For most of its 78 years in North Philadelphia, La Salle University has been a somewhat detached neighbor in the decaying community surrounding its campus. But when Brother Michael J. McGinniss became president in 1999, he saw what the University of Pennsylvania was doing to revitalize sections of West Philadelphia and decided that La Salle should do the same in its part of town. The school is carrying out a $54 million plan that it says will shape its growth and stabilize the fractured community. La Salle is taking over an underutilized hospital and providing land for a much-needed shopping center and supermarket. The project also includes a new science and technology center.