During Alumni Weekend 2015, a group with a unique perspective on the university displayed the loyalty, energy and generosity that distinguishes Temple Owls. Alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, collectively known as the Golden Owls, presented a check for more than $4 million to President Neil D. Theobald at a brunch on April 25.
The $4,292,866 check represents the amount donated to Temple so far this fiscal year from members of the Class of 1965 and earlier.
“The Class of 1965 was here during a crucial time in Temple’s history,” Theobald told the nearly 90 people who attended the event. “During the early 1960s, our student enrollment grew dramatically as a new generation of Americans—all of you—realized the dream of a college education.”
Aaron Bitman, FOX ’55, who delivered the welcome address, has been active in supporting Temple from the time he graduated. “They were kind enough to give me an education on an athletic scholarship,” he said afterward. “The least I can do is try to give back.”
Bitman noted that when he attended Temple, the students were mostly commuters, and many World War II veterans were enrolled, thanks to the GI Bill. “When I was a freshman on the baseball team, there were just two of us who were straight out of high school,” he said. “A lot of the students were in their mid-20s."
“I was fortunate to make a lot of friends who are still friends today,” Bitman added.
Zimra Berkowitz Chorney, EDU ’65, can attest to the strong bonds that developed among students during that era. A former station manager at WRTI, Berkowitz Chorney was on the reunion committee. She phoned people from her class to solicit donations, which ended up being a lengthy process—in a good way. She inevitably found herself having long conversations whenever she made a call. “In most cases, I ended up spending an hour or more on the phone,” she said with a laugh. “It was a very warm experience.”
Berkowitz Chorney has vivid memories of the overnight freshman camp she and her classmates attended for orientation before starting their first semester. They learned about Temple traditions and were encouraged to sing the fight song at the top of their lungs. So it only made sense that she got everyone to stand and belt it out again at the brunch.
“How the university has progressed is incredible to watch,” Bitman said. Just as impressive is the generosity shown by these Golden Owls.