Ever wonder how the tiny town of Atherton got an institution of higher learning and what goes on behind its gates? A new book about Menlo College filled with over 100 archival photos and reminiscences of staff and alumni reveals the answers. Titled Through the Gates: Eighty-five Years of Menlo College and its Times, the book sets the history of the college in the milieu of each decade.
“I’ve written a number of books before, co-authored with Nancy Lund,” explains author Pamela Gullard. “Our approach is to unveil the nuggets of human interest.
“But given that a college is an institution, I struggled with how to tell its story. Then it occurred to me to set each chapter within a specific decade – how did the events of history affect life on campus?”
The book was conceived in 2012 as a means of celebrating Menlo College’s 85th anniversary by sharing the College’s legacy with alumni and friends in the community. Through the Gates traces the school’s transformation from a two-year transfer school to the four-year, coed college of today. It reveals the inside story of Menlo’s struggle through the economic depression soon after its founding, the debates over integration and the admission of women, and the effects of World War II, the Cold War, and other global events.
“Any history is only as substantive as the people it chronicles,” Pamela said. “The letters and documents from early professors and administrators touched my heart, and I wanted others to experience their charm and deep commitment.”
Pamela is an accomplished writer of local history. Previous to writing Through the Gates, she and co-author Nancy Lund wrote books about Palo Alto, Portola Valley, and their latest, Under the Oaks, Two Hundred Years in Atherton. The book, with hundreds of photographs, paintings, and drawings, is a permanent record of the town’s early and modern history.
Pamela teaches literature and writing at Menlo College. Her recent fiction has been published in the North American Review. She has a B.A. in philosophy with honors from Stanford University, and a master’s degree in English from Notre Dame de Namur. She and her husband Mike have lived in Menlo Park for 26 years, raising their two sons, Erik and Ben.
“I love viewing history through the eyes of the ‘people on the street’ who lived it,” Pamela said. “In Through the Gates, I was able to see ordinary people rising to extraordinary heights to meet the challenges of the day. And as a teacher, I see how my students continue to do this.” She smiled. “Someday, someone will want to write a book about them.”
Through the Gates: Eighty-five Years of Menlo College and its Times can be purchased online, at the Menlo College Campus Store, and at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park.
Photo of Pamela Gullard by Rebecca Flannagan