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Chancellor's Report December 2011

Pima Community College Seal

Chancellor's Message

A U.S. House subcommittee has drafted legislation that would severely curtail access to higher education for hundreds of thousands of community college students, including hundreds who attend Pima Community College.

The legislation would in numerous ways limit eligibility to Pell Grants, an annual payment of up to $5,500 which gives millions of low-income students their only chance of going to college.

The measure would end Pell Grants for students who lack a high school diploma or GED. Nationally, more than 500,000 students would lose their grants, according to an analysis by the American Association of Community Colleges. At Pima, the impact would be profound.

In Fall 2010, 3,320 students enrolled at PCC were without a diploma or GED. That is 9.4 percent of our enrollment. Six hundred sixty-nine of these students received Pell Grants. We must presume that were the House legislation to become law, the ability of these students to continue their education would be painfully restricted.

The legislation also would disqualify less-than-half-time students from receiving Pell Grants. At Pima in 2010, 706 less-than-half-time students received Pell Grants. The average age of these students is 29.8 years, nearly three years older than the average PCC student. Many of these folks have families, and have turned to PCC because they know that education will lead to better-paying jobs. They need Pell Grants as they struggle to pay their bills, often while working part time or full time.

Our county, state and nation are attempting to claw out of the worst economic calamity in nearly a century. Learning remains the key to prosperity, and the economic benefit to our community from a well-educated workforce cannot be overstated. Pell Grants are a pathway to a better life for hundreds of PCC students. We cannot let the door be shut on the hopes of so many.

College Update

New Veterans Center Dedication

Honor GuardThe first G.I. Bill became law in 1944, transforming America by helping 2.2 million World War II veterans go to college. They were the backbone of a generation that made the U.S. the strongest and most prosperous nation in history.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill offers veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a similar chance to improve their lives through education. Pima Community College's goal is to provide the more than 1,300 veterans – one of the largest groups of veterans at any academic institution in Arizona -- with the tools they will need to succeed after leaving the service of our country.

Our new Veterans Center at Downtown Campus, dedicated Nov. 10, gives these men and women a place they can call their own. “The mission of our Veterans Center is to be bedrock, an anchoring point for the student's college experience,” said Dr. John Carroll, vice president of instruction at Pima's Community Campus and a military veteran.

The center, near Student Life offices in the Library Building, includes space for studying, and resources where veterans can seek answers and get referrals to other vet service organizations. A “quiet room” within the center includes comfortable seating and dimmable lights to allow for a calm environment.

“It's a place vets can use when they need to feel grounded,” Dr. Carroll said.

Veterans have unique skills, experiences and perspectives, and the need to integrate them into society is great. Unemployment among veterans is 33 percent higher than the overall rate. More will be unemployed upon returning from overseas. Veterans are the backbone of the U.S. economy; they own 3.7 million small businesses that employ nearly 9 million people.

Pima Community College stands ready to help our nation's military veterans in any way it can when they return home.

College Plan Update

The College’s planning process is at a dynamic juncture. In June the Board of Governors approved the 2011-2013 College Plan. In July the College presented its Final Status report to the Board regarding the 2008-2011 College Plan. PCC completed 97 percent of the 200 action items in 2008-2011 Plan. And the College has begun the process that will result in the 2013-2015 College Plan.

College plans provide a detailed map of the College’s future focus. The 2011-2013 College Plan is our most ambitious yet. It comprises five initiatives that address difficult and fundamental issues affecting the community:

  • Strengthen developmental education
  • Improve the overall success of student learning
  • Enhance course delivery
  • Expand educational and workforce opportunities
  • Enhance operations

Data about College Plans are available on our website. Perusing the information will provide an excellent overview of where the College has been and where it is going.

Partnerships and Initiatives

PCC, community groups partner to improve students’ success

Several community organizations have agreed to collaborate with the College on an initiative to help prospective PCC students start their college careers.

The organizations, in alphabetical order, are the following:

  • Flowing Wells Extension Programs Inc.
  • Literacy Connects
  • Pima County Adult Probation LEARN
  • Pima County Community Services Employment and Training
  • Pima County Office of Faith and Community Initiatives
  • Pima County Public Library

“The collaboration between well-respected community organizations and Pima will benefit those students who come to us seeking to unlock their educational potential,” says Dr. Suzanne Miles, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for the College, and President of the Community Campus.

It is important to put the new initiative into the larger context of our commitment to developmental, or remedial, education. More than 80 percent of students coming to PCC are not ready for college-level work, as measured by PCC assessment tests in reading, writing and mathematics. PCC's existing developmental education classes are quite successful at bringing the vast majority of these students up to speed academically. But we are not successful at preparing students who test below seventh-grade proficiency. We are developing a non-credit initiative that seeks to markedly increase the success of these students. The process will begin with individualized advising; diagnostic testing will pinpoint students' academic deficiencies. Advisors will work with students to create an instructional plan that can feature tutoring, instruction delivered online, or in a face-to-face or group format.

Depending on their needs and the instructional plan, some students will be referred to one or more of the six groups for external remedial education. PCC will not refer more students than the external organization has agreed it can help.

"Pima County Public Library is proud to be a partner in creating educational opportunities in our community,” says Nancy Ledeboer, director of the library system. “The Library is a knowledge center that supports lifelong learning and we look forward to being able to assist those that are pursuing an individualized path to educational attainment.”

These partnerships reflect the College's firm belief that everyone in society has a part to play to ensure that Southern Arizonans are prepared for the educational challenges they will face in this decade and beyond.

Awards and Recognition

Dental programs reaccredited

Reaccreditation of a college’s programs is a marker of educational excellence assuring current and prospective students that the program adheres to the highest professional standards. It also indicates to taxpayers that their money is being well spent.

For these reasons I am pleased to note that the College’s Dental Assisting Education, Dental Hygiene Education and Dental Laboratory Technology programs have received reaccreditation from the nationally recognized Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

“I feel very honored to be the dean over our Dental Studies programs,” says Marty Mayhew, Dean of Nursing and Health-Related Professions. “Our faculty members are dedicated and work endlessly to uphold high standards and provide excellent instruction.”

During the reaccreditation process, faculty at each PCC program wrote a self-study and submitted it to CODA, which sent a team to PCC’s West Campus earlier in April to verify the self-study’s findings and visit Dental Studies facilities.

Dental Assisting Education students learn to assist dentists and other dental professionals in patient care in hospitals, clinics and dental offices. Dental Hygiene Education students study to become licensed dental hygienists, while Dental Laboratory Technology students learn how to construct and repair dentures, partial dentures, crowns, bridges and other dental appliances.

Our Dental Education and other occupational programs prepare graduates for employment as valued and respected professionals in the community. My thanks go to Dean Mayhew and the instructors in our fine programs.

Spotlights

Faculty: Hirotsune Tashima

Hirotsune TashimaHirotsune Tashima, an internationally recognized sculptor of ceramics who teaches Visual Arts at West Campus, will travel to Naples, Italy in June 2012 to lead a series of workshops.

For about two weeks, Hiro will teach at the School of Sculpture of The Academy of Fine Arts of Catanzaro, instructing students from Italy in the art of storytelling in sculpture, along with techniques for creating life-size figurative clay sculptures. The workshops are part of a project that brings established Japanese artists to Italy.

Hiro is a native of Osaka, Japan whose work has appeared in galleries and museums internationally and in the U.S. His work currently is being exhibited in two Massachusetts venues along with sculptures from other nationally recognized artists.

He has been teaching at Pima since 1999. This semester he is teaching Ceramics I-IV, as well as Exploring Art and Visual Studies, a survey course. Hiro likes teaching at PCC because “Pima’s students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and age groups, and are focused on learning and working hard.”

Hirotsune Tashima with sculpturesHiro’s entry into the world of ceramics began when he joined a junior high school club. He expected to learn to make bowls and other utilitarian items, but the club’s teacher stressed the creation of sculptural works. That opened Hiro’s eyes to the possibilities of ceramics as art, and he embarked on a career that led him to the U.S. as an exchange student in the 1990s and eventually to Pima.

Hiro says he finds inspiration for his work in everyday life – what he sees and hears, and what appears in newspaper headlines and on the evening news. (At left is “Organic Banana in the Supermarket,” life-size fired stoneware ceramics.)

“My work is political, some is satirical,” he says. “I’d like my work to have some humor, with a little touch of serious meaning. Everybody has had struggles, and people can relate. . . . I hope my work can put a smile on the viewer’s face.”

Staff: Dan Pinard

Dan PinardDan Pinard is a producer/director in the Center for Learning Technology at Community Campus. He is part of a team that makes video products for the College, ranging from videos about safety procedures in science labs to commercials for PCC for broadcast on local television.

Dan is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. From 1982-1985, he served as a boatswain’s mate on guided missile destroyers in the western Pacific, making sure the ships were well maintained.

Upon returning to Arizona, he worked as a mechanic for a year. He knew that to advance professionally, he would need postsecondary education, and received an associate degree in Telecommunications (now known as Digital Arts) from PCC in 1988.

Dan got a part-time job at PCC, which led to a new phase in his career. In 1995, while photographing a sunset at Gates Pass Road on Tucson’s West Side, he saw smoke rising from the famed Old Tucson film studio. Dan assumed a movie was being made there. But upon zooming in on the scene, he saw flames consuming the tourist attraction. He kept his video camera rolling, and presented the footage to local TV station KGUN.

The quality of Dan’s work impressed KGUN, and opened the door to a full-time job as a photojournalist in the news department from 1996-2001. Dan helped cover the impeachment of President Clinton in Washington, D.C. in 1998, and toured the USS Tucson submarine. But after a half-decade in journalism, Dan was ready for different challenges. He has been working at PCC since 2001.

Dan appreciates working with a diverse group of professionals -- including his supervisor, Program Manager Gloria Helin Moore -- who shares his passion for video. “None of us is the same. Everyone has a part to contribute” in the creation of a video, which he says is a unique form of expression: “It’s where technology meets art.” And, though not directly involved in teaching students, “I am part of a team that is giving back to education and the community.”

Alumni: Alexandria Stanton

Alexandria StantonPima Community College graduate Alexandria Stanton has made a rapid ascent through higher education but remains a remarkably grounded young woman, a few hair-raising zero-gravity experiences aside.

Though exceptional – she received an associate of science degree from Pima at age 16, and will receive a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Spring 2012 at age 19 – Alex is one of hundreds of students for whom Pima is a steppingstone to a bachelor's degree in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. In 2010 and 2011, the College awarded an average of 156 associate of science degrees and 187 AGEC-S certificates, which indicates completion of courses that meet lower-division general education requirements for science and engineering programs at UA, NAU, ASU and other institutions. Many students receiving these credentials, such as Alex, are aspiring scientists. Alex's goal is to be a research professor in Chemistry at a university.

A Tulsa, Okla., native, Alex and her family moved to Tucson when she was 11. Beginning in fifth grade, she was homeschooled in accredited online programs, including an online high school through the University of Oklahoma.

Alex's journey in higher education began in 2007 at age 14. “My parents and I talked about it, and I definitely wanted to start college at a physical school and not do it long distance,” Alex said. “We visited UA and Pima and we agreed that Pima would by far be the better choice.”

But Dr. Lorraine Morales, at the time Dean of Student Development at the Northwest Campus, was skeptical when Alex said she wanted to begin taking classes at PCC. “She was looking out for me,” Alex says, because she hadn't attended a physical school for a while. Dr. Morales wanted her to ease into a community college education, but Alex asked to take a fulltime course load for one semester to prove herself. Dr. Morales agreed, providing that the two met monthly to ensure that Alex stayed on track academically and socially.

Alex quickly became acclimated to Pima. “I immediately connected with the teachers,” she said, and, as Alex never revealed her age to her classmates, most saw her as they would any student. In that first semester, Alex took classes in Biology, Mathematics, Writing and Mythology. She got straight A's.

At UA, Alex has taken full advantage of her academic opportunities, including an internship at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston as part of a joint UA-NASA program. As part of the program, she and three fellow PCC alumni devised a scientific experiment that required zero gravity. The question posed by the experiment – can amino acids (the building blocks of life) form from inorganic materials? – is an old one that has been answered affirmatively, she says. Alex's team, noting that amino acids have been found on meteorites, put a twist on the question, seeking to discover how amino acid formation is affected by changing or zero gravity.

The data generated from the experiment were inconclusive and have led the team to suggest a follow-up experiment. This truly was a case of the journey being more memorable than the destination.

In July, Alex and her fellow experimenters boarded the Weightless Wonder, a converted KC-135 tanker that NASA uses for zero-gravity experiments. High above Houston, the plane ascended at a 45-degree angle, peaked, began a rapid 45-degree-angle descent, leveled off, and began another steep ascent. The plane rose and fell about three dozen times. Each time, zero gravity occurred for about 11-17 seconds, just as the plane crested the top of the curve and began to descend.

“It's really disconcerting, actually,” Alexandria said of weightlessness, “because you have never been outside gravity. You're not used to having things go flying when you touch them.” Alex was charged with activating the experiment but couldn't do it the first few times that weightlessness kicked in; she couldn't reach the switch. But all in all, the experience was excellent. “You are just sitting there, then you float up and, ‘Oh, yeah, here is the ceiling.' And it makes for a great hair day,” she quipped.

Zero gravity ends with a thud, Alex notes; the transition to double-normal gravity when the plane steeply descends is “like a hand pressing you to the ground.” It is about the only thing that has held her back so far.

Postscript

It has been seven weeks since I went through quadruple bypass surgery. I am forever indebted to all of you for your prayers, words of encouragement and thoughtful suggestions. Those acts of kindness always brought a smile to my face and made the whole experience less arduous.

I want to thank Dr. Suzanne Miles for ably acting as Chancellor during this time. She did this in addition to conducting her many other responsibilities. Knowing everything was under control was comforting. I also want to thank the executive officers and the administrative team for stepping up under difficult circumstances the entire year.

I was fortunate to be in good physical shape before the operation. I was able to walk five miles exactly one week after coming home. But cardiovascular fitness is only part of the story. The reality is that it takes much longer for the sternum to fully knit itself together, and there are other aspects to the operation that still need time to fully heal.

I don’t foresee any problem working eight-hour days, but I think it will be another month or so before I get back the same hours and pace as before.

For some, an operation such as this is a life-changing experience; for me it was less dramatic but equally enlightening. To put my life in the hands of highly skilled strangers and to learn that many of them were trained at the College by our faculty gave me an enormous measure of pride. I have always appreciated the work that we do, but this brought the idea home in a deep and personal way.

Thank you all!

Roy Flores

Send comments or suggestions to: chancellor@pima.edu

Pima Community College, 4905 East Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85709