Posted May 15, 2014

Temple celebrates its 127th Commencement

Ryan S. Brandenberg
Honorary degree recipient Jill Scott (center) is hooded by Temple trustee and alumnus Bill Cosby (left) and Chief Marshal for Academic Ceremonies Jack Klotz (right).

Video Production: Gina Benigno


Temple’s 127th graduating class gathered in the Liacouras Center Thursday, May 15, to celebrate the success of the university’s largest-ever class. The more than 9,000 students eligible to receive degrees included students who hail from 46 states and the District of Columbia, and 77 different countries.

Kevin R. Johnson, pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church, opened the ceremony with an invocation that encouraged students to reflect on the success of the graduates who came before them.

“We are a storied institution with a legacy of producing greatness,” Johnson said. “So, when someone asks why are you so strong? We simply say because we are Temple Made.”

Presiding over his second Commencement ceremony, President Neil D. Theobald stressed the quality and affordability of an undergraduate degree from Temple.

“Those of you in the Class of 2014 who graduated in four years have the lowest debt level in the city of Philadelphia,” Theobald said. “Research evidence is clear that attending a more expensive college does not produce better outcomes. What does produce better outcomes is graduating from a university such as Temple where the faculty are closely engaged in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.”

Temple awarded honorary degrees to three Owls: entrepreneur and Temple Trustee Lewis Katz; award-winning singer-songwriter Jill Scott; and James West, an inventor and research scientist who holds more than 250 patents in sound amplification, recording and distribution.

Receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters fulfills a lifelong dream, said Scott, a North Philadelphia native who grew up in the area surrounding Main Campus.

“Today, my heart is overwhelmed with love for Temple University,” Scott said. “This is an amazing moment in my life. At 12 years old, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do and this was on that list.”

Scott worked two jobs while taking courses toward a degree in education at Temple. While addressing the graduates, she encouraged them to use their talents to create better opportunities for themselves and others.

“My path took me in many different directions in order to get here today, but I made it, and so did you,” Scott said. “You hung in there, you persevered. Bravo and congratulations.”

Trustee Katz served as the Commencement speaker and urged students to continue to build the relationships they started at Temple.

“Life in my view is meant to be enjoyed,” he said. “It’s meant to have as much fun as you can conjure up,” he said. “Very few people have the beautiful voice of Jill Scott or the scientific mind of Dr. James West, but what you can do is make every effort to make a difference.”