President Neil Theobald answered student questions and shared portions of his plan for the university at the Temple Student Government General Assembly meeting yesterday, Feb. 4.
Theobald started his address by singling out growing student debt as the most important issue students at the university face.
“Student debt is the biggest problem facing higher education, no doubt about it,” Theobald said. “We’ve got to find a way to keep our costs low and to make sure people are making the right decisions, [such as] taking the right courses in the right order and going to summer school as needed, whatever to get them out in four years.”
In response to a question asked by senior accounting and finance major Luv Sodha about the university’s ability to allocate more resources to student aid, Theobald highlighted greater fundraising and more productive technology transfer in research as keys to lower tuition costs.
Theobald explained that revenue from technology transfer is when research in the university is sold or ideas are patented and the university is able to put that profit back into the system.
In addition to growing student debt and creating a very productive research university, Theobald’s other top issues include encouraging students to graduate on time or as soon as possible, creating a greater number of entrepreneurship and internship opportunities for students,recruiting and retaining the best faculty and ensuring students’ success.
One key point that both Theobald and students reiterated was the need for better advising.
Theobald recognized that for students to graduate in the least amount of time, the students must receive accurate advising information.
Hence, Theobald said that student advising is a “high priority for money for next year, so we can hire more advisers.”
TSG Student Body President David Lopez also recognizes a need for change in the advising process and will discuss this issue with Theobald on Friday, Feb. 8, when the two meet for the first time.
“I think the most important thing for us is to find the common ground and then build from there. So, if the common ground is that we know there is a way to improve then we have to find out what the next common denominator is to go off of that,” Lopez said.
Aside from addressing his six issues, Theobald spent the majority of his 40-minute address answering a myriad of student questions including how Theobald is going to incorporate student input into his vision for the future, how he is going to continue the growth in diversity of the university and the name of his favorite food truck on Main Campus.
TSG Allocations Co-Chairman Rohan Wilson asked Theobald what his perception of the university was before he was selected as president.
Theobald responded that he did not have much of a perception because he did not know a lot about the university. As a result, Theobald said the university is creating an Office of Marketing to better promote and advertise the university.
“We have a list of fabulous programs that we aren’t letting the world know about,” Theobald said.
Theobald’s appearance is the first time this academic year that the president of the university addressed the General Assembly.
“I think it is important for him to come and speak at a General Assembly meeting, so the word can go a little bit further. It is great to hear the president’s visions and I think it is great to just allow him to get some input from the students as well,” Lopez said.
Lopez’s most prominent take away from yesterday’s meeting is Theobald’s commitment to student life.
“If you paid close attention you heard that the word ‘student’ came up a lot because he is student focused,” Lopez said. “Everything that he is going to do, even if it seems difficult and complex, it all still comes back to making the experience better for the students and that is exactly what we need in a president. So, when you have someone who remembers how important the students are, you usually have a great president.”
Laura Detter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.