In the third installment of our 150th anniversary celebration, we spoke with Dan Murray, Scholastic editor-in-chief from 1966 to 1967. Murray, originally a writer for The Voice (Notre Dame’s pre-Observer student newspaper), switched to Scholastic in his junior year and covered many timely and controversial issues during his tenure.
Both Notre Dame and Scholastic have experienced a great deal of changes since Murray’s days as editor-in-chief. In Murray’s time, Scholastic came out weekly rather than monthly and catered to an all-male, rather than co-ed, campus. (Notre Dame would not accept female students until 1972.) Murray recalled pulling all-nighters with the magazine staff each Sunday night.
“It was a tremendous effort on the part of a lot of people on the staff, and it was a team effort: Everybody worked very, very hard to get it out.” In the absence of digital computers and printers, writers and editors had to use linotype machines — a laborious and time-consuming process that employed hot lead to set type — to print their magazines.
Murray described Scholastic’s response to the contentious political climate of 1960s Notre Dame; the magazine never shied away from politically divisive topics.
“The Vietnam War was really ramping up at that time, and the controversies surrounding the Vietnam War were coming to the fore, even at Notre Dame,” said Murray. “We covered that, and we had people in opposition to the war, we had people in favor of the war.”
The magazine even ran several letters from Murray’s friend Jack Walker, a soldier fighting in Vietnam, to highlight the details of life “behind enemy lines.”
Under Murray, Scholastic also covered the controversial topic of drug use, which began to take off in the 1960s. Murray laughingly described this issue’s somewhat unorthodox production: “They brought three pills up to my office, we took a picture for the cover. I never knew what those pills were, thank God.”
Murray, a political science major, went on to Harvard Law School after his graduation from Notre Dame. Today, Murray works as a pro bono attorney in Chicago. He largely credits his postgraduate success to his tenure at Scholastic.
“I think it put an emphasis for me on the kind of attention to detail you have to have. And writing, which is so important to lawyers … For me, it was a great education.”
Murray is teaching a class at Notre Dame Law School this semester and was able to connect with Scholastic editors old and new this past spring when the 1967 and 2017 staffs came together to begin the magazine’s anniversary celebrations.