By Erin Hallissy
The 1960s and '70s brought many changes to America – the civil rights era, the women's liberation movement, the hippie era. Saint Mary's yearbook from 1970-71 noted a revolution was going on that "will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final actual act. … This is the revolution of the new generation."
At Saint Mary's College, that new generation included women. In the fall of 1970, after 107 years as an all-male institution, SMC became coeducational. My family had a close connection to that revolution. My oldest brother, Michael, graduated in May 1970, in the last all-male graduating class at Saint Mary's. A few months later, my oldest sister, Moira, was a freshman in the first coed class enrolled at Saint Mary's.
As an elementary school student at that time, I knew little about the revolution going on in Moraga, but I was aware of the larger changes in society. As a Bay Area resident, I was exposed to news of the Black Panthers, the hippies in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury and in Berkeley, the demands by women to have equal rights and opportunities and the demands for better working conditions for farm workers and other laborers.
These revolutions, referenced by the yearbook editors 40 years ago, brought many changes to society, and to Saint Mary's. The Saint Mary's that I began working at in 2005 is very different than the College that my brother and sister attended 40 years ago, from the number and diversity of its student body and staff to its broader academic programs for both undergraduates and graduate students. It is also still dealing with ongoing changes in our increasingly global and technology-infused society that continue to transform education, commerce and academia.
The College is pausing to reflect this year on the 40th anniversary of the admission of women and its ongoing impact on the culture and character of Saint Mary's. This issue invites you to pause along with us to consider, in the words of the SMC yearbook, one of the most significant "revolutions" in College history.
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