Phil Albright sets a challenge for Temple Ambler community

Philip and Barbara Albright

In 1986, Philip Albright made an unlikely freshman at Temple University Ambler.

“I had my degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford and was moving toward retirement, or at least winding down. I felt that if I could complete the two-year degree in Landscape Design, there was no four-year degree then, I’d make a half-baked landscape architect,” he said with a laugh. “My mother was an avid gardener. Growing up during World War II, we had a victory garden and I always loved gardening.”

Albright, a Skippack resident, had the intention of involving himself in design work during his retirement. Of course even the best plans don’t always work out as expected.

“All of my outside activities have taken up most of my time for 30 years,” he said. “I’m not one to sit still for very long. I enjoy getting things done.”

He and his wife Barbara’s idea of “getting things done” has been to involve themselves in countless community organizations and charities, selflessly giving their time to brighten the lives of others and enhance the community in general.

After decades of support to the Amber Arboretum of Temple University and the Ambler Campus, Albright is establishing a donor challenge that he is sure that the campus community — faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends — will rise to the occasion and meet. The $25,000 matching challenge, supporting the Ambler Arboretum, will continue through 2018.  Any donations to the Arboretum this year will be doubled thanks to this challenge!

“There are individuals that have taken a great interest in the campus, who want it to succeed and thrive. There are a lot of people who put in a great deal of time and effort into Ambler and it’s worth it,” said Albright, founding Chair of the Ambler Arboretum Advisory Committee and a former chair of the Ambler Campus Board of Visitors. “When other people see that there are individuals willing to do what they can to support the campus — and when they see the results of their efforts — hopefully it inspires them into action as well.”

Albright, who graduated from Temple with an Associate’s degree in Landscape Design, said it was a love of learning that initially brought him to Temple and he and Barbara Albright’s love of the campus and its gardens that kept them coming back.

“The campus has such tremendous potential. With 187 acres, the Landscape Architecture program, the Aquaponics Lab, the Center (for Sustainable Communities), and the multi-disciplinary research taking place on campus, it has everything in place to become a national center for environmental and sustainable education,” he said. “I think the Arboretum is a real community resource in addition to being an educational tool for the University. Community assets such as this need volunteers — fundraising in particular isn’t easy, but there are people who are willing and able to help; you just need to find them.”

Albright made his first gift to Temple University Ambler in 1987. In 1998, he and Barbara Albright generously supported the maintenance and replanting of the Native Plant Garden, which continues to serve as a teaching tool for both Horticulture students and visitors. The Phil and Barbara Albright Winter Garden was also established in 2008 as the third parterre of the Formal Perennial Gardens. In 2011, Albright Walk, which wends its way through the center of campus, was named in their honor. The Albrights also helped fund the new accessible pathway in the Formal Perennial Garden in 2017.

“You have to find something that you believe in and be willing to put in the time,” Albright said. “I think if you have the time, talent, and means, you can and should have a valuable and significant impact on your community.”

All donations to the Ambler Arboretum general operating fund in 2018 will be matched. To make your donation, visit and designate your gift to the Ambler Arboretum. Thank you for your support!