Sil Garaventa Jr., East Bay businessman and philanthropist.
As California State University, East Bay observes the 30th anniversary of its campus in Concord, the university plans an upcoming celebration marking its longstanding contributions to Contra Costa County.
The county’s population grew rapidly in the 1970s, prompting calls from the area’s citizens and leaders for direct access to a four-year public university. Cal State East Bay – then known as Cal State Hayward – responded, and by fall 1981, began offering upper division and graduate courses, as well as continuing education programs, at the former site of Pleasant Hill High School.
“As the East Bay’s public university, this institution has had a longstanding and deep commitment to meeting the higher education needs of Contra Costa County and the entire region, by offering our students access to high quality academic degree programs,” said Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president of Cal State East Bay.
With that commitment firmly in place, Cal State East Bay and its campus in Concord are celebrating their first 30 years of providing higher education to the people of Contra Costa County with a reception and luncheon that also will honor the contributions of Sil Garaventa, Jr., a longtime East Bay businessman and philanthropist. The Feb. 25 event will be held at the Concord Hilton, 1970 Diamond Blvd., Concord.
Garaventa, CEO of Garaventa Enterprises and chair of Cal State East Bay’s Concord Campus Advisory Board, will be presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree by CSUEB and the California State University system.
The event will commemorate the university’s history of progress in providing higher education in Contra Costa County.
While classes were held during the 1980s at the Pleasant Hill location, community leaders such as Dean Lesher, then the publisher of the Contra Costa Times and a CSU trustee, advocated a Concord location for the CSUEB campus to serve the county. In addition, the area’s state senator, Dan Boatwright, played a pivotal role in securing California government support for funding and land.
Through the help of Lesher, Boatwright and others, the CSU in 1986 approved building a campus on the 386-acre site of the former Cowell Ranch, and construction began in 1991. By fall 1992, the 90,000-square-foot Concord Campus opened.
With interactive distance learning classrooms in place by 1994, course offerings were expanded with classes taught remotely at CSUEB’s Hayward Campus. Also, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos community colleges started offering lower division courses at the Concord Campus the same year, simplifying community college student transfers and transition to CSUEB.
In 2006 the campus began offering a bachelor’s in nursing, with John Muir Health providing $1.7 million in funding for state-of-the-art nursing labs.
Today, the Concord Campus has grown to where it offers students baccalaureate degrees in 11 subject areas and master’s degrees in a number of disciplines.