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Interim Chancellor's Report - June 2012

Pima Community College Seal

Respect and Accountability

I have been Interim Chancellor since March. As you might imagine, the job comes with many opportunities to set priorities for the College. In my mind, there is no higher priority than providing a workplace in which every member of the College is treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

We have pledged to do everything we can to assure that no employee mistreats another employee, and are living up to that pledge.

Last week the Board of Governors approved our 2012-2013 Personnel Policy Statement for Employees. The new statement revises our Code of Conduct and Standards of Behavior for Employees. The statement emphasizes following a simple rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.

This week, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Janet May is holding a series of one-hour information sessions designed to foster connections in a respectful workplace. Vice Chancellor May and members of the HR team will visit each campus to share information and answer questions about the services and support available to the College community from PCC's staff psychologist, and the employee relations and EEO/ADA/AA staff.

The College community has stressed that PCC must do everything it can to ensure our employees have access to due process that is robust and balanced. That is our goal, too -- a workplace absolutely free of improper conduct.

The College also is working hard to maintain the highest ethical standards. We have contracted with an outside company to offer a hotline for employees to anonymously comment on issues relating to ethics, and other concerns they might have. The firm, EthicsPoint, Inc., helps more than 400 colleges and universities to be their best. Through the hotline, PCC employees will be able to speak to an EthicsPoint representative or submit information. At all times, the identity of the employee will be protected.

The Personnel Policy Statement approved by the Board also contains language that complaints against the Chancellor be referred to the College’s Employee Relations Office, the chair of the Governing Board, the College’s legal counsel or EthicsPoint. Again, the identity of the employee will be protected. In addition, the Personnel Policy Statement includes new rules prohibiting employees from endorsing a product or service of a commercial nature without prior approval by their supervising administrator.

With initiatives such as these, I believe Pima Community College will effectively meet future challenges and responsibilities and continue to provide the affordable, accessible, high-quality education for tens of thousands of Pima County residents each semester.

Chancellor search update

On June 20, the College reached an important initial milestone in its search for a new chancellor when three organizations seeking to help the College find candidates made presentations to the public and the Board of Governors.

You can watch the presentations at www.pima.edu and comment via the email ChancellorSearch@pima.edu. The email has been created for the public to offer insight into any aspect of the search for a new chancellor. Or click the Chancellor Search button on the pima.edu home page to find the email link, as well as other information related to the search process, including updates, documents related to the search and other resources.

On June 28, the Board will hold an executive session, followed by a special open meeting to vote on the firm to assist the Board in its search.

PCC Prep Academy update

The PCC Prep Academy is a noncredit, self-paced, flexible program that allows students to concentrate on strengthening their Reading, Writing and Mathematics skills. It is one of many resources the College offers students seeking to achieve their education goals.

The College welcomes the public's interest in this new initiative, which was spearheaded by PCC faculty and community members. We always have stressed that we will share information about the progress of the Prep Academy, which began in April, and make changes that the data tell us are necessary.

Early information is encouraging, but it is too soon to draw significant inferences. We are confident that the Prep Academy will improve students' skills so that they can retake placement tests and begin enrolling in credit classes. So far, about 160 students have enrolled in the Prep Academy, and eight students have completed the program. One signed up for 26 weeks of Prep Academy but got up to speed in his area of deficiency, Mathematics, in only four. He retook the placement exams and is on his way toward his goal to be a social worker.

Data on enrollments are within our expectations for this time of year; students are registering at the rate we assumed they would. After considering insights from the area’s K-12 school superintendents regarding the need to encourage students to enroll in the Prep Academy, the College will pilot two new initiatives:

  • For 2012-13, allowing students to use Prep Academy resources at no charge.
  • For students who qualify for the Prep Academy and seek admission to credit classes at PCC, accepting documentation of AIMS test passage. Students would be required to enroll in the Prep Academy.

The Governing Board heard a presentation on the Prep Academy last week at its Regular Meeting, and the College will present another progress report in a few months. As always, our goal is to keep everyone up-to-date with the best possible information.

College Report

GED graduation

GED graduate Mary BowmanNearly 300 men and women received General Educational Development certificates through Pima Community College Adult Education at Tucson Convention Center Music Hall earlier this month. For many, earning a GED marks an important milestone on their educational journey. And few of those GED recipients had a longer journey than Mary Bowman.

Mary is a 78-year-old great-grandmother who was inspired by her family to get her GED, after being out of school for more than 50 years.

Mary clearly recognizes the benefits of education, as do the more than 1,200 people who have earned their GEDs through PCCAE since July 2011. Their achievement undoubtedly will make a major difference in their lives. But the benefits of education extend beyond the individual. Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

The achievements by PCCAE's GED graduates resonate throughout our entire community -- inspiring family, loved ones, friends and neighbors -- and serve as an engine for positive change in society.

County recognizes importance of Adult Education

I am pleased to note that the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted last week to provide $250,000 for Adult Education in the county. Investing in education is the wisest investment we can make, one which benefits our entire community.

Over the past five years, a period of severe economic instability, the county’s support of Adult Education has been unwavering. The supervisors have contributed more than $1.23 million to PCCAE.

Like the county, the College has remained steadfast in its commitment to Adult Education. When the future of Adult Education was at risk in 2010, the Governing Board approved committing PCC funds to help keep it going. We are exploring ways to integrate funding into the College’s budget to provide a long-term financial solution. PCC Adult Education has provided GED instruction and testing to tens of thousands of southern Arizonans; more than 5,600 students took part in Adult Education in 2011-12.  We must not and we will not let this important program go away.

Strengthening pathways to a bachelor degree

For many students, a GED is a steppingstone to greater educational achievement at PCC and at four-year colleges and universities. PCC is committed to making the road to a bachelor degree as smooth as possible, and has transfer partnerships with Arizona's three state universities and institutions around the nation.

The connection between PCC and The University of Arizona is especially close. In 2011, the PCC and UA established the Arizona Transfer Admissions Pathways. AzTAP is a degree-to-degree platform providing seamless transfer between PCC and The UA in nearly 30 disciplines.

The two schools recently expanded their transfer partnership in Early Childhood Education with an addendum establishing a pathway from a PCC Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies to a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education from UA South.

Additionally, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Acting) Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda and a representative from UA signed a Letter of Support that reaffirmed both institutions' support efforts to ensure that the early childhood workforce is highly skilled and well-prepared with college-level instruction. PCC is proud to partner with UA South in this endeavor, which will aid the county's economic development while giving our children the start in life they need and deserve.

A Community Conversation on Race

PCC is very proud to have hosted "Project Hoodie: A Community Conversation on Race" earlier this month at Downtown Campus. More than 120 people participated in small-group discussions about race issues during the morning-long event, sponsored by the local chapter of the NAACP.

"Project Hoodie” was an opportunity for the community to have a constructive discussion about issues raised by the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida earlier this year. As Donna Liggins, head of the local chapter of the NAACP, said, the purpose of the conversation was for people to better understand each other.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva put the event into context with eloquent opening remarks. "This country is not perfect," he said, "but the key to this great country of ours is the striving for perfection."

Thanks to Vice Chancellor for Public Information and Government Relations C.J. Karamargin and his staff, who helped make the event a reality, and to Ruben Reyes and Clara Ortiz of Rep. Grijalva's office. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the role played by Clarence Boykins, president and CEO of the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce. Having a "Project Hoodie" event at PCC was Clarence’s idea, one that PCC wholeheartedly embraced. If any good can come out of the Florida tragedy, let it be open, honest conversations that can result in increased understanding and harmony in our community.

Signs light up neighborhood

Neon sign located on Drachman Street near Downtown CampusPCC celebrated the lighting of four 1950s-era neon signs that have found a new home Downtown Campus in a fun way – with a sock hop that drew hundreds of Tucsonans to the campus at Stone and Speedway.

The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation donated to PCC the beautifully restored neon signs. You can see the lights in their glory on the south side of Drachman Street, along the north edge of the campus. The College is committed to nurturing the surrounding community at all its campuses, and it is exciting for Pima to become such an integral part of the restoration of Miracle Mile.

The lighting of the signs was marked by a dedication ceremony with remarks by Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation Board President Demion Clinco, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and Ward III City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

My thanks go to Mr. Clinco; Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities William Ward; Downtown Campus President Dr. Luba Chliwniak, Dr. Johnson Bia, former Downtown Campus President and current Desert Vista President; Jason Brown, currently curriculum coordinator at District, who worked on the project with Dr. Bia when both were at Downtown Campus; Christy Yebra, Events Coordinator; and Sarah White, former Downtown Campus support staff.

A winner on and off the track

PCC staff member and Paralymian Kyle MutzKyle Mutz is no stranger to the employees and students at Desert Vista Campus, where for the past three years he has worked as a Disabled Student Resources Specialist. He is also a familiar figure at West Campus, where he often can be seen training on the track or in the surrounding foothills.

Kyle, 31, has been among the top 10 U.S. Paralympic sprinters for the past half-decade. Since he was a little boy, his dream has been to compete for the U.S. in the Paralympic Games.

Unfortunately, his quest to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London ended earlier this month when a shoulder injury flared up, keeping him from competing in the U.S. Paralympic trials later this week in Indianapolis.

Kyle has been using a wheelchair since age 5. He was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder that weakens the body's joints and muscles. Kyle inspires those around him every day. His athletic prowess has taken him to competitions in Finland, Germany, Brazil and Australia. Many of the students he works with at Desert Vista know about his exploits on the track, and it has raised their horizons, he said. "They see someone with a disability competing athletically, traveling the world . . . it's an eye-opening thing for them."

Kyle isn't the only Paralympian with a PCC connection.  Tanner Gers, a PCC graduate and son of instructional faculty member Simone Gers, will take part in the U.S. Paralympic track and field trials in Indianapolis later this week. Tanner, who lost his vision in 2004 after an automobile accident, is participating in the pole vault.

Pima Achievers

Over the past month, PCC's students and employees have accomplished much of note. Here is a sampling of their awards and achievements:

Keith McIntoshKeith McIntosh is the College's new Vice Chancellor for Information Technology.

Keith has 28 years' experience in IT. He has worked as a supervisor and manager while serving our nation in the Air Force – he was stationed in Iraq, Korea and at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base -- and in higher education. He has been successful leading complex enterprise IT operations as well as program and project management.

Congratulations, Keith.

Track athletes Jodine Steemers and Antonio Jeter were named to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-America Team. Jodine was named to the second team in the 10,000-meter run, while Antonio was an honorable mention selection in the triple jump.

PCC has been accepted to present at the 2012 Association of Community College Trustees College Leadership Congress in Boston in October. Dr. Nancee Sorenson, Acting East Campus President, and a PCC team will present on the PCC Prep Academy.

Mariana Carreras, Visual Arts and Art History faculty at Downtown Campus, was nominated for a Tucson Pima Arts Council Lumie Award as Best Art Educator in Tucson.
    

In closing, I would like to wish you a happy and relaxing summer. This time of year is an opportunity to acquire new perspectives.  Getting outside of your neighborhood and visiting places you are unfamiliar with is so valuable -- even if that place is just across town. One of the most important lessons that PCC teaches is empathy -- that while not everyone is like you, we have common experiences that everyone can relate to. And most importantly, being around people who aren't just like us teaches tolerance and respect -- something PCC strives for every day.  Thank you.

Suzanne L. Miles