Temple has experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade. While that growth has resulted in a stronger, academically richer university, it has also presented challenges that must be addressed. Let me explain how we got here and what we intend to do.
The quality of our educational offerings – along with the quality of our students – has gained a national reputation for the university. This fall’s class of 4,329 freshman and 2,812 transfer students is not only among the largest in our history, but continues a trend of quality, with an average freshman SAT score of 1,114, the highest in Temple history.
With our growth in size and reputation has come another change: Temple is now more of a residential urban university than ever before. While commuting students continue to be a large part of our student body, we now have about 12,000 students living on or near Temple’s Main Campus. Temple has truly become a destination campus, as students make the Philadelphia experience an integral part of their education.
The advent of a residential student community has brought new life to North Philadelphia, supporting a broad range of residential and commercial investment, especially in the North Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue area. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted the boom in local students has sparked a “renaissance” for the area.
Our students are not only active consumers but are engaged with their communities, working with Temple researchers on everything from better law enforcement techniques that keep our streets safer, to improving the foods sold in corner store groceries to help our communities become healthier.
Our residential growth has also brought concerns. Although the majority of Temple students behave responsibly and treat our surrounding community with respect and dignity, our neighbors have also raised concerns about the issues that arise at all residential universities: parties, trash, noise and parking. Temple recognizes its obligation to our North Philadelphia neighbors and is using its framework for the future, Temple 20/20, as a guide to address these issues.
Among the guiding principles of Temple 20/20 is a respect for the surrounding community and creating improvements that recognize the mutual obligations of the university, its neighbors and the city of Philadelphia. We are putting those principles into action by doing the following:
Bringing more students to live on campus. Temple plans to build a 1,500-bed residential, dining and retail complex on North Broad Street on the block between Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Oxford Street. The residential complex will feature retail space on the first floor, with a significant amount of that space reserved for the community to encourage and foster the growth of North Philadelphia-based, minority- and women-owned businesses.
Enhancing security in the area. Temple’s Campus Safety Services is fortunate to have a group of professional, well-trained police officers who work seamlessly with Philadelphia police officers to patrol our area. Together, Philadelphia and Temple police are boosting patrols in the neighborhood immediately adjacent to campus. We are also in the process of putting additional security kiosks on the boundaries of our campus.
Educating good students to become good neighbors. I have charged the leaders at Temple to take stock of the gaps that may still exist between our achievements and potential to improve student and community well-being. In the coming weeks and months, we will be rolling out a comprehensive plan for encouraging our students to be aware of the impact they have on our neighbors.
In addition to these measures, I have personally engaged the Temple Student Government’s leadership on this issue and have solicited their advice on appropriate steps moving forward.
I have also made it clear that the Temple Student Code of Conduct will continue to be thoughtfully but diligently enforced and disciplinary action will be taken against students whose actions threaten the overall well-being of the Temple Community.
The North Philadelphia renaissance will continue only if Temple, its students and neighbors build respect for each other. Together, we can create an educated, engaged and prosperous community that will be a model for Philadelphia and for residential urban university communities across the nation.
Ann Weaver Hart