Temple’s iconic Bell Tower in for upgrade, new identity

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Temple University’s iconic Bell Tower at the heart of campus for more than 50 years will get a newly landscaped circle at its base named for longtime benefactor and trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

Lenfest Circle, approved by Temple’s board Tuesday, will be installed in the fall.

“The Bell Tower is home to decades of memories for hundreds of thousands of Temple alumni,” Temple president Richard M. Englert said in a statement. “I can think of no more appropriate place to make known this university’s esteem and regard for Gerry Lenfest.”

The 100-foot tower was built as part of the Paley Library construction in 1966 and formerly was referred to as a campanile. Over the years, generations of alumni have used the Bell Tower as a gathering place. Students have staged protests there, attended concerts, and held barbecues and bake sales.

Under the plan, the university also will clean the Bell Tower and reseal it.

Lenfest, the former owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, is one of the region’s biggest philanthropists, having founded Lenfest Communications, which he and his wife, Marguerite, sold in 2000.

He has supported the university, most recently making a gift on behalf of Lew Klein for the naming of the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. In 2014, he donated $3 million to help renovate the East Park Canoe House, home to Temple’s rowing and crew teams.

Lenfest received an honorary doctorate from Temple in 2002, the Russell H. Conwell Award for service to the university in 2003, and the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from the university’s Fox School of Business in 2006.

Trustees also on Tuesday approved a new home for its campus in Japan. The campus for 2019-20 will be relocated to a new, six-story building on the perimeter of Showa Women’s University, a 5,500-student school in Tokyo’s Setagaya City ward. The current campus, founded in 1982, is based in three commercial buildings in Tokyo’s Minato City.

The campus serves about 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students.

Also before the meeting, a group of faculty held a rally outside over the lack of a contract for adjunct professors. Adjuncts won the right to become part of Temple’s faculty union in 2015 and for the last year, the union has been negotiating with the university to incorporate adjuncts into the current contract. That contract expires in October 2018.

“If we don’t get this done now, it just complicates everything for the next contract,” said Art Hochner, immediate past president of the faculty union, who participated in the demonstration. “We have been negotiating for almost a year, but the sides seem far apart on key issues, including pay.”

The union has 1,350 full-time faculty and 1,400 adjuncts.

“We’ve got agreements on some very important issues,” Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said. “Some issues that remain we’re working through with them.”

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