2004 and early 2005 have proven to be an exciting and interesting time in the history of Gila County Community College District. As we go to print, we have had some legislative challenges. But, we also have accomplished many positive things over the past year.
We are very pleased that the college administration entered into an agreement with Payson Regional Medical Center and Rio Salado College for students entering nursing training to do their clinical studies at our local hospital and remain in Payson for all of the classes.
In the past, the community lost many professionals to other locations because students had to leave Payson for education and did not return to practice professions locally. This was especially evident in the nursing profession.
The governor and state representatives assisted in getting the college a special appropriation in the state budget for this year.
The Gila Foundation for Higher Education, through the efforts of many community minded and hardworking individuals, provided scholarships for several students. The campus supporters of community noncredit programs; poetry, music and art were abundantly evident with many classes and events.
In early 2005, students seeking a higher education have had to consider all of the publicity and uncertainty about the college district. Will there be a college district? Will the college district stay with its current contracting partner -- Pima Community College -- or return to its previous partner -- Eastern Arizona Community College?
This is an unfortunate part of being a provisional community college district. This uncertainty doesn't make it easy for young people to make decisions about staying at home and going to the local community college or leaving home for their college experience.
The provisional status is a positive thing as well as a challenge. We know there will be quality community college services in Gila County. We hope any administrative or legislative changes won't be evident to the students entering the door. The clear and positive message is this: the college will be open, no matter what the legislature decides about being a district or just having community college services.
The faculty and staff have embraced Gila Community College and its importance in this community. They all work hard every day to make Gila Community College a "first choice" institution of higher education for citizens of our area.
For more information on opportunities at Gila Community College, visit the college website www.gilaccc.org.