By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was pomp and circumstance in North Philadelphia today as Temple University installed its tenth president in the history of the institution.
After his investiture, Dr. Neil Theobald laid out his six-point vision for the future.
“The very goals that we send our children to college to achieve are being threatened,” Theobald said, acknowledging the many challenges that Temple faces — challenges such as reduced state funding, rising costs, and a changing culture and economy.
In his inaugural speech, he focused the university on six commitments, beginning with controlling rising student debt.
“If we are to remain a university that reaches out to the middle class, the poor, the immigrant population, we must remain affordable,” he said.
Theobald, a former senior vice president at Indiana University, told the full audience at the Baptist Temple building on North Broad Street that he’s committed to excellence in teaching, partnering with the City of Philadelphia, increasing the university’s life-changing research, maintaining a diverse student body, and pushing for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Our students must learn to adapt to constant change,” he told the audience. “They must be real-world ready, and jumpstart their futures before they graduate.”
The university reports that Theobald has already helped raise $66 million for the university and brought in a freshman class with the highest SAT scores in Temple history.
Other accomplishments since he joined the university ten months ago include doubling the amount of money raised for student scholarships and bringing about a double-digit increase in research awards.
Theobald, who was the first in his family to graduate college, says he is committed to making Temple one of the best urban universities in the world while keeping the future grounded in the institution’s working-class past. (One in seven Philadelphians are said to be a Temple alumnus.) He says he will soon announce a landmark “affordability pact” that he hopes will be a model for universities across the country.
Those in attendance at the inaugural ceremony included Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett and Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke.