Class, at last, is almost in session.
After a summer's worth of political and budgetary chaos that pitted Eastern Arizona College against the Gila County board of supervisors, EAC is out and the new Pima Community College Rim County Learning Center an "educational partner" of Pima Community College in Tucson is getting ready for the Monday, Sept. 16 start of its first fall semester.
But don't wait until then to register. Anyone who fails to sign up before Sept. 11 risks missing out on the most popular classes, according to Dr. Barbara Ganz, provost of the Gila County Community College Education Program.
"The classes and the instructors will be as good as ever," Ganz said. "Many of the instructors will be the same. Pima did a very good job of respecting our local community, as well as the talent in our local community."
Some of that talent, in fact, now comprises the college's new six-member staff, all of whom will begin work this morning: Pat Pezelle, program manager; Cheryl Wood, assistant program coordinator; Tracy Cochran, fiscal technician; and student service specialists Gail Cotten, Linda Mattingly and Christy Lantz.
"They are hyped," Ganz said. "They are so excited ... to get the positions, but to also be a part of the next step in the evolution of Gila County Community College Programs."
As for Ganz, what she is most excited about are all of the possibilities the new college will bring to Payson.
"We're starting out primarily with credit classes, but the umbrella of Gila County Community College Programs adds an enormous amount of opportunities because there can be multiple programming," Ganz said. "We want to do something for seniors. We want to do the College for Kids again; we tried that this past summer and it was a huge success. We want the Wellness Center to open again."
Through Pima, students also can obtain a certificate that is equivalent to the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC), which Ganz describes as "the core that is required at every Arizona college; it's the (student's) key to transfer to a university."
If Ganz were a student rather than the provost, what would be the first class she would sign up for?
"I'd register for a course that's being offered called College Success Skills," she said. "The sole purpose of it is to make students successful college students. It deals with study skills, time management, and how to navigate a college degree."
That class joins other new courses, new methods of instruction, new programs, and the continuation of the tried and true to become what Ganz called "a trademark of this new partnership."
Also within that trademark, she said, are the educational possibilities presented by the latest technologies up to and including the many Internet courses Pima Community College offers.
"But anyone who is interested has to register for those immediately," Ganz advised, "because those begin on the Tucson-Pima schedule, because they were all scheduled before Gila County developed its partnership with Pima."
Ganz said she knows that traditional classroom instruction will never go away, "but a rural college can enhance the educational possibilities of all its citizens through Distance Education," she said. "This is best exemplified by Internet, televised, videotape, and interactive instruction. These technologies are already being delivered in Arizona by many community colleges and all three of our public universities. In fact, the state of Connecticut has established a state university online that will take 90 credits from a community college and then deliver, via the Internet, the instruction needed to complete a bachelor's degree."
Ganz said Payson's new Pima Community College Rim County Learning Center brings to the area "a new beginning, based on educational opportunities for all ... It creates opportunity right here at home."
For information on classes, tuition and registration, call the Pima Community College Rim Country Learning Center at 468-8039.