The Public Honors College

SMCM Newsroom

SMCM Dining Hall Named the Raley Great Room In Honor of Raley’s Contributions

“A Great Room for a Great Man”
April 6, 2010
Press Release #10-081


The St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) dining hall was recently named the Raley Great Room after former delegate and state senator J. Frank Raley Jr.  Raley has been a decades-long supporter of the college and was instrumental in passing legislation in 1966 that transitioned St. Mary's College from a two-year institution to a four-year.  He also served as a college Board of Trustee member for 22 years.  At the naming ceremony, Raley was awarded the college's highest honors, the Order of the Ark and Dove, by former SMCM president Maggie O'Brien and acting president Larry Vote.  Former presidents Renwick Jackson and Ted Lewis attended the event, and Lewis spoke about Raley's contributions to the college.

O'Brien read a proclamation from the SMCM Board of Trustees, which recognized Raley's support of the St. Mary's College mission, his time as a trustee, and his counsel to numerous St. Mary's College presidents.  The proclamation also recognized Raley's work in sponsoring legislation that led to the creation of the SMCM Foundation.

"It's an incredibly important group that's gathered here this evening, and I can think of no one who could have brought a crowd like this," said O'Brien.  "We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and it's not often that we get to thank them." 

Former Maryland governors Harry Hughes and Parris N. Glendening were also in attendance.  Hughes spoke about Raley's contributions to the college: "He was elected to the Senate at the same time I was," said Hughes.  "He took a very courageous vote in the Senate to do away with slot machines in Maryland.  And obviously, that hurt him politically, but he wouldn't change who he is, and when I think about the book, Profiles in Courage, there ought to be a chapter in there about J."  Raley pushed to make slots illegal in Maryland, which probably cost him the next election.  However, he was still able to accomplish much during his term in St. Mary's County, including the construction of bridges, roads, and sewage systems.

"I remember the election of 1960, when Raley and John Hanson Briscoe, a former local judge and legislator, ran for the first time on the platform, ‘Throw the Rascals Out,'" said Delegate John Bohanan.  "Raley never stopped providing public service to the citizens of Southern Maryland...even when he went on to the private sector."

"He always loved the college," said Judge Briscoe. "J. Frank Raley was a counselor, a confidant of every president that has served the college since then," he said. Briscoe, who ran on a ticket with Raley in 1962, said the dining hall is "a great room for a great man."

"I don't talk much...but I'm very grateful today," said Raley as he accepted his honors.  "I've been proud to be with you here all these years, and we're building, I think, a great society."

A portrait of Raley now rests on the mantle of the fireplace in the J. Frank Raley Jr. Great Room, painted by local artist Carolyn Egeli.   

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.