CONNIE GOTCH
CONNIE GOTCH
FARMINGTON — Three new members were inducted into the San Juan College Hall of Fame Thursday evening.

Wendy Bircher, Connie Gotsch and Jeff Howle were recognized for their achievements in making San Juan College the institute it is today, said Gayle Dean, executive director for the college's foundation.

"These are people that have made a lasting difference at this institution," Dean said. "They are dedicated to San Juan College and are passionate about education and have dedicate their time and resources to the college."

A ceremony and reception was held in the college's Little Theatre.

Gotsch, who died last July after battling cancer, spent 22 years as the program director for campus radio station KSJE.

During her time at the station, Gotsch developed several radio programs, including Roving With the Art and Write on Four Corners. The programs focused on showcasing people with writing, musical and artistic talent, along with arts news and author interviews to promote arts in the Four Corners.

Gotsch also published six books — two posthumously — and received the New Mexico Press Women Communicator of Achievement award in 2007.

Dean said Gotsch was beloved by her co-workers and the community.

"Connie was a very integral part of our campus, of our radio station from the very beginning," Dean said.

Bircher was instrumental in developing the physical therapist assistant program and setting up an online program, the first of its kind in the country. She started the online physical therapy assistant program after receiving calls from interested people who didn't have access to the course.

"I'm pretty humbled," Bircher said of the hall of fame induction. "It's a pretty big honor, and I am really blessed to be chosen for the work I did in the program."

Howle joined the board of directors for the college foundation in 2005, and, as president and CEO of Citizens Bank, he helped with college programs.

JEFF HOWLE
JEFF HOWLE

"It's kind of surprising to be honored when they are so many people doing things for the college," Howle said. "It's quite an honor."

Along with being on the scholarship committee, he also played an integral role in the college's Broadening Horizons series, which Citizens Bank sponsored. The series covers the One Book/One Community program. The college partnered with area schools to read a selected book, and then students could meet the book's author.

Howle said he enjoys being able to bring a variety of speakers and artists to the area.

"This community is my home, so I'm interested in seeing we have nice things that might not come to a community of this size," Howle said.

Joshua Kellogg may be reached at jkellogg@daily-times.com; 505 564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.

WENDY BIRCHER
WENDY BIRCHER