It is an immediately recognizable symbol of Philadelphia and higher education. It is proudly emblazoned on buildings, billboards, athletics uniforms — and on game days, even in body paint and hairstyles. It’s so much a part of Temple’s identity, it alone identifies the university in Temple’s new ad campaign, stepping in to help say what makes Temple alumni great: “initiative,” “creativity,” “determination.”
This year, the iconic Temple “T” turns 25.
This modern symbol of the university was born through the work of creative Temple faculty and students.
In 1983, then-President Peter J. Liacouras asked a graphic arts and design class at Tyler to create a logo to “boost the university’s image.” The students in Professor Joseph Scorscone’s class welcomed the challenge, and designed logos ranging from a bold “T” symbol to a linear design to a typographical logo.
The initial design of the Temple “T” we know today was created by Kristine Herrick, a student of Scorscone’s in 1983. To Herrick, the Temple “T” design seemed obvious. She aspired to create a logo that would be “bold, highly visible and somewhat collegiate.”
“My goal was that it worked on a tie tack, or a lapel pin. I wanted an identity that would reduce as small as a tie tack or as large as a gymnasium floor,” said Herrick, currently the program coordinator for graphic design at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y.
By the end of the semester, Herrick had designed three “T” logos, two of which made it to the final round.
The students’ designs were brought to faculty, staff and students for comment, and the university ultimately chose to go for the bold, block design. The final decision was supported by Bill Cosby and men’s basketball coach John Chaney. Chaney could see the potential of the logo from an athletic perspective, and Cosby later promoted the logo on his television show.
The logo became a Philadelphia icon — an image “that was new but also reflected the tradition of Temple University,” Scorscone said when it was selected. “I think the ‘T’ represents Temple because of its strength and positive character.”
“The open ends of the ‘T’ express the free exchange of ideas,” he added.
At the time, students involved in the project said they hoped the “T” would one day become “as instantly familiar as Girard Bank’s ‘G’ or RCA’s once-venerable ‘His Master’s Voice …’”
Herrick added that she is most pleased with the logo’s longevity and hopes that it will continue to represent the traditions and diversity at Temple University.
Today, the Temple “T” is possibly the most recognizable symbol in the greater Philadelphia area.
“It's a good feeling knowing the logo came from my class in the M.F.A. design program,” said Scorscone, who still teaches in the Graphic Arts and Design Department. “I think about it every time I see it.”
—Written by Victoria Coll for the Temple Times