Tuesday, July 31, 2012

RSC Welcomes New VP of Academic Affairs

Dana Offerman, Ph.D. has accepted the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rio Salado College effective August 1, 2012. She was selected following a national search, and most recently served as a consultant to Kaplan University Group where she helped develop online, competency-based, workplace-referenced degree programs.

She has an extensive background in online program development, continuing education, and all aspects of academic affairs. Offerman has contributed to national efforts to develop distance and online education standards and policy, having served on the Distance Education Demonstration Project and a national task force to develop distance education standards for military education.

“Dr. Offerman’s wealth of experience, particularly in online higher education development and policy, continuing education, accreditation and regulation, and academic affairs will contribute greatly to Rio Salado College and the Maricopa Community College District,” said Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante, Ph.D.

Her new responsibilities will include providing leadership for faculty, curriculum development, adult basic education, dual enrollment, partnerships, course support and instructional design. She will be part of RSC’s Executive Team and report directly to the president.

“Coming to a college with Rio Salado’s reputation for quality, access and innovation is truly a privilege and an exciting opportunity,” said Offerman. “I look forward to being part of Rio Salado’s rich tradition and evolving future.”

Offerman previously served as Provost of Excelsior College, Vice Provost for Assessment and Institutional Research at Capella University, and Director of PK-16 at the University of Wisconsin System. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

Media Contact:
Delynn Bodine, PR Manager/PIO

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Visually Impaired Residents Tune in to "Talking" Radio

Written by Heidi Capriotti, Marketing Coordinator for Sun Sounds of Arizona

Sun Sounds listener Bob Burrows
and wife Carol
Bob Burrows can read the Arizona Republic with his eyes closed. Like nearly 2000 Valley residents, Bob is visually impaired, and listens to newspapers and other printed information on Sun Sounds of Arizona. For the last 15 years Bob has listened to newspapers read aloud on a special analog radio provided by Sun Sounds. But today Bob will turn on his new “talking” radio to hear the newspaper.

This month, with a grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Sun Sounds upgraded Bob’s analog radio to The Narrator, a new, accessible AM/FM/HD radio created by Insignia, Best Buy’s private label brand. The Narrator’s voice prompts help people with visual impairments tune the radio, set the clock, and set the alarm. “I love it,” said Bob, “It tells me exactly what button I’ve touched. And the digital signal from Sun Sounds has no interference. It sounds great. Now my wife Carol doesn’t have to find radio stations for me!”

Sun Sounds of Arizona first brought the idea of a digital talking radio to Best Buy’s development team five years ago, citing the number of American consumers with vision loss (an estimated 25 million) and the aging baby-boomer population. Since then, Best Buy has worked closely with David Noble, Development Director at Sun Sounds of Arizona, to bring a universally-designed, digital radio to the market. “Because this radio talks, anyone with low vision can use it right out of the box. But it is also feature-rich for the sighted consumer, at a price point that’s affordable.” says Noble.

When the Narrator came to market, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust seized the opportunity to help older Valley residents with vision loss access the newest digital radio technology. “Providing access to a reading service via the latest technology aligns with Piper Trust’s mission of making our communities more livable and increasing independence for older adults,” said Carol Kratz, Program Director with Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. With grant funding from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, 200 Sun Sounds listeners will receive a free upgrade to the Narrator this summer. Other listeners can purchase the Narrator talking radio on Best Buy’s website.

Sun Sounds of Arizona broadcasts on KBAQ 89.5-HD 3, and is a service of Rio Salado College.

Article published in the Tempe Republic July 28

Saturday, July 14, 2012

eLearning Design Program Opens New Door

Even though Jill McNair had an MBA, she couldn’t find a job. After her husband’s art business collapsed during the recession, McNair applied to many companies to help support the family. 

“After months of fruitless searching, I decided to go back to school and update my skill set,” said McNair. “I also decided that I wanted to pursue a new field that would be interesting, rewarding and would be in high demand.”

She looked into programs in educational technology at a nearby state university but found it to be too expensive, even with financial aid assistance. She then came across Rio Salado College’s eLearning Design certificate program in a catalog, and it piqued her interest.

Rio’s flexibility and affordability would allow her to pursue an education in the growing field of educational technology. She was confident that her skills would be in high demand after graduation.

McNair said she decided to go for it, and supplement her income by starting a small childcare business in the home. "Within a month or so, I had received financial aid and was taking my first online class," she said.

Managing her time and finding a quiet study space were her biggest obstacles.

“I remember one day asking my husband and daughter to plan an outing during a time that I had to concentrate in order to finish an assignment,” said McNair. “I realized that it was not feasible to ask them go somewhere every time I needed to concentrate – I’m the one who should be going somewhere.”

McNair overcame these obstacles with the purchase of an inexpensive laptop and the creation of a study space in her bedroom. She also worked during the late night hours and while her daughter was asleep or at school.

The eLearning design program taught her instructional designing. She went from not having any knowledge in the area, to creating courses, modules and many other online learning tools.

Her two internship experiences made a huge impact, especially one in which she redesigned Rio Salado’s eLearning Design community. McNair completed the program this past May and is starting a freelance business. She is also continuing with one of her internships and building a portfolio.

Her advice to other students in the eLearning Design program? “Take a chance and contact the company you would like to intern for," McNair said. "This is a relatively small industry, so you might get a yes! I know for sure that the answer is ‘no’ if you don’t ask.”

By Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
Article published in the Tempe Republic July 14

Thursday, July 12, 2012

EVVEC Helps Veteran Find Employment

Integrating back into civilian life can be challenging. Army Reservist Modesta Muturi was unemployed for eight months after returning from a year and a half deployment in Kuwait. After an unsuccessful job search, her husband recommended she use the career resources at the East Valley Veterans Education Center in Tempe.

“The EVVEC was my starting point for finding a job. They pointed me in the right direction and I was determined,” said Muturi.

The center offers educational, employment and workforce development workshops as well as referrals to community resources. It has served more than 700 veterans since it opened in 2011. 
“The EVVEC provided me a resume building packet with sample resumes and a step-by-step on how to build a strong resume. It was very helpful and I will continue to refer back to the packet for resume tips and coming back to the EVVEC center for assistance,” said Muturi. “It is also really helpful for putting documents together.”

Muturi was soon hired as an oral surgery assistant at Bright Now Dental in Mesa, AZ and travels all over the Valley with the company.

Also, after returning from deployment, she became a full-time student. Her new- found employment in addition to the financial assistance from her military service allowed her to pursue a higher education. Muturi also took advantage of educational resources by completing a class at Mesa Community College to satisfy nursing prerequisites.
“During my sophomore year in high school I was part of the Arizona Health Academy and worked in the Maricopa Integrated Hospital for the summer. When I was there I worked two shifts, one in the ER and one in physical therapy. That’s where my interest grew,” said Muturi.

She hopes to earn her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing. She’s currently been accepted to Grand Canyon University and the Chamberlain College of Nursing and is waiting to hear back from the nursing program at Arizona State University. She has also received a letter of recommendation from an EVVEC staff member for a scholarship. 

Muturi will continue to live a life of service with her pursuit of a medical career. Thinking about her progress in achieving her educational and career goals Muturi said, “It wouldn’t have happened without EVVEC. It would be great to have people know about it. I hope they stay here as long as they can.”

The EVVEC is a collaboration of Rio Salado College (host institution), Chandler-Gilbert, GateWay, Mesa, and Scottsdale community colleges. It is conveniently located in Tempe, at the intersection of Broadway Road and Cottonwood Drive and provides veterans with educational and career resources. For more information visit
http://www.evvec.org or call (480) 384-9850.

By Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
Article published in the Tempe Republic June 30

Saturday, July 7, 2012

RSC Expands Prior Learning Evaluations

Isaac Ortega

Credit for prior learning is not a new concept in higher education.  For many years, Tempe-based Rio Salado College has offered students the opportunity to earn credit for what they already know through standardized exams such as College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP), and advanced placement evaluation and exams recommended by the American Council on Education.

Effective July 1, 2012, Rio Salado is expanding its prior learning options to include portfolio evaluation through The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

"Credit for prior learning, helps students in three ways," said Kishia Brock, vice president of student affairs at Rio Salado College. "First it reduces the cost of education by letting students package what they've learned through military or occupational training and get credit for it."

"Second, it impacts time to completion. By reducing redundancy, students can accelerate the process of earning a degree," Brock said. "Research shows that if you can do something in less time, you are going to be more successful in accomplishing that goal."

"The third thing is psychological," Brock explained. "Acknowledging what they've already done helps non-traditional adult students feel less like they are starting at a disadvantage. It helps them establish the confidence they need to get through that first semester or that first year and complete a degree or certificate."

Isaac Ortega, a local police officer said that being able to test out of foreign language classes helped him expedite his education and be prepared for promotions at work.

Credit for prior learning opened up more time for me to take other classes I needed,” Ortega said. “And having a degree will help me to be more qualified when advancement opportunities come along.”

By improving portability of existing skill sets, credit for prior learning also promotes an adaptable workforce.

When changes in technology have an impact on employability, it's important for workers to be able to update their skills without spending a lot of time on the things they already know.

"It's a part of our role as a community college to support the local workforce," said Linda Lukey, director of testing services at Rio Salado College. "By including portfolio evaluation through CAEL, we are improving the ability of military veterans, displaced workers and anyone looking for career advancement to get credit for what they already know and get back to work that much faster."

Rio Salado students can now earn credit for prior learning through the following options:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Maricopa Community Colleges Celebrate 50 Years

On July 1, the Maricopa Community Colleges will kick off a year-long celebration of educating the county for 50 years. Starting with Phoenix College, the system has grown to ten colleges, two skill centers and multiple satellite locations. While Phoenix College has been in existence since 1920, the Maricopa County Community College District was not formed until 1962, when an election was held and voters opted to create a junior college district in the county.

A new website - celebrate.maricopa.edu/ – shares a broad representation of the Colleges’ storied history, including commentary from more than 300 current and former students, faculty and staff, community members and leaders who helped establish the District.  The website also features a detailed timeline and lists events open to the public that are scheduled at the colleges in 2012 - 2013. More information will be added throughout the year.

“We are proud to be commemorating 50 years of public higher education in Maricopa County,” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “We have seen unmatched growth in this area of the country and – with each passing year – the Maricopa Community Colleges have met the educational needs of the community. In so doing, we have grown to one of the largest and most respected community college systems in the nation. We hope all of Maricopa County will join us in celebrating this momentous occasion.”

The Maricopa Community Colleges are: Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, GateWay Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, Scottsdale Community College and South Mountain Community College. It also includes the Maricopa Skill Center, Southwest Skill Center, as well as several satellite campuses and business/ industry; technical and customized training institutes.

Follow the Maricopa Community Colleges on Facebook , Twitter and YouTube.