‘It’s bittersweet’: Temple’s president announces plans to step down

Temple University President Richard M. Englert told the Temple Board of Trustees on Tuesday he will retire from his post next year (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

By Ayana Jones

PHILADELPHIA — Temple University President Richard M. Englert is planning to retire after a 45-year career with the institution.

He told the Temple Board of Trustees on Tuesday he is retiring from his post next year. Englert has agreed to remain as the university’s 11th president during the search for a successor.

Englert, who will turn 75 in December, said the time had come for him to step down.

“It’s bittersweet for me because I love the university,” he said of his decision.

“It’s only responsible to give the notice well ahead of time, so that is what I’ve done.”

Board Chairman Mitchell Morgan said that search for the next president will begin promptly. He lauded Englert’s commitment to the university.

“Dick is Temple University,” Morgan said.

“He is a legend at Temple. He’s been there for 45 years. I don’t think anyone else has been there that long and every time we’ve asked him to extend another year, he’s always agreed to it. He’s given us the ability to take our time to find the next president.”

He said the board will form a selection committee to conduct a national search for a new president.

Under Englert’s guidance, the university welcomed its largest and most academically qualified classes of new students, broke records for freshman applications and experienced growth as a premier research institution. Temple had its first Rhodes Scholar and has seen a steady rise of national and international recognition for students through Fulbright and other scholarship programs.

“On so many counts, Temple students and faculty continue to shine and do so well,” Englert said, as he reflected on the university’s achievements.

He also praised the strides made by Temple’s Health System, its important role in serving the North Philadelphia community and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health system has become more stable and more sustainable because of the steps that the health system has taken,” Englert said.

He plans to spend the next year focusing on returning students to campus and providing a good transition for the next president.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Englert is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles where he was awarded a doctoral degree in educational Administration in 1976. He also earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Pepperdine University in 1971 and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s Seminary College in California in 1967.

Englert has held 17 different posts during his career at Temple which has spanned nearly half a century.

His tenure at the school has been longer than that of the university’s founder, Russell Conwell.

Englert arrived at Temple in 1976 as an assistant to the dean of the College of Education.

He has served in a number of leadership roles, including acting president, chancellor, provost and interim senior vice president for Academic Affairs, deputy provost and dean of the University College, interim dean of the Graduate School, acting provost, vice president for administration, acting director of Intercollegiate Athletics, associate vice president for Administration; executive assistant to the vice president for University Administration and chief of staff to the late President Peter Liacouras.

At the college level, Englert has been dean of the College of Education; acting chief administrative officer of the School of Podiatric Medicine; acting dean of the College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; associate dean for administration and management at the College of Education; department chair for Policy, Organizational and Leadership Studies and assistant to the dean of the College of Education.

Since 1985, he has served as a professor in the College of Education.

This is actually his second term as the university’s chief executive officer, having served as acting president for six months in 2012. Temple’s Board of Trustees appointed him to the role of chancellor at the end of 2012, a position he will once again hold after leaving the presidency.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.