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February 01, 2013

Gavilan College has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Model Communication Program Award from the Western States Communication Association.

Faculty receiving award


WHO: The Gavilan College Communications Studies Program

WHAT: has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Model Communication Program Award from the Western States Communication Association. The  award is presented annually for the program that best meets the criteria of:

• Model in Teaching:  Course offerings, reaching innovations, certificates, degrees, curricular design and innovation.  

• Model in Service:  To students, the program, the institution, and/or the community.  

• Model in Research and/or Creative Works:  Internal/external grants, articles, reviews, training programs and/or other methods of creating or using current research from the field of Communication Studies.

• Effective Use of Resources:  Administrative support, integrating broader curricular and co-curricular activities, and encouraging development of specialized areas to reflect the breadth and depth of the field.

WHEN and WHERE: The award will be presented at the  2013 convention of the Western States Communication Association, to be held in Reno, NV, February 15-19. A special session has been scheduled on Monday, February 18th, from 8:30-9:45am for Gavilan College representatives to give a presentation that will showcase the program, and the award will be presented at the conference luncheon on Monday, February 18th from 11:30am-2:00pm.

WHY:     The Communication Studies Program at Gavilan Community College has built a reputation for offering academically challenging and engaging courses. Just ten years ago, this program offered only two types of communication courses, taught by one full time faculty member.  As enrollment increased, so did the demand for additional coursework within the discipline as well as a degree. In the past 10- years the program has grown to two full time faculty members and six to eight adjunct faculty teaching at all three Gavilan College sites.  Ten different types of Communication courses are offered with an option of pursuing an AA degree in Communication Studies as well as two Certificates of Achievements recognized by the State Chancellor’s Office.  Most recently, Communication Studies became the first department on campus to offer the AA-T degree that guarantees transfer into a 4-year university.   Communication Studies is now one of the fastest-growing majors at Gavilan College.  

The growth of the Communication Studies Program is a result of a strong pedagogical foundation and collaboration amongst colleagues.  All faculty within the discipline meet quarterly to exchange teaching ideas, best practices and collaborate as a department.  Program and Student Learning Outcomes are being met with an 80%-90% success rate. Course offerings range from Introduction to Public Speaking, Oral Interpretation, Small Group Communication, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication, Business Communication, Introduction to Communication Studies, Conflict Resolution and Powerpoint.  In the recent past a Learning Community was offered that linked Introduction to Public Speaking with Introduction to Political Science.  Professors from both disciplines successfully taught the courses co-currently with the same cohort of students.  The retention rate of students was 93% and the faculty members were awarded the Collaborators of the Year award for three years in a row for their success with the Learning Community.  Innovative assignments have earned the department recognition campus and community wide.  Students have created Public Service Announcements that have aired on public access television and won awards given by Community Media Access Program (CMAP).  Service Learning projects have generated over $60,000 for local non-profit groups and agencies.  Students have volunteered thousands of hours in their communities, many of which have been recognized by the cities of Gilroy, Hollister and Morgan Hill.  This outreach has built bridges between the college and surrounding communities.

The Communication Studies program is a model in service, through both faculty and student contributions.  Faculty members serve on multiple committees on campus and often lead trainings in an effort to improve and foster a campus culture of open communication and collaboration.  In addition, faculty assist with the teaching associate training at San Jose State University, helping to prepare and mentor future Communication Studies faculty.

The Service Learning Project entitled, Making a Difference, in conjunction with Small Group Communication classes has proven to be one of the most successful projects that have made a positive difference both on campus and in the community.  Some of the most widely recognized service projects have included:

·      A group of six students fundraised for the Heritage Home, a non-profit safe house for homeless pregnant mothers who reside in the home free of charge for the duration of their pregnancy.  The group fundraised and collected baby items and held a baby shower at the home.  They fundraised $5,300 through collecting change in baby bottles that was then matched by a private donor for a total donation of $10,600.  Their initial goal was $500.

·      A group of six students volunteered over 135 hours at a Wildlife Refuge Center in Morgan Hill.  They helped to rehabilitate injured animals from the wild, built enclosures with special netting to keep out mosquitoes to further prevent the spread of West Nile Virus and fundraised money through a Safari Dinner on campus.  They donated over $1500 to the agency and were recognized for their service by the City of Morgan Hill.

·      A group of five students volunteered at a battered women’s shelter and assisted in fundraising and building a bike rack for the children who resided at the shelter with their mothers.  They also put on a mother’s day event providing free spa services and dinner at the shelter.

·      A group of six students brought new life to a group of elderly women who were sending care packages to the troops overseas.  They fundraised and provided much needed volunteer assistance in creating and shipping the care packages.  The group won a scholarship as a result of their service-learning project and were honored at a public event.

The Communication Studies department recognized that essentially what was being taught in the basic small group communication course could be linked with service to others.  Hence, students are required to research, propose and complete a service project with a non-profit agency or group.  Each group member must complete a minimum of 12 hours of service and may fundraise if a monetary need is evident.  The magnitude of the service learning projects exceeded any initial expectation faculty once had and continues to link the community with the college. Projects have been featured in local newspapers and have helped in building a solid reputation for the Communication Studies program at Gavilan College.  

Most recently, a student-initiated movement generated the start of our first COMM CLUB on campus with nearly 25 active members.  The club helps majors network, offers workshops and an upcoming speaker’s corner.  The club most recently raised money that was then given in the form of scholarships to Communication Studies majors.

All Communication Studies faculty are active members of professional organizations such as the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Western Speech Communication Association (WSCA). At the WSCA conference in February 2011 in Monterey, CA, three faculty members presented on Service Learning and Small Group Communication and presented a paper on the success and challenges of service-oriented pedagogy.

Nearly all faculty are certified in Conflict Mediation and have assisted in mediations on and off campus. Faculty have created and conducted trainings for Staff Development days, the student newspaper "Gavilan Press," and campus clubs such as EOPS and MANO.  Training topics have ranged from Building a Supportive Working Environment, to diversity, conflict management and team building. 

For more information about the Communications Studies program at Gavilan College, go to




Last modified: August 17, 2011
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