Fifty years ago, in 1968, Gryphon Circle was founded at then-Marymount College. Marymount was in its eighth year in Palos Verdes. But along with its picturesque location came geographic isolation which, to Raymunde McKay, R.S.H.M., Marymount’s president, was a reason to consider relocating the Marymount operations to the Loyola campus in Westchester. “We weren’t even close to the other churches in Palos Verdes,” recalls Rene Harrangue, then vice president at Marymount and now LMU professor emeritus and former provost.
McKay, says Harrangue, sounded out Gryphon members when making important student-related decisions. But that was not all. “McKay wanted to found a group so that the Marymount students would learn in their education to be of service to others.” After starting the Gryphons at McKay’s request, Harrangue became their first moderator.
Pam Rector ’77, director of the Center of Service and Action and a Gryphon alumna, recalls helping at registration, when students signed up for classes by requesting computer cards for the classes they sought. But Gryphons by the mid-’70s were also volunteering at Juvenile Hall.
By the time Cathy Dellacamera ’91 was a member, Gryphon’s moderators were Peg Dolan, R.S.H.M. and Michael O’Sullivan, former vice provost for academic affairs and professor of psychology. Over the years, she has bonded with Gryphons who came before and after her. Dolan and O’Sullivan, she says, instilled a spirit that transcends a student’s four-year window at LMU.
“Because of the shared experience,” Dellacamera says, “you don’t start at square one, because of that common bond of being in Gryphon Circle.”
“Sr. Peg said once, ‘I’m not really a fundraiser, I’m a friend-raiser.’ That’s what the Gryphon Circle was about: You’re building friendships and doing amazing things together as well as doing service.”