Since joining Temple’s Board of Trustees in 2010, Phillip Richards has opted to spread his years of experience at the university across several areas, serving on four committees––student affairs, athletics, investment and budget and finance.
“I was captain of the wrestling team at Temple,” Richards said. “I was student body president in 1962, and now I run a successful investment company.”
Richards said his experience in those areas has made him well-equipped to handle the most critical decisions of Temple’s future.
“My biggest contribution,” Richards said. “I haven’t made that yet. My position is to serve. I do what I’m asked to do.”
At the general assembly meeting Oct. 8, the board re-elected Richards to a four-year term. Richards praised his fellow board members, especially trustees Lewis Katz and Robert Rovner, who originally recommended him to join the board three years ago.
Speaking at the Oct. 8 meeting, President Neil Theobald called Temple, “The university for lower income students in Philadelphia.” It is a moniker that Richards and his fellow trustees would like to retain.
He compared Temple with Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, saying Temple has been able to keep its tuition much lower than the other schools.
“We think our education is every bit as good,” Richards said.
As a member of the budget and finance committee, Richards said he had to make difficult choices, especially when it came to tuition and financial aid.
Despite the increase in tuition this year, the financial aid budget has expanded to more than $90 million, a number Richards said was spectacular.
“With that, we are able to reach a broad spectrum of the population,” Richard said. “Our student body resembles the greater community.”
Richards first came to Temple in 1958, after growing up in a poor, single-parent household in Manhattan. Thanks to his education, Richards said, he now serves as the CEO of the financial services conglomerate North Star Resource Group.
“I’m trying to give back for the all the things Temple has done for me,” Richards said.
Richards praised Temple’s recent strategy for targeting alumni donations, which looks at the percentage of students graduating rather than the amount they give back.
“It’s about fewer dollars from more students,” Richard said. “I don’t care how much [they donate]. It’s about forming the right habits. That will make the difference in the future.”
Richards said he has been involved in many charities, including donations of more than $1.5 million for Alzheimer’s research, but said his top priority will always be at Temple.
“I’ve been able to contribute a modest treasure back to Temple,” Richards said.
Joe Gilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.