education in our Greater Philadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce, and we have yet to meet, but that will be a group I will get to know. And then I’ve met with many of them personally, but they’re 83 colleges and universities in the greater Philadelphia area, so I haven’t gotten all the way around yet.
Q: You and your husband have a reputation of being ‘outdoorsy.’ How has life in Philadelphia been for you?
A: We have not yet. We’ve been getting our outdoor fix by walking around Philadelphia. We have moved our car out of the parking garage exactly twice since we moved here. It’s wonderful to have public transportation. You know, we just moved from a community that has none. So we’ve actually thoroughly enjoyed that. But, there’s wonderful bicycling in the Fairmount Park area, there are.. we’ve gotten lots of advice about places where we can ride our bikes, and then we have kayaks with us, so we are hoping that the Schuylkill beacons, and we’ll be able to do that. And then we plan one really outdoor vacation every year. And next summer, we’re going to go on a float trip, no motorized, dingy trip down the Colorado. Fifty two rapids over class five. So, I will check my insurance policy, and be sure and alert your successors that you need to make sure the president lives through her river trip next summer.
Q: I notice you pronounced ‘Schuylkill’ correctly. Did you receive a crash course in Philadelphia pronunciation?
A: I have a spouse who loves geography, he loves community culture, he loves people, and he spent more time on the Web between the time of my final interview until now, finding out how to prevent dumb mistakes, and coaching me. And he still does that. So, that and lots of good friends in Philadelphia, but I have a very dear and very wonderful best friend, who, luckily, is a cultural addict, and loves to know about new places and so.
Q: Do you live in the city?
A: Yes, the university owns an apartment on Rittenhouse Square. In the condo. I love the story that I was told, this may be apocryphal I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I was told that the last student protest at Temple was a march to Rittenhouse Square to demand more student housing on campus, is that right? And that there were students there who, after the demonstration, asked for a ride back to campus. So, now that to me is a good spirit. You can say your piece, have your speech, and then ask campus security for a ride back. I like that. I love that story. It’s great. Well, I love this place, and the longer I’m here, the more I love it. So I am expecting the years ahead to be filled with challenges and many opportunities.