It is time to stand up and talk plainly about what we stand for in education, what we will fight for, and what we must change.

We have much to be proud of: a nationally and internationally recognized university with high quality and distinguished research-oriented and creative faculty; a terrific variety of students; government support allowing us to provide students with a great deal for their tuition dollars.

But the news isn’t all good:

  • The basic right to an affordable education is eroded constantly by cuts in government support and rising tuition.
  • Far too many students are coming to Temple, like other colleges, unprepared to handle college-level work.
  • There is a real danger of shortchanging educational quality as colleges rush to offer video or computer-based college courses.
  • Temple, like campuses across the nation, faces the crisis of the vanishing full-time professor.

First Principles

We offer these to help judge whether students are getting the college education they need and deserve. We hope these principles will serve as a focus for organizing public support to maintain and strengthen Temple University as a fine example of the world’s best system of higher education.

A. Opportunity

  • Temple must remain both affordable and high in quality. It should not cater to a higher economic level of students exclusively. It should remain faithful to its Conwellian mission.
  • Temple must invest heavily in the kinds of educational infrastructure that all students need to get a high-quality education. The infrastructure must be improved and made readily available to all of our students. This includes not only access to computers, but also to journals, books, studios, performance spaces, and laboratories.

B. Quality

  • Temple’s cadre of Presidential faculty members must be sufficient to carry out our educational mission. Despite lip service to reduction in part-time faculty, Temple has eroded its Presidential faculty. It has also expanded the numbers of non-tenure-track Dean’s appointments and clinical-track faculty. Despite promises to replace Presidential faculty members who retire, Temple has cut back hiring drastically. Presidential faculty have the long-term commitment, dedication, and academic freedom to provide the highest quality of instruction and scholarship.
  • Quality education begins with the teacher; hence, planning for quality must begin from the bottom up, with a consistent set of rules and guidelines. That is, the faculty must be the primary determiners of quality in the fulfillment of our educational mission. Because faculty members must know their subject areas and the best pedagogical techniques for student learning, they must help define appropriate class sizes and teaching capacities of their programs.
  • All faculty, full-time and part-time, must be treated as professionals. Quality teaching by part-timers and graduate teaching assistants requires professional pay, access to office space, and supplies. All faculty have to be included in academic processes. The administration should support training in effective teaching for new faculty, mentoring of junior faculty by senior faculty, and continuing professional development opportunities for all faculty.
  • Temple’s programs of research, scholarship, and creative activity must be maintained and strengthened. This requires Temple to invest heavily in its own facilities for research, from libraries to laboratories, and in its faculty. Faculty must have adequate time to expand knowledge as well as to teach it. Good teaching always draws on new scholarship.
  • To improve student performance, Temple needs to have a clearly-focused set of curricular requirements. Faculty have to be in the forefront of setting standards. We should make it easier to navigate the maze of core requirements but not at the same time water down the quality of our graduates by cutting out topics that faculty deem essential.
  • Temple faculty members have to remain accessible to students, who praise this feature of our institution. But faculty burdened by unreasonable teaching loads do not have time to be accessible or to help students with their plans and ambitions, as well as their coursework and research. Part-time faculty and non-tenure track faculty have to have sufficient time and office space for advisement.
  • Temple needs to maintain its strong tenure and peer review system. We should resist pressures to revise it merely to accommodate the wishes of industry or politicians.
  • Temple’s resources must be directed toward instruction and research, as well as to the staff who support the educational process through the admissions and registration process, advising, operation of libraries, computer networks, and laboratories. Temple’s strategic plan must keep the instructional and research missions squarely in focus, rather than concentrating on secondary and tertiary activities, such as intercollegiate sports.
  • A pleasant and safe campus is essential to serving students. Classrooms and other learning spaces must be of adequate size, well-maintained, and well-secured. Cosmetic improvements are nice, but focus on the learning environment first.

C. Accountability

  • Temple should have a wide discussion within its educational community on its mission and its goals. The public must be adequately informed about the importance of maintaining a high-quality public research university, about its role in opening access to higher education, and about the importance of the unique institutional arrangements of research universities. We need to be able to demonstrate our successes through clear and accurate measures of student success in their chosen fields of study and our contribution to the economic, scientific, and cultural life of the region.
  • Faculty have key roles and responsibilities to perform and we must be ready, willing, and empowered to take them on. Faculty accountability requires a strong tenure system, including peer and student evaluation, rewards for success, incentives for improvement, and help in overcoming deficiencies. We must be diligent in performing our teaching, scholarship, and service roles. Faculty must actively engage in the shared governance system of Temple. That requires faculty initiative, as well as widely shared opportunities for involvement and open access to necessary administrative information. Administrative frustration with faculty deliberation and concern about the need for quick change must not be allowed to lead to an increasing centralization of power and decision-making.

[Adapted from the American Federation of Teachers’ "FIRST PRINCIPLES: A Common Sense Agenda for Higher Education" and passed by TAUP Executive Committee, September 25, 1997.]
February 1998

Dear Members of the Temple University Community,

As we consider reorganization of our academic enterprise, we need firm principles to guide us and reflect our priorities as educators. In our debate over future directions, both short- and long-term, the TAUP offers these "First Principles" — Opportunity, Quality, & Accountability — for what we all, as educators and citizens of Temple, need to focus on. These principles are intended to help faculty, staff, and administration prepare the agenda to make plans and take actions.


The TAUP Executive Committee

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