Press conference transcript

Q: President Adamany, why now? Adamany: We’re going to have a new chairman of the Temple University Board of Trustees after six years of which Howard has provided that leadership. I began my term as

Q: President Adamany, why now?

Adamany: We’re going to have a new chairman of the Temple University Board of Trustees after six years of which Howard has provided that leadership. I began my term as president when Howard became chairman, and we want to give the new chairman an opportunity to work with a president that he or she may have a hand in selecting. I will say that there is a second reason, which is in September, I will be 70. And, at 70, you don’t have quite the same energy that you did six years earlier. But the principal reason is that we want the governance at Temple to work well.

Q: But that means there’s going to be a big change, rather than a transition between one top officer, you’re going to have two – completely different management.

Gittis: Well, there was a big change the last time. When David and I came in six years ago, there was a change in the chairmanship and a change in the presidency. The chairman and the president have to work together so closely, and have their visions for the university so aligned that it would just be wrong for me to continue to serve as chairman if a new president was coming in, just as it would be wrong for David to serve as president if a new chairman would come in. You really have to get two people working with one plan in mind, as we have done for six years, and we think that has brought great change to the university, and it has brought great progress to the university, and it’s a great base on which the next chairman and the next president can work.

Q: Is there a sense, Mr. Gittis, that a new chairman wouldn’t be able to work with President Adamany?

Gittis: Not at all. Most of the candidates as my successor have worked with him in the past. But everybody has a different view. Remember, I was a trustee for 12 or 13 years before I became chairman. No one in the world was closer to Dick Fox, our then-chairman than I, but I had a different vision of my own as to what we could do here, and that’s what the chairman tries to accomplish, and to do that,he needs a president who is his partner. That’s why I chaired the Presidential Search Committee last time and was influential in the designation of who the president should be. That’s the way I believe it has to happen. We have a wonderful board here, they spend an enormous amount of time, for no compensation, and they learn a lot. But this is a complex institution. It’s the 28th largest institution in the country, 34,000 students, graduate schools, in the middle of a difficult neighborhood, 9,000 kids now living on campus up from 3,000 when David and I started. These are the things we thought we saw that could be accomplished. And the new president, the new chairman will have their own vision. And they deserve a clear path. Not saying, “This is the way David did it, and this is the way Howard did it.” They deserve a clear path in which to go forward.

Q: But are you, in a sense, taking that away from the new chairman’s decision? What if he wanted to continue to work with President Adamany?

Gittis: Then he ought to make that recommendation.

Q: Do you have some sense that your successor has expressed to you that he would like change in this administration?

Gittis: We have not designated my successor. That would be a vote of the Board of Trustees in October 2006.

Q: So, will there be an interim president when you step down? What happens June 30th, July 1st?

Adamany: We expect to have a new president in place by July 1. If we don’t, we’ll improvise a little bit.

Gittis: I don’t believe in interim presidents, I don’t think that works effectively. There’s no reason why we can’t complete our work by June 30th, if for some reason we’re delayed by a month, we could importune David to stay on for the extra month. It won’t take any longer than that. Remember, the academic year starts in September. You have to have your new president in before that. So, you have that summer time period when you’re not as busy here as you might be for the new president to come in and start to get his plan in place.

Q: And what happens after June 30th, do you stay in Philadelphia….

Adamany: Oh yes, I’m planning to stay in Phialdelphia. I’ll be on leave next year, at which I’ll be glad to have after 21 years as a university president and five years as an academic vice-president. And then I’m going to return to teaching, I have a professorship here, and I think I’m going to focus my teacher with undergraduates.

Q: Here at Temple?

Adamany: Here at Temple.

Q: In political science?

Adamany: I have an appointment in the law school, and one in the political science department, so I could teach some law students, and some undergraduates in political science. I’ve taught undergraduates in the political science department during my years as president, and enjoyed it very much. I’m not saying whether they enjoyed it, at least I enjoyed it. And that’s my present plan.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with the board now?

Adamany: I think it’s a very good and close relationship. We very rarely have a recommendation from the administration that has not been adopted by the board and supported by the board. It’s a very active board, as you know, and I work closely with many, many of its members.

Gittis: I think it’s important to note, in the six years that David has been president there has not been one major or minor program that he has asked the board to approve that they have not unanimously approved.

Q: How did the tradition of president of university and Board of Trustees chairman serving concurrently, as the provost calls it, how did that tradition get started here? Is it like that at all universities?

Gittis: No, it’s not like that at all universities, but it is like that in many universities. When I became chairman, it was something that I thought was the right way to do it, and made it clear at the beginning, as we were going through our search then, to say I care that we’re going to come in together, and we’re going to go out together.

Q: If Mr. Gittis were staying, would you stay?

Adamany: By all means. I’ve really enjoyed working with Howard. He’s been a forceful chairman, a strong leader, and a great advocate for Temple. And so, as a matter of fact, we thought Howard might stay on a few more years, and I thought I might stay on a few more years. But, that’s… life is full of bumps in the road. And so Howard has announced that he would not continue as chairman at our October meeting, and that seemed to be the right time to begin making the plans to step aside.

Q: So you made this decision in October?

Adamany: I made it after consulting some board members following Howard’s announcement.

Q: Mr. Gittis, any idea on who will succeed you as chairman of the board?

Gittis: No, I don’t think so. I will serve until October, and we’ll have a vote at that board meeting and I’m sure the board will unanimously recommend a successor to me. You know, Temple’s had a history of people serving for long periods of time. I think the university gets great vitality by having a change in a few compositions in five, six, seven-year time frame. These are jobs that are killers. You know, I run many businesses, there are no private businesses that have the complications of running a state university. Unionized faculty, student bodies that change every four years, dealing with your local communities. Remember, our budget, between the university and the health system, is about $800 million. That is enormous amounts of money to be spent. And in the six years that David and I have been here, where I believe have imposed very significant physical discipline, our resources with the university, our bond rating is up, everything we’ve been able to do… the largest building program in the history of the university, but it’s hard. And it takes long hours. I commute down by helicopter from New York three, four times a month. David is here all hours of the day and night. These jobs wear you out. And you know you need vitality and vigor, and new initiatives all the time. These are new kids coming in. You know, David eats over at the student dining rooms. He deals with these kids from 8 in the morning, to 8, 9, 10 at night. This is a job that he has done incredibly well, incredibly well. But he’s even younger than me.

Adamany: I’m pushing it.

Q: President Adamany, you mentioned in your prepared remark that you’re disappointed you’re not able to carry through your present plan for the university. So why are you leaving?

Adamany: Well I think that if Howard had stayed as chairman, which was our original thinking, I would have stayed. We would have completed the plan in the next three years, and it would have been a transition. But Howard has stated it very well. With his decision not to continue as chairman, the new chairman should have a president to work with and that president and that chairman can now pick up the plans and carry them out.

Q: Did you accomplish all you wanted to while you were here?

Adamany: Never. I never seem to do everything I want to in a semester’s class, and in my life as an adult, and not in the job that you have. There’s always more that can be done.

Q: What kind of things did you want to do?

Adamany: Well I think in the prepared statement I mentioned a number of the areas where we’re going forward. We are transforming the campus, we’re going to have new facilities for the business school and for the Tyler School of Art, and a new medical school. I would liked to have seen those finished up. On the other hand, construction companies and architects can’t move quite fast enough. We’re going to have a new program of general education. I think that’s well under way, but I would have liked to have been here when it’s launched a year from next fall. We’re doing some very special things with the honors programs for upperclassmen, and the undergraduate programs. I would have liked to have seen those come to fulfillment. And of course, with Howard’s leadership, we have been reaching out to Temple alumni, unlike any time in the past. We’re increasing the number of alumni that come back to campus, we’ve formed alumni visiting committees in each school of the college, we have a university-wide alumni president’s advisory council. And in addition to reaching out to the alumni we’re hoping to raise money, especially for things like student financial aid and new facilities. So, all of that remains unfinished. But, three years from now, there would still be much that would be unfinished. Ten years from now, there would still be much that’s unfinished. So, you know, you don’t get to finish life, life finishes you. So, I think you can’t ever pick a time when the work is fully done.

Q: I know this question seems to keep popping back up, but if you have more to continue, and you would stay, why not just go ahead and stay for a couple more years? Why is it so important if he is leaving that you leave as well if there are more things you want to accomplish? There must be another issue.

Adamany: Well the reason the question keeps coming up is because you keep asking it. But I think Howard has very well described the fact… Temple is a complex place, it has a large 36-member Board of Trustees, and the president and the chairman have to be able to be partners in this enterprise. Dick Fox, who was the previous chairman, and Peter Liacouras, who was the previous chairman, served together for 18 years. And when Dick stepped down, Peter also stepped down. I think it’s very important to have in the leadership positions, president and chairman, people who have sort of selected one another. If someone else had been chairman of the board, I might not have come to Temple during that search. So I think you have to have a situation where the chairman and the president… Howard used the right word, you have to be partners.

Gittis: And we were having this conversation in the year 2009, there would still be 50 unfinished… it’s just the nature of the institution.

Q: So you’ll know by May 9 who the next board chairman is going to be?

Gittis: No, I don’t think so.

Q: But if you’re saying that there is this…

Gittis: The board chairman will certainly come out of the Presidential Search Committee. Which I think is clear. Which I think is clear… I’ve appointed the leaders of the board to that committee. I would … I chaired the committee last time. You have to have the potential candidates for the new chairman on that committee.

Q: Now how does that work? Is that a selection by the president, a selection by the board, by the board chairman?

Gittis: No, selection by the board.

Q: So, Mr. Polett… [reference to Trustee Daniel Polett]

Gittis: Certainly an appropriate candidate. Our vice-chairman, Chief Justice Scirica. [reference to Trustee Anthony J. Scirica] The question is can he? Can a chief justice of the third-circuit court of appeals actually function as chairman because we have fundraising … a very complex set of issues. We have a number of judges on our board, we have a number of public officials on our board, there’s all kinds of rules as to what they can do. It’s a 36-person board, if you can narrow it down to 10 or 12 people, almost all of them you will find on the Presidential Search Committee. And I am quite comfortable that the new chairman will come out of that committee. So we’ll have a very significant voice in who the next president will be. When I chaired that committee, it was the unanimous vote for David to become president. When Pete [Liacouras] became president 18 years before, it was a vote 16 to 15. Many, many years ago, 28 years ago… or 24 years ago, in ’82. It’s an important committee, and it does important work. There were a lot of presidential vacancies now, as there were when we selected David. There’s always important internal candidates that you have to give a fair shot to. It’s a complex procedure, and we went through it, in my career here, it will be our third time. And hopefully my last.

Q: Are you staying on the board?

Gittis: I’m going to stay on the board, but cease being chairman. I just have other commitments that just prevent me from keeping the time commitment necessary to be chairman.

Q: President Adamany, what will you do between now and the 30th of June? You can’t finish all of what you wanted, but what are your goals, what are you going to wrap up?

Adamany: I think the general answer is to clear as many matters away as possible so that a new president comes into a situation where he or she is not heavily burdened with old business. The ongoing things, those will be ongoing. But, we’ll make a budget for next year, we’ll complete the tenure and promotion process for faculty in this current year, we’ll make solid decisions relating to the general education curriculum, so that that’s getting tucked away. I think that we will take the steps, this was discussed in the board meeting, to put the financing in place for the new buildings. One of those new buildings, and perhaps two will have started construction before July 1, so we’ll approve the architectural plans, get the construction underway. So, there are a quite number of things that could be done that help to … not clean the plate, but at least take a few things off the plate of the new president so he or she can also engage in thinking freshly about the university and have some initiatives that that person would like to undertake.

Q: What would you like that new president to take on in the role that you weren’t able to finish?

Adamany: Well, there’s a lot of unfinished business. The construction program, even it gets started will need to be finished. We want to greatly extend our outreach to alumni and friends of the university. We don’t have a good fundraising base at Temple, and we have a small endowment. And that work must go on. I’ve been out across the country, and throughout this community meeting with alumni and friends. And the new president is going to have to do that and more, so that we’re building relations with the people who should support us. That, that’s just inevitable. I think the curricular issues, general education, honors, those things will need to be finished up. So when you glance through my long statement, which really was not a retirement statement but a briefing of the board of what the major initiatives are, you will see that there’s much work still to be done. All of that said, Howard got it exactly right. A new chairman and a new president will have a different perspective. While there will be some things they must do, because the train is already going down the track, they must have the opportunity to undertake some brand new initiatives. And that’s why we should clear away as much as we can by July 1.

Q: Is it unusual, President Adamany, for you to be staying on as a faculty member?

Adamany: No. In fact, it’s quite typical. In my own experience, when I retired as president of Wayne State, I remained on the faculty for a couple of years. My successor at Wayne State was on the faculty and on the campus for virtually my whole presidency there, and so it’s very common. But you take no part… And Pete Liacouras is on the faculty here.

Gittis: Pete Liacouras is on the faculty here, Robert Wachman was on the faculty when he retired. It’s the standard procedure.

Adamany: And the rule is, you take no part in the affairs of the institution unless asked. So if you’re asked to go out and speak to an alumni club, you go out and do it to assist the new president. But you don’t have any role in leading the place, and you must remember that when you give up the presidency, you no longer have executive authority. It’s not unlike the transition in the national government. Former presidents are exactly that, former presidents. But it’s a very common practice for people to remain on in the faculty.

Q: A lot of changes happened both structurally and academically here, have you had a change to think about what your major accomplishments have been in your time here?

Gittis: I know what I think, but David will have…

Adamany: Howard, go ahead.

Gittis: When we came in, in my first statement to the board of trustees, I made clear that we can do everything we can to improve academics, improve physical facilities, raise the level of our student body, maintain the diversity that we have. Very hard to do what we did. Enormously increase student aid, more scholarships. So that as we raise the academic level, we were also able to maintain the diversity. Not an easy trick. But what I said to them then and what I say to you today is, what I wanted to see collocated in our student body was pride. Pride in being a graduate of Temple University, proud to wear the Temple “T,” proud to be an Owl. And, I think in six years, we’ve come a long way towards doing that. We have a proud student body. Not someone being ashamed of going to a second-class institution. This is a first-class institution.

Adamany: And I think that Howard has said it very well. The reason that I gave up working in private, elite institutions where I began my career and went to urban institutions where I have spent the last, as an officer of some kind, the last… more than 25 years, is because I think that kids from middle class, and working class homes, are entitled to have the same quality of education in our society as children from privileged homes. And you build up these universities so that a student who goes here has a first-quality education. And I’m a graduate of an Ivy-League place, Howard is a graduate of an Ivy-League place, and both of us came from modest backgrounds. Howard from a working-class family here in Philadelphia, my father owned a very small business in Green Bay, Wis. The opportunity to have a first-rate education changes life. And, I think that is where Temple is getting to. We’ve recruited superior faculty, graduates of the student body are great, curriculum has changed, all those things contribute to making a full opportunity for young people. And I think we’ve gotten a long way down that road. That’s what it’s about. Just because a kid goes to an Ivy-League school doesn’t mean they’re better than anybody else. Howard and I both know it…

Gittis: Yeah, we’re perfect examples that they’re not.

Adamany: We want youngsters, talented kids, of the kind who come to Temple, often from modest or middle-class backgrounds, to have quality education that is second to none. And I think we’ve gotten a long way down that road.

Gittis: I wish I could have taken you all to a reception we give in New York for graduates of Temple in the communications business. Something familiar to all of you. We’re up to 500 people working in New York City in communications, graduates of our school. At all levels. Business levels, on-air personalities, reporters, screenwriters, everything you could conceivably think of. Now, you don’t see many universities like that. And yet it came out of a public university. And that’s what we’ve hoped to try to accomplish here.

Adamany: I think people here don’t realize how important the place is. Howard and I are just astonished by the fact that when we began to look closely and figure out what the strengths of the place were, Temple, out of all of America’s colleges and universities, ranks number six in the graduates in the professional programs. Law, medicine, dentistry, podiatry, pharmacy. The sixth largest institution in the United States in providing professionals. That’s a big, big undertaking. And very important to society. It’s a great place.

Q: You said that you will be taking a leave next year … will the students see you in the cafeteria at any time?

Adamany: Well, as long as the food is good and cheap. I might show up there for lunch a couple days a week, as I now do. And, as I always have, I welcome students coming up and chatting in the cafeteria, or in the good weather, when we can stroll the campus malls, coming up and chatting on campus. But they can’t ask me questions about the running of the place, because I’ll be out of that.

Q: In the fall of 2007, is when you enter the classroom?

Adamany: Fall of 2007. Though, I expect to be on the campus a fair bit, starting next fall. I have not been a full-time classroom teacher for 25 years, and … I’d better check my numbers here, I don’t want to be older than I am. But for a long time, in any case. And I will need to prepare myself fully. Teaching is not easy work. You have to be fully prepared, and I’ll be taking my year to prepare myself so I’m a good teacher, worthy of the undergraduates that we have here.

Q: And you’re 69 years old.

Adamany: I’m 69. I will be 70 in September.

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