Saint Mary's College Media Coverage Report - February 1 to April 22, 2013


In the past two months the College has seen a flurry of media coverage, which included local and national coverage of the College's announcement of a new president, reports about Saint Mary’s Bay Area wide community service event for local schools that involved hundreds of volunteers, faculty observations on the historic selection of a new pope and reports about compliance missteps in the College's athletic program.

With just over about 1,700 news mentions (including duplicate news stories), this report covers quite a bit of territory from Feb.1 to April 22. The number is nearly double the news mentions in the last media report, which, covered about the same time period. 


  • The national religious wire service, the Catholic News Service, Oakland's Diocesan newspaper the Catholic Voice, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune,  KCBS and KGO radio all reported on the College's announcement of its first-ever lay president with the selection of James Donahue, the current president of the Graduate Theological Union, as Saint Mary's next academic leader.

  • More than 330 news stories, including wire reports from the Associated Press, carried commentary by Saint Mary's faculty members such as History Professor Brother Charles Hilken, Communication Professor Rev. Michael Russo and Theology and Religious Studies Professor Tom Poundstone about the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the selection of Argentinean Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pontiff, Pope Francis.

  • The success of the men's basketball team garnered scores of news stories, many of which focused on remarkable court heroics of the College's all-time leading scorer, Australian Olympics team member and academic All-American senior guard Matthew Dellavedova.

  • The men's basketball program also generated regrettable focus with more than 350 stories as a result of a NCAA Committee on Infractions report that levied penalties against the College and head coach Randy Bennett for lack of athletic compliance and appropriate oversight of the program.

The 1,705 news mentions during the review period reflects continued media interest in the scholarly achievements of Saint Mary’s faculty, its academic reputation, sesquicentennial public programming and SMC athletics. However, the figure trails last year's number of 1,847 at the same time. The difference is attributable to more than 330 obituary stories filed last year about the death of Patricia Disney. The widow of Roy Disney, she was a former regent and founded the College’s Disney Forum. Without those obituary notices, last year’s number would be 1,517 media mentions and would trail the current review period by 188 news hits.

News Categories

These news mentions are categorized alphabetically into alumni news (which includes both news stories and career updates), news about athletics, calendar listings about College events, faculty-in-the-news items, institutional news (which focus on the College's reputation and mission), obituaries, public safety, SMC mentions (miscellaneous references to the College) and students in the news.


There were 201 alumni-related media mentions during the period. Highlights included the confirmation of SMC alumnus and Sacramento Superior Court Judge Troy Nunley '86 to the federal bench by the U.S. Senate.  Nunley, who is Saint Mary's 2013 undergraduate commencement speaker, was nominated by President Barack Obama as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of California last June. Several news outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee reported on Nunley's confirmation, which had been delayed by partisan politics on Capitol Hill.  The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California is among the busiest courts in the nation with 6,235 new case filings in fiscal year 2012. Federal district court judges are nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate and serve lifetime appointments.

Other alumni highlights included a CBS This Morning national interview with alumna Christy Vega Fowler, the owner of Casa Vega, a landmark Mexican restaurant in the Sherman Oaks area of California. The interview, where Vega discussed some of her restaurant's popular menu items, was broadcast on Saturday. February 23 and was later posted on the website for additional coverage. Vega earned her undergraduate degree in business from Saint Mary's. 

Other news included the appointment of alumnus Kirk Nagamine as the new Chief Revenue Officer for Buzztime, Inc. a national leader in bar and restaurant entertainment industry.  


There were 813 athletic-related news mentions during the period. The majority of those news mentions were about the successful seasons of the College's student athletes, especially the performance of the men's basketball team. The 28-7 Gaels earned their third trip to the NCAA's big dance in four years, which included a first-round win over Middle Tennessee State, and a heartbreaking two point loss before a national CBS audience to the Memphis Tigers, 54-52 in the second round. The team's stellar season was punctuated by the stand out play of senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, whose athletic skill and academic achievements were profiled in several news major outlets, including a half-hour special on ESPN’s Aussies Abroad.

While the performance of the men's basketball team earned appropriate praise, the College's basketball program garnered more than 340 news mentions, including national stories by USA Today about the March 1, 2013 decision by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions to penalize Saint Mary's for compliance and failure to monitor violations in its program. 

Saint Mary's addressed the NCAA penalties directly. On the morning of the NCAA announcement, the Office of College Communications arranged for a Chapel lawn press availability session with Brother President Ronald Gallagher and Athletic Director Mark Orr. The two engaged media questions forthrightly about the context of the NCAA investigation. The press session was covered by nearly a dozen news outlets, including the San Jose Mercury News and NBC Bay Area News, which carried statements from Gallagher and Orr acknowledging the College’s acceptance of missteps, leadership remorse and the athletic department's responsibility in compliance failures.

A Chapel lawn mid-afternoon press session with Orr and coach Randy Bennett further addressed the matter. News reports included statements by, and images of, Bennett taking responsibility for missteps in the men’s basketball program, expressing deep regret about the sanctions and his commitment to moving forward.  

Several media stories questioned the severity of the SMC's sanctions including the San Francisco Chronicle article “Corrupt NCAA has no right to judge Gaels” and the ABC7KGO-TV report “NCAA penalizes Saint Mary's for recruiting violations.”

Calendar Listings 

There were more than 56 calendar listings related to Saint Mary's events and academic programs which appeared in a various media listings during the review period, including a Feb. 7 Contra Costa Times story about SMC January Term guest speaker and noted humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine. Additional highlights included a Feb. 25 KQED Forum interview with Saint Mary's guest speaker Michael Sandel, noted author, philosopher and Harvard University Professor of Government, who presented a free public lecture at Saint Mary's as part of the College's free sesquicentennial series "The Year of the Great(est) Conversation(s)." The panel discussion "A Passion for Service to the Public: Generation X and Y Out Front!" another great conversation in the College's free sesquicentennial series also received radio coverage on KGO radio. And the featured exhibit at the Saint Mary's Museum of Art by urban landscape artist Ryan Reynolds received coverage by the Contra Costa Times

Faculty in the News

The historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February prompted local and national news outlets to reach out to SMC faculty for insight on the papal transition and the selection of Argentinean Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pontiff, Pope Francis. There were 395 faculty in the news mentions during the review period and just over 330 of the news stories were related to the papal transition and included commentary by Saint Mary's History Professor Brother Charles Hilken, Communication Professor Rev. Michael Russo and Theology and Religious Studies Professor Tom Poundstone.

A papal history expert, Brother Charles's perspective on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was presented in a KPIX-TV/CBS-5 Sunday morning news show interview with anchors Phil Matier and Anne Mackovec. He also penned "Pope’s impact on church both good, detrimental," an op-ed by about the record and legacy of the pope, that was published in the opinion pages of the Sunday, Feb. 17 editions of the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune. The commentary explored Benedict's achievements, areas where his guidance of the church caused confusion and his legacy.

And the national Associated Press story "Could The Next Pope Come From The United States?", which quoted Brother Charles and other Vatican scholars on the likelihood of an American-born pontiff, was carried in more than 250 news outlets across the nation.

Father Mike Russo was interviewed by CBS-5's Ann Notarangelo about the Vatican's process of selecting a new pontiff and joined several religious scholars in a discussion on KQED's Forum, with Michael Krasny about the new pope.

Additionally, theology and religious studies professor Tom Poundstone, who while on sabbatical in Rome, spoke with KCBS radio about his impressions of the election of Pope Francis and was also quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle story about the papal transition.

Other national press recognition of SMC faculty included American Scientist magazine featuring a poem by Saint Mary's English Professor Brenda Hillman. Over the last year, the magazine has featured poetry inspired by science. Hillman's poem "Summer Mountain Lightning & Some Music," which references the pioneering electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, appears in the May-June print edition and online.

Another MFA Creative Writing professor who garnered national attention was Matthew Zapruder, a new poetry professor in Saint Mary's English Department. Zapruder's work "Poem for a Coin," appears in the March 24, 2013 print edition of the New York Times magazine. The online version of the magazine features an audio clip of Zapruder reading his poem. 

CBS-5 /KPIX-TV and its radio sibling KCBS reached out to two Saint Mary's faculty members for insight on the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of gay marriage in its review of California's ban on gay unions Prop 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. CBS-5 spoke with Sociology Professor Cynthia Ganote about the shift in public attitudes toward gay marriage and growing support for marital rights for same-sex couples. KCBS interviewed School of Liberal Arts Dean and Politics Professor Steve Woolpert about possible options the High Court could take in deliberating on Prop 8.

India-West, a widely read news outlet for South Asians on the West Coast, featured an op-ed by SEBA Associate Professor Jyoti Bachani about the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus in December 2012. Bachani, who recently completed a Fulbright in India, grew up in Delhi and wrote about the contradictory perceptions of women in India and the country's long history of sexual harassment against women.

The perspectives of political economist Jack Rasmus continued to be noted in various alternative news sources, netting nearly 40 news mentions in outlets such as Independent Boston Media, Dissident Voice and CounterPunch.

Also notable, were faculty opportunities to comment on international events; illustrated by a KGO radio interview with Politics Profess Ron Ahnen on the legacy of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and SEBA Associate Dean Shyam Kamath's interview with the Voice of Russia's American Edition on the economic impact of Italy's national elections.

Institutional News

There were just over 73 media mentions in the Institutional News category. The highlights included the announcement of the College's first lay president, James Donahue, the current president of the Graduate Theological Union. More than a half-dozen media outlets, local and national, covered the appointment of Donahue as the next academic leader of Saint Mary's, including the National Catholic Reporter, Catholic Voice, and front page stories in the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, featured photographic slides shows in the San Jose Mercury News and on the scene reporting by KCBS radio. 

Other highlights included news coverage of the College's Great Bay Area Service Day for Schools, which was held on March 16th. News outlets, including the Bay City News, KGO radio, KTVU-TV —which partnered with the College on the initiative — and the Catholic Voice reported on the community service event that drew 800 volunteers who helped out at 21 schools across the Bay Area, including eight in the Diocese of Oakland. Volunteers contributed 3,000 hours of service working on a variety of projects including painting, landscaping and organizing classroom libraries. 

As a part of the Year of the Gael celebrations, the College partnered with CBS-5/KPIX-TV for a 30-minute historical special on the College. Saint Mary's was featured in the Eye of the Bay, CBS-5 program "Celebrating a Legacy: 150 Years of Saint Mary's College." The show was originally broadcast on March 6, and audience members could enjoy additional showings on KPIX and its sister station KBCW throughout the month of March. It was also posted online at

The program celebrated the history of the college, noting its 19th-century beginnings in San Francisco, its educational mission and guidance by the Christian Brothers, and the perspectives and stories of Saint Mary's remarkable alumni, engaged students and talented faculty. 


There were several notices about the loss of the Rev. Colin Macdonald, a Sacramento-based Catholic priest and former Christian Brother, who was an alumnus of the College. The Sacramento Bee reported that Macdonald, who led a fast-growing Roseville parish and oversaw construction of one of the biggest churches in the Sacramento Diocese, was in poor health and suffered a fall and died on Feb. 22 as a result of his injuries. He was 75-years-old.

Public Safety

An April 6 reported sexual assault of a female SMC student, by a male who she met off campus and who is not a Saint Mary student, prompted more than a half a dozen news outlets to report on the incident, including the Contra Costa Times and TV stations KTVU, KPIX, KRON and KNTV and radio outlets KCBS and KGO. As a result, there were approximately 60 news mentions, including 40 broadcast news stories (which represents repeat mentions during morning and evening newscasts), several online stories and one print article. 

College Communications responded proactively to the first media notice of a story by KTVU-TV on April 8 at 5p.m. by immediately making SMC's public safety director available to respond to KTVU's questions about the status of the investigation, which he directed to the Moraga Police Department. College Communications also made Gillian Cutshaw, coordinator of Saint Mary's sexual assault awareness, outreach and education program available to KTVU, who clarified the resources the College has available to the campus community whenever a report of sexual assault is made. 

April 9 news accounts about the reported assault carried the details of incident, including a description of the suspect, which was reported in the SMC campus safety alert and included interviews with SMC spokesperson Mike McApin who made it clear that the campus is safe, noting the College's around the clock public safety officers and that the isolated incident reflected a breach of trust by a non-SMC student.  

Additionally, College Communication made Gillian Cutshaw available to several news outlets, including KTUV-TV, and KGO and KCBS radio and the Contra Costa Times. Cutshaw reiterated the presence and services available through its sexual assault awareness, outreach and education program and support to the campus community through the Women's Resource Center.

SMC Mentions

There were around 43 miscellaneous references to the College in local news reports, referring to Saint Mary's as a location for prep sports games and workshops, a geographic reference for traffic and weather reports, its proximity to Moraga entrepreneur who is planning on building a lodging and arts center the College.  

Students in the News

There were around 60 news mentions about Saint Mary's students. Several SMC undergrads were interviewed by KGO-TV about the historic papal resignation in February. The Catholic Voice reported on efforts by student leaders in the College's Mission and Ministry Center to support Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The newspaper for the Oakland diocese interviewed Ali Carrroll '14, a student ambassador for CRS and one of several organizers of the Saint Mary's CRS Rice Bowl effort.

The Oakland Tribune quoted Shanton Tyson, a student at Saint Mary's whose father was a New York Fire Department lieutenant, who among many of the first responders on September 11 went to the aid of those trapped in the World Trade Center Towers. Fortunately, Tyson's father survived. She was interviewed about a ceremony for the "Remember Them: Champions for Humanity" monument in Oakland, which includes a steel remnant from the World Trade Center.

The majority of the news mentions about SMC students resulted from an American Anthropological Association press release carried on more than 50 news websites about several students, including SMC senior Rachel Nuzman, who were selected for its national internship program. Nuzman, who has a double major in anthropology and English and minors in women and gender studio, will intern with the Association for Feminist Anthropology, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the report's media mentions, follow this link:
And for more information about press coverage of Saint Mary’s, contact Director of Media Relations Mike McAlpin at (925) 631-4222 or