Barry Stupine goes head first into battling school board bureaucracies and chalks up big life lessons along the way.
The longtime Rydal resident has done it all in degrees, working his mitzvah magic unstintingly with school boards to ensure quality education for those with or without the resources. After all, he has the academic experience to back him up: Stupine retired from a 33-year career at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009, capped by leading administrative roles at its world-famous School of Veterinary Medicine.
“The importance of education was emphasized by my parents, who never went to college,” says Stupine. “They believed and knew that to be successful, a strong education was necessary.”
A graduate of Temple University and George Washington University, where Stupine earned an MBA in health care administration in 1968, he also served an as an administrative resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from 1967-68.
But even while working long and hard hours at Penn, he always saved time for kids who needed academic help.
“My friend Gerry Escowitz, who is vice chair of the Freire Charter School board, collared me at a family function and I was convinced to do what I could to help these deserving students,” he recalls of becoming president of the Freire Charter School Foundation in 2010, part of the School District of Philadelphia. Having worked at Penn for so long, academics were “injected in my blood," he says.
But Freire isn’t the only place Stupine's monitored the academic hallway. For the past 20 years, Stupine has been president, vice president and board member of the Abington Township/Rockledge Borough School District. He's also been a consultant to the president of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which “needed a business-type person who understood education" to assist them as they formed a vet school in Israel.
“When you meet the prospective students and faculty, you are hooked for life.”
Education isn’t the only interest Stupine is hooked on. His love for animals is more than a pet project; it’s a driving concern. To that end he serves as a treasurer and board member of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, a consultant to the dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University and an honorary member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. He's also worked as a senior consultant to the board of the Pennsylvania SPCA.
Outside of classrooms and boardrooms, Stupine has religious rigors as well. His parents, he says, were bigtime participants at the since closed Temple Israel in Wynnfield when he was growing up.
“After a period of rebellion during which I assured everyone who would listen I would never be active in Jewish concerns, I got married and had kids,” he says of wife Susan and children Erika and Jeffrey. “Lo and behold, when they started Hebrew school, I slowly got roped in.”
That rope trick has worked well as he lassoes mitzvot by the bimah-full. And that onetime rebel against religion has since waved the white-and-blue flag: Over the past 20 years, Stupine has served as president, vice president and board member of Old York Road Temple-Beth Am of Abington.