In May 1979, Ceatrice Beard was a business education graduate from Temple. She wore straight, shoulder length hair and was quick to smile.
More than 28 years later, Ceatrice Beard is angry.
Expansion has a way of upsetting people. Temple’s form of it – more than a quarter billion dollars in new construction and renovations since 1997 – is particularly unnerving for some.
It was a year ago that ground broke on a new medical school building at the corner of Broad and Tioga streets. There was resistance. Ask anyone from Facilities Management. There is always resistance.
Ceatrice Beard was in that number. After all, she’ll tell you, she has been here for a long time. She speaks excitedly but without certainty.
“To us, they’re a danger,” Beard said of Temple. “We see them as terrorists.”
She said that with a sense of hesitance. As if she doesn’t entirely believe it but thinks sensation to be the last tool of efficacy she has in her power.
President Ann Weaver Hart was elected the ninth president of Temple in May 2006. Hart came from the University of New Hampshire. Up in the mountains, Beard says with a sneer. Cuts run deep, bureaucracy runs thick and Hart was anointed because she doesn’t – because she couldn’t – understand any of it, Beard might say with frustration. She has said it before.
Beard, who co-chairs a committee that canvassed Main Campus with posters declaring “Hart has no Heart,” is worried. The poster implores readers to call the president’s office and to ask to limit the new medical school building’s height.
By May 2009, the mission of Beard, her partner and a group of 50 others is expected to have failed.
By May 2009, the new 480,000 square foot medical building, at a cost of $160 million, is expected to be completed.
Some in Beard’s company think 11 stories – cut down from original plans of 13 – is too tall for the neighborhood.
The dirt floods surrounding homes and the damage done to the church is more than just physical, Beard says.
For their part, Temple purchased a handful of air conditioners and air purifiers for the homes most affected by construction debris. To answer the emotional toll, Temple has hosted biweekly sessions with community leaders since the construction began.
“Representatives of the university have been in frequent dialogue with the community throughout this project,” said Mark Eyerly, a spokesperson for Temple.
A large portion of the community that surrounds the new medical building believes Temple has done its job to incorporate residents in the decision-making, Eyerly said. There are others.
In her Temple yearbook photo from 1979, Beard’s head is tilted in pose. She looks just off to the distance. Her gentle smile and present cheeks displayed by her thin face make her resemble a porcelain doll, neat and practiced. That was 30 years ago. The age tells in her voice most.
When asked about Hart’s role in the project, considering the planning started years ago, Beard offers little.
“Her suggestion carries a lot of weight,” she offers.
The state began earmarking funds for the project in late 2004, the architect and engineers were chosen in middle of 2005 and design had already begun later that year, Eyerly said.
Still, construction didn’t begin until September 2006, a point Beard is quick to point out. Maybe Hart was enough of an outsider to let it all go through.
“It is the single most callous operation I’ve ever seen,” she said. Of other residents, Beard suggests concern has passed to anger. “They look at Temple like a monster now.”
Or maybe some just need a face for the monster, and Hart is a convenient choice.
“Regardless of who the president was, this project would go through,” Eyerly said. “The planning and design concepts predate Dr. Hart. It’s nothing that is personal to her.”
Christopher Wink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.