College Celebrates Fifth Annual Hawktoberfest

On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, St. Mary’s College celebrated its fifth annual Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend. In its latest iteration, Hawktoberfest was concurrent with Parent’s Weekend, which ran Oct. 1-2, and included The Great Bamboo Boat Race, athletic events, live music, lectures, tours, and a variety of other events.

Hawktoberfest kicked off with St. Mary’s third Annual Hawktoberfest Golf Tournament at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s Cedar Point Golf Course. Other Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend events included cruises along the St. Mary’s River, tours of Historic St. Mary’s City, tours of the Saint John’s Site, a guided tree and plant walk, and two showings of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” at Cole Cinema. At a hospitality tent by the athletic field, beer was available to parents, alumni, and students of age while the Three-Man River Band performed on Saturday.

Dave Sushinsky, Director of Alumni Relations, said, “My goal is to find ways to keep alumni connected . . . the overreaching goal [of Hawktoberfest is] to help alumni who graduated last year and alumni who graduated 50 years ago to stay connected to St. Mary’s.” According to Sushinsky, the College “never had a Homecoming because [the College doesn’t] have a football team.” The newer Hawktoberfest format is an effort to create a Homecoming style event centered on athletics “that would appeal to younger alumni.”

Sushinsky said that on Saturday Oct. 1,“more Varsity sports [events were] going on than any day in College history.” Said events included Field Hockey vs. Stevenson University, Volleyball vs. Hood College, Women’s Soccer vs. Frostburg State University, Men’s Soccer vs. Stevenson, Volleyball vs. Gettysburg University, and Alumni Baseball and Lacrosse games on Saturday. Sunday’s concluding athletic events were Field Hockey vs. Bridgewater State University and Men’s and Women’s Alumni Tennis.

The 13th annual John R. Petruccelli Memorial Run/Walk/Bike Race was also held on Saturday morning. According to Sushinsky: “proceeds benefit SafeRide; we had 150 people participate, a record number.”

One of the main events was the second annual Great Bamboo Boat Race; competitors were required to build a boat out of bamboo, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and twine using a ruler, pencil, scissors, and permanent markers. After two initial heats, seven teams were eliminated and the final six faced off. Ultimately, Lost Johnson led by Kenneth Doutt out-rowed six teams to win the first place prize.

A successful Hawktoberfest requires the involvement of many departments. Athletics, Student Activities, Alumni Relations, Events and Conferences, and Public Safety all played an integral role in making this year’s Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend a success. According to Sushinsky, “This is the third time we have done [Hawktoberfest] like this. It [has] picked up a lot of steam.”

Kelly Schroeder, Assistant Dean of Students, said, “The Hawktoberfest event brings a significant number of St. Mary’s alumni to campus and gives the current senior class another opportunity to connect with our alumni during the afternoon events under the Hawktoberfest tent.  I would love to see even more members of the senior class attend this event next year.” Sushinsky echoed Schroeder’s sentiment, remarking, “One thing I’d like to see more of is seniors working in the hospitality tent mingling with each other and younger alumni; that way, they might see, ‘Hey, life doesn’t end after College, I can still be a part of St. Mary’s after I graduate.’ … I think they’d also find it reassuring to see these young Alumni doing well because life after College can seem scary.”

Other events during the weekend included, on Saturday, a tour of St. John’s Site, a guided tour of Historic St. Mary’s and its many plants and trees, an art exhibition in the Boyden Gallery in Montgomery Hall, and a Student Government Association (SGA) movie night. On Sunday, Family Weekend concluded with “Toy Story 3,” also hosted by the SGA, following the final Hawktoberfest sporting event of the day against Bridgewater Field Hockey.

While not all campus visitors during the weekend were aware of the planned events beforehand, many seemed to still enjoy themselves. “[My sister] and I both had no idea that it was family weekend when we planned my visit,” said Rosie Hammack, younger sister to senior Ellie Hammack. “Being around and living with students here is definitely a blast. There’s just a very relaxed, friendly vibe at this school.”

Current Students, Alumni Arrested at Protest

Seven St. Mary’s students and alumni joined author Bill McKibben, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, and representatives of Canada’s impacted First Nations in the daily protests against the Keystone Pipeline. Over 2,000 people from all 50 states are expected to take part in the two week sit-in at the White House, which began Saturday, August 20, and will end on Saturday, September 3. The action has also received support from actors Daryl Hannah and Mark Ruffalo.

Participants in the action include sophomore Bethany Davis, seniors Johanna Galat, Emily Saari, and Caroline Selle, and Jamie Phillips (’11).  Aaron French (‘11) and Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall (‘11) also plan to take part in the sit-in later this week.  The students include leadership and activists in St. Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition, the former student trustee, the executive directors of the Maryland Student Climate Coalition, and leaders in the Sierra Student Coalition.

“The President said that in order to take action on climate change, he needs to feel the support of a movement behind him. We’ve tried phone calls and petitions; we’ve done everything we can. This is our way of telling him that the support he’s looking for is right outside his front door,” said Selle.

The proposed Keystone Pipeline is approximately 1,660 miles of pipeline which would transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Opponents believe that the pipeline will be a crutch for our addiction to fossil fuels, and the SMCM protestors intended to demonstrate their displeasure to President Obama.

“As the source of the second largest pool of carbon in the world, Dr. Hansen has called the extraction of the tar sands ‘game over for the climate,’” said Saari.  “If we’re ever going to start moving away from our addiction to fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy, this pipeline cannot be built. Enough is enough.”

Many of the Maryland protesters carried signs shaped as wind turbines and called for the development of offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic as an alternative to tar sands oil. Others were in Washington, D.C. to prevent destruction of biodiversity, further oil spills, desecration of tribal lands, and damage to their homes and land.

Anonymous Graduating Donor Helps Future Students

In a generous act of kindness, a member of the class of 2011 has decided to donate $1,000 to the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Fund.

The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to donate this money after witnessing the struggles of the student body.

The donor told members of the administration that this act of giving was done in an attempt to inspire other members of the college and campus community to donate towards scholarships.

“When I heard this story, I jumped up and down at this moving philanthropic gesture,” said Vice President of Advancement Maureen Silva, “I have worked on projects that have received gifts worth millions of dollars but I am honored to have witnessed this gift.”

The College’s Fund is still in a poor state after the recent downturn in the economy.

Even though the College has begun to make returns in its investments once again, most of the endowment fund is still under corpus.

“The school has had other priorities and projects so the fund has been overlooked,” said Silva, “but now scholarships will take center stage.”

With tuition increasing by six percent, many students would have qualms about donating more money to the school.

What many students do not understand is that after tuition, room, board, and state funding, the College still needs more support to function, according to Silva.

She explained that it is especially needed for any new endeavors and said, “additional support is needed as we grow; it is how we are able to help create new opportunities and take quality to new levels.”

Karen Raley, the newly-promoted Donor Communications Officer for the Advancement Office, is planning to use the story about the graduating donor to increase participation among the alumni.

“We want to share this story with alumni and students,” said Raley, adding, “we must share with them the importance of giving back to future generations of students.”

In an attempt to spread the news about this donation and others, the Advancement Office has begun designing a new website that will focus on donation stories.

It should be up by the end of this academic year in time for new alumni to hear of their peers’ contributions.

As for this anonymous donation, it seems as though it has already inspired others in the community.

“I give [money to the College] every year,” said Michael Carver, ’05, a recent St. Mary’s graduate and newly hired Senior Development Officer for Major Gifts, “but seeing this student’s gift, I feel like I can give more.”

As she begins to plan for the next major campaign, Silva has already committed to making scholarships the main focus and hopes that this inspires more donations.

“Donating is a great way to express appreciation for your education,” said Silva. “There is no greater way to show your appreciation than by giving back.”

Anyone who desires to make contributions to the College can do so by contacting the Advancement Office at 240-895-4286 or by visiting their web page for more information at


Golf tournament In Swing After Delay

The second annual Hawktober Festival Golf Tournament, an 18-hole competition hosted by the College Alumni Office and Athletics Department, finally took place on Oct. 29 after an initial delay earlier in the month due to weather conditions.

Originally scheduled during Family Weekend and Hawktoberfest, the first weekend of the month, the tournament was delayed due to inclement weather that hit campus earlier that week.

“It was postponed until Friday, Oct. 29 because of the 15 inches of rain that we received earlier this month,” said Director of Alumni Relations David Sushinsky in an email to all students, faculty, and staff.

While this tournament was the second of its kind with the “Hawktoberfest” affiliation, the idea of the tournament began several years ago under Alumni Relations, as the tournament was held every year for returning alumni during the summer.

“The alumni office used to host a golf tournament during Alumni Weekend in June,” said Sushinsky. “I figured it would be nice to hold it during the school year so we could include faculty, staff, and current students.”

The Alumni Office set the tournament location to the Cedar Point Golf Course, at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Golfers, consisting of current St. Mary’s students, alumni, faculty, and staff, went out to the driving range at 7:30 a.m. on Friday in preparation for the start of the tournament at 9 a.m.. The tournament entry fee was $65 for students and $100 for non-students.

“We had some extra profit left over from last year and so we decided to lower the cost of student participation from $100 to $65,” said Sushinsky. “Despite that, we still haven’t had a lot of current student participation.”

While students are not participating as much as expected or hoped by the Alumni Office, more people registered for the Oct. 1 tournament this year than did for last year’s competition.

“We had 80 golfers signed up for the Oct. 1 date, which was great since we only had 51 last year from our first attempt,” said Sushinsky. “[It was a] good turnout [on Friday] – we had 51 golfers.”

The tournament itself is mainly self-sufficient, as enough profit is made each year between admissions and sponsorships to cover the expenses of the event. This was important during its planning phases, as the Alumni Office did not have sufficient funds to pay for the entire tournament. Fifteen local sponsors also contributed to the tournament.

While the tournament was just added to the Hawktoberfest activities line-up, more activities are being proposed for next year. “It seems that each year, we are adding something new to encourage alumni to return,” said Sushinsky.

“Next year we hope to add small one-hour academic seminars taught by professors. With that addition to our current events, alumni will have academic, athletic and social incentives to return to St. Mary’s on that particular weekend.”

Oct. 29 turned out to be a sunny day for golfing, which seemed to counterbalance the strong winds throughout the tournament. Out of the 51 participants, the three top teams were recognized. The first place team, with David Mummert, Andy Mummert, Matt Van Wie, and Andy Loney, won out over Herb Gainey, Philip Gainey, Bradley Gainey, and Patrick Bell, on the second place team. The team consisting of Bernie Taylor, John Enright, Paul Lynch, and Daniel Reaver took third place.

“The tournament was great, and I’m not just saying that because we won,” said David Mummert. “I’ll definitely be playing again next year and hopefully I’ll be able to bring at least another foursome of alumni from my era.”

Participants in the tournament were provided lunch and beverages throughout the day, as well as gifts from the sponsors. “I’ve played in lots of scramble tournaments like this,” said David Mummert, “and this is the only one I’ve played in where every player goes home with a bottle of wine. That’s pretty cool.”

While new events will be added to next year’s Hawktober Festival, the golf tournament is still on the Hawktoberfest schedule, with the hopes of attracting even more students to the course for its third anniversary.

Trustee Profile: Neil Irwin

Trustee Neil Irwin (Photo Submitted by Neil Irwin)
Trustee Neil Irwin (Photo Submitted by Neil Irwin)

Neil Irwin, economics reporter for the Washington Post and St. Mary’s alum is the focus of this weeks Trustee Profile. Irwin graduated from St. Mary’s in 2000 and began as an intern at the Washington Post the same year.

On the Board of Trustees, Irwin has served as the chair of the Enrollment and Student Affairs Committee and was also heavily involved in the Presidential Search Committee.
Irwin said, “I’m thrilled that we picked Joe Urgo. It was a long and difficult process and we as the board learned a lot about the college.”

“It triggered a lot of deep thinking about the future of the college….[Dr. Urgo] is a leader who I think is going to lead St. Mary’s into a wonderful period.”

He said his goals and “ambitions are the same as all those affiliated with St. Mary’s.” The Board is always striving to help the college grow and be a place where people of all backgrounds can get a first-rate liberal arts education.”

During his time on the Board of Trustees, Irwin said he has learned a lot about St. Mary’s. “One thing we learned in the [Presidential] search was that there was distrust between different groups on campus; that’s not the way it should be.”

When he heard about the greater transparency and visibility of campus figures like Dr. Urgo and Chief Santiago, Director of Public Safety, he said, “I’m pleased to hear there is progress in rebuilding that culture at St. Mary’s.”

Irwin said the members of the Board of Trustees are “all pretty accessible people…[and] most of us are pretty eager to hear from students. If people want to contact us directly feel free.” A list of all the members on the Board of Trustees is available on the college’s website.

He also stated he and Molly Mahoney Matthews have plans to visit and meet with students in general or the SGA in the next few months.

Hawktoberfest 2010: A College Athletic Celebration

Photo by Katie Henry
Photo by Katie Henry

The St. Mary’s Hawktoberfest, held last Friday through Sunday alongside the College’s Family Weekend, saw a host of activities to commemorate the past, present, and future athleticism of St. Mary’s.

While last week’s intense rainstorms postponed the 2nd Annual SMCM Hawktober Festival Golf Tournament (initially scheduled for Oct. 1) until Oct. 29, the Alumni games were in full swing during the weekend.

After the Petruccelli 5K Run on Friday, Saturday’s games included Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s and Women’s Swimming, Women’s Soccer, and Women’s Field Hockey. Sunday concluded the festival with Men’s and Women’s Tennis vs Alumni matches and Women’s Soccer vs Christopher Newport University.

Students, faculty, parents, and community members came out to see players old and new go head-to-head for some friendly competition and, most importantly, reunion. The return of past athletes and their families shows how strongly the College’s students are tied to this campus, and how a degree is never really the end of College life.

The weekend’s events were hosted by the College’s Alumni Association, which functions to maintain connections between the College and its graduated students.

Alumnus Arrested Amongst Increasing Alcohol Incidents

The sheriff’s office has visited campus multiple times this semester. The police were called on at least three separate occasions.

The first call resulted in the arrest of college alum Ian Isaac. Isaac was arrested at 3:10 a.m. on September 4 and charged with trespassing and two counts of second-degree assault.

The arrest came after Isaac was issued a notice not to trespass on College property by public safety at 12:20 a.m. the same day. Isaac went to the Green Door and then returned to campus, where he began a fight. Public safety notified the sheriff’s office, and Isaac was arrested upon their arrival.

The police were also called for a hit and run and once for a disagreement between students.

“We’re in a close working relationship with the deputies,” said public safety officer Sergeant Tony Brooks. Police officers also visited campus to present public safety with brochures aimed at preventing the use of fake IDs and because, “they got some intelligence in regards to Kegs for Kids… [and] the slip and slide,” said Santiago.

The police were concerned that the hosts of Kegs for Kids, students who live in an off campus house, would be providing alcohol to students under 21.

The police presence on campus has been heavier than normal, said Brooks, and public safety has had to deal with more than the usual number of problems as well. “I think a lot of [students] feel that Public Safety can’t do much or that they aren’t going to do much. [Public safety] Officers called and told me they think it’s going to be a rough year.”

The number of hospital visits has also been out of the ordinary. According to the new chief of public safety, Christopher Santiago, public safety had to call five ambulances for students because of alcohol related incidents. Six additional students went to the hospital for various other medical reasons.

However, Santiago said that the number of alcohol referrals dropped from 2007 to 2008. In 2007 there were 179 referrals, while in 2008 there were 122. “If you look at the previous two calendar years…we had no alcohol arrests, both on campus and on public property.”

Santiago is under no illusions about the alcohol consumption on college campuses. “The reality is that you’re here in college to learn, and is drinking part of the learning process? Absolutely. You’re going to pay the price if necessary – and you will go forward in your life with a better understanding of what it is, what it’s about, and what can happen.”


The Rectory, planned building to house the Alumni lounge. (Photo by Kyle Jerrigan)
The Rectory, planned building to house the Alumni lounge. (Photo by Kyle Jerrigan)
In an attempt to more efficiently organize Alumni Relations while providing more comfortable accommodations for alumni returning to campus, renovations began over the summer on the Rectory, the center for returning alumni on campus.

For around six years, the College has leased The Rectory, a small, gray building next to Calvert Hall, from Trinity Church for office uses. However, the building itself is quite old, standing possibly 60-70 years, and was a crowded place for the work of the Alumni Relations office. The renovations, begun over the summer, serve as an attempt to transform the office spaces into suitable rooms and meeting areas for alumni, visitors, and partners.

“What I began to explore was how we could create that space,” said Maureen Silva, the newly-appointed Vice President for Development who proposed the idea of such a place for alumni. Silva and her staff, who had all originally worked in the Rectory, have been relocated to Calvert to work in the same building and make room for alums in the Rectory.

Charles “Chip” Jackson, the Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities, stated that “it’s an importance of any college to foster strong ties to our alumni group,” and that creating a social gathering spot for alumni would be beneficial. The building would act as both an alumni affairs office, and a sort of living room, serving similar functions to alumni houses that can be found on other college and university campuses nationwide.

While most of the renovations involve replacing furniture, a major change to the Rectory was the addition of handicap-accessible bathrooms with ramps, making the space more appropriate for alums requiring such services.

“It’s nice to have a place you can go where you’re not intruding on classrooms,” said Joseph Urgo, President of the College, in reference to the functionality of the Rectory as an alumni space. “It is a base from which alums can do what they need, and look up other alums as well. They may come back for homecoming, vacations on the waterfront, or simply to show their children where they went to college, so a designated alumni area would be ideal and accommodating.”

Though Silva established that the alumni needed “a large place to call their own,” the Rectory will serve the community as well, functioning as a meeting place for other nearby organizations.

Alumni Relations is also planning future renovations to the Rectory as this project completes its final stages before the College’s Family Weekend in October. “When students become alums, we want to foster relationships with them,” Jackson said.

“The aim is to keep everyone coming back when they leave.”

College Alumni Sarah Koh Interns for Weekend Edition NPR

The following is an interview on Friday, April 16 with Sarah Koh, ’09, an intern for Weekend Edition on NPR.

What year did you graduate from St. Mary’s, and with what degree?

I graduated from St. Mary’s college this past May in 2009. I majored in political science and I minored in film and media studies.

What is your position at NPR?

I was an intern for the weekend edition show, which airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings…and on Sundays I would have to come in by 6 in the morning to help the producers get the show on the air for broadcasting.

What made you decide to become an intern for NPR?

Well, I [was] kind of interested in getting into something in media production and communications…[NPR] seemed like a good place to work for, so I thought, “Why not?” so I applied.

So, what did you have to do to obtain the position?

I just went on the web site, and they have all the internships listed for each department and each show…so I just went online and applied.

What is your favorite part of the internship?

I really like just the whole hands-on experience…I had to do a lot of researching and booking guests for the show, so I would call a lot of different publicists, coordinate schedules and determine when we’re going to pre-tape an interview for the show that’s going to air on the weekend…NPR has a lot of member stations and bureaus so the host of our show will be in our studio in [Washington,] D.C. but whoever they’re talking to might be in New York or California …Sometimes we’ll have guests come to our studio and one time we had Wesley Snipes come in so that was really exciting…another time we had Jazz singer Jeremy Cohen come in for an interview…I think having that little brush of fame through our internship was a lot of fun.

You mention that you help producers research certain topics. What is your favorite topic you’ve covered?

All the interns produce this program called Intern Edition. We just had our premier on [April] 15, and what that is is all the interns get to produce stories…we’ll report [on] someone who we think is interesting, write our own scripts for it and edit our own pieces and all the interns kind of help each other throughout the entire semester…I think [through] the intern portion of it I also learned a lot concerning how to edit things, how to produce things.

What was your Intern Edition topic?

Over the fall I worked for this girl [who] has her own web show online called “Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden” so it’s…kind of like a “Degrassi” kind of teen drama…It’s only online and she hires her own cast and her own crew and she writes all of her own scripts and she pretty much does everything by herself.…It’s not just television or the movies anymore, people are turning to the internet to have their creative outlet, their own stories and [produce] their own shows and they have a lot more freedom because they’re doing all these things by themselves on a low budget… What people don’t know is that there’s actually this whole group of people out there that are making shows only for the web, and if you go online there [are] all these shows that people don’t really know about..

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?

Just multi-tasking all the things…I have another intership that I’ve been doing, at a casting agency on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then Wednesdays to Sundays I’m at NPR so I [work] seven days a week…A lot of the producers who I [was] working with directly would give me a lot of things to do for the day, but at the same time I had the story for myself that I had to be working on for Intern Edition.

What has your internship taught you about journalism, and radio journalism in particular?

A lot of producers say, “If you work here, you should consider yourself as a journalist because that’s the kind of environment you’re working in; you have to think as a reporter.” So in order to do that you have to be really aggressive and if you have any story ideas you have to let everyone know what your story ideas are because you can’t just sit there and let other people take an idea that you already have…I’ve met a lot of people that are always on the move [and] never in one place but work at one show for a while and then they make a connection with another producer on another show and then they go over there…You always have to put your ideas out there , have to always talk to people, always kind of be on the go [and] be aggressive.

What advice would you give aspiring journalists who want to obtain an internship?

If you are trying to look for a job, start by applying for an internship or a local member station…I don’t know for journalism per se, but I kind of feel like for anyone in my position of what to do after college…[try] to get as much experience as possible and apply for any position that’s interesting. Even if it’s something unpaid, if it looks like it’s something related to what you want to do… if it looks like something that you can get a good experience out of, you should apply for it.

Periodic Review Report: What Students Do After Graduation

Every five years, a college has to undergo an accreditation called a Periodic Review Report (PRR). As part of St. Mary’s PRR, the college has released statistics gathered about, among other things, life as an alumni. All data in the graphs is as of 2006.

The administration will still be accepting feedback on the PRR until Friday, April 2nd.