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

College Closed for Presidents’ Day

Cochise College will be closed Monday, February 19 in observance of Presidents’ Day. The normal class schedule and regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, will resume Tuesday, February 20 at all campuses and centers.

Former Cochise College aviation student soars with new wings

Aviation student bartron

Tyler Barton receives his wings from Blake Ditlow, his PSA Airlines cadent mentor. James Cruze, another PSA cadet looks on.

Almost two years ago, Cochise College’s aviation department began a new pathways program for students. Once aviation students become certified flight instructors, they can apply to become cadets with partner regional airlines. If accepted, they remain at the college as a flight instructor and have an opportunity to build the required hours to obtain their R-ATP certificate while passing along their knowledge to future aviation students.

This month, one of the college’s first pathways cadets, Tyler Barton, is spreading his wings and leaving the nest after successfully completing the pathway program to start his new job as a first officer for PSA Airlines, a regional airline headquartered in Dayton, OH.

Barton completed his associate’s degree and logged 1,250 hours of flight time to qualify for his R-ATP certificate and become a first officer. Pathways cadets also receive tuition reimbursement from PSA Airlines of $625 for every 100 hours of flight time logged beyond 500 hours. They are paid as a flight instructor by the college during this time. This opportunity allows them to obtain their instrument instructor at a reduced cost.

“I am very appreciative of the expertise and knowledge of my instructors who enabled me to be successful and pursue my dreams. They helped me develop the skills I will need to continue my career in aviation,” said Barton. “I plan to spend the next two years at PSA Airlines to become a captain and eventually work for American Airlines.”

For more information about the aviation or pathways program visit or contact Sandra Rosales, Aviation Recruiter/Advisor at (520) 417-4165 or

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

Automotive alumni find success after graduation

As students return to classes this week, Cochise College’s Automotive Technology Faculty James Krause and Ron Bosley are excited to teach the next generation of future auto technicians. The program has found great success in being a resource for local employers as students graduate and seek work in the automotive industry. Last month, the department invited a group of automotive alumni back to the autoplex for a luncheon in their honor. These students have found a home in the local automotive industry of Cochise County, helping to fill the demand for new technicians needed to fix today’s automobiles doing everything from automotive repair, auto detail and parts sales.

The mission of the automotive program is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to enter the ever-changing world of automotive repair. This approach has been successful as many of the local employers shared the same sentiment.

Sierra Toyota currently employs one former Cochise student.

“Employees who have taken the program at Cochise come in ready to work,” said Sierra Toyota Service Director David Jones. “All we have to do is train them on the specifics for Toyota. We don’t have to do a lot of additional teaching. It is all just hands-on training.”

Desert Automotive Service Manager Gary Kite expects there to be a learning curve for any new employees but agrees the training provided by Cochise is a good foundation that includes basic skills. Desert Automotive employs a current student, Scott Lawry and a former student Daniel Hjelmeland.

Daniel Hjelmeland

Automotive alumni Daniel Hjelmeland

Hejelmeland says his goal is to be a shop foreman. He started working in the auto industry right out of high school and has been with Desert Automotive for five years. He started out as a technician and took advantage of opportunities the smaller shop provided him. “My advice to students or others wanting to work in automotive is to stay curious and ask a lot of questions,” Hjelmeland said. “In a repair shop you get hands-on experience. Don’t be afraid to get in there and touch things,“ advised Hjelmeland.”

At Cochise, students learn safety protocol and the theoretical background of automotive in addition to the hands-on experience. Local businesses hiring these students prove that the Cochise College Automotive Technology Program is living up to expectations to help with the demand for new technicians entering the field.

“The integrity and reputation of my shop are important to me,” said Ann Mari Aristigue of Arizona Auto & Radiator Repair. “I require schooling from my technicians to ensure I am providing my customers with the best service possible. If people inquire about a job with us and they don’t have any prior schooling, I recommend they enroll in the program at Cochise and then come back and see me.”

Arizona Auto & Radiator Repair is a family business for the Aristigues. Danny and Christian Aristigue wanted to stay in the family business. Even though their parents have been in the auto industry for 20 years, they were encouraged to attend schooling. “Cochise prepared us for the basic knowledge and understanding of automotive and included the safety protocols to follow. Once we completed the program we were prepared for an apprenticeship position and could perform entry-level services such as oil changes and tires,” remarked the brothers.


Boys working on car

Danny (current student) & Christian (alumni) Aristigue

The Cochise College Automotive Technology Program continues to show positive growth. In order to continue providing qualified candidates to the automotive workforce, it is adding a light-duty diesel class to its degree plan for the 2018-2019 school year. It has continued to keep up with the latest technology in vehicle diagnosis by adding two new diagnostic scan tools and a computerized on-car brake lathe.

“We really have a good thing going here,” Krause said, “and it has all been possible thanks to having students willing to learn a trade, great staff and support from the college administration. We teach the students in a real-world environment and a great location, thanks to a generous partnership with Sean Lawley. We can’t make master technicians in the short time that we have them here, but we can create a solid foundation for them to enter the field. With the support of our local industry and good mentorship, students can become very successful.”

For more information on the college’s Automotive Technology Program, which offers day and evening classes and is open to students of all ages, visit, follow Cochise College Automotive Technology on Facebook, or contact faculty members James Krause at 520-224-5129 or, or Ron Bosley at 520-335-1449 or

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

CWC writing contest deadline Apr 2, 2018

Sierra Vista – The deadline to enter the writing contest for the annual Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration is April 2, 2018.
Writers who register for the Celebration, to be held at the end of March, can enter the writing contest in three categories: poetry, short story and creative nonfiction (memoir). Authors may submit multiple entries for a $5 fee per entry.

Entries are judged by the presenters who lead the Celebration’s workshops: authors Mark Sundeen, Amy Irvine and Eric Shonkwiler, and publisher from Torrey House Press Kirsten Johanna Allen. Writing contest winners are announced at the Celebration on April 13 and 14 and cash prizes are awarded.

For more information about the Celebration and writing contest guidelines, visit or email

Winter Break

Cochise College will be closed from Dec. 16  through Jan. 1 for Winter Break. Offices reopen under normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at all campuses and centers.

Cochise College inducted six new members into Hall of Fame

The induction ceremony took place in the Student Union center on the Douglas campus.

This is the third year Cochise College has held its Hall of Fame ceremony that honors former students, faculty/staff and community leaders who have made a major contribution to the mission and goals of Cochise College, or who have contributed in a significant way to the lives of others after being a part of the Cochise College community.

Launched as the college celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the Hall of Fame celebrates an array of contributions by people representing different facets of the college community.

With the latest enshrines, there are now 28 members, including accomplished alumni, prominent community stakeholders, and former employees now in the Cochise College Hall of Fame.

“The Cochise College Hall of Fame is a joyful celebration of our supporters, student success, and college impact on the community,” said Dr. J.D. Rottweiler, Cochise College president. “The individuals we honor this year made a tremendous impact on students, the institution and, ultimately, on the workforce. … When we began this event three years ago as part of the college’s 50th anniversary we said we wanted to induct the legends of the college and today we will do that by inducting six individuals. … Each and everyone of these inductees impacted the college in their own special way.”

Dr. Rottweiler added each of the inductees, their stories, their legends have helped make Cochise College what it is today.

“Cochise College has reached significant, national recognition but it’s been based upon the foundation that each of you built,” he said. “Today we salute you; we celebrate you and in the keeping of Thanksgiving, we may even roast you a little bit.”

Inductees were nominated through letters of recommendation that explained their connections and contributions to the college through personal time, effort and interest.

The 2017 inductees are Frank Adams, Richard Atkinson, Ruth Britton, the late Cordelia Cowan, Don Kimble (‘70), and Harold “Robbie” Robison.

When he joined Cochise College in 1978, Adams was already well known in Douglas as the high school agriculture teacher. Under his leadership, the college agriculture program gained statewide recognition for annually hosting the Future Farmers of America state competition. It was Adams’ idea to organize the Grand Canyon Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, allowing more Arizona and New Mexico colleges to compete. He and his wife Barbara (‘73) earned a reputation for hosting colleagues, students and even their families at their home outside of Douglas. Adams now resides in Texas.

Atkinson, a native of Bisbee, also transitioned from a local high school to coach baseball and teach physical education. An NCAA College World Series shutout pitcher, he later played professional baseball and was the first Cochise College coach to have a championship ball team. After retiring, he got serious about golfing, trying the professional circuit briefly and later designing the back nine of Turquoise Valley Golf Course. Atkinson’s philosophy of placing a high priority on academic success remains the core of the college athletics department, now under the leadership of one of his former players.

Ruth Britton of Sierra Vista designed and initiated the concept of collaborative classes/learning communities, which paired two seemingly unrelated subjects and led to new heights in student learning and engagement. She founded the Social Concerns Club, which integrated service learning into honors-level coursework and led many colleagues to add service into their curriculum. In addition to awards and recognitions earned at the college, Britton received the Arizona Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism, having served or held leadership positions in numerous local organizations.

Long-time Arizona and New Mexico rancher Cordelia “Cordy” Cowan, who passed away in 2011, helped promote the concept of a new college in Cochise County in part because she knew it would make higher education accessible to her three daughters. Later, Cowan spent 30 years on the board of directors of the Cochise College Foundation, soliciting and donating funds to help students and also taking a leadership role in the development of rodeo facilities and an archaeological resource center. Cowan was well-known in the community through her participation in the Douglas Cowbelles, McNeal Ladies’ Aid, square dance and social activities, as well as through showing prize-winning Brahman cattle. She was also the first woman inducted into the Hidalgo County, NM, Hall of Fame. Cowans daughter, Ruth Cowan Giles, accepted the Hall of Fame induction on behalf of her mother.

Long-time professional rodeo cowboy Don Kimble (‘70) attended Cochise College as one of the first recipients of the Kenneth Gunter Memorial Scholarship. He was part of the rodeo team that hosted the first national intercollegiate rodeo at Cochise College. After graduation, he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agriculture education while also competing in college and professional rodeo. He won the team roping event in the West Coast Region of the NIRA all four years of college/university and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1979 and 1980. He taught and coached at Cochise for 11 years and has served on the board of the Apache School, his alma mater, for 27 years.

Maj. Harold “Robbie” Robison retired from the U.S. Army in 1972 and started work at Cochise College. He became a counselor in 1974. Trained in transactional analysis, he lived the theoretical concept of giving “warm fuzzies” instead of “cold pricklies,” and his bear hugs are legendary. With students, he reinforced the concept that “there is no try – there is only ‘do or don’t do.’” Veterans had a special connection to Robbie, and there are many who credit their college success to Robison’s support and assistance. In addition, he taught Personality and Adjustment, a popular class that students often re-took, bringing family members with them. Robison retired from the college in 2004.

Nominations for the 2018 class are currently being accepted through June 30. In July and August the new inductees will be notified with the induction ceremony scheduled for sometime next Fall.

For more information log onto

By Bruce Whetten/Douglas Dispatch

Cochise College Public Information Officer Amanda Helt contributed to this story with information on the enshrines.