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Community college enters new era with local campus

When will Coconino Com-munity College hold classes at the new Williams Learning Center? What CCC programs and services will be available?

These questions have been frequently heard since the planning stages of the CCC Williams Learning Center (WLC). Well, the sawdust has settled and the first class, Sociology 101 (Introduction to Sociology), convened in the WLC last night (Jan. 15). Two more classes, Anthropology 102 (Introduction to Cultural Anthro-pology) and Aviation 131 (Private Ground School) will meet this evening (Jan. 16). Another class, CIS 117 (Introduction to Web Page Design) will start tomorrow evening at Williams Middle School, and move to the WLC next week. Eight other CCC classes are underway at Williams High School and Williams Elementary/Middle School, and there’s still time to enroll.

Indeed, CCC and the Williams community are embarking on a new era of educational opportunities. The WLC is the direct result of cooperation, initiative and commitment. Although CCC has been offering classes in Williams for more than 10 years (in rented classrooms at WEMS and WHS), it’s always been one of the community’s best kept secrets. Enrollment has been sporadic, and class cancellations (due to low enrollment) have been frequent. Local respondents to surveys and focus groups consistently stated that the college “wouldn’t be credible in Williams until it established its own identity and location.” Also, the college needed effective strategies to fulfill the community’s learning needs in spite of consistently low enrollments.

The solution began with the successful passage of the college’s countywide bond referendum in 1997. As specified on the ballot, $25,000,000 would be used to construct a new CCC campus in Flagstaff and distance learning facilities in Williams, Grand Canyon and Page. In addition, distance learning programs would be available throughout the CCC service district. The overall investment in Williams will approach $1,000,000 (including the WLC’s three classrooms, two offices, 14 computers and video-conferencing technology).

The WLC is designed to accommodate a wide range of learners. One classroom is available for traditional lecture-based courses, where students meet face-to-face with their instructor. Also, a 12-station computer lab provides reliable, high-speed internet access, and students can enroll in courses from CCC (and other colleges/universities) available via the World Wide Web. The third classroom contains video-conferencing equipment, and Williams students will be connected with their cohorts at four other sites (the two Flagstaff campuses, Grand Canyon and Page). In addition, special programs will be delivered to the WLC via satellite. Please note the video-conferencing system is still under construction and will be tested and operational later this spring.

With the capability of web courses for independent, individualized learning and the video-conferencing classroom to add small groups of Williams students to a larger districtwide contingent, low enrollments won’t compel CCC to cancel classes. The WLC is a community resource, and, hopefully, as many community members as possible will benefit from its services. There are numerous “thank yous” to acknowledge:

• The current and previous Williams Unified School District Governing Boards for their visionary leadership in making the land available to CCC.

• Jac Heiss, WUSD superintendent, and his predecessor, Roger Short. No one could ask for better partners and colleagues.

• Ken and Lori Edes, Eleanor Addison and Jeff Krummenacher, our current and previous Williams site coordinators.

• The long-term CCC-Williams faculty members — Dan Ayub, Bonnie Dent, Brad Ellico, Kristi Fredrickson, Jack Johnson and Sheldon White — and, most importantly, CCC’s current, former and future Williams students.

Call Lori Edes, CCC’s Williams coordinator, at 635-4963 for more information about enrollment.

(Mike Lainoff is the Dean of Extended Learning at Coconino Community College. He can be reached at 526-7626 or via e-mail: mlainoff@coco.cc.az.us)

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