Cacti Chronicles Welcome and October President’s Message and Report

Copper Mountain College President Daren Otten

Dear Fighting Cacti Family!

I am excited to welcome you to the inaugural edition of Cacti Chronicles.  This new monthly newsletter is designed as a communication tool to provide some of the traditional information that was often shared in the campus update and weekly calendars but will also be bringing some exciting other new content to the campus community and the neighborhood.

This new content will be led by Steve Brown and designed in collaboration with many campus groups such as ASCMC, Campus Life, Academic Affairs, Student Services, Human Resources, and the Trustees, and will include spotlight stories about students, programs, and employees.

While designed partially as an internal monthly communication, the stories that are told will also help build a newsletter that will be available both as a printed hardcopy and e-version, that we intend to distribute as an insert in the local newspapers, on campus, the K-12 campuses, local media, local leaders, and areas around the community that are interested in what is going on at CMC!  Please reach out with ideas on CMC stories that we must make sure we tell!

In Service,

Daren Otten, Ed.D

October Presidents Message and Report

It was great to see so many folks in person for this last board meeting and wonderful to get a chance to celebrate some of the milestones that were missed.  I am looking forward to the future where we hopefully will not have to miss these celebrations again.

Please find several updates from last week’s general Board of Trustee meeting as well at the joint Morongo Unified School District/CMC meeting.

During the closed session on October 14th, 2021, the Trustees were briefed on the current status of labor negotiations, reviews an appeal, and discussed the evaluation of the Superintendent/President.

Moving into the open session, the Trustees heard several reports and honored Owen and Audrey Gillick.

Owen took a few minutes to share his two lives where he described one as a Marine and one as a member of the Morongo Basin and part of CMC.  Owen’s words reminded me again how interconnected this institution is to the community.

The trustees also heard a presentation on the draft map scenarios and then opened the Public Hearing according to California Government Code 10010 / Input Regarding Composition of Maps for Trustee Area Elections.  If you missed it and are interested in the draft Trustee maps or would like to provide feedback, the district has created a webpage that can be found at

Over the last 18 months, there wasn’t a way to celebrate our retirees and newly tenured employees properly. While delayed and still under the cloud of COVID, the Board of Trustees was excited to celebrate with the following employees:

Retirements – Chris Gotoski, Shirley Art, Michel Walker, Clayton Steenburg

Tenure – Anamika Basu, Anthony Siciliano, Krystal Avila, Jennifer Anderson, Cassie Nafziger

As you are also aware we continue to experience declining enrollment, Jolie Alpin outlined the plethora of marketing efforts the College has undertaken and is planning to drive enrollment at CMC.  Jolie highlighted some of the traditional marketing tactics that have been utilized such as billboards, flyers, and signage, as well as some of the new media efforts that include TicTok, geofenced click-through ads, and social media.

The Trustees also took action on several consent items in Academic Affairs and Human Resources including course and program deactivation, program and certificate revisions, part-time faculty appointments, classified employees’ change in hours, student employees, and payroll.

The Board also took action affirming Resolution #21-15 that supports Undocumented Student Action Week, the second reading of the Accreditation Follow-up Report, BP 5035 Withholding of Student Records, and BP 3515 Reporting of Crimes.  Additional actions taken included Classified employee promotions, appointments, out-of-class pay, an employee retirement, a Classified employee resignation, an Academic contract, and the payment of warrants report.

After a quick break, the Morongo Unified School District Trustees joined the CMC Trustees for the biannual joint meeting.  Kicking off the meeting, Twentynine Palms City Manager provided an update on Project Phoenix and specifically highlighted the partnership between the city, MUSD, and CMC to design, build, and equip the teaching and learning kitchen that will provide instructional space for both educational institutions starting in Fall of 2022.  As noted in the general board meeting, student enrollment is a continuing priority for the district.  Vice-President Melynie Schiel updated the Trustees on the very positive enrollment growth that has materialized at the ACCE East/West High School completion programs, and Dr. Alma Correa reviewed overall CMC enrollment data.  From 2018-19 to 2020-21, headcount and enrollments have decreased by 15% and 20%, respectively, with our overall FTES decline at approximately 9%.  Business Officer Sharon Flores from MUSD highlighted that K-12 enrollments are also down approximately 11% over the entire district, specifically lower by 65 students within high schools grades.  Perhaps of most concern for the long-term student pipeline, she reported is a reduction in elementary school-age students.  In positive news, Associate Superintendent Amy Woods from MUSD highlighted the MUSD/CMC Dual Enrollment efforts as well as the CTE Programs.

In Service,

Daren Otten, Ed.D