Former GCC President Dies at 81

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Agnessa Kasumyan and Pauline Guiuan, Managing Editor
May 27, 2014
Filed under News

John Davitt, who retired as president of the college in 2006, was a serious-minded yet affable administrator who, well into his 70s, could be seen roaring onto campus on his Harley-Davidson, died Saturday at the age of 81 after a long battle with Parkinson’s.

Davitt served Glendale Community College as a professor, dean, vice president, and superintendent/president for 38 years.

“Just over a week ago, Dr. Davitt attended the annual Employee Retirement/Recognition luncheon, where he congratulated the recipients of the 2014 John Davitt Award for Outstanding Service and visited with many longtime friends and colleagues,” said current superintendent/president David Viar.

“His last visit to the college was appropriately the Patron’s Scholarship Awards Luncheon. Surrounded by students, he shared his love of GCC and clearly was full of pride and satisfaction for their success.”

Davitt earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Francisco in 1954 and a master’s in secondary education in 1958. He also earned a doctorate in community college administration from USC.

Before coming to GCC in 1968, he had been a first lieutenant in the army, a social studies teacher at Roosevelt Junior High School in San Francisco, a counselor at Merritt College in Oakland, and an assistant professor at Cal State L.A.

Serving first as a history professor before becoming president of the college and superintendent of the district in 1985, Davitt led the college through growth that saw construction of the San Rafael and San Gabriel buildings, the Child Development Center, and the Garfield campus, as well as remodeling of the Administration Building, which now bears his name.

During his tenure, Davitt received many honors and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and the Presidential Leadership Award from the California Community Colleges Foundation.

Perhaps his most crowning achievements were construction of the Cimmarusti Science Center and planetarium, the Bhupesh Parikh Health Science building and the parking structure — which were funded by both private donations and Measure G bond funds.

But above all, Davitt cared about the instruction that went on within those buildings, always pressing students and faculty to do their very best. He took pride in Glendale being one of the state’s top transfer colleges. During his tenure enrollment soared from 10,000 to nearly 25,000 students.

“As we all know his contributions to GCC are legendary,” said Anne Ransford, a member of the Board of Trustees. “But what we don’t always know is how he personally counseled students, how he walked around campus picking up trash, how he fed the hungry every Thursday morning. While we are so saddened by his loss — I try to remember how blessed we were with his presence on this campus as a leader, a friend and members of his family.”

Mary Mirch, vice president of Instructional Services, recalls Davitt’s tenacity and efficiency as a leader. During her tenure as the Health Center director, Davitt had called her into his office and asked her to explain a funding source. She eventually realized that he actually knew all about the funding and was checking to see Mirch did as well.

“John was very intelligent,” Mirch said. “I am not sure people realized how much he knew and understood.”

Mirch also described him as someone who “knew his people.” He made sure to know what school or college his employees’ children attended, in addition to their majors and other information that made people realized he cared about them.

In a tremendous response, friends, faculty and staff have added their comments below;

From Alen Andriassian

I spoke to Dr. Davitt the day before he passed away.  He called because he was trying to help a student. Until his last day, he was helping others.   Dr. Davitt supported me from when I was student, and words fall short of what he means to me.

Alen R. Andriassian

Manager of Outreach & Assessment

Glendale Community College

From Joe Denhart - Retired Professor of Life Skills

John Davitt – may he rest in peace.

Dear GCC Family, I am saddened, as you are, to hear of the passing of Dr. John Davitt.  I knew it was coming but did not expect it so soon.  The last time I talked to him was on January 22, 2013.  Yes, it was in response to the Patrons Scholarship Fund.  I agree with Mona that Dr. Davitt was my boss, my colleague, my mentor, my friend, and a very brave man.  Like Alen mentioned, he continued his love and devotion to the college and the community right to the end, in spite of his debilitating illness.

John Davitt served as CEO of Glendale College for 21 years and a total of 38 years of distinguished service at the college.  During his tenure the face of GCC changed dramatically.  His unabashed optimism and desire for excellence made GCC one of the premiere educational institutions in the state.  It is not only a quality academic institution that has seen more than 300,000 students benefit from a GCC education while he was at the helm, but it is also a beautiful and modern campus that he delighted in.

But to me, his real legacy was in how he treated the people who worked for him, his GCC family.  Dr. Davitt took a personal interest in GCC employees.  He talked to and appreciated everyone.  He knew that if the college was to succeed, we had to work together as a team.  Like Andra, I always received little notes from his thanking me for something or appreciating something I may have done in the community while representing the college.  Every once in a while, he would drop in on my class at the Life Skills Bldg. and say hello to my students and asked if they were enjoying the class.  Thank God they said yes!  Later that day he would drop a note in my mailbox saying how much he appreciated visiting my class.  I don’t think that was common just to me.  I saved those notes and kept them.  Every once in a while when I was having a bad day, feeling that I didn’t belong at the college, or doubting myself, I would pull out his notes and read them.  They never failed to help me see myself more clearly.  I learned an important lesson from him:  That most of us (in general, not to include those who wrote above) have a tendency to think well of others but never tell them while they are with us.  We have a tendency to wait until they are gone to say what we really think of them.  He taught me that unspoken praise or gratitude benefits no one.  I loved to compliment him and he always seemed surprised by what I had to say.  I think he enjoyed hearing from me as I did from him.

I know that those of us who were here during Dr. Davitt’s tenure will take away many lessons of life that he taught us, but I hope that all of us will remember to praise one another, thank one another, and be concerned for each other while we are still here.

Love you all.

From Andra Verstraete - Manager of Outreach and Assessment

I have a file full of letters, memos and thank-you notes from Dr. Davitt expressing his appreciation for my work.  I know that I’m not the only one on campus with such a file.  He was not only a kind and loving man, but a truly great leader who recognized everybody’s unique talents and contributions to this college.  I used to see him outside from my second floor window in the San Rafael Building picking up trash, or encouraging the students who were playing cards outside to ‘go to class’.   He took the time to know all of us and always asked about our families…our kids.  He was a beautiful man.

Teresa Cortey - Professor of French

Dr. Davitt was an impeccable Administrator, a true Educator: it was not only his view of a serious, classic education that he tirelessly strove to achieve at Glendale College –the Dreyer’s Ice Cream Theory, he called it jokingly and perhaps inaccurately, because excellence is not frivolous or sweet but unnecessary like ice cream –it was his humanity, his genuine caring for the many individuals who comprise this collectivity that made him unique. He had an immense heart and left a legacy of love –he loved us all, and he was greatly loved in return. I certainly, like you and many others, will miss him.

Teresa Cortey

From Mike Eberts - Professor of Mass Communications

John Davitt created a unique workplace where he honestly considered college employees to be his extended family. It led to an unusually nurturing and somewhat informal environment. From his fatherly advice to his gentle but dogged insistence that we all contribute to the Patron’s Fund, I felt that there was someone powerful and benevolent I could go to if something was wrong.

If was an honor to serve under him.

Mike Eberts

Mona Field (GCC employee 1983-2008) - Retired Professor of Political Science

I am sure I speak for many when I say that Dr. John Davitt was a major mentor to me, a man who gave me an opportunity to start a fulltime career and who advised and guided me throughout my years at Glendale College and beyond.

He truly loved our college family, our students and the community.  His passion for redeeming souls was not only his religion but his practice in daily life.

I am sure John believed in heaven, and I am sure he is there!

Mona Field (GCC employee 1983-2008)

From Nare Garibyan - Academic Counselor

I am a recent addition as a professional on campus, as an adjunct academic counselor and I did not have the opportunity to work with Dr. Davitt. But even from my GCC student days, I remember him and I know what he means for GCC. At the recent retirement party, in honor of Sandy Lee, Dr. Davitt made his way up to the microphone and so eloquently spoke about Sandy’s work and the purpose of student services. He ended his talk with reminding everyone to love and respect each other within the GCC family. He was not afraid to show his genuine and raw emotion at the celebratory event.

Dr. Davitt, may you rest in peace. I send my heart felt condolences to his family, close friends, and the GCC community.

Nare Garibyan

From Michael Moreau - Professor of Journalism and English

John hired me (along with support from Chris McCarthy and David White–and of course, the stellar hiring committee). Had he not done so, and had he not fervently supported the idea of an independent college newspaper, I doubt that there would be an El Vaquero today. We had one falling out over an article in the paper, an incident that is referred to in an irresponsible anonymous blog that can be found online. I think John called that one wrong. But otherwise he never interfered with the paper in any way.  He clearly understood that it was the students’ newspaper and not an organ of the administration. Not all colleges understand this concept and, in fact, his immediate successor had no understanding of student press freedom at all. I think John was just as respectful of all constituencies on campus.

One of the things I’ll miss about John is his tremendous optimism, tempered with a wry Irish wit, and insistence on excellence for the college, and his caring attitude toward everyone here. And I too remember him picking up trash as he walked across campus. We owe him gratitude for the aesthetic quality of the college. This goes a long way toward attracting students to us. Many students who have attended colleges nearer their homes tell me that they find this campus safer, cleaner and prettier than those other schools. This is not insignificant, but is another way that his legacy lives on.

I am thankful for having known him.

Michael Moreau

From Richard Seltzer - Professor of English as a Second Language

I join the chorus in offering my condolences to John’s family, and to all of us at GCC who knew him for so long and miss his caring, “old-school,” avuncular leadership style. What I respected most about John (and always will) was his humanity. Like myself and the rest of us, he was not perfect. We had a few moments of conflict, and each time, we overcame them. His deep personal faith guided all his choices in dealing with people.  The quality of a long-term relationship was much more important to him than a little skirmish along the way. The memory of the way he treated me after my father died suddenly in 1988 will always stick with me. He left me feeling that should there be the need to be back east for a period of time to deal with a family emergency or any other unexpected reason, that he would always do everything legal to be sure my job was secure. So, when I say “old-school,” I mean that he was the kind of leader who took care of his people…. the way a leader should.  I’m reminded of when the late speaker of the House, Tip O’neil (another spirited and witty Irish elder with great people skills) died, a  news announcer said, “Bring your kids to the tv and show them all these clips. We will never see this again.”  John…rest in peace…. we know we will never see the likes of you again. In my faith tradition, we say “May his memory be for a blessing.”

Richard Seltzer

From Abe Barakat - Retired, Accounting Department

Fond farewell Dr. Davitt.

I last saw Dr. D at the recognition luncheon two weeks ago, always looking up at me with those caring and as of late tearful eyes. Wondering what the heck have I been up to now, (I think?) as always with a “Hello Abe how are you?”.  It’s kind of like seeing your parents as their health and time have sapped them of their energy, as you knew them to have.  Funny the one memory that sticks in my mind was as he threw me out of his office when I was President of union as I had presented him with a petition signed by a gaggle of classified employees as the heating system had failed in the administration building and what was he going to do about it. Dr. Davitt as we all discovered one way or another cared for each and every person who worked at GCC and continued to leave us his legacy after he left as President/Superintendent and still will always be with us well into the future of GCC.

With tears in my eye and sadness in my heart I say Bye Dr. D. your memory will always be with me.

Abe Barakat

 

From Vera Paragouteva

Food Services

He knew me and called me by name before I knew him at all.

He always asked about my family and had tears in his eyes for my oldest daughter who still lived in Bulgaria waiting for years for the green card.

His office door was always open for everyone who needed to share or just chat for a while.

He made me feel very important and I felt as a daughter to him.

Does an immigrant need something more to fall in love with the people and the college this great man was the president for?

Thank you, Dr. Davitt!

Thank you, my American father!

Rest in peace.

With love,

Vera Paragouteva

From Henan Joof

My last interaction with Dr. Davitt is very telling of the man he was. Last week Friday right around 12:15pm I got what would be my last call from Dr. Davitt. In true Davitt fashion he started off by asking how it was that I came to be hired at GCC and that someone in HR must be doing something wrong :)

He proceeded to share his concern about a student who was facing multiple obstacles in registering for summer classes (at Glendale High School mind you) and wanted my input on how to assist the student. At the time I had a student in my office and so after a few probing questions I asked him to send the student my way, first thing Tuesday morning. (I have been staring at the Post It note I wrote myself with the students’ information).

I was amazed at how sharp and caring he still was and was honored that he thought of me to help. Before hanging up, he asked about ME! He never failed to do that.

Looking back I realize that my drive at work of wanting to guide students “personally” through the matriculation steps, stems from the experience I had while I was a student here at GCC…which Dr. Davitt instituted, promoted, expected and exemplified EVERY DAY.

I will miss him. I will continue to carry his torch for students and I will keep this picture of him; because he was a visionary & saw in me the ability to be great long before I even knew who I was.

Rest in Peace Dr. D.

From Sharon Scull

Retired Professor

John Davitt was unique among community college presidents.  Although he wanted the college to be known for its educational excellence, he went about achieving this in a very humanistic way.  I can still hear his voice as he spoke at faculty meetings about the necessity of offering “Lobster Newburg” courses along with the “meat and potatoes.”  He wanted GCC students to have the best opportunities to pursue their educational goals and also to prepare for lifelong learning.  He sometimes bent the rules just a little to ensure that students had the best opportunities to complete their studies.  He encouraged creativity among faculty and staff and approved development of many programs, which became nationally known models.  He loved to spread the “good news” about these successful programs and often spoke at conferences to audiences that were awed by his involvement and approachability, new phenomena to most of them.  The consensus at these conferences was that John was clearly enlightened, and we GCC faculty members were viewed with envy.

He knew every GCC employee by name and knew the names and interests of their family members, too.  I’m sure that every employee—whether faculty, classified, or administrative—can recall some incident in which John’s kindness and caring were evident.  He probably consumed more restaurant lunches keeping in touch with past and present employees than we could possibly count.  John’s love for the college was second only to that for his wife, Gael, and their family.

John had a wicked sense of humor, and when he was “on a roll” people laughed so hard and so long that they practically gasped for breath.  And he loved running jokes; sometimes they went on for years.

John chafed in retirement because he believed he still had so much to do.  So it is fitting that Alen Andriassian received a call from John on the day he died about a student who needed help.

We wish John safe journey.

Sharon Scull

GCC faculty member 1978-1992

From Dan Padilla - Facilities 

I’m so happy to have had the chance to know Dr Davitt for a brief time. He was fun and had a great sense of humor. And now, through all the comments I have been reading about him, I get a chance to know him a little better. For his retirement video I made a comment thanking him for not firing me and every time he saw me after that he always had this grin and said he was glad he never fired me. Whether it was good or bad he made you feel like you could take a problem to him and he would try to fix it. I really liked that man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Alen Andriassian

I spoke to Dr. Davitt the day before he passed away.  He called because he was trying to help a student. Until his last day, he was helping others.   Dr. Davitt supported me from when I was student, and words fall short of what he means to me.

 

Alen R. Andriassian

Manager of Outreach & Assessment

Glendale Community College

 

 

From Joe Denhart

Retired Professor of Life Skills

John Davitt – may he rest in peace.

 

Dear GCC Family, I am saddened, as you are, to hear of the passing of Dr. John Davitt.  I knew it was coming but did not expect it so soon.  The last time I talked to him was on January 22, 2013.  Yes, it was in response to the Patrons Scholarship Fund.  I agree with Mona that Dr. Davitt was my boss, my colleague, my mentor, my friend, and a very brave man.  Like Alen mentioned, he continued his love and devotion to the college and the community right to the end, in spite of his debilitating illness.

 

John Davitt served as CEO of Glendale College for 21 years and a total of 38 years of distinguished service at the college.  During his tenure the face of GCC changed dramatically.  His unabashed optimism and desire for excellence made GCC one of the premiere educational institutions in the state.  It is not only a quality academic institution that has seen more than 300,000 students benefit from a GCC education while he was at the helm, but it is also a beautiful and modern campus that he delighted in.

 

But to me, his real legacy was in how he treated the people who worked for him, his GCC family.  Dr. Davitt took a personal interest in GCC employees.  He talked to and appreciated everyone.  He knew that if the college was to succeed, we had to work together as a team.  Like Andra, I always received little notes from his thanking me for something or appreciating something I may have done in the community while representing the college.  Every once in a while, he would drop in on my class at the Life Skills Bldg. and say hello to my students and asked if they were enjoying the class.  Thank God they said yes!  Later that day he would drop a note in my mailbox saying how much he appreciated visiting my class.  I don’t think that was common just to me.  I saved those notes and kept them.  Every once in a while when I was having a bad day, feeling that I didn’t belong at the college, or doubting myself, I would pull out his notes and read them.  They never failed to help me see myself more clearly.  I learned an important lesson from him:  That most of us (in general, not to include those who wrote above) have a tendency to think well of others but never tell them while they are with us.  We have a tendency to wait until they are gone to say what we really think of them.  He taught me that unspoken praise or gratitude benefits no one.  I loved to compliment him and he always seemed surprised by what I had to say.  I think he enjoyed hearing from me as I did from him.

 

I know that those of us who were here during Dr. Davitt’s tenure will take away many lessons of life that he taught us, but I hope that all of us will remember to praise one another, thank one another, and be concerned for each other while we are still here.

 

Love you all.


 

 

 

From Andra Verstraete

Manager of Outreach and Assessment

 

I have a file full of letters, memos and thank-you notes from Dr. Davitt expressing his appreciation for my work.  I know that I’m not the only one on campus with such a file.  He was not only a kind and loving man, but a truly great leader who recognized everybody’s unique talents and contributions to this college.  I used to see him outside from my second floor window in the San Rafael Building picking up trash, or encouraging the students who were playing cards outside to ‘go to class’.   He took the time to know all of us and always asked about our families…our kids.  He was a beautiful man.

 

Teresa Cortey

Professor of French

 

Dr. Davitt was an impeccable Administrator, a true Educator: it was not only his view of a serious, classic education that he tirelessly strove to achieve at Glendale College –the Dreyer’s Ice Cream Theory, he called it jokingly and perhaps inaccurately, because excellence is not frivolous or sweet but unnecessary like ice cream –it was his humanity, his genuine caring for the many individuals who comprise this collectivity that made him unique. He had an immense heart and left a legacy of love –he loved us all, and he was greatly loved in return. I certainly, like you and many others, will miss him.

 

Teresa Cortey

 

From Mike Eberts

Professor of Mass Communications

 

John Davitt created a unique workplace where he honestly considered college employees to be his extended family. It led to an unusually nurturing and somewhat informal environment. From his fatherly advice to his gentle but dogged insistence that we all contribute to the Patron’s Fund, I felt that there was someone powerful and benevolent I could go to if something was wrong.

If was an honor to serve under him.

Mike Eberts

 

 

Mona Field (GCC employee 1983-2008)

Retired Professor of Political Science

 

I am sure I speak for many when I say that Dr. John Davitt was a major mentor to me, a man who gave me an opportunity to start a fulltime career and who advised and guided me throughout my years at Glendale College and beyond.

 

He truly loved our college family, our students and the community.  His passion for redeeming souls was not only his religion but his practice in daily life.

 

I am sure John believed in heaven, and I am sure he is there!

 

Mona Field (GCC employee 1983-2008)

 

From Nare Garibyan

Academic Counselor

 

I am a recent addition as a professional on campus, as an adjunct academic counselor and I did not have the opportunity to work with Dr. Davitt. But even from my GCC student days, I remember him and I know what he means for GCC. At the recent retirement party, in honor of Sandy Lee, Dr. Davitt made his way up to the microphone and so eloquently spoke about Sandy’s work and the purpose of student services. He ended his talk with reminding everyone to love and respect each other within the GCC family. He was not afraid to show his genuine and raw emotion at the celebratory event.

 

Dr. Davitt, may you rest in peace. I send my heart felt condolences to his family, close friends, and the GCC community.

 

Nare Garibyan

 

From Michael Moreau

Professor of Journalism and English

 

John hired me (along with support from Chris McCarthy and David White–and of course, the stellar hiring committee). Had he not done so, and had he not fervently supported the idea of an independent college newspaper, I doubt that there would be an El Vaquero today. We had one falling out over an article in the paper, an incident that is referred to in an irresponsible anonymous blog that can be found online. I think John called that one wrong. But otherwise he never interfered with the paper in any way.  He clearly understood that it was the students’ newspaper and not an organ of the administration. Not all colleges understand this concept and, in fact, his immediate successor had no understanding of student press freedom at all. I think John was just as respectful of all constituencies on campus.

 

One of the things I’ll miss about John is his tremendous optimism, tempered with a wry Irish wit, and insistence on excellence for the college, and his caring attitude toward everyone here. And I too remember him picking up trash as he walked across campus. We owe him gratitude for the aesthetic quality of the college. This goes a long way toward attracting students to us. Many students who have attended colleges nearer their homes tell me that they find this campus safer, cleaner and prettier than those other schools. This is not insignificant, but is another way that his legacy lives on.

 

I am thankful for having known him.

 

Michael Moreau

 

 

From Richard Seltzer

Professor of English as a Second Language

 

I join the chorus in offering my condolences to John’s family, and to all of us at GCC who knew him for so long and miss his caring, “old-school,” avuncular leadership style. What I respected most about John (and always will) was his humanity. Like myself and the rest of us, he was not perfect. We had a few moments of conflict, and each time, we overcame them. His deep personal faith guided all his choices in dealing with people.  The quality of a long-term relationship was much more important to him than a little skirmish along the way. The memory of the way he treated me after my father died suddenly in 1988 will always stick with me. He left me feeling that should there be the need to be back east for a period of time to deal with a family emergency or any other unexpected reason, that he would always do everything legal to be sure my job was secure. So, when I say “old-school,” I mean that he was the kind of leader who took care of his people…. the way a leader should.  I’m reminded of when the late speaker of the House, Tip O’neil (another spirited and witty Irish elder with great people skills) died, a  news announcer said, “Bring your kids to the tv and show them all these clips. We will never see this again.”  John…rest in peace…. we know we will never see the likes of you again. In my faith tradition, we say “May his memory be for a blessing.”

 

Richard Seltzer

 

From Abe Barakat

Retired, Accounting Department

 

Fond farewell Dr. Davitt.

I last saw Dr. D at the recognition luncheon two weeks ago, always looking up at me with those caring and as of late tearful eyes. Wondering what the heck have I been up to now, (I think?) as always with a “Hello Abe how are you?”.  It’s kind of like seeing your parents as their health and time have sapped them of their energy, as you knew them to have.  Funny the one memory that sticks in my mind was as he threw me out of his office when I was President of union as I had presented him with a petition signed by a gaggle of classified employees as the heating system had failed in the administration building and what was he going to do about it. Dr. Davitt as we all discovered one way or another cared for each and every person who worked at GCC and continued to leave us his legacy after he left as President/Superintendent and still will always be with us well into the future of GCC.

With tears in my eye and sadness in my heart I say Bye Dr. D. your memory will always be with me. 

Abe Barakat

From Vera Paragouteva - Food Services

He knew me and called me by name before I knew him at all.

He always asked about my family and had tears in his eyes for my oldest daughter who still lived in Bulgaria waiting for years for the green card.

His office door was always open for everyone who needed to share or just chat for a while.

He made me feel very important and I felt as a daughter to him.

Does an immigrant need something more to fall in love with the people and the college this great man was the president for?

Thank you, Dr. Davitt!

Thank you, my American father!

Rest in peace.

With love,

Vera Paragouteva

 

From Henan Joof

My last interaction with Dr. Davitt is very telling of the man he was .

Last week Friday right around 12:15pm I got what would be my last call from Dr. Davitt. In true Davitt fashion he started off by asking how it was that I came to be hired at GCC and that someone in HR must be doing something wrong :)

He proceeded to share his concern about a student who was facing multiple obstacles in registering for summer classes (at Glendale High School mind you) and wanted my input on how to assist the student. At the time I had a student in my office and so after a few probing questions I asked him to send the student my way, first thing Tuesday morning. (I have been staring at the Post It note I wrote myself with the students’ information).

I was amazed at how sharp and caring he still was and was honored that he thought of me to help. Before hanging up, he asked about ME! He never failed to do that.

Looking back I realize that my drive at work of wanting to guide students “personally” through the matriculation steps, stems from the experience I had while I was a student here at GCC…which Dr. Davitt instituted, promoted, expected and exemplified EVERYDAY.

I will miss him. I will continue to carry his torch for students and I will keep this picture of him; because he was a visionary & saw in me the ability to be great long before I even knew who I was.

Rest in Peace Dr. D.

From Sharon Scull - Retired Professor

John Davitt was unique among community college presidents.  Although he wanted the college to be known for its educational excellence, he went about achieving this in a very humanistic way.  I can still hear his voice as he spoke at faculty meetings about the necessity of offering “Lobster Newburg” courses along with the “meat and potatoes.”  He wanted GCC students to have the best opportunities to pursue their educational goals and also to prepare for lifelong learning.  He sometimes bent the rules just a little to ensure that students had the best opportunities to complete their studies.  He encouraged creativity among faculty and staff and approved development of many programs, which became nationally known models.  He loved to spread the “good news” about these successful programs and often spoke at conferences to audiences that were awed by his involvement and approachability, new phenomena to most of them.  The consensus at these conferences was that John was clearly enlightened, and we GCC faculty members were viewed with envy.

He knew every GCC employee by name and knew the names and interests of their family members, too.  I’m sure that every employee—whether faculty, classified, or administrative—can recall some incident in which John’s kindness and caring were evident.  He probably consumed more restaurant lunches keeping in touch with past and present employees than we could possibly count.  John’s love for the college was second only to that for his wife, Gael, and their family.

John had a wicked sense of humor, and when he was “on a roll” people laughed so hard and so long that they practically gasped for breath.  And he loved running jokes; sometimes they went on for years.

John chafed in retirement because he believed he still had so much to do.  So it is fitting that Alen Andriassian received a call from John on the day he died about a student who needed help.

We wish John safe journey.

Sharon Scull - GCC faculty member 1978-1992

From Dan Padilla – Facilities 

I’m so happy to have had the chance to know Dr Davitt for a brief time. He was fun and had a great sense of humor. And now, through all the comments I have been reading about him, I get a chance to know him a little better. For his retirement video I made a comment thanking him for not firing me and every time he saw me after that he always had this grin and said he was glad he never fired me. Whether it was good or bad he made you feel like you could take a problem to him and he would try to fix it. I really liked that man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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