New Courses, New Boards Strengthen Gila College

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A series of recent developments and initiatives by the Gila Community College District suggests that the fledgling district is moving forward.

A new governing board has been appointed, a fund-raising foundation has been formed, and a new emphasis is being placed on non-credit courses with low registration fees.

GCCC District Governing Board

State law requires that a community college district be governed by an elected board. Until an election can be held for a new board in November 2004, a five-member board, appointed by Gila County School Superintendent Armida G. Bittner, will operate the district.

Bittner appointed one member from each of five regions in Gila County, grouped by voting precincts. The new board members are: Jim Spencer of Payson from Region 1, Paul M. Kettner of Payson from Region 2, Dorothy Yancy of Young from Region 3, Robert S. Ashford of Globe from Region 4, and Jorge Noriega of Globe from Region 5.

"The individuals who have been chosen have already expressed a strong desire to support the mission of the community college, and have shown they are very willing to work very hard to make the Gila County Community College District a success," Barbara Ganz, district president, said. "As a board they can employ, they can contract and they can develop policy."

Gila Foundation for Higher Learning

The new foundation, a fund-raising vehicle, is common for colleges and universities, according to Ganz.

"What really started it was last August when people started donating to this college and I needed a vehicle so they could have the appropriate tax status," she said. "I contacted someone in town who volunteered a CPA to help me with the IRS paperwork to create a foundation.

"Once we got the paperwork done, I called together a group of people in town who kept telling me, ‘If there's ever anything you need just call me.' Well I did, and they came together quite recently and have created the bylaws and an organization.

Members of the Gila Foundation for Higher Learning Board of Directors are Becky Acord, Mike Amon, Judy Baker, Barbara Brewer, Judy Buettner, Doyle Coffee, Larry Jones, Ann Kaiser, Bill Lawson, Nancy Malmberg, Jerry Miles, Sue Myers, Sarah Nelson, Jan Parsons, John Peel, Sally Randall, Vickie Randall, Jim Spencer, Bob Ware, Pat Willis, Phyllis Windle and Chris Wolf.

The new board has prioritized its "top needs for foundation funding" (in order of preference) as scholarships, library furniture and resources, learning assistance center furniture and resources, connectivity for distance education, a new student initial-stage services area, and a 5,000-square-foot technical education building.

Non-Credit Courses

Ganz has named Sarah Nelson director of outreach at the Gila Community College Payson Campus. Her primary responsibility is building a non-credit program that will be the very epitome of life-long learning.

"We want to become more focused on life-long learning for all ages, so we're trying to bring value-added, non-credit courses to those who don't want to go through the credit year," Nelson said. "They're short-term courses that are easy to fit into schedules."

They're also reasonably priced in an attempt to bring back the senior population, many of whom stopped taking courses when free tuition for students over 55 was dropped in the transition from Eastern Arizona College to Pima Community College.

Upcoming non-credit offerings include:

  • I Bought a Computer, Now What? ($28)
  • Yoga for Beginners ($75)
  • Estate Planning is for EVERYONE ($4)
  • Rug Braiding ($5)
  • Art Quilting for Beginners ($18)
  • Bridge for Beginners ($24)
  • Creating Faux Chenille ($8)

For more information on these and other non-credit courses, call the GCC Payson Campus at 468-8039.

Nelson admits that many of the non-credit offerings are aimed at seniors.

"While I don't want to make it seem like this is a senior college, we're really focusing on trying to bring some quality courses to the seniors in the area," Nelson said. "What we're trying to do ultimately from a marketing perspective, is increase foot traffic here on the campus."

Virtual bookstore

Ganz said the GCCC District is also looking into the possibility of opening a virtual bookstore.

"It would be the official bookstore of this community college," she said. "It would have some supplies and things here on campus, but the actual textbooks would be warehoused by the company that operates the bookstore because we don't have storage space."

When a student orders textbooks online, they are shipped within 24 hours.

GCC summer semester

The regular summer session begins at GCC on May 27, and registration is now open. The credit program at GCC is operated under contract by Pima Community College.

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