By most accounts, 90 years is a long life to lead.
Long enough for a Milwaukee-born child of Eastern European immigrants to distinguish himself in the education world. Long enough for an old Jewish man to earn naming recognition on an aging academic building chiseled out of Temple University’s North Broad Main Campus.
Marvin Wachman was the seventh president in this school’s history, having been succeeded by Peter Liacouras,David Adamany and now Ann Weaver Hart. But, as Hart told The Temple News in November, he had still been a fixture on Main Campus.
When he died of congestive heart failure on Dec. 23, The Temple News reported it, but, a university community can’t help but overlook news, no matter how important, during a semester break. It was how most of our readers may have missed the passing of Man-Chiang Niu. The former Temple professor, who passed away at 95 years during the break, worked with Wachman to foster a relationship between Temple and his native China. It was a relationship that led to the Beijing Law program, established under the Liacouras administration, that Temple boasts today.
As reported in today’s edition, Keith Morrison, the dean of the Tyler School of Art, stepped down. A university statement read Morrison wanted to focus more on his art, a passion that apparently overcame him in the middle of an academic year, less than a year before Tyler is set to move into its new digs 6.5 miles south on Main Campus.
Also during the break, Temple flexed its international muscle by replacing outgoing Temple University Japan Dean Kirk R. Patterson with that nation’s first foreign president of a public university, former Yokohama City head Bruce Stronach. Some had
questioned the future of TUJ under Hart’s tenure, but after she took a two week jaunt through Asia last fall, highlighted by dropping in on the Japan campus’s 25th anniversary celebration, the questions were answered.
Given the choice between limiting and bolstering Temple’s international presence, Hart has gone big. It appears Stronach will be her right-hand man in Tokyo.
“I am very much looking forward to working with everyone on the Temple team,” Stronach wrote in an e-mail from Japan last week.
“In Philadelphia, Tokyo and elsewhere around the world.”
Both basketball programs had terribly active off-semester sessions. Men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy took his team southbound on the Broad Street Line to the Wachovia Center and to a match with then-No. 9 Duke University on Jan. 9. The athletic budget took a hit on those $1.45 tokens all to lose by 10 points, 74-64. But then, two weeks later, the Owls
beat up on then-No. 20 Xavier, 78- 59 at the Liacouras Center. They followed it up with an overtime victory in St. Louis on Sunday.
Dawn Staley and the women’s basketball team got trounced by then-No. 6 Rutgers, 70-34, in New Jersey. But, like the men’s Xavier rebound, Staley, a freshly minted member of the Virginia Hall of Fame, led her girls to a 68-66 last-second victory over then-No. 13 George Washington this past Saturday.
Sadly, not all the news was so trivial. Just three days after Christmas, Drew Mecutchen, 44, of Levittown, fell five stories off the new Temple medical building, under construction in the 3500 block of North Broad Street near Venango. His death wasn’t the only one.
A warrant was issued Dec. 8 charging Neil Gardner, 30, principally with the Nov. 29 murder of Raheen Taylor, in addition to a host of related weapons crimes. Gardner, who allegedly killed Taylor at 11th and Norris streets near the Architecture and Engineering building, surrendered to homicide detectives Dec. 11, accompanied by his attorney.
Another near campus murder left a black man dead, this time at 10th and Oxford streets on Jan. 9. Gregory Slaughter was 26. His fate is a regular occurrence that never loses its ability to stun, someone so near to Temple yet generations from an education. It is difficult to keep count of the number of men like him who have been pronounced dead by the staff of Temple University Hospital.
Another black man with a decidedly different life path had his own fateful day during the break. Two days prior to Slaughter’s death, Michael Nutter was sworn in as the next mayor of Philadelphia. He called for the greatest turnaround in urban history.
His clamoring was jarringly improbable, standard fare for inauguration speeches. But no one can wish him anything but luck and success.