The path to Commencement was paved with many memories during the 2015-2016 school year...the 90th in the history of L.A.'s Mount Saint Mary's University.
It's impossible to capture a complete picture of Mount Saint Mary's momentous 90th year...but we'll try. Below are some of the highlights from yet another dynamic, action-packed year at Los Angeles' only women's university. For a perspective straight from the newest group of Athenians in the Mount Alums family, check out the video: "Looking Back: Reflections from the Class of 2016." August 2015
Welcome Week marked not only the start of the
2015-2016 school year but the beginning of a yearlong 90th anniversary
celebration of Mount Saint Mary’s University’s founding. Festivities included
commuter retreats, game days, orientation group reunions, movie nights,
Athenian cafes, an AtheNEON Night workout dance party, welcome mass, a Mount
birthday celebration and a special proclamation by the Los Angeles City Council.
The University expanded its RN to BSN program to
Mt. San Antonio College’s campus in Walnut, Calif. The partnership is meeting
the growing demand of Mt. SAC alums seeking BSN degrees, which are becoming the
nursing profession’s standard, while addressing the shortage of available
programs in that college’s service area.
Mount Saint Mary’s Institute for Student
Academic Enrichment (ISAE), established in 1988, received federal funding to
continue the program for another five years. ISAE provides first-generation,
low-income and disabled undergraduate students with counseling support and
guidance, a peer mentor program, and events that enable students to gain
valuable cultural enrichment and leadership skills. At the Mount, 82% of
students are women of color, 98% depend on financial aid and approximately 50%
are first-generation college students.
The Mount expanded its research on women’s
issues with publication of a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Kern
County. The study, conducted in partnership with the Kern Community Foundation
and United Way of Kern County, looked at the issues and trends affecting the
lives of the nearly 425,000 women and girls living in the county. Since 2015,
the University has completed local-level gendered studies for Los Angeles
County and the cities of Glendale, Los Angeles and Pasadena.
At the Mount’s fourth annual Women’s Leadership
Conference, more than a dozen women heroes – from rocket scientists, nonprofit
heroes and acclaimed chefs to media personalities, business gurus and MacArthur
geniuses – shared with more than 400 emerging women leaders their insights and
lessons learned about succeeding, failing and rising again. The conference grew
out of the Mount’s 40-year-old Women’s Leadership program, one of the oldest such
programs in the nation.
The Mount launched a new Master of Science in
Health Policy and Management designed to prepare leaders and administrators to
become health policy and healthcare system advocates. It complements a new “healthy
living” track in the Master of Science in Nursing program.
More than 300 alums, students and friends of
Mount Saint Mary’s marked the University’s 90th anniversary during a Homecoming
2015 celebration at the Chalon Campus. Attendees got an advance look at the Mount’s
new community-wide wellness movement that will be centered by a new Wellness
Pavilion, the first new construction at Chalon in more than 30 years.
Two titans of media and journalism –
award-winning journalist Maria Shriver and award-winning writer, director and producer
Shonda Rhimes, who has been praised for the well-rounded female characters she
has created for TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How To Get
Away With Murder” – engaged in a powerful conversation at the University’s
Chalon Campus that tackled leadership, confidence and how to inspire a wave of
The Mount’s Student Ambassador program marked
its 25th year of helping middle and high school students aspire to higher
education and navigate the college process from application to study habits,
regardless of which college they decide to attend. Every year, the program
helps more than 7,500 students, many from challenging neighborhood schools.
Since 2008, the program has helped earn the University a place on the annual
President’s Community Service Honor Roll. The Mount is one of only 114 schools
nationwide recognized by the federal government for their commitment to
community service and civic engagement in higher education.
For one special evening, Mount Saint Mary’s
Doheny Mansion transformed into the fictional Downton Abbey for a reception
hosted by the University for local PBS affiliate KLCS and hundreds of guests.
The event included a surprise appearance by actor Lesley Nicol, better-known for
her portrayal as Mrs. Patmore in the “Downton Abbey” TV series.
Global Athenian Cafés, movie nights and game
days welcomed back nearly 3,500 students to the Mount’s spring semester. Events
included a campus welcome and city tour for Chinese exchange students and a kick-off
of Campus Ministry’s 'Jubilee Year of Mercy' that includes Mercy Mondays, a
prepackaged meal kit distribution program for the University’s homeless
Before a crowd that included guests, alums and
students, pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts, an Emmy® Award-winning
Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee, provided insights from her career as a
political commentator at NPR and ABC and as an author, and shared her thoughts
about how ordinary people can become unstoppable in accomplishing the
In commemoration of the Mount’s 90th
anniversary, the University launched the CSJ Institute to preserve and advance the
visionary work of the University’s founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of
Carondelet. The Institute could eventually become the primary home for national
resources related to the CSJ heritage.
Seniors Jordan Abrams ’16, Sydnei Jones ’16 and Dahlia
Maldonado ’16 joined an advocacy effort organized by the Association of
Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) to preserve current
state funding for the “Cal Grants” program. The Athenians conducted interviews
with media and met with legislators to explain the importance of Cal Grants,
which especially aid first-generation and low-income college students, including
many students at the University. The Mount is an AICCU member school.
Cultivating the country’s next generation of
environmental leaders was the focus of Mount Saint Mary’s conference, “Critical
Teaching in Action: Environmental Education and Social Justice.” About 150
students, educators and community activists attended the event, which featured
16 interactive workshops that focused on the intersection of environmental
education and social justice issues, such as clean water, food, energy and
waste. The Mount’s Center for Cultural Fluency and the Elementary Teacher
Preparation program launched the biennial conference in 2008.
Mount Saint Mary’s put a new bounce in its step
with the addition of a club basketball team to its sports offerings. With
basketball, soccer and volleyball teams now in place, the Mount is building a
women’s athletics program that will complement the University’s widely
recognized academic programs and help expand course offerings and programs in
physical education that support lifetime health and wellness.
The Mount released its fifth annual Report on
the Status of Women and Girls in California™ at a forum attended by nearly
1,000 people. The study sported two new features: a “then and now” focus
analyzing women’s socio-economic progress over time and an analysis of women’s
participation in sports and wellness, including organized sports at the
collegiate and professional levels.
Mount Saint Mary’s expanded its MSMU Online
offerings with the addition of six new undergraduate degree and certificate
programs in business management and accounting, computer science, criminology,
entrepreneurship and gerontology. The online programs are open to women and men
in 27 states and internationally.
Saint Mary’s annual President's “Invitation to Serve” sent nearly 140
volunteers across Los Angeles to support seven local community
organizations, including a regional food bank, a special education placement
high school, a transitional housing organization for women and children, and a beach
cleanup program operated by an environmental nonprofit. The annual event
commemorates the community service tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of
With the Mount’s 90th year drawing to a close,
the University presented Athenian, Laurel and Mary’s Day Awards to more than
530 students in recognition of their exceptional academic achievement,
leadership and community service. Fourteen students received the University’s
highest honor, the President’s Award.
For the fourth consecutive year, the University
hosted the nonpartisan Ready to Run® campaign-training program, which is
designed to encourage women to run for elective office, position themselves for
appointive office, work on campaigns or otherwise become active in public service.
Ready to Run featured more than 15 speakers, including state, county and
municipal elected representatives. California ranks 20th nationally in terms of
women’s state legislative representation and has the fewest number of women
serving in the state legislature since 1998.
Mount Saint Mary’s political science students
presented to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti their policy recommendations for
promoting gender equity for the nearly 2 million women and girls living in the
city. Their recommendations were based on the findings of a five-part 2015 Report
on the Status of Women and Girls in the City of Los Angeles prepared by the
University for the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women.
Dr. Lucy Jones, who defied gender stereotypes to
become one of the world’s most recognizable and influential seismologists,
delivered the keynote address at Mount Saint Mary’s 2016 commencement ceremony
held at the Shrine Auditorium near the Doheny Campus. A 33-year U.S. Geological
Survey veteran, Jones’ work as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s science
advisor led to the adoption of groundbreaking regulations mandating the
retrofitting of nearly 15,000 high-risk structures in the city. This year, the
University awarded 192 associate in arts, 647 bachelor’s, 213 master’s and 28
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