College Has Growth And Expansion In 2006

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Gila Community College in Payson expanded its reach last year, with more instructors, more classes and more programs.

The campus in Payson is one of a few for the college. The largest number of students attended the campus in Globe. Payson's enrollment comprised about 33 percent of the student population in 2006.

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Harry Swanson, Gila Community College dean

The spring semester of 2006 saw 629 students in attendance at the Payson campus. The fall semester of 2006 had 660 students.

Payson campus Dean Harry Swanson said that more than 100 classes were offered each semester in 2006.

The college is rapidly expanding, as evidenced by the number of new classes created in the last year.

"We developed 32 brand-new classes," Swanson said. "Mostly in the area of work force development."

The new classes cover a wide range of subjects-from Conversational Italian to Real Estate Continuing Education. Some of the highlights include: registered nursing, in partnership with Payson Regional Medical Center and Rim Country Health; structured English immersion -- a state-required continuance of education for teachers; fire science; gaming -- for casino employees; Spanish for medical personnel and alternative healing continuing education -- a class for chiropractic physicians.

Swanson said that a goal of the college is to create outreach services to nearby communities and offer courses in which neighboring residents can conveniently enroll.

Three classes began the fulfillment of this goal in 2006 -- a class was developed about handling heavy equipment -- heavy equipment operations -- and is now being offered in Pine at the Pine-Strawberry Elementary School.

Tonto Basin was the site for two classes as well. A computer course and a class in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) are being offered in the tiny community in conjunction with the college.

With new classes comes the need for more instructors. The college hired three new full-time instructors last year: Peggy Miles, Bill Neal and James Quinlan.

Peggy Miles is a certified personal trainer and a specialist in nutrition and American Sign Language and is part of the wellness program at GCC.

Bill Neal's specialty is clinical instruction for nurses and he helps boost the college's nursing program.

James Quinlan, a specialist in English and American literature, teaches English courses at the college.

Swanson said that in addition to more classes and instructors, the college implemented other programs and participated in numerous charity events in 2006.

The Payson Discovery Forum, a free science and liberal arts lecture series featuring guest lecturers was created last year.

"The campus employees and faculty contributed personal funds to purchase and prepare a holiday meal for the Payson Community Kids Program," Swanson said. "We managed to feed 48."

The Payson campus has actively supported the United Blood Drive.

The college's success was witnessed by several elected and government officials who visited the campus in 2006.

Governor Janet Napolitano, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Congressman Rick Renzi and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne were among the visitors, he said.

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