A History of Gavilan College
by Leah Halper
Thanks to Suzanne Bulle, Terrence Willett, Joanne Howell, and Lucy Solorzano.
Special thanks to Kent Child, Bonnie Simonsen, and Robert Funk for their patience and graciousness in granting helpful, interesting, and provocative oral history interviews, and to June Halper and Fred Colgan for proof-reading aid.
This work was done in fulfillment of a contract for co-curricular credit. The author, having striven for accuracy under time pressure, wishes to hear from any reader who has additions or corrections to suggest. Please direct feedback to Leah Halper, c/o Gavilan College, 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd., Gilroy, CA 95020. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
©2003 by Leah Halper. Please credit the author for any use of this history.
A History of Change
The histories of California, of southern Santa Clara county, and of Gavilan College are all filled with rapid and monumental change. Since Gavilan was founded in 1963, it has experienced growth far beyond what its founders imagined in their most hopeful moments, and the college's existence also coincides with some of the most tumultuous years in state and national history. This history attempts to place the college into its larger context, and to give interested readers an understanding of Gavilan's first forty years. Change has been the constant in the California community college system, and at Gavilan, for the last forty years. But the people who formed the idea of a college, those who established Gavilan, and those who have worked and studied here, have molded an institution of higher education that is both responsive to local needs and part of the great evolving system of US higher education in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Very Early History
Gavilan College and the surrounding area--San Benito county and southern Santa Clara county--were until the 1760s inhabited by the Ohlone Rumsen people. Other native people undoubtedly visited for trade, harvest, or hunting, but the Ohlone were the permanent semi-nomadic inhabitants, visiting the same village sites on a seasonally rotating but regular basis. The college's site was one such village, and a burial ground: when grading work was being done on the site in 1967, tractors turned up five Ohlone gravesites. The local newspaper, the Dispatch, reported that the bones and artifacts, including abalone shells, found were taken by the son of the contractor doing the grading. (Since 1967, of course, laws preserving native village sites and particularly protecting Ohlone gravesites from desecration would have made this grave-robbing illegal.) The establishment of San Juan Bautista Mission in 1797 brought many Spaniards and then, after 1815, a smattering of northern Europeans and US citizens to the Gabilan hills area. The germ pools they imported had a devastating effect upon the Ohlone, whose lives were also disrupted, and often curtailed, by harsh European work schedules, punishments, and expectations. Spanish soldiers, religious people, and settlers began occupying the site known now as Old Gilroy, near Four Corners, by the turn of the 18th century, aided by a generous land grant policy the Spanish government used to encourage settlement of the remote area. A soap works was set up near the present site of Soap Lake on Frazier Lake Road, and a number of Spanish and Mexican men entered into cattle ranching. In 1814 or 1815--it's unclear when he came to the area--the first English-speaking settler, John Gilroy, arrived, a refugee from a British ship. Gilroy married local Californiana woman, one of the Sanchezes, and inherited her land grant portion. Many other English-speakers, including Philip Doak, followed suit, seeking special permission from the Spanish government to remain. When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1822, British and US settlers obtained new Mexican permits. Sometimes they were aided in their efforts by letters or testimonies from mission priests, marriages with Californianias, or their attempts to fit in, convert to Catholicism, and learn Spanish.
California became a US state in 1848, after a period of chaotic and conflicting governance and self governance. The city of Gilroy moved west to its present site in the 1850s, where it would be closer to the well-traveled El Camino Real. Gilroy became a stop for many travelers and stagecoaches because of its convenient location between San Jose and Monterey. (Another stop was Tennant Station, and the mission at San Juan was an important destination as well.) The town grew rapidly, aided by a Southern Pacific Railway stop in 1869. Hollister was founded in the early 1870s, and quickly became an important agricultural center; San Benito county was carved from a portion of a much enlarged Monterey county.
The Gavilan parcel was part of the Las Animas Rancho, one of the early land grants. The eventually land came into the hands of the Shumaker family, which used it to graze cattle and for orchards.
Community College Origins
Higher education was not, for most of US history, considered a right. Even getting public grammar schools required years of struggle in some communities, though New England led the way as early as the 18th century with free schools supported by townships. Even so, free education in many 19th century communities was limited to a few years of grammar school. Education was gradually pushed to extend downward, to kindergartens established on the German model, and upward, to grades beyond sixth where promising students could make more of themselves. "The battle for free public elementary schools was won by about 1850. The battle for high schools was won by 1900" (Hillway 55.)
But, ironically in a nation comprised of immigrants, the battle for free or low-cost adult education took much longer. Adult education for the purpose of cultural or vocational self-improvement was left for the first century of US history to clubs, lecture series, apprenticeships, and informal arrangements, for the most part. Lyceums, or voluntary, non-profit lecture societies, appeared in New England in the 1820s and spread rapidly as a means for workers to learn and debate (Hillway 47). After 1868 for-profit lecture bookers encroached upon rendered impotent the more traditional local lyceums. Working people could pay for intermittent intellectual stimulation, but a comprehensive, cohesive education that was academically challenging-and financially demanding-was reserved for the privileged. Access to a university education opened to middle class white men as the century progressed, but for most US citizens it was an unheard of luxury to study for four years without earning a cent. Before 1917, there was simply very little adult education popularly available, and most of what existed aimed at teaching illiterates and immigrants how to read and write; a few occupational courses were typically offered also, but most people learned job skills at work or from family members.
Community colleges did not exist per se until the 20th century, though several social pressures, experiments, and ideas important to the origins of community colleges were very present in the 19th century United States. Historian Tyrus Hillway cites three currents that helped create modern community colleges: the 19th-century efforts to reform US colleges and universities; the need for specialized adult and vocational education which grew as the nation's economy became more sophisticated; and expanding access to educational opportunity as an ideological outgrowth of democratic ideals (33). Other factors probably include the increased expectations of laborers, immigrants, ethnic minorities, and women that they share in the realities, not just the rhetoric, of the land of opportunity; expanded literacy among children which created a wave that carried demand upward to high school and beyond and, after the turn of the century, an economy which created more middle class jobs and households. In such households children were not required to get jobs so the family could eat, and the prolonged adolescence which resulted from their leisure also created some demand for higher education.
Ironically, two underprivileged groups in the United States had access to institutions very much like community colleges long before academia, dominated by white males, saw the benefits of the two-year arrangement. Women were, of course, barred from most major universities until well into the 20th century; Yale, one of the last hold-outs, went coed in the 1970s. However, many high school academies and seminaries that admitted women, usually to train them as teachers, had been adding thirteenth and fourteenth grades since the 1830s and 1840s (Hillway 40). Greenbrier College in West Virginia and Stephens College in Missouri are examples of this trend. And several two-year colleges had been founded during and after Reconstruction in the South for African-American students, who were likewise denied opportunities at white colleges. Two-year degrees from these colleges were prized in communities starved for educated professionals.
Meanwhile, the federal government entered the popular education effort in the 1860s by approving a federal land grant program that established colleges in every state by offering free land to the state government or private entity that was willing to build and run a college. Land grant colleges are still the heart and soul of the US educational system; many were built in or near agricultural communities so scientific inquiry and its practical applications could be of use to local farmers.
University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper is credited as one of the first to conceptualize something like a community college as a serious educational option for the typical college student of the 19th century: a white male from a prosperous family. Harper was trying to resolve the problem that universities were spending a great deal of time on lower-level classes and skills, and not enough time on what today would be called upper division work. He proposed that high schools extend their offerings by two years to better prepare students for rigorous university work. He also proposed that weak four-year colleges drop their junior and senior years (hence his idea was called the "decapitation model," and sounded as alarming and unappealing to college officials as its name implies) and focus on the first two years to make themselves into lower division specialists. Not many universities followed his advice, but high schools were intrigued by it, and much experimentation occurred all over the country. Harper also proposed that two years of college might be adequate for many students, and by 1902 he was advocating something quite like a modern community college, which he argued would greatly benefit students and community alike (Hillway 38).
Decatur Baptist College in Texas opened a denominational two-year program in 1897. The public-funded Joliet Junior College in Illinois followed suit in 1902 (39). Hillway documents the existence of eight "junior colleges" in 1900, with about 100 pupils. However, the real growth period was between 1900 and 1920, when hundreds of institutions, then called junior colleges, were established. One factor was growing expectations among women. Some residue of the informal lyceum tradition remained viable among women, whose opportunities were slowly but unevenly expanding. Hillway notes:
At the turn of the century women became gradually more important in strengthening and improving adult education. They faithfully supported the lecture programs. Many of them had become teachers, and more and more were beginning to receive some form of higher education. As women grew economically independent and exercised an interest in civic affairs, they sought opportunities for self-instruction and exchange of information through many informal means, including especially the women's clubs. (48)
The trend supporting adult education accelerated rapidly after World War I, when exposure to a foreign war, one which required an initial hard sell and had hollow result, made many US citizens demand more melting in the melting pot; a fever of nationalism during and after WWI, generated much support for adult education classes, often offered at night on high school campuses, on "Americanization"-the US constitution, social order, and the study of English (Hillway 48). Some of the pro-Americanism turned ugly, feeding strong anti-immigrant sentiments. Progressives tried to slake these with Americanization opportunities at community colleges. For keen community college officials, noting the huddled masses of immigrants, it was clear that the substantial work of "Americanization" of adults-the usual language and citizenship skills, and acculturation experiences such as cooking and sewing classes--could not be always done at the K-12 system, and would not be done at universities. (Interestingly, adult education was offered more or less consistently beginning in 1915 at Gilroy Union High School, in part to teach skills and in part to teach citizenship to immigrants.) Community colleges opened their doors to serve immigrants, a function that has become particularly important in California (Deegan 53).
In this period, many community colleges were extensions of high schools or academies; some were "decapitations" of four-year colleges; some were entirely new and separate two-year colleges (41). By 1920, representatives of 34 junior colleges formed the American Association of Junior Colleges. Nationwide, at that point, there were nearly 200 junior colleges with 15,000 students (41).
Between 1920 and 1940, junior colleges grew in importance and enrollment, especially during the Great Depression (Deegan 8). During this period, expansion of public junior colleges far outstripped private and religious institutions. At the same time, diversification occurred: before 1920, junior colleges often saw themselves as miniature imitators of universities, and tried hard to replicate the first two years of university experience. Little attention was paid to vocational/technical curriculum or to community service (Hillway 42). After 1920, a number of trade and business schools entered the field, or merged with existing institutions. Most were in involved with agricultural or mechanical training (Hillway 46). The melding of academic and vocational/technical fields was underway (Hillway 42), and many colleges offered a broad curriculum in both academics and vocational/technical fields to attract as many students as possible to the new institutions. To make themselves more competitive, many voc-tech programs established advisory boards to capture the support and expertise of prominent owners local businesses (Deegan 12).
In this period, many states established higher education commissions to mediate and plan relationships between the various higher education levels. These "often clarified state interest in the junior college mission" (Deegan 9).
In the next stage, from 1945 to the 1970s, junior colleges became community-serving institutions, which led by the 1960s to the widespread rejection of "junior" college in favor of "community" college. Most colleges also broke their last direct ties with high school districts, becoming their own institutions in most states; most worked to improve ties with four-year colleges, using articulation and guaranteed transfer agreements to provide assured access upward for their students (Deegan 15)
During the 1970s and 1980s, several more changes hit community colleges. Collective bargaining laws were passed in many states, and many faculties organized (Deegan 17). This development had a major impact on Gavilan and on other colleges. Also in this period, several states underwent taxpayer revolts that ended the healthy, stable funding base for community colleges in many places, including California. Non-traditional courses were introduced, and marketed to non-traditional segments hitherto underrepresented even at the inexpensive, open-door community colleges: immigrants, people with disabilities, and re-entry women (Deegan 21).
In the twentieth century, California was a visionary leader in extending free public education upward beyond high school (56). In 1907 California passed the Caminetti Act (Deegan 6), authorizing the establishment of junior colleges by local high school districts. Fresno High School began in 1910 to offer college classes, and by 1916, another 16 districts organized junior colleges that were locally funded. In 1917 the state made provisions for state and county support for junior college departments that were established within existing high schools (56), which led to a mini-boom in the founding of new colleges. More state support was voted in 1921, and that year the legislature also permitted separate independent junior colleges to form. By 1931, the original 16 high school/junior college districts had been reorganized into ten college districts, and seven new junior college districts had been added. By 1947, California had 68 high school district junior colleges and 24 junior colleges administered by 22 community college districts (two districts ran more than one college)(56). That year, according to P. Callan's 1983 report to the state's postsecondary education commission, the state's junior college budget was $16 million; 23 percent came from state funding, 30 percent from the federal government, and 47 percent from local taxes (Deegan 10). And in 1947 California also established a financing method for community colleges that ensured stability for several decades; it guaranteed a base of state funds, established guidelines for computing tax rates, and gave state equalization funds which theoretically would erase differences between rich and poor districts, though enforcement has been inadequate (Deegan 10.) California also was a leader in stating that the goal of equal opportunity for post-secondary education should be a goal for mature adults as well as younger students. Junior colleges' mission was dizzyingly defined as terminal education, general education, transfer and career guidance, transfer preparation, adult education, and remediation of matriculation deficiencies (Deegan 9).
Collective bargaining was also an important part of the history of community colleges in California. The Rodda Act, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 1976, introduced collective bargaining to California's community colleges (Rubiales).
All but one of California's community colleges engage in collective bargaining. Together, these colleges make up the largest system of higher education in the United States. Seventy distinct districts administer 108 colleges and dozens of "centers" at locations such as military bases, shopping malls, and urban storefronts; more collective bargaining occurs within this system than anywhere else in American higher education. (Rubiales)
A common tension for community colleges has long existed between a stable academic curriculum (not so stable in our day, as technology requires constant revision and catch-up), and a catch-as-catch-can segment that responds to market demands for vocational training (Deegan ix).
Change has been a constant at community colleges. Deegan attributes this to the lack of some academic traditions during formative periods; the diversity of the local communities that supported junior colleges appropriate to their needs, which kept changing with social and economic developments; and effective local, state, and national advocates who shaped community colleges as a new educational option (4). Community colleges have long been both "egalitarian" and "utopian," responding quickly to society's demands for changing education (5). And the local control of community colleges has made them unique within higher education, which in most states is more centrally planned and controlled. Community colleges are also distinct from one another. Boards of trustees have unusual leeway with funds and levying taxes (Deegan 9).
San Benito Junior College turns into Gavilan
San Benito College opened in 1919 as San Benito Teachers College, and enrolled 200 students in its early years (Fuchs 1). Its first president was Jimmy Davis, and its "most famous director" was Dean Powers (Fuchs 1). By the late 1950s, with community colleges in Salinas and San Jose as attractive alternatives, enrollments dipped as low as 40. Then state laws regarding population base requirements for colleges were tightened in the early 1960s, and the state informed San Benito College that it faced extinction. The state would withdraw support from all small districts that had less than a certain minimum population, according to former dean of liberal arts Kent Child (8/13/02); San Benito county was far below the necessary population base. Students wishing to pursue two-year AA degrees would have to be bussed, at taxpayer expense, to nearby Hartnell, Cabrillo, or MPC colleges unless a new college could be established.
Many students encountered barriers getting to Hartnell or the other colleges, recalls former trustee Bonnie Simonsen. "Many students told me they would not have made it to college if it had not been for Gavilan. We were going to give them a good shot"(Simonsen 5/5/03). Doing nothing was simply out of the question: there was a consensus that something beyond high school was needed for young people; "we were at the crest of a wave of small communities that felt they needed to do more for their children's learning." There was a sense that local young people needed to go out into the larger world (Simonsen 5/5/03).
Ralph Schroder, a math instructor with a doctorate who had ascended to the presidency of San Benito College, convinced his brother-in-law, rancher George Thomas, and some other prominent San Benito county citizens that it would be to everyone's benefit to join with southern Santa Clara county and launch an entirely new district. Southern Santa Clara county, and especially with Gilroy, the biggest city in the proposed district, would ensure an adequate population (Child 8/7/02). Part of the incentive for Gilroy and Morgan Hill voters would be a relocation to a more central site. "This really ticked off some of the old SBC people, but it was a shrewd move by Schroder," Child recalls. A major argument in favor of a new college was simply the high cost of not starting one, as a 1966 bond election flier made clear:
Under California law, every high school district must make available a tax-supported, tuition free junior college to all who are high school graduates and anyone over the age of eighteen "who can profit from the instruction." Formerly the three high school districts which now comprise the Gavilan Joint Junior College District met this requirement by transporting local students to junior colleges in other districts over considerable distances, paying tuition at the rate of about $1000 per year per student (Official Statement 7).
The first step was to put the proposal for the new district to voters. In January 1963, six months before San Benito College was scheduled to close its doors forever, Schroder must have felt jubilant to have the vote go 5-1 in favor of a new college district (Official 7). The college came into existence--with no buildings, board, or staff, but approved by voters--on January 8, 1963. A special election held later that spring to put in place with seven charter board members for the new district: two each from Gilroy and Morgan Hill, and three from San Benito county, which made for an odd number in the case of split votes. Schroder hammered out this compromise to reassure the conservative San Benitans that they weren't so much losing a college as gaining a key voice in a bigger and better college.
The charter Hollister members of the Board were shrewd, salt-of-the-earth, well-educated policy makers (Child 8/13/02). Thomas, a tall rancher in a cowboy hat, became one of them, and served many years, seeing himself as the fiscal watchdog for the college. Child recalls that in the early days, when the board reviewed every warrant and had to pass a motion to pay its bills, Thomas "just to be George, I guess, would always vote no. I guess he did not want to spend any money" (Child 8/13/02). The other San Benito county trustees were Dr. Norman Currie, who owned the impressive Victorian Currie Mansion in Hollister, and Howard Harris, a UC Berkeley-educated geologist who lived on an old ranch in Cienega Valley, which he eventually sold to the state to create the Hollister off-road recreational vehicle park. Harris was especially interested in the physical construction of the new Gavilan campus, and was a helpful resource with his professional expertise (Child 8/13/02). From Gilroy came Ellis Bogle and charter Chair of the Board Bruce Jacobs. The Morgan Hill representatives were Dr. Wolfgang Titus and Bonnie Simonsen, the only female trustee for many years.
Simonsen, whose father was a local funeral director active in local politics, was well known to locals for years before she saw an article in the Morgan Hill Times explaining that a new junior college was being proposed. Simonsen, who was widowed at a young age and had to work and attend college to support her daughters, was intrigued by the challenge. "Being a stay-at-home mother didn't satisfy me. I said, enough dishes and diaper pails" (Simonsen).
Reading a list of Morgan Hill candidates convinced her to try. "I thought, if they can do it I can." Many employees, who remember Simonsen fondly, were glad she tried. Child describes Simonsen as level-headed, pro-faculty, hardworking, empathic, people-oriented, and generally a breath of fresh air (8/13/02). "When things got rough, she would take back to the other trustees some subtle influences to make peace" (Child 8/13/02). Simonsen recalls that the first board members "fought positions very strongly" behind closed doors, but when a decision was made, the members pulled together without sniping (5/5/03). "The men were very kind to me-their language was better and they were better behaved because there was a woman on board." Especially at closed meetings, which could be brutal, Simonsen remembers that her presence "kept it gentler." The Board held its first meeting in May 1963 in Hollister, and offered Schroder a two-year contract as president/superintendent of the new district. Schroder, who earned $15,000 annually for his two years' efforts, ran a district that did not even have a name yet. The Morgan Hill Times was calling it "the new Live Oak-Gilroy-San Benito junior college." Also at their first meeting, the trustees promptly conceived a name-your-college contest. Within weeks they had 17 entries from high school students and members of the public. Because "Gavilan" reflected the geographic spread of the district, and was a lovely name to boot, it was chosen.
San Benito College administered its last final exams in June, and ceased to exist, though an active alumni association is still based in Hollister. Administrators and teachers were rehired, and arrangements were made for the new college to rent spaces at the old Hollister airport. The site, used during World War II by the Air National Guard, was owned by the city of Hollister, which leased it inexpensively to Gavilan for three years (with an option on a fourth year). Some equipment was purchased from San Benito High School, where SBC had held its afternoon and evening classes. SBC had won its most recent four-year accreditation in 1959, but when Gavilan replaced SBC, the state thoughtfully extended the accreditation for a fifth year, to 1964, thus giving the new college a chance to pull itself together. The Board met monthly, and its members worked hard, sometimes feverishly , between meetings.
By July the Board had hired a San Francisco architectural firm well-known for designing appealing college campuses: Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons. And in the fall the Board appointed more than fifty members of the public to four advisory committees which worked hard to define how Gavilan would develop academically, physically, and financially. If the Board of Trustees acted as the college's parents, these advisory committee members were devoted and skilled midwives. The Education Program subcommittee was headed by Rocky Lydon of Hollister, with E.H. Bibbens of Gilroy and Dr. Howard Nicolson of Morgan Hill. Also on the sub-committee were LeClaire Boyle, Muriel Brem, Edmond Bullard, Rev. John T. Dwyer, Robert Franklin, and Rev. Ernest Tufft, W.S. Breton, Rose Hernandez, Mrs. Jerry Mosegard, Kathy Rusconi, Kenneth Duran, Marjorie Lamb, Dorothy Mattews, Bill Muenzer, Caryl Shore, Larry Williams and Grace Winter.
The project cost and finance committee was headed by Jack Kazanjian of Gilroy, with Joe Chiri of San Martin and Marjorie Brady of Hollister. Bob Chappell, Wally Colt, Bruce Cooper, Louis Filice, Vernon Gwinn, and Donald Strahl, William Agler, Lynn Minton, John Moreno, Hartley Weichert, Paul Yokoi, Bob Baughman, Vic Edmundson, Earl Gunnels, Ed Hanna, Phil Klauer, Ernest Ricotti, Ronald Smith.
Bond promotion committee was Shirley Lantz of MH with co-chairs Ben Gutierrez of Gilroy and Jack Baxter of Hollister. Also Art Bannister, Carl Bozzo, Michael Filice, Lawson Sakai, Fred Sanchez, Junior Wilson, Sherry Anderson, Lee Buchheister, Carrie Gose, Ed Lazzarini, Masuo Minami, Eleanor Roberts, Joe Gabriel, Robert Helmholz, Millard Hoyle, Kay Mamimoto, and John Solano.
The landscape committee was headed by Ed Hanna of Hollister aided by Wally Colt and Robert Franklin of Gilroy, and Bill Muenzer of Hollister. Bruce Jacobs, Howard Harris, Bonnie Simonsen, and Dr. K.W. Titus served on the education committee. Jacobs, Ellis Bogel, Currie, and Thomas will be on the project cost and finance committee. All board members served on the bond committee, and Currie was on the landscape committee.
Each group made a series of recommendations that guided the board's decisions and actions. Early on, for example, the educational programs committee recommended that priority be given to a gym, a student union and administrative building, a library, a science building, and humanities, social science, and business buildings. The most expensive buildings would be put up first, the Board decided, using $3.7 million in bond monies that the college wished to raise.
The new Board also set to work at once piecing together funding; Santa Clara county board of Supervisors granted the new college $112,000, and Gavilan also received an advance on average daily attendance from the state department of education. Another $483,000 was raised by a 35 cent tax, with a 5 cent fee for community services. From the beginning, the district put a generous $100,000 into reserve fund. And Rep. Charles Gubser went to bat for Gavilan on several occasions. Among other victories, he secured federal student loans for Gavilan students who earned less than $4000 a year, helped the library get a good-sized grant, and won $276,000 in federal funds for student housing.
But it was clear from the start that a bond election would be necessary, and the first Board tried but failed to organize a bond election as early as December 1963. Trustee Thomas remarked that December was a good time for farmers to pay attention to local issues and vote, but it proved simply impossible to get an election together that fast. Not that the county wasn't willing to try: Schroder reported that the county was not only cooperating to get an election scheduled, but actually responded with "jumping action" to the request. Concerned about getting a date set as early as possible, officials planned a secret meeting of a college bond committee, but when the Open Meeting law, the Brown Act, was brought to Schroder's attention he cancelled the meeting and rescheduled something open to the public.
The bond election was finally scheduled for March 17, 1964. The trustees urgently needed the funds to run the college and purchase land, but like any responsible public servants, they had a Plan B: they would purchase land parcel by parcel if need be. The $3.7 million bond passed, enabling the district to put $20,000 down when it found a suitable site, and then pay $84,840 for three years, at 4 percent interest. The measure passed; the new college became a certainty rather than a hope.
Not all went smoothly in the transition from SBC to Gavilan; there was for examplea spat about payment for furniture and other items Gavilan had agreed to purchase from San Benito High School. There was also a dispute over who should get $21,000 in state funds earmarked for the college. Though the high school district was reluctant to give up the funds, Schroder persisted, and the state ruled that the money rightfully belonged to the college.
Gavilan's early decision-makers were tight-fisted, fiscally conservative farmers and ranchers who wanted to never take a penny more from taxpayers than they would defensibly use (though Thomas was the only one to routinely oppose paying bills.) The first board established a generous reserve fund that has served the college in many difficult budget years. An example of the board's rectitude and conservatism comes to mind: in 1967 the district found itself with extra money from a 5 cent tax on community services. Rather than pocketing the funds as a hedge against the uncertain future, the board voted to give 1.5 cents back to the taxpayer, reducing the tax to 3.5 cents. It's a bygone sense of responsibility for pennies as well as dollars, but you have to love them for it.
The Airport Years, 1963-67
Gavilan College opened its doors at the Hollister airport on September 3, 1963, and stayed at the site the full four years, until fall 1967. The first year's budget was only $559,000; of that $3,114 was paid in rent for use of the city of Hollister's airport. Fully $483,000 of the first year's budget was raised by a 35 cent tax and a five cent community services tax. Out-of-district students were also charged extra tuition. Classes began Sept. 3 with 243 students, fifty more than there had been the year before at San Benito College. Officials described this as an "enrollment stampede," and happily pointed out that enrollments were strong even though the airport site was hard to get to. More than half the students that first year were from Santa Clara County, clear evidence that a new location would draw in students who'd previously gone elsewhere. After the first semester, Gavilan's enrollment jumped to 442 day students and 253 evening students. . But not every district student could be served by the tiny brand-new college: one of the first orders of business for the new board was to enter into agreements with Cabrillo and Hartnell Colleges for students whose needs could not be met at Gavilan. And Gavilan agreed to allow students who'd begun studies at Hartnell to finish at Hartnell.
The airport site was far from ideal. Lab classes, such as chemistry or art, had difficulty setting up without proper facilities, and swimming classes were held offsite at Bolado Park in Hollister. Some classes were held in a converted chicken coop (Simonsen 5/5/03). Still, demand was so great within the first few years that it also was necessary to advertise separate day and evening classes, and some classes were held off site, for example at Gilroy Union High School. Also, the airport buildings only housed 300 students at a time. Founders knew this arrangement was both temporary and, ultimately, unworkable given plans for expansion of the college. There was pressure from the beginning on college officials to secure land and construct a new college. Paced by the energetic, furiously productive Schroder, the board set itself a formidable task: to build a college from the ground up in four years, designing and constructing the site, hiring staff, and establishing a curriculum and other programs.
And at the same time, they had a brand new college to run, and a thousand decisions about details. For example, because of the site's distance from Gilroy and Morgan Hill, the district needed buses to make regular rounds, and drivers to operate them. Class schedules were sent to all registered voters in the district, and piles were also left at the local high schools. The offerings included typing, shorthand, English, US history, music appreciation, and PE. A judo class-for men only-was also offered. In fact, most of the athletic offerings for the first several years were typical of their time in focusing on men--all the athletes of the year in 1965, typically, were male. Under the direction of Jim Ledden, the Gavilan Drama Guild produced Lily the Felon's Daughter in fall 1964 and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes the following spring. A chorus was launched in fall 1965. Later real estate and various PE classes were added, as was a police training program which gradually grew into a full-scale police academy for training new recruits and providing refresher courses to police officers. There were experiments with skills classes such as tree and vine pruning, and with real estate. The citizens advisory committee on education had put equal emphasis on transfer, vocational, general education, and adult education functions. This was a recommendation typical of its time, the prosperous 1960s, when community colleges worked hard to be all things to all people.
Because the college was understaffed in its infancy, people had to be willing to pitch in and do whatever needed to be done. "Fifty and sixty hour weeks were common," Child recalls. Faculty were hired to build programs from scratch and then run them as departments of one person. "There are very few now who could or would do that" (Child 8/13/02). And many faculty were approved to teach in their minor fields because it was just too hard to attract people with more specialized qualifications to a small rural college. Gavilan thus hired teachers who could teach in multiple fields, making the college as comprehensive as possible despite its small size. New faculty hires had to be flexible and hard working.
Personnel matters took much board attention. The first dean of instruction had to resign because he could not earn the necessary administrative credential fast enough. A replacement was quickly found in Don White, dean of students and a coach, who stepped into the dean of instruction position. He stayed for a few years, then accepted a college presidency elsewhere, saying the years at Gavilan were the best of his life.
The college proudly held a first commencement ceremony on June 4, 1964, graduating students who had started at SBC. Assemblyman Gordon H. Winston Jr. gave 35 graduates and their families a speech about Educating the Open Mind. Lunch was provided by the Patrons Association, a sort of booster organization, and served by the Associated Women Students.
Football was, predictably, a big college focus. But games did not always go smoothly. In 1964 the student governments at Gavilan, Hartnell, and MPC agreed out of hard necessity that they would share 50-50 any clean-up costs incurred by student vandals and graffiti artists before football games. The Board also hired some police officers to provide security during games, paying them $4 an hour.
Everything we take for granted at a functional college today was painstakingly put into place, step by step, by early Boards of Trustees and administrators. For example. salary schedules had to be written for classified staff, faculty, and administrators. An early formula was that administrators would earn 150 percent faculty salaries. And in 1964 the trustees debated a policy on controversial speakers. Trustee Bruce Jacobs was in favor of a little appropriate provocation, arguing "College is the place for this and it stretches the mind." But, said trustee Howard Harris, what about filth? Jacobs replied that of course no one supported filth. Perhaps the fairly homogenous nature of the early board allowed members to feel confident that they'd all define filth the same way.
In 1965 the faculty wrote a constitution for the Faculty Senate, and also started the Gavilan branch of the California Teachers Association, a guild organization without collective bargaining status. At this point, the GCTA dealt with issues of ethics, salary, personnel, and grievances, while the Senate was recognized as "a resource and advisory committee to the president/superintendent of Gavilan." But not everything was harmony; an emergency committee on faculty morale had to be convened in August 1965, to smooth over disagreements with administration before school began. The disagreements had an obvious cause: Of 29 full-time faculty that year, 17 had extracurricular responsibilities such as coaching advising, language lab administration. Compensation and overwork were early issues for the faculty. But at least full-time teachers had job security and salaried positions. Part-time teachers, many from local high schools and nearly all teaching in the successful evening program, earned only $6 to $8 an hour.
Besides load and salary issues, faculty found college officials paternalistic. One example was a board resolution passed in 1966 decreeing that no college employee could seek outside employment of any kind without the president's permission. Such attitudes, common in earlier eras, were increasingly resented and criticized as the sixties wore on and authority was generally subjected to questioning and rebellion.
A mid-1960s brochure touts Gavilan's small classes, modern methods and equipment, student activities that involved the majority of students, and free tuition. The "modern equipment" claim had at least some legitimacy: what appears to be the college's first computer for student use was purchased in 1966 for the math department.
The involved students were also real. Even students with jobs also found the time and interest to participate in college activities. Even parents were included: an annual faculty tea was planned by faculty and administrators so students could bring their parents to interact socially with the college staff. Advertisements for the event made clear that "student progress will not be discussed" -perhaps to ensure that a good time would be enjoyed by all.
Students attended California Junior College Student Government Association conferences. Alpha Gamma honor society students, with 3.0 or higher GPAs, also attended a state convention. Fashion shows were held. The Daedalians Club held a one day "fly-in" air show at the airport site in November 1965. The art class took a field trip to the Oakland-based California College of the Arts and Kaiser Center Art Gallery that semester also. Speakers also visited the college, among them Maria von Trapp of Sound of Music fame, who came in late 1966.
Wrestling, football, basketball, baseball, cross country were all offered. Cross country runners were referred to as "thin-clads." There were some wins in the early years, but overall Gavilan's performance was not notable. In fact, Schroder told state officials in 1966 that either Gavilan should be put into an easier athletic conference, or powerhouses such as Laney and West Valley Colleges should be removed from the same conference. They were too rich and had too many students to fairly compete with little Gavilan, he said. "We argued this in Sacramento," Schroder told the Gilroy Evening Dispatch in October. "And when we came home, our football team beat West Valley. Now I don't know what we'll do."
A new tradition, the Café International, was launched in 1963. The German and French classes practiced their language and cultural skills, and a number of performing arts students got involved in skits and music as the years passed. By 1967, the affair took a decidely different tone. It was still sponsored by the Humanities Division, but that year it was called "Mod, Mod World," and took place in a psychedelic wonderland created by students, who emceed by computer. The students who served wore traditional European costumes dressed up with mod touches.
Women students and staff labored under the restrictions of the era. When the Patrons Club provided lunch on Commencement Day, the Associated Women Students served it. And female staffers with children asked the Board for time off in late 1965 when their children became ill, but Schroder advised them to use overtime rather than sick leave.
The world did not pass the college by. In 1966 board members expressed concern that Gavilan would be used as a springboard for off-campus political organizers. For the most part, administrators and the board were conservative, but many of the Gavilan faculty were young and liberal. In 1966, when the Board began its usual round of budget deliberations, it warned the public that another inflationary cycle had been set off by the Vietnam War and the Great Society social programs of the Lyndon Johnson administration. A teach-in about the Vietnam war was organized by students, but held off campus so no one could complain that the college was getting too radical.
The college reorganized in 1966 to establish divisions with majors: Social Science, Life Science , Physical Science, Humanities, Health and Recreation, and Technical Vocational. In that area, early classes were offered in cosmetology, aviation, farriery , administration of justice, and construction science.
Gavilan tried to turn its small size to its advantage. It advertised that its faculty wanted to "further your education," rather than spending their time at research. By September 1966, 620 students had registered, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. With 30 full-time teachers, classes averaged only 21 students each. And 61 percent of the district's population was in Santa Clara county, which was already losing agricultural land to housing and urbanization. Interestingly, many early out-of- state students came from Ohio. Apparently basketball coach and chemistry professor Jerry Flook, who came to SBC from Ohio in 1961, brought a number of student athletes with him. That pipeline stayed open. By 1966 half the college's out-of-state students came from Ohio.
Classified staff tended to be old timers going back to the San Benito campus; the bookstore and cafeteria as well as office staff were college employees. The head of maintenance, Charlie Porta, had been with the district many years, for example. They were hard-working people-but Child recalls that classified staff and early faculty more or less kept aloof from one another. "Faculty had a classist attitude" towards classified staff (Child 8/13/02).
Ralph Schroder probably was the primary force in starting the college and guiding it through its first dozen years. With a great deal of help, he oversaw the establishment of the new campus, enrollment of students, hiring of staff, and procurement of accreditation. His maternal grandfather was a California impressionist painter well known for his pastorals, and Schroder himself was "a reasonably good artist" (Child 8/7/02). Born in Oakland, Schroder graduated from UC Berkeley in math and physics in 1937. He did some teaching in Dos Palos and then served three and a half years in the Pacific theater during World War II (Fuchs 1). Schroder married Catherine Hudner, who was from a prominent Hollister family. In doing so, he gained George Thomas as a brother-in-law-Thomas had married Catherine's sister. Both couples settled on family ranchland to farm. Schroder and his wife raised Hereford cattle on their 2,800 acres (Fuchs 1). Schroder farmed for four years before throwing in the towel , getting a job teaching math at San Benito High in 1951. He earned a masters in administration from San Jose State College in 1956, and was hired as the president of San Benito Junior College in 1957. In 1961 he received his doctorate in junior college administration from Stanford (Fuchs 1). He had qualifications, was already known in the community, and worked hard for the college and board (Simonsen 5/5/03).
Schroder was brilliant with funding, very good with the physical design of the campus and wise in his philosophical approach to college structure which he envisioned as blending practical vocational and academic programs. Schroder was supportive of divisions that brought together academic transfer with vocational programs for example--nursing was blended with PE (Child 8/13/02).Given his interest in art, it's not surprising that Schroder was also a strong supporter of the fine arts. His opinion that an educated person must have a good grounding in the visual and performing arts was reflected in Gavilan's generously staffed fine arts department: very early on, Gavilan had a full-time drama teacher, two full-timers in art, and a full-time music instructor, all with nice facilities. This was "unusual for a small college" (Child 8/13/02). Schroder also championed, and generously funded, PE and athletics. He built a strong athletic program with seven or eight full-timers, and during his tenure at the college Gavilan won state and national competitions. Bobby Garcia, father of 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia, dedicated his life to helping build the football program. To Schroder's delight, Garcia "lived and breathed football 24 hours a day" (Child 8/13/02). Those who worked with Schroder remember him as honest and forthright, and Child speaks with real admiration of Schroder's ability to make good hiring decisions. And though decisions about schedules were made top-down, Childs said they worked: "They knew what they were doing[Gavilan] did not have low enrollment classes" (8/13/02).
While he was a progressive and visionary thinker, and "the heart and soul" of the college (Simonsen 5/5/03),Schroder had some heirarchical habits that eventually made him controversial at the college. He was opinionated and rather temperamental, and had his quirks--for example, when he became a body builder in the 1960s he volunteered to pose in bikini bathing suits for health ed classes as an example of fitness and good health (Child 8/13/02). As the years passed, he lost touch with the local high school districts, and stepped on some toes with policies such as refusing to hire high school instructors even if they had masters degrees. Even more importantly, Schroder found himself increasingly in conflict with college faculty and staff.
"In those days Gav paid terrible rock bottom prices, probably in the bottom two or three in the state," Child says (8/13/02). This was because the college was small, and the Board was conservative, as was Schroder. While they were priding themselves in returning a percentage of collected taxes to the voters, however, the faculty were wishing some of that money could be used to raise salaries (Child 8/13/02). Strong-willed, pro-faculty individuals rankled Schroder; French instructor Georgette Smith and English/German instructor Ted Rempel were particularly outspoken and creative souls who displeased him. "He would bring us [new hires] in and shake hands and warn us to beware of the troublemakers on the faculty, and he'd name them" (Child 8/13/02).
Relations soured as the hopeful sixties turned into the seventies. A 1974 accreditation report criticized the lack of communication between Schroder and the faculty, and noted that he and his dean of instruction, Babe Heinberg, were unpopular with faculty. Within two months Schroder announced plans to retire, and told the local newspaper that he was going unwillingly because three new board members changed the timbre of the board. "Schroder is not retiring because he wants to but rather, because the Gavilan College Board and he have fallen out of step. Since the retirement of Howard Harris and Bruce Jacobs two years ago, the complexion of the Board has changed" (Fuchs 1). Schroder's only failure, reporter Jerry Fuchs wrote, was his inability to be diplomatic and to contain his "now famous temper." Pressure was put on the board by an increasingly angry faculty--not only were they angry about salaries by 1974, and but many felt that Schroder's (and the Board's) conservatism during the era of Kent State and the Vietnam War (Child 8/13/02) was unacceptable. George Thomas was key in ousting Ralph Schroder; despite the family ties, he came to believe that Schroder was no longer the best fit, Child said (8/13/02). The job outgrew Shroder, and the board let him go (Simonsen 5/5/03).
In 1985, despite early resistance to naming buildings as memorials, Schroder was honored post-humously when the Student Center was named the Ralph Schroder Student Center.
The Castro Valley Road site
As students and teachers settled in and pursued college education, the board worked hard to find, purchase, and develop a new site for the college. This required three inter-dependent and carefully timed processes: finding land, raising money to buy it, buying it, getting a plan for the college made, building the college, and moving into it. The processes took four years and overlapped, sometimes precariously. "This was the biggest work; the staff ran the school and already they were doing a good job (Simonsen).
The college had hired the San Francisco firm of Wurster, Bernardi, and Evans, which produced a simple, rustic, and clean design emphasizing local materials and natural looks. "We gave them a free hand; we weren't the specialists" (Simonsen 5/5/03). In 1966 a landscape plan was developed by Halperin and Associates. In seeking a site, the Board looked serious at four possibilities, all in the Gilroy vicinity. At that time Gilroy ended around Tenth Street (Child 8/7/02), so sites outside of town, that were big enough but which would still benefit from city services, were desirable. One site on Crews Road at the Baldwin Ranch, and one near Bloomfield west of 10, off Castro Valley Road, became the top contenders. In the end the Bloomfield site was chosen, even though it consisted of five hills and a strawberry patch at the time it was selected (Simonsen 5/5/03). Lawrence F. Shumaker not only offered the land to the Gavilan District for a reasonable price, but he held the land without looking at other offers for three years while the district hustled to raise funds. "People like him wanted the college to go," Simonsen recalls. The parcel was 125 acres, with five hills and a well that pumped 1,000 gallons a minute. There were five hills on the site, later leveled, and the parcel was about two miles from the city's sewage lines. This meant that a pump plant would have to be built.
Architect Theodore Bernardi, however, pronounced it a "magnificent site," and the Board voted for it unanimously. By December 1965, the plans were sufficiently complete to go to bid. The Board received eight bids, none of them local. The low bid was submitted by Wheatley-Jacobson of Palo Alto, and the Board also hired Halcomb Associates for a flat $2,500 fee to oversee construction. The staff and Board, however, balked at having the architects handle interior design and furnishings, arguing that costs would be too high and locals were more than able to handle these tasks. A representative from San Quentin State prison Furniture Factory offered to survey current furniture and have his shop make up any deficiencies, and in the end the Board decided to purchase some of the furniture from the California prison system. "They built solid furniture," recalls Robert Funk, journalism instructor (4/4/03).
Sewage lines proved less than straightforward. The site was outside city limits, and it would be up to the college to pay the costs of hooking up to city sewage using 8" pipe. However, the city anticipated some residential development in the Gavilan vicinity, and worked out a deal with the Board: Gavilan would pay about $80,000 of the hookup costs, and the city would pay another $13,000 to cover the additional costs of using a larger 12" pipe that could be shared by future residents.
Schroder hosted a meeting in early 1965 for all members of the citizens advisory committees and the interested public to look over the architects' proposals. Despite a little problem with engineers, who criticized the way the architects had drawn curved lines rather than straight lines when they envisioned grading, the plan was enthusiastically accepted. On Valentines Day, the ground was broken at the new site, and state senator Don Grunsky spoke. Construction lasted from summer 1965 to fall 1967 and was planned in two phases. The first would be $3 million for three science buildings, a library, student union, gym, theater, and maintenance building. The second phase would add a $500,000 cosmetology building, as well as choral, art, and humanities facilities, and a pool. Things moved quickly; Simonsen remembers how exciting it was to create a college, and how much fun to work out the details for a brand-new institution of learning (5/5/03). For a few years, the CJ 500 building served as a dorm for some athletes (Funk 4/4/03). This proved controversial, and for some time the college looked for apartments in town that could be rented for out-of-state athletes in particular, many of whom were African-American and subject to housing discrimination in Gilroy. Eventually the provision of housing became a matter between a coach and his players, rather than a college concern.
It became clear fast that the college would need to hold a second bond measure election. This measure also passed, in 1966. The Board floated $1.85 million in general obligation bonds, sold on Gavilan's behalf by the county in 1966. By then all the building and services contracts had so complicated life for Schroder that he asked, and received, permission from the board to hire a business director. The district also used accounting methods, such as transferring funds to meet obligations, constantly in the early years.
Most locals supported the college and were excited about its progress. A few neighbors of the new site, however, worried that they would be deluged with students who drove too fast and too wildly; the county and the college agreed to post speed 25 mph limit signs and see that they were enforced. Fines were $10-15. Developer Charles D. Davidson announced his plans to put in a 26 acre subdivision near the college; the housing was welcomed, but college officials said they hoped he'd drop the idea of a shopping plaza, complete with service station, at the corner of Mesa and Santa Teresa. It was not to the benefit of college interests, they complained, and sure enough, the subdivision was built entirely residential.
Construction was fairly predictable. In May 1967, however, tractors belonging E. A. Buttler, a local subcontractor, uncovered five Ohlone gravesites. His son, Dale Buttler, took some relics from the sites, including abalone shells and perhaps bones. Before the Native American Gravesite Protection Act, thefts of Native American sites were not illegal. Heavy rains slowed the construction in winter, when the site turned to mud. A developer was found for a nine-hole golf course and clubhouse in 1967. One unusual feature of several buildings, including the gymnasium and the Art Lecture hall, was that they had huge central girders. The gymnasium's central girder was the longest load ever carried down Highway 101-at 140 feet, it weighed thirty tons. Turns were especially tight. It was set gently in place on two huge notches prepared in advance; two men had to ride on the girder as it was set down, to keep it balanced. Child tells of a massive center beam being lowered gently into place in the Art Lecture building. Workmen first tilted up the walls of the hexagonal building, and huge truck brought in a giant boomerang shaped beam that would sit on two sides of the building. "A bunch of us went down to watch this giant monstrous piece of wood. They picked it up and lowered it down and it goes right down in to center of building. It was too short" (Child 8/13/02). There was a long delay while the short beam was trucked back up to Oregon and another custom laminated beam, correctly proportioned, was made.
In early 1967, a few months before the new site was ready, the Board gave Schroder a raise. His salary jumped from $19,000 to $21,000.
Gavilan on Santa Teresa, 1967-1970
The college staff moved to the new site over the summer of 1967, also known as the Summer of Love just 80 miles away in San Francisco. The board wanted nothing to do with hippies and their like, but a cultural revolution was underway, and Gavilan was not exempt. Gilroy offered nothing like what went on up the road at San Francisco State and Berkeley; even in Palo Alto and San Jose there were marches for civil rights and peace, but with a few important exceptions, Gavilan community members who wanted to demonstrate drove somewhere else to do so. Faculty participated in peace marches. The Black student movement was miniscule at Gavilan; individual organizers from the Black Panther party would come to campus and hand out literature, as did Brown Berets (Child 8/13/02). By the time it trickled gently down to Gilroy, the counter-culture revolution of the sixties resembled mere mild attempts to reform. David Harris did visit the campus with his anti-war message, and "and we got a few letters about that, but I felt we needed to open up the minds of the students to everything" (Simonsen 5/23/02). Yielding to the argument that students needed legitimate means to voice their views or they'd find less acceptable ways, the Board authorized the hiring of a journalism, English, and/speech instructor in May 1967, along with faculty in the sciences, business, and cosmetology. And for the first time the college considered student rights by discussing a grievance procedure, which eventually set up a student's right to question the judgment and authority of a teacher or other staff person.
At the same time, old-timers say they miss the students of the 60s and 70s. A much greater percentage of students were more academically committed, academically oriented, and had far more motivation than students today(Child 11/18/02). There were always some poor or disengaged students, but now they seem to be the majority, he said. Part of the reason may be that Gavilan students "tend to be very vulnerable and unsure of themselves" (Child 11/18/02).
Simonsen recalls another tempest over students who were playing cards at the new student union, rather than attending classes. The board was asked to require students to attend their class. After much discussion, "the board said the sty were adults, but we would not say to them thou shalt not." It was the best of American small-town democracy (5/5/03).
The new campus drew new students, and necessitated even more hirings, in part as older faculty retired. Kent Child recalls that his hiring seemed indicative of the times: he was a "hippie artist" who was thinking he might join some friends who were starting a commune in British Colombia when he heard that Gavilan had an opening in the art department in spring 1968. He was just 26 years old. When he came to the interview, lawns had been planted, but the trees were tiny saplings, and the campus was just "basically buildings sticking up out of dry dirt." He applied, only to be told after some wait time that the funds had dried up. Then, just before the fall semester began, Babe Heinberg, the dean of instruction, called and said that funds had been found. Could Child come the next day to sign a contract? Child had a family reunion planned, and asked whether he could postpone the formality. "I still remember his icy voice: 'If you want the job you'll be here tomorrow.' Well--I'll be there. Now I see it from the other side" (Child 8/7/02). In those days, teachers were awarded tenure "just for surviving" after two years. Not everyone survived: the new journalism position cycled through several teachers who stayed only a year or two before Robert Funk was hired in 1969. He, however, stayed for 21 years on the job as Rambler adviser, and for another fifteen years teaching speech before retiring in 2003. The early Board did not necessarily want everyone to stay: Gavilan's early reputation, partially justified, was that the district was tight with its money, and encouraged faculty to move on down the road to keep people from climbing the salary schedule. A fair number used Gavilan as a stepping stone to larger urban colleges (Child 8/13/03).
For those who stayed, building a new college was challenging as well as exciting. The day to day effort was enormous; stick-like trees and bare grounds reflected the bare newness of the buildings. Early teachers had to improvise; art teacher John Porter taught his classes in the area that currently houses EOPS, on the western side of the library complex. Porter was in his early 30s when he began, and for many students his class was the highlight of their Gavilan experience (Child 8/7/02). Gifted, colorful, flamboyant, inspirational to many, he was able to spark a love of learning about art and culture, and to bring out self expression in unlikely places, especially with marginal students. People brought kids and even grandkids in later years to meet the art teacher who'd made such a difference in their lives (Child 8/7/02). And early teachers were often versatile, able to teach in many fields. Because the small rural nature of the college made it tough to attract people to teach, many faculty were allowed to teach in their minor areas. The General Secondary credential goes back to before the early 60s when CCs splintered off from high school districts; they could teach any course, no strings. A community college credential was established in the early 60s, and phased out in 1990. There were few part-timers during the day, but most night faculty were part-time (Child 8/7/02).
Some of the early teachers were especially important in imprinting the college in its early years. In addition to Porter in the art department and Funk in journalism and speech, there were Cliff Pew in business, Ted Rempel in German and English, Georgette Smith in French and English, Don Klein in philosophy and various other positions, and Mark Levine in sociology and anthropology. Gavilan also lost some excellent teachers more or less in action: biology instructor Jim Law had a heart attack and died in his office. Georgette Smith got cancer when she was still a fairly young woman; she didn't survive the ordeal. Jim Ledden, whom Child remembers as having a Renaissance man personality, was assigned to start various new programs. He taught drama and speech. And he also created the geology program and courses. Ledden was an amateur lapidarian and rock-hound. When he too was diagnosed with incurable cancer, he left a huge collection of rocks that he and students had collected to the college. Law, Smith, and Ledden were honored by their colleagues with plaques. Ledden's is close to the theatre he loved. Smith's is on the main mall near the Humanities building, and there's another near the science area for Law. There were always some female faculty, but women were not hired in large numbers until the 1980s. In the 1990s women came to outnumber men on the faculty. Female administrators arrived relatively late, however: there were none until the 1980s.
The atmosphere for teachers was less than ideal, recalls journalism/speech instructor Robert Funk. ( 4/11/03). Of even fulltime faculty hired in 1969, he is the only one remaining.
The EOPS program was launched in 1969. At that point the district was 52 percent Mexican-American, and the average annual family income was only $6,458. The district tended to be a pocket of poverty within the more affluent Santa Clara county-which averaged $8,663 annual salary per family vs. Gavilan district's $6,458. A resolution passed by the board in 1970 pointed out that 35 percent of all Gavilan students earned $5,000 or less a year, and that the unemployment rate in the Gavilan district in the 1969-70 year was higher than it had been in Watts in 1965 and the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1966. And that rate fluctuated from 3 percent to 22 percent, with 11 percent unemployment in south Santa Clara and San Benito country, compared to 4.2 percent in Santa Clara county as a whole in 4.5 percent in California.
The tumults that rocked much of the state and nation in the 1960s finally caught up with Gavilan in the 1970s. More change occurred more rapidly than perhaps in any other period of the college's history. For starters, Gavilan changed its name. Until December 1970, the college was the Gavilan Joint Junior College District. A national trend towards a more dignified and community-based image induced a change to the "Gavilan Joint Community College District."
In 1970-71, there were 1,162 students attending Gavilan. Of those, 41 percent were members of ethnic minorities-compared to 50.2 percent in the district's general population. Among Mexican-American families, 63.5 percent earned less than $4000 a year. The 1970s saw an influx of local Mexican-American students, inspired by the United Farm Workers Union, Cesar Chavez, and a general climate of ethnic pride, many were the first in their families to graduate high school, let alone attend college. And the same urgency that marked Mexican-American communities at other campuses touched Gavilan. The most startling student action Simonsen remembers was a demonstration by Hispanic students, who lay down in front of the board room, requiring board and public to step over them (Simonsen 5/5/03).
At the same time there were surprising number of foreign students. Their presence was a wonderful boon to the annual international dinners started by the language classes (Child 8/13/02). Many students from the Middle East, especially Iran after the deposal of the Shah, attended Gavilan. Many were attracted by the strong science program, and encouraged by then-physics instructor Herb Peckham (Funk 4/4/03). At one point, the college offered Farsi classes; at another, Gavilan taught Tagalog. Kathleen Zanger founded the Re-entry Program for Women, which she directed from 1972-81.
In early years the ASB was a strong presence on campus; at times student leaders would confront the administration on issues, but they were not often combative (Child 8/13/02). The college was new enough so that individual students could make unique contributions: one, Bruce Carmichael, a student in his early thirties who was leaving behind a troubled past, was hired by the college to do various construction projects. He built the first initial Child Development Center, installed redwood paneling at Student Center and counseling, and built display cases for the art department that were graced by generations of student art.
There was also a huge influx of Vietnam vets, many of whom came back traumatized by war experience and used the GI Bill to just heal in a safe environment ( Child 8/13/02). Many of the students were hungry for extra curricular activities. Funk remembers many more festivals, international fairs, clubs, rallies, band concerts at every athletic event, choral performances, and field trips (4/4/03). "I started an art club and within a couple years it was very very productive with art sales, art exhibits, fundraisers. They'd rent a couple buses to take students up to major exhibits in San Francisco. There were more younger students, though also there were always especially in fine arts a group of older students who did it for recreational involvement" (Child 8/13/02) Students had more time-many worked but they also seemed to make time to be on campus more (Child 8/13/02).
The college was cognizant of the need to provide up to date and relevant education to its students: In 1973, the Board stated its determination to establish educational goals and programs objectives, and then evaluate them every year. Programs came and went: there was a construction technology program for about ten years, but changes with trade unions made it more difficult for students to get into union jobs. They still had to apprentice with the union, and most people opted to apprentice directly (Child 11/18/02). There was an electronics program as Silicon Valley was getting launched; it trained people to do electronic assembly, but died when potential employers outsourced to Third World countries. The program was also constantly challenged as technologies kept changing and it became impossible to keep pace with new equipment. There was a two-year veterinary prep program dealing with animal husbandry, a farriery program for the many horse-owners who wanted to learn how to shoe their horses, and an emergency technician program.
Part of the climate in the early years was constant enrollment pressure, recalls Funk. It was not until the late 1970s that the college could finally stop worrying "day and night" about enrollment and retention (Funk 4 /03). "In the late sixties there was still a lot of worry that we wouldn't make it. Someone was watching all the time--would we get enough students? Faculty today have no idea what we had to go through" (Funk 4/4/03). And early administrators were very concerned that the classes be rigorous. "I have respect for what they did--they had to do it to build the institution. The quality of education was a big concern (the board) was concerned that when someone left they would meet the standards of a four-year college" (Funk 4/4/03). This meant constant surveillance by administrators, especially the dean of instruction, to ascertain that classroom teaching and evaluations were tough enough. At the same time, the board was responsive to the needs of local ranchers, who were in many cases board members' friends and relatives. This is one reason why the school year began late in September for many years, and then continued into late June (Funk 4/4/03).
The fashion in the 70s was to teach huge lecture classes in a few huge rooms and to offer several small seminar rooms to meet in seminar sections with fewer students. This never worked because Gavilan does not have graduate students to run seminars, but in the mid-1970s Gavilan was able to build some new classroom spaces, and created the Social Science building with that model in mind. It immediately proved to be unworkable (Child 8/13/02). The building was jokingly called Fletcher's Folly, after Frank Fletcher, the history/political science teacher who was its early advocate (Child 8/13/02). The Art Lecture building has also had its critics, he said, but the business building was better designed because staff who were to use the building gave their input to the architects. The 1970s also saw the first stirrings of what came to be called distance learning: TV classes were pioneered in a few subjects here.
The campus was built completely without air conditioning; it was considered a luxury in the 1960s, and was not yet part of the culture. As people became more accustomed to air conditioning, criticism drove an effort to air condition all classroom buildings. Public art was also an issue in the 1970s. Art works inspired "great passions long before r2row," Simonsen recalls (5/5/03). Controversial sculptures would appear, be debated hotly, and then eventually, after the furor died down, would be dismantled.
But perhaps the biggest furors of the 70s involved faculty-administration conflicts. These were set off early in the decade when a pair of younger faculty, English instructor Ted Shuter and a history instructor, organized student protests against the Vietnam War on campus. They stood "toe to toe" with administrators defending their rights to do so, but Schroder reached his tolerance level and fired them after they'd each put in two years of service (Child 8/13/02). Each sued the district for wrongful termination; the history teacher lost, having compromised his case with some questionable activities. Shuter was academically respected, beloved by students, and admired by his peers. An anonymous faculty member donated a large sum of money to help fight his termination. Shuter went back to New York, his home state, and got a job washing out phone booths for a year while his case was being fought (Child 8/13/02). After prolonged legal activity, Shuter won his case and got a year's back salary and reinstatement. He stayed another year and then found a job elsewhere.
In the year following this double dismissal, the faculty was increasingly upset with the politics and methods of the administration. "Shroder was a dictator, but it caught up with him" (Funk 4/11/03). Relations between Shroder and other administrators, on the one hand, and staff, on the other, deteriorated to terrible. At the first meeting of the Faculty Senate the next fall, apparently overhearing some criticism of the administration, Schroder exploded into the Senate meeting, "berated us, and then collapsed on the conference table, gasping. We were in shock and freaked; we worried he would die of a heart attack. Then he gathered and composed himself and went out slamming the door" (Child 8/13/02). Senate members all immediately resigned in protest against this sort of behavior.
Funk recalls a general climate of intimidation and unhappiness. Faculty were required to chaperone weekly dances, where they were expected to act as "quasi-police" towards students who were adults (4/11/03). Teacher dress codes were as rigid as student codes: no sandals without socks were allowed, and ties and neat attire were expected of teachers. Those in violation were written up and notes were placed in their files. No matter when one's classes ended, one was expected to be on campus until 5 p.m. Anyone who left at 3 p.m. for, say, a dentist's appointment, had to ask permission. Teachers were written up for "inappropriate use of the podium" in class; concepts such as academic freedom and a college atmosphere of inquiry were foreign to the college's administrators (Funk 4/11/03). Administrators would review tests for their academic rigor, and listen at doors to see what faculty were discussing in class-and how they were discussing it (Funk 4/11/03). "Someone was watching all the time. It was a tough administration. We had to hang together to survive" (4/11/03). And low salaries further enraged the staff, which put in long hours and was expected to do much extra work; someone who stayed at Gavilan rather than moving to a better-paid job could easily lost $250,000 in a lifetime of work (Funk 4/4/03). So those who stayed did so out of love for the college. Still, for a number of years during the 70s, the faculty and administration were thoroughly estranged.
Schroder was given a year's notice by the Board in summer 1974. Most of the other lead administrators were also either fired or pressured to resign. All had retreat rights back into faculty positions. Heinberg was absorbed into business department for three or four more years until he retired. This inflamed some faculty, as Heinberg was perhaps Shroder's closest collaborator (Child 8/13/02). "He was uniquely able to work with Ralph Schroder and server as a buffer to the faculty, but of course he got in the meat grinder both ways," being blamed by both sides for problems' (Child 8/13/02). Rolf Bruckner worked capably as a counselor for some time. Bill Reimal survived the purge and moved into the Dean of Instruction position. Don Klein, who taught philosophy and coached, moved into the Dean of Students position.
Rudy Melone was hired to replace Shroder, and most faculty immediately appreciated the new president's attributes. Born in Connecticut on January 29, 1925, Rudolph J. Melone was orphaned at age three and raised in the Bronx (Gilroy Garlic). A Navy Seabee in World War II, he earned a BA and a masters in education the University of Portland, then earned a doctorate at the University of California- Berkeley. He served as dean at PimaCollege in Tucson, and at the Skyline College in San Mateo before coming to Gavilan (Gilroy Garlic). Melone was a dynamic Italian-American, whose wife Gloria taught at San Jose State. He was brought in to listen to faculty, and he had a talent for being liked among them. The Board encouraged him to build both the college itself, and Gavilan's relations with the community. Melone had the perfect personality for that assignment. "His personality was pleasing to most everyone-Rudy had a different thrust from Shroder. He would ask, How can we do it together?" (Simonsen 5/5/03). Accordingly, the campus under Melone was more harmonious. Melone also had terrific ideas, encouraging teachers to use professional growth funds to attend conferences and reach out into the world (Child 8/13/02). He did not want Gavilan to be small or isolated, but was a true promoter of education as a broadening experience. He and his wife gave parties fondly remembered by some faculty--wine flowed around the Melones' pool, everyone relaxed in causal attire and even bathing suits, conversation was both sophisticated and intellectual. Melone began to decentralize decision-making as the college grew (Child 8/7/02), and one means was to empower department chairs to do more scheduling and other decisions. He also reduced the number of departments and changed the configuration of the discipline clusters.
Melone can't be mentioned without emphasis upon his role as the originator and co-founder of the Garlic Festival. The first festival in 1978 was Melone's idea, and when he mentioned the idea to locals Don Christopher and Val Felice, they thought it sounded crazy. They helped him give it a try anyway, and the festival that was planned for 5000 that first year brought in over 15,000 people. The ticket-takers had to recycle tickets because too few had been printed. Twenty-five years later, the Festival has raised millions of dollars for hundreds of community non-profits.
But when he began at the college, Melone had his hands full with an unhappy staff. All over the country, collective bargaining was being legalized and sometimes mandated for community college employees. In March 1975 the Board tried stare down the impending tidal wave with a resolution condemning collective bargaining. "[P]resent statutes now provide adequately for employees, certificated and classified, to obtain reasonable benefits from their respective employers." the board argued. Besides fearing the adversarial nature of collective bargaining, the Board foresaw, and lamented, its own loss of control over "the management of their district." The Board urged opposition to a state senate bill that would mandate collective bargaining in California. But the Rodda bill passed in 1976, setting up collective bargaining for the community college systems (Child 8/7/02). "The bill defined the major bargaining units-faculty, classified support staff, and administrators-and specified the parameters of bargaining. Working conditions, compensation, and hiring and layoff procedures were negotiable, but curriculum was not; it remained within the domain of academic senates and administrations" (Rubiales). This was followed by the Stuhl bill, which allowed agency or closed union shops
After a couple years of organizing, the Board granted recognition to the CSEA group of classified employees in early 1977; the faculty followed suit in June, according to Board records. Prior to this, both groups had guild-type organizations. Both were membership-optional, and both had strong social functions as well as the role of advocates regarding salary and scheduling. The negotiations were fairly one sided; members of the two organizations would meet and discuss, sometimes for several meetings, to strike deals on salaries. "We did negotiate, but it was ugly" for the teachers, who had no real clout, Funk recalls (4/11/03). Often the staff resorted to threats, withdrawals of service, and work to contract, refusing to do extras that would have built much-desired enrollment numbers. There was a fair amount of "yelling, cussing, swearing" (Funk 4/11/03). Before the union was founded, schedules were made up by the dean, who handed each teacher his or her assignment (Child 8/15/03).
When the college faculty started the Gavilan College Faculty Association, a California Teachers Association and National Education Association affiliate, there were about 55 fulltime employees in the representative unit. Three-fourths voted for the union (Funk 4/1//03). The GCFA also negotiated for all part-timers who had at least a forty percent load.
Initially, until the early 1980s, the classified union was by far the stronger of the two, with good leadership and excellent statewide support (Funk 4/11/03). They had reps "who did their homework," and negotiated fringe benefits for life for all early classified employees of the district. The faculty union, on the other hand, was a "joke," was openly laughed at by the Board at one turning point meeting in 1981 (Funk 4/11/03). At that point, Funk, Jerry Moore, Lud Oliviera, Jerry Flook, and Don Santana decided they had to strengthen the GCFA. They ceased to be a laughingstock, Funk recalls, and made steady improvements.
Two problems arose right away when the faculty union formed. Four or five colleagues did not want to pay union dues, and contested the legitimacy of the election. They ended up in small claims court, where the judge found that the election had been fair, and he ordered them to pay their dues and thus become part of the GCFA (Funk 4/11/03).
The creation of the union posed another problem for faculty who were also serving as division chairs. The law said that if staff were involved in hiring, firing, and scheduling, they had to be declared management (Child 8/13/03). The union naturally did not wish to lose more than a dozen department chairs from the bargaining unit, so the union sued the district to force an interpretation. The state labor officials who were called in to adjudicate found that those employees were in fact management. "All of us who had been faculty one day became administrators the next," Child remembers (8/13/02). The administration bulged overnight, as former department chairs, who still for the most part did some classroom teaching, joined management. Friends and even intimates on the faculty began treating the new administrators differently, which Child remembers as personally painful (8/13/02).
Early relations between the union and college were strained. Melone made a speech when the board approved the unions, expressing concern that hostilities would prevent the college from moving forward. Child recalls twenty years of union-district negotiations as largely negative and adversarial. The district and the union would both make proposals that were not serious, merely expressions of hostility or arrogance, such as the district's proposed $100 parking fee for all staff (Funk 4/11/03). But Funk believes that the longterm benefits of unionization have helped the college by helping faculty. "We've learned to work together over the years and the district has benefited by getting a better faculty" (Funk 4/11/03). Faculty have some voice in the yearly calendar, and have been consulted regarding facilities, technology, and even parking decisions. Gavilan has a model faculty evaluation process now, the first in the state to include peer evaluations that are truly intended to improve teaching. And because of the union contract, all staff must be treated equally by administrators (Funk 4/11/03), an improvement over the old days when inconsistent evaluations meant that administrators could "go after people" they disliked.
In the early years, before many improvements were made, relations were tense, however. A great many board meetings were invaded by aggrieved faculty, often wearing buttons created on a home machine by counselor Lud Oliviera, and a great many newspaper headlines from this period emphasize tense relations (Funk 4/11/03). It did not help relations when a new board member, San Benito county resident Rocky Lydon, showed a caustic streak during the many contract disputes. At more than one meeting packed with faculty, Lydon appeared wearing a transistor radio and an earplug. "He was obviously checked out and not paying any attention, and he sat there with this little smile listening to the game" as faculty made fiery speeches about their grievances (Child 8/13/02). As part of the show, San Jose Mercury News South County bureau chief Bill Glines frequently leapt to his feet and lectured the board about the Brown Act, open meetings, and various other issues of concern to him.
In fall 1977 Gavilan had 2,847 students, and 37 percent were from ethnic minorities, according to Board records. Season unemployment was a huge issue; unemployment rates fluctuated from 3.1 percent in summer to 17.8 percent in winter, when farm work was not available, in south Santa Clara and San Benito counties. Getting enough teachers for all those students was a problem for years. There were cores of qualified candidates at San Jose State, UCSC, and in Monterey at various institutions, but very few came from the district itself (Child 11/18/02/). This difficulty continued until the mid to late 1980s, he said, and kept full-timers who wanted to do extra work busy teaching overloads.
If the tensions that led to, and resulted in, collective bargaining defined the early and mid-1970s, Prop. 13 ended the decade with a sickening downturn that took years to overcome.
The taxpayer revolt of 1978 resulted in a sixty percent loss of property tax revenues paid within the district to public agencies, according to a Board resolution from the era, and amounted to a loss of $1.7 million in income. The Board mandated that the district freeze all salaries at 1977-78 levels, and rescinded all sabbatical leaves. But mandating salaries without negotiating them with the unions was illegal, and the unions forced the district to the negotiating table. Naturally, unpleasantness resulted.
When money tightened, the union argued that too much money was going to administrative salaries. There was also considerable bitterness about the Board's longtime proud tradition of giving back collected tax revenues when they exceeded strictly-adhered to budgets. The post- Proposition 13 formula was predicated upon dollar amounts of previous taxes, so the college dunned itself out of some very sorely needed funds (Child 8/13/02). Though there were statewide efforts to equalize wealthy and poor districts, so community colleges would receive roughly proportional funding, equalization was never popular with large districts. And in San Benito County much land is under the Williamson Act, which means in any case that it will generate less property tax revenue (Child 8/13/02).
After Proposition 13, many old-timers on the classified staff simply retired. Prop. 13 stopped the faculty turnover for some years; people needed to hang on to jobs because new jobs just weren't opening up. Little new blood was hired and the faculty make-up stayed fairly constant, which was a silver lining that lent stability to Gavilan (Child 8/13/03).
The 1980s at Gavilan
The 1980s started badly for community colleges in general, and for Gavilan in particular.
In 1980, Gotthold "Bud" Ottmar, a coach and administrator, died suddenly, after seemingly successful open heart surgery. Despite a long-standing pledge to not name buildings after departed staff, no matter how beloved they were, the board gave in and named the gymnasium after Ottmar. But the death was hardly an auspicious beginning for the decade.
Budget woes were acute. In 1980-81, according to Resolution No. 284 passed by the district board, community colleges had an un-funded deficit of $40 million thanks to Proposition 13. The Board urged citizens to be aware of the serious danger to the college, and to "support measures to raise new and additional revenue to ensure the future of the state's most precious resource-its students and future productive citizenry" (Resolution 284).
With deficit spending, struggling programs, and bare-bones staff at all the colleges, it was perhaps inevitable that the state overturn one of the most hallowed foundations of community college education: its tuition-free provision. In 1982 the Gavilan Board tried vainly to buck the state trend with a resolution reaffirming the need for free community college education: "Whereas the legislature has abdicated its responsibility as mandated by the California Constitution to ensure adequate funding for the California public school systemthe Board of Trustees of Gavilan Joint Community College District is adamantly and unanimously opposed to tuition fees at the community colleges." Yea or nay at Gavilan, tuition became a reality that year for community college students.
Gavilan struggled through, but the toll on Melone was significant. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration, and slowly went blind. He retired in 1985, as the budget crisis had eased someway, and the college was beginning to see some recovery and even upswing. Melone was replaced by John Holleman. Gavilan's third president was a tall man with an outgoing, imposing presence, and a shock of white hair (Child 1/15/03). Holleman came to Gavilan from the presidency of Vista College in Oakland. Funk remembers Holleman as having great integrity and honesty. He was more effective, however, one on one than in large groups, which made him uncomfortable (4/25/03).
Holleman was a strong academician, and had been a community college administrator for many years. He'd been an internationally recognized marine biologist, specializing in crustaceans that he'd collected in dives all over the Pacific (Child 1/15/03). He continued to teach labs for introductory biology classes during his presidency. During some of Holleman's administration, every administrator taught at least one class a year to encourage a holistic approach to running the college. But there were unsuccessful teachers among the administrators, and the college grew so that administrative work increased, especially after Proposition 13. The practice was phased out (Child 1/15/03), to the relief of some faculty who questioned the wisdom of the arrangement.
Holleman was hired to herald the college through a wave of enrollment and fiscal growth (Child 1/15/03), and was able to award some generous raises. He was also the first to lead the college out of deficit spending and into surplus years (Funk 4/15/03). There was also a small cluster of retirements in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and some shifting of faculty. The board was interested in expanding outward . Holleman laid the groundwork for establishing the Hollister and Morgan Hill sites, though he did not stay to see those realized. He worked with city governments trying unsuccessfully to find a landowner who might donate land to the college. Instead, the college rented a series of store fronts in Hollister, where demand seemed insatiable, and offered classes.
Holleman had good ties in Sacramento. State assembly and state senate representatives visited the college often during his presidency. Holleman worked hard for special funding for small districts, especially equalization funding. He was so good at financing that he did most of the college's fiscal management himself, and his philosophy was to "always overestimate your expenses and always underestimate your income" (Child 1/15/03). Thus what was on paper was not real, and this created mistrust among faculty, who suspected that there was a hidden budget. When money began to dry up during the late 1980s recession, the college again ended up in deficit funding due to the ebb and flow of state finances. But Holleman had built up a huge reserve, so money was there to pay the bills for the first few troubled years.
The 1980s also brought some positive changes. One of them was an extraordinarily heartening experiment in shared work which resulted in the beautiful restoration of the faculty-owned Mayock House. Although the venture took eight years, from 1981 to 1989, all those who participated speak of the work as a pleasure. In 1981 the Gilroy Historical Society contacted Jim Williams, then a history instructor at Gavilan (Funk 4/4/03). There was an 1886 virgin redwood house at Fourth and Church Streets in Gilroy, Williams was told, that was slated for tear-down unless someone could find space and move it. The Historical Society wanted to preserve the house, which was built by an Italian farm family from wood hauled off Mount Madonna. Williams interested the faculty, and then the college, in taking the donation. A small piece of land at the west end of the northern parking lot was donated by the college, and for $10,000 the house's second story was removed and the building was transported to the site in 1982 (Funk 4/4/03). Construction technology students poured a new foundation, and provided some of the work in renovating the house, but when the instructor Ham Dromensk retired, the program died. (Dromensk's interest in the project continued, however, and he volunteered after his retirement to work with the project until it was completed.) Mayock House, named for its last inhabitant, a Gilroy Advocate publisher who came to town after the Civil War, became a faculty project. (Funk 4/4/03).The GCFA soon ran out of funds to renovate the building, however, and the college gave the GCFA a three-month deadline to get construction moving again on the incomplete eyesore. Under this pressure, GCFA member Jerry Moore got the idea that faculty could float loans to the project at nine or ten percent interest, and money began to flow again. In addition, the faculty assessed itself $10 a month until the house was completed. In all, the GCFA poured $95,000 into the house (Funk 4/4/03).
Even more impressively, the faculty found a project that allowed people to work together, relax together, and celebrate together. Funk and Moore organized work crews after school, on weekends, and during school vacations. They hung sheetrock, put in flooring, and installed plumbing (Funk 4/4/03). When necessary, the GCFA hired experts to do tricky jobs, but most work was completed by college staff and students, some of whom were "terrific craftsmen-John Hansell, Bill Reimel, Ken Miller, and Ted Rempel in particular, said Funk (4/4/03). Funk himself got the job of picking out interior furnishings-"no one would do it"-so he chose a color scheme and lighting. The oldest object in the building is the commode, which comes from the old Gilroy jailhouse, considerably pre-dating the rest of the Mayock house. Though it had to be re-porcelained, the commode works fine, if a bit loudly because the workers opted to not soundproof the bathroom (Funk 4/4/03). Now the building cannot be used for student gatherings because it is not state-certified as earthquake safe under the Field Act. But faculty and staff hold parties, gatherings, and meetings at Mayock house, and many interviews are held there because of the elegance of the surroundings. The Gilroy Historical Society is given courtesy use of one upstairs room, and those who worked on the house feel proud every time they drive by it when they remember the work they did.
Spanish instructor Tony Ruiz founded the English as a Second Language program with just one class; the mushrooming of the program into dozens of classes and hundreds of students is a good indicator that the program has been profoundly important in many lives (Child 1/15/03). Adaptive PE classes were also added, in 1986, to the curriculum to give students with disabilities a chance to achieve fitness and build strength.
Another positive was the passage of AB 1725 in 1987. The legislation recognized college faculty as partners with the district boards in running community colleges, and also established seats at the table for classified staff and students. In doing so, it strengthened faculty senates, which had been junior partners once collective bargaining gave important powers to college unions. "For several years, the senates were weak compared with the unions, which exercised power through enforcement of the negotiated contract. But reform legislation [such as AB 1725] gave significant new powers to the senates, including control of curriculum committees" (Rubiales). Shared governance was tied to funding under the new law. "If the district wanted AB 1725 money, it would have to do shared governance on all issues" (Funk 4/11/03). At Gavilan, AB 1725 gave the Faculty Senate a strong voice on a variety of college issues.
Among other important goals of the law were improving community colleges' images,
increasing support for more money to the CCs, moving CCs from the K-12 system to higher education, developing a more unified system, and institutional renewal (Simpson and Viar). In short, AB 1725 was a comprehensive attempt at systemic reform. Among other things, it abolished the community college teaching credential system, and set up instead the Faculty Service Areas and minimum qualifications apparatus. The law also established stronger committee structures, and an affirmative action mandate that held districts accountable for recruiting, retaining, and promoting staff. Partly to watchdog this function, The Hispanic Advisory Committee was also founded in 1988 as a community-and-college organization. Four years later the committee requested status as a standing committee on campus. This was not granted by the board. With AB 1725's passage, the college had to renegotiate responsibilities between the union and the Faculty Senate; Child recalls it as a "pretty graceful transition" (11/18/02).
Before AB 1725, tenure was virtually automatic after three semesters. The decision was made mostly by Dean of Instruction, with consultations involving department chairs and deans as they came into existence. It was somewhat subjective, but based on evaluations (Child 11/18/02). AB 1725 stretched out the process to four years, involved faculty on tenure committees, and required a much more stringent process. Within the legal parameters possible, Child said, Gavilan's faculty made getting tenure as challenging as possible rather than as streamlined; this arose from a desire for best possible faculty, and out of concern to not be "stuck with" poor colleagues (Child 11/18/02). Many times over the years, he said, he's seen an intense concern on the part of faculty and staff to control who they work with. While this can work against candidates unfairly, it may be best in the long run for the smooth functioning of the college-- small disciplines with two feuding individuals cannot and history shows they do not-long survive. Students have also been involved in a number of disputes over a teacher's tenure at Gavilan. "Out one door there'd be people who wanted to hang the teacher and out the other door people who wanted to put the teacher on a pedestal and kneel at his feet" (Child 8/13/02). His conclusion was that every teacher and methodology is relative, and as an adminstrator one should do the greatest good for the greatest number where possible.
In 1989, Gavilan and the surrounding district were rocked by the Loma Prieta quake, which occurred at 5:02 p.m. on a school day. The college shut down for three days, which meant that the number of days of instruction, therefore college funds, were impacted. Faculty recall attending a meeting a few days after the quake at which college officials were assuring them that the buildings were safe-just as a major tremor emptied the room.
The long-time tensions over low salaries were greatly reduced in the late 1990s, when Earl Orum, who served as interim president (and also, later, as interim dean of instruction) in the late 1980s convinced the college's board to adult a policy that would always put Gavilan at the median or higher on salaries across campus. "Due to his eloquence and tenacity, the Board adopted this. It took years to catch up" (Funk 4/25/03). Higher salaries stabilized the staff, reducing turnover.
Another improvement from this era was a hiring procedure for faculty, which also eventually affected the procedures for hiring other staff. Child said that the college asked candidates for the Dean of Instruction job in 1989 to prepare a presentation on their suggested hiring procedure for full-time faculty (11/18/02). Martin Johnson, then a physics teacher at the college who applied for the job, presented such an excellent plan that though he didn't get the job (it went to Dr. Rose Marie Joyce), the process was adopted with slight modifications, and is being used still.
The 1990s at Gavilan
A number of large and small changes at the college contributed to its developing culture during the 1990s. In 1990 the college had one of the largest hiring cycles it had had in years, when six new full-time positions opened up. In early 1991, the United States declared war on Iraq and a number of Gavilan students served as reservists in Operation Desert Storm. Faculty organized various events and lectures to explain the war's origins, and the board was presented with a resolution supporting the president, Congress, and troops-which it failed on a 5-2 vote, presumably being uncomfortable opining on international matters.
Among the small, but significant, changes in Gavilan's culture, were the adoption of a flex calendar in February 1991, which allowed faculty to work on special projects for continuing education credit. In 1993, after many years in which the district collected a health fee from students, student trustee Leah Hunt led the ASB in an effort to hire a student health nurse. Within months, the college allocated the funds and brought on Alice Dufresne-Reyes, who began many health and wellness initiatives for students. 1993 was also the year of the litter-free campus resolution, in which (before the wording was grammatically corrected) staff and students were asked to pick up a piece of litter a day if seen on campus and (after the wording was grammatically corrected) everyone on campus was asked to pick up a piece of litter a day. Also in 1993 the college cut its re-entry program almost completely, killing a statewide pioneer in women's re-entry that had helped hundreds of women get a college education. In 1994, , the Library/Media addition went to bid. The project had been sheparded by John Hansell through a dozen years of state red tape, and finally ground was broken and the construction begun on a TV studio and expanded computer and library space. Several times in the mid-1990s students tried expand their roles as student trustees on the district's board. They were allowed eventually to make and second motions, attend executive sessions as long as personnel or collective bargaining issues were not discussed, receive all non-confidential board materials, have their non-counted vote be heard in advance of the regular vote, and receive half the compensation which other board members received. Students were also responsible for bringing an Academic Honesty Policy to the Academic Senate and the Board, which both adopted it.
The college's Institutional Effectiveness Committee suspended the engineering program after much discussion and study in the 1990s, due mostly to low enrollments and poor college support. The program has since been revived with support from MESA.
Important as these developments were, the main story of the 1990s was the college's budget crisis and resultant lay-offs in late 1994. The budget problems were a statewide phenomena, as spending tightened up in the early 1990s, and a recession occurred. The surplus built up by John Holleman delayed impact at Gavilan, but the surplus eventually was exhausted. Holleman's last few years created huge deficit spending, as raises were granted and reserves were tapped to keep the college running smoothly. Holleman gambled that the fiscal health of the state would improve in the usual cyclical patterns (Child 1/15/03). His last few years were negatively impacted also by growing mistrust on the part of the staff, which wanted a clearer accounting of college finances once it became clear that Holleman was doing much of the financial work himself rather than relying on his business manager. A few costly lawsuits also complicated the picture. Tensions grew between staff and administrators as confidence eroded in Holleman and his business manager. In late May 1991, the GCFA took a vote of no confidence in all administrators, which, score by score, ended up on the front page of Rambler (Child 1/15/03). The Board requested that Holleman retire, and he did so with alacrity; Child recalls that he was getting ready to retire in any case, but went a bit early. The faculty, frustrated with Holleman in general and contract negotiations in particular, boycotted his retirement dinner en masse. Numerous state and local officials wished Holleman well, Child recalls, but almost no faculty.
Glenn E. Mayle was hired in September 1992, after nearly a year in which Rose Marie Joyce acted as interim president. Mayle was a conservative Mid-Westerner who worked his way through college on a harrowing schedule-starting as a groundsman at a community college while he was going to school and getting only a few hour's sleep a night (Child 1/15/03). Child, who chaired the hiring committee, remembers that the intent was to get someone with strong fiscal expertise and an open approach, someone who would do nothing behind closed doors (Child 1/15/03). Though Mayle had a doctorate in community financing and was an able fiscal administrator, had been president at other colleges, including one in Arizona and one in Oregon, he "never really quite fit the California culture" (Child 1/15/03). He is remembered by many for pitching Tupperware, his wife's hobby, to college administrators and community members (Funk 4/25/03). Within a month of his arrival, the Rambler reported that he was interviewing for another job. Though he was an able financial administrator, he was not effective with people, and less than adept at sharing power. Holleman had created the equivalent of the power-sharing college council, but Mayle went back to a more top-down model, dealing one on one with administrators. When Mayle began, few knew that the college was in a bad position fiscally, but he certainly found out quickly. "He'd never had accepted the job at Gavilan if he knew what he was walking into" (Child 1/15/03).
There were warning signs about the college's budget. In June 1992, for example, thirteen classified positions were reduced in hours. In March 1993, the board was considering a reorganization of administration but had not completed its plan. The Board notified a all its administrative employees that they might be released from their administrative positions and either placed in the faculty or reassigned within administration with different salaries and duties for the 1993-94 school year. In May 1994, reductions in the Child Development staff's assignments from 11 to 10 month presaged more serious budget problems. In August, Mayle welcomed the staff back to school with bad news: the budget situation was very bad, he said, and lay-offs might be necessary. When he was asked whether a resolution would be crafted under shared governance, Mayle lost his temper. "Do you want to make the cuts?" he demanded.
Mayle believed there was no way he could balance the books without eliminating jobs, and he reasoned that faculty jobs should be protected at a college. It was "a nightmare not of his creation, but the way he chose to solve it made matters infinitely worse" (Child 1/15/03). Rather than opening up the problem to the college community, and getting help in resolving it, Mayle reverted to a top-down style (Child 1/15/03).
Alternative plans were advanced; for example, Child advocated everyone taking a voluntary pay cut, but this was controversial among administrators behind closed doors and Mayle refused to move forward without administrative unanimity (1/15/03).In the midst of the crisis, students at the Rambler and ASB called a community forum for students to learn about the Board of Trustees and to discuss the impact of budget cuts upon campus. They struggled to keep the forum open to student questions when Mayle tried to veto a question and answer format. The board set up weekly meetings in September to deal with the crisis, and on Sept. 13 appointed a working group representing all campus parties to come up with alternatives to lay-offs. The group worked hard and CSEA members in the business office proposed a complex set of cuts and cuts-by-attrition that equaled the amount needed(Child 1/15/03). Mayle rejected the proposals as insufficient and un-doable, and when the Board met again on Sept. 22 to hear what could be worked out, the president and the working group were at loggerheads. Mayle's style in the crisis was "autocratic and unilateral," particularly as feeling on campus turned against him (Child 1/15.03). Finally, at a special Sept. 27 board meeting, Mayle recommended 19 lay-offs of people in classified staff positions. Three of the positions were vacancies and two were changes in classification, but the proposal was the most far-reaching and painful the college ever faced.
The Board voted in October to reduce the college workforce as suggested; the meeting was packed and emotional. Many more would be affected than those who lost jobs-those laid off could use their seniority to "bump" less fortunate colleagues out of jobs. The student trustee, Jenny Coppens, who had worked to forestall layoffs, was the only No vote. "Thank you," cried classified staffers at the meeting after Coppens cast her vote. At the same meetings in which lay-offs were approved, the Board voted itself health benefits.
A number of those laid off were high-profile business office female employees who knew the college finances, criticized Mayle's leadership vocally, and were union activists. Mayle was accused of targeting the CSEA union in order to weaken or kill it. Whatever his intention, an embittered and demoralized classified staff, and a weaker CSEA, were certainly among the results. "I personally feel the layoffs focused on the classified" (Child 1/15/03). The decision was made to drastically effect a few rather than spread the pain. A deep atmosphere of demoralization and mistrust resulted, making productive human relations at the college the high hidden cost of the lay-offs (Child 1/15/03). A number of lawsuits also resulted, which cost the college far more in attorney and court fees. In fact, Mayle relied so heavily on attorneys that their contract negotiations fees alone totaled $2 million (Funk 4/25/03). "The district team did not negotiate [with the unions during this period]-the attorneys negotiated," charging a high hourly rate all the while (Funk 4/25/03).
It's hard to overestimate the effect of this period on college employees. Morale was extremely low; communication between and among sectors was poor, particularly communication between the college president and board and everyone else. Some college employees, led by physics professor Martin Johnson, worked with the Board to come up with a strategic planning document to guide the college to more positive times. Most employees simply did their jobs and little extra. When Mayle left in late 1997 to assume the presidency of Northern Oklahoma College, dean of instruction Rose Marie Joyce once again became the interim president. And the college embarked on a period of healing.
Joyce came to the college in 1989 from the Central Valley, and had already served twice as Gavilan's interim president. Raised in LA, she became a Catholic nun in early adulthood before leaving her order to marry Tom Joyce, who left the priesthood to marry her. Joyce fell deeply in love with the college and the community, partly because of the job and partly because of her nature (Child 1/15/03). As dean of instruction, Child remembers Joyce as an exacting supervisor: a very structured, focused personality who tended to see blacks and whites, and who would agonize over decisions, but them enforce them fully. (Child 1/15/03). As president of the college, she took over at a time when there was an urgent need for gentle leadership. Like everyone who went through the mid-90s lay-offs, she was changed by the experience. Perhaps her most important contribution was her efforts to open up communications between staff, students, and administration. Joyce revivified revivified the College Council, and put much energy into creating a participatory form of governance at the college (Child 1/15/03.) When budget difficulties arose, Joyce was adamant that there be no lay-offs.
Joyce introduced a new era in union-district relations by implementing Interest Based Bargaining, an approach dedicated to bringing about win-win solutions for former adversaries (Funk 4/25/03). For the first time since its founding, contracts were negotiated for three-year periods, and negotiations finished on time, rather than running far over and necessitating catch-up additions to pay-checks for retroactive raises. She also made a point of attending every ASB meeting, and demonstrated in many ways her dedication to serving underrepresented groups. Joyce also had a tremendous impact in populating the college with most of its current employees, which Child said she did skillfully. "I've never worked with anybody who had the ability to interview that Joyce did. She had the ability to ask questions that would get to the truth of someone's soul" (1/15/03). At the same time, Funk says, Joyce's relations with the athletic department and the classified staff suffered (4/25/03).
Because of conflicts with some Board members, Joyce did not feel she had the support of the Board after 2000 (Child 1/15/03), and applied for jobs elsewhere. She was hired as the president at Rio Hondo College in 2002. Martin Johnson assumed the presidency of the college on an interim basis, and in 2003 Steve Kinsella, a former dean of business services at Gavilan, came back as its fifth president.
Demographic and social changes affected Gavilan during the 1990s. For one thing, the pools of part time teachers who had been easily available for many years began to shrink; many were hired by other colleges during boom times, and other colleges in the south Bay began to compete with Gavilan for part-timers. Each term, the deans faced a growing list of vacancies with growing panic was a tremendous challenge; a few times, Gavilan classes were abandoned on the first day of school by teachers who had received better offers that day or the day before. Child said that finding people who both met qualifications and were exciting and competent teachers was very difficult, though the Internet job postings helped (1/15/03). He often hired teachers from local high schools, vets who could teach anatomy, or seed company PhDs who could teach biology. In the 90s West Valley and Mission colleges gave many Gavilan part-timers all the work they could handle, and it became harder to find part-timers for Gavilan classes. Freeway fliers became a phenomena over the 1990s also; people had to piece together a full load at two or three colleges.
In 1994, Anzar High School contracted to hold its classes on campus for two years, until its new campus could be built near 129 and 101. Space was at a premium on campus after the college got rid of several creaky old temporary buildings, crowding offices upon offices in more permanent buildings. The college's auto body and auto mechanics programs were chopped when problems with enrollment and offerings could not be resolved. Meanwhile, new campus facilities were planned and secured in Hollister and Morgan Hill. Child worked hard behind the scenes to make the campus work at the Briggs Building in Hollister, and Gavilan rented a storefront in Morgan Hill for three years, until space in the brand new Morgan Hill Community Center was constructed.
Throughout the 1990s, and especially towards the end, long-time faculty reached their 30 years of service, turned 60 or older, and retired. The loss of experience was balanced somewhat by the college's ability to hire fresh new people.
2000 and beyond at Gavilan
The new millenium did feel new at Gavilan, in part because of the biggest single hiring wave in college history, made possible in part because of high state revenues during Silicon Valley's boom years. Sixteen new faculty hired in 2001, some for entirely new programs such as Media Arts.
Also that year, a new Child Care building and a new Allied Health building, both state of the art, were completed. By 2004 the new facility for Adaptive PE will also be finished, fourteen years after the college first petitioned to get the project onto the list for state funding. More growth is likely; president Steve Kinsella believes that, using parking as an indicator, the college is exceeding its capacity. Room utilization, however, is concentrated at peak times, which means that the state will consider Gavilan still under-utilized. Kinsella is encouraging the college to think about the directions in which it will expand: a bigger Gilroy campus, more space in Morgan Hill or Hollister, or an entirely new campus in the Coyote Valley area.
Expansion, however, will depend on state funds, and in the post-dot.com boom, those funds have never been so dramatically short. Gavilan weathered the 2002-2003 funding cycle fairly easily, but officials predict a three to five year prolonged budget crisis as the state recovers its balance and builds back its funding base. In the absence of funds for new monetary initiatives, Kinsella has decided to focus on non-monetary improvements, such as academic excellence. He also wishes to emphasize staff training and development.
Perhaps one characteristic that has set Gavilan apart in its forty-plus years has been that the most staff are at the college because it is their first choice. Long hours and extra assignments have translated into a small college with unusually strong academics and unusually accessible staff. "By and large we've just hired some excellent people and the college has got to thrive because of that," Child said (11/18/02)
Much unattributed information was culled from unsigned articles in the Gilroy Evening Dispatch, 1964-67.
Child, Kent. Taped interviews 8/7/02, 8/13/02. 1/15/03.
Cohen, Arthur, and Florence B. Brawer. The American Community College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc. 1996.
Deegan, William, Dale Tillery, and associates. Renewing the American Community College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc. 1985
Fuchs, Jerry. College chief plans return to farming, Gilroy Dispatch, August 5, 1974.
Funk, Robert. Taped interviews 4/4/03, 4/11/03, 4/25/03
Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc. "Dr. Rudy Melone Leaves His Legacy" 2003. 30 August 2003. http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/pages/drmelone.html
Harper, William A. Community, Junior, and Technical Colleges. Washington DC: Hemisphere Publishing. 1977.
Hillway, Tyrus. The American Two-Year College. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1958.
Official statement of the Gavilan Joint Junior College District May 10, 1996.
Rubiales, David M. Collective Bargaining at Community Colleges:
A Report from California, 8/25/03. http://www.aaup.org/publications/Academe/98nd/RUB_ND98.HTM
Simonsen, Bonnie. Taped interview . 5/5/03.
Simpson, Hoke and David Viar. "Participating Effectively in District and College
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