Editor’s note: This is the first in a five-day series discussing the role of women at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, in honor of the 40th anniversary of coeducation at the University this year. As Notre Dame celebrates 40 years of coeducation, Saint Mary’s alumnae still remember a time when the two schools considered merging to create one Catholic college for both men and women under the Holy Cross order. While the merger fell apart in 1971, College archivist John Kovach said he believes the merger was a good idea at first. “At the time I definitely think it made sense to merge,” Kovach said. “In theory, however, the colleges quickly found out that no one wanted to lose and in situations such as this, one college was going to lose. “When looking at this era of the merger there were over 300 women’s colleges, that number has increasingly gone down. Today, it is a very unique choice to come to a women’s college.” A spring 1983 issue of The Courier, Saint Mary’s alumnae magazine, offered a timeline of the events leading up to the failed merger. Beginning in September 1965, the universities introduced a new co-exchange program through which students could take courses at either college, the timeline stated. This program marked a new beginning for the long-standing relationship of the two campuses since crossover classes for students on the neighboring campuses had not been an opportunity before. By May of 1969, Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame agreed to expand the co-exchange program. The colleges modified the freshman liberal arts curriculum to be consistent across campuses, introduced integrated dining options and seating at athletic events and synced academic calendars. While these measures hinted at a potential merger, both University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh and President Emeritus Monsignor John McGrath, presidents of the respective colleges at the time, issued a joint statement denying any rumors of a merger at the time. Senior Jessica Lopez, who studied the non-merger for over a year for her senior comprehensive project, said she believes the colleges considered the merger primarily for the benefit of Notre Dame students’ gender relations. “I found that it seemed what Notre Dame was interested in was what all-male colleges used in order to combine with a sister school,” Lopez said. “They would say they wanted to use the merger to act as a civilizing influence to prepare for real world interactions with women. Saint Mary’s would have given those benefits to Notre Dame.” In her findings, Lopez saw a diversity of opinions among students and faculty at the time. “There were some strong sentiments from students and some faculty,” Lopez said. “Some didn’t consider it a good option for Saint Mary’s. Even at Notre Dame people were against the merger. Fr. James Burtchaell, provost at Notre Dame during that time, asserted that Notre Dame did not need to merge with Saint Mary’s, but rather the College needed to merge with Notre Dame to survive.” According to the timeline, in May of 1971, the Boards of Trustees at both institutions formally approved plans to seek unification. According to a statement from that time, “the ultimate goal of this unification is a single institution with one student body of men and women, one faculty, one president and administration and one board of trustees.” The statement noted the preservation of Saint Mary’s identity would be by the matriculation of all women undergraduates of the University through Saint Mary’s as the college of record. It also recognized the importance of financial viability of any plan to merge the two institutions. According to a statement from the Board of Trustees from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, the ultimate goal of this unification was to form a single institution with one student body of men and women, one faculty, one president and administration and one Board of Trustees. “Unification of all academic departments of ND and SMC should be accomplished by the start of 1972-73,” the statement said. “The academic year 1974-75 is the target date for the completion of unification, but it is hoped that it might be accomplished even before that time.” However, by November of 1971, Mother Olivette Whalen and Edmund Stephan, chairpersons of the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame Board of Trustees, respectively, issued a joint statement announcing the two institutions would “indefinitely suspend unification negotiation,” because organizers were “unable to solve financial and administrative problems.” Reconciling the financial differences between the two school’s budgets and pay to their employees, as well as the logistics in combining all the schools’ academic programs without losing any employees, became too difficult. Soon after, Notre Dame announced plans to begin accepting women directly. “Things started falling through,” Lopez said. “By December, all negotiations broke down. The administrations sent a letter to female applicants saying they could apply to both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s or one or the other. There was another attempt to reopen negotiations the next year but nothing happened.” While a second attempt at a merger would be made the following year, Kovach said nothing materialized. “I think for something that is so important to the history of Saint Mary’s, I am surprised that so many decades later there still seems to be this aura of silence around the subject,” Kovach said. “The non-merger, I think, is the most important part of our college. We wouldn’t be here today, at least in this setting. We really bucked a trend and have proved successful. This success, I think is due to the leadership at the college. A merger wouldn’t have been an equal setting at all.” “There was a slow movement and sad decline in interest,” Lopez said. “Overall, there was no climactic point to the merger becoming a non-merger, the outcome just slopes downward.” Many students of the Class of 1975 accepted the offer to come to Saint Mary’s under the assumption the College would be merging with Notre Dame their freshman year, however. This caused for mixed feelings among the student body. “Mostly I remember the anger, disappointment and frustration when the merger didn’t go through,” Mary Meruisse Richardson, a 1975 alumna, said. “I remember the song, ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ wafting out from dorm windows. I felt betrayed because I had accepted to come expecting the merger to go through and then it didn’t. When the merger fell apart, many of my friends transferred to ND. It split up our class and that was hard.” Mary-Margaret Anthonie Ney, also a 1975 alumna, said emotions ran high after the non-merger went public. “In some old editions of The Observer they covered many protests. We even made national news,” Ney said. “When it first happened, there was lot of resentment. … We never really heard a good explanation for why it was called off. It settled down after a while, though, and people made decisions. I chose to stay at Saint Mary’s as [a] Spanish major, which worked out really well for me. My roommate transferred to Notre Dame because her major found a better fit there.” Class of 1975 alumna Jeanne Murabito said at first she had mixed feelings about the merger cancellation, but later decided she was pleased with the outcome. “I knew I could take classes at Notre Dame and be a part of that social life,” Murabito said. “I chose not to transfer after my freshman year although some of my friends did. At first I was upset about it, but now I realize I had the best of both worlds. I was a humanistic studies major and I couldn’t get that anywhere else. The professors’ personal commitment to the College was extraordinary. I do not regret my decision to stay at the College.” Amy Dardinger, assistant director of reunion giving, said many alumna from the Class of 1975 are overcoming the emotions of the non-merger and are giving back to the College more. “Many of them have come to the point that they appreciate that Saint Mary’s is still here,” she said. Because many women’s colleges merged with brother institutions at this time, most alumnae of these institutions find themselves returning to a fundamentally different college. “Now I think many alums return to the College and think ‘How lucky are we that we are able to return to a single-sex institution?’” Kovach said. “So many women’s colleges at this time merged with partner institutions and I think Saint Mary’s is very lucky to have not merged. I think that time has made some folks open their eyes to what the consequences of the merger really could have been. This really shaped the identity of the College.” Many alumnae of the college and that Class of 1975 said they are thankful Saint Mary’s remained independent. “It worked out very well for me,” Ney said. “I love Saint Mary’s, it’s a great place and I felt like I grew up there and became my own person. I am still very proud of Saint Mary’s.” Contact Jillian Barwick at [email protected] and Kaitlyn Rabach at [email protected]
Photo courtesy of the University archives For the students who met him, University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was a powerful and memorable presence.Sophomore Andrew Lehmer met Hesburgh, who died Thursday at the age of 97, during his freshman year after attending a Latino retreat.“It was crazy how impactful his presence was,” Lehmer said. “You could sense every word meant something bigger.”Lehmer said he asked the former University president, civil rights activist, diplomat and priest what he could do to make his own life as meaningful as Hesburgh’s.“He told me ‘be a good Catholic,’” he said. “Obviously, that can be taken a lot of ways, but I’m trying to figure it out by actively pursuing the faith and keeping what he said in the back of my mind.”Sophomore Mary White, the president of Pasquerilla East Hall (PE), said a group of PE residents were supposed to meet with Hesburgh on Thursday afternoon. She said the dorm-wide response to the invitation to see Hesburgh was so overwhelming that the coordinators limited the visit to upperclassmen, though the meeting was eventually cancelled.To meet Hesburgh was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, White said.“It served as an integral Notre Dame experience,” she said. “It was something you would go on to tell your children about.”Junior Diego Valenzuela visited Hesburgh with his section of Stanford Hall last year, to talk with Hesburgh and hear his stories.“Just being in his presence was just unbelievable because this man has accomplished so much and done so many great things for Notre Dame and the United States and Catholics everywhere,” Valenzuela said.Late in his life, Hesburgh lost most of his sight as well as most of his mobility, but his mind remained sharp and his speaking powerful. Junior Jesse Hamilton said each time Hesburgh spoke to his ROTC class, he would be slowly led onstage.“It was such a slow, ginger process to get him up to the podium, and as soon as he spoke, he spoke with such clarity and sharpness,” Hamilton said. “It was incredible just to see how all of his mind was there and all the love he had for us. Any words that came out of his mouth, you knew were genuine, and just the couple times I met him, he inspired me to be the best Christian I can be, the best leader I can be. He will be greatly missed.”But for all his accomplishments — as a University president, as a leader in civil rights and Catholic education — and gravitas, students were struck by his congeniality and concern for each individual student.Junior Anthony Barrett also visited Hesburgh with his section from Stanford Hall. Barrett said the former president asked for each person’s name, hometown and major.“He would say something kind to each person,” Barrett said. “He’s done so much for us as a school, on a large level, and he also still took the time to get to know people on an individual level. That’s the kind of person that we should all aspire to be.”Junior Paul Coletti said he first met Hesburgh in front of the library named for him during a scavenger hunt in his freshman orientation weekend. Hesburgh stopped and spoke with the group.Later, Colletti became a University tour guide. During a tour Thursday, the day Hesburgh died, he told a group about Hesburgh’s accomplishments.“I told the girl who I was touring about how students are sometimes even called up to read to him, if they’re studying on the upper floors of the library, and she turned to her dad, and she was like, ‘I want to come here,’” he said. “… Little did I know.“He was a great University president. He was probably the closest thing to a living saint that I ever was in a picture with and shook hands with. He was certainly good for the University, but also good for Catholics everywhere.”Many students who never met Hesburgh also felt his influence. Junior Erin Bishop said in the days after his death, she kept thinking about his decision to make Notre Dame co-educational.“Without him, none of us would be here,” she said. “There would be no women here. That thought just keeps going through my head, you know? Without him, this wouldn’t be my life, and this is such a big part of my life. The University is really going to miss him. And I hope that they choose to celebrate his life rather than mourn his loss.”Junior Bryan Ricketts, student body president-elect, said he went to the 13th floor of the library after Hesburgh’s death to see his office. He said Hesburgh was instrumental in making Notre Dame co-ed and a premier research institution, and he looks to him for inspiration as a leader.“I hadn’t had the chance to speak to him after being elected; it was something I was hoping to do with the team,” Ricketts said. “He’s such an inspiration and left such a legacy.”Freshman Gabriel Gaspar never got the chance to meet Hesburgh, but when he heard of his death Thursday, he, like dozens of other students, headed to the Grotto to pay his respects.“He’s really affected a lot of people here,” he said. “Everyone I talk to, like my first week here, Fr. Hesburgh came up, like, ‘you should definitely meet him.’ He’s someone who can change your life. He’s someone who truly represents Notre Dame and really brings the meaning of it to this entire school.”Grotto candles were rearranged to spell “TED,” and people left a cigar and notes in candle holders. The gathering at the Grotto on Thursday also included an impromptu rendition of the Alma Mater. Freshman Will Lederer, who attended the event, said Hesburgh inspired a sense of community among Notre Dame students.“For the six months I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve felt this way yet,” Letterer said. “Just the community, the service and the gratitude we owe Fr. Hesburgh, and the outpouring of support is just truly inspiring. It’s really heartwarming. I’m glad I was here.”Tags: Remembering Father Hesburgh, Student reactions
Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia and Zainab Jah will join the previously announced Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o in the New York premiere of Eclipsed. Directed by Liesl Tommy and penned by Danai Gurira, the production will begin off-Broadway previews on September 29. Opening night is set for October 14 at the Public Theater’s LuEsther Theater.Sengbloh will play Helena. Her Broadway credits include Holler if Ya Hear Me, Motown the Musical, Fela!, Hair, The Color Purple, Wicked and Aida. Armand is set to take on the role of Bessie and has appeared on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful as well as off-Broadway in An Octoroon. Busia will appear as Rita and made her Broadway debut in Mule Bone and her West End debut in Gloo Joo. Jah will take on the role of Maimi; her stage credits include In Darfur, Hamlet and Ruined.Amid the chaos of the Liberian Civil War, the captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a fragile community—until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals distinct women who must discover their own means of survival in this deeply felt portrait of women finding and testing their own strength in a hostile world of horrors not of their own making.The production will feature scenic and costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Jen Schriever, original music and sound design by Broken Chord and voice and dialect by Beth McGuire.The limited engagement will run through November 8. Related Shows Eclipsed Show Closed This production ended its run on June 19, 2016 View Comments
Paige Davis in ‘Chicago'(Photo by Jeremy Daniel) Paige Davis is back to paint the town! The Chicago vet will return to the Broadway production as Roxie Hart on January 31, replacing Bianca Marroquin. The long-running tuner is playing at the Ambassador Theatre.Davis, who hosted TLC’s Trading Spaces, appeared on stage previously in Boeing-Boeing, Sweet Charity, Beauty and the Beast and The Vagina Monologues.Chicago also currently stars Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, Eddie George as Billy Flynn, Raymond Bokhour as Amos Hart, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Matron “Mama” Morton and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine. from $49.50 Related Shows Chicago View Comments
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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University women’s tennis team wraps up the non-conference season on Thursday at 1 p.m. when the Bulldogs welcome the Saint Louis Billikins to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. The Billikins come to Des Moines on a 12-match winning streak, holding a 17-3 record. Saint Louis has six players with 13 or more dual match singles wins and are led by Aspen Cervin, who has a 18-2 record at the No. 1 spot. The Bulldogs return to conference play on this weekend when they travel to Missouri State on Saturday and Wichita State on Sunday. Print Friendly Version The Bulldogs have won four of their last five matches and fell to Iowa last week in their last time out. Drake has been impressive in the friendly confines of the Roger Knapp Tennis Center as the Bulldogs are 8-3 at home. Senior Maddie Johnson leads the team with a 9-3 singles record. Freshman Joely Lomas has the team’s best doubles record with a 11-3 mark.