For more information:
Ray Betzner, (215) 204-7595
LGBT Alumni Reconnect to Temple
Philadelphia – Diversity is nothing new to Temple University; the university’s eclectic
mix of students, faculty and graduates has always been a point of pride. What is new to Temple is
alumni affinity groups focused on this point of pride.
To create a campus that truly values diversity in background, lifestyle and thought,
Temple is reaching out to its 240,000 alumni by establishing shared interest groups appealing to
select populations of its graduates.
To reconnect individuals to the university while meeting the needs of diverse groups, last
year the Temple University Alumni Association developed a regional club system that extends
from coast to coast and two affinity clubs. Both affinity groups, the Temple University Black
Alumni Alliance (TUBAA) and the Temple University Young Alumni (TUYA) are alive and
thriving; the same is expected for the now forming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Alumni (LGBTA) group.
According to Marena Ariffin, assistant director of alumni relations, augmenting the more
traditional groups, like the TUYA and college-specific alumni organizations, was a no-brainer.
“Class reunions are not as appealing as they used to be,” she says, “so we have to identify
things that people are involved in and have a connection to, not necessarily race or lifestyle, but
some sort of common ground that connects them to Temple and to each other.”
“As with all Temple alumni groups, the goal is to reconnect graduates to the school,”
explains Michael Williams, a 1993 graduate and founding member of the LGBTA. “Over the
years, there has been a disconnect between graduates and Temple. There are so many alumni who
have lost touch.”
For many of these individuals, the LGBTA and other affinity groups, signs of the
institution truly embracing the diversity at Temple, are precisely what will draw them back.
Williams, a leading advocate of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
community as a member of Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s LGBT Advisory Board, is devoted
to the success of Temple’s LGBTA. Using his experience fundraising for LGBT groups at the
University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a graduate degree, Williams now wants to return to
the place he truly calls his alma mater.
“My heart’s at Temple,” he explains, “and I know that Temple needs more involvement.
As an openly gay member of Temple’s Board of Trustees, it is important to show leadership.”
Williams believes the LGBTA will impact an even wider audience than the Temple
“There are so many LGBT alumni in every aspect of Philadelphia life: government, and
the private and public sectors. As part of Philadelphia’s community, we can bring vitality and
financial resources to Temple by drawing in alumni to invest in the future of LGBT students.”
To begin building this community and developing a close network of LGBT alumni to
serve as mentors and leaders, Temple’s LGBTA will host its first reunion as part of the
university’s homecoming weekend. On October 6, alumni who were active in LGBT groups
while students, or who simply have an interest in joining the group now, will gather for a
reception to connect with peers, classmates and friends and to develop goals for the future of the
Williams’ goal for the Temple LGBTA is to bridge the gap between current students and
graduates. He explains, “The group will be a mentoring source for student groups. We have gone
through struggles to make it easier for them; we can be a source for jobs, for career advice or for
His plan, once the group is established, is to provide services to students and other
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender alumni while keeping Temple as an integral part of their
For more information on Temple’s LGBTA and other alumni groups, visit
myowlspace.com or call the alumni center at 215-204-7521.