Alumni Admire Signs of Progress While Remembering the Past

Reunion Weekend 2011A total of 450 Saint Mary's alumni returned home this summer - that is, home to their alma mater. Alumni from as far away as Spain traveled to Saint Mary's for the July 15-17 weekend of events.

"It was the same feeling driving through those gates," Molly Murphy Burke '86 said of her SMC homecoming. "It's a safe, comfortable place where you can thrive as a person."

In all, 655 total guests participated in the reunion. On Friday night, alumni were welcomed at the Kick-Off Party in the Townhouse Quad. Saturday morning began with a historical tour of campus led by Brother Raphael Patton '63, followed by academic open houses and a family picnic. Afternoon sessions included an open mic with Hall of Fame inductee and SMC basketball coach Bob Hagler '50 and a "Philosophy of Wine" class.

On Saturday night, alumni gathered on the Chapel Plaza for cocktail hour before moving on to class dinners and finally the big event - the Reunion Dance, which went on nearly until dawn.

"I see many students here tonight that I taught or that lived in my dorms, and that is fun for me," Brother President Ronald Gallagher said at the cocktail hour. "They are carrying on the heritage of the college."

Brother Dominic Ruegg '41, now a retired professor, was one of many faculty and staff members celebrating their reunion. "The time has passed so quickly; it's hard to realize it has been so long," Ruegg said. He was joined by classmate Lionel Holmes in celebrating their 70th reunion.

"It is really comforting to still be inspired," said Kory Hayden '01, assistant athletic director of recreational sports. "It seems like yesterday and still a lifetime ago."

Alumni admired signs of progress on campus as they reminisced about the past.

Former basketball player AJ Rollins '96 praised the recent additions to McKeon Pavilion and plans for the new Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center. He added that a liberal arts education has been important in expanding his horizons. "It was always open forum discussion," he recalled. "It's becoming a social planet, and Saint Mary's has paved the way for me."

Dan Ramirez '71 remembered a very different Saint Mary's during the tumultuous Vietnam War years. "There was a lot of unrest on campus with the potential that we could be drafted," he recalled. But the anxiety and political fervor also strengthened the sense of camaraderie, Ramirez said. "All of that coalesced in the essence of brotherhood and fraternity."

For basketball legend Tom Meschery '61, his 50th reunion brought back memories of a trip to the Elite Eight, and of the special educational experience he found at Saint Mary's. "We are small, there is personal attention, you are never left behind," Meschery said. " You know that you count, and at most universities that doesn't happen."

Photos by Allyson Wiley '02

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