Commemorating Glendale’s 90th Anniversary


Founded in 1927, Glendale Community College will be celebrating its 90th anniversary later this month. To commemorate the special event, the Glendale College Foundation (GCF) is hosting a fundraising event to give back to students on Saturday, Sept. 30, called “Reach for the Stars.”

“The more we can raise, the more we can give out to serve the students,” said Mike Haney, GCF president and co-chair of the 90th Anniversary. “Community college is so vital to the success of students in moving on to a four-year college. I went to GCC myself and then went on to USC, and I credit a lot of my success to Glendale Community College.”

“Reach for the Stars” is an outdoor on-campus affair where the college grounds will be transformed into a scenic venue with decorations and special performance. As part of the evening, ticket holders will take part in a special gala dinner celebration, one that does not happen too often. The last one was five years ago and celebrated the college’s 85th anniversary. It was the first time it was set up as a fundraising event to give back to students.

Tickets to the gala are $250, and there are a plethora of sponsorship opportunities available for eager attendees. Festivities officially kick off at 6 p.m., beginning with a silent auction and reception. Chris Erskine, prominent Los Angeles Times columnist and editor, will be the master of ceremonies for the night’s events. At 7 p.m., following the reception, there will be a dinner, live auction and awards presentation.

The awards ceremony  meant to highlight alumni who have made a difference at the College features a lineup of heavy-hitting honorees.

Famous former actress and GCC alumna Angie Dickinson will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Bistagne Family, who have long supported the college and are well-known leaders amongst the community, will be receiving the Philanthropist of Distinction award, while the Outstanding Alumnus award will be presented to Gene ‘Chip’ Stone. He also attended GCC and is now the senior vice president of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

All of this will be accompanied by music and other entertainment, including GCC’s own student jazz band.

And, yes, alcohol will be served.

The significance of the event cannot be understated. “What makes the 90th so important,” said Lisa Brooks, executive director of the Glendale College Foundation, “is the fact that this is the time that alumni, retirees, local businesses and corporations, and faculty and staff and students can show their monetary support for the mission of this college, and our 90-years-proven track record of contributing to the local economy by educating many hundreds of thousands of young people, and retraining older people for better jobs.”

Money generated is allocated into the Student Success Fund, which was established in 2012 as a general fund of money that is used all across campus to create an atmosphere conducive to academic achievement.

And what better way [to fundraise] than throwing a grand party that honors the community’s best and showcases the beauty of the campus and the talents of our students,” said Brooks.

The primary means of contributing to the Student Success Fund is through the President’s Circle. Founded in 2010, the President’s Circle is a way for those who hold GCC in high regard to commit themselves to providing much-needed funding by becoming an official donor.

A minimum unrestricted gift of $1,000 or more is required annually to join. In addition to setting up Glendale College students for future success, members of the Circle are entitled to benefits such as invitations to special campus events; a special lunch with the superintendent/president; and of course their name on a President’s Circle banner located on campus.

Cash in the Student Success Fund isn’t kept away in some secretive account used for abstract purposes and given out through an arbitrary process, either. In fact, any GCC faculty or staff member can apply for funding from the Glendale College Foundation. The Glendale College Foundation Board of Directors then gives out grants to those that meet the Foundation’s specific criteria.

It is that money that we use to address the campus’ critical needs that enhance the student learning environment,” said Brooks. “It could be anything from classroom improvements, new equipment, to books and scholarships, to funds that help low-income students participate fully in such things as Study Abroad, Baja.”

Definitive evidence of its positive effects can be found all over campus.

Some projects that have been funded by the President’s Circle within the past five years includes: the Athletic Resource Room study area equipped with laptops; theater auditorium production communication system; the entrepreneurship program; Model United Nations class; campus library redesign; new instructional equipment such as musical instruments and skeletons for biology; and organic chemistry equipment for research projects, among many others.

And because public funding only goes so far, the Student Success Fund comes into play for students who need emergency financial assistance, as well.

All of these positive additions through the Student Success Fund has helped earn Glendale College the highest level of accreditation. A fairly rare achievement, given the stringent requirements laid out by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

Of the 14 community colleges in the Los Angeles County region, GCC is the only one to reach this landmark in its initial review.

“Our theme, ‘Reaching for the Stars,’ is symbolic of the goals our wonderful students strive for in their lives,” said Ellyn Semler, GCF board member and co-chair of the 90th Anniversary. “It will be a fabulous event under the stars.”