Link Martin, Director of Temple University Harrisburg, has dedicated his life and career to human service. With a staff of 35, most of whom also have human service backgrounds, that focused dedication to helping people and communities is at the core of what makes the Harrisburg Campus unique within Temple.
“Temple Harrisburg is particularly focused on professional development and training — we train between 8,000 and 10,000 people a year through our various programs,” said Martin, who arrived at Temple 26 years ago to oversee the Master of Social Work program at the Harrisburg Campus. “For example, we have the Institute on Protective Services, which will be celebrating its 20th year, and has been involved in adult protective services training since its inception. From that we’ve expanded to a lot of areas that are unique within Temple.”
Campus administrators, instructors and professors “bring that Temple brand, knowledge and research into these programs areas, like the Teen Outreach Program (TOP); we’re the only provider of TOP in the state,” Martin said.
“We look for areas that are appropriate for the University and help communities pursue them. We want to make sure that Temple Harrisburg and the programs we offer are relevant to the needs of students in this part of the state — that we are providing educational opportunities at multiple levels to meet the gaps in learning that exist,” he said. “Part of why we are involved with a lot of professional development and workforce development programs is because that is what the need is in this region.”
Martin said his arrival at Temple came through the University’s School of Social Work.
“They approached me; I was looking for something more challenging and more diverse. I knew this opportunity would provide me with that next step to be involved in social issues and working directly with the community,” said Martin, who prior to coming to Temple, was a faculty member at Elizabethtown College teaching in their Department of Social Work. “Temple’s School of Social Work gave me the opportunity to expand the master’s program (MSW) out here. When I was hired, they had about 30 MSW students and at the high point I had close to 200 MSW students in the program at Temple Harrisburg and all through the state.”
While Martin’s career trajectory has always steered toward social service, his own academic journey didn’t quite start at that point.
“As an undergraduate student, I went to Murray State University in Kentucky — I actually started college as a math major. With all that was going on at the time in the early 1970s — social movements and social issues in this country — I knew I needed to do more than just study math,” he said. “Social work at the time gave me the avenue to get involved with social movements such as school desegregation, poverty work and other things that I was interested in.”
Martin worked in a variety of aspects of social work during his career, he said.
“At one time I ran a shelter for at-risk youth. I worked for a community development corporation; I’ve done grant writing and worked with community groups,” he said. “I received my Master of Social Work from the University of Hawai’i with a specialization in cross-cultural counseling. I lived in Hawai’i for about 10 years and worked at a variety of different social service agencies.”
Martin officially became Director of Temple University Harrisburg in 2002.
“I think one of the other aspects that makes Temple Harrisburg uniquely situated within the University is our location — we’re across the street from the Pennsylvania Capitol Building. It was just mentioned to me the other day by someone who works at a state legislative office that they come out of the capital, and they look across the street and see the Temple T,” he said. “It’s very difficult to forget about Temple when you have that kind of presence and see a reminder every day.”
Being so close to the state legislature allows the campus to provide unique student programs, such as the Capital Semester program, he said.
“Temple’s Political Science Department also operates here — students come and do internships from the department, and they are right across the street from the capital. They can be fully invested in their internship and take classes here in the evening,” he said. “We also have Owls In Government, a summer program for high school students, which we hope to expand to offer year-round. The proximity of being in the capital and downtown allows us to have legislators involved in educational opportunities for our students. Our location also reminds state legislators that Temple is not just Philadelphia; it really has statewide reach.”
Looking toward the future, Martin said Temple Harrisburg will “continue to develop our specialty areas and continue to develop our connection with state departments.”
“A number of state departments have come to us over the years and asked us to help them solve some problems, whether programmatic or research related. I see us continuing that very close relationship with the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Education and being a conduit for those connections to the larger University,” he said. “We want to continue to build specialty program areas like the Capital Semester Program using our location, connections and resources to the advantage of our students. We’ll continue to be Temple’s ears on the ground for what’s developing in the central part of the state in terms of educational needs.”
Temple University has been offering academic classes and programs in Harrisburg since the 1950s. Temple University Harrisburg was created in 1987 when Temple opened its own facility in downtown Harrisburg. Since July 2000 TUH has been in the current location at Strawberry Square.
The mission of Temple University Harrisburg is to serve as the leading graduate study and professional development center in the areas of social work, public education, public policy and public service in central Pennsylvania.
Temple University Harrisburg is engaged in improving the central Pennsylvania community through academic degree and certificate programs, professional development such as the Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers (SFW) and in assisting community organizations by the campus’ Network of Evaluation Services and Training (NEST) program.
For more information, visit https://harrisburg.temple.edu.