On the death of Countess Estelle Doheny on Oct. 30, 1958, ownership of the historic grounds of Chester Place was transferred to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Initial plans to create a jointly operated graduate school among the four Catholic colleges in the city - Mount St. Mary's, Loyola, Immaculate Heart and Marymount - were studied and scrapped. A portion of the real estate came exclusively to the Mount. In early December 1961, barely a month after the devastating Bel Air Fire nearly destroyed the Chalon Campus, MSMC President Sister Rebecca Doan, CSJ, announced that the College would open a second campus and launch an innovative associate in arts degree in the fall of 1962.
The new program scored two "firsts" for Catholic higher education: the first associate degree on the West Coast and first in the country for women students. Rooted in the social justice concerns of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the new downtown campus was designed to give students from struggling high schools a chance to earn a college degree. One track prepared students for eventual transfer to a four-year baccalaureate program like that at Chalon. The other offered a vocational curriculum, with associate degrees offered in secretarial science, nursing, home economics, music, art, and even flight attendant training.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, 1962, the Doheny Campus opened to 220 new students.
- Victoria McCargar, College Archivist