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SMCM Athletics and Recreation Center Named After Alum Michael P. O’Brien


March 23, 2010
Press Release #10-067

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The St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) Athletics and Recreation Center was recently renamed the Michael P. O'Brien Athletics and Recreation Center after O'Brien, a local Realtor, member of the SMCM Board of Trustees, and part of the SMCM Class of 1968.  An avid basketball player, O'Brien was a member of the 1968 men's basketball team and continues to support the athletics department, the River Concert Series, and the artist-in-residence program run by the college's English, art, and art history departments.

"I first met Mr. O'Brien...as "Mike" during my second year here at the college during noontime hoops," said Colby Caldwell, SMCM associate professor of art, during the ceremony.  "It was during that acquaintance that I learned that ‘Mike' was actually ‘Mr. O'Brien,' the same Mr. O'Brien who would transform the cultural landscape at the college, and indeed, the community."

In 2003, O'Brien gave a gift to the college that SMCM professors Michael Glaser and Sue Johnson used to establish the Artist House, a home for visiting artists to stay during their time at St. Mary's College.  The Artist House houses 12 artists and writers each year, three times the number of artists prior to O'Brien's gift, and allows them to spend time with students, conduct workshops, and give public lectures and readings.

"While reviewing donors, I came to know him for many years as ‘Anonymous,'" said former SMCM president Maggie O'Brien.  "Eventually, I learned that ‘Anonymous' was Mike O'Brien...but he declined to be recognized for years and years."

Local artist Caroline Egeli painted a portrait of O'Brien that was unveiled at the ceremony and will remain in the athletics center.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.