Alumni achievements add to legacy, progression

From Pulitzer Prize winners to renowned comedians, Temple’s vast alumni network carries diplomas and memories along with career accolades.

What began as a night school in 1884 quickly became a powerhouse for academics throughout the course of Temple’s 125-year history. In the 20th century alone, Temple has produced notable alumni in every field.

The university is home to a variety of notable entertainers. Bill Cosby and Bob Saget, famous comedians and sitcom actors, both attended Temple in the late 1970s. Musical icons Daryl Hall and John Oates are also Temple alumni.

John L. Dotson Jr., who graduated from the School of Communications and Theater in 1958, received the Pulitzer Gold Medal in 1994 for Meritorious Public Service in recognition of a series on race relations written in the Akron Beacon Journal, a newspaper of which Dotson was president and publisher.

Dotson paved the way for future Temple alumni to receive Pulitzer Prizes because Joby S. Warrick, Class of 1982, and Clarence J. Williams III, Class of 1993, received Pulitzer Prizes in Public Service and Feature Photography, respectively.
Award-winning and famous alumni’s histories are woven together with Temple’s history. Just as fascinating as those alumni are Temple’s notable graduates from the first half of the school’s history.

Harry Toran graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 1949 when it was still located in Center City. Prior to attending the school, Toran was a student in the School of Podiatry. Shortly after entering the university, Toran joined the Army under the G.I. Bill during World War II.

“The G.I. Bill was the best the thing the government came up with during that time,” he said.

Toran is not the only alum who remembers what it was like to be in college during wartime.

Evelyn Keiser, a health professions alumna and co-founder of Keiser University, recalls the lack of male presence on campus during the war.

“It was not an easy time, especially since the war was going on,” Keiser said. “The school emptied very quickly of all its male students. It was a little scary.”

After returning from the war, Toran re-entered Temple as a pharmacy student.

“I commuted [to Temple] for the first year, and the second year, I got an apartment on Green Street near the Art Museum,” Toran said. “I lived with two other friends, and we paid $25 a month and made an agreement that I would cook if they washed the dishes. That’s the deal.”

Toran went on to become a pharmacist and donates money annually to the School of Pharmacy. His two sons, also Temple alums, donate to their respective schools, the School of Law and the School of Dentistry.

Seventy years before this year’s move of the Tyler School of Art to Main Campus, Jeanne Alexander Kramer was one of the first students to attend the school in the 1930s.

“Tyler had just opened then, and what I remember most is how it looked like the original estate,” Kramer said. “The ballroom was beautiful, and the music room still had the original grand piano in it.”

Kramer said she appreciated the beauty and ambience of Tyler at Elkins Park and said she was somewhat sad when she heard of the school’s relocation to Main Campus.

“I was one of the first students to attend Tyler when it first opened, and I’m still alive when it’s leaving to go to Main Campus,” she said. “It’s made me very nostalgic. I hear it’s really beautiful, the new one, but I’m still nostalgic about the Tyler at Elkins Park.”

Despite this move, Kramer said she won’t let her memories of the Tyler she knew fade away.

“It was such a great time living and learning on that estate. It was a beautiful place. My most wonderful memories came from Tyler, and I feel bad that it won’t be used anymore. It was there for a good many years.”

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at

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