Brother Mel’s presidency spanned a time of great change at Saint Mary’s. He has written a book, Years of Yearning, a memoir, that highlights the societal, academic and financial complexities that surrounded and affected the Moraga campus during 1969 to 1997.
Years of Yearning is an intimate look at the complexities of leading the College through changes that were religious, financial, cultural, philosophical, pragmatic, political, liberal and conservative. Upon his arrival as President of Saint Mary’s College in 1969, Br. Mel was informed by numerous members of the College community, both Christian Brothers and other faculty members, that the College was philosophically moving away from the traditions that had been its hallmark for nearly thirty years. That traditional philosophical position was deeply imbedded in a liberal arts and Catholic intellectual tradition to which he was personally attached and which he saw as an academic, social, religious and personal strength, a worthy investment for one’s future.
The early years of Br. Mel’s presidency were marked by numerous tensions both within the campus and from outside. The first challenge was financial that went from difficult to nearly impossible. Added to this dilemma were other tensions that arose from academic factions within the faculty relating to an interpretation and implementation of drastic changes in the College curriculum, the academic calendar, and in the student body composition. The traumatic effects of protests against the draft and the war in Vietnam seriously affected both faculty and student anxieties as did the surging awareness of the Civil Rights Movement and the emerging rights for women. Coupled with these numerous concerns were changes in the Church itself and the disparate attitudes of Catholics regarding those changes expressed by Vatican Council II.
Years of Yearning is Brother Mel’s memoir of the Saint Mary’s he found and the jumbled, tangled tapestry that took many years to unravel and reweave, a section at a time. His philosophical vision had to adapt to a new academic world without sacrificing the liberal arts and Catholic principles he believed were crucial to the future. The New Century Committee then wrote the courageous language of the College Mission Statement, the continuing standard bearer of the College’s educational philosophy today.
Years of Yearning, A Memoir by Brother Mel Anderson, FSC (352 pages) $19.95
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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This book is drawn from memories that took place during my presidency at Saint Mary's College of California from 1969 to 1997. The contents of this book are my personal recollections and should not be read as a historical or endorsed publication of the College.