Centennial Moment

“Somethin’ Happenin’ Here”

By Joseph Wakelee-Lynch

The Loyola-Marymount merger represented massive change, and it took place within a society convulsed with cultural transformation.

 

Fifty years ago, in 1968, Loyola University and Marymount College took some of the first steps toward their momentous merger that resulted in Loyola Marymount University. It may be tempting today to think the process of a culture change on campus was straightforward then. But not much about the year 1968 was simple, and not in Westchester.

Frank Velasco ’71 remembers day-to-day change. “There wasn’t as much jocularity, no more horsing around, more civility in the classroom.” But for him, adapting to change meant more than planning a date or watching his language in public. Loyola and Marymount came together within a larger context: a society struggling with the Vietnam War and civil rights. He was involved with campus Latino protests, he said, and many of the women newly on campus were part of the political protests. Loyola’s male students were encountering women in class but also in other social and political events. “That’s where the women really started to blend in, because they were against the war and against discrimination.”

Mimi Powe ’68 was a Marymount student and no fan of the merger at first. When Sister Raymunde McKay, Marymount’s president, announced the merger to the Marymount campus in 1967, she promised the new university would be co-institutional. “We thought, ‘We like our institution just the way it is.’” Yet, Powe emphasizes, the merger clearly was a good thing in the long run.

For John Moutes ’68, a commuter and engineering major in his senior year, the arrival of the new era wasn’t overwhelmingly different. Living off-campus removed him from some aspects of co-ed college life. And so did his major: “I was in upper-division classes, and women weren’t in many of those classes, especially in engineering.” In general, Moutes felt the change wasn’t massive.

But Peggy (Berlin) Hattendorf may sum up the complexity of change the best. Coming to Loyola changed her life: “I met my husband, Mark, there on the first day of registration, so it was a wonderful experience!” Hattendorf transferred to Loyola in 1969. “As soon as I came on campus, I felt I came home,” she recalls. The only trepidation she ever felt, she says, was worrying about parking while driving to campus for an 8 o’clock class. Her enthusiasm for LMU is probably as strong now as it was then.

Hattendorf graduated in 1972, and she’s proud of her degree, her Marymount degree. “I’m proud of it. I often tell people, ‘I have a good degree that says Marymount.’” To her, and perhaps others, the Loyola-Marymount merger was a complex thing, and one that doesn’t trouble her at all.

“I never felt that there was anything but two very prestigious universities looking at how to better themselves as a Catholic institution.”