Teaching the children of the first generation of students he taught at Temple was a different experience for Thaddeus Mathis.
The professor of political science and social administration came to Temple in the midst of the civil rights movement and retired as a professor emeritus Dec. 31, 2008, after nearly four decades.
“I really enjoyed working with students and the challenges they face. This generation has been different,” Mathis said. “These are the children of the students that I first started teaching so they face a different set of challenges.”
He began teaching at the university in August 1970 as an adjunct political science professor. Before his days at Temple, he worked as a planner with the Model Cities Program, combating urban violence and poverty.
“[I came to Temple] before students really had access to some of the programs they have now. This was a period of tremendous social movement and changes,” he said. “Temple was a part of those efforts as well, having everybody really energized and engaged, trying to make the country, university and the city better places.”
He earned a Ph.D. in political science and a master’s in African American studies from Temple. He also has degrees in social service and secondary education from other schools.
Mathis also joined the School of Social Administration in 1970. He said he will participate in the school’s 40th anniversary celebration.
But Mathis’ résumé doesn’t end there.
He began the Institute of Africana Social Work in 1991 to educate social workers in helping African-American families and also served as the associate dean of Social Administration for four years during the 1990s.
His tentative plans for the future include continuing his activism for the black community by working on projects he helped spark. He serves as chair of the Black Political Convention and as a national officer for the National Black Independence Political Party.
“Helping prepare leadership at the neighborhood level is what we do [at the Philadelphia Community Institute for Africana Studies],” Mathis said of the organization, where he serves as a board member.
Mathis said he would still like to return as an adjunct professor and keep his connections with Temple alive.
“I hope [I] can continue and get more involved in the community around Temple,” he said. “And I certainly hope they continue to allow students to come and get a good education.”
Arty Kern can be reached at email@example.com.