Posted January 31, 2024

Owls’ Groundhog Day: Reliving Temple’s most memorable moments

Exploring the days Temple University students and alumni would choose to experience again, from historic victories to unforgettable campus events. 

Hooter surrounded by groundhogs on Main Campus
Illustration by Rose Caporaletti

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character Phil gets stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again. Now, imagine if we could pull a Groundhog Day of our own, the option to repeat a certain day in Temple’s history.  

From record-breaking athletic upsets to iconic moments in history that took place on our own campus, Temple has had its fair share of days worth reliving. 

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A group of young men standing on the steps of Sullivan Hall, posing with their instruments behind a bass drum which reads "Temple University Band Philadelphia"Photography credit: Templar Yearbook, 1926

1. Oct. 3, 1925—The Temple Diamond Marching Band makes its first appearance

In fall 1925, Fox senior Herbert E. McMahan created a 40-member ensemble. Self-financed and composed of mostly saxophone players, the group went on to form what is now the renowned Temple University Diamond Marching Band. The group performed primarily at football games, their first being the Owls’ home game versus Upsala College in front of 10,000 spectators, which at the time was the largest crowd in Temple history. As The Temple News put it, “Their peppy playing did a great deal to urge the team on to victory. Their marches around the field before the game and between the halves rewarded the spectators in no small measure for their attendance.” Not only did the football team win 19-0 that day, but the marching band took their first step in what would become a storied history as a celebrated student organization. 

 A crowd of people surround a stage, filling up city streets at 40th and Lancaster streets.Photography credit: Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

2. Aug. 4, 1965—MLK delivers a speech on campus 

Throughout the summer of 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a number of addresses in and around Philadelphia, including one at the Baptist Temple, known today as the Temple Performing Arts Center. A crowd of thousands filled the intersection of Broad and Berks, many of whom were students, despite the semester not having yet started. Temple, like other institutions, has a history of activism and has provided a platform for culture exchange. This humid day in August stands out as one of the most prominent examples of its commitment to diversity.

Two photos of the Bell Tower side-by-side. On the left is the Bell Tower in-construction with construction framing surrounding. On the right is an architect's rendering of a completed Bell Tower.Photography credit: The Temple News, Thursday, September 30, 1965

3. Dec. 16, 1965—The Bell Tower rings for the first time

Originally called the Temple Campanile, the Bell Tower rang for the first time at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 16, 1965. The button controlling the bells was pushed by President Millard E. Gladfelter, among others, premiering its performance of the Westminster tune for thousands of students, faculty and other Temple community members. Even then, students knew the significance of this moment. As graduate student Robert Giesecke ’53 wrote in a letter to the editor of The Temple News, “Because Temple is young as compared with other universities, it does not have many traditions. However, having recently observed the erection of the new bell tower, I was strick by the thought that here could be the beginning of what may become a Temple institution to alumni of the future.”

A Temple football player tackles a Penn State football playerPhotography credit: Joseph V. Labolito

4. Sept. 5, 2015—Temple football stuns Penn State 27-10

The Owls have had many great upsets in their history, but few stick out like the 2015 win against Penn State. The Nittany Lions were on a 37-game win streak against the Owls dating back to 1943. What was assumed to be a tune-up game for Penn State turned into a season-opening loss, with their quarterback sacked 10 times being just one highlight. This game would set up one of Temple football’s best seasons—hosting ESPN’s College GameDay, winning the American Athletic Conference Eastern Division championship game and securing a place in the AP Top 30 for nine consecutive weeks.

A semi-transparent piece of glass in front of a laboratory with dry erased scientific drawings on it.Photography credit: Ryan S. Brandenberg

5. Feb. 2, 2016—Temple receives its R1 Carnegie research classification

Achieving an R1 Carnegie Classification catapulted Temple into the elite circle of U.S. research institutions, celebrating a vibrant culture of innovation and scholarly excellence. This landmark moment, marked by significant research endeavors and academic achievements, not only elevated Temple's prestige but also fueled its mission to make lasting contributions to society. Reliving this triumph evokes the spirit of discovery that defines the Temple community.

 The 2018 class of Fulbright scholars, posing and smiling.Photography credit: Ryan S. Brandenberg

6. Feb. 21, 2018—Temple becomes a top producer of Fulbright scholarships

In 2018, Temple leaped onto the global stage, securing its status as a top producer of Fulbright scholars. This accolade, a testament to the university’s vibrant academic spirit and global outreach, was not a fleeting moment of glory but a chapter in an ongoing saga of excellence, repeated four more times thereafter. Each Fulbright scholar from Temple not only personifies the university’s dedication to bridging cultures and knowledge but also adds a brilliant stroke to the rich tapestry of its history, making this day one to be relived and celebrated in Temple's legacy.

A close-up of an earring formally belonging to Tupac Shakur resting on a lined piece of paper with the writing "T. Shakur" in Shakur's handwriting.Photography credit: Joseph V. Labolito

7. Nov. 1, 2018—Blockson acquires the Tupac collection

Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection is home to more than 500,000 pieces of African American literature and artifacts, making it one of the largest collections of its kind in the country. On Nov. 1, 2018, the collection grew a little larger with the donated items formally belonging to Tupac Shakur. This acquisition symbolized a profound recognition and integration of hip-hop culture into academic discourse. With this move, Temple University positioned itself at the forefront of conversations about the legitimacy and influence of hip-hop in both academia and broader society.

The exterior of a six-story building with a Temple T logo fixated on the top façade.Photography credit: Temple University, Japan Campus

8. Aug. 14, 2019—Temple Japan opens its new campus

Marking a historic milestone, Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) celebrated the opening of its new, dedicated campus on Aug. 14, 2019. This momentous occasion signified a major leap from nearly four decades of operating within office buildings to establishing a distinct, permanent presence in Japan. The new campus offers current and future students a unique blend of cultural immersion and a taste of home, featuring an outdoor area reminiscent of Main Campus’ Beury Beach. This development not only enhances the educational experience for TUJ students but also serves as a compelling invitation for those unfamiliar with its Main Campus counterpart to discover the reasons behind its cherished status. With this expansion, TUJ not only broadened its educational horizons but also strengthened the global footprint of the university.

A group of scientists in white coats and masks stand shoulder-to-shoulder.Photography credit: Temple Health

9. Nov. 28, 2020—Temple researchers successfully remove viral DNA in a step that might lead to a cure for HIV

Not all memorable moments are about athletic success; some are about transforming perceptions of what is possible. In November 2020, researchers and scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine successfully removed viral DNA related to HIV, the cause of AIDS. This landmark achievement was the result of years of dedicated research at Temple Health. It wasn’t just a milestone; it was a beacon of hope, significantly advancing the global pursuit of an elusive cure for HIV and rewriting the narrative of medical possibility.

A Temple student on a scooterPhotography credit: Joseph V. Labolito

10. Sept. 18, 2023—Temple receives highest-ever U.S. News ranking placement

This past fall, Temple soared to new heights in academic excellence, clinching an unprecedented No. 89 spot in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. This historic achievement catapulted Temple into the top 100 for the first time, a testament to its relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation in education. The university also shone as No. 45 among Top Public Schools and No. 70 in Best Value, underscoring its commitment to accessible, high-quality education. This momentous day etches itself into Temple’s storied history, symbolizing a breakthrough in its journey towards educational leadership and societal impact. 

—Will Careri