Temple starts year with new president

Temple University’s new president, Neal Theobald, took office on Jan. 1 and has wasted no time getting to work.

His first week on the job included meetings with Temple faculty, community leaders and Drexel president John Fry — plus a home men’s basketball game for fun. On the immediate agenda are several trips to Harrisburg, including one to meet with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

Theobald met with Mayor Michael Nutter and state Sen. Shirley Kitchen, whose district includes Temple’s main campus, during monthly visits to Philadelphia in the fall. He wants to work cooperatively with Temple’s neighbors, saying: “We need to be responsive to their needs.”

Those plans will take shape with the aid of a provost, to be chosen from Temple’s tenured faculty. “I’m an outsider, so I need to have a partner here who understands the various schools,” Theobald says.

Theobald wants to learn more about the 39,000-student university before developing long-term plans, though he says affordability, in particular, is a “huge concern.”

This fall, Temple launched a five-year campaign to raise $100 million for financial aid. So far, Theobald says they are at 15 percent of their goal.

The 2012-2013 school year was the first since 1995 with no tuition increase, though there was a 3.9 percent uptick in room and board. In-state undergraduates pay $13,006 per year for full-time tuition. Discussion about possible increases for next year will begin soon.

Theobald was the first in his family to attend college. He attended Trinity College in Connecticut on scholarship, putting aside his original goal: to become an electrician’s apprentice.

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