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Chancellor’s Report September 2009

Pima Community College Seal

Chancellor's Message

Since their inception 110 years ago, community colleges have responded quickly and ably to meet the educational needs of their communities, and have helped the United States become an unparalleled economic power.

Community colleges begin the academic year in the public spotlight, as President Barack Obama and our nation's leaders recognize the crucial role that we must play if this country is to have an educated citizenry prepared to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing 21st-century workplace.

For the College, the center of political gravity has shifted dramatically in the past 18 months from the state Capitol to the nation's capital. Washington, D.C. traditionally has been a major source of rules and regulations regarding community colleges, but has been a source of little funding. That has changed with the $12 billion American Graduation Initiative recently announced by President Obama.

At the state level, the situation is reversed. We have more regulations and less funding. In 1998, state appropriations constituted 19.2 percent of College revenue; in 2008, it was 8.4 percent. The state Legislature's disinvestment in higher education, which has been a constant in good economic times as well as bad, is almost certain to continue. Appropriations to the College have been reduced by 30 percent in the past two years and are likely to be cut again as the state deals with huge budget deficits.

The president's proposal in July to spend $12 billion over the next 10 years to improve and expand programs, infrastructure and online education at community colleges was a historic event. It represented the largest federal investment made in community college education. It acknowledges the important role community colleges have played in the past and recognizes that community colleges are the keys to America's continued prosperity.

The College looks forward to working in partnership with local business, industry, and K-12 and university systems to compete for federal funds so we can focus on meeting the needs of the people of Pima County.

College Update

PCC-Eastern New Mexico articulation agreement/tuition waiver opportunity

Dr. Roy Flores and Dr. Steven GambleThe articulation agreement signed June 29 with Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is the College's 11th and most comprehensive partnership with another college or university. The schools have produced an important new opportunity for more Pima students to earn bachelor's degrees. The agreement also expands the choices of Pima County residents seeking to jump-start new careers during the recession.

PCC students who have a grade-point average of at least 2.0, graduate with an associate's degree and apply to a related degree program at ENMU are guaranteed admission to ENMU.

The collaboration gives College students the chance to pursue bachelor's degrees online in nine fields, including nursing, aviation science and business administration. It is a great option for PCC students whose lives are complicated by work and family responsibilities.

The partnership delivers education at an extremely affordable price. PCC students who enroll at ENMU part time (six or fewer semester-hours) pay the New Mexico in-state tuition rate of only $148 per semester hour. The students also can enroll in additional hours at PCC to ensure full federal financial aid.

Separate from the articulation agreement, ENMU is offering in-state tuition rates to 50 students from Arizona. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees at ENMU is substantial. In-state tuition and fees for full-time students (12-18 hours) at ENMU are $1,776 a semester; out-of-state students pay $4,551 a semester.

My thanks to Dr. Steven Gamble, President of ENMU, and his staff for their crucial role in making the agreement a reality. Thanks also to Provost Suzanne Miles and Vice Chancellor Raul Ramirez for their efforts to expand opportunities with colleges and universities, and to the staff in Curriculum and Articulation Services, led by Director Jennie Scott, for their hard work.

College Plan Update

The 2008-2011 College Plan provides a detailed blueprint for College improvements. The Plan is a very aggressive attempt to take on tough issues facing the College. With a focused, unified effort, we have every reason to believe that we will be successful.

The Plan also plays a crucial role in the College's process to retain accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Without accreditation, the College ceases to be a viable institution.

The College completed year one of the plan on June 30, 2009, making significant progress on the 13 strategies to be accomplished. Eleven strategies, comprising 68 separate actions, were completed. Two strategies have been extended and are due to be implemented by October or earlier. Among the College's successes: the expansion of dual enrollment opportunities to include Occupational Education courses, implementation of an online Degree Audit Program for use by students, and expansion of developmental education community outreach to tribal entities, neighborhood associations and community organizations.

The first report on the 2008-2011 College Plan was presented to the Board of Governors at the August 12, 2009 meeting.

Partnerships and Initiatives

College training dislocated workers

The College is working closely with Pima County to help county residents hurt by the recession.

In May, PCC partnered with Pima County to provide accelerated classes in Photovoltaic Panel Installation to dislocated workers. The first class of Photovoltaic Panel Installation students graduated in July upon completion of a four-week, 96-hour program.

In late June, a group of 11 students began five months of fast-track training to become Production Machinists. The program will prepare the students for employment by manufacturing firms.

In early August, two 15-student groups of dislocated workers began an eight-week, 25-30-hour-per-week program designed to bring their skills up to college level and prepare them to pursue health-related degrees.

Also, PCC counselors and academic advisors have been referring dislocated workers to the county.

Charles Casey of Pima County's Community Services Department says the 20-plus-year collaboration between the College and county is unusually strong and describes the relationship as “exemplary” and “a model partnership.”

Funding for the programs was made available to the county through the Workforce Investment Act.

Awards and recognition

Writing instructor graduates from Summer Institute

The Southern Arizona Writing Project (SAWP) Summer Institute gave Downtown Campus Writing faculty member April Burge ample opportunity to practice what she teaches.

April was one of 27 graduates of the five-week summer program at the University of Arizona. The program was sponsored by SAWP, which is part of the National Writing Project.

Participants began each day with an hour of writing, working from a prompt or writing about something that interested them. They were required to create a personal portfolio of work that in April's case included essays, historical fiction and poetry. “It reminded me that in order to teach writing, I had better be writing. You have to be practicing your craft all the time.”

Professional development composed another major component of the program. A major topic was the best way to embrace new technology. As the Downtown Campus' Title IV technology liaison for the Writing Department, April eagerly shared her views.

Writing instructors who successfully incorporate new technology into their curriculum will help students become better writers, April maintains. “They're with it and we need to be with it, too,” she says. Online journals that augment the written word with video and other media give students new means of expression. Teaching students to create a digital story and upload it to YouTube can improve students' writing because the students are first required to write a script.

As a teacher-consultant, April can lead statewide and national professional development workshops. And the program already is paying dividends in the classroom, April says. Each participant was required to make a teaching demonstration, providing April with a portfolio of new lesson plans. April incorporated parts of those demonstrations into her summer school classes. “You can never be subjected to too many ideas.”

Three student-athletes honored for classroom achievements

Pima Community College athletics concluded 2008-09 excelling in the classroom and on the playing field, I am happy to report.

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) named three Aztecs Academic All-Americans for earning grade-point averages of at least 3.6 in 45 hours of coursework.

PCC's Academic All-Americans are:

  • Dane Dehler, baseball, 3.89 grade-point average. Dane achieved All-American with Distinction honors for earning a GPA of better than 3.8.
  • Cherise Price, cross country/track, 3.67 GPA.
  • Codie Wintrode, women's golf, 3.77 GPA

Additionally, nine of PCC's 16 teams earned NJCAA All-Academic Team status for having cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or better. The women's tennis team, with a 3.57 GPA, led PCC.

On the field, Pima finished in 25th place in the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators' President's Cup – Scholarship Division, which ranks colleges based on team finishes in national championships.

Seven of Pima's 16 teams placed in the top 25 nationally. In addition, Pima has one individual national champion. Aurora Trujillo won the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NJCAA Track and Field Championships.

Housing the homeless

Downtown Campus Upward Bound students, their families and friends joined more than 20 businesses in remodeling four houses for the formerly homeless. On April 10-11, the homes received more than $100,000 in improvements. More than 100 people installed roofs, air conditioning and heating units; renovated bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens; poured concrete for floors and sidewalks; painted interiors and exteriors, and laid tile flooring.

Grants and Scholarships

Faculty Institute for Technology and Teaching

Downtown Campus recently received a U.S. Department of Education Title V grant aimed at improving student retention. The campus is working to achieve that goal with a three-pronged strategy, according to Kimlisa Duchicela, the grant's director and a member of the campus' history faculty. The strategy comprises supporting faculty to develop methods to teach 21st-century students, incorporating more career preparation into the curriculum, and creating a Center for Integrated Learning that includes several flexible, high-technology Learning Studios.

The launch of the Faculty Institute for Technology and Teaching (FITT) in June was an initial campus effort to support development of faculty instructional strategies, Kimlisa says. Over four days, 25 full-time faculty learned how to enhance their courses with technology, information literacy and global awareness. On the first day, participants traveled to Phoenix's Estrella Mountain Community College to view the school's state-of-the-art Learning Studios. On day two, Community Campus instructional designers showed faculty new technologies to help engage students. On days three and four, experts demonstrated how faculty could enhance instruction in several areas, from helping students create online academic portfolios to co-teaching two courses collaboratively. Faculty also attended a workshop on digital literacy presented by College librarian Nia Lam.

The attendees agreed to redesign one course for the 2009-10 academic year to include what they have learned. The Title V grant team will follow students who enroll in the redesigned classes to determine if the new instructional strategies improve student success.

Downtown Campus plans to hold similar institutes for the next five summers, said Dr. Harry Muir, Vice President of Instruction for the campus. Also, “our facilities renovation will provide engaging and effective formal and informal learning spaces to drive student success. This is just the beginning of a long-term effort.”


Program Spotlight: Nursing

The Associate of Applied Science Degree Nursing Program at West Campus recorded the state's highest pass rate, 96 percent, on the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) for 2008. For perspective, the 2008 pass rate for the state of Arizona was 86.73 percent, and the national pass rate was 88.58 percent. It was the third straight year that the program exceeded both the state and national pass rates on the test.

The pass rate for the first two quarters of 2009 was 96.84 percent for the program's 158 graduates who have taken their licensing exam.

Marty Mayhew, division dean, attributes the program's success to several factors. There are no vacancies among the department's 17 regular full-time faculty members. “We have good faculty, experienced faculty,” she says. The program underwent a reaccreditation process that allowed it to inventory strengths and opportunities for improvement. “We have made a concerted effort to tighten up our program . . . our goal is to excel,” Marty says.

The program, in existence since 1971, has graduated 957 nurses in the past five years. There is a three-semester waiting list to enter the program, whose graduates are highly sought-after by area health care providers.

Staff Spotlight: Henry Rubin

Henry RubinHenry Rubin is a self-described “Olympics junkie,” but he did not travel to Beijing last summer as a fan. The Broadcast Operations Manager at Community Campus was at the Games on business, working on his own time to ensure the award-winning quality of the images beamed to millions of Americans watching on TV.

Rubin worked 12-hour days from early July to the end of August for NBC, which telecast the Beijing Olympics. In the weeks leading up to the Games, he supervised the installation of the network's huge video editing operation at the International Broadcast Center (IBC). During the competition, he worked 7 a.m.-7 p.m. as a “fireman.” Armed with multiple cell phones, he supervised video editors, tended to malfunctioning equipment, kept small problems from turning into big ones and generally ensured that everything ran smoothly.

That hard work has not gone unnoticed by his TV-industry peers. He received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Team Remote for his part in NBC's coverage in Beijing. That brings Henry's Emmy count to four. He has received Emmys for Olympic efforts in 2004 (Athens, Greece), 2002 (Salt Lake City, Utah) and 2000 (Sydney, Australia). Henry also worked at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Working long shifts at the IBC with few days off meant that Henry did not get to witness many athletic events. But he did soak up the atmosphere of the Games, walking to work each day through sprawling Olympic Park, past the now-famous venues such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. And he found time for sight-seeing, taking in the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City.

It was in 2000 in Sydney that Henry first connected with the Olympics. He was working for Sony Corp., which supplied NBC with video equipment. Would he be willing to train NBC's editors at the Olympics? Getting paid to spend time in Australia sounded like a pretty good idea.

Next for Henry is the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, in February 2010. He is looking forward to catching some of the competition in speed skating, figure skating, hockey, and curling.

Faculty Spotlight: Ying Lin

Ying LinHow can community colleges improve the teaching of mathematics? It is a challenging question for educators to answer. Dr. Ying Lin hopes that a rigorous scientific approach can unearth some new and exciting methods.

Ying, a member of the Mathematics faculty at Downtown Campus, is one of only 24 participants nationwide in the Project ACCCESS fellowship program sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC).

Project ACCCESS (Advancing Community College Careers: Education, Scholarship and Service) is designed to facilitate the professional growth of mathematics instructors at two-year colleges. Ying will attend AMATYC national meetings in Las Vegas. Nev., in 2009 and 2010, where he and the other fellows will participate in specially developed conference workshops, as well as regular AMATYC conference activities.

Ying says the conferences likely will provide plenty of good ideas regarding teaching strategies, using technology in the classroom, and engaging students.

A key requirement of the fellowship is that each participant create a project to be presented at the AMATYC meeting in 2010. Ying is formulating his project based on the hypothesis that in many cases, students' difficulties in understanding mathematical concepts are rooted in problems with perception, both visual and auditory.

Ying hopes to develop a project that will employ cognitive-science methodologies and eye-tracking technology to determine exactly what students are looking at when they encounter a formula or a word problem. The data such experiments would produce should yield new and better ways to teach what for many students is a daunting subject, Ying says.

“It's really time for [teachers] in the trenches of higher education to team up” with researchers, Ying says. “We need hard evidence, solid science. I don't see any other way.”

Alumni Spotlight: Georgia Brousseau

Georgia BrousseauGeorgia Cole Brousseau began teaching in 1974 and has not stopped. Some 35 years after first stepping in front of a classroom, she still is drawing on lessons learned as a member of the College's original graduating class of 1972.

Georgia was one of four recipients of the Outstanding Alumni Award at the 40 th Anniversary Gala in April held at the West La Paloma Resort & Spa, a very different place from the hangar at Tucson International Airport where in 1970 she attended College classes.

“Yes, I was at the hangar, at the beginning of time,” Georgia says with a chuckle.

In many ways, Georgia was the model of the 21st-century Pima student. She was married, and had been taking occasional business courses at the University of Arizona. After her son was born, she decided to be a teacher and chose to get her associate's degree at Pima because her coursework would transfer to UA and tuition was less than at UA. She worked nights and weekends at Sears and went to Pima full-time.

Georgia remembers that at the hangar, the “blackboards” were butcher paper taped to the walls. Magic Markers stood in for chalk. Teachers held classes on the first floor, while flamenco dancers practiced on the second.

But more important were the lessons Georgia learned about education. “Pima had a tremendous effect on my teaching. Pima taught me more about teaching overall than the two years of elementary education studies at UA,” she says.

“[Pima embodied] a student-centered approach, the attitude that students are what matters. . . . You work with the students. You don't expect the students to do it all on their own.”

Another lesson involved the importance of diversity, Georgia says. “People of many different backgrounds worked together. [There was] true diversity among teachers and students.”

After receiving an associate's degree at Pima, Georgia went to the UA, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education in 1974. She graduated with high distinction, a point she wishes to emphasize because at the time the popular notion was that only inferior students went to Pima.

A week after graduation, she was hired as a bilingual education teacher working with sixth graders at Mission View Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District. She retired in 2000, after more than a quarter-century as a teacher and administrator that included being principal of Wheeler Elementary School from 1994-2000.

Georgia's life has been one of service to the community. She served two terms on the Pima County Community College District Board of Governors, stepping down in 1984 to run unsuccessfully for the Arizona State Legislature.

Since 1991, she has been a volunteer member of the five-member Pima County Merit Commission, and has chaired the group since 2000. The commission arbitrates disputes between Pima County and county employees who challenge firings, demotions or other disciplinary measures.

For the past 18 months, Georgia has taught citizenship classes through Pima Community College Adult Education to immigrants at the College's Eastside Learning Center. “I absolutely love it,” says Georgia, a former Social Studies teacher who enjoys telling students about the workings of government and the U.S. Constitution.

Georgia considers volunteer work “the rent you pay for living. Tucson has been good to me. Pima Community College has been good to me. I'm just giving back.”

Roy Flores

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