Peter J. Liacouras


Deceased May 12, 2016

“The goal is for the campus to become a bustling community—as active by night as it is by day—enlivened by residents, restaurants, shops and other businesses,” Peter J. Liacouras said in 1984. The son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Liacouras left a lasting legacy at Temple University that is still fresh in the minds of many current faculty, staff, and former students as his vision helped to create the highly-respected, urban university that exists today. Mr. Liacouras served in many capacities at Temple, including as university president from 1982-2000, university chancellor, the dean of Beasley School of Law for a decade, and law professor.

A major milestone during Mr. Liacouras’ presidency was the evolution of Temple from a commuter school to an urban learning hub. By the time Mr. Liacouras left his post, the university had a strong brand, a nationally-respected athletic program, and the ability to recruit world-class faculty. A former assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, Mr. Liacouras used his high-level positions at Temple to recruit more diverse faculty members and students. During his time as law school dean, Mr. Liacouras saw the amount of female enrollment rise from 3 percent to 50 percent, according to professor Robert Reinstein in an interview with The Temple News. While dean, Mr. Liacouras also established the Legal Aid office for low-income residents in North Philadelphia, which still exists today. Legal Aid helped with important issues including family law, health insurance, life planning, and workplace discrimination. After graduating from Yeadon High School, Mr. Liacouras flunked out of the College of William & Mary—but destiny was in his favor. Mr. Liacouras graduated from Drexel University, went on to study law at the University of Pennsylvania, received a graduate degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University, and a master of laws from Harvard for good measure.