80 Years and Counting for Brother Mel and SMC: 1970-1979

By Erin Hallissy and Rich Davi


Women were admitted for the first time to Saint Mary’s College. They were under the guidance of a new associate dean, Sister Therese Lackey. Brother Mel met his first protest over a basketball game against Brigham Young University, at a time when the Mormon Church denied African Americans the right to priesthood. Football competed at the Division III level. Doc McKillip was named first full-time athletic director.


Eight women were the first females to graduate from the College. Glenna Jo Burns, who entered as a senior, was the first to receive her diploma, of course from Brother Mel.


The College suffered a high rate of attrition after protests on campus by minority students on a variety of issues, including the non-renewal of the contract of popular dean Odell Johnson, were reported in the media.


New Associate Dean Tom Brown developed the High Potential Program for minority applicants with potential for collegiate success but socio-economic disadvantages.


Moraga citizens voted to incorporate as a town; the celebration was held in Dryden Hall. The first women to complete all four academic years at the College graduated.


The Executive MBA Program began at SMC, along with the School of Extended Education. Women’s sports also had their inaugural year, with crew and tennis.


Brother Mel hosted a dinner for biology faculty following the dedication of Sichel Hall to thank faculty for their efforts to plan the building.


The Hearst Art Gallery, the only accredited art museum in Contra Costa County, was dedicated.


McKeon Pavilion and the Brother U. Albert Rahill Athletic Center were dedicated. On Jan. 21, SMC lost the first game in the pavilion to Stanford by a score of 62–61. Rahill is pictured above.


Brother Carl Lyons began chairing the music program, combining it with the dance and theater programs.