GCCCD honors its construction teams, scholarship donors

CUYAMACA COLLEGE (Press Release) – With construction finishing on 14 projects at Grossmont and Cuyamaca College, leaders of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District recently took time to honor the architects, engineers and contractors who led the work to transform the two East County campuses.

More than 20 companies honored at the Nov. 4 event at Cuyamaca College all worked on projects funded by a combination of state money and Proposition R, the $207 million bond measure approved by East County voters in 2002.

Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, compared the new buildings on the two campuses to the famous line recited in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams – “If you build it, he will come.” The facilities were built, and thousands of students keep coming to the colleges, she said.

“There was a dream and we built it together,” Miles told about 65 people in the Cuyamaca College’s Digital Theater. “We have fulfilled these dreams because of the vision and the support of our East County voters.”

Miles noted that the construction work provided more than 2,700 jobs over eight years. One-third of the work on the projects – about $64 million — went to East County companies, she said.

The Communication Arts Center where the event was held is among six projects at Cuyamaca College built as a result of the bond measure and state funds. Other projects at the Rancho San Diego campus include a student center, a Business and Technology building and a Science and Technology Center.

At Grossmont College, a Health and Physical Sciences Complex opened in September. Seven other Prop R projects on the El Cajon campus include a Science & Lab building, a parking structure, and a Digital Arts/Sculpture complex.

The renovation of a Student Services complex at Grossmont College is set to be completed in winter 2011. An expansion of Cuyamaca College’s Learning Resource Center is also underway.

The group also heard from two students who told how their lives have been transformed by attending community college. Both students are recipients of $1,000 Osher scholarships, which are funded by donations augmented by a 50 percent match from the Bernard Osher Foundation. Each $13,500 donated to a college translates into a $1,000 scholarship for a student each year forever.

Diedrea Lewis, a Grossmont College student, enthusiastically related how her education has changed her life since she was a homeless single parent.

“Being a student at Grossmont College has been nothing, nothing, nothing short of amazing,” she said, her voice filling the auditorium. “I would crawl on my hands and knees, surrounded by broken glass, surrounded by half a million poisonous snakes, just to get to Grossmont College.”

Cuyamaca College student Doug Brower said he had to start his life over in 2000 after his finances were wiped out searching for his two daughters who had been abducted by their mother. Brower, who plans to attend seminary after leaving Cuyamaca College, said the Osher scholarship “helps me and others like me on the path to better ourselves.”

The Osher scholarships are the result of a $50 million commitment to California’s 112 community colleges from the Osher Foundation. The colleges have until June 30, 2011 to raise the money to be eligible for matching grants. Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges have raised a combined total of about $400,000 toward their goal of almost $800,000.

Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board, and his wife, Judy, have already given $27,000 to the district, enough to fully fund two Osher scholarships. Garrett announced that he and his wife have decided to donate an additional $13,500 to fund another scholarship.

“I’m not going to make 50 percent on my money on anything today,” Garrett said. “This is the best way to leverage my investment.”

Yehudi Gaffen, chief executive officer of Gafcon, Inc., which oversaw the construction work, said he and his wife, Pam, also contributed to the Osher scholarship fund in gratitude for his company’s work on the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College campuses.

“Without the work you’ve done to get the bond approved, there wouldn’t have been the jobs for our people in this time of recession,” he said.

Other companies that were honored in addition to Gafcon are: Mosher Drew Watson and Ferguson; International Parking Design; Spencer/Hoskins; LPA, Inc.; NTD Architecture; Carrier Johnson; CW Driver; Rudolph & Sletten; Soltek Pacific; McCarthy Building Companies; Sundt; RBF Consulting; BDS Engineering, Inc.; West Coast General; SRM Contracting & Paving; Gordon Prill, Inc.; Nolte Associates, Inc.; Ramona Paving; and Sierra Pacific West, Inc.

Also recognized were Krueger International Inc.; Precision Electric Co.; Datatel Inc.; Consolidated Building Systems Inc.; Whillock Contracting Inc.; Sehi Computer Products; Blue Coast Consulting, LLC;  and Mountain Movers.

To donate money for an Osher scholarship, contact Chancellor Cindy Miles at (619) 644-7569. For more information about the colleges and the district, go to www.gcccd.edu.

Preceding provided by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District