Safety a priority as fall semester planning continues


By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerCochise College continues to work multiple plans to provide educational services within today’s quickly changing health and safety guidelines. Our reopening, in whatever format, will put the health and safety of our students and staff at the forefront. We know our services are needed now, more than ever, and we must strike the proper balance in providing a high-quality learning experience, including all educational formats and modalities. With the planned August 17 start of the fall semester on the horizon, it’s important to share with you some successes and challenges.

The pandemic has changed the way we provide some of our auxiliary services, including the courses and programs offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning. With limited opportunity for on-site programming, staff developed virtual classes for adults and kids. The revised adult learner schedule includes a well-received Google IT Support Certificate program, as well as courses to explore new careers like medical coding and pharmacy technician. There’s even a course on online teaching. Our summer camp organizer used time working from home to develop, teach and recruit others to teach kid-friendly online courses in engineering, UAVs, cooking basics, and video game design. Organizer Angela Moreno said although she missed seeing everyone on campus, she expects to continue online summer learning opportunities in future camp schedules to allow parents to be more involved.

During spring and summer, several construction projects continued. Residential construction technology students worked on the second project house on North 2nd Street in Sierra Vista. Sierra Vista Realty’s Beth Hughes will list it for sale soon. A recently completed greenhouse awaits agriculture students on the Douglas Campus, where they’ll get their hands dirty learning everything from seed germination to plant breeding and genetics. The new automotive training facility on the Sierra Vista Campus is slated for completion in late November with use by students beginning in January.

In August we will launch a new cyber center at the Sierra Vista Downtown Center. The center offers students the opportunity to work and learn in a simulated security operations center. Faculty member Dominic Epps, a 2013 Buena High School graduate and 2017 recipient of a Cochise College cybersecurity degree, says the center provides an environment that closely reflects a job role students might have in the future, teaching them to view and analyze network traffic, review vulnerability, and respond to and prevent threats. It also allows faculty to offer courses remotely, so students outside of Sierra Vista can access the same tools and obtain the same results as those attending in person. The cybersecurity program continues to see enrollment growth, with more than 120 students enrolled each semester.

Thanks to all of you who have generously supported the Non-Traditional Student Scholarship. The scholarship is already helping Cochise County adult residents who wish to return to school. The Cochise College Foundation continues to raise funds for this important effort and looks forward to sharing the stories of recipients later in the year.

Arizona community colleges, along with national associations, have agreed to move athletic competitions to Spring 2020. For Cochise College, this means that women’s soccer and men’s and women’s rodeo will be pushed back to spring semester, allowing for a more gradual opening of college housing and student-athlete interactions. We are hopeful that this change will allow athletic teams to complete seasons without interruption.

The college now requires campus visitors to wear masks in indoor public spaces, including classrooms, conference rooms, admissions, advising, financial aid, and the bookstore. In addition, we’re staggering the physical presence of front-line staff to provide business continuity in case of an exposure. All services continue to be available in all formats (face-to-face, online, phone, or video conference) by appointment.

Please know that we are here to provide the important education services needed in this difficult and uncertain time. We encourage you, your family and friends, to invest in yourselves through education.

Be well!

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at jdr@cochise.edu.