As the university’s eighth president, David Adamany has been hailed as the driving force behind rising academic standards among students and faculty, increasing student enrollment and leading the largest construction project in campus history.
However, the decisions made during his nearly six-year presidency have also been at the center of controversy. He has been derided for terminating upperclassman housing, mismanaging athletics and routinely quarreling with faculty.
For Adamany, his tenure has been incomplete.
“I never seem to do everything I want to in a semester’s class,” said Adamany, who has also taught at Temple. “And not in my life as an adult and not in the job that [I] have. There’s always more than can be done.”
Adamany said he began to realize his time as president was coming to an end when Howard Gittis, chairman of the Board of Trustees, announced his retirement last October.
“We thought Howard might stay on a few more years, and I thought I might stay on a few more years,” Adamany said. “But … life is full of bumps in the road.”
Adamany said he consulted board members and made the decision after Gittis announced his retirement.
“I began my term as president when Howard became chairman, and we want to give the new chairman an opportunity to work with a president that he or she may have a hand in selecting,” Adamany said. “I will say that there is a second reason, which is in September, I will be 70. And at 70 you don’t have quite the same energy that you did six years earlier.”
In a statement to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 19, the day of his retirement, Adamany wrote that two years ago Gittis asked him to submit a memo outlining the major goals that he would like to accomplish as university president.
Adamany included these major goals and the progress the university has made on them in his 15-page resignation letter sent to students and faculty.
Some of the nine specific areas of progress Adamany included were expanded enrollment, the revitalization of Temple’s libraries and the rebuilding Temple’s research program. Adamany said the research program will be the most difficult area.
One of Adamany’s most ambitious initiatives was the introduction of the new General Education Program. The program, which will begin in fall 2007, was a source of debate between Adamany and the Faculty Senate.
Jane Evans, president of the Faculty Senate, said although there were times that she and the rest of the faculty were frustrated that they did not have as much input as they would like on some policies, her and Adamany have always had a cordial working relationship.
“There were some policies that the faculty felt were probably needed at certain points and we felt that they probably were good things to be happening to Temple,” Evans said. “There were some policies obviously that we disagreed on. I went and talked to David about the policies that we disagreed about. It’s his job as president to put in the policies and we should be able to comment on them.”
Gittis, who is a vice chairman and chief administrative officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., a holding company with interests in Revlon, Panavision and Allied Security, said he was stepping down as chairman of the board because of other commitments. When he became chairman, he said, it was understood that he and the new president would leave at the same time.
“It was something that I thought was the right way to do it … to say ‘I care that we’re going to come in together, and we’re going to go out together,'” Gittis said.
Both Gittis and Adamany stressed that the chairman and the president must have a solid partnership in order to move the university forward.
“The chairman and the president have to work together so closely and have their visions for the university so aligned, that it would just be wrong for me to continue to serve as chairman if a new president was coming in,” Gittis said. “Just as it would be wrong for David to serve as president in a new chairman would come in.”
Adamany’s resignation will take effect on June 30, though Gittis will continue as chairman of the board until October.
There has been speculation that Adamany’s retirement could be a result of a contentious relationship between him and the Board of Trustees. Both Adamany and Gittis deny those claims.
Adamany described his relationship with the board as “very good and close.”
“We very rarely have a recommendation from the administration that has not been adopted by the board and supported by the board,” Adamany said. “It’s a very active board, and I work closely with many, many of its members.”
Gittis agreed, and said that he did not believe a new chairman would have any difficulty working with Adamany if he were to stay.
“Most of the candidates, as my successor, have worked with [Adamany] in the past,” Gittis said. “But everybody has a different view.”
Gittis said he has appointed a Presidential Search Committee made up of board members, faculty, alumni and Temple Student Government President Oscar Chow to interview replacements for Adamany.
The committee will begin its search for the university’s ninth president immediately, and will recommend candidates on May 3. The search committee will then vote and elect the new president from the list of candidates.
“We expect to have a new president by July 1,” Adamany said. “If we don’t, we’ll improvise a little bit.”
Gittis said he does not anticipate the possibility of having an interim president, which has led to speculation that there are already possible replacements within the university.
“I don’t believe in interim presidents,” Gittis said. “I don’t think that works effectively. There’s no reason why we can’t complete our work by June 30. If for some reason we’re delayed by a month, we could importune David to stay on for the extra month.”
The search process is not expected to take any longer than the time allotted.
“Remember, the academic year starts in September. You have to have your new president in before that,” Gittis said.
Gittis, who will continue as a board member after his October resignation, said the next chairman of the board will likely be chosen from the board members on the Presidential Search Committee.
Two names that Gittis mentioned as possible replacements are trustee Daniel Polett, and board Vice Chairman Anthony Scirica, chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Adamany said after his official retirement in June, he will take a leave of absence for a year and then continue teaching mostly undergraduate courses here as the Laura Carnell Professor of Law and Political Science.
“I have an appointment in the law school, and one in the political science department, so I could teach some law students and some undergraduates in political science,” Adamany said. “I’ve taught undergraduates in the political science department during my years as president and enjoyed it very much.”
Adamany said he will continue to be available to the university to assist the new president.
“The rule is, you take no part in the affairs of the institution unless asked,” Adamany said. “You don’t have any role in leading the place, and you must remember that when you give up the presidency you no longer have executive authority.”
Before Adamany became Temple’s president, he was president of Wayne State University, a public university in Detroit, from 1982 to 1997.
“The reason that I gave up working in private, elite institutions where I began my career and went to urban institutions where I have spent the last [years], is because I think that kids from middle class and working class homes are entitled to have the same quality of education in our society as children from privileged homes,” Adamany said.
The changes that have occurred at Temple have created a better environment for students of the university, according to Adamany.
“The opportunity to have a first-rate education changes life,” Adamany said. “I think that is where Temple is getting to.”
Gittis said that Adamany’s legacy will be marked by the way students regard Temple.
“What I wanted to see collocated in our student body was pride,” Gittis said. “Pride in being a graduate of Temple University, pride to wear the Temple ‘T,’ pride to be an Owl. And I think in six years we’ve come a long way toward that. We have a proud student body, not someone being ashamed to go to a second-class institution. This is a first-class institution.”
Emily Catalano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.