Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The men of the Mount

One of the questions I get all the time is some form of "who were the first men at Mount St. Mary's College"?

This came up in the article on the Archives in the current Mount Magazine. It notes that the first male nursing student I've been able to find graduated in 1993, although men were allowed to apply to the program 20 years before that.

Sometimes we Lone Arrangers have to throw a "factoid" out there and see what happens. I'm delighted to report that I have now heard from the official First Male Nursing Graduate, complete with a fax of his diploma and the article above.

He's Michael Clannin, Class of '75. He had served in Vietnam as a Navy corpsman with a unit of Marines in a field hospital. (Think M*A*S*H.) After that heroic work he had plenty of experience but lacked the degree for an RN, and the Mount was a perfect fit.

Around that time the College started accepting what were called "capitation" grants, part of an effort by the U.S. government to cope with a shortage of nurses. As recipients of federal funds, institutions can't discriminate on the basis of gender, so single-sex schools like the Mount had to adjust admissions policy. Mike was one of the beneficiaries and can't say enough about the support he received, especially from the renowned Sister Callista Roy.

The Mount article mentions music students going way back to the 1930s. I had a phone message today from another male alum (as in alumnus), Hank Alviani, a music graduate in the Class of '74. I sent him an email with the following brief history: The earliest male students would have been Roman Catholic seminarians and priests studying Gregorian chant at the Bishop Cantwell School of Liturgical Music. The director of the school, Dom Ermin Vitry, OSB, also directed the College music program. Master's degrees in music were conferred as early as 1932 and expanded with the opening of the Graduate School in 1955. One of the most celebrated music programs in the city, the Mount's Department of Music began admitting male undergraduates around 1961. By the time Hank graduated, many men had received Mount degrees.

There seemed to be not much more than a handful in any given year, however. The article above, an undated story from the Los Angeles Times, mentions just three (ca. 1974): Hank, Mike Clannin, and Paul Gibson. The story says there were a dozen male undergraduates on campus at the time.

Our president, Jacqueline Powers Doud, likes to say we're a women's college "with a few good men." That has been the case for a surprisingly long time, and three cheers to our alumni for reminding us.

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