Skip main navigation
Appendix A - Lifelong Learning Through College Residential Experiences

Executive Summary

Gavilan College is a component of the California Community Colleges. It is a fully accredited two-year community college located in Gilroy, California, and long recognized locally and regionally for its excellent educational opportunities for learners of all ages.  Gavilan is intent on supporting its educational mission through prudent and progressive fiscal management while increasing revenue streams to complement and augment diminishing state support.  To that end, a housing initiative has been undertaken as an integral component of its Educational and Facilities Master Plans with the anticipated outcome of an intergenerational housing complex serving the academic community.

Building linkages with its community and establishing an academic community is an important component of Gavilan College's future. Balancing its educational program with serving the needs of the people, places, and productivity increases is at the heart of Gavilan and its mission.

Many people have long seen community colleges as bridges to opportunity.  Gavilan is not just located in Gilroy; it has long been seen as serving the community.  The success of the proposed on-campus housing complex is more than simply a place for people to stay.  It can accomplish many things: enhance recruitment, increase retention, build community, and serve as a tool for lifelong learning programs. Accomplishing this will take a holistic perspective.a different approach to housing.  The housing initiative, referred to herein as The Village at Gavilan College, reflects a new approach within the mission of Gavilan.

The Village at Gavilan College is an idea whose time has come, for Gavilan and the community.  It is conceived as a strategic initiative to enrich the educational, cultural, and civic fabric of the community. The housing complex and its living-learning orientation will make the campus more attractive, vibrant, and livable. It will have a transformative impact on the college as well as the surrounding community, while offering service learning, teaching, and applied research opportunities for Gavilan students, faculty and staff, and active adults as well as positively impacting the community at large.

>Within the housing complex is envisioned the Village Academy which will offer unparalleled cultural, educational, social, and training opportunities for active seniors to fulfill their dreams and allow their imaginations to soar.  The Academy is a residential community with a difference: an ideal place to live for adults who want to enjoy the benefits of a collegiate environment. It also is a place where there is interaction - a synapse - between more seasoned individuals and those experiencing the college experience perhaps for the first time as well as providing a synergy between and among college faculty and staff and those residing in the lifelong learning residential community. The Village Academy brings the college learning experience into the everyday lives of its members, bridging the formal world of the classroom with the informal world of the residential college.

There is a significant movement across the country for the development of retirement communities linked to colleges and universities. The motivation of active adult seniors returning to campus is qualitatively different from those who choose traditional retirement communities. It is obvious that there is a hunger for something more than warm weather and a condo on the fifth green. It is fundamentally about personal growth, the development of more meaningful roles and a supportive intellectual and cultural climate to make it happen.

The Village at Gavilan College will implement a new and more meaningful role for active adults in retirement wherein lifelong learning, work or meaningful work substitutes, intergenerational interactions, and personal growth are a way of life. Also, Gavilan College will find useful ideas that will direct and support them to develop policies and practical arrangements that will foster the development of a college linked retirement community on its campus and find ways to serve a leadership role in terms of laying a foundation for attitudinal changes, providing opportunity structures, and creating an environment that can empower older adults, the young, and the campus at large.

Some of the benefits to be realized by the housing initiative at Gavilan College include the following:

  • Provides student housing as well as faculty and staff and active adult housing;
  • Enhances academic excellence by transitioning Gavilan College into a more residential campus;
  • Provides facilities, uses and activities that create a world-class educational experience;
  • Decreases traffic congestion during peak periods;
  • Significantly increases the parking inventory;
  • Provides a "front door" that better defines the College;
  • Develops synergy between the campus and the College neighborhood; and
  • Generates more unrestricted revenue to benefit faculty, staff and students.

For those living in this exciting new residential community, they will enjoy being part of university-style housing in a caring, dynamic, diverse and energetic community college environment. Residents will enjoy the benefits of living in an intergenerational community; a convenient, on-campus location; comfortable, high quality facilities; an excellent study environment; and an opportunity to get involved and make friends in a supportive academic community of American and international students as well as active adults, faculty and staff, and students.

Integrating Housing into the Life of Gavilan College


During the next decade there will be many environmental changes that will create revolutionary reform in higher education. Stakeholders and society at large will continue to witness:

  • a broadening of the educational perspective from national to global;
  • a demolition of traditional walls between academic colleges, disciplines and departments;
  • the offering of baccalaureate degrees by community colleges;
  • an increased emphasis on practical applications of academic theories to "real world" problem-oriented environments;
  • continued integration of subject areas via cross-functional and cross-discipline teaching and learning;
  • added emphasis on "people skills" in all aspects of education;
  • the movement from passive to active learning, from faculty-centered to student-centered, from process-oriented to outcome-oriented;
  • an accelerated utilization of information and instructional technologies throughout colleges and universities;
  • pressures to search for alternatives that promise increased system efficiency and cost reduction; and
  • an increased emphasis on shared and collaborative governance.

The central question facing educational leaders is not if there will be a renaissance in higher education as a consequence of the extraordinary environmental changes taking place, but how colleges and universities will respond to the inevitable challenges resulting from this transformation. But no one faces these issues alone. Effective college administration is a collaborative enterprise in which all stake-holders (students, faculty, administrators, alumni and governing boards) must have a strong voice in order to create a high quality educational experience.

The Village at Gavilan College complex, designed as an intergenerational housing environment, not only will serve as a gateway to the campus but also will provide a "sense of place" that the College needs. Its contribution to the College and its community is unlimited, but at a minimum will support programs, enrich a meaningful learning experience and contribute to student development. Campus housing also will play a pivotal role in both developing enrollment and recruitment strategies and ensuring students have the benefit of the full Gavilan College experience during their time at the College. On-campus residential housing will help set the tone for the student-focused culture on campus with a focus on quality student services, integrated learning and programming for students.

The housing complex also will assist the College's efforts as a key strategic contributor to institutional enhancement in general and to furthering academic excellence in particular.


Living-learning programs are specialized residential programs having direct connections with the academic and educational program of the institution. Gavilan College is committed to link the curricular and residential experiences in ways that create opportunities for deeper understanding and integration of classroom material. Furthermore, the inclusion of the senior housing component of the housing program - The Village Academy - is intended to invigorate and enable learning opportunities for all that go beyond the traditional classroom experience.

Students across the country in colleges and universities who participate in residential college programs have higher retention and graduation rates and report higher satisfaction with their educational experience.  These positive outcomes result from:

  • connections that are made with students who share similar interests;
  • substantial contacts and interactions that occur with individual faculty members outside the classroom;
  • enhanced programmatic opportunities;
  • specialized guidance on academic and career planning;
  • frequent service learning opportunities; and
  • creative utilization of the research, cultural, natural and political resources of the geographic area in which the program is offered.

Although living on campus is not required, Gavilan College's housing program, once developed, offers many benefits including:

  • an easy access to the College, its programs and services;
  • a chance to meet new people, make new friends and establish life long relationships; 
  • an increased opportunity for learning to live with others;
  • an atmosphere conducive to being involved with academic, educational, and  social activities;
  • an opportunity for inter-generational living and learning; and
  • a likelihood of exposure to other cultures.

The College is undergoing comprehensive planning to initiate and develop a residential experience primarily for students, aided and abetted with housing for faculty and staff and active adults.  This is an exciting opportunity to build collaborative and innovative spaces that will employ technology, create better environments for student living, and promote a close connection between academic and residential life.  Between living, learning and further promotion of lifelong education, the College recognizes and knows that the physical environment is a critical element that supports the academic community and its excellence. 

Gavilan College is committed to increasing and ensuring access to the vast opportunity and knowledge that it generates - for the sake of the stakeholders it serves, and for the intellectual ecosystem that provides its academic distinction. A public community college has little value for its stakeholders if its resources are not accessible.

The Role and Commitment of Community College

Community colleges are committed to serving all segments of society through open access admissions, allowing equal and fair access to all students. The diversity of community colleges makes "one size does not fit all" approach very compelling. At the same time, community colleges face significant challenges in fulfilling the promise of educational opportunity, student achievement, and lifelong learning because of this diversity and the limited resources available to both students and institutions. A residential housing program on a campus increases the opportunity for student aspirations to be fulfilled while providing a significant influence on the type of educational climate that a college or university wishes to embrace. Furthermore, a successful housing program can contribute to a revenue stream that increases programmatic and facility advantages.

Mission of Community Colleges

Since their inception, community colleges have existed to identify and respond to the educational needs of adult learners within a specified service area (Cohen & Brawer, 1996; Vaughan, 1997; Gleazer, 1980). This mission becomes a daunting task when today's social, political, economic, and technological revolutions precipitate educational needs that differ greatly from those of the previous age (Bragg, 2001). Responding to educational needs that are unique to information-age learners presents an adaptive challenge to those who contribute to student success. An adaptive challenge occurs "when our deeply held beliefs are challenged, when the values that made us successful become less relevant, and when legitimate yet competing perspectives emerge" (Heifetz & Laurie, 1997, p. 124). Community college leaders must articulate the adaptive challenges ahead if colleges are to respond to learner needs in a rapidly changing environment.

Mission of the California Community Colleges

California's Education Code assigns to the state's three public higher education segments the following shared goals:

  • Access to education and the opportunity for educational success for all qualified Californians.
  • Quality teaching and programs of excellence for their students.
  • Educational equity not only through a diverse and representative student body and faculty but also through educational environments in which each person, regardless of race, gender, age, disability, or economic circumstance, has a reasonable chance to fully develop his or her potential.

The Master Plan for Higher Education, originally adopted by the Legislature in 1960 and periodically updated, specifies the mission of each particular segment, as discussed below.

The Master Plan and state law assign the community colleges many and sometimes competing, roles.

  • First, the state's community colleges are required to offer-as a primary mission-academic and vocational instruction at the lower-division (freshman and sophomore) level. Community colleges may grant the associate of arts and the associate of science degrees.
  • Based on agreements with local school districts, some college districts also offer a variety of adult education programs-including basic skills education; citizenship instruction; and vocational, avocational, and recreational programs.
  • Finally, state law directs the colleges to establish programs to promote regional economic development.

Included in the mission of the California Community Colleges are the following specific areas of focus having applicability to:

  • increasing access and the likelihood of success for learners of all ages,
  • providing educational, training, and personal enrichment opportunity, and
  • meeting the diverse needs of the state and region being served.

Language extant within current Education Code regulations pertaining to the Mission of the California Community Colleges includes the following:

  1. The California Community Colleges shall, as a primary mission, offer academic and vocational instruction at the lower division level for both younger and older students, including those persons returning to school. Public community colleges shall offer instruction through but not beyond the second year of college. These institutions may grant the associate in arts and the associate in science degree.
  2. In addition to the primary mission of academic and vocational instruction, the community colleges shall offer instruction and courses to achieve all of the following:
    1. The provision of remedial instruction for those in need of it and, in conjunction with the school districts, instruction in English as a second language, adult noncredit instruction, and support services which help students succeed at the postsecondary level are reaffirmed and supported as essential and important functions of the community colleges.
    2. The provision of adult noncredit education curricula in areas defined as being in the state's interest is an essential and important function of the community colleges.
    3. The provision of community services courses and programs is an authorized function of the community colleges so long as their provision is compatible with an institution's ability to meet its obligations in its primary missions.
  3. A primary mission of the California Community Colleges is to advance California's economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to continuous work force improvement.
  4. The community colleges may conduct to the extent that state funding is provided, institutional research concerning student learning and retention as is needed to facilitate their educational missions.

[from California Education Code Section 66010.4 (a), as of 10/19/99]

California Community College Housing

Because community colleges primarily serve their local areas, most do not have dormitories and those that do tend to be in more rural areas of the state. The eleven community colleges that do have on-campus housing are Columbia, Kings River, Lassen, Redwoods, Santa Rosa, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Taft, West Hills, and Yuba.

Defining Residential Colleges and Related Terms

Residential colleges have evolved over the centuries and under different local conditions. As a consequence, there is a range of variation in their structures and a lack of consensus about the meaning of the term residential college. In its most generic sense, the term may be used to refer to an institution that houses most of its students on-campus as opposed to an institution with a large commuter or off-campus population. Many small, independent, liberal arts colleges conform to this definition of residential college. In a more restricted sense, the term residential college may be used interchangeably with terms such as living-learning center, theme house, and residential learning community. This usage, however, may obscure important differences between the classical model of residential college, conventional residence halls, and other types of contemporary residence education programs.

Conventional residence halls are on-campus facilities intended to provide low-cost, attractive, safe, and convenient living quarters for undergraduate students in close proximity to academic buildings. Residents may participate in dining plans provided by centralized dining facilities and services. Conventional halls are usually supervised by undergraduate resident advisers and professional staff members trained in student affairs administration. Staff members are trained to assist students with adjustment and developmental issues or to make appropriate referrals to other campus professionals. Conventional residence halls may offer a range of social, recreational, and educational programming organized by their staffs.

Contemporary residence education programs attempt to more completely integrate out-of-class experiences with in-class learning. In a 1998 opinion paper, the Residential College Task Force of the Association of College and University Housing Officers presented a number of models of existing residence education programs. There is considerable overlap among these models; the differences are often matters of emphasis. These programs are generally the result of partnerships between student affairs professionals, academic staff, and faculty.

Living-learning centers are programs with direct connections to specific academic programs such as foreign languages, premedical studies, or science. For instance, the McTyeire International House at Vanderbilt University clusters students interested in studying one of five foreign languages in halls with native speakers as program coordinators. Faculty advisers guide the programming of each language hall.

Theme houses offer opportunities for students with special interests to live and work together. Stanford University offers a variety of theme halls. Casa Zapata (Chicano/Mexican-American theme) and Ujamaa (black/African-American theme) are cross-cultural theme halls exploring issues of ethnic identity, culture, and history. Other halls offer programs for students with interests in community service and environmental issues.

Residential programs provide support services, such as academic advising, career planning, tutoring, and programming in study skills, to residential students. At Washington State University, the Academic Resource Center is located in the freshman residential complex. The center provides a computer lab, advising, tutoring, and programming on study skills, career planning, and time management. Specially trained, upper-level residents are assigned as academic peer advisers to freshmen.

Residential learning communities create opportunities for students attending the same classes to live in the same residence hall. Participants in the Scholars Program at the University of Maryland-College Park are grouped so that they can take fourteen to seventeen credits of curricular theme courses together over the first two years of college and participate in a colloquium on their theme.

Freshman Year Experience housing provides specialized housing configurations to focus delivery of student affairs and academic services to first-year students. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, groups of up to twenty freshmen take three courses together and live on the same floor with a peer adviser assigned to help first-year students with adjustment issues.

Residential colleges and the aforementioned forms of contemporary residence education programs share a common goal of seeking to integrate in-class learning with out-of-class experiences in residential settings. What distinguishes classic residential colleges from other forms of residence education is the level and quality of faculty involvement. In residential colleges found in leading universities, faculty and students live and work in shared residential facilities. Further, the program is staffed and directed by the affiliated and resident faculty. In rare instances, the college is itself a degree-granting institution.

While the functions, nomenclature, and organizational structures of colleges differ from university to university, leading institutions in the United States share certain general patterns. In institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Rice Universities, residential colleges are decentralized academic societies or associations composed of faculty and student members. They range in size from 250 to 500 members. A distinction is usually drawn between senior and junior members of the college. The senior membership includes faculty, selected staff, and distinguished members of the local community. The junior membership includes undergraduate and graduate students. Residential colleges are microcosms of their universities. Senior members are drawn from all schools and departments; care is taken to achieve a balance in disciplinary representation. The junior members of a college reflect the full range of academic interests and backgrounds present in the university as a whole. Some schools randomly assign junior members to their colleges. Others take into consideration the preferences of junior members but also take measures to ensure that students do not self-segregate on the basis of demographic characteristics.

A faculty member is appointed to serve as the master of the college and has oversight responsibility for the college as a whole. The master reports to the chief academic officer or the chancellor or president of the university. A college dean is also appointed from the faculty and is responsible for academic advising and the personal welfare of student members of the college. Affiliated senior members are expected to attend college functions, dine frequently at the college, and take an interest in the life of the college. Senior members are appointed for specific terms and periodically reviewed. Resident tutors are selected from the graduate student members of the college and serve as intellectual role models, mentors, and advisers for the undergraduate students. They are supervised by the dean.

In a residential college, the staff works to create an orderly, satisfying, and nurturing environment that fosters a sense of belonging, promotes positive relationships among all members of the community, and is organized around the experience of learning. The master, the dean, and, especially, the resident tutors are visible and available members of the community; they closely observe their students, listen to their concerns, and respond as needed. Colleges have active student governments and seek to provide leadership opportunities for all junior members. The senior members of the college and the resident tutors are expected to participate in the evening activities, both formal and informal, of the college.

A residential college has its own character and culture; a conscious effort is made to create and sustain a tradition and a sense of history. A college program has a measured temporal structure providing for regular interactions of its members and for special events with ritual significance. Colleges hold regular weekly, monthly, and annual meetings. A common meal plan for students and staff plays a central role in establishing the college community. Welcoming events are held for new members as well as commencement events for departing members. Colleges create unique identities by celebrating selected events such as specific holidays or anniversaries. The pattern of events and activities is intended to be meaningful for its members; the program fosters shared norms, values, and expectations. These shared meanings may even be embodied in artifacts such as murals, facebooks (containing photographs of and biographical information on the college's residents), commonplace books, insignia, and mascots.

The central purpose of the college is academic. Colleges may provide academic advising for their junior members, offer for-credit classes or not-for-credit study, and organize opportunities for formal and informal discussions with faculty and visiting scholars and artists. Social activities are organized around opportunities for learning. Poetry readings, recitals, theatrical productions, scientific experiments, reading groups, field trips, and attendance at cultural and artistic events are common activities in residential colleges.

The architecture of the classic residential college promotes its educational mission. College buildings and gardens generally demarcate some sort of an enclosed space, such as a quadrangle. The enclosure helps foster a sense of communal identity and can be used to create traffic patterns promoting positive interaction among the college's members. The master, the dean, the resident tutors, and their families are provided with living quarters. Each college has an office complex to support the master, dean, and resident tutors. Central to the life of a college is a dining commons large enough to seat all of the members of the college. The dining commons can be used for announcements, college meetings, social activities, and special events. Separate meeting or social rooms are provided for senior and junior members. Libraries, classrooms, guest apartments, art studios, computer labs, kitchens, and laundries are often included in college facilities.

Benefits of Residential Colleges

The benefits for students derived from simply living on campus, as opposed to living off campus, are well documented. Living on campus has been linked to increases in aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual values; increases in self-concept, intellectual orientation, autonomy, and independence; gains in tolerance, empathy, and interpersonal skills; persistence in college; and degree attainment. According to a 1991 book by Ernest T. Pascarella and Patrick T. Terenzini, there is little evidence linking living in a conventional residence hall with knowledge acquisition or cognitive growth. A 1998 meta-analysis by Gregory Blimling of studies published from 1966 through June 1997 shows, however, that residential colleges, as compared to conventional halls, increase students' academic performance and retention and enhance the social climate of the living unit. Blimling's study does not distinguish clearly between classic residential colleges and living-learning centers.

According to studies conducted in 1991 by George D. Kuh and associates and in 1993 by Jerry A. Stark, faculty participating in residential colleges or living/learning centers report improvement in their teaching skills and enhanced relationships with faculty from other disciplines. Frances Arndt reported in 1993 that faculty also held positive attitudes about opportunities offered by residential colleges for teaching a variety of special and experimental courses.

Challenges and Prospects

In the 1996 book, Importing Oxbridge, Alex Duke analyzed factors affecting the failure of residential college systems in North America. While attempting to model their colleges after the exemplars of Oxford and Cambridge, North American educators did not understand the historical development or social context of these institutions. Further, the departmental organization of academic disciplines does not cohere with the interdisciplinary character of residential colleges. Finally, the rapid postwar growth in enrollment simply outstripped the ability of institutions to provide housing for students. In a chapter in the 1994 book Realizing the Educational Potential of Residence Halls, Terry B. Smith argued that institutional reward structures focus on disciplinary achievement in the form of scholarly research, publication, and grant awards. There is little incentive for faculty to work with students in out-of-class contexts. Will Koch reported in a 1999 article in College Student Affairs Journal that students may prefer conventional housing assignment practices that permit self-segregation by demographic characteristics. Finally, residential colleges require considerable investments in personnel and facilities. Funding for programming and space requirements as well as compensation for participating faculty make residential college programs more expensive than conventional residence halls.

Since the publication of the landmark study Involvement in Learning: Realizing the Potential of Higher Education, published by the National Institute of Education in 1984, numerous reports have called for increased emphases on improving teaching and learning, increasing student involvement in learning, and integrating in-class and out-of-class learning. Residential colleges are clearly one way to achieve these goals. There is evidence of growing interest in living-learning centers and residential college models. The future of the residential college model may depend on its cost-effectiveness relative to other means for achieving these educational goals.

Gavilan College
Strategic Plan for Campus Housing

Operating Principle

Fulfill the mission, vision, and values of Gavilan College and maintain the commitment to excellence, continuous improvement, and lifelong learning through residential housing that are an integral part of the College's tradition.


Residential housing provided at Gavilan College is intended to integrate the intellectual excitement of Gavilan College into residence life for students, faculty and staff, and active seniors helping to build a new learning environment at the College. Integral to the initial housing program is the College's inter-generational housing complex for students, faculty and staff, and active seniors 55 and older incorporating state of the art facilities with an active educational component.

Relationship of Campus Housing to the Educational and Facilities Master Plans

One of the major purposes of the Educational and Facilities Master Plan is to establish a guide to assist the College in making decisions regarding the development of new facilities or the modification of existing classrooms/laboratories and offices. The Facilities Master Plan largely reflects those items or activities associated with the recent Bond Measure passed and was developed based on the Educational Plan that projects program needs within the District. In addition, the Facilities Plan considers the need for District facilities projects to qualify for the California Community College Capital Outlay Program.

Gavilan College has recognized the need to consider making available housing for existing and future students, faculty and staff, and active seniors from the community and elsewhere. As enrollments from outside the College district have increased, the availability of affordable housing for students and faculty has been impacted by the limited availability of housing stock as well as its affordability in close proximity to the College.

The following issues have driven the need for the College to consider campus housing:

  • The impact of students and faculty on the housing market in Gilroy and the related political climate surrounding students in the neighborhoods.
  • The inability of matriculated students from outside the District to find suitable, affordable housing.
  • The slowly decreasing in-flow of area students and the in-flow of out of area students.
  • The evaluation of college physical assets that might support campus housing.
  • The possibility of recruiting a larger population of non-area resident students.
  • The likelihood of partnering with San Jose State University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and California State University, Monterey Bay to ease their housing needs and developing a guaranteed transfer agreement as part of the partnership.
  • The desire to increase a consistent revenue stream to augment state financing.
  • The housing costs in the area generally are increasing faster than income.
  • The Gilroy residents desire job training, elder and youth services, and affordable housing.
  • The intent to develop a model housing program that accommodates multiple generations.
  • The desire to improve the College as an academic community with a commitment to lifelong learning.
  • The aspiration of incorporating the knowledge, skills, and experiences of a senior population desirous of being a part of an academic community and augmenting the learning experiences of students.

Housing Statement of Purpose

Gavilan College offers residential facilities for students, faculty and staff, and active seniors 55 or older to provide a desirable, safe, secure, and economical living environment that attracts learners of all ages to the campus and enhances their collegiate and lifelong learning experience.

The College recognizes that education takes place both within and beyond the classroom. The College seeks to maintain a diverse community committed to broadened educational opportunities within an atmosphere of respect for others. To this end, the College believes that campus living is integral to a student's educational experience and success.

The purpose of Gavilan College's residence life is to promote community development, intellectual advancement, and personal growth. In choosing to live on campus, all participants commit to participate as a positive citizen in an educational community; a community characterized by respect, responsibility and opportunity.

All of this takes place in a splendid natural setting with well-maintained buildings and grounds that not only support our academic and co-curricular programs, but also impart a sense of permanence, stability, tradition, and stewardship.

Rationale One: Building a New Learning Environment

Gavilan College is committed to residence hall living as a vital complement to its academic program. It recognizes the fact that students who live on campus have better grades and participate more fully in the academic life of the college. The campus housing initiative - The Village at Gavilan College (Village) - is an integral component of the College's substantial efforts to provide an engaged learning community. By so doing, the College intends to better promote the intellectual, social, and personal growth of students and the institutions commitment to life-long learning by strengthening the relationship between the classroom instruction they receive and their lives outside the classroom. This purpose is realized in the following ways:

  • Building a supportive and inclusive residential community, supported by faculty, in which students can further their scientific, professional, liberal arts, artistic, or other intellectual interests;
  • Offering programs that instill in students a commitment to and habit of learning; promote self-determination, integrity, independent thought, self-discipline, and tolerance and support for diverse ages, cultures and beliefs; and promote the common good;
  • Providing common experiences that help students form a sense of community and mutual support;
  • Enriching their experiences through programs, seminars, lectures, and field experiences that increase opportunities for students to learn together, enhance communication skills, and grow academically, professionally, and personally; and
  • Furthering the College's mission of creating an informed and responsible citizenry through civic engagement, community service, and public dialogue.

A project of the Gavilan College Auxiliary Organization, a privately funded entity created to meet the facilities needs of the College, the Village features private bedrooms, common living areas and fully furnished kitchens.

The new learning environment is a place where Gavilan students, faculty and staff, and active seniors who wish to contribute to, actively participate in, and experience a new learning environment come to challenge themselves academically, culturally, socially, and personally.

At Gavilan College, the new learning environment is taking shape in residential facilities such as The Village at Gavilan College, a housing complex for students, faculty, and active seniors.  The facilities will include, when fully functional, an electronic library and multi-purpose classroom facilities designed to operate around the clock and to function for the way today's students learn, with fully wired study carrels and plenty of group study rooms, plus a juice and donut shop.

More importantly, the new learning environment will be an academic and intellectual community on the campus of Gavilan College which hums with the vibrancy of the true college experience - bright and talented students, seasoned and knowledgeable seniors, all working with brilliant faculty and staff formally in the classroom and informally over a donut and juice or lounging in the green space which stretches from one end of campus to the other. It is a place which recognizes that new information technologies are transforming traditional academic disciplines and embraces those opportunities.

Through the use of residential living on campus, Gavilan College not only is being responsive to community needs and those of many students but also is maximizing the unique and beautiful physical campus in the manner outlined in the newly adopted educational and physical master plan to promote the creation of a true community of scholars. The College is integrating in-class and out-of-class experiences by placing academic advisors in the Village, creating classroom spaces there, updating campus computer networks and bringing cultural experiences into residential areas.  Furthermore, with its intergenerational focus, the College will be on the cutting edge of residential community colleges and serve as a prototype for other colleges to follow.

Rationale Two: Transformation and Engagement

Residential life at Gavilan College is intended to be much more than dormitory housing. It is an important part of a student's growth and development as a social and cultural being, an important moment in forging individual identity. It is also a time for students to explore the world of ideas outside themselves with others, with their peers, with their teacher-mentors, and with seasoned individuals of life's journey.

For students in their first year of residence developmental issues often do receive more attention than academic exploration in a college or university setting. For most other students, the balance often shifts from developmental concerns to intellectual community. Gavilan's residential housing for multiple generations is intended to close the gap, if not eliminate it altogether, to expedite student immersion in the kind of educational  environment considered to be conducive to their ultimate success in life and their chosen path.

By providing inter-generational housing for students, faculty and staff, and active seniors, in an innovatively configured living-learning housing complex, Gavilan College will be offering a comprehensive residential experience for those students, faculty and staff, and active seniors who wish to live on campus. This experience will make available increased faculty-student interactions for those who desire it, so that the two groups come to know each other beyond the formal interactions of the classroom, and so that students can be drawn more fully into the intellectual life of the College.

This vision is innovative and bold but is not disconnected from the history of the College. The partnerships developed among students, faculty and staff will support Gavilan's mission of educating students in the broadest sense. Implementing the Gavilan vision will provide future College students a transformative educational experience.

Envisioned Shared Values

For this residential housing model to be successful there must be a set of shared values, for

.a society is held together best when it commands a set of shared values that define the virtues the society seeks to uphold, strong commitment to shared purposes and a clear sense of social responsibility; but also when it has a strong commitment to mutual tolerance and a high regard for minority individual rights.

The challenge for Gavilan is defining those shared values and fulfilling that strong commitment.

Essentially, the College envisions an academic community of students, faculty, and staff where freedom with responsibility exists as a communal as well as an individual value. As students, faculty and staff, and active seniors pursue their own development to the fullest extent, they do so in full recognition and acknowledgment of their membership in a learning community.

Gavilan College is committed to promoting a learning and living environment in which students, faculty and staff, and participating active seniors respect one another and share:

  • a belief in the value of education
  • an understanding that the academic community gains when individuals and groups of diverse backgrounds learn and work together
  • a recognition of the importance of service and the belief that an individual can make a significant difference
  • a commitment to creating a just community in which members learn to respect and value one another for their unique qualities and for their contribution to the community as a whole

The Village at Gavilan College Goals

With these suggested values as background to defining community, the College considers the following goals for the residential participant experience. The College believes that these goals help establish a broad framework in which the residential experience is best understood.

Gavilan College shall:

  • Convince students to widen their intellectual horizons, develop a commitment to serious study, and obtain a core of intellectual skills;
    • the ability to engage people of different cultural perspectives; and▪the ability to work both independently and in cooperation with others and to exercise leadership.
  • Create and provide formal and informal opportunities for students and faculty and seniors to engage together in the intellectual life of the College
  • Encourage all residents to explore, respect, and appreciate the cultural, intellectual, and social diversity of the College.
  • Promote experiences that foster the personal development of residents.
  • Construct an environment in which all members of the College community feel a sense of belonging, are trusted, and are able to realize their personal and professional goals.
  • Provide living units that support the residential communities' principles and goals for undergraduate education and are functional, safe, stimulating, and aesthetically attractive.
  • Form living situations that both comfort residents with familiar environments and challenge them to expand life experiences.

District boundaries no longer define the service area of a particular campus. With the adoption of "free flow" policy, students may attend whatever campus meets their needs without special permission or fees. The potential effect of this is to redefine the service area of each campus from traditional political boundaries to other criteria such as driving times, curricula, demographics, and programs.

Benefits of College Housing

The College housing plan - The Village at Gavilan College - including the Academy, is intentionally linked to the College's mission, master plan, and core values of community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice, and stewardship. The resulting housing plan is a dynamic one that the College will review annually and change as needed to meet shifting circumstances and emerging opportunities.

Practical Academic and Vocational Education Application

In addressing practical academic and vocational education in the housing plan, the College recommits itself to excellence in advancing its multiple mission and the historic role and responsibilities of a community college. The College will concentrate on preparing students to engage in principled problem solving as a means to contribute not only to the practical education of students but as a way to contribute creative solutions to existing and emerging problems in the community, state, nation and world.

The housing initiative enhances the College's efforts to redefine the role of a community college as it attempts to better serve its stakeholders and constituencies in the 21st Century. What drives the housing plan is the desire to remain relevant in the emerging knowledge economy. The College strongly believes that each of its Master Plan goals speaks to the needs of new economic realities and the value of a practical community college education.

In addition to the student and faculty housing components, the Academy will involve active seniors in a variety of educational and training opportunities, including but not limited to courses and teams using their talents and life experiences with faculty guidance to address authentic, real world problems. The Academy may also be the locus for piloting one or more projects that relate directly to the accomplishment of the college's strategic plan. Furthermore, Academy residents will also be a resource for faculty and student scholarship and study relating to their program studies.

By incorporating inter-generational on-campus housing programming into the Academic Program of the College, the institution will approach education as a whole and provide a range of extra-curricular and co-curricular experiences and internships for students that will invigorate and enhance the educational experience of the academic community.

Expanding the Academic Community

In its Master Plan, Gavilan College expresses the intention to expand its academic community over the next few years, increasing enrollment and leveraging partnerships within the region it serves. Capitalizing on its adult programs and the Academy, the College will strengthen its commitment to a "lifetime of learning."  The 21st century knowledge economy requires that those who do not have college degrees earn them; and those with and without academic degrees or certification in occupational and vocational areas must continue on the path of continuous learning. Gavilan College embraces both objectives and welcomes individuals of all ages who have the desire and need for intellectual growth and development.

Growth in enrollment and revenue will come not only from new students but from improved retention and faculty and staff growth will rise in proportion to enrollment to maintain the quality of academic programs and administrative services.

The implication of the College's Master Plan is to not only expand the academic community by making it larger, but also better.  Revenue generated from a larger enrollment will be used to achieve the college's high academic and financial goals and objectives, to deepen the existing curriculum, and increase educational opportunities for the community at large.  In addition, there would be increases in staffing for academic support programs and student services, all in an attempt to produce higher student achievement, retention, and satisfaction.

Growth also makes the College more diverse, expands its geographic representation, and improves its competitive position relative to attracting and increasing participation rates from local and regional high schools and the community the College serves while still preserving a small college size and ambience. Growth does not mean either residential or commuter but rather "both/and" through the incorporation of the housing initiative. Most importantly, growth gives more students the opportunity for a Gavilan education and to make a difference in the world.

Community Building

In addition to strategic goals, Gavilan College aims to improve in areas considered more tactical and operational but still crucial to the health of the institution, such as building community.  Community is not related to size -examples abound of large and small colleges with excellent and poor senses of community - as much as to creating opportunities and spaces for fun and fellowship. By incorporating an inter-generational housing component into the College environment, Gavilan is strategically and tactically positioned to build an academic community based on a culture of life-long learning and a foundation of facilities serving its mission.

The Village Academy at Gavilan College


  • Amidst on-campus student housing, an active adult residential environment providing the chance for learners, particularly active adults, to write a new chapter in their life - one in which they may achieve goals and aspirations held for a lifetime.
  • An energizing environment which not only embraces active lifestyles but also promotes them through its unique relationship with the College.
  • People participating in life-enriching cultural events, empowering seminars and even continue learning new things in a stimulating university environment.
  • Active Seniors enjoying a totally independent, carefree retirement, allowing them to focus their energy on living a long and healthy life in the manner of their choosing - in the direction of their dreams.

The Village Academy at Gavilan College offers unparalleled cultural, educational, social, and training opportunities for active seniors to fulfill their dreams and allow their imaginations to soar. 

The Concept:

The Village Academy (Academy) at Gavilan College, an innovative idea in inter-generational community living, combines the cultural, recreational and educational opportunities of a world-class community college with the friendliness and charm of small-town living. For instance, students or interns go to the Village to provide exercise and swimming classes, and many of the residents teach classes or mentor the students.

University-affiliated retirement communities like the Academy are a growing trend in the U.S. A big part of the allure is the intellectual and cultural stimulation. Gavilan College believes that similar engagement on a community college campus has unlimited possibility and has the potential to be on the cutting edge of the future.

Spurred by growing research suggesting that mental activity fights off dementia, college-affiliated retirement communities have sprung up in 50 college towns across the country, linking the retired set with schools such as Notre Dame, the University of Florida at Gainesville, the University of Michigan, and Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts.

For adult seniors, returning to their college campus brings back old memories of a seemingly care-free time when they met classmates and were just beginning to think seriously about their careers. But college life for seniors at the Academy comes with a range of perks besides nostalgia, including:

  • reduced or free classes,
  • priority access to sporting and cultural events, as well as
  • intellectual vigor and youthful energy they might never get on the shuffleboard court or playing cards.

In turn, the College perceive these educated and affluent retirees as ready-made mentors, teachers, cheerleaders in the football stands, and, perhaps more important, donors.

As conceived at Gavilan College, The Academy is a retirement community for those active seniors (55 or older) who are not ready to retire-a "de-retirement" village for academicians, scientists, artists, and executives to continue their work and remain physically, intellectually, and creatively active.

The Academy is an exciting initiative within the overall Campus Master Plan and its Educational Master Plan because of the opportunities for teaching, research and service programs of the College to connect with the residents. (It is also one component of the overall housing program at the College with student and faculty and staff housing also being a part of the housing initiative underway at the College.) One example is the demand for greater training and knowledge in the field of gerontology and related disciplines such as medicine, nursing, family studies, nutrition and health administration -- all strengths of Gavilan College in its quest to not only meet the educational needs of its region but also in recognition of the changing demographics within its primary service area.

In addition, many of today's retirees are interested in volunteering their considerable expertise, taking classes and attending artistic, cultural and sporting events. The wealth of untapped expertise of the College's alumni and friends for teaching or volunteering also is waiting to be explored. 

Many people are interested in the amenities at the College that include a fitness facility, library, a bookstore, activity rooms and access to tickets for athletic and cultural events. Future residents will have met at a variety of cultural and social events designed to bring them together in interesting and enjoyable ways, and they will contribute to the planning of activities. 

The College's housing initiative is being designed as a community devoted to life-long learning, thinking and doing. The Academy will be the source of educational and cultural programs that complement the health and wellness programs, services and social events provided by the College. Together, these activities and services support a stimulating and fulfilling retirement.

For those seniors residing in the Academy, they will be entitled to attend all programs, seminars, concerts and courses offered by the College. The College will actively survey the interests of Academy members and respond with high-quality offerings in various forms and styles. Members will enjoy and contribute to as well as lead in some instances 5- and 10-week courses, mini-courses, lectures, seminars, conferences, panel discussions, and concerts.

The Village Academy is a retirement community where residents enjoy a fully creative life along with social and recreational amenities whether they are renting or leasing accommodations on campus.

The Village Academy is a non-profit, tax exempt auxiliary organization specifically created to provide residents of Gilroy and the Gavilan College community with opportunities to acquire new knowledge, to share experiences and skills, and to remain fully and actively engaged in life.

The Village Academy

Gavilan College offers a wide variety of short courses for personal growth and enrichment that are tuition-free and non-credit through The Village Academy at Gavilan College.   These courses are designed for mature adults. No previous educational background is necessary, just a desire to learn or experience something new.

The Village Academy serves the Gavilan College mature adult community by providing intellectually challenging lifelong learning opportunities.  In addition to residential living, educational programs and courses are designed for adults age 55 and over although there is no age limit for enrollment. Any student is welcome.

Targeting the 55-and-older population, the Village Academy offers a broad range of intellectually stimulating non-credit courses taught by professors from area institutions and professionals from diverse disciplines.

Courses are taught in a welcoming environment without the academic pressures associated with formal, degree-granting programs. Textbooks are generally not required, tuition is modest, and there are no examinations or grades.

The Village Academy curriculum is designed to offer students opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the ancient and modern worlds, enjoy the arts, find personal meaning and satisfaction in all aspects of life, and interact with individuals who share common interests.

What is the Village Academy at Gavilan College?

  • The Village Academy is residential environment for active seniors 55 or older that is an integral and official component of Gavilan College whose members are retired.
  • The Village Academy's purpose is to give a home and a focus to continued intellectual, creative and social engagement of retired persons with the College.
  • The Village Academy fosters and promotes the scholarly and artistic lives of its members, prolonging fruitful engagement with and service to the College.
  • The Village Academy provides the College a continued association with productive community individuals who have retired from their careers but not from their desire for continued living and learning.

Benefits to Gavilan College

Gavilan College is committed to provide the highest quality educational experiences that will develop effective professionals, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners. Through the Village Academy students will expand their understanding of themselves, other generations, and their roles in a diverse and global society. Field experiences, internships, service learning opportunities, and social interaction with others all contribute to the academic environment of the College experience. The Village Academy also provides opportunity for students to work collegially with fellow students, faculty, and seasoned adults from their particular fields of study.

The Village Academy also provides a number of other benefits that can provide daily benefits as well as impact career goals and opportunities.

These benefits include:

For the Student.

  • Students experience a diverse social environment from residential complex living and from the personal relationships that are formed.
  • Residing and studying together may significantly enhance the academic knowledge beyond the traditional living circumstances.
  • The proposed dwelling conditions serve to buffer the transition from home to college life, helps to open doors to college community involvement throughout the campus and may be instrumental in determining the measure of success is achieved during the college experience.
  • The College represents a "community of learners" that can be the basis for the maximum of academic achievement and personal satisfaction for life.
  • Cultural and social activities support and complement the educational mission of the College.
  • Residential living may stimulate students' opportunities and provide a chance for involvement to initiate, organize and direct the cultural and social life of the College. 
  • Exposure to the College residential living encourages tolerance, understanding, mutual respect, and understanding of individual characters.
  • The College will consider providing some "Core" courses offered on-site.
  • Working with other students who have similar academic, occupational and/or professional goals, and projects affords an opportunity that is unique to this type of living arrangement.
  • The living style as described allows formal and informal interaction with faculty in their mutual academic fields of endeavor.
  • Group study encourages cooperative learning experiences and study groups.

For the College.

  • Residential life supports and complements the academic programs and educational mission of the College.
  • Mentoring of students, an important aspect of retention, enhanced by the participation of experienced and active retired adults;
  • Participation in special roles within College partnerships with schools and other community organizations;
  • An exciting programmatic partnership creates a blended, intergenerational life-style where residents, students, and faculty benefit from shared resources and experiences, enhancing the quality of life for everyone involved.
  • Opportunities to participate in community service activities under the auspices of the College, providing an organizational structure under which to operate, such as contributing to University partnerships with schools and business and industry.

For the Community.

  • Public lecture or performance series from experts, artists, and practitioners who now can take time to broaden the scope of their speaking or performing in response to community interests;
  • A source of consultant resources for both public and private organizations;
  • Participation in a variety of College/community partnerships.

The Village Academy at Gavilan College Residents

While the formal name - The Village Academy at Gavilan College - may lead some potential residents to think that the Academy is designed exclusively for college professors that is not the case. While it is anticipated that some of its residents will be retired (and not-so-retired) college professors, the Academy also will have a diverse group of people representing a wide variety of fields, businesses and areas of interest. They may have pursued their interests either as a career or as a volunteer. If the Academy lifestyle appeals to an active senior, regardless of their journey in life, they should seriously consider becoming a part of an innovative and exciting learning community that is inter-generational in nature.

The Academy is not a selective haven for "academics." It is a place devoted to continued learning, involvement in productive activity and service to the community. Some members may find the support they need to continue their lifelong work. Others may enjoy what they did not have time for earlier in life. Whatever the case, Academy residents will be a part of an exciting learning residential community - The Village at Gavilan College - in which they are able to learn more, keep their minds and bodies active, contribute to the College's mission, and to have a good time.

The Academy is a residential community with a difference: an ideal place to live for adults who want to enjoy the benefits of a collegiate environment. It also is a place where there is interaction - a synapse - between more seasoned individuals and those experiencing the college experience perhaps for the first time as well as providing a synergy between and among college faculty and staff and those residing in the lifelong learning residential community. The Academy brings the college learning experience into the everyday lives of its members, bridging the formal world of the classroom with the informal world of the residential college.

The Academy is for seasoned individuals - active seniors 55 or older - who want to not only contribute to the success of others and share their life experiences and knowledge with those starting on their own excursion to help them succeed in school but who want other things as well: membership in a real community; opportunities for involvement and engagement outside the classroom.

What makes the Academy special are the residents who choose to live here. As part of an inter-generational housing complex, the Academy brings college students together with "seniors" as well as faculty and staff, thereby encouraging undergraduates to get to know individuals from outside their own classes as well as "safety zone." There are minimum requirements for admission to the Academy, and people from every walk of life are encouraged to apply. Academy residents make a conscious commitment to build a community of lifelong learners who want to make the most of their active life and college experience.

The Academy believes in empowering residents to shape their own community and their own education experiences with a wide array of special programs conceived, designed, and implemented by residents working together with supportive faculty and staff members.

Members of the Academy believe in sharing their talents with the larger world of the campus, the city, the state, and the world, through engagement and community service projects of many kinds. The faculty and staff also provide courses and other experiences in the residence facility as it an integral component of the college's educational and facility master plan fulfilling the College mission to serve its community.

Most of all, Academy residents are engaged. They work and play hard, and they give as much as they get from the community around them. By sharing generously with the people around them, they themselves benefit enormously. If it is one belief that going to college should involve much more than just attending classes and going to parties and desires to hone talents, share experiences with students and teachers who have a mutual curiosity about life and the world, then each individual who is selected to be part of the Village experience will find a great number of kindred spirits. The Village will be filled with people who share an excitement about learning, who enjoy meeting new people and who are confident they can contribute to the educational experience as well as  learn from other students and  professors.

Academic Resources

There are a number of Academic Resources available to College and Academy residents, such as:

Faculty and Staff Involvement

There is a group of faculty and staff called "Academy Fellows" who teach some course sections within the Village itself.  They also plan events, attend activities at the Academy and College, and offer opportunities for Academy residents to mentor students, and assist in advising and counseling undergraduates.  In addition, these Fellows are guest lecturers in classes; serve as facilitators and provocateurs around issues of interest.  The Fellows are drawn from a variety of academic disciplines and are committed to building community through learning together. They are just as excited about student interests and ideas as sharing their own.

College Advising Service (CAS)

The College Advising Office provides many academic advisors for the College students who are undecided and exploring different major options. All undecided students as to their ultimate major and/orgoal assigned to these advisors recognize that the advisors are an integral part of the Academy community. The CAS advisor also serves students who are considering changing majors or who have not been admitted to limited-enrollment programs and need to explore other options for majors. Further, Academy advisors are knowledgeable about careers and opportunities and augment the CAS advisors as requested, making them a great resource for all Gavilan College students.

Reserved Class Sections

The College reserves spaces in popular courses for Academy residents. This provides residents the opportunity to meet others throughout the College, make easy connections for study groups, and many of the classes meet in the same facility in which they room. Typical courses in which the College offers reserved spaces include Math, Chemistry, English, History, Political Science, Sociology, Comparative Literature, and Anthropology. The Academy also offers its own course called "Community and the Individual," which examines the ideas processes and experiences of community and community participation.

Tutors in Writing, Math and Chemistry

The Academy offers students tutoring in Writing and Math throughout the year in Academy facilities. Through collaboration with the College's Writing Program and the Math Department, expert Academy residents are able to offer excellent, knowledgeable tutors who are an important part of the College community. In collaboration with the Chemistry Department the Academy is also able to offer experienced Chemistry Tutors.

Computers in Housing Supported Programs

The College offers a variety of services including computer use, tutoring and computer training sessions to residents in the Academy.

Study Groups

Interested in forming a study group? Academy residents can form their own or assist with College study groups as leaders or resources and will also provide additional study tips to help all succeed in their classes.

Special Programs

The Academy is the creation of the residents who live there. To an unusual degree, its special programming is the product of resident initiatives and depends on the energy and enthusiasm that active seniors bring to the community. It grows and evolves with the people who live within its walls.

What kinds of things might you expect to find at the Academy?

  • Special Orientation activities during the opening days and weeks of the fall semester to acquaint residents with this special community and the other "players" who will become some of your closest friends on campus.
  • Workshops to help students succeed in college and in later life: for instance, on setting academic goals for their major, studying for examinations, improving their writing, finding research opportunities on campus, competing for scholarships, finding summer internships, applying to other institutions upon completion of the program at the College, finding a job, and so on.
  • Frequent get-together's with faculty members, visiting scholars, writers, artists, community leaders, alumni, and others who are eager to share their special experiences and perspectives on the world.
  • Regular excursions to theater, film, and musical events with other Academy members, and the chance to talk with the artists who are performing.
  • Academy resident-led discussions of current events and issues of special interest to Academy members.
  • Gallery shows, musical performances, literary publications, and other creative activities organized by Academy residents themselves.
  • Special service projects ranging from tutoring in local elementary schools to environmental clean-up projects in city parks.
  • Field trips to natural areas, historic sites, museums, and other interesting places outside Gilroy, often in the company of professors and staff members eager to share their special expertise about such places.

Illustrative Academy Educational Programs/Opportunities

In addition to the above programs, the following activities are illustrative of the myriad opportunities available to the Academy residents and others that are a part of the Village housing program at Gavilan College.

▪Weekly lectures

Informal lectures on current issues of the day or other topics of interest are given once a week by residents, community experts, and College faculty.


A weekly musical program is offered, usually presented by selected students, residents or faculty from the College or visiting artists to the area. Soloists, duos, trios and ensemble groups offer a variety of instrumentation, voices and repertoire, ranging from the classical to the modern.

▪Lectures/Talks by Academy Members

There is a high level of community interest in individual talks by Academy members. They may share their career experiences from business and professional life or personal travel.

There is a cadre of resident experts who, at times, provide a series of programs in one discipline, such as art, astronomy, physical sciences, psychology, engineering, music and economics.

▪Economic and Community Development

Opening in fall 2008, the Economic and Community Development academic program will focus on Santa Clara County. A year-long program open to Academy residents and students in all majors, it will offer contact with state and community leaders. Members of the program will apply the material in their courses to issues affecting the economic and community well-being of Santa Clara citizens. Participants will take several core courses and form into groups to complete a long-term project having to do with economic and community development in the region. In the process, they will meet with political, civic and business leaders to do their research and to discuss ideas and plans. This program will offer participants invaluable real-world experience and networking opportunities. For Academy residents, it will provide an opportunity to mentor not only College students but also to work side by side to address issues in a meaningful way.

▪Community Service

Community service is a major interest among members of the Academy. The relationship between Academy members and the College as well as the nearby Gilroy School District, is a priority. Academy members are invited to make classroom presentations, mentor students and teachers and serve as judges for the Science Fairs and other College, school, and community activities. There are many other opportunities available for community service in the Santa Clara County region that can be facilitated by the Academy.

▪The College Activity Card (CAC)

In cooperation with the College, Academy members qualify for a valuable CAC card that provides access to the College library, concerts, computer system, and sporting events. Through the library system, cardholders have exclusive access to professional journals on the Internet, leisure reading, and are permitted use of special collections not available to the general public. Ticket and bookstore discounts and some faculty privileges make the CAC card invaluable.

▪Program Advisory Committee

A Program Advisory Committee of Academy members works closely with College staff to identify areas of interest for Academy offerings. Member surveys are conducted periodically to gather input, making every offering truly relevant to members' needs and desires.

Illustrative Courses

The College Year is divided into 2 semesters and a Summer Program. The Academy program, while integral to the College's Academic calendar, also will have its own variations of time and length of programs and courses, among other attributes to be determined by a College programming committee. The following information, however, is illustrative of the potential for courses and programs and should not be considered comprehensive or exclusive.

Most courses consist of a two-hour session, once a week for five or ten weeks, depending on the subject. Through the year 2008, there will be one sixteen-week course during each of the fall and spring semesters. The summer period will have two five-week courses. As the community grows, the number of courses will increase.

These credit and non-credit courses are available to Academy resident members as part of their residential experience. On a space available basis, interested non-residents will be invited to participate for an individual course fee.

The specific courses (illustrative) planned by the Academy for the years 2008 to 2010 are as follows:

Academy Courses for 2008-2010

Fall Semester 2008

Comparative Religions I and II
Part I (5 weeks) compares Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Part II (5 weeks) discusses current issues and trends in religion in the US.

Basic PC Computing
Two-hour sessions.  Enrollment limited to 6. 

Additional series to be announced.

Spring Semester 2009

Psychology for Non-Psychologists
A 12-week series by Academy resident experts, presenting their major fields of interest applied to everyday life.

The Local Environmental Condition
A 12 week series, each session to last 2 1/2 hours.
Learn about local environmental issues, endangered species, how plants and animals survive in the area, how they interact and how people affect their existence.

Summer Program 2009

Native Peoples of California (5 weeks)
An anthropological study of native groups to California, including current cultural, health and economic issues.

Local Cultural Resources (5 weeks)
Presenters from Gilroy and Santa Clara County art, music, theatre and environmental organizations and agencies will discuss their activities and opportunities for volunteering.

Fall Semester 2009

Masters of Art I & II
Part I (5 weeks) discusses painting and sculpture from Michelangelo/DaVinci to Vermeer/Rembrandt. Q&A's will be an important feature of the course.

Part II (5 weeks) centers on the Impressionists (Pissaro, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, van Gogh) and samples the 20th Century Modernists (Picasso to Jackson Pollock).

ABCs of Economics
10 weeks, Academy resident economists discuss how our lives are affected by economic factors, such as price, growth, business cycles, money supply and the global economy.

Spring Semester 2010

History of Science (10 weeks)
A review of the major contributors to the understanding of science today, beginning with the Greeks.

American Literature Classics I & II
Part I (5 weeks) covers the writings of major American authors of the 19th Century (Franklin/Irving to Whitman/ Twain).

Part II (5 weeks) considers 20th Century hallmarks (Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck).

Summer Program 2010

The Role of the United States as a Superpower (5 weeks)
The end of the Cold War places unique responsibilities on the US to maintain peace among nations, many with interests opposite to ours. Did previously dominant powers (Rome and Greece) learn something we need to recall?

Fall Quarter 2010

Introduction to Anthropology I & II
Part I (5 weeks) looks at humans as biological beings and explores how we order our social and cultural worlds.

Part II (5 weeks) discusses human origins, biological characteristics and social customs and beliefs.

Advances in Medical Research (10 weeks)
College faculty, visiting scholars, local medical experts review their research and the newest treatments for what could ail you. Specific topics to be announced.

Chamber Music (5 weeks)
Listen to and learn about this art form. It's not all string quartets! Chamber music includes voice, piano and orchestras of up to 20 players.

Benefits of Residential Units for Life-Long Learners

Benefits to the College

Educational institutions can benefit financially and otherwise by extending their educational mission to include the increasing larger adult population, particularly active seniors 55 or older.

Financial Benefits

  • Revenue from unit rentals, leases, and services.
  • Bequests and donations from residents.
  • Additional assets and revenue possibilities created by a housing project, such as new dining options, guest rooms and meeting rooms that can also be used by faculty and students, community people, and visitors.
  • Improved utilization of physical assets, i.e., classrooms, fitness centers, conference rooms, recreational facilities, sporting and cultural event seating and attendance.
  • Better utilization of intellectual assets.
  • Increased retention of students.

Non-financed Benefits

  • Increased campus diversity.
  • Volunteer guest lecturers and tutors.
  • Employment and internship opportunities for students.
  • Opportunities for research on the lifestyle and health aspects of aging, housing management, and dining/dietary sciences.
  • Career advice and networking opportunities stemming form senior's professional contacts.
  • Attractive housing option for retired and current faculty.
  • Positive effect on student behavior stemming from presence of seniors.
  • Increased audience for campus sporting, cultural, and public performance events.
  • Exposure and encouragement of each student to take part in an internship or in community service.
  • Mentoring and group study opportunities.

Benefits to Seniors

  • Provides an intellectually stimulating environment.
  • Provides an option to either an age-segregated leisure community or golf community.
  • Opportunities for intellectual enrichment by taking college courses, organizing residence-directed seminars, attending campus cultural and sporting events.
  • Opportunity for fulfillment through volunteer or part-time paid work.
  • Opportunities for cross-generational social interaction including tutoring and mentoring.
  • Group travel planning.
  • Use of college facilities and services.
  • Contributing to discipline specific faculty lectures and serving as career resource persons.
  • Using career and social networks for the advancement of the College needs.

Benefits to Society at Large

There are benefits to the country-at-large created by residential communities for life-long learners.

  • Provide a new, meaningful option for the growing numbers of healthy, educated "baby boomers", many of whom who have or will have 20 plus years of active retirement living.
  • Reduce intergenerational friction that develops age-segregated residential patterns of housing.
  • Encourages the transfer of experience from the elderly to the young, and vice versa.
  • Provides mature, qualified volunteers to address unmet social needs in communities, and entities such as schools, hospitals, libraries, and museums, for example.

Rationale for Retirement Communities on College Campuses

As people begin looking for more meaning and value in retirement, they think about returning to the stimulating environment that they enjoyed decades earlier.   Universities and developers, realizing the perpetual appeal of a college campus as well as the numerous resources it can put at the fingertips of retirees, are building retirement communities on or near the school's grounds.

Indeed, university administrators say the benefits of a more diverse campus population work both ways.  Retirees both take courses and teach them.   Researchers and students use the elderly population for studies on aging, exercise, even customer service.  They also acquire customers for sweatshirts and hats, and patients for their medical centers.

Some university-affiliated retirement communities are continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), and some are independent residences that people own or simply buy into for their lifetime.  The extent of the university's involvement varies.

Among the universities/colleges that have retirement facilities on or near campuses, are the following:

Cornell University (NY) -- The Kendall at Ithaca
Ithaca College (NY) -- Longview
Dartmouth College (NH) -- The Kendall at Hanover
Oberlin College (OH)  -- The Kendall at Oberlin
West Chester University (PA) -- The Kendall at Longwood
Lasell College (MA) -- Lasell Village
Indiana University (IN) -- Meadowood
Iowa State (IA) -- Green Hills
Penn State (PA) -- The Village at Penn State
University of Florida (FL) -- Oak Hammock
University of Arizona (AZ) -- Arizona Senior Academy
University of Virginia (VA) --  The Colonnades
Haverford and Swarthmore colleges (PA) -- The Quadrangle

Institutions considering building retirement communities include University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Duke University, University of Washington, Lehigh University, University of Connecticut, and Stanford University.

Retirees are becoming more sophisticated and have higher expectations for how they will spend their remaining years.  When the baby boomers join what is the relatively new phenomenon of affluent, healthy retirees, the definition of retirement is likely to change.


Arndt, Francis. 1993. "Making Connections: The Mission of UNCG's Residential College." In Gateways: Residential Colleges in the Freshman Year Experience, ed. Terry B. Smith. Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience.

Bliming, Gregory S. 1998. "The Benefits and Limitations of Residential Colleges: A Meta-Analysis of the Research." In Residential Colleges: Reforming American Higher Education, ed. F. King Alexander and Don E. Robertson. Lexington, KY: Oxford International Round Table.

Duke, Alex. 1996. Importing Oxbridge: English Residential Colleges and American Universities. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Koch, Will. 1999. "Integration and De Facto Segregation in Campus Housing: An Analysis of Campus Housing Policy." College Student Affairs Journal 18 (2):35-43.

Kuh, George D.; Schuh, John H.; Whitt, Elizabeth J.; and Associates. 1991. Involving Colleges: Successful Approaches to Fostering Student Learning and Development Outside the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lenning, Oscar T., and Ebers, Larry H. 1999. "The Powerful Potential of Learning Communities: Improving Education for the Future." Washington, DC: George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Pascarella, Ernest T., and Terenzini, Patrick T. 1991. How College Affects Students: Findings and Insights from Twenty Years of Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Residential College Task Force. 1998. The Residential Nexus: A Focus on Student Learning. Columbus, OH: Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.

Ryan, Mark. 1992. "Residential Colleges: A Legacy of Living and Learning Together." Change 24 (5):26-35.

Smith, Terry B., ed. 1992. "Proceedings of the First Annual Conference of Residential Colleges and Living-Learning Centers." Kirksville: Northeast Missouri State University.

Smith, Terry B. 1994. "Integrating Living and Learning through Residential Colleges." In Realizing the Educational Potential of Residence Halls, ed. Charles C. Schroeder and Phyllis Mable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stark, Jerry A. 1993. "Putting the College Back in University." In Gateways: Residential Colleges in the Freshman Year Experience, ed. Terry B. Smith. Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience.

Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in Higher Education. 1984. Involvement in Learning: Realizing the Educational Potential of Higher Education. Washington, DC: National Institute of Education.


O'Hara, Robert J. 2001. "How to Build a Residential College." <>.

Last modified: August 27, 2007
Gavilan College Red Diamond 5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard Red Diamond Gilroy, CA 95020 Red Diamond (408) 848-4800