Accessing and advancing the ancient

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerOn a recent morning walk along the Cracchiolo Pathway to Higher Education, which meanders across Cochise College and connects Cochise with the University of Arizona South and Buena High School, I was struck by the contrasting realities of education.

On the one hand, at the ribbon cutting of that very pathway several years ago, I spoke of education and its relationships to connectivity (bandwidth) and of the power of knowledge. The SSVEC and CenturyLink facilities that exist along the path inspired those remarks, which fit well with where we are as a modern society and how education can help us as we increase our connectivity to others and leverage the power of knowledge.

During that same stroll, I thought of a letter I recently received thanking the college for the opportunity to examine its archaeological collections. Researchers participating in Archaeology Southwest’s “Edge of the Salado Project” funded by the National Science Foundation examined ceramic pottery fragments and pieces of volcanic glass from seven regional sites. The pieces are housed at the college and curated by faculty member Rebecca Orozco; you can see some of them in displays funded by John and Rosaline Pintek at the Douglas and Sierra Vista Campuses.

The researchers’ findings were used to determine with whom prehistoric inhabitants traded (connected), where and how they made ceramics (knowledge), and when they were there. The information also was used to understand how local groups during the period A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1450 reacted to immigrants from northern Arizona that led to the development and spread of the “Salado” culture, which the researchers now believe was both political and religious.

So far, data from Cochise College’s collections have been used by researchers in a recently finished dissertation; one book chapter and three soon-to-be-submitted journal articles; and several presentations geared toward the general public. You can view the presentations by Dr. Lewis Borck at

My point in this is that knowledge continues to be power and connectivity can unite peoples today just like it did in the past. Only today the power of knowledge and the connectivity of people is accelerated by and with technology. The data contained in Cochise College’s archaeological collection are now part of one of the Southwest’s largest databases and can be accessed by researchers across the globe to provide insight on how people lived, worked, worshiped and connected with others.

As Cochise College finishes up a quiet summer session and prepares to return for fall, I want to reinforce that knowledge is power, education transforms lives and shapes how we see the world, and thanks in part to modern connectivity, it’s more accessible than ever.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Plan for your passion with purpose

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

Pamela Faye Sanders’ life was dedicated to teaching. Once a Cochise College student, she taught for 35 years at Double Adobe School. When she passed away two years ago, she kept her passion alive by establishing a scholarship for future educators. She did it through planned giving, documented in a trust that legally defined her wishes. Some of her assets established the scholarship fund, and her friends donated in her memory.

Many people who wish to support education or their communities have made similar plans to leave a legacy.

Alexander Black’s passion for fire service led him to establish a fire science scholarship. Benjamin Blom and Virginia Thomas wished to support nurses. Dr. George Spikes, Henry Bollweg, Betty Starysky, Harold Pease and Margaret Kent established general scholarships that help make a Cochise College education accessible.

Cochise College is grateful for the opportunity to help carry out their wishes and joyful each time a scholarship is awarded.

We would be honored to help you keep your passion alive.

“To many people, having money for retirement is not an issue, but having a purposeful retirement is essential,” according to Cochise College Foundation Treasurer Karen Justice.

With planned giving in place, you can impact what is important to you, and it’s easy to do. A gift of cash, appreciated stock, or real estate may allow you to establish a scholarship or support a program. By making the Cochise College Foundation a beneficiary on your retirement account or insurance policy, or making a bequest, your passion is kept alive. Your investment in students is an investment in Cochise County.

Currently, the Cochise College Foundation is looking for donors interested in helping to provide a scholarship to every Cochise County graduating high school senior. Support of aviation students also is a priority as the college implements a new tuition model and also seeks to help pilots complete both flight training and degrees.

If you value your education and want to make a difference by giving back, I ask you to contact the Cochise College Foundation for assistance in the “discovery” phase of your plans. There are many worthy causes at Cochise College and beyond.

In the meantime, here are some questions to consider.

  • Is the Cochise College Foundation among the top three recipients of your charitable donations? Of your beneficiaries?
  • Have you updated your will to reflect your desire to help Cochise College?
  • Have you named the Cochise College Foundation as a beneficiary of your IRA, trust, will, or insurance policy?

Finally, everyone cares about something. What is your passion, and how will you plan for it?

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at



The other completion ceremonies

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerMay brings an abundance of student success ceremonies. There are so many, in fact, that it’s easy for some of the more intimate and special celebrations to get lost in the festivities.

Around the time of Cochise College commencement, the college’s most celebrated event, it also hosted a ceremony honoring 24 new medical assistants, another recognizing 50 new certified nursing assistants, and another in honor of students who completed licensed practical nurse and registered nurse training. In the coming week, we’ll also recognize 39 individuals who have earned the GED since last year.

Though it’s understandable that not all ceremonies receive public attention, especially during “graduation season,” it’s no less inspiring and motivating for those of us who attend these events and reflect on the accomplishments of students.

The nursing ceremonies, in particular, draw crowds that rival those at commencement. That notice is merited in part because of the demand those rigorous programs place on students. The time nursing students put into school requires their families and friends to help provide support for a myriad of things, including financing, management of both school and home, childcare, reliable vehicles and more. There simply isn’t that much time for things to go wrong in the life of a nursing student.

The program’s reputation for excellence, too, deserves attention. Though it’s not an online curriculum, it was recently named the top two-year nursing program in Arizona by the Community for Accredited Online Schools. In addition, Jennifer Lakosil, the dean who oversees nursing and health sciences, was recently honored as a Fabulous 50 Nurse by the Tucson Nurses Week Foundation. In the near future, faculty and staff plan a curriculum reorganization that will include a licensed practical nursing (LPN) program for students who wish to pursue only that level of credential, a separate registered nursing (RN) program that will focus on students whose goal is a two-year degree, and an LPN-to-RN program that will serve as a bridge for LPNs who wish to pursue an RN.

In the coming week, teachers and administrators will attend another of their favorite events of the year. The GED ceremony celebrates students who, for a myriad of reasons, did not earn a high school diploma in the traditional way. It wasn’t that long ago that English language learners in the program self-published the book “Our Stories: The Dream Makers.” This year, in addition to honoring those courageous individuals who have completed the GED, the Cochise College Foundation will award Aida Estellean Wick Scholarships to students transitioning to college-level courses.

As I remind Cochise College graduates each year, commencement is not the end of a journey, but a point of departure for the next phase of life. The same is true for those earning a GED or completing healthcare training programs. On behalf of the Cochise College Governing Board, faculty, staff and administration, I wish all of our completers much success.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Opportunity is yours to take

J.D. RottweilerBy J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

In the midst of discussions about the annual budget, it’s easy to get excited instead about the bright light that is student success. The reality is that even when talking dollars, Cochise College’s passion remains student opportunity.

So it warms my heart to share a little bit about someone who recognizes the opportunities in our communities and who is balancing higher education and advanced high school coursework with an eye toward a career in biomedical engineering.

Angelica Calanog moved to America at the age of 9. Coming from the Philippines, she has appreciated and made the most of the resources and opportunities available here. Angelica received a scholarship to attend the Running Start program, which enrolls academically achieving high school students in college engineering courses. As of last fall, she had already earned 42 college credits and a 4.0 grade point average. She will graduate from high school in May but also was recognized recently as a member of the All-Arizona Academic Team, which awards the top Arizona community college sophomores with a waiver to attend an Arizona university. She is a member of the Science Club and has volunteered for Engineering Night, March for Mental Health, and Haunted Union. She makes solutions, gathers chemicals and scientific equipment and organizes materials as an aid in the science lab. Her objective is to prepare herself for success.

Learning to balance advanced high school work with college courses and all of her other activities has been Angelica’s biggest endeavor. How does she do it? Let’s just say she’s learned a great deal about what to expect from the college experience, time management, and her own strengths. I like to think the donor whose contribution helped fund the Running Start program – the late Margaret Kent of Bisbee – would be proud that the investment she made in Cochise College has opened doors for Angelica and others.

Participants in a recent 50th birthday party for the Cochise College Foundation learned some other things about Angelica, who was invited to speak to employees. She wants to pursue a doctoral degree so she can perform research and develop devices to assist those who have an injury, disease or defect, and she’d like to offer this service at no cost. Before she takes the next step, however, she wants to check out cybersecurity. In her free time, she runs. Part of the reason she applies for scholarships is that she doesn’t want to burden her family with the cost of college when it is within her power to earn money to help herself.

I almost wanted to adopt her!

There’s something students and parents should know, however, and that is that opportunities here at Cochise College aren’t just for super-students like Angelica. They’re also not limited to the classroom. You don’t have to earn top grades to take advantage of what’s here in your backyard. You just have to do what many think of as the hardest part, and that is to commit to your future and take the first step of enrolling. Once you’re here, the team at the college can help you decide on a major, apply for financial aid and scholarships, tackle library and tutoring resources, connect with peers who share your interests, and explore opportunities to enhance your educational experience. Students who make a commitment to invest time in themselves are the ones with the greatest chance of success.

There’s a scene in the 2005 movie “The Family Stone” when one character expresses to another a desire to see public art and a community’s reaction to it. Her response perfectly characterizes the opportunities at Cochise College.

“Well, it’s there for you.”

That means all of you.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Fine-tuning student success: our plan and how you can help

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerAre you looking for someone to fill an open position at your place of work or business? Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, particularly in rural areas. It’s also a challenge facing employers across America.

Why is that? Recent reports may offer some clues.

At least one concludes that more than 15 percent of individuals ages 16-24 living in Cochise County are neither working nor in school. This parallels measures at the state level – Arizona ranks 47th – and exceeds the national average of 13 percent. The Opportunity Index ( is an annual composite measure at the state and county levels of economic, educational and civic factors that expand opportunity. It also finds that only 33.5 percent of Cochise County adults age 25 and older hold an associate’s degree or higher; according to this indicator, the county population lags behind both Arizona and the U.S.

The index suggests that two people born in similar towns in different states may have very different experiences, while also asking if all children should have access to equal conditions of opportunity. It reports on median income, affordable housing, and poverty; preschool enrollment and higher education achievement; and community safety and disconnected youth.

The index was developed by Opportunity Nation and Measure of America. Opportunity Nation is a national campaign comprised of more than 350 cross-sector organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America. In conjunction with United Way, Measure of America has developed a tool to forecast how things might change in a community if educational outcomes were better.

I used the forecaster at to change the percentage of Cochise County residents who have not completed high school from 14 to 0 percent. The results are significant. It added two years to the average life expectancy, more than halved the murder rate, increased average earnings by some $9,000, reduced the poverty rate by 5 percentage points, decreased unemployment by 3 percentage points, and increased the voting rate by nearly 10 percentage points. This exercise literally moves the needle.

While it might seem farfetched that we will reach 100 percent of residents achieving a high school diploma, we can make progress toward that ideal. Imagine if the percentage of those lacking a diploma were cut in half.

We at Cochise College are very conscious of these statistics, as they highlight areas of educational need that we are positioned to fill. One solution is to enhance student success, and that means everything from how prospective students first interact with the college to how they identify and achieve their goals. This semester, we are working on the details of a cohesive student success effort, some aspects of which are already in place. Our plan includes outreach to schools and a community awareness campaign; streamlined enrollment processes; redesigned developmental education curriculum in math, English and reading; and a student success component that places those who need it in an Academic Success Seminar.

The Cochise College foundation also is implementing an annual fundraising drive to grow support for scholarships. My vision is that there will come a day when there is enough local financial assistance to help every Cochise College graduating high school senior, and to inspire students to achieve that goal.

As you can see, bolstering student success is a multi-faceted effort.

There is a way you can help students and the local workforce in the short term. The foundation is now seeking donations of cash or auction items for a fundraising event – An Evening at the Races – to be held on the Sierra Vista Campus April 29. The event will raise money for scholarships and, we hope, be the first of many annual events that engage the community in celebrating and expanding our efforts. If you’d like to be part of it, contact the foundation at (520) 417-4735.

Despite the challenges, I remain extremely proud of Cochise College, look forward to being able to “move the needle,” and will be eager to report progress on our student success plan to the community.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Cybersecurity training puts jobs within reach

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

As investigations of interference in the U.S. election process make headlines, Cochise College enters its 13th year of educating students in the area of cybersecurity. Later this month, we’ll celebrate what we’ve been able to build by bringing our current cyber students together with industry experts and program graduates for an evening of networking and learning from the pros.

The cybersecurity program Cochise offers today evolved from an information security program that began in 2004. It falls under the computer information systems umbrella, which enrolls more than 1,500 annually and also includes Cisco training; computer maintenance, repair and programming; Linux; networking; and web development. Currently, 185 students have chosen cybersecurity as their major. Graduates have found positions with military contractors and government agencies. They’re often employable after just a few classes.

Graduates will share their experiences and advice in a Jan. 25 cyber event aimed at preparing current cybersecurity students both for their college education and the workplace. Some of them got a foot in the door by participating in auxiliary college cyber activities, which continue today. For example, 200 to 300 local youth annually participate in the Computer Challenge at the Sierra Vista Campus. Through a partnership with AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association), CIS faculty coordinate community volunteers and organize competitions and theory tests in computer fundamentals, information security, programming, digital graphics and desktop publishing, PC repair, speaking, and interviewing.

The college also is actively engaged with the Air Force Association (AFA) CyberPatriot program, in which high school students compete in exercises designed to teach them to remediate technological vulnerabilities. Twenty-eight of Arizona’s 71 CyberPatriot teams – or 40 percent – are trained here at Cochise College.

Important partnerships have helped fund progress in cybersecurity training at Cochise. A National Science Foundation Engineering Pathways Partnership Project grant has funded curriculum redesign with an industry advisory council. A $100,000 Youth CareerConnect Department of Labor grant funded opportunities for Center for Academic Success and Buena High School students taking cyber courses at Cochise. It also helped with the cost of equipment, primarily servers and removable solid-state drives.

In addition to two Sierra Vista Campus cybersecurity classrooms, an additional classroom will soon turn into a dynamic workspace for students to tackle cybersecurity challenges as teams. Students will work in a cyber range to test high-level cyber technologies and in an Internet of Things lab that includes connected devices that seldom are considered when developing a security plan for an organization. Think Amazon Echo devices that are always on and connected and waiting for a voice command.

Finally, Cochise has added a new full-time cybersecurity faculty position recently filled by former Engility Section Manager Mike McLain, who will facilitate the industry panel at the college’s cybersecurity event this month. The industry panel includes representatives from the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) and Fort Huachuca, NCI, Northrop Grumman, Engility and Raytheon, which is now offering a scholarship and internship for transitioning soldiers.

During my time here at Cochise, community and national demand for cybersecurity has increased tremendously and we have made every effort to ensure our cyber students are well-prepared to enter this dynamic space. It’s the passion and expertise of college faculty and staff who have not only helped the institution meet those needs, but also kept the college at the forefront of this increasingly important industry.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at