Ruth Britton never thought about a person not having confidence in others until a student told her she was “the first person I ever trusted.”
“When it comes from a student…it just takes your breath away,” says Britton, who, over the course of 12 years, taught reading and served as department chair and associate dean at Cochise College. “I was very honored by that.”
A Cochise College retiree who also is a two-time student-selected Educator of the Year, as well as an appointee to the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, Britton is one of two former employees who recently were named faculty emeritus, a distinction that recognizes the profession of teaching as a lifetime commitment for some individuals.
The other honoree is Roger Weller, who founded an Online Geology Museum that has drawn more than 2.3 million visitors since 2005. Weller also is an Educator of the Year, and he played a key role in design of the Science Building on the Sierra Vista Campus. Of his 36 years teaching anthropology, geology, physics and math, with stints as department chair and dean, Weller says, “Cochise College is such a nice place to work that it's hard to leave. I like working with and teaching students. It's fun to deal with young people all the time. It keeps you young.”
Faculty emeriti are nominated by their peers and recommended to the Governing Board for consideration. The honor recognizes consistent, meritorious contributions to the instructional process during 10 years or more of service.
Emeriti faculty are invited to continue to participate actively in the life of the institution, and the first place that Britton and Weller will be recognized is when they lead the faculty at Cochise College graduation on May 11. This year, for the first time, the commencement ceremony will take place at the Sierra Vista Campus, meaning Weller will lead his peers toward the academic facility he helped design. Graduation has traditionally been held at the Douglas Campus and drawn about 250 graduates and their families; the Sierra Vista Campus now has the facilities to accommodate a ceremony of that size, allowing more students the opportunity to participate and walk with pride to receive their diplomas before the cheers of family and friends. Our plan is to rotate the ceremony annually between the Douglas Campus and the Sierra Vista Campus; we’re not so much breaking a custom as we are enhancing it.
I look forward to congratulating our graduates on May 11, as well as to thanking Ruth and Roger, along with their peers, for the effort that results in accolades from our students.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.