President David Adamany’s physical appearance says nothing about his brainpower.
He entered his Sullivan Hall conference room Wednesday for a press conference with The Temple News wearing a white dress shirt and a striped tie – hanging well below his waist – that almost seemed a few sizes too big.
Adamany’s thin frame shows he shies away from starches and fast food.
“I have to be small enough so I can run away fast,” he said during the interview, likely referring to his critics, including Temple students who have marched through campus claiming a lack of diversity and, during another protest, screamed for on-campus housing for upperclassman.
But his unassuming body, which turns 69 later this month, holds the brain of a Harvard scholar, noted political scientist, former politician and 20-year university president who has transformed two notable, but unspectacular, urban universities into nationally respected institutions. His 15-year tenure at Wayne State University in Detroit was marked by his academic revitalization of the school, amid criticism of his “tyrannical” power grabs, according to comments by the university’s faculty senate president, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
During his five years at Temple, Adamany has met his share of critics. Some are concerned about Temple’s expansion into North Philadelphia, while others worry that Adamany’s focus on academic excellence is a little too excellent, which might limit the chances of Philadelphia area high school students being accepted into one of their local universities.
Adamany counters: Temple hasn’t displaced a single North Philly resident during Temple’s recent growth and the university tries its darndest to recruit area students, but when half of them drop out before getting their diploma, the problem is the state’s, not Temple’s.
Throughout our talk with Adamany, he unloaded a string of well-reasoned, passionate and articulate answers. Most of his exhaustive explanations – the full transcript of the interview is 15 pages, single-spaced – included supporting statistics or were grounded in years of thought.
But what Adamany says, of course, is not Gospel.
His responses should be scrutinized or praised, and he should be held accountable for the lasting fingerprints he is leaving on this university.
That’s where you, the reader, come in. Tell us what you think about where Temple is going (TempleNews@Gmail.com – hint, hint) and we’ll publish any signed e-mails in our next issue.
A discussion about this university, and its leaders, shouldn’t stop here.