gavilan college susan dodd crossing bridge
Retired Gavilan College faculty member Susan Dodd (second from left) joins Trustee Laura Perry (left) and others as one of the first to traverse a new bridge named in Dodd’s honor on Sept. 21. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Susan Dodd cemented her legacy in Gavilan College lore long ago, but now, it can be seen in the most literal sense.

A new concrete-and-steel pedestrian bridge that spans over the college’s main road, connecting the central Gilroy campus to its athletics facilities, was celebrated Sept. 21, complete with a plaque set in concrete that reads: “Susan Dodd Crossing.”

“I am humbled by your thoughtfulness and honored to contribute toward the Susan Dodd Crossing,” Dodd told attendees of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It is my hope that you see this as a bridge to success.”

Now retired, Dodd started her more than three-decade career at Gavilan as the first female, full-time faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology & Athletics. That same year, in 1976, she was responsible for starting up three women’s sports programs, including volleyball, basketball and softball.

She became athletic director in 1979, where she was one of two females in California overseeing an athletic department in the California Community College system, according to Gavilan Superintendent/President Pedro Avila. She served in the position over various stints through 2000, and recently held the role on an interim basis.

Dodd also served as the men’s tennis team coach for two years in the 1980s, filled in as the offseason football coach, and was Department Chair for Kinesiology & Athletics for 19 years, where she developed a majority of the curriculum the department continues to offer.

Avila, who became the college’s new superintendent in July to fill the retiring Kathleen Rose’s position, said Dodd was one of the first people he met at Gavilan.

“Susan Dodd is a legend here at Gavilan,” Avila said. “I could tell right away that not only did she know a lot of history that she was willing to share with me, but I could tell that she’s been very dedicated to this institution.”

The original wooden bridge, which was built in 1967, was tested in June 2019 and found to have dry rot in the support trusses. In July 2019, plans began to replace it. 

After three years of planning, contractor selection and implementation, the new bridge was finished on Aug. 15 following demolition of the old bridge earlier in the year. Dodd was the largest single donor for the bridge’s construction, according to the college.

This is not the first time the college has dedicated a piece of the campus to Dodd. In 2013, the Board of Trustees voted to name the tennis facilities in her honor, calling it “The Susan Dodd Tennis Complex.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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