Plans for Saint Mary's Sesquicentennial Celebration

To the Saint Mary’s Campus community,

In just 280 days, the College will begin celebrating its sesquicentennial year. In Fall 2010, I convened a steering committee representing the many constituencies of the College to begin a brainstorming and planning process focusing on special events, marketing and communications, and projects that will leave a lasting legacy.

As we reflect on the past 150 years, our overall goal is to utilize the celebration year to bring unprecedented, positive attention to Saint Mary’s College, thereby resulting in increased and sustained visibility, applications, visits and support.

Let me walk you through eight special events planned for the year:

The Sesquicentennial Launch Event (better name coming soon!) will be held in the early evening of Wednesday, Sept. 12. This event is designed to be the civic celebration of Saint Mary’s College. It will be in San Francisco, the city where Saint Mary’s was founded, and will be held in conjunction with Saint Mary’s College High School, whose birthday we share. Programmatic elements may include a procession of academic regalia, student performances, VIP speakers and awards with a reception to follow.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the College will host an Open House designed to showcase its students, faculty and facilities for a day of fun and learning about the College. There will be a picnic on the Chapel Lawn, facilities open for touring and live music, athletic demonstrations and promotional materials for visitors. We are currently working with departments to develop interactive programs for the public. We welcome everyone’s ideas and involvement. The town of Moraga and local businesses will be involved as well.

During the year, the College will host three symposia, each exploring the future of one of our three traditions. For the Symposium on the Catholic tradition, scheduled for the next fall, Bishop Cummins is assisting Brother Ronald Gallagher in selecting a high-level Catholic speaker. There is currently an invitation out to a prominent papal appointment in worldwide higher education.

On the first Saturday in November, the first all-College gala fundraising event is intended to draw the attention and involvement of the greater community prior to the public launch of the campaign. The event will be at a “destination” in the East Bay and feature a celebrity act as part of the entertainment. In addition to ticket sales, funds will be raised through sponsorships and auction item sales. We would like this to be the biggest single fundraising event in the history of the College. A host committee of volunteers will be assembled soon.

The Sesquicentennial Mass will held on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 23, 2013, at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland to celebrate our Catholic and spiritual tradition. Special invitations will go out to the bishops and cardinals and the Bay Area Catholic community. We hope to have unique musical accompaniment as well. The Mass will be followed by a reception at the Cathedral. A committee composed of staff from the Mission and Ministry office, the Brothers and others is meeting to develop the program.

The second symposium will celebrate the Liberal Arts tradition. Held over two days in March, the general theme of the event will be “The Liberal Arts and the Common Good: Educating Citizens in the 21st Century.” The evening forum will feature distinguished intellectuals addressing the theme of educating democratic citizens in the context of distributive justice and finite resources. The panelists will help frame the concepts that underpin attempts to secure and distribute public resources in the sometimes contradictory spheres of individual preferences and the common good.  

And, scheduled in conjunction with De La Salle week in April, the third symposium will focus on the Lasallian tradition. Superior General Brother Alvaro Rodriquez Echeverria will be honored and various activities will surround his visit.

The culmination of the sesquicentennial year will be the public launch of the comprehensive campaign, focusing on achieving the fundraising goals the College has established. Guests will include established donors and prospective major donors. The dinner will take place on May 4 under a tent on the Chapel lawn and there will be multiple program elements intended to generate excitement about the future of Saint Mary’s College and encourage people to donate to the campaign. We envision a multimedia approach to educate guests about the major projects and donor impact on the campus.

In addition to the special events, a number of ongoing events will be tailored to incorporate the sesquicentennial theme and look. There will be an interactive website, a media campaign and many surprises in store.

All members of the community are invited to assist with and participate in sesquicentennial activities. If you would like to get involved, please contact Chris Carter, director for alumni and volunteer engagement, at

Thanks for reading!

Keith E. Brant
Vice President for Development