Dr. James Hilty was named the acting dean of Ambler Campus and Ambler College in an announcement by Provost Ira Schwartz last week. Hilty will formally assume the position on Oct. 1.
He will replace Sophia Wizniewska, who left her position as dean last July to take the position of chancellor of Pennsylvania State University’s Delaware County Campus.
Hilty, who is a nationally renowned scholar of the American Presidency and teaches history at Ambler, was chosen for the position because of his familiarity with Temple Ambler, his academic stature, and his strong administrative background.
“He was the first person who came to our minds,” said Deputy Provost Richard Englert, who was involved in the search process. “It is unusual to find someone who can put academics and administration together so well.”
Even though Hilty was a popular choice to fill the position, he was unsure if he should accept the nomination.
“It took a while for them to convince me,” said Hilty, who continues to maintain a full teaching load this semester.
But in the end, he decided that his strong ties to Ambler Campus left him with no better choice.
“I feel invested in this place,” Hilty said. “That’s the reason that I accepted.”
As Acting Dean, Hilty hopes to help Ambler sustain the momentum it has recently developed. Hilty also hopes to help increase accessibility to Temple University as a whole. He said that because of its suburban location, the Ambler campus could play an important role in attracting a greater amount of both traditional and non-traditional students to Temple.
He is also concerned with helping Ambler campus develop its own identity-an identity that Hilty describes as the color green, since Ambler houses the departments of horticulture and landscape architecture.
“Ambler’s identity lies in its programs,” Hilty said. “We’re an environmentally-oriented campus.”
Ambler also houses the recently developed Department of Community and Regional Planning. Hilty hopes the department’s growth will help develop community ties.
Hilty has been with Temple for more than 30 years. In addition to teaching and research, he has served in a number of administrative positions, including chair of the history department and acting dean of the graduate school.
He has also published a number of articles on American Presidents and is author of Robert Kennedy: Brother Protector.
According to Englert, the transition between former Dean Wizniewska and Hilty has been smooth. Wizniewska gave early warning of her decision to leave Temple, and Englert feels that the position she took at Penn State’s Delaware County Campus was a very important opportunity for her.
“There are a lot of universities who want to raid our people because our people are so good,” Englert said.
Finding a permanent dean for Ambler campus and Ambler College may take a number of months, so it is uncertain how long Hilty will serve as acting dean.
Hilty said he was unsure if he would seek the position as permanent dean, and would wait until he has more experience in the job before making that decision.
Daniel J. Kristie can be reached at email@example.com.