College Celebrates New Kinesiology and Vaquero Complex

Outgoing Superintendent/President Dr. David Viar took his turn at the podium one last time

Dr. Viar with GCC coaches, staff, and alumni at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 24.
Dr. Viar with GCC coaches, staff, and alumni at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 24. (Photo Credit: Sam Lee)

Opening of Kinesiology and Vaquero Athletic Complex is a fitting send-off for retiring Superintendent/President Dr. David Viar

The most important victory in the decades-long history of Glendale Community College Athletics came on the beautiful sun-drenched morning of June 24, with all the trappings of celebration in place and a beautiful prize waiting to be unwrapped.

The crowd was in place much like at any other game for the Vaqueros but this time the outcome was predetermined and the drama was building in a different way as speaker after speaker set the tone until the man of the hour, Superintendent/President Dr. David Viar, took his turn at the podium one last time at GCC.

Teamwork. Ask Dr. Viar and he would probably agree that it is the most important ingredient to running a successful business, being in a leadership role at a community college or being the head coach of a sports team at any level.

Most people know Dr. Viar as the now-retired Superintendent/President of Glendale Community College, the administrative leader of the 95-year-old institution, first established in 1927 as part of Glendale Union High School until it moved to its current location at Mountain St. and Verdugo Rd. in 1937.

His retirement in June after nine years in his current role since he started in 2013, has helped GCC maintain and improve its status as one of the premier learning institutions in the state.

But using a sports vernacular, Dr. Viar was also the head coach at GCC, which seems an appropriate term to use considering he grew up as a successful student-athlete in Illinois and was the son of a hall of fame high school football coach who carefully guided his son away from the gridiron and instilled in him the values that have served him well to this day.

“In high school, he wanted me to be happy and I don’t think either of us was happy with me trying to play football just because he was the head coach, and I was his son,” he said with a laugh. “We both agreed I was probably better suited to be a swimmer and water polo player because of my frame but the real lesson that I learned was to be patient and thoughtful [in] making decisions based on my future and I think that has worked out pretty well for me.”

Sitting inside his office on a recent spring day, the area had the trappings of an administrator but also the memories of a career path that has spanned decades. Most importantly to him is what the future holds for GCC, namely the three projects on the horizon that will be a boon for students, faculty, staff, and the community as well. The now-completed kinesiology and athletic complex, the new science building under construction, and a performing and media arts center that will bear his name, slated as the third pillar of growth facilitated by the passage of the GCC Bond Measure in 2016.

Fast-forwarding ahead to the end of his tenure, the months and days have dropped off the calendar as business as usual has been conducted and he has responded like a proud father wishing his flock well. He was beaming with pride and joy at graduation on June 15 as the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 resplendent in caps and gowns of cardinal and gold walked across the stage into futures that he helped provide a guided pathway for.

Of course, he did not do it alone and like any successful coach in any sport, he defers to GCC’s Board of Trustees, his administrative team, the faculty and staff at Glendale, and of course the students as the reasons for the continued success of an institution that is almost 100 years old.

Walk down the hallway from his office in the administration building and you see tile patterns that have been there for decades and all over campus to show that while the college proudly embraces its past, it also has a keen eye for future growth.

That growth was beautifully displayed during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Kinesiology and Athletic Complex where the existing and reconfigured Verdugo Gym remains the centerpiece of the facility but with new additions that include an auxiliary gym, offices, team locker rooms, meeting rooms, and equipment rooms, disabled students area, and a training and weight room that has an outdoor area with a great view of Sartoris Field. A new concession stand with restrooms is slated to open in the next few months.

“Friday, June 24th was a historic day for Glendale Community College and for our student-athletes and the faculty and staff that work so professionally with them,” said Board of Trustees President Ann Ransford. “It was the day we cut the ribbon and entered our “state of the art” Kinesiology and Athletic Complex and the future for those that utilize it looks promising. On behalf of the GCC Board of Trustees, thanks to all who worked so diligently to provide this facility for our community.”

At the event deftly coordinated by Associate Dean of Athletics Chris Cicuto and division chair Jon Gold, the crowd was treated to a history of the project, the decades of having a master plan on the books with no clear path of completion, and the years of struggle dealing with the pandemic that displaced GCC student-athletes and teams during construction.

But it was the comments from Dr. Viar before he and the members of the Board of Trustees cut the ribbon to officially open the facility that tied up the occasion in a neat bow of cardinal and gold.

“I had come to Glendale from American River College in Sacramento and while I knew the college had a great athletic tradition with success on and off the field, the offices and other areas were old and in poor condition, and something needed to be done,” he said. “A project of this enormity takes a lot of internal stakeholders which we had and the community support came through the passage of the bond measure and now what stands before us is a facility that the college, coaches, staff, teams, student-athletes, and the community can be proud of.”

After the ribbon was cut and the well-wishers dispersed, Dr. Viar stood for one last photo with coaches, staff, and alumni on the steps leading up to the facility to put a fitting end to a day that appropriately ended with him annotated as a Vaquero for life.

It is fitting that he was presented with a jersey with his name on the back with the number 9, appropriate for the number of years he served at GCC and signed by many colleagues who admired his work as an administrator and de facto coach of the campus who will be remembered fondly.

Once a Vaq, always a Vaq indeed.