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Interim Chancellor's Report - September 2012

Pima Community College Seal

Interim Chancellor's message

The education of about 30,000 students is in full swing at Pima Community College this fall. But PCC also is working to increase the success of students who have yet to step onto one of our six campuses. We are building exciting connections with the area’s K-12 school districts to smooth the path to college for today’s high school students, many of whom will enroll at PCC.

PCC is reaching out to local high schools to foster an ongoing dialogue between high school teachers and PCC faculty on how to best align curriculum in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Underlying our efforts are the Arizona Common Core Standards, which soon will affect the state’s high school students and their teachers. We believe working with K-12 in this important area will benefit everyone.

The outreach has been led by Acting Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, with able assistance from Provost Dr. Jerry Migler and Donna Martinez of our Government Relations department. It has been enthusiastically embraced by PCC faculty, and by officials of the Tucson Unified and Sunnyside school districts, who have offered valuable insights for a successful collaboration. We intend to extend an invitation to collaborate to Amphitheater Public Schools as well.

This fall, PCC faculty volunteers in Math, Reading and Writing will meet their counterparts from TUSD and Sunnyside to share resources, discover what they have in common, and discuss how they can align curriculum to meet the core standards and benefit their students. Additionally, PCC’s Information Technology team is helping to identify an Internet-based tool so that everyone can share resources such as syllabi, rubrics and handouts, and keep the conversation going online.

We hope to expand the outreach to other school districts in the region, and talk with private schools, charter school and even middle schools. PCC realizes that the bridge students cross as they transition from high school to college needs to be stronger. Working with our friends in K-12, it will be.

PCC Prep Academy update

The PCC Prep Academy continues to show considerable promise, and the College is making the program stronger by adding resources.

The Academy is a noncredit, self-paced flexible program that allows students to improve their Reading, Writing and Mathematics skills. The Academy, which is being offered at no cost to students in 2012-2013, was spearheaded by PCC faculty and has received input from the Governing Board. All are unified in helping students begin their educational journey as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.

Early data indicate that the Prep Academy is focusing students’ attention on the need to properly prepare for assessment exams, and is improving students’ skills so that they can retake the placement tests and begin enrolling in credit classes. Since the Academy’s start in April, the scores of more than 500 students who have retaken assessments have improved so that they can begin enrolling in credit courses.

In addition, through a one-year pilot program that will help determine future permanent implementation, the College will provide a new online learning resource at no charge to students in the Academy.

Prep Academy students will be able to access MyFoundationsLabPlus, learning software created by eCollege.com. MyFoundationsLabPlus is a complete online mastery-based resource for assessing and remediating college- and career-readiness skills in reading, writing and mathematics.

The system offers a rich environment of pre-built or customized assessments, personalized learning plans, and highly interactive learning activities that enable students to master skills at their own pace.

Online offerings such as MyFoundationsLabPlus, along with personalized learning, tutoring, individual and group support, as well as referrals to other college programs, such as PCC Adult Education, make Prep Academy a multifaceted effort that helps students succeed academically.

EthicsPoint hotline enhances PCC workplace

One of my most important duties as Interim Chancellor is to make sure that PCC remains a great place to work. Earlier this month, we took a major step in achieving that goal.

The College’s new compliance and ethics hotline, a phone- and web-based reporting system managed by a nationally respected outside firm, EthicsPoint, went live on Monday, Sept. 17.

The hotline is a way for PCC employees to communicate confidentially and anonymously in order to promote safety, security and ethical behavior. We hope faculty, staff and administrators will use it to express concerns, ask questions and offer ideas -- what the College is doing right and what needs to be worked on.

Employees know that the identity of those who contact EthicsPoint will be protected at all times. Reports made to EthicsPoint are reviewed by the College’s Office of Internal Audit, which investigates and-or assigns the report to the appropriate person, and follows up to make sure it’s being addressed.

EthicsPoint can be accessed toll-free by telephone, 1-855-503-8072, or by going to www.complianceandethicshotline.ethicspoint.com  and choosing “File A New Report.”

Through EthicsPoint, the College is reaffirming its commitment to ensure that everyone at Pima is treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

Brainstormers needed for College Plan forums in October, November

We are in the midst of answering a fundamental question – What kind of college should PCC be in the next few years? – and need the public’s help in brainstorming an answer.

That is why PCC is inviting everyone to a series of 2013-2015 College Plan public forums around metropolitan Tucson in October and November.

Our College Plans are outward-looking documents that address educational and economic issues crucial to the community. Moreover, our Plans do not sit in a desk drawer, gathering dust. College Plans typically contain nearly 200 action items, each with a funding source, responsible party and completion date. If something is in the Plan, it gets done. Our plans, which can be viewed at www.pima.edu, hold PCC accountable to the taxpayers.

A 50-plus member Planning Committee, comprising employees from all areas of PCC, has outlined three broad initiatives for the 2013-2015 planning cycle:

  • The new chancellor: How can the College and the community help make the first year of the new chancellor’s tenure a successful one?
  • Facilities: How should the College alter its physical resources to better serve the community?
  • Academics: How should the College alter its areas of study to better serve the community?

Through the forums, participants can help us think through the initiatives, sharpening their focus. Or they can suggest that the College target an entirely different set of issues. The insights gathered at the forums will be shared within the College and with the Governing Board. In 2013, we will report back to those who participated in the forums.

Times, dates and locations of the forums:

  • Monday, October 15, 2012, 4:30-6 p.m.
    Nanini Branch Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road
  • Friday, October 26, 2012, 3:30-5 p.m.
    Sam Lena Branch Library, 1607 S. Sixth Ave.
  • Monday, November 5, 2012, 6-7:30 p.m.
    Wilmot Branch Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 8-9:30 a.m.
    Santa Rita High School, 3951 S. Pantano Road
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 10-11:30 a.m.
    San Miguel High School, 6601 S. San Fernando Road

At the forums, participants will be split into small discussion groups. Each group will report its insights to the entire group.

The goal is to be as open and as transparent as possible. We are looking for a wide range of opinions. If we are missing something, tell us.

Toward that goal, we are developing a webpage where you will find extensive information on the planning process. There also is a link to college-plan@pima.edu, through which you can comment on all aspects of the planning process. We want to hear from you.

Chancellor search update

The PCC Governing Board is conducting a search for a new chancellor, as many of you know. Earlier this month, the Board named a 31-person Search Advisory Committee to analyze applications, conduct in-person interviews and, in January 2013, suggest three to five finalists to the Board.

For more information on the Search Advisory Committee, or on any aspect of this important process, simply click on the Chancellor Search button on the pima.edu home page. There you will find a link to ChancellorSearch@pima.edu, which you can use to comment to the Board of Governors. You also will find other information related to the search, including updates, a detailed timeline and other resources.

Reimagining community colleges

Community colleges are taking to heart President Obama’s challenge that an additional 5 million students receive postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other credentials by 2020. The American Association of Community Colleges, which advocates for the nation’s approximately 1,200 two-year institutions, in April issued a report, “Reclaiming the American Dream: A Report from the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges,” that calls for sweeping changes in the nation’s community college system.

The report centers on the “Three Rs” of reform: Redesign, Reinvent and Reset. These are defined as a redesign of students’ educational experiences, a reinvention of institutional roles, and a resetting of the system to create partnerships and incentives for student and institutional success.

Now comes the hard part: Turning the report’s vision and recommendations into real changes that improve the education of the some 13 million men and women who each year attend the nation’s community colleges. I am fortunate to have been chosen to serve on one of AACC’s 21st Century Initiative Implementation Teams.  My team will focus on Redefining Institutional Roles and Functions. I hope that by working to implement the 21st Century Initiative, I will bring to the College new ideas that will benefit our students and constituents. I will report to the community as the 21st Century teams’ work progresses.

PCC Foundation

Jacqueline ScheidtThe Pima Community College Foundation secures private support for scholarships, programs and other needs, manages assets to ensure the highest financial returns, and facilitates College development activities. The beneficiaries are our students, many of whom would not be able to attend college without the Foundation’s support.

This fall, the Foundation awarded 670 scholarships at about $710 per award for a total of $475,000 issued. Most scholarships will be renewed in the spring. (See the PCC Foundation website for more information.)

But numbers tell only part of the story. For Jacqueline Scheidt (pictured), a 2012 graduate of Vail Academy, the $1,000 Rosemont Copper Scholarship and a Pima Scholars Scholarship cover tuition, textbooks and supplies and allow her to devote her energy on schoolwork at Pima.

“I would have had to work a lot to pay for college if it weren’t for the scholarships,” says Jacqueline, who works at Starbucks and who hasn’t decided on a major. “I like that I don’t have to balance working 40 hours a week with going to school full-time.”

For Melissa Johnson, who is attending PCC this semester thanks to a $500 Frances Frye Memorial Scholarship, going to college is part of a larger life change. Melissa, a 38-year-old single mom of two, moved to Tucson from Akron, Ohio, in search of career and education opportunities. She is working toward an Associate of Art degree in Social Services, and intends to transfer to Arizona State University to pursue further studies.

“Pima is more economical, and the scholarship helped for my books and transportation needs,” said Melissa, a work-study student at PCC Adult Education’s Project RAISE, which assists adults with developmental disabilities. “The money has made a real difference.”

College Report

A new partnership with NAU

Improving our connections to the state’s universities is a key priority for PCC. Expanding avenues to a bachelor’s degree is crucial if Arizona is to rebound economically. This is especially true in healthcare, as predictions of a shortage of nurses with bachelor’s degrees and workers in other health-related professions have been well documented.

In that context, PCC’s new concurrent enrollment agreement with Northern Arizona University is an especially welcome development. Beginning in the Spring 2014 semester, we project that a cohort of 20-30 students will begin working concurrently toward receiving both an associate degree from PCC and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from NAU in two years.

The intensive course of study includes summer and online coursework, as well as coursework at NAU’s site in Tucson. The students will graduate with both an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The graduates of this joint program will benefit our community and become valuable members of our healthcare workforce.

Grant will help veterans, trade-affected workers find work in energy industry

I am pleased to note that PCC is among five Arizona community colleges that will share in a four-year, $13,477,799 federal grant to train adults for jobs in the state’s energy and mining industries.

PCC’s share of the grant, which was awarded through the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, is $1,878,236. The job training is targeted to help military veterans, underserved populations, and trade-impacted workers – those who have lost jobs or seen wages fall because of free trade.

PCC, which is partnering with Tucson Electric Power Co., the Pima County Workforce Investment Board and Pima County One Stop, will offer access to affordable, innovative training programs in which students can earn credentials in Energy Industry Fundamentals in order to build the skill sets necessary to move into an energy job or other occupation requiring similar skill sets, such as technicians, line workers, plant operators, skilled craftsmen and engineers.

The grant also will build a pathway to advanced certificates and degrees in a variety of energy-related fields, including bachelor’s degrees at Arizona State University.

Training the people of Pima County for meaningful employment always has been a priority for Pima, and this grant will further that effort. It is a tremendous boost to the future economic development of the region.

Receiving the award was the result of a lot of work by a great alliance of PCC, Estrella Mountain Community College, Northland Pioneer College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Yavapai College.  I want to thank these partners, as well as Stan Steinman, Dean of Workforce and Business Development at Community Campus, for making the proposal a reality.

Veterans’ updates

The College is committed to giving military veterans and their families the tools they need to succeed in higher education. PCC respects and values the sacrifices veterans have made, and the resources we provide are a way of thanking them for their service.

Toward that goal, PCC is proud to join a national program designed to endure that veterans, service members and their families receive high-quality academic advising as well as the best information about the cost of attending college.

The Principles of Excellence Program is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and includes more than 60 higher-education institutions in Arizona.

By agreeing to adhere to the VA’s Principles of Excellence, PCC will provide prospective students with personalized information regarding the total cost of PCC programs, the amount of that cost to be covered by federal educational benefits, and their estimated debt upon graduation. PCC also will provide information about student outcomes and financial aid to allow prospective students to compare educational institutions and make informed choices.

Additionally, I am happy to note that PCC services for veterans, members of the military and their spouses again have been ranked in the top 15 percent in higher education, making PCC a Military Friendly School for 2013.

PCC is one of 1,739 colleges, universities and trade schools to earn the Military Friendly School designation from GIJobs.com, which examined more than 12,000 institutions nationwide for the programs, discounts, scholarships, clubs, networking and staff resources they provide to improve the recruitment and retention of students with military experience.

PCC has been a Military Friendly School every year since the designation was created in 2009.

Pima Achievers

Over the past month, members of the PCC community have accomplished much of note. Here is a sampling of awards and achievements:

Michael StackMichael Stack, Art faculty member at East Campus, is guest-curating a University of Arizona Museum of Art exhibition featuring drawings and prints by such masters as Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse. Michael’s collaboration highlights another facet of our close partnership with UA. . . . Government Fleet, a national magazine devoted to the management of public sector vehicles, is telling its readers about PCC’s recent purchase of three new Priuses. . . . Acting Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda has been nominated for the John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards, given annually by the League of Innovation to teachers for their achievements in higher education. . . . Writing Instructor Meg Files was profiled in the Arizona Daily Star for her support of aspiring authors. . . . I was honored to have received a 2012 Community Service Award from Council 1057 of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Making Things Better

In August, I asked faculty, staff and administrators to tell me how they and their loved ones “make things better” – how they give back to the community through volunteering. We quickly received more than a dozen responses! Allow me to share a few in this edition of the Interim Chancellor’s Report:

Margie TorresMargie Torres, a program assistant in the PCC Foundation, runs marathons and other races to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which fights blood-based cancers.

Margie began racing for charity in 2009 after a nephew was diagnosed with leukemia at age 16. Margie has run marathons in Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, and is preparing for a marathon in Phoenix in January. She hopes to raise $1,750 at that race, which would bring her fundraising total to $8,000!

Katie SutherlandKatie Sutherland, daughter of Dottie Sutherland, Business & Computer Science instructional faculty at East Campus, has organized and run a charity, Katie’s Heart, since she was 3.

During the holidays, Katie collects and distributes toys to children in the hospital.  (She is pictured dressed as Cindy Lou Who during a visit to Tucson Medical Center.) She also supplies plush bear toys to Southwest Ambulance and personalized Christmas gifts to the kids at Ronald McDonald houses here and in Phoenix.

In closing

That adorable photo of Katie and her four-legged friend reminds me that while the holidays are still a few months away, the season for giving is here, and that by looking out for one another, we can make our community a special place year-round. Thank you and enjoy autumn!

Suzanne L. Miles