Edwards instructor’s role cited in faculty honor

Liz Owen

Liz Owen was named 2014 full-time Faculty of the Year for Colorado Mountain College’s campus in Edwards.

More people are learning life-saving skills through Colorado Mountain College’s emergency medical services and paramedic program in Edwards, thanks in part to instructor Liz Owen.

Serving CMC for a decade, Owen has helped the college become the first institution in Colorado to offer a hybrid program, using both in-class and online instruction. The hybrid program is now in its third year of delivering education in a manner that truly fits the needs of area students

“This was to meet the needs of our distance students who had long distances to travel for class,” Owen explained. “The lecture days are available online as well as in class.”

Owen is the 2014 full-time Faculty of the Year for the Edwards campus. Randy Simmonds, who taught psychology in Edwards, is the campus’s adjunct (part-time) Faculty of the Year.

Each year, students, staff and faculty of Colorado Mountain College nominate one outstanding full-time and one adjunct faculty member from each of the college’s seven campuses and the online learning department. From those honorees, senior administrators then select a collegewide award recipient in each of the two categories, representing the span of the college’s 12,000 square miles.

Helps students earn highest test pass rate in Colorado

Owen said by using technology, online learning students log in and participate with other students who are physically present in Edwards.

“For students who live in Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and Salida areas, this has been invaluable,” Owen said. “It doesn’t work for all students and I do see some struggle, but for those who want to attend CMC’s paramedic program, but cannot afford the cost in time and gasoline every day, this has opened up our paramedic program to them.”

Michael Trujillo, director of health science and public safety at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, said Owen shows a passion and commitment to students, and offers help nearly 24/7. The commitment she provides has helped students in the EMS and paramedic program have the highest national paramedic exam pass rate of any program in Colorado.

“That’s a testament to her ability to deliver course content so that her students not only understand it, but also can apply it on the test,” Trujillo said.

Owen said that she believes the high pass rates are about the learning and not just the test. “However, I do give a lot of exams during the program,” she said. “I try to write difficult exams that will make the students think. I can’t say everyone is successful, but over the past 10 years, we’ve done quite well.”

Trujillo noted in his nomination of Owen that she was recently invited to teach advanced life support courses in Greece with a team of highly respected physicians.

Owen noted that, over the past year, her focus has taken on a more global approach to EMS and that a former student is now a paramedic in the Ukraine.

She said her current class is composed of students who have traveled and lived around the world. “I’m doing my best to keep up,” she said. “As a college, we should be very proud of their accomplishments.”

Psychology instructor goes ‘above and beyond’

Simmonds was nominated as the adjunct Faculty of the Year for not only doing all he can to help his students, but also for stepping up and taking on added duties when a colleague resigned mid-term, said instructional coordinator Jeremiah Johnson.

“We had around 100 students in three sections that didn’t have a teacher,” Johnson said. “I could have canceled the classes, but Randy spent many hours of his own time getting the curriculum up to date and then taking on all three classes. He really went above and beyond.”

Johnson also described Simmonds’ teaching demeanor as “calm, patient and wise.”

“He is always helping out students outside of class time and is respected in the community,” Johnson wrote in his nomination of Simmonds.