Messages to the Community

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Temple family,

As we come to the close of the fall semester and the end of 2022, I want to take a minute to both recap our successes of the past year and also highlight our challenges as we prepare for a new semester and a new year. 

As you read about in our annual report, Temple is thriving in the areas of academics and research. This fall, we welcomed the most ethnically and geographically diverse class in Temple’s history. Fifty-one percent of incoming students identify as students of color. In support of this new class and the whole Temple community, we also opened our innovative new Center for Anti-Racism to help guide our best practices in diversity. 

Globally, our academic programs are growing and thriving around the world, in Rome, in Tokyo, in Beijing, in Jamaica, in Los Angeles. Our students are preparing for the future of work in these global hubs and others with unparalleled career readiness experiences. And our recent delegation to the Middle East is opening additional opportunities for Temple. Stay tuned on that. 

Our lung transplant program ranks number one in the nation, and our research enterprise overall ranks seventh in the nation for fastest growth in productivity. These are just a few of the examples of our success, but overall, Temple is outperforming as one of the best, and best-valued universities, in the country. 

Now, in parallel with our successes at Temple, we are also dealing with two devastatingly critical challenges. One is mental health, and the other is city violence. Now, before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people. That was before. The pandemic exacerbated these preexisting challenges and has created a never-before-seen crisis of mental health on college campuses. More students need help than ever before, but the availability of support resources nationwide is extremely low. People who need counselors, who need therapists, who need doctors—they cannot find them. 

Here at Temple, our students are hurting. They just need more help. Mental health challenges are severely disrupting their lives, and it's our responsibility to do more to help them. 

Earlier this year, I established a Task Force on Mental Health and Wellness, which has analyzed the needs on campus. The task force provided recommendations, and I am happy with this plan. Our leadership team has already started to implement solutions. The mental health of our students is a top priority. It is complex and it is hard, but we are doing much more to provide support. 

Now let's talk about violence. Violent crimes have reached epidemic levels in the United States—mass shootings, aggravated assaults, gun robberies. The levels are staggering and they keep on rising. Now, the campus here at Temple University is among the safest in the city. The Temple University Police Department provides our community with excellent service. We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated and high-quality police force during these challenging times. 

Unfortunately, some of our students have been victims of violent crime. Our community is devastated by these occurrences. We are angry, we are scared, we are vulnerable. Earlier this year, in addition to setting up the health and wellness task force, I also set up a Task Force for Violence Reduction. Now, this task force was charged with providing solutions with great care, and in the coming months, we are actively implementing all of their recommendations. 

But while I think our plan will dramatically help, we need to do more. On the one hand, we cannot fully control what happens on the streets of Philadelphia. On the other hand, we do need to do everything we can to keep our students safe. 

Here at Temple, we have joined the Civic Coalition to Save Lives. I am also establishing a violent crime commission to advise me and my cabinet on better ways to protect our community. We are partnering with Temple Student Government to gather feedback from students that will assist the university in moving forward. And our Temple Police Department and the Philadelphia Police Department are partnering to increase resources to better protect our students and our community. 

Temple University is an academic community. We teach, we learn, we convene, we research. We are not in the criminal justice business. But things are bad, so we are now increasing our commitment to student safety. 

In summary, we have a lot to be proud of at Temple University. 2022 yielded tremendous success and our community as a whole, we really thrived. Future employers and the world’s economy are going to be influenced by Temple graduates. Temple Made is a force to be reckoned with. Know that we have work to do to combat the systemic conditions of mental health and city violence. 

But students, I wish you success in preparing for excellence with your final exams and your final projects. And in the new year, I look forward to relocating with my personal residents to North Philadelphia. 

As you may have heard, last year, Gingi and I made plans to move our family to a home near campus. So this coming spring, we'll be living here in the neighborhood. We are so excited to be able to more fully engage with the campus community and with neighbors and businesses here in North Philadelphia. 

So as we close out 2022, I wish you and your loved ones a joyous, safe, and reinvigorating winter break.