Thursday, September 26, 2013

Department of Security, 1931

Tige, the Mount's first dog, keeping an eye on the tennis courts.
WE'RE PROUD OF OUR SECURITY OFFICERS at the Mount, who keep their watchful eyes on us and our beautiful campuses. We thought for today's blog (it being #ThrowbackThursday) we'd look back at MSMC guards in history. Today's folks, after all, are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Well, giant dogs, anyway.

When the College moved from St. Mary's Academy to the new Chalon site -- a lonely outpost on a mountaintop -- the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet decided they needed a watchdog. Thus began a long and faithful tradition that continued for more than 50 years.

The story of the first dog is too good to miss, so we are reproducing Sister M. Germaine McNeil's rendition from her History of Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, 1925-1975 (New York: Vantage Press, 1985, 425).
The first and most intelligent in the long succession of Mount canines was Tige, a huge blue currier, given as a watchdog by a friend of Sister Winifred Riecker and Sister Celestine Quinn  [Music faculty -- Ed. note] soon after the college moved to its Chalon Campus in the spring of 1931.
Tige was a gentle and obedient dog, trained by his former mistress to obey commands in French and German. Sister Winifred fed him on a diet of toast and pancakes, which he quickly learned to supplement by catching quail. Sister prepared a bed for Tige in the passageway leading to the engine room [Brady basement -- Ed. note] and tucked him in nightly with an old blanket. The dog would remain until Sister left, then lope across campus trailing his blanket caught in his collar. If he thought something was being concealed from him he would open a drawer or a door-latch with his nose to satisfy his curiosity.
Tige with a friend, possibly Buzzy, who arrived
a few years after Tige and left in a hurry.
Tige was hostile to strangers but did not bite. Instead, he would firmly grasp their upper arm in his teeth and conduct them out to the road off the campus. 
The students were Tige's special friends. He chaperoned them on their hikes in the hills and accompanied them on their walks into Westwood. In this latter instance, he became an embarrassment because he would chase every motorcycle he saw. When the girls wanted to leave campus without Tige, they would lock him in the elevator [in Brady Hall -- Ed. note]. Then, of course, the dog would bark until he was released. 
Tige's coat was so thick and heavy that it was usually clipped in summer to make him more comfortable. He was so ashamed, however, of being deprived of his coat that he would hide for several days in the thick brush of the hillsides.
He faithfully attended Father Vaughan's classes in the Lecture Hall [now Brady lounge -- Ed. note], where he slept in the rear on the flat of his back with his legs up against the wall.
Sister Germaine's dog tales warrant a couple more blogs if we can locate more photos. When she finished her history in 1985, the Mount still had a four-legged security team -- although the two-legged variety had supplemented the department for decades. We'll tell you about the last two, Zac & Zelda, in a future post.

Thanks to all our Security team members for their hard work and keeping up a venerable tradition.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering Joella

According to the 1950 yearbook, Joella played so many different
instruments, she amounted to a "one-girl orchestra."
NEWS OF THE DEATH of Joella Hardemann Gipson-Simpson '50 on January 31, 2012, in Windsor, Ontario, somehow bypassed the Mount Community. The Mount's first African-American graduate was such a remarkable woman that her passing warrants a mention even a year and a half later. Joella's career in education and service is way too extensive to cover in a little blog, but there is a complete obituary in the Windsor Star, and it reveals a woman who put enough into life for three or four people. Here are a few highlights.

Joella Hardeman '50
Nicknamed "Joey," Joella graduated from the Mount in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in instrumental music and minors in philosophy and English. Like many of her fellow Mounties she was active in campus clubs and service organizations. She earned a full scholarship to pursue a master's degree in music at the University of Iowa, which he completed in 1951.

At some point, though, her attention turned to math, and she went on to earn a PhD in Mathematics Education, becoming one of the first African-American women in the country to earn a math doctorate.

Her distinguished career in higher education took her to universities from Mississippi to Africa to Nicaragua, and even included a stint as a math teacher in L.A. Unified School District. 

She attained a full professorship at Wayne State, which she joined in the early 1970s, going on to educate generations of math teachers. Her studies in numerous STEM education issues were funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education grants, and she was twice a Fulbright scholar.  

A lifelong, devout Catholic, she lived the social justice values she learned at the Mount and in her family, throughout her life supporting innumerable charities, service organizations and schools -- including the Mount. In August, 1995, on the 45th anniversary of her graduation, the Mount held a daylong gala in her honor,  and the California Assembly and Los Angeles City Council both honored her life of work and service. 

In 1990, the Mount named her Alumna of the Year. (A sketch of her incredible career is in our online repository.) What a privilege to call Joella Hardeman Gipson-Simpson one of our own.

Joella and members of the Mount Orchestra in 1949-50, her senior year.