Gavilan College | Communication Studies Department

About the Department


Degrees & Certificates



Service Learning


Instructional Links

Contact Information
News & Announcements

Miscellaneous Resources


Welcome to the Communication Studies Department website!

Communication is a vital part of today's world, whether a skill used professionally, socially or in your personal life. We welcome you to explore one of the many areas of Communication Studies by taking a class at Gavilan College. The Communication Studies Faculty at Gavilan is dedicated to providing students with the knowledge and skill about human communication that can be applied to various contexts in your life. Whether it be improving on your public speaking skills, working with a culturally diverse group at work or developing skills to better communicate your wants and needs to family and friends, our curriculum is academically structured to meet your needs based on the specific course that you choose. This one of the fastest growing degrees offered at Gavilan College, demonstrating the importance of communication skills in our world today.

Annual Alumni Speakers Panel
The Communication Studies Department held its second annual Alumni Speakers Panel March 26, 2015. Five of our former graduates discussed how their Communication Studies Associate of Arts-Transfer (AA-T) degree or Certificate in Communication Studies from Gavilan College helped them achieve their career goals.

Right to left: Nate Whitaker (AA-T-2011): Teaching Assistant and Graduate Student at San Francisco State University; Matthew Galindo (Certificate in Communication Studies-2013/2014): Seed Enhancement Technician with Sakata Seed America Inc.; Carlos Martinez (AA-T-2013) Communication Studies Student at San Jose State University and Retail Associate at Ralph Lauren; Shelley Giacalone (Communication Studies faculty); Nayela Ceja-Anguiano (AA-T- 2009): Community Worker for the Adelante Family Resource Center at Rebekah Children’s Services; Kathleen Sandys (AA-T-2009): Speech-Language Pathologist Cupertino Union School District; Kelley Glass (Communication Studies faculty & AA-T-2008); Ellen Waddell (Communication Studies faculty); Denise Besson (Communication Studies faculty)

WSCA Model Communication Program Award
The Communication Studies program at Gavilan Community College was awarded the 2013 Model Communication Program Award from the Western States Communication Association at a conference in Reno, NV Feb 15-19, 2013. Seven out of eight of the Communication Studies faculty were in attendance and showcased what makes them the Model Communication program. The faculty presented on four main areas to their success: 1. Being a Model in Teaching 2. Being a Model in Service 3. Being a Model in Creative Works and Research 4. Being a Model in Utilizing Resources and Marketing the Program.

The faculty emphasized a student-centered pedagogy and the importance of shared leadership between full time and part time faculty alike. Service Learning and CommClub were also noted as being important components to the success of the department. Presently the 5th largest major on campus, it's no wonder the department is successful as they model what they teach amongst themselves everyday as a team of colleagues devoted to the teaching of the discipline Communication.

Pictured from left to right : Award Presenter Mary Claire Morr Serewicz, University of Denver, Award Recipients: Denise Besson, Shelley Giacalone, Christina Avila, Adrian Andrade, Michelle Zajac, Ellen Waddell, and Donna Cowan.

Background of Communication Studies:

The Communication Studies Program at Gavilan Community College has built a reputation for offering academically challenging and engaging courses while not compromising pedagogical passion for the discipline. 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. Within a 10- year period, there are now two full time tenured faculty members and six to eight adjunct faculty teaching at all three sites. Nine different types of Communication courses are offered with an option of pursuing an AA degree in Communication Studies as well as two Certificate of Achievements recognized by the State Chancellor’s Office. Most recently, Communication Studies was the first on campus to offer the AA-T degree that guarantees transfer into a 4-year university. In a recent report to the Community, Communication Studies was recognized as was one of the fastest growing majors on campus placing sixth in 2010 and fifth in 2012. Institutional research identified that in 2009-2010 there were 48 declared majors and within one year that number increased to 119 declared majors. These numbers were most impressive, since it was only in 2005 that the first Communication Studies major was declared.
To learn more about the Communication Studies Program, visit

Don't hesitate to enroll in one of our many courses and empower yourself. With offerings every semester in Gilroy, Hollister and Morgan Hill, we are available in your area to educate you about Communication Studies. Please take your time to explore our department homepage links. You will find information about the courses taught, the Certificate of Achievement in Communication Studies, and about the faculty teaching for Gavilan College.

Denise Besson, M.A.

(Department Chair)