Brother Mel Anderson, FSC President of Saint Mary’s College 1969-1997, Residence Hall Director

In Brother Mel Anderson’s memoir, Years of Yearning, it’s clear he was tested repeatedly during his 28 years as president of Saint Mary’s College.

Brother Mel AndersonSome call it bumper-sticker theology – the notion that God never gives us more than we can handle. But in Brother Mel Anderson’s memoir, “Years of Yearning,” it’s clear he was tested repeatedly during his 28 years as president of Saint Mary’s College. He reflects on the milestones that took place under his leadership.

Anxieties were high when Brother Mel took the helm in 1969. Secular schools like UC Berkeley were a tremendous influence during these turbulent times. “The notoriety of the free-speech, free-drug and “be-in” movements, … all had their effect,” he writes in his memoirs. At Saint Mary’s College, many of the faculty (including Christian Brothers) were uneasy about new academic programs they felt weakened the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

One of the many changes Brother Mel made in the early days of his leadership was to establish Saint Mary’s as a co-educational college. “It was my conviction that men and women should share the same curriculum and classroom. Men and women should mature together. This way they may get to know one another better on a higher level and make better choices for a spouse, for the future, for having children, etc.”

Brother Mel steered the school through this transition as well as a change in curriculum that included Collegiate Seminar. He worked hard to adapt to the new academic world without sacrificing the school’s Catholic principles and Lasallian education.

In 1974, he established both graduate and extended education programs at the College. In 1977, he oversaw the dedication of the Hearst Art Gallery and two years later, the Brother Cornelius Art classrooms. In 1996, Garaventa Hall was completed – the first new academic building in 17 years.

Today Brother Mel is still teaching seminar and living on campus as a resident adviser in Ageno Hall. “As long as I can hear and see, I’ll teach,” he says resolutely. “Retirement turns your mind to Farina [mush].”