Six years ago, the university looked like an awkward, pimply-faced 14-year-old boy. Its face was pocked with craters where roads and buildings once stood. Marred and a little unattractive, Temple tried to revamp its image by consulting – none other than – dad.
Following the end of President David Adamany’s six-year tenure, the university is getting its braces off. It’s getting contact lenses at the new Health Services building. It got its hair done at the Chop Shop on Liacouras Walk. It’s got a date at Maxi’s and, for dessert, a frosty at Wendy’s. Soon, Temple will be shopping and watching movies at The Edge at Avenue North. Things are looking up for the post-pubescent institution. And this coming-of-age transformation is largely courtesy of Adamany and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Howard Gittis.
But these two top Owls have planned to leave the cove, and the Temple community is soaking up its bitter sweetness.
The announcement of resignations by Adamany and Gittis has been met with mixed reactions. While some members of the Temple community feel the duo has transformed the university from an ugly stepchild to the attractive, witty cousin, others feel transformation wasn’t very pretty.
Adamany, a staunch capitalist, used his progressive vision – strongly supported and influenced by Gittis – to prompt sweeping changes.
Many have argued that Adamany’s vision has steered the direction of the university far from what its founder, Russel Conwell, has originally intended.
“… Conwell never said that you should compromise your standards to take students,” Adamany said in an interview with The Temple News on Sept. 13, 2005. “He was, if anything, ruthlessly meritocratic.”
Regardless of Conwell’s true vision and handling of the university, Adamany made a point in saying the reason many of the “diamonds in the rough” in the city are not in the freshman pool is because of limitations of resources set by the state.
“It’s hard to admit students if they don’t take the SATs so they can be admitted, even though we recruit very heavily in the city,” Adamany said in the Sept. 13 interview.
Still, Temple remains the second most diverse campus in the United States, according to the Princeton Review.
Adamany has made hard-lined decisions about the future of the university. He was elected to replace the vacancy left by former university president Peter Liacouras. By the second year of his tenure, Adamany had raised entrance standards and had a plan of revitalizing the campus – even at the expense of gentrification.
Yet, Adamany and Gittis stuck by their vision for the university, even when those decisions caught negative attention.
On a positive note, this duo’s departure will provide the perfect opportunity for a stronger, more innovative duo of Owls to flock in.
Previously, Adamany and Gittis appeared to be the hard-lined decision-makers on campus. Most of those decisions were based on economic growth of the university, sometimes at the expense of maintaining diversity on campus.
The endeavor to “raise standards” meant the university sought better educated, more rounded students, which ultimately alienated potential students who came from diverse backgrounds.
And now that the university has reached its population capacity, a new team of leaders must maintain a diverse face within the student population and its relationship with the community.
Whoever steps in to take over those roles must be prepared to finish the vision that Adamany and Gittis had not fully carried out. But this transition will most likely not be seamless.
Despite sentiments that Adamany seemed unapproachable and aloof to students and faculty, he was always a presence on campus. He made a point of eating at Johnson and Hardwick’s cafeteria whenever he could. That is where most Temple students would say they knew him from. The fact that Adamany chose to eat amongst the students on a regular basis shows his care and devotion to the student population.
He was not a faceless leader who simply remained in his oversized office and cavorted only among the executives of the institution. It would be inaccurate to label him as ‘too busy to make an appearance.’
But even though Adamany will take a year leave effective June 30, he plans to return to the university to teach in the law and/or political science departments. This is an admirable decision to come back once he’s 71, as most would have been retired for a few years by that point.
His decision to retire would be completely understandable, but his return proves his devotion to the Temple community and his care for it.
On the other hand, this action will also show what some people believe he has been lacking throughout his tenure: being a presence within the student body and faculty other than when he is dining in the cafeteria.