Thursday, January 29, 2015

An {Unstoppable} Sister

Sister Mary Evelyn, center, with some of the Education faculty in 1975.
THE UNIVERSITY IS MOURNING the passing of one of its longtime faculty members, Sister Mary Evelyn Flynn, CSJ, who died January 21 at age 87. A Mount alumna, she was a professor and academic adviser for more than 30 years, mostly in the Education Department. And, typical of our CSJs, she was a lot more besides.

Sister Mary Evelyn Flynn '53 at her day job in 1978.
She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on September 1, 1944, and earned her BA degree in English in 1951. After years in elementary education and administration at the Archdiocese level, Sister Mary Evelyn earned an M.A. in Education at the Mount and M.S. in Reading Specialization at  USC. She joined the Mount Education faculty in 1971.

But teaching was just the day job. She did double and triple duty beyond the classroom, serving as faculty moderator to different student organizations and the ASB, and as dorm "mom" – technically "floor warden" in Brady Hall in the 1970s. She accompanied students on their summer trips to Europe and volunteered for the long-running Phonathon annual fundraiser.

Students, staff and faculty showed their appreciation by naming her "outstanding adviser" more than once. She provided academic advisement in Education, English, Liberal Studies and even Nursing, and watched with pride as 30 of the Education Department's advisees received awards from the prestigious Rockefeller Bros. Fund.

She was one of the recipients of a CAPHE grant in 1988 to do research into the best methodologies for meeting the needs of the Mount's rapidly changing student demographics. Her topic was peer coaching in a highly diverse environment. (CAPHE stands for Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education; the grants for diversity research were also funded by the Times Mirror Foundation.)

An earlier grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1985 enabled her to study children's literature, for which she had a special love, at the University of Connecticut.

In her spare time (did she have spare time?) she loved to read, confiding to the Oracle campus newspaper in March, 2000, that she liked
almost all children’s books. I also like mysteries and biographies…  a lot of things! But I don’t like books by authors like Stephen King.
Sister Mary Evelyn, left, with former academic dean
Father Matthew Delaney and Prof. Wanda Teays
in November, 2005.
Sister Mary Evelyn was into her 80s before she finally retired from active mission at MSMU. We offer our condolences to all her Sisters in the CSJs’ L.A. province, especially her sibling Sister Daniel Therese Flynn, CSJ ’60.  Blessings on all the {unstoppable} Sisters and what they’ve done and continue to do for the {unstoppable} Mount.

CSJ Appreciation Day at MSMU in March, 2004. Sister Mary Evelyn is
on the far right. Her sibling Sister Daniel Therese Flynn, CSJ, '60 is second
from the left in the front row.
Note: Dates for Sister's entry into the CSJs and degrees were later updated with new information from the CSJ Provincial Archives. -  Ed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mystery man in white

The mysterious pope statue on the 5th Floor of the
Humanities Building at Chalon.
WE CONSIDER IT PART OF OUR solemn duty as archivist to seek out and reveal historic mysteries about our almost 90-year-old Mount. (Yes, we do have the best job on either campus.)

There are plenty of mysteries to go around, so for today's Throwback Thursday, we'll uncover a mysterious person who factors strongly in Mount history and the history of our founding Sisters.

We don't get up to the 5th Floor of the Humanities Building very often, where Music, Religious Studies and History have classrooms and offices.  On the couple of occasions we've been there, though, we've wondered about that life-size marble bust at the north end of the hall. Given the tassels and finery wrought in cold, white marble he's obviously a pope -- but which one, of the 260-plus men who have sat in the Chair of St. Peter?

The little plaque on the pedestal is all but unreadable, but with a little squinting and some digital photography, we are able to reveal our mystery man: Pope Pius IX,  No. 255 on the papal roster.

How did we end up with a bust of Pius IX? Was he a random choice?

Bl. Pius IX holy card.
Pius IX enjoyed one of the longest papacies in history, reigning from 1846 to 1878. On his watch, the Papal States ceased to exist as Italy became a sovereign country,  and it was Pius IX who opened the First Vatican Council, setting the stage for broad reforms almost a hundred years later at Vatican II.

But his true significance to the Mount was his relationship to the Sisters of St. Joseph. In May, 1877, Pope Pius IX gave final approval to the constitution of the fast-growing Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, establishing our founding order as a congregation of "pontifical right" and unifying various communities across the United States under a motherhouse in Carondelet, Missouri, now St. Louis. The rest is history, and the L.A. Province of the CSJs went on to found the Mount in 1925.

Okay, so we've established the connection. How did the Mount end up with a carved chunk of fine Italian marble?  Enter a famous Hollywood composer.

Film star Irene Dunne, left, with benefactor Jimmy
McHugh, Sister Rebecca Doan, CSJ, president,
and  Mrs. Rhiad Gholi of the gala committee.
Jimmy McHugh wrote more than 500 songs for some of the big vocal stars of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. Along with film star Irene Dunne, McHugh was also honorary chairman of a big gala held by the Mount in 1964 to raise money for the new Humanities Building and other rebuilding projects in the wake of the 1961 Bel Air Fire.

The (nearly unreadable) plaque on the statue reads "Gift of Jimmy McHugh." According to the February 1, 1962, edition of the View, McHugh made the gift on January 17 of that year in ceremonies held in the library at Chalon.  When the Humanities Building was completed in 1965, the statue was moved to its current privileged position on a specially built plinth integrated into the stone composite flooring of the 5th Floor.

The statue is the work of a neoclassical Italian sculptor, Pietro Tenerani, 1789-1869, who typically carved in the pure white marble of his native Carrara. Religious subjects and famous people of the day make up the body of his works, which are held by museums all over the world. The Mount's statue, executed in 1848 near the beginning of Pius IX's pontificate, is one of several Tenerani did of this influential pope. The statue was blessed by Pius IX himself.

How many Mount students have
planted a kiss on these marble
lips in the last 50 years?
Pius XI's cause for sainthood opened in 1907, and he was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. But then again, is anything sacred where college students are concerned? If you look closely at the statue's lips, they're slightly stained a light brown, as is the nose.

We can imagine two or three generations of Mount students kissing Bl. Pius IX on the lips or tweaking his nose, perhaps for good luck before a recital or exam. That strikes us as an excellent tradition and one worthy of a historic women's university.

This coming February 7 will be Blessed Pius IX's feast day and the 137th anniversary of his death in 1878. So let's give him a kiss, or a pat on the head, or just say "thanks" for watching over for the Mount for the last 50 years.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mount logo through the ages

The new university logo.
ON JANUARY 1, 2015, the Mount became Mount Saint Mary's University and, among other changes, retired its logo of the last 20 years. The new logo incorporates themes from some earlier symbols, which we'll explore below.

Prominent in the new logo is a shield - or is it a book?  The top of the book has pages, or are they petals of a lily?

The ambiguities are intentional, inviting us in to think and reflect. But embedded in the suggestions of images are some real symbols from the original seal of the school.

The original 1931 seal.
This "formal" logo was created by Baker Heraldic of London in 1931 and will continue to be used on official documents like diplomas. The center of the logo is a quatrefoil of four shields, each enclosing a symbol representing some aspect of the Mount's foundations: the wings of the Our Lady of the Angels Archdiocese, the fleur de lis of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (see below), the "lily among thorns" of our namesake, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and last but not least, a book with the Mount motto, Deus Illuminatio Mea, God My Light.

At the top of the new logo is a bird, which in animated versions takes flight. Watch this:

Some people will see represented the aspirations of our students, the hopes and dreams of generations of Mount graduates taking flight. Christians will see the Holy Spirit emerging from the sacred texts.

The 1966 dove logo.
The dove is making a return to the Mount's iconography. In 1966, the college commissioned a new logo to replace the image that had been used for decades, Mary Chapel. With two campuses as of 1962, the iconic tower no longer represented the whole Mount, and so Mitsuru Kataoka of the Art Department faculty created something more inclusive.

A View article in the fall of 1966 explained the change. Note the other subtleties that sound familiar today:
This fall, the Mount adopted a new logo, replacing the long-familiar chapel tower. The logo, in the form of a bird with wings extended, symbolized the spirit of the Mount in an artistic and poetic form. Spirit immediately suggests soaring wings, unfettered, pointing upward and forward. The designer, Mr. Mitsuru Kataoka, an art faculty member, explained that one wing points toward the past with its heritage and the other sweeps to the future. The discerning eye may also recognize tongues of flame symbolizing the Spirit of the Word; another may detect elements of the fleur-de-lis, reminiscent of the French origin of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In some versions, the College Seal was incorporated.

The first stylized M, 1993.
The next major change was the familiar script M that has prevailed until now. Originally created for the Admissions Department in 1993, the ribbon-like calligraphy in black and brown was adapted for college-wide use  in 1995.

The improved version, 2004.
The logo was overhauled in 2004 to incorporate the word "Mount" into a more direct manner; the announcement of the change noted that people often overlooked the word Mount altogether and "confused the Mount with 'that other college' in the Bay Area," (St. Mary's in Moraga). The historic college colors of purple and gold (dating to the 1920s) were incorporated into the new one.

That brings us to January, 2015 - a new name, a new logo, and exciting year ahead of rebranding the new university. And the seal is getting a face lift, too,  "college" becomes "university" and "St." is de-abbreviated to Saint.

For those of us accustomed to typing the name every day, remembering to write "Saint" instead of "St." is probably the biggest challenge of all.
Seal of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet,