NJC preparing for Yuma branch campus
Northeastern Junior College is branching out to Yuma thanks to opportunity.
“We needed a possibility and Bank of Colorado was that possibility,” Danen Jobe, vice president of instruction, said Monday night.
He and Adult & Community Education Director Jamie Giacomini were in town attending the Yuma-1 Board of Education’s workshop in which the district’s master plan and desire to build a Career Technical Education wing at Yuma High School were discussed.
Jobe said NJC has been considering expanding to this region for quite some time. The right opportunity finally came along with when Bank of Colorado built a new facility on Highway 34, and offered its downtown location to NJC.
The situation was sweetened even more when the City of Yuma got involved, offering the larger City Hall to NJC in exchange for the city moving back downtown into the bank building. The city had renovated the former hospital and moved there about 10 years ago, leaving its much smaller downtown location which is now home to the Community Cupboard.
NJC liked that idea since there was more space, the Yuma Public Library is located there, and there are already several rent-paying tenants.
“You hope for something like that, but we’re not a private business so we have to look for opportunities and this one came along,” Jobe said.
It will be NJC’s first branch campus, and it is going to be happening soon.
NJC already is advertising for a lead instructor. Jobe said there will be adult education opportunities before the end of spring, such as GED classes, as well as possible community education programs that could range from real estate licenses to quilting. Those would short classes taught by local instructors.
The first college classes, such as English and math, should be available in the fall if all goes well.
“We’re looking for people in the area who can teach specific things,” Jobe said.
Potential career technical offerings could be courses such as welding and diesel mechanics. What is eventually offered, both in traditional college courses and career-oriented classes, will depend a lot on what people in this area tell NJC what they need. Jobe said early childhood certification is one of the needs NJC has heard about from people in the area.
There would be classes during the day, and in the evening, with a possible focus on certifications people need for their jobs.
“We’re trying to hear what you guys need so we know what to put in this area,” Jobe said.
The timeline for city administration moving downtown to the old bank building, and NJC moving into city hall, is not completely finalized yet, but expect to see the moves soon.
Jobe said there already are some spaces that will not need much work to be converted to class rooms, but the whole conversion to a junior college campus will take some time.
“The whole process will take a few years but we’ll be open for business the whole time,” Jobe said.
And make no mistake, NJC is excited to be in Yuma, in large part because Yuma wanted NJC.
“So much of out interest in coming here is because of the interest for us shown here,” Jobe said. “We’ve felt very welcomed here.”
He also noted that “one reason we really wanted to be here is a lot of kids want to stay here, they’re not stomping to get out like I was as a kid.”
Yuma is the second biggest town in NJC’s service area, “so it was natural to come here,” Jobe said. Branching out to Yuma will allow NJC to better serve the area.