Complete College America inspires restructured services

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerCochise College is developing and rolling out a number of initiatives aimed at improving critical educational and workforce statistics. These statistics, identified in the Expect More Arizona Education Progress Meter, measure educational attainment, post-secondary enrollment, and opportunity youth (individuals age 16 to 24 not in school or employed) across the state and Cochise County. For the economic health of our communities, we need at least 60 percent of county residents age 25 to 64 to have obtained a post-secondary degree, certificate, or workplace credential. In order to accomplish this, we need more degree/credential completion, higher post-secondary enrollment rates by high school graduates, and fewer youth who are neither employed nor in school.

A guaranteed scholarship for high school graduates is now part of the Cochise College recruitment process, along with college navigators who will be embedded in local high schools, directing students to future educational opportunities at Cochise or elsewhere. If we are successful in increasing the percentage of Cochise County high school seniors enrolling immediately in post-secondary academic and training programs, it’s likely many students may choose to come to Cochise. If so, we need to be better prepared to effectively help them earn a post-secondary credential.

The college has been implementing student success strategies aimed at increasing college completion. To accelerate our activities, we recently joined Complete College America (CCA), a national nonprofit that works to eliminate achievement gaps by providing equity of opportunity for all students to complete college degrees and credentials of purpose and value. CCA promotes research-based initiatives, what it terms, “game changers” to enhance economic and social well-being through educational opportunities. These game changers are: Math Pathways, 15 to Finish, Proactive Advising with Structured Degree Plans, Momentum Year, Co-Requisite Support for Academically Underprepared Students, and A Better Deal for Returning Adults.

The Math Department has already done significant curriculum work to ensure that the math courses students are placed into match what is necessary for their chosen program of study. In other words, the college now directs students to math courses best designed for their educational goals. Students in non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs are directed to take Survey of College Math, which covers algebra, trigonometry, precalculus and statistics but doesn’t require a student to be an expert at all of those. For students in programs like electronics, automotive technology, construction trades, welding, and other career/technical fields, math may be embedded directly into the program. STEM students, however, need an entire semester of College Algebra, as it prepares them for more advanced math courses they will need to further their studies. Better aligning which math course(s) to take to desired degree outcomes is sure to help students overcome this all-too-frequent barrier to degree completion.

This last fall, faculty and staff began having conversations about 15 to Finish. This initiative encourages a mindset that completing 30 credits per year is essential to completing an associate’s degree in two years. The college is working to pare degree offerings to 60 credits, where possible. While 12 credits per semester may be considered full time according to federal financial aid standards, taking that extra class each semester can help full-time students avoid an extra semester of college. The “just one more” conversation can also occur with part-time students. Research shows the quicker a student accumulates credits, the more likely they are to complete their degrees, begin their profession, and start earning money. The college is considering ways to provide incentives for students to take just one more class.

In addition, college advisors and counselors are transitioning from a transactional approach to one that builds relationships with students. We look to assign students to a specific advisor and to have most interactions occur via scheduled appointments. We are exploring how to allocate resources toward advising; if current staff were assigned to specific students, the ratio would be about 1,000 to 1. This initiative also entails structured degree plans so students can efficiently work their way through programs in a timely manner. Along with that, the college hopes to develop an early alert system so advisors can monitor student progress and intervene at relevant times.

In building stronger relationships with students and promoting completion of 15 credits per semester, we will encourage students to take at least two classes within their major, as well as their gateway English and math courses, during the first year of college. This Momentum Year initiative will help students stay on task, complete gateway courses in a timely manner, and move them to degree completion.

Sometimes, remediation is required to help students succeed in gateway courses. Through a co-requisite support initiative, students who previously would have been directed into pre-college-level coursework may instead be enrolled in college-level English and math courses and also provided with extra academic support in order to complete those courses. We have not yet determined exactly how this will look, but the idea is that an additional lab or extra tutoring services could provide just-in-time assistance for students who need it.

Finally, Cochise serves many students who are returning to school as adults. Often, these students are also juggling family and work responsibilities, making completion a challenge. Something the college is considering is identifying and promoting specific programs in a structure that is accelerated and scheduled in a manner that makes success easier to achieve. Overall, the college would like to get to the point where it can forecast course needs based on student plans, and that will help us work toward predictable scheduling for all students.

Cochise is learning from other institutions that are part of the Complete College America alliance, and we are intentionally implementing the changes that make sense for us. Student success and completion require sustainable solutions, and it will take us some time to identify the right mix of services and resources in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Ultimately, our goal is to positively impact the educational attainment rate in Cochise County, and it will take all of us pulling in the same direction to do it.

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

And, they’re off! Event supports workforce through education

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerMuffin, Ginger Fury, Corona, and Slow and Steady will enter the starting gate at Cochise College on April 21. They are horses purchased and named as part of the college’s Evening at the Races fundraiser in support of the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee.

Who will finish first remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. They are all in the race.

Getting more students – rather than horses – in the race to enter the workforce is the goal of the scholarship guarantee. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, the guarantee is one component of Cochise College’s effort to increase the percentage of graduating seniors who enroll immediately in meaningful post-secondary education and training programs.

In Cochise County, that percentage is 49; that’s less than half. In Arizona, the percentage is 53. Meanwhile, local employers report difficulty hiring and retaining qualified personnel.

Arizona is a wonderful place. But it’s workforce needs to be more competitive if its economy is to diversify and its quality of life to improve. Expect More Arizona and its partners, along with the governor’s Achieve60AZ initiative, aim to increase the post-secondary enrollment rate to 70 percent in 20 years. Other statewide goals relevant to higher education are to increase the state’s degree attainment rate of working-age adults from 43 percent to 60 percent and to decrease the rate of opportunity youth, those age 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor working, from 14 percent to 7 percent.

These statistics have inspired Cochise College to implement significant changes to reach more high school students and remove barriers to completion. Think career navigators in the high schools, more affordable learning materials, a course that teaches new students to succeed in college, and more efficient processes and curriculum.

An Evening at the Races is your opportunity to go along for the ride.

Here’s what to expect if you purchase a ticket, now available at, to the April 21 event at the Sierra Vista Campus. There will be video horse racing on which you can wager with and win Cochise Bucks, which I should reinforce is not real currency that can be used for anything of value. The horses named above will appear in the printed program, along with the names of their jockeys and owners, who most certainly will be cheering on their steed. You may purchase and name your own horse when you buy your event ticket. There also will be a silent auction and a dessert auction. Last year’s hat parade was unexpectedly popular, so we are repeating and restructuring it.

A number of sponsors have joined us in this effort, and I thank them. Herald/Review Media is our event sponsor. Battaglia and Roberts PC, Canyon Vista Medical Center, Hudbay Minerals, Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona, Long Realty, and Southwest Gas each will sponsor a race. Arizona G&T Cooperatives, Cherry Creek Media, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Wi-Power Internet and Phone, Copper Queen Community Hospital, DiPeso Realty and Big O Tires also have lent support.

For us, the most important thing is the cause – workforce enhancement through education. This is why the college is here. Whether a horse wins doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that they finish the race.

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

Fort tour generates new enthusiasm, ideas

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

It would be difficult to ignore the presence of Fort Huachuca in Cochise County. It’s a little easier, for civilians, in particular, to be unfamiliar with what goes on there.

For that reason, Fort Huachuca officials are putting more effort into sharing the installation’s story with others.

Several weeks ago, fort leadership graciously escorted 20 members of the college’s leadership team on a full-day tour of the post. Our visit began at the Unmanned Aerial Systems Museum with a welcome by Major General Robert P. Walters Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) and Fort Huachuca, and Colonel James “Whit” Wright,Fort Huachuca Garrison Commander. Our hosts Mr. Jeffrey Jennings, Deputy to the Commanding General of USAICoE, and Mr. Matt Walsh, USAICoE Legislative Liaison, ticked off the many things that make Fort Huachuca special. The fort is rich in history, and its geographic location provides a unique testing environment that is unrivaled in the Department of Defense. As such, it is the premier site for electronic testing, cyber defense, intelligence training, doctrine and capabilities development. Because of the fort’s mission, more than half of Cochise County is comprised of restricted air space, test range, or considered a military operating area; Fort Huachuca is a national treasure and critical asset to our national security.

The tour could be considered “required reading” for our staff, as the college has a long history of serving Soldiers and their dependents. When the college opened in the 1960s, faculty traveled from the Douglas Campus to the post, where they taught evening classes. Later, the college offered full programs in culinary arts and automotive technology in facilities on post. While learning spaces changed over time and evening classes continued, the way the college serves Soldiers has also evolved to include partnering with units on post in the development of courses, certificates, and degrees designed specific to the Army’s military occupational specialty training. This past year, nearly 5,600 Soldiers took advantage of this unique program with 948 degrees awarded.

But college and fort leaders are taking another look at how the organizations work together. A specific area of interest is helping more Soldiers complete an associate’s degree. While thousands of military students have earned Cochise College credit, still others seek to earn one of the many technical credentials offered at Cochise College. Due in part to the transient nature of military life, some Soldiers earn credits but have difficulty pursuing further education as they serve in military assignments located worldwide. In other instances, Soldiers are simply unfamiliar with how to proceed or don’t know what questions to ask, a situation that together we can resolve.

On our tour, we observed new Soldiers in technical training that will prepare them to successfully support U.S. Army units. We had the opportunity to learn about the recent successful Army accreditation of USAICoE, the different curriculum and scheduling of courses, a conversation that is certain to continue. We had lunch with and heard the perspective of some of the Soldiers who have earned Cochise College credit. Later, we received an overview of the Electronic Proving Ground, visited Libby Army Airfield and the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training facility, and stopped at NETCOM (Network Enterprise Technology Command), which provides critical network and security services for the US Army.

Fort Huachuca is home to numerous other missions, and there’s no question it is important to the nation’s safety and security. Our tour probably could have lasted several more days.

Ideas were flowing at a Cochise College staff debrief of the tour a few days later. One individual said it was among the top experiences he’s had while employed at Cochise College. We have discussed relevant timing in our intervention in the Soldier’s learning and training journey and identified a need for enhanced communication and programming that will help a credit-earning Soldier become a degree-earning Soldier.

While nothing is set in stone, we appreciate the time officials on Fort Huachuca took to arrange and lead us on the tour, and we look forward to turning ideas into reality.

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

Exciting projects set tone for 2018

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerHere we are, at another beginning, before us a new year and another semester during which to make a difference for students and communities. Cochise College enters 2018 feeling energized and hopeful. We have some really great things brewing, and just over a year from now, we should begin to see some of the first outcomes of our student success initiatives and the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee. Specifically, we’ll know how many participating members of Cochise County’s high school Class of 2018 completed their first semester at Cochise and, hopefully, registered for the second.

These outcomes will provide clues on how well our outreach and student success efforts are working, as well as what specific challenges students face. We definitely have our work cut out for us.

To help prepare for spring 2018, we pushed the start of classes back a week, allowing students extra time to register. In addition, Cochise College faculty participated in 2018 Faculty Professional Development Week. Breakout sessions led by faculty and staff took advantage of the array of on-the-ground expertise that is just a phone call or an email away. Topics included things like Making Amazing Things Happen in CTE (career and technical education), Integrating Strategies for Teaching Students with Mental Illness, Supporting Student Learning with Virtual Reality, Barely There to Fully Aware: Engaging Students, and many others.

Quality instruction is part of the package that led Cochise to earn national recognitions in recent years. While we value those, we also acknowledge that they wouldn’t be possible without important credentials.

For example, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs recently awarded continuing accreditation to the college’s emergency medical services and paramedic program. This accreditation recognizes the program’s substantial compliance with nationally established accreditation standards. The process involved an on-site peer review, the next of which is scheduled to occur no later than 2023.

In addition, the college aviation program recently achieved renewal of its FAA Part 141 operating certificate, which entailed an inspection of instructor records, current and past student records,  facilities and curriculum. The Part 141 Air Agency Certificate is valid until November 2019 and ensures that students who complete their flight training under Part 141 and graduate with an associate’s degree in aviation,  are eligible for the R-ATP (Restricted – Air Transport Pilot). This allows graduates the opportunity to apply for the ATP with reduced hours (1250 total time) and be employed as a first officer with the regional airlines.

The FAA used the Cochise College site visit as a training tool, bringing additional personnel to learn the inspection process at Cochise because of its reputation within the flight training industry. Cochise has a solid safety record and exceeds recordkeeping, reporting and training standards, making it a good example for new inspectors.

To follow up on a leadership academy for employees, the college has extended the program to students for the first time. More than 30 students are expected to participate in the training program scheduled for early February. Needless to say, we are excited for an opportunity to offer a little something extra that is of value to future leaders.

Those are just a few of the exciting things that happened around the time we moved into 2018. Space and time restrict all that I can report here, but please stay tuned for updates on what is sure to be a memorable 2018.

Happy New Year!

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

A year of inspiration in education

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerTo all readers, I leave you this year feeling joyful and inspired. In addition to having two new grandsons, I am surrounded by good people, working passionately to advance themselves or to help others do so. It seems appropriate to share some of the inspiration I witness every day with you during this holiday season. From many of the people I see on a regular basis, I give you these responses to the question, “What at Cochise College inspired you this year?”

First, from students:

Maria Diaz: “I am inspired by all the TRiO/Student Support Services staff, but especially Norma Brandenburg. She helps me and pushes me to continue with my career and to transfer to a university. I want to follow her example.”
Jenna Lathrop: “My teachers who have gone above and beyond have inspired me this year.”
Laura Lengel: “Together, everyone achieves more.” Thus we are a T.E.A.M. in the endeavor of my successful education.” (Laura also works the college switchboard.)

Victor Ocejo: “What inspired me this semester were the guest speakers in my administration of justice class. We had a district attorney talk to us about the difficulties in his life and how he still persisted to achieve his goals. It gave me a new perspective.”

Jason Thompson: “In one word, ‘community.’ I never thought I’d find a place where people banded together and moved towards a common goal. Every meeting, every volunteer opportunity has always been met with a unified body and one voice.”

Gabriel Wachtel: “I have been inspired by my instructors this year. Since the fire program is taught by actual fireman, it has really given me something to look forward to. Being able to see what the end result will be after I finish my class, has really given me even more motivation to finish it.”

From faculty and staff:

Rose Berumen (Cochise College Foundation): “I have been inspired this year by seeing the impact Cochise College has in the lives of the students. Every day I see the importance of education and how Cochise College is helping our students make a difference in their lives.”

Janet Cramer (facilities/maintenance): “During the candidates’ presentation sessions for a dean’s position, it was very inspirational to hear new ideas to promote student success. It has encouraged me to see how I can make a difference in student success.”

Bryan Homrighausen (student success): “This year, I have been inspired by students who have overcome obstacles in order to pursue their academic goals. For example, I have a student who woke up extra early to walk 2.5 hours to school during a short period when she was without a car. I have another who, despite health challenges that often require emergency room visits, never missed a class. I also have been inspired by the support of different staff members at Cochise College, particularly guest speakers and student services scavenger hunt participants (you know who you are!).

Finally, I was inspired to have the late Chuck Hoyack as faculty marshal at the 2017 commencement ceremony. Even though I only worked with Chuck for a short time, I considered him a mentor and support system.”

Brian O’Brien (facilities/maintenance): “As an employee of Cochise College for more than 20 years, I have witnessed its steady climb to the top in national reviews. The accomplishments of the college this past year have inspired me to do not only what I can to help the facility achieve its objective of being the top community college in the country, but to reflect the college’s goals in my personal life. When you set your sights on greatness, greatness can be achieved.”

Becky Orozco (history): “I have had amazing students this year who have inspired me with their drive to succeed: single mothers with small children who are there for every class; the student who left her husband in ICU to come back to Sierra Vista just so she would not miss; the veteran who has found a new path here at Cochise; the ones who have blossomed over the year.”
Virginia Pfau Thompson (art): “The students inspire me with their willingness to try new things, to struggle and fail a few times and then succeed. They inspire me in the way they face challenging techniques and assignments with attitudes of excitement and curiosity. They inspire me by the creativity and personalities they express in their art.”

Mark von Destinon (alumni): “What inspires me most about Cochise College is the warmth of the college community that extends through generations and transcends decades. This was most evident at the Hall of Fame dinner, which was almost like a warm family reunion. At work in Tucson, the person in the office next to mine was a 1975 Cochise graduate. Two days later she brought another employee who attended Cochise in the 1990s. We are all lunch buddies now. Today I paid my monthly parking fee to a 2005 Cochise graduate who first attended in the 1980s. It turns out that her boss met his wife while they were living in the dorms at Cochise in the 1970s.”

From volunteers:

Yolanda Anderson (Cochise College Foundation): “I am and always have been inspired by all of the people at Cochise. They bend over backwards to help students.”

Chuck Chambers and Gene Manring (Cochise College Foundation): “ I think the establishment of the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee will be a great program for our local students, especially those who cannot compete for academic scholarships. Great idea and great program.”

Karen Justice (Cochise College Foundation): “I like the student testimonials. They reconfirm, scholarships change lives!”

Dennis Nelson (Governing Board): “I ran into an acquaintance who was visiting the Douglas Campus to learn to play the cello. He said his mother had always wanted him to learn, and when I saw him again a few years later, he had! That’s what’s great about community colleges. They are an opportunity to make mom proud.”

Jane Strain (Governing Board): “The hall of fame ceremony in November inspired me. The personal stories of the people who have given years of their lives to teach, coach, lead and provide the best possible role models to students were stories that remain in Cochise culture.”

I hope that your 2017 has been as wonderful as mine. Happy holidays!

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

College going rate crisis isn’t just financial

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

It’s a nice accomplishment to be named the No. 2 community college in the country, to be in the running for the Aspen Prize, to be recognized for value, return on investment, and economic mobility of students.

Perhaps Cochise College could be satisfied with that. But just as we bask in the glow of those accolades, local workforce statistics say that less than half of county residents have earned some kind of post-secondary credential, that only 49 percent of high school graduating seniors matriculate to some type of academic or training program, that a higher than average percentage of young people aren’t in school or working, and that Cochise County lags behind the state and the state lags behind the nation on these same statistics.

As president of a college that has “community” in its middle name, that’s hard to ignore. Those statistics point to a true community need that will only compound if it’s not addressed. We know if we can get students to us, we have the proven capabilities to help them be successful in the new economy. The challenge is getting them to us.

Two local organizations recognize that and recently took steps to help reach a population that no one is reaching. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and American Southwest Credit Union, through the 5th Annual Sheriff’s Bike Run, is directing funds raised toward graduating seniors who have earned less than a 2.5 grade point average in high school. The $13,000 contribution to the Cochise College Foundation will help Cochise College recruit 52 students.

Do I think the biggest challenge to potential students is financial? No, I do not.

I think there are other challenges, including lack of information, lack of support or mentors, lack of confidence, and lack of a vision for what can be, rather than what is familiar.

The funds raised through the motorcycle run are part of Cochise College’s Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee. The guarantee is an enticement for high school students to provide their contact information so that Cochise College can begin meeting the challenges identified above, particularly communication and overcoming barriers that often deter students from enrolling.

There’s more to it than that. The college is in preliminary discussions with county high schools about the possibility of embedding mentors who can help inspire high school students, particularly the uninterested or undecided, to envision and reach for their future, be that at Cochise College, some other institution, or through another meaningful activity that helps them progress. Your local superintendents, largely hampered by limited resources, recognize the need.

Overcoming apathy isn’t the easiest of work, and we need your help, be it a kind word of encouragement to a young person who needs it, or a contribution to the scholarship guarantee.

Residents who can’t or don’t contribute to the local economy represent a significant opportunity. Helping them pursue their potential is good for everyone, and we all have a stake in it. The alternative is to watch our workforce shrink and the vitality of our businesses and communities decline. If you’d like to do something about it, Cochise College welcomes you to be part of the conversation.

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

Guided pathways: Setting students up for success

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

Cochise College, like more than 400 other community colleges, was formed during the 1960s. Community colleges were designed with access to higher education as the top priority. They were envisioned as the “people’s college,” providing educational opportunities to everyone. No longer would students need to leave their county, city, or town to access educational opportunities. This access to higher education fueled the “American Dream” of the 20th century.

The word “accessible” is at the heart of Cochise College’s mission. Cochise and many other community colleges have worked diligently to offer a wide variety of programs intended both for a broad audience and to meet workforce needs. We’ve built campuses and centers to make our services readily available, developed numerous programs, degrees, and certificates for diverse learners with diverse goals, adopted flexible scheduling, and, aided by the Internet and technology, created online and hybrid classes for time and location bound students. We’ve worked hard to keep tuition low. As a result of this accessibility, local and national enrollments soared. Today, more than 1,100 community colleges exist, enrolling over 12 million credit and non-credit students annually. In fact, more than half of the nation’s undergraduates spend some of their time enrolled at a community college.

But, like the Bob Dylan tune released in 1964 says, “The times, they are a changin’.”

Today, we need to maintain accessibility while focusing on student success as our top priority. While many students start at a community college, our state and nation needs more of them to achieve their academic goals. We are discovering far too many barriers to student success. Some of these barriers include lack of student preparation, disjointed programming and support services, unclear pathways to completion or transfer, limited guidance on career options, inefficiently structured developmental education, and limited monitoring of academic progress, to name a few.

At a time when federal financial aid is better designed to promote completion than in the past, it’s time to implement a more structured approach, from student intake all the way to graduation. Cochise is now exploring ways to implement key components of the guided pathways approach. This model presents courses in the context of a roadmap for students to reach their goals, with built-in progress monitoring, feedback and support at each step along the way. Finding a balance between student access and student success is the organizational challenge of the 21st century.

Davis Jenkins, a senior researcher at the Columbia University Community College Research Center, presents evidence to support the guided pathways approach in “Redesigning Community Colleges for Student Success.” The paper also outlines a process and timeline for implementation and provides brief examples of institutions that have done so. Some key principles of guided pathways that Cochise is exploring include:

  • Help students with career exploration and goal-setting from the start
  • Require every student to have a clear roadmap to completion, further education and job advancement.
  • Ensure that program learning goals are clearly articulated and are aligned with requirements for success in further education and/or employment.
  • Simplify choices for students, using program maps that students can customize with support from an advisor.
  • Provide predictable course schedules that make it easier for students to organize their lives around school and graduate on time.
  • Redesign the student intake process to help new students who are undecided about a major to choose a field of study as quickly as possible.
  • Integrate the teaching of foundational skills into college-level courses to enable academically unprepared students to successfully enter a program of study as soon as possible.
  • Monitor student progress on their program plans, providing frequent feedback and support as needed.
  • Build bridges into college programs (as opposed to preparing students for college generally) from high schools, adult basic education and other feeders.

Some internal shifts are already helping Cochise renew its focus. We now have a dean of student success. Student recruiting, marketing and enrollment management now work together to provide a well-communicated and -executed enrollment process. In addition, the college will participate in the Complete College America (CCA) 2017 Annual Convening later this year. CCA’s mission is to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates and/or college degrees. The convening, themed “Access to the American Dream,” will focus on CCA’s five game-changer strategies: math pathways, corequisite remediation, 15 credits to finish, structured schedules and guided pathways to success.

I can’t recall a time when I’ve been more excited about the direction Cochise College is taking to serve students and the community. The adjustments being made are about improving efficiency and effectiveness and serving students well, and I thank you, as well as our faculty and staff, for your patience and support as we move forward.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

College honors highlight return on investment

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

Cochise College has fared well on numerous national rankings in recent years. Most recently, the college earned the notice of for the economic mobility of its students, and WalletHub named Cochise the second best community college in the nation, based on an analysis of 14 indicators in the areas of Cost & Financing, Educational Outcomes, and Career Outcomes.

The methodology used to develop these rankings makes it clear that Cochise College stands out on a student’s Return on Educational Investment. For a cost that compares well with other institutions, plus an outstanding faculty and staff that are committed to student success, graduates are able to transition from being a student, seeking skills and knowledge, to a graduate, seeking employment opportunities or advanced degrees. Cochise College graduates are ready to enter the workforce and contribute to the economic well being of themselves, their family, and the community. It’s not just that Cochise is affordable and accessible. It’s about student success! It’s the instructional quality, support services, and culture of caring that helps shape a graduate who is prepared for their next step, whatever that may be.

Living examples of Cochise’s positive return on investment are neither few nor far between.

There’s Melissa Wendl (‘17), who has seen many benefits related to her financial situation, not to mention her own self-esteem. Melissa finished registered nurse training in May and began working in intensive care at Canyon Vista Medical Center in July. She covered the cost of her training out of pocket and with loans and scholarships. Her income allows her young family to experience things like the theater and zoo, expenses that she previously would have questioned. “It’s incredible to be able to do that without thinking about whether it’s affordable. It’s also an amazing feeling to be able to use the knowledge I gained for such a small investment to be able to help people, teach them things they don’t know about their bodies, and make a trip to the hospital, which is usually a horrible day, a little bit better.”

There’s also Linda Barker (‘06), a faculty member in sociology at Coconino Community College in Flagstaff who is pursuing an Ed.D. in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education and community colleges. Linda credits her time at Cochise with helping her find her voice and develop critical thinking processes that she believes have made her a greater citizen, voter and human being. “My confidence and ability to ‘not know’ and ask questions comes from the faculty, staff, and administration that truly supported not just students but each other. That leadership is more rare than I knew then. I love (love!) what Cochise College offers and how it opened doors for me that were not even on my horizon! I speak of my alumni experience often and hold myself to a standard of integrity and ethics that was present to me from my experience at Cochise. I try to remember that spirit as I teach at my college.”

Tombstone native Charles Escarcega (‘89) credits a former drafting faculty member with taking the time to show him university programs. Charles was a member of the 1984 Apache baseball team, earned an associate of applied science in mechanical drafting from Cochise College, then went on to Arizona State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. Charles held a variety of engineering positions within the semiconductor, mechanical engineering, telecom and electrical engineering fields, taking him throughout the U.S. and Europe for work-related projects. “I am very thankful for meeting people like Max Schoenhals and Coach Bo Hall. These people had a very positive effect on my life journey.”

Kimberly Friend (‘88, ‘94) earned degrees in electronics and avionics, plus a certificate in building maintenance, and ended up with a career that ranged from Tucson International Airport to Southeast Arizona Medical Center, and from facility maintenance and management at Raymond W Bliss Army Health Center to command engineer and facility manager at the Fort Huachuca Electronic Proving Ground.

We are proud of our accomplishments and the accomplishments of our graduates. But we can do more! There are many individuals in Cochise County who need educational services but believe they are out of reach. That’s why we are implementing the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee. The college’s goal of providing a scholarship to every Cochise County high school graduating senior is to provide more students with an opportunity to receive a return on their investment. We want to help position them for success and also impact state-level initiatives to increase post-high school enrollment and credential attainment, both of which are important workforce priorities.

We are passionate about creating opportunities for students to explore and achieve and equally enthusiastic to highlight the successes of alumni. If you’re a Cochise College alum who’s willing to share your story, contact us at You are part of an institution that is positioning itself to shine even brighter.

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

Scholarship program aims to enhance workforce competitiveness

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

There are three startling facts that must be addressed if Arizona is to remain competitive in the 21st century.

First, only 42 percent of Arizona residents 25-64 years of age have completed a 2- or 4-year degree or received a postsecondary certificate. But by 2020, 7 out of 10 jobs in Arizona will require more than a high school diploma. In fact most will be “middle skills jobs,” requiring education/training beyond a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.

Second, the college going rate for Arizona high school graduates is 53 percent, putting the state 40th in the nation; the highest college going rates are approximately 75 percent. The percentage is slightly lower (52 percent) in Cochise County, causing one to wonder what recent graduates will be doing, now and in the future.

This leads to the third fact: today, 15 percent of youth age 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working. According to one recent count, that’s about 2,300 Cochise County “opportunity youth,” so named because they represent economic potential.

To encourage educational attainment, increase college going rates, and decrease the percentage of “opportunity youth,” the college will provide a scholarship to any Cochise County high school graduating senior who meets basic academic requirements and enrolls full time the semester after high school graduation. The scholarship is renewable with continued academic achievement for up to four consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment.

If you are the family, friend or influencer of a member of the local Class of 2018 – or subsequent classes – this column is for you and we need your help in getting the word out! The high school seniors who will graduate next May are the first to be eligible for the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee at Cochise College. Award amounts will be based on students’ official high school GPAs. Thanks to the sheriff’s office and American Southwest Credit Union, scholarship opportunities for students who might not otherwise be eligible for merit-based financial assistance will be provided through the 5th Annual Cochise County Sheriff’s Charity Ride scheduled for Nov. 4. We encourage all to support this important initiative!

Funds raised at the Cochise College Foundation’s event “An Evening at the Races,” future endowment earnings, and an employee giving program also support the scholarship guarantee. If you, too, want to help impact the economic competitiveness of Cochise County, I would encourage you to contact the Cochise College Foundation at

Education levels are linked to quality of life indicators like crime rates, population wellness, civic involvement, and financial security. Cochise College is working hard to support initiatives aimed at addressing workforce and economic competitiveness through various student success efforts. These include 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. Cochise College is already accessible, and it is working to better enable students to achieve and complete. Over time, the college intends to extend its reach to lower grades to help students get on a path to earning the highest possible GPA and, therefore, the largest possible scholarship. It also intends to grow award amounts.

The Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee is now being promoted in schools. Deadlines and details are available at Encourage your graduating seniors to sign up now and your underclassmen to begin preparing for their future.

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

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