Media Coverage Report: August 2010 to May 2011

Highlights At-A-Glance

Senate Debate
The Sept. 1, 2010 U.S. Senate Debate hosted at Saint Mary's College generated approximately 870 news mentions (including duplicates) and was featured in national outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Associated Press and the CBS Morning News.

There were 235 media mentions about SMC faculty in the news during the academic year, which represents a 58% increase over the previous year (148), and a 97% increase over the 2008-2009 academic year (119). Saint Mary's faculty members were sought out as expert sources on domestic and international news issues and profiled for their scholarly achievements in local and national media outlets.

In the 2010-11 academic year Saint Mary's College benefitted from an impressive amount of media coverage with 3,031 media mentions, the second highest in three years. While the amount is far less than last year's massive number of 12,548 hits as a result of the Sweet 16 run by the Gaels men's basketball team, it ranks above the 2,374 hits seen in 2008-09.

In both of the previous years, athletics drove the majority of media hits about the College. However, of the nearly 3,000 media mentions SMC received this year, 30 percent were as a result of the U.S. Senate Debate with 870 hits. The debate, along with other non-athletic related media mention categories, such as Faculty in the News and Institutional News (which includes coverage of Saint Mary's interest in a hosting a 2012 presidential debate), reinforces the College's reputation of academic excellence and perceptions of the institution as one deeply concerned about issues facing California and the country. Those key academic and reputational aspects don't often carry through when a College is viewed only through the lens of sports.

Expanding more on institutional news, media mentions are have also increased over the previous years. There were 212 institutional media mentions about the College this year. In the 2009-10 there were 147 and in 2008-09 there were164. Coverage of campus speakers continues. In fact, two distinguished campus speakers, former U.S Treasury Secretary Robert Reich, one of the guest speakers for this year's Jan Term Speaker Series, and Peace Corps Association President Kevin Quigley, this year's Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, drove media interest about their topics -the economy and Peace Corps 50th anniversary. Both guest speakers generated robust press interest - from the Bay Area News Group and KQED's Forum news program.

However, the uptick in institutional media mentions is also driven by the arrival of AOL's hyper-local online community news outlet, which frequently reports on SMC. Additionally, there is an increasing interest by media outlets in the College's plans for expansion and the possibility of it hosting a presidential debate in 2012.

Moving forward, College Communications will continue to promote Saint Mary's faculty, its academic events and public programming to the media. The steady rise of media appearances by SMC faculty over previous years is due, in large part, to consistent advocacy by College Communications, which includes regular media training of faculty and direct pitches about their expertise and campus events to Bay Area newsrooms and regional and national editorial departments. To continue shining a light on SMC, College Communications will also expand the media training workshops to include top administrators who may be called on to comment on higher education access matters - in light of the problems facing the state higher education system.

Furthermore, College Communications plans to explore new opportunities in social media, ethnic media and topic specific outlets that cater to individual academic disciplines. The office will also continue to highlight the academic strengths of the College, its schools and core foundations in the liberal arts, education, social justice, science, business and economics and, importantly, faith.

2010 – 2011 SMC Media Coverage Review

This report chronicles media mentions in a variety of news categories including:
Faculty in the News; Athletics, Institutional News; Alumni in the News, Students in the News, Campus Events, the Hearst Art Gallery, Public Safety, Obituaries and miscellaneous stories that carry brief references about Saint Mary's.

The above chart offers a breakdown of the amount of media coverage Saint Mary's generated between August 2010 and May 2011, which totals 3,031 media mentions.

Faculty in the News
There were 235 Faculty in the News items during the past year, which represents a 58% increase over the previous year and a 97% increase over 2008-09. SMC faculty members were featured on local broadcast and print media, including KQED-FM, KTVU-TV, KGO radio and Bay Area News Group's newspapers, including the Contra Coast Times and Oakland Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle. Additionally, the scholarly reputation of some of Saint Mary's faculty garnered coverage in national outlets such as NPR and the New York Times.

Faculty media highlights included an August 2010 op-ed from Dean Steve Woolpert in the Contra Costa Times about the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and a Chronicle of Higher Education interview with Claude Malary about a SMC Service Learning Trip To Haiti. Other highlights included a Catholic News Service story featuring Professor David Gentry-Akin on Mother Teresa's legacy. In September, a study on the world's coal supply by School of Science lecturer Greg Croft was featured in the New York Times. Mary Volmer was also spotlighted in the New York Times for her novel "Crown of Dust."

And with the unrest in the Middle East, Politics professor Hisham Ahmed was called on for analysis on KCBS and KGO Radio. Most recently, Carl Guarneri, SMC's resident Civil War historian was featured on KQED-FM and NBC Bay Area News about the California's role in the war between the North and South.

Recent highlights also include a Contra Costa Times op-ed by politics professor Steve Sloane about the need to rethink U.S.military policy in Afghanistan in the wake of the elimination of Osama bin Laden; and in a story about life changing Jan-Term courses offered at SMC, ABC-7/KGO-TV spoke with history professor Myrna Santiago about her Colombia course and communication professor Shawny Anderson about service learning courses in Haiti and Dominica.

Saint Mary's faculty members were also independently recognized for their talents by the media. National news outlet NPR featured poetry by English professor Brenda Hillman and her husband Robert Hass, a former U.S. Poet Laureate and alumnus of SMC on the Morning Edition news story "Crossing State Lines': 54 Writers, One American Poem." The two are part of a collaborative poetry project where 54 writers contributed to one poem about America. And "Crown of Dust," the debut novel by Mary Volmer, director of the SMC Honors Program, was reviewed as part of a five-book "Fiction Chronicle" in the New York Times Book Review.

U.S. Senate Debate
With 870 media mentions, the September 1 U.S. Senate Debate hosted at Saint Mary's definitely raised the profile of the College across the state and the nation. The San Francisco Chronicle -one of the debate's media sponsors- declared that Saint Mary's was the clear winner of the debate between Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina on Sept. 1 because of its "gorgeous backdrop and smooth logistics with an army of student volunteers."

Nearly 100 representatives of various news outlets were credentialed for the debate. Press kits distributed to media in the Soda Center (which served as the press center), included an at-a-glance description of the College, mission statement, biography of Brother President Ronald Gallagher, a Saint Mary's magazine, a Viewbook and, importantly, a list of SMC faculty experts and students who were available to comment on the debate and election issues.

SMC athletics generated 551 media mentions over the year. The majority of those news items were the result of the men's basketball team. The Gaels had a remarkable season, posting an impressive record of 25-8; they were co-champions of the regular season, had an RPI of 46 and received West Coast Conference honors of coach of the year for Randy Bennett and player of the year for McConnell. The exploits of the men's basketball team were covered and celebrated with news stories such as Oakland Tribune sports columnist Monte Poole's "Saint Mary's a perfect fit for the community." The team's emotional loss to rival Gonzaga in the WCC tournament final and unexpected exclusion from the NCAA's big dance also generated stories from the media, such as the Contra Costa Times' "Saint Mary's once again fails to earn an at-large berth to NCAA tournament." While the post-season ended on a down note, the Gaels overall successes throughout the regular season, and awards given to head coach Randy Bennett and outstanding point guard Mickey McConnell generated well-deserved media attention for the team and the College.

Campus Events
There were 301 news mentions about SMC sponsored events and programming that was open to the public during the year. These news items, in the form of calendar listings or brief news stories, provided information about various campus events over the academic year, including the Summer Wine Festival, musical performances, campus speakers and literary readings.

Institutional News
There were 214 Institutional News items over the year. These media mentions reflect on the academic reputation of Saint Mary's or track stories containing interviews with College leadership. More than 60 of the news mentions were associated with the announcement that Saint Mary's was interested in hosting a 2012 presidential debate as the cornerstone event of the College's sesquicentennial academic year of 2012-13. Other highlights in this category included an August Forbes magazine story on "Colleges That Will Make You Rich," which featured SMC as one such institution. Additional prominent institutional news coverage included the Contra Costa Times story "State budget cuts hurt us too, Saint Mary's president says," which reported on the 2011 State of the College Address by Brother President Ronald Gallagher and articles about the staging of "Angels in America" by the College's Performing Arts department and the production's recent recognition by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

SMC Mentions
There were 245 general references about the College in the media over the year. Most of these items were related to non-SMC related events that were held on the campus, such as high school sports competitions and town related gatherings. In general the rest of these mentions were in the context of news items that focused on the Lamorinda area and carried references to the College's location.

There were 213 press releases about alumni career moves that were picked up by various news organizations or appeared on online wire services. These announcements covered appointments in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, education, social services, law enforcement and entertainment.

Alumni in the News

There were 198 news items in this category, encompassing news stories about SMC alumni involved in community events, running for local elections, tales of family achievements and career related growth opportunities. News stories included a variety of accounts, such as the tale of one alumnus building a better baby stroller, another about an alumna participating in a technology internship in Vermont, while others were touching stories about loss, such as a compelling San Jose Mercury News story about Fawn Lee, a 35-year-old alumna suffering from life ending disease who recorded video messages to her three children.

Hearst Gallery
There were 85 news mentions about the Hearst Gallery. While most of those items fell under the category of calendar listings for the museum's exhibitions, several items were news profiles about exhibits, such as the Civil War offering "Lee and Grant" and "Gifted Hands: The Fine Art of Craft."

Public Safety
There were 47 media mentions about public safety issues on and off-campus. Nearly a third of these matters were related to two alleged sexual assaults, both incidents are under investigation by the Moraga Police Department. Other items in this category were related to several campus thefts, a few traffic accidents and noise complaints.

Students in the News
There were 48 articles or news briefs about Saint Mary's students over the academic year. These media mentions included briefs about independent travel opportunities, such as the Sacramento Bee news story "4 Northern California women take the backpacking trip of a lifetime," chronicling the exploits of Bay Area young women exploring South East Asia, a KGO-TV news story about "Gaels Gone Wild," the student created video tribute to the men's basketball team which went viral on YouTube and student reaction to a diversity campus held off campus.

There were 16 promotional press announcements that appeared in local news outlets about career advancement efforts of adjunct faculty and lecturers for Saint Mary's. These releases included notifications about new books, employment appointments and business initiatives.

Sadly, there were ten death notices for alumni over the year. Those who passed away included 89-year-old Grass Valley resident Mae Agnes Esola, 82-year-old lawyer and developer Robert Clyde Cook Sr., who died in a boating accident at Lake Tahoe and Theresa Jane Ritelli, a surgical nurse who succumbed to cancer at the age of 52.


College Communications monitors news about SMC primarily through Vocus, an online news monitoring service that is inclusive of all media, tracking print, broadcast, web news stories and high visibility news blogs.

Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
Office of College Communications
925-631-4222 office
925-878-9535 cell