How Ohlone College Got Its Name - Article, Office of College Advancement

Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

By Ohlone College.

Ohlone’s 50th celebration 1967–2017 This year, leading up to Ohlone’s 50 year celebration, and all through 2017, Ohlone will run snapshot stories of its 50 year history.There’s always more to every story, but these will give readers a brief of overview of historic events in Ohlone College’s first 50 years.

Two men, one holding microphone.Ohlone Elder Phil Galvan (R), with his son, Andy Galvan (L), at the Groundbreaking of the Ohlone College Newark Center.

In 1965, an election was held in the Fremont/Newark area to form a local community college and a board of trustees. The first board meeting was held in January 1966 and during that year the board hired a new president, Dr. Stephen Epler, who then hired the faculty. The year 1966 was a planning year, working with faculty to determine curriculum. Another important decision was what to name the college. At its inception, the “working title” was Fremont-Newark Community College District. But the college wanted a name that would provide an identity, something that represented the area and was based on the values of people that lived here.

Dr. Epler discussed potential names with the faculty. The decision was made to ask Mr. Phil (Felipe) Galvan, a highly respected Ohlone Elder who lived in Fremont, for a Chochenyo word, the Ohlone dialect. Without hesitation,

Mr. Galvan said, “Why don’t you call it Ohlone?” Although not without controversy, Ohlone College was given final permission by an esteemed member of the Ohlone people to use their name.

The college has maintained a continual affiliation with the Galvan family. Phil Galvan and his son Andy (Andrew) Galvan have attended many college events, including graduations. The last time Phil Galvan came to a college event was in 2005 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus in Newark, accompanied by his son Andy. He spoke again about the naming of the college at that event. After Phil passed away in spring of 2013, the Board of Trustees honored Mr. Galvan for his work with the college and for giving the college its name, “Ohlone.”

[ View Articles Index. ]