The 20 years following World War II witnessed the transformation of Temple into a modern university, but the university remained committed to its mission of service and diversity. Above, students leave the subway in front of South Hall, circa 1970.

Temple University, now the 28th largest university in the nation and the fifth largest provider of professional education in the U.S., started in 1884 as a neighborhood school of higher education housed in a Baptist temple on North Broad Street.

Temple’s  growth and role in the evolution of higher education and Philadelphia is chronicled by Temple history professor James Hilty in his new book, Temple University: 125 Years of Service to Philadelphia, the Nation and the World (Temple University Press, 2010).

“As I was doing my research for the book, I was looking for themes, and it goes back to Temple’s founder and to the democratization of higher education and the accessibility that Temple offers—those are Temple’s major contributions, not only to Philadelphia, but really to the world at large,” Hilty said.

To read more:

History book chronicles Temple’s unconventional journey to major university

–Kim Fischer

A few weeks ago, Cherry TArts had the opportunity to visit the final day of class for a unique sociology course at Temple called “Urban Violence.” As may be typical for many classes on the last day of the semester, students presented findings from their group projects. But what was different about this was that the audience for the presentations was a group of high school students from Youth Build Charter School, located a few blocks south of Temple on Broad Street.  Also different was that some of the students making the presentations were also high school students.

Another thing different about this course — it was the brainchild of a student.

As a sophomore Max Cuddy enrolled in Temple’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which brings college students and Inside students — prisoners — together inside a corrections facility to study issues of social justice.

The class made a huge impression on Cuddy. “Bringing together two different groups with misconceptions of each other was really eye opening. I began to see interpersonal exchanges I would have never imagined possible,” he said.

Cuddy also found that the course permanently altered his notion of what an education could be. He drew on that experience as a model and jumping off point for another course — one he developed as part of his work with the Temple University Student Peace Alliance, for which he served as vice president.

The group lobbied for a course at Temple that would bring together college students with local high school students to investigate urban violence. Cuddy wrote the proposal for the special topics sociology course that “would be an in-depth analysis of why violence happens on both a macro and micro level and how to prevent violence on large and small scales.”

And by exposing the high school students to college, college work and college students, Cuddy thought it might help them realize college as a feasible option in their futures.

By many measures, the course was a success. “From the first day, the discussions were dynamic and were often led by the high school students,” said Cuddy.

“This class never would have gotten off the ground without Max’s persistence,” said Mary Stricker, associate professor of sociology at Temple and the course’s instructor. “He believed strongly in the need for more connections between Temple students and the people who live and go to school in the surrounding neighborhoods. Those connections were made, and are continuing to grow, simply because Max wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

To learn more about Cuddy:

Commitment to peace leads Cuddy to exploration of urban violence

–Kim Fischer

SHOT!, an original play written by Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, will appear at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) on April 14 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Conceived by Williams-Witherspoon, Douglas C. Wager and Eugene Martin SHOT! combines poetry, monologue and documentary footage to create a vibrant, authentic story from the perspective of North Philadelphia residents. This intense, fact-based drama drawn from actual interviews with local residents creates a meditation on the history, current strife and future resurrection of the community.

During the national festival students from across the country are given an opportunity to celebrate the creative process, see one another’s work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists.

In addition, the festival honors excellence of overall production and recognizes the talents of student artists through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.

This year the national selection teams saw 53 individual plays and musicals for consideration for the National Festival. More than 500 productions were considered nationwide for invitation to the regional festivals.

– Jazmyn Burton

sidebar-temple-190Sponsored by Temple and the Tyler School of Art, the North Philadelphia Arts and Culture Alliance is dedicated to promoting the diverse arts and culture organizations of North Philadelphia, and establishing this district as a destination for cultural, visual and performing arts. We strive to inspire professional, organizational, and cross-cultural collaboration and exchange, and to promote awareness of our resources to the surrounding community and beyond through accessible literature, programs and events.

For more information on the North Philadelphia Arts and Culture Alliance visit: http://www.northphillyarts.org

-Jazmyn Burton