Posted January 4, 2012

Temple's top 2011 news stories

Joseph V. Labolito
At Temple's May Commencement "Hardball" host Chris Matthews offered his "Five Points for Life," which were distributed to graduates on wallet-sized cards.

In the final week of December, Temple's official Twitter feed, @TempleUniv, celebrated the end of a busy year by recapping the year's top Temple-related news stories. We've collected their choices here in chronological order.


Tuskegee Airmen donate archive to Blockson Collection
At a ceremony in February, surviving members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen — the iconic African-American World War II fighter pilots — donated their archives to Temple's Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. "We're a very important part of the history of the military and our country," said Eugene J. Richardson Jr., 2nd Lieutenant, in a Philadelphia Inquirer front-page story. "The Blockson Collection houses all the important historical facts about the African-American community. The Tuskegee Airmen fit right in there." Read story and see video.

Students rally to support Temple
When Temple's state appropriation appeared destined for an unprecedented cut, Temple students by the hundreds rallied to support the university — not once, but three times (twice in the State Capitol in Harrisburg and once in Philadelphia). "We wanted to make sure that…elected officials had a chance to hear how much Pennsylvania's support of higher education allows us to accomplish, and see how talented Temple students are," said Natalie Ramos-Castillo, president of Temple Student Government, a force behind all three events. Read story and see video.

Center for Public Interest Journalism debuts
In March, Temple announced that its School of Communications and Theater had been selected by The William Penn Foundation to receive a $2.4 million grant (SCT's largest single gift since its founding) to support a new initiative designed to spur public interest reporting in the Delaware Valley. In response to recent studies showing a 20 percent decline in public affairs reporting in the region from 2006 to 2010, the grant will establish a network of media outlets, the first phase of which was the creation of Temple's Center for Public Interest Journalism. Read story.

Temple responds to tragic Japan quake and aftermath
On March 11, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Although Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) in Tokyo was rattled, the buildings were safe and no one was hurt. "My staff was great and the students were great," TUJ Dean Bruce Stronach told the Philadelphia Inquirer days later. "The evacuation of the building could have been a drill, people were that calm. Staff in particular took charge, and did their jobs, even while the building was moving and shaking." In Philadelphia, President Ann Weaver Hart reaffirmed Temple's commitment to TUJ and the people of Japan and launched a fund-raising effort. Although many students came home, many decided to stay. Temple staff on both sides of the Pacific worked to make sure students could complete their semesters regardless of their location. Read story.

USDA gives Temple $3.7 million to fight childhood obesity
In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded researchers at Temple's Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) a five-year $3.7 million grant to fight obesity among low-income pre-schoolers. The project funded by the grant will teach mothers simple yet authoritative strategies to promote appropriate food choices and portion sizes to their children. The grant received nationwide media coverage, including a powerful column by Annette John-Hall in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Read story.

Fernandez's buzzer beater
With one last-second shot, Temple guard Juan Fernandez lifted the spirit of Temple fans around the world and broke Coach Fran Dunphy's NCAA tournament losing streak. Fernandez's dramatic, off-balance jumper eliminated Penn State and gave Temple fans who had gathered to watch the game in Mitten Hall a taste of March Madness joy (captured in an unforgettable video, one of the year's most-viewed).

Ambler turns 100
In March, Temple University Ambler launched an eight-month celebration of its centennial. Started in 1911 as the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women, Temple Ambler acknowledged 100 years of cultivation and education with tours, lectures, picnics, plant sales, the publication of a new history book and the dedication of the Louise Bush-Brown Formal Garden and the Hilda Justice Artifacts Collection.

Chris Matthews energizes Commencement
Chris Matthews, the high-voltage host of MSNBC's "Hardball," brought a Liacouras Center crowd to life at Temple's 124th Commencement Exercises in May. Matthews, a native Philadelphian, returned to Temple for the first time since bringing "Hardball" to Main Campus for an election special the previous fall. Every graduate in attendance received Matthews' "Card for Life" with five tips for post-graduation success. See video.

President Hart announces she will step down in 2012
In September, after creating the university's academic vision and framework to reshape the physical campus for a new generation of students, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart announced Friday that she will leave the presidency June 30, 2012, after six years of leadership. "After much thought and consideration, I have decided to step down as president of Temple University, effective June 30, 2012.  I am tremendously proud to have served as Temple’s president and did not come to this decision lightly," said Hart. "I have treasured my time at Temple and am proud to have been a part of this extraordinary academic community, which is so central to the vibrant future of our city, region, nation and world." Read story.

Blackson turns Temple Gallery programming on its head
In August, a headline in Philadelphia's influential artblog announced a "tornado watch." Robert Blackson, the new head of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Tyler School of Art, was "taking Temple Gallery by storm." Since then, Blackson has turned typical university art gallery programming on its head. He has hosted debates on journalism, urban tours of edible plants, seminars on fracking and office chair races. The result: a growing and energetic audience. The number of visitors to the gallery has tripled compared to the previous year. Read story.

Temple creates 250 20/20 scholarships
To help increase the number of Philadelphians with college degrees and to give back to its community, Temple University created 250 four-year scholarships to be awarded over 10 years to students in the North Philadelphia neighborhoods surrounding Main Campus. The new program will boost the amount of scholarships awarded to Philadelphia students by Temple to nearly $12 million annually. President Hart and Mayor Michael Nutter announced the program in September at a celebration for the 2011 recipients of the scholarship in Sullivan Hall, an event covered in a Philadelphia Inquirer section-front story. Read story.

Intergenerational Center wins inaugural Eisner Prize
In October, Temple's innovative Intergenerational Center became the first recipient of the Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence, a national $100,000 award given to an organization that has had lasting success uniting seniors and youth to bring about positive changes in communities. Nancy Henkin, the center's tireless director, flew to Los Angeles to accept the award from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. "You know the saying 'We need a village to raise a child,'" Henkin told USA Today. 'Well, I think we need a village to raise all the age groups, young and old, and different cultural groups. Everyone has to be at the table."

Temple joins forces with Fox Chase Cancer Center
In December, Temple University Health System and Fox Chase Cancer Center signed an affiliation agreement that moved both institutions closer to bringing Fox Chase Cancer Center into the Temple family. "This bold, visionary relationship immediately establishes Temple's position as a leader in cancer care and translational research at the local, regional and national levels," said Larry R. Kaiser, Temple's senior executive vice president for health sciences, dean of Temple's School of Medicine and president and CEO of Temple University Health System. Read story.

First bowl win in 32 years!
Unleashing 32 years of frustration, the Temple football team trounced Wyoming 37-15 in the New Mexico Bowl, the Owls' first bowl win since 1979. Led by sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer (named the game's most outstanding player), Temple rolled up more than 420 yards of total offense and lived up to first-year head coach Steve Addazio's season-long mantra: "Temple Tuff and Philadelphia Proud." The seniors left Albuquerque with 31 career wins, the most ever by a Temple class. A video by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer captured their joy.