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Chancellor’s Report December 2010

Pima Community College Seal

Chancellor's Message

The state’s leaders are setting Arizona on a path with an uncertain end. In November, Arizonans defeated Propositions 301 and 302, denying the state Legislature access to approximately $450 million that would have gone toward reducing the state’s budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2011. The state faces a shortfall estimated at more than $1 billion for FY 2011, and as much as $2 billion in the years to come. Governor Brewer has said that the state will reduce these huge deficits in part by cutting aid to higher education.

As always, the College will play the fiscal hand dealt it. But November’s elections altered the national political landscape as well, in ways that present additional economic challenges to the College. We have been very successful in obtaining federal funding. Though they cannot replace operating income, federal and other grants can enhance educational opportunities for our students and help the community’s economy. Washington’s new emphasis on deficit reduction means that opportunities for seeking federal monies likely will be reduced. The College will need to become more creative in finding ways to serve its students and the residents of Pima County.

I recognize the difficult decisions facing the Arizona Legislature as it seeks to return the state to prosperity. But I hasten to point out that Pima Community College has deep connections to the region’s industries, professions and small businesses, and that through these relationships, we help Southern Arizona employers thrive in a brutally competitive marketplace. Given the requisite resources, we can play a major role in helping the Arizona economy back on a path to growth.

College Update

Center for Integrated Learning

Center for Integrated Learning Ribbon Cutting The Grand Opening of the Center for Integrated Learning (CIL) at Downtown Campus last month inaugurated the most visible aspect of a three-pronged $2.8 million federal Title V grant aimed at increasing student success and retention, and producing job-ready graduates.

The 7,200-square-foot CIL contains classrooms and conference rooms equipped with plenty of power sources for plugging in laptops, smartboards (high-tech blackboards that can also play audio, video or connect to the Internet), and WiFi. Two large Learning Studios feature writable walls, movable furniture and laptops for every student. Campus Writing and Tutoring centers have been moved into the CIL to give students easy access to complementary services.

The grant’s other strategies are being applied at Downtown Campus to improve curriculum and career development services.

Instructors are learning to enhance traditional lectures with hands-on projects that push students to think critically, be globally aware and navigate the ocean of online information.

Career investigation software and Internet tools such the Arizona Career Information System (AZCIS) and PCC’s MyDegreePlan allow students and advisers to customize and track career plans. Students also can create “e-portfolios,” digital compilations that can include text-based and video résumés, letters of recommendation, and samples of their best work.

The CIL and the other initiatives made possible through the U.S. Department of Education grant reflect the College’s recognition that improving student success requires the allocation of serious resources. It also is an appreciation that the current generation of students responds to new technologies and collaborative learning strategies that increase engagement in learning.

My thanks to Downtown Campus President Dr. Johnson Bia, Dr. Harry Muir, grant co-author and Vice President of Instruction, Title V Director Kimlisa Duchicela, and Activity/CIL Director Kurt Andersen for their ongoing efforts to improve student success.

Grants One Stop Center

Grants One Stop Open HouseThe Grants One Stop Center received praise from the Higher Learning Commission’s Evaluation Team during its renewal of accreditation visit. Evaluators commended the Center for its organizational structure and for collaborating productively with the College’s campuses.

The work of the Center and that of the campuses’ administrators, faculty and staff is reflected in the more than $26 million in grants obtained by the College in 2010. It is a record-setting amount for the College. The grants include an $18.5 million award from the Department of Health and Human Services Health Professions Opportunity Grants over the next five years to strengthen Pima County’s healthcare workforce.

The overarching goal of the Center is better education for PCC students, says Dr. Raul Ramirez, Vice Chancellor for Community Relations and Institutional Outreach. In analyzing grant opportunities, the Center’s staff determines if the grant meets the objectives of the 2008-2010 College Plan and the needs of the community.

Grant proposals originate at the campuses or at the Center, Dr. Ramirez says. The pre-award process takes between 30-45 days, with drafts of the grant proposal being refined by the campus, the Center, and, occasionally, an external grant writer.

A crucial part of the Center’s work is information gathering: evaluating reports from grant-search services, and scanning government Web sites such as, and sites of an alphabet soup of federal agencies for opportunities. “It’s something we’re aware of every minute of the day,’’ says Dale Bruce, Special Projects Professional at the Center. Center staffers also attend government-sponsored Technical Assistance Conferences and communicate with the College’s community and educational partners.

Post-award, the Center helps ensure that the grant’s goals are satisfied, deadlines for reporting are met, audits take place and financial documents are stored where they should be on campus.

Dr. Ramirez notes that applying for an $8 million grant requires the same resources as applying for an $8,000 award. His advice to potential grant writers: “Aim high.”

I thank Dr. Ramirez and his Grants One-Stop Center staff -- Dale Bruce, Special Projects Professional; Wendy Dosch, Program Coordinator; Veronica Elias, Fiscal Advanced Analyst; Lee Ann Lindbeck, Fiscal Advanced Analyst; Sabrina Phillips, Support Specialist; and Shani Stewart, Advanced Grants Analyst -- for their work in securing funds that help develop our community.

The result included a master bedroom painted a soft mossy green, a creamy beige living room, a tile backsplash in the kitchen, pink paint for the daughter, and an “discovery” theme for the son’s room, with bamboo floors, zebra print fabrics and bedding festooned with images from the popular cartoon character Diego the Explorer.

"It was a very rewarding . . . very community-minded project," Schmitz says.

College Plan Update

The College is in the final stages of writing the 2011-2013 College Plan. The Plan contains a detailed blueprint to address fundamental challenges so that we may continue to fulfill our mission, to develop the community through learning.

The Plan is notable for what it is, and for what it is not. The Plan is not a manual for managing everyday operations of the College. We already have sufficient policies and mechanisms to perform our core functions of instruction, safety and stewardship. The Plan is not a proclamation of lofty, vague principles, nor is it a list of minor improvements to internal processes. Instead, the College Plan details ways to improve instruction and services to the people of Pima County, and to support the economic development of the region.

Accountability is one of the Plan’s distinguishing characteristics. The 2011-13 Plan will consist of several major initiatives. Each is assigned to a senior administrator who is responsible for seeing that the initiative is carried out. Within each initiative are a handful of strategies, each assigned to a responsible administrator and carrying a completion date. Within each strategy are up to one dozen specific actions, each assigned a responsible administrator, a completion date and a funding source.

In early 2011, the Board of Governors will be presented a draft Plan, which will be revised to incorporate the Board’s changes. The Plan will be formally submitted to the Board for approval in late spring. With Board ratification, the Plan becomes College policy.

Openness is another distinguishing element of the College Plan. It is important for the College to be upfront with the people of Pima County about what we are doing. That’s why the Board ratifies the Plan at a public meeting, why the Plan is put on the PCC Web site, and why the College issues status reports and makes a final accounting of our successes and ongoing challenges to the local media.

It is important to note that evaluation of the success of the initiatives, their strategies and individual actions is built into the Plan. Also, the Plan is a work in progress. We may add, remove and change initiatives. Much remains to be done, but I am sure that the final product will allow the College to look over the horizon and address major challenges so that our students and the people of Pima County can enjoy a more prosperous future.

Awards and Recognition

Students Excel on Examinations

 I am pleased to note that students in several of the College’s occupational programs are excelling on certification examinations in their fields of study. Passing these difficult tests gives our students clear paths to career success, and their individual achievements translate into a more stable and prosperous community.

  • From July 2008 through July 2010, the first-time pass rate of Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute (PSESI) students on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians was 91 percent, compared to 70 percent nationally. PSESI students’ three-attempt pass rate was 98 percent, compared to 83 percent nationally.
  • In 2009, PCC students recorded a 100 percent pass rate on the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment. The statewide pass rate in 2009 was 93 percent. It was the fourth straight year that 100 percent of PCC students passed.
  • For Fiscal Year 2009-2010, all 92 students in PCC’s Truck Driver certificate program earned a Class A Commercial Driver’s License.

Business Officers Recognize College

The College was honored with two awards at the Community College Business Officers’ (CCBO) International Conference last month.

Dr. David Bea, Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, was named Outstanding Chief Business Officer Award for Region II for his distinguished service to the College and the community.

The College received an Exemplary Practices Award, which recognizes outstanding, innovative or collaborative practices in areas such as Human Resources, Finance, Technology or Finance.

The CCBO cited replacement of the Desert Vista central plant with a state-of-the-art modular facility as an example of how the College is meeting demands for “more sophisticated ways of solving problems.”

Congratulations to Dr. Bea and to Bill Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities, for their work.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Students Design Fashions for Disabled Women

Seven students from the College’s Fashion Design program made clothes for the disABLED Divaz Fashion Show last month. The show helped raise funds for the Aurora Foundation, a local leadership program for young disabled women. The College’s students designed and sewed outfits for the foundation’s members, who modeled the designs down the runway.

The students found that their models had highly refined senses of personal style. One of Susan Peterson’s models wanted “butterflies and bling,” a request that Susan met by making a reversible pink and white jacket from butterfly-patterned fabric, and adding rhinestones.

The students also learned to make outfits that took into account their clients’ needs. Jessica Huerta substituted buttons for a zipper so that one of her models, who had rheumatoid arthritis, could get into the outfit more easily.

The challenge for students was to design functional yet fashionable garments, says instructor Nancy Spaulding of the Fashion Design and Clothing program at West Campus. The process, which began in July, taught the students to understand their model’s disability, as well as giving them real-world industry practice in sketching designs, fabric selection, construction planning & analysis, pattern-making, conducting fittings and meeting deadlines. Five of the design students participated in an Independent Study class and were tasked with not only meeting the design criteria, but additionally submitting monthly journals about their processes and challenges in designing for someone with a disability and reflecting on their learning experience.

Jessica said the experience taught her that “everyone is the same: They want to be comfortable in their clothes, and to look nice.” Echoed student Carol Margolis: “They want to look like and be like everyone else.”

I commend Susan Zimmerman, a program specialist in Disabled Student Resources at Downtown Campus, and Nancy Spaulding for connecting the College to an event that teaches our students important lessons and helps strengthen the community.


Program:  Family Literacy Corps

“Teach the parent, reach the child” has been the guiding principle of the Pima Adult and Family Literacy Corps since it was established in 1994. This year, the Family Literacy Corps was recognized by AmeriCorps as one of the most innovative AmeriCorps programs in the United States. Only 52 programs nationwide received the honor.

The goal of the Family Literacy Corps, which is part of Pima County Adult Education, is to build parents’ capacity to increase literacy of their children through effective, data-based approaches.

Since 2003, Family Literacy Corps members have volunteered 81,440 hours. The tutoring delivered by Family Literacy Corps members has helped more than 4,500 southern Arizona adults and children improve their literacy.

Learning to read is the first step to educational and career success. The services provided by the Family Literacy Corps benefit the entire community, as education is the key to prosperity.

Staff Spotlight: Tom Hinman

Tom Hinman Throughout his career, Tom Hinman has advocated the importance of education and the need to be involved in the community. So when the opportunity arose to become part of the College’s Aviation Technology program, he took it. It was time, he said, to “lead by example.”

Tom comes to the College after 30 years at Evergreen Maintenance Center Inc., where his most recent position was Director of Training and Community Relations. The job allowed Tom to work in many areas, including marketing, finance, human resources and customer relations. He also was responsible for Evergreen’s law enforcement training facility.

He has been First Vice Chair of the Workforce Investment Board, which helps oversee distribution of federal funding to workforce development programs in Pima County.

Tom’s background makes him a valuable addition to the College. He understands the importance aviation plays in the economic health of the region, and recognizes that Pima is at the center of commercial aviation in southern Arizona.

As Aviation Technology Program Manager, Tom works with federal regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, to ensure that the program’s curriculum meets standards. He also is involved in resource development and administration of grants.

While the College’s Aviation Technology program teaches cutting-edge technical skills, Tom believes it imparts crucial leadership education as well.

Airplane maintenance crews are under pressure to ensure that planes are airworthy while adhering to tight departure deadlines. When a plane isn’t ready for takeoff, Tom says that the crews must have “the quality of character” make the expensive decision to delay the flight, and to identify mistakes and fix what is wrong. “It is a high standard to live by,” he says.

Tom knows the challenges inherent in a career change. “Sometimes you have to go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is,” Tom says. But Pima’s tradition of excellence and student-centered vision make the College a sure thing: “I’m working with good people, making an impact, and I’m where the action is,” he says.

Faculty Spotlight: Tamas Zsitvay

Tamas Zsitvay Tamas Zsitvay has provided the students in his Political Sciences classes with a unique perspective. Tamas grew up in Hungary when it was a Communist satellite state of the Soviet Union, and left for the West shortly after the Hungarian Revolution was put down by the Soviet military in November 1956.

Tamas will retire in December, ending a 40-year teaching career at the College.

In the 1970s, “students wanted to know what life in a Communist country was really all about,” says Tamas, who came to the College in 1970 after receiving his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Arizona.

Tamas has noticed a change in the political philosophy of his students and the nation over the past four decades. “In the 1970s, I was [considered] a superconservative,” he notes. “Today I’m a flaming liberal.”

Pima also has changed in 40 years, says Tamas, who remembers teaching in the airport hangar that was the College’s home in its infancy. But the College’s welcoming atmosphere has been a constant. “It is an extremely free place to teach,” Tamas says. “Pima is a charming organization.”

Roy Flores

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