Gavilan shows lots of ‘love’ for its first and only female AD

Longtime Gavilan P.E. instructor Susan Dodd was named SCOPE Educator of the Year. Dodd has coached almost every sport, both men's and women's at the college.

Susan Dodd and Gavilan College have had a symbiotic relationship for 37 years, and now – even with the decorated educator’s retirement from the institution at age 63 – her legacy will live on.
That’s because the Gavilan Board of Trustees voted in June to name the tennis facilities in her honor, calling it “The Susan Dodd Tennis Complex.”
It’s only fitting since Dodd – who served the Gavilan College School District as a faculty member from 1976-2013 – helped the college receive a national grant through the United States Tennis Association to refurbish the tennis facility in 2005.
“Gavilan and I are a good fit,” said Dodd, who is planning a vacation to the U.S. Tennis Open in New York which coincides with the start of the school year (something she always wanted to attend, but never could with her teaching responsibilities). “Gavilan has been good to me and I’ve been good to Gavilan.”
Dodd started her three-decade long education career at Gavilan as the first female, full-time faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology & Athletics (previously the Physical Education Department). That same year, in 1976, she was responsible for starting up three women’s sports programs, including volleyball, basketball and softball.
“She was, for me personally and for a lot people, a great mentor, a great instructor and a great friend,” Gavilan College trustee Mark Dover said. “I couldn’t even think about the Gavilan College Athletics Department without Susan Dodd. She’s a pioneer.”
Dodd served as Gavilan’s first and only female athletic director.
In 1979, she was one of two females in the entire state overseeing an athletic department in the California Community College system. She did this three separate occasions: 1979-82, 1984-86, and 1996-2000.
“I always enjoyed working at Gavilan. I never considered it as a job,” said Dodd, a native of Ripon in the Stockton-San Joaquin Valley, where Dodd was a high school teacher for two years before earning her master’s degree and receiving her first job offer at Gilroy’s community college. “I’m not going to disappear on them.”
Dodd, who owns a home on 2.5 acres in Gilroy – where she plans to remain through her retirement – said she will continue to have a presence at the college as a volunteer and whatever other capacity they may ask of her.
Her legacy also includes a stint as the men’s tennis team coach for two years in the late ‘80s; filling in as the offseason football coach until a new one could be found; and acting as Department Chair for Kinesiology & Athletics for 19 years. In that time, she developed the majority of the curriculum currently offered; re-wrote the curriculum multiple times to be in state compliance; developed a Certificate of Achievement for Personal Trainer Certification; and developed the very first state-approved program for AA-T Kinesiology.
“For me, it’s a sad day,” explained Dover. “I can’t walk into the Physical Education office and even think about somebody else being in her office.”
Dover praised Dodd’s commitment to Gavilan College over her tenure, stating there wasn’t a time when he walked into the office to find Dodd absent.
“She was there at 7 a.m. and she was still there at 4 p.m.,” he said.
A resolution passed by the Gavilan Board of Trustees honoring Dodd’s work states that “during Susan’s time at Gavilan, her leadership expanded well beyond the walls of this campus,” as Dodd served in numerous statewide committees, including the Commission on Athletics as the Field Hockey Sports Coordinator (1979-82); the Northern California Football Coaches Association (1996-97), helping to rewrite its bylaws; and the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance.
Dodd passed along her passion and knowledge for tennis to hundreds of college students. She also worked at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, raising money for a number of charities, including Gavilan College Athletics. She was the chair and assistant chair for the Garlic Tennis Tournament, which was named the USTA’s “Tournament of the Year” four times. In addition, Dodd is a current member of the Gilroy Tennis Club, where she was club president in 1997 and 1998.
“The tennis courts (at Gavilan) have always been very special to me,” said Dodd, who every year would clean and spray the courts that will now bear her name. “It’s really humbling. Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like that would happen.”

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