Temple’s foundation can’t be seen while walking on campus.
It wasn’t a building or a walkway that built this university, it was a principle: the prioritization to serve the Greater Philadelphia area and encourage diversity.
These principles can be found in the university’s mission statement, and can also be seen in its early-1900s advertisement—signed by Russell Conwell himself—which was geared toward “working people,” trying to motivate them to attend a university catering to its community.
The university’s reported proposal of a $100-million football stadium questions the principles that it was built upon—the same principles that led to the modern ad campaigns boasting of “Powering the City” and “Self-made, Philly-made, Temple made.”
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick O’Connor told the Inquirer the money for the stadium would come primarily from donations, stressing that the Board does not want to use student tuition for the stadium.
Whether that is achieved or not, a 35,000-person stadium not only defies the servitude of the Greater Philadelphia area by infringing on an already overextended border, but also deprioritizes the low-income students that the university was created to serve.
According to 2013 data compiled and compared by ProPublica—a nonprofit, investigative news outlet—Temple ties for last with Villanova among the six largest Philadelphia-area universities in providing for low-income students through Pell Grants, Discount of Total Cost and other measurements.
This is a far cry from a university which originally established a night department designated for students getting off work late.
In an op-ed submitted to the Inquirer, President Theobald said the $100 million raised for funds is not flexible toward other university endeavors. Perhaps it is idealistic to believe Temple could raise a similar amount in the name of providing for low-income Philadelphians, but it would be a much better sign than witnessing a university consumed with big-time college football.
Universities should not be revenue-generating establishments, they should not designed to line pockets. Temple’s mission statement mentions diversity, community and disregards economic status.
Temple’s mission statement more closely aligns with focus on historical sports in Philadelphia like basketball, track & field and rowing. But over the last two years, we’ve seen the university shift from its historical sports, attempting to cut crew and rowing, and successfully cutting men’s indoor and outdoor track & field.
The football program once hosted legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner, but has reached the postseason just three times since his departure 76 years ago.
Athletic Director Pat Kraft told The Temple News “football is the cream of the crop,” and said he was interested in competing with the top football programs in the country.
But the fundamental issue lies within the abandonment of principles, the same ones that built the university.
This is a nationwide issue. As student debt continues to grow, colleges and universities continue to raise tuition. We understand football drives revenue, but revenue should never influence the decisions made by institutions developed to serve the community they are rooted in.
We want to see colleges and universities stick to the values that created them.
This is a university designed for the working person, and we’d like it to stay that way.