Former Temple University president Marvin Wachman, whose accomplishments included eliminating the university hospital's $50 million debt and establishing new campuses, has died, the university announced Sunday. He was 90.
Wachman was named president of the North Philadelphia university in 1972 and served from 1973 to 1983. He died at his Philadelphia home on Saturday; a university spokesman said he did not know the cause of death.
Under Wachman's presidency, the university established its campuses in downtown Philadelphia and in Japan. He was also credited with improving the university's facilities and its relations with the community.
According to information provided by Temple, Wachman was born March 24, 1917, and grew up in Milwaukee, the son of Russian immigrants with little formal education. He had a paper route that took him past a tennis club where he ended up getting to play in exchange for maintaining the courts. He got good enough to earn a tennis scholarship at Northwestern University, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history. He was then invited to help coach tennis at the University of Illinois, where he earned his doctorate in 1942. His thesis was on the socialist history of his hometown.
Days after defending his thesis, he was inducted into the Army at the age of 25. He served four years as a combat infantry sergeant in France and Germany during World War II.
After the war, Wachman taught at Colgate University for 13 years. He spent two years directing the Salzburg Seminar in Austria before he was asked to become president of Lincoln University in rural Chester County.
Wachman expressed reservations at becoming president of Lincoln, a historically black university, because he was white. Thurgood Marshall, a Lincoln alumnus and trustee, was among a group that met with Wachman to persuade him to take the job, which he began in 1961. Marshall, who later became the first black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was the legal director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the time of the meeting and had argued the case that desegregated public schools several years earlier.
After his time at Lincoln, Wachman became Temple's vice president for academic affairs in 1969 and was later promoted to succeed Paul R. Anderson as the university's president.
Wachman's memoir, "The Education of a University President," was published in 2005 by Temple University Press. The Library of Congress shows his only other book was an abstract of his doctoral thesis titled, "History of the Social-Democratic Party of Milwaukee, 1897-1910," which was published by the University of Illionis Press.