The wait is over! The dedication and blessing of the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center, the 60,000 square foot new fitness facility and home to Campus Recreation, took place on March 12 to thank the many generous donors who contributed the funds for construction. The facility was alive with activity—with students on the climbing wall, in the weight center, on fitness equipment and in the pool—as guests streamed into the double gymnasium for the ceremony. The consensus of the 300 people in attendance was that the spectacular new center was worth the wait.
Mark Orr, director of Athletics and Recreational Sports, welcomed and thanked the many donors who were present, including lead donors Bernie Orsi '65, Mark Orsi, Lou Giraudo and Dan Giraudo of the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, and Joseph Syufy '87, representing the Syufy family. Also greeted were members of the Alioto family; officials from the town of Moraga, Contra Costa County, the Congressional District and the state Assembly; Project Manager Ron Tapper and Overaa Construction; members of the SMC Christian Brothers community; Saint Mary’s Trustees and Regents; school administrators, faculty and staff. President James Donahue was introduced and talked about the impact of the Alioto Recreation Center on the College. “What is special about Saint Mary’s is community, and this facility will play a large role in building community and broadening the student experience,” he said. “Thank you to all of the donors, especially Bernie Orsi of the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, the Syufy family and the Korth family, for your enormous generosity,” said President Donahue, who concluded by paraphrasing the quote by Plato which greets visitors to the Alioto Recreation Center: “With education as well as physical activity, men and women can attain perfection. Saint Mary’s is now a college for the whole person—mind, body and spirit.”
Reverend Mike Russo, along with Brother Dominic Berardelli and Associated Students President Hope Blain ’15, led prayers of blessing for the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center and the students who will use it. Joined by the rest of Saint Mary’s Christian Brothers, they then visited different parts of the new facility to offer blessings and greet students.
Bernie Orsi spoke next, commenting, “this is indeed a great day for the students of Saint Mary’s, who have needed this facility for a long time.” He introduced the many Alioto family members who were present and reminisced about former San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto '37, for whom the recreation center is named. Alioto attended Saint Mary’s in the 1930’s, serving as the student body president, editor of the yearbook and valedictorian, graduating magna cum laude. “Joseph L. Alioto was a self-made man who worked hard to be prepared for the opportunities that arose,” said Bernie, who worked for Mayor Alioto at San Francisco City Hall and views him as a mentor. “He was a man of integrity, committed to his faith and a champion of the underdog,” said Bernie. “I am proud that this most distinguished alumnus will have his name on a building that will mean so much to the students of Saint Mary’s.”
Joseph M. Alioto '65, the son of the late Joseph L. Alioto, spoke of the pride his family felt for this honor. “Our father and grandfather was an ambassador for Saint Mary’s College and always spoke so highly of his education,” said Joseph. “My father learned humility from the Christian Brothers and always said that education is the one thing that can never be taken from you.” Observing some of the other campus buildings, such as Galileo Hall, De La Salle Hall and Aquinas Hall, Joseph was pleased to note that “my father will be surrounded by great people. Thank you for this great honor.”
Hope Blain '15, president of the Associated Students, then thanked the donors on behalf of the Saint Mary’s student body. “I am so grateful to represent the students as we dedicate the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center. There has been so much excitement about the opening because this facility will have such a positive impact on the student experience. Whatever you are looking for, the Alioto Recreation Center has a place for you. It will provide fitness, leadership and professional development opportunities for students, as well as that sense of community. On behalf of all of our students, thank you to all of the donors.”
The dedication ended with a song written by Brother Martin Yribarren especially for the occasion, “Ode to the Rec Center,” which was sung by the Saint Mary’s faculty and staff choir, and was followed by tours of the Recreation Center and a festive gathering outside on the pool deck for all of the guests.
See photos from the Dedication >>