I searched the Princeton Review and simply could not find a single list that ranked a school based on the acts of one of its basketball coaches and an alumnus. Why is that?
It doesn’t reflect the quality of the school.
In the Feb. 28 edition of the Philadelphia Metro, Clark DeLeon wrote a column titled, “Temple tarnished by Cosby and Chaney,” where he said, “Over the years Bill Cosby and John Chaney have been more than merely the most recognized and admired personalities associated with Temple, more than the exquisitely human face that an otherwise image-challenged urban university shows the world. Eventually, these hometown heroes became the lifeblood of Temple’s self-identity, as constant and comforting as the lub and the dub of a beating human heart.”
What drew me to Temple was not Cosby or Chaney. I didn’t know who Chaney was until basketball season started my freshman year. What enticed me to attend Temple was the diversity of the student population, ranked third in the nation by the Princeton Review, and an accredited journalism program, something only two schools in Pennsylvania can claim, the other being Penn State. When a program is accredited, it means the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications has sent a team of reviewers to make sure things like class size, faculty and the curriculum all meet a standard of excellence.
Then there’s Forbes magazine, which ranked Temple as the fourth most connected university in the country. The London Financial Times ranked the Fox School of Business’ MBA program No. 1 in the United States for “Value for Money.” They also ranked the MBA program as one of the top 50 in the United States and one of the top 75 in the world.
There are also other notable Temple alumni besides Cosby. Sammie Knox, a Tyler graduate, painted the portraits of the Clintons now hanging in the White House. Full House star Bob Saget received his degree from Temple, and if that’s not awesome I don’t know what is.
The National Project on Women and Heart Disease is using Temple University Hospital as its model for a project to reduce the number of women who have heart disease.
Temple researchers developed a drug that could treat all forms of chronic myelogenous leukemia, which is a rare but deadly form of cancer, according to the health sciences Web site. Some who have the disease build a resistance to Gleevec, once considered one of the best forms of treatment for this type of cancer. These Temple researchers found a way to overcome this resistance, allowing patients to continue effective treatment.
These examples are more important than the allegations thrown at Cosby and the actions of Chaney.
Since the media insist on focusing on sports, let’s talk about Dawn Staley winning an Olympic gold medal, carrying the American flag during the opening ceremonies of last summer’s games and being named a finalist for the Naismith Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year award. Let’s also talk about the women’s basketball team going undefeated in the Atlantic Ten conference this season and winning the conference championship.
Yet Temple’s reputation is apparently shaped by only two men: a basketball coach and a graduate.
I’m not going to pretend Cosby isn’t a highly visible Temple icon, but he is not the heart of the University. He is not what makes it run every day.
DeLeon said in his article, “The world knew, but, more importantly, we knew that the Coz and Coach really could have gone anywhere. But they chose Temple.”
So do more than 34,000 other students per year, and I’m willing to bet they didn’t choose Temple because a basketball coach and the star of the Cosby Show did, too.
Temple is not some glorified community college. It is one of the largest and best universities in the nation. Its history is rich and its awards are numerous. It will take more than bad publicity to tarnish its reputation.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.