The College Celebrates its 100th Year Gavilan Through the Decades Written By Jordan Rosenfeld A Humble History The college that most South County residents know as Gavilan College in Gilroy began in 1919 as San Benito Junior College in Hollister. Rose called it “a very soft launch” as only the seventh community college in the state of California under a newly formed system. “The whole idea of community colleges was a new thing in California,” Rose said. “They were originally put into place to relieve the impact on four-year colleges and to provide technical and trade opportunities for community members.” Dr. Rose pointed to the work of a Gavilan history professor, Lea Halper, who recently finished writing a paper, “To Dream on Your Behalf: A History of Gavilan College,” 42 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN while on sabbatical. In her paper, Halper explained that when the college was first formed in 1919, the community, like much of the country, was still recovering from two major events: WWI and a flu epidemic that took as many as 50 million lives worldwide. Communities were adapting to the loss of young men to war and illness. Newly-minted veterans had returned home and wanted to refocus their attention away from war and toward their futures. Halper wrote, “1919 is a year historians refer to as a turning point in a changing world.” Historically, local students did not have many options, and thus community colleges became a focal point for small- town education. “There was an opportunity for towns to reinvent them- selves in our area,” Rose said. At the Forefront tor Women Among those reinventing themselves were women. As only the second woman to be President of the college in its 100 years, Rose is especially proud of the fact that the first graduating class of San Benito Junior College in 1921 included eight women out of nine total students. “Some people thought educating daughters made very little sense and that it was an anomaly that women were having ambitions,” Rose said. “Gavilan was at the forefront to bring about a revolutionary change in education for women and I’m extremely proud of that.” Rose explained that over time, enrollment increased because the community saw the college as a place to get workplace development, where students could stay local and receive training instead of moving away. The college managed to offer this curriculum within a very modest amount of space at the San Benito airport for almost forty years. april/may 2019 gmhtoday.com COMMUNITY T his year, Gavilan College celebrates 100 years of history. To ring in this huge milestone year, Gavilan is hosting a gala event on September 7th, “Gavilan Through the Decades: 1919-2019.” Gavilan College President, Dr. Kathleen Rose, said, “It will be a magical evening.” Attendees will find Sycamore Lane lighted and stations on the Gilroy campus teeming with art, music, live and silent auctions, upscale food and wine, guest speakers, and opportunities to learn about how the college has changed. Students will discuss future programs, and alumni will speak about its past. “The gala will be the big cornerstone event for the centennial year,” Rose said. There will also be birthday parties throughout Gavilan’s 2700-mile district at each of its five locations, with opportunities to highlight art and history, and a portable wall of historical photos covering each decade that will be moved from location to location.