The university dedicated Lenfest Circle, the newly renovated base of the Bell Tower, to Trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.
Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, sat in the front row as university leaders and friends spoke about their philanthropy.
“Marguerite and I are very honored,” Gerry told The Temple News. “It is hallowed ground. Students use it. They’ll keep using it. To have a name on something that’s used by so many people is simply a wonderful honor.”
The Lenfests have donated $1.2 billion to charitable organizations since 2000.
Gerry, who was appointed to the Board in 2013, most recently made a seven-figure donation to the Klein College of Media and Communication in January 2016 as a part of Lew Klein’s multimillion-dollar gift for the renaming of the school.
Gerry also founded the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, a nonprofit that invests in innovative journalism, in 2016. He endowed the Institute with a $20 million gift.
Klein spoke at the dedication about Lenfest’s character during the ceremony.
“Gerry is a gentle man, a man of high ethics with a committed work ethic,” he said. “He is a listener, and he is respected.”
Lenfest also donated $3 million to Temple in 2014 for the construction of a new boat house along the Schuylkill River for the crew teams, which allowed the university to keep the teams even after the Board announced it would cut several sport teams in 2013.
“He literally put a roof over our head,” said Rebecca Grzybowski, head coach of women’s rowing. “I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”
Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes praised Lenfest for his charitable initiatives.
“It is only right that today we dedicate the heart of our campus to a man who epitomizes the values of our founder,” he said. “As a tour guide, I cannot wait to make our first stop the newly-renovated Lenfest Circle.
Board Chairman Patrick O’Connor also spoke at the dedication about his work with Gerry.
“The Lenfests have clearly made their impact all over this great city and this region,” he said. “Their decisions were not always easy, but their guiding principle was to give gifts where they would have the most impact.”
President Richard Englert presented the Lenfests with a tabletop replica of the Bell Tower before Lenfest gave a short speech, thanking the university and the Board for this honor.
To commemorate the dedication, the bells in the Bell Tower rang for the first time in decades. The Bell Tower will now ring every day.
The Bell Tower rings for the first time in decades! pic.twitter.com/VsbPEgiyz0
— Gillian McGoldrick (@gill_mcgoldrick) October 10, 2017