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Chancellor’s Report March 2009

Pima Community College Seal

The Arizona Legislature recently reduced our state appropriations an additional seven percent. This fiscal year, the College’s total reduction in state appropriations is 26%. In the past 12 months, we instituted a series of cost containment measures to address the decreasing revenue. These include:

  1. Reducing administrative positions
  2. Installing a hiring freeze
  3. Implementing travel restrictions
  4. Deferring signing new services contracts
  5. Deferring replacement of equipment
  6. Eliminating or reducing overtime
  7. Eliminating all non mission-critical expenses
  8. Eliminating non-critical employee training
  9. Increasing collection of monies owed

Currently, 14% of our positions are vacant and many will not be refilled. Additionally, ten percent of our administrative positions will be eliminated by the beginning of the next fiscal year. We will maintain these strategies and build others to help us continue dealing with the economic downturn.

The state is still expecting a deficit this year, even after the mid-year cuts. Next year the state is anticipating a budget deficit of at least $3 billion. That deficit is out of a budget that is less than $9 billion, which would be the highest state debt ratio in the nation. The state's financial situation puts all institutions that rely on state funding at risk. What that specifically means for the College is unknown; I will be closely monitoring the situation and strongly advocating for the continued funding of education.

Compounding the budget situation, the College has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment. This is because students are turning to community colleges for entrée into stable careers to better provide for their families.

These are both truly exciting and troubling times for us as a community college. We are facing an increasing demand for retraining and have a great opportunity to truly fulfill our mission. At the same time, we are being forced to do so with decreasing resources. I remain committed to maintaining the goals I announced at the beginning of the budget crisis: maintaining the quality of instruction, the safety of our students and the stewardship of the public funds we receive. There will be difficult decisions on our horizon, but the College will continue to serve Pima County and do its part to develop a well-trained, educated workforce ready for tomorrow’s challenges.

College Plan Update

College Plan coverI am pleased to report that we have already completed two very important components in the 2008-2011 College Plan: the redesign of student services and the development of an employee intranet. We redesigned student services because processes were inconsistent across the College, meaning students received contradictory information from campus to campus. The new design ensures that students receive consistent service by implementing standardized student services processes, employee training and information disseminated to students. The employee intranet will complement this effort by providing employees with instant access to the most current information for students, ensuring they receive up-to-date, accurate information across the College.

2008 Institutional Climate Survey Results

During the fall of 2008, an independent firm conducted four surveys as part of a comprehensive institutional climate assessment for Pima Community College. The survey was conducted as part of the College’s reaccreditation self-study process.

The purpose of the surveys was to gather input from internal and external constituents to objectively assess efforts to achieve the goals and objectives of the College's Strategic Plan. The survey was administered to a random sample of 1,203 Pima County residents, 203 community leaders and 1,233 students. All College employees were given the survey and 987 responded.

The Executive Summary is currently available and the final report will be available at the end of March.

Governmental  Update

Components of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contain some important provisions for community colleges, including PCC. The increase in Pell Grants and the creation of the American Opportunity Tax Credit will help our students absorb the rising costs of education. We will also see additional opportunities for funding through the Workforce Investment Act and competitive grants. These new opportunities do not wholly make up for the decrease in state and local revenue, but will help us meet the growing need for retraining.

Partnerships and Initiatives

PCC Offers Solar Technology Courses

Solar ovenWe recently launched a new four-credit weekend course in solar technology, offered through the East Campus. This course, called Beginning Photovoltaic Technology, prepares students to become certified solar panel installers.

Duke Schoonmaker, Environmental Technology and Biology faculty member at the East Campus, created the course curriculum. Duke explains, “The interest in solar and alternative energy is growing every day. Local contractors who install solar energy equipment are scheduling installations six months in advance because of the demand.”

The development of the solar technology course was made possible through Carl Perkins federal funding and donations from Tucson Electric Power Company and Technicians for Sustainability.

We are working to develop a Certificate in Renewable Energy and a standardized course prefix to define sustainability and alternative energy classes.

Waiting Lists for Health Related Professions Reduced

I am pleased to announce that we were able to reduce the time students spend on our Health Related Professions Program waiting lists. Previously, programs like Nursing and Radiologic Technology had been forced to place admitted students on waiting lists for up to seven years.

Recently, staff, faculty and administrators developed a system to regularly verify that students on the waiting list are still interested and eligible for programs. Some students reduced their anticipated start date by four years because of the new verification procedures.

Changes in Lifelong Learning Programs

Historically, our lifelong learning, non-credit programs have focused exclusively on personal interest courses. The College will begin expanding these offerings to include career and professional development to meet the growing need for employee retraining.

We are identifying areas for expansion by looking at the local labor markets. Based on what we have seen so far, we are developing short occupational certificates and continuing education units (CEUs) in entrepreneurship, construction, nursing and event planning and management. As the local markets change, we will continue to change the non-credit offerings. The new career and professional development offerings will be built slowly to ensure viability.

Additionally, the methods for marketing and distributing information about the lifelong learning options are changing. Instead of printing large quantities (more than 300,000) of the Activities schedule of courses and mailing throughout the county, we will be moving to an online schedule and printing a much smaller number. Residents will receive an announcement in April notifying them of the availability of the Activities schedule online, with directions on how to register via the web, phone or in-person. We are excited about the move to an online, searchable schedule because it will allow the College to reallocate funds from the production and mailing of the schedules to development and instruction.

Awards and Recognition

I would like to congratulate Charlette Padilla, Business/Fashion Merchandising Faculty member at the Downtown Campus. She recently published an article in the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, entitled, “Exploring Urban Retailing and CBD Revitalization.”

HonoreesAdditionally, the Board of Governors and I recognized outstanding PCC staff, faculty and students for professional growth and achievements at the December 2008 meeting.

A complete list of those recognized can be found on the Board of Governors’ website.

I am proud to report that 11 PCC students were included in the Phi Theta Kappa All-Arizona Academic Team for 2009. The students were selected for their academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. They will receive scholarships from Arizona’s community colleges and Arizona Board of Regents tuition waivers for any public university.

This year’s awardees are:

  • First Team: Andrés Gabaldón, Karaline Salmans
  • Second Team: Kelly Huxtable, Alexandria Stanton, John Windham
  • Third Team: Trevor Clarke, Alexis Grijalva, Rose Knapp, Melissa Leyva, Ana Valenzuela, Dennis Wilhelm

I would also like to congratulate Rocio Araiza and Hiram (Eric) Lopez, the first two graduates of the Raytheon Scholars Program. The Raytheon Scholars program is a collaboration between PCC, the University of Arizona and Raytheon that encourages minority and female students in Pima County to attend college, earn a bachelor’s degree and get a head-start on a lucrative career. The program includes financial aid to attend PCC and UA, as well as internships at Raytheon. Rocio and Eric will both begin full-time employment with Raytheon after they graduate in May. Rocio will work in the Mechanical Subsystems division and Eric will work in the Electronics department.


Program Spotlight: Therapeutic Massage

The College’s Therapeutic Massage program trains students to be licensed massage therapists in resorts, medical offices, fitness facilities and massage clinics. “There is a big massage therapy market in Tucson,” explains Janet Vizard, lead Therapeutic Massage faculty.

“Our students are sought-after by employers because we offer more training than the state requires,” Janet says. PCC’s Therapeutic Massage program provides 1,000 hours of training on a wide variety of subject matter. In addition to massage techniques, students learn anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, professionalism, ethics and business management.

Janet is pleased with the diversity of the students in the program. To date, the Therapeutic Massage program has students ranging in age from 18 to 73, including two graduates with visual impairments. “The diversity of students in lecture and lab classes enhances the students’ learning experiences – in therapeutic massage and in life,” Janet explains.

Staff Spotlight: Julie Hecimovich

Julie HecimovichJulie Hecimovich has been with the College for the last 15 years. Julie currently works in the Center for Learning Technologies (CLT) as a media designer. “I support video producers in creating motion graphics for projects for our cable channels,” she explains. She also supports online courses with graphics, as needed.

Julie’s tenure at the College began in the Media Production and Publications department, where she served as a graphic designer for ten years. She decided to move to CLT to work in a different medium and learn new skills.

For the last four years, Julie has served on Staff Council. She spent her first two years on the council serving as the President and her last two years serving as the Board of Governors Representative. Julie enjoyed serving in these positions because they offered her “a different look at the College and an opportunity to keep up with what’s going on across the College,” she says.

Alumni Spotlight: Bert Guzman

Bert Guzman was one of the College’s first graduates. Bert graduated in 1971 with an Associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy. “There were nine of us that graduated that year,” he explains. “There aren’t many of us still in Tucson.”

The first Respiratory Therapy class contained 32 students and was taught at Tucson Medical Center. It took three and a half years to complete the program. Bert went on to have a long career in Respiratory Therapy in Tucson, retiring in October 2007.

“I’m glad to see how the College has grown,” he says. “It is a good resource to the county.”

Faculty Spotlight: Tamas Zsitvay

Dr. Tamas ZsitvayDr. Tamas Zsitvay began teaching Political Science at the College in August, 1970. When Tamas first started teaching here, classes were held in a hangar at the Airport. “Students were sitting on couches and there was dust falling from the ceiling because of the dance class upstairs,” he explains. “I wondered what I had gotten myself into.”

Despite the unusual beginnings, Tamas went on to teach Political Science for the College for 39 years and counting. “The most exciting time I had was teaching Political Science during the Vietnam War,” he says. “Students were so excited to learn about the war and politics that my classes were standing-room only.”

Tamas says he has stayed with the College for all of these years because he enjoys the academic freedom and focus on teaching. “I love the atmosphere here, and have since the beginning,” he explains. “The students in my classes are increasingly interested and engaged.”

“I am glad the College has been here for 40 years and hope it will survive for at least another 100,” Tamas says.

Roy Flores

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