Who Should Replace Ann Weaver Hart at Temple?

I've got the perfect candidate

Temple University is unexpectedly in the market for a new president, and I have the perfect hire. There is no need to retain a national search firm and go through an expensive and prolonged interview process. The guy is right here. And he could probably start in a couple of weeks.

Of course it won’t happen that way, but, hey, I’m just trying to move things along. Instead, the university will probably spend the school year searching for a new president, who will only last a few years at the helm. That doesn’t sound like time and money well spent. In fact, it sounds more like the Philadelphia School District. Unfortunately for her, outgoing Temple President Ann Weaver Hart probably isn’t getting the Queen’s ransom. Maybe Mayor Nutter can make a few calls on her behalf.

Speaking of Hart, the stated reason for her abrupt departure—a week or so into the new school year—is to take care of her sick mother in Utah. That sure sounds endearing and it may even be true. But it doesn’t sound like the whole truth.

If indeed Hart’s mother needs her, why is she not leaving until the school year is over? With all due respect to Hart and her mother—and I wish them both the best of luck and health—nine-months notice to care for a sick family member is not quite an emergency. That’s a soft landing.

Anyway, back to my perfect pick to be Temple’s next president. I can’t believe I’m even offering his name up. I mean I’m not even his biggest fan in the media. That list of apple-polishers is way too long.

One hurdle: My choice to be Temple’s 10th president isn’t looking for work. He has like a half dozen jobs already. But he just took those gigs for the money and attention. In short, he’s gettable.

And he is perfect for Temple. Here’s why: He’s a scrappy city kid at heart. He likes to run things and build things. He likes to spend other people’s money. And he likes action. By the time he gets through on North Broad Street, there could be slot machines in the student center.

Even better, he knows Philadelphia and its petty politics. He can work with and work over City Council to get whatever he wants. Same with the former city councilman trying to be mayor now. Nutter will even interrupt one of his inane tweets to take this guy’s call.

My choice also knows Harrisburg pretty well. Even though he is a Democrat and the Republicans are in charge, he still has some suck in the Capitol. That will come in handy, considering Temple relies on millions of dollars in state funding and took it on the chin from Governor Tom Corbett in the last budget.

As president, he could also give Bill Cosby a run as Temple’s No. 1 cheerleader. He still has a bit of the frat boy in him. He loves football and basketball, but please don’t ask him to write a sports column for the Temple News. He’s also in need of housing, though it may be best to keep him away from the co-ed dorm. But that’s not a problem because the North Philadelphia campus is safe enough for students, but not the Temple president. The job comes with free deluxe digs on Rittenhouse Square.

Best of all, my guy is a hall of famer when it comes to fundraising. Business execs throw money at him like he’s a stripper at Scores. And let’s be honest, the main function of a university president these days is all about getting the well-heeled to show you da’ money. And what do you know: Temple is gearing up for a big capital campaign. Bring in the closer.

There is just one problem: When Temple plays Penn at the Palestra where will Ed Rendell sit?

Paul Davies spent 25 years in the newspaper business, including stops at the Daily News, the Inquirer and the Wall Street Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]