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Interim Chancellor's Report - March 2012

Pima Community College Seal

Interim Chancellor's Message

Welcome to the first Interim Chancellor's Report of 2012! We're only three months into the year but already there is much to tell you about.

First, you'll note that this report has an additional word in the title — interim. I accepted the position of Interim Chancellor of Pima Community College on Feb. 29. Two weeks later, the PCC Governing Board took the necessary steps to launch a national search for a permanent replacement to Dr. Roy Flores. The serious health issues he now faces require his full attention. We wish him a speedy recovery.

The search for a new chancellor will take months and could even stretch into 2013. I have decided not to seek the post, preferring instead to focus my energies on making sure PCC continues to run as smoothly as possible during this time of transition. Similarly, Charlotte Fugett will not seek to become permanent provost. She was named Acting Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor on March 9.

Both Ms. Fugett and I are extremely mindful that during this period of change at PCC, it is imperative that the College keep running as usual. There is plenty of business to attend to: strengthening College processes; following through on the many important initiatives contained in our 2011-2013 College Plan; working with faculty, staff, the Board and the community to develop a plan for 2013-2015; ensuring that the PCC Prep Academy helps speed its students on a path to achieving their educational goals; and guaranteeing that the College remains, as always, a prudent steward of the public's hard-earned tax dollars.

Of course, fiscal responsibility is a paramount goal of PCC. Toward this end, I have asked the Board to amend my Interim Chancellor's contract to reduce my salary from $288,965 to $197,061. This may seem to some to be an unusual request. Be assured, it is not a publicity stunt. And it certainly is not grounded in the absurd notion that women should be paid less than men. Gender is not the issue here. Rather, the decision is rooted in my fiscal conservatism, especially regarding public money. Having the College pay Chancellor's salaries to two individuals — Dr. Roy Flores is collecting Chancellor's pay while he recuperates from health problems — doesn't feel right to me. Moreover, the Board's alteration of my contract will emphasize the importance that PCC places on proving to our constituents that their money is being spent wisely every day. The reality is that PCC's finances long have been above reproach. Our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report has won top national honors for nearly two decades, and we have received Exemplary Practices Awards from the Community College Business Officers organization. PCC is acutely aware of the need to demonstrate that we are worthy of the public trust. My decision is deeply felt, but no more so than PCC's institutional commitment to be accountable to the people of Pima County.

2012-2013 tuition

Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dr. David Bea and I hosted a productive meeting with PCC's student government leaders regarding tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year. Dr. Bea presented three tuition scenarios to the leaders: a $5-per-unit increase for in-state students, a $4-per-unit in-state increase, and a $3-per-unit in-state increase combined with the elimination of the discount for non-residents who take fewer than seven units in a term.

The students provided valuable insights regarding the three scenarios. They opposed the third option because eliminating the discount for non-residents would be an excessive financial burden for them. The student leaders supported the first option, a $5-per-unit increase for in-state students, which the Governing Board approved at its March meeting.

The student leaders' stance on 2012-2013 tuition came with the caveat that if tuition were to be raised for the 2013-2014 academic year, the increase should be less than $5. We at PCC agree -- our intention, as always, is to keep tuition as low as possible. PCC tuition remains among the lowest of Arizona's community colleges. We recognize that many of our students are drawn to the College because we offer high-quality education at a good price. We will continue to provide that combination of affordability and academic excellence.

Listening to the community

When I became Interim Chancellor last month, I told the Governing Board that I would strive to move PCC into a new era of participatory leadership and increased transparency and accountability. My first weeks on the job have been dedicated toward that goal, and I believe that the College has made significant progress in this important area.

As a publicly funded institution, the bar for us is higher than merely following the law. Our goal must be to adopt the best practices and procedures, and to avoid even the perception of impropriety. Toward that end, I announced a series of measures to improve accountability, transparency and oversight at the College, include updating and reviewing the College's purchasing manual to ensure the most efficient and effective use of public funds.

It is also crucial that the College reach out to the many constituencies who care about PCC. In March, the Governing Board revised its 2012 meeting schedule to include College's campuses near downtown Tucson, and on the West, East and South sides of the town. In 2013, we hope to hold Board meetings at our Adult Learning Centers, including our new Roberts Center in midtown Tucson. Taking the business of PCC to the people will make it easier for our neighbors to communicate what they want and need from us.

In the same vein, my team and I will be on the road over the next months meeting the wonderfully diverse citizens of the Pima County. We will tell the story of PCC to gatherings of neighbors, business owners and civic leaders. But, more importantly, we will be listening, for the College needs to hear the insights and concerns of the community if it is to fulfill its mission, to develop the community through learning.

By improving processes and enhancing transparency, we hope to demonstrate to our tens of thousands of students, and all Pima County residents, that PCC's commitment to the educational needs of the region remains steadfast. You can place your trust in that.

College Report

El Rio Adult Learning Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Participants at the El Rio Anniversary celebrationThe El Rio Adult Learning Center's 10th anniversary celebration last month is a reminder of the power of education to help adults and their families lead happier, more prosperous lives.

The center became a reality thanks to the perseverance of community leaders such as U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and former Tucson City Council member José Ibarra. Its success and the success of PCC Adult Education is the result of the efforts of people such as Joan Warfield, who worked with Pima County Adult Education and El Rio from 1983 until her retirement in 2010; Maria Acevedo, an assistant program manager from 1974-2003; and Greg Hart, who was Dean of Adult Education when El Rio opened.

The value of Adult Education and a GED cannot be overstated. The state needs skilled, literate workers, and Adult Education plays a key role in the lives of tens of thousands of Arizonans, including more than 4,000 currently enrolled in PCCAE. Approximately 80 percent of PCCAE's students are under age 45 and are entering their prime earning years. High school graduates earn $8,000 a year more than do non-graduates. Earning a GED translates into greater income, more taxes, and a stronger economy. Everyone benefits.

Roberts Center groundbreaking helps revitalize neighborhood, region

Dignitaries break ground at the Roberts Center

The groundbreaking for PCC's Roberts Center last month was a good day for the community. The Roberts Center is at the site of the former Roberts Elementary School at 4355 E. Calle Aurora in midtown Tucson. The school had been closed for a year when PCC signed a lease with the Tucson Unified School District. That the lease makes good fiscal sense is important, of course. PCC and TUSD are publicly funded, and both institutions take responsible financial stewardship very seriously. But the advantages go beyond economics. The groundbreaking goes to the heart of PCC's mission — to develop our community through learning.

The College worked closely with the 29th Street Coalition in order to understand what area residents wanted and needed from the PCC's new facility. As a result, the center is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood. We will move one of our Adult Education Learning Centers to Roberts and will improve parking and lighting on the grounds of the facility. We also will relocate our Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute, which trains hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMT-Paramedics, all of whom work to make our community healthier and more secure. And the center will continue to be home to the neighborhood Boys and Girls Clubs, so that the area's children will have a safe place to learn and play.

The Roberts Center is the latest in a list of initiatives that improve the lives of the people who live near PCC's campuses and facilities. For example:

  • West Campus and East Campus are home to public health clinics that offer quality healthcare to students and those who live nearby.
  • Northwest Campus has a long collaboration with the Northwest YMCA to provide fitness, recreation and other opportunities for area residents.
  • Downtown Campus is working with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation to help revitalize a neighborhood adjacent to the campus.

I thank Bill Ward, PCC's Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities, and his staff for their hard work in rejuvenating the facility; Rene Gastelum of the 29th Street Corridor neighborhood coalition; Dr. John Carroll, currently Acting Vice President for Instruction at Community Campus, who was serving as interim Superintendent of TUSD when the collaboration was first proposed; and current TUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone. Working together, we are transforming a formerly vacant building into a vibrant center of learning and enrichment.

Pima Achievers

I would like to share some recent accomplishments by our students, employees and Board members:

  • Acting Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Keith McIntosh's article "Aspiring and Residing IT Leaders: A Legacy for the Future" was featured in the January/February edition of Educause Review. Mac received an Educause Rising Star Award in 2011. In addition, he has been selected to participate in the Frye Leadership Institute to be held in Washington, D.C. in June.
  • PCC's Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic program has received accreditation from the nationally recognized Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Accreditation is a marker of educational excellence, assuring students that PCC's program adheres to current professional standards. The success rate of PCC students on The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Paramedic examinations impressed the accreditation team. The organization requires accredited EMT-Paramedic programs to maintain a 70 percent success rate on the tests. PCC's success rate is 98 percent.
  • Adam James has been named a 2012 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar for earning top honors in Arizona in the Community College Academic Team competition, which is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation and administered by the Phi Theta Kappa scholastic honorary. Adam is working toward an Associate of Science degree at PCC and intends to transfer to the University of Arizona to pursue a bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. He will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque. More than 1,700 U.S. community college students took part in the competition.
  • Governing Board member David Longoria is one of 25 Arizonans selected to take part in the prestigious Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy this spring. The academy develops future state leaders through seminars, connections with established leaders, and individual plans for involvement in statewide issues and institutions. Participants use real-world data to analyze statewide policy issues in order to understand how different perspectives, leadership skills, and real-world insights blend to achieve common goals.
  • Leticia Menchaca, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Services, recently was named as one of the winners of the Phi Theta Kappa's 2012 Distinguished College Administrator Award.
  • Fashion design student Rose Genzman has taken first place in a citywide design competition held during the 5th annual disABLED Divaz Fashion Show. "For women with disabilities, in particular physical disabilities, having a chance to wear fashionable clothing like their nondisabled counterparts is vital for self-esteem and having a positive outlook," said Nancy Spaulding, PCC Fashion Design instructor. Said Rose: "I love creating patterns. Designing clothing is something that comes from within."
  • Rose Bolz, a Student Services Advanced Specialist in the International Student Services Office at West Campus, was recognized at the International Women's Day celebration on March 8 at Downtown Campus. Rose received the Mother Jones Award for Excellence in Leadership, and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva for her services to Southern Arizona's working women.
  • West Campus Academic Dean Dr. Mary Beth Ginter co-authored an article in the January issue of Community College Review. The article, "Academic Innovation and Autonomy: An Exploration of Entrepreneurship Education Within American Community Colleges and the Academic Capitalist Context," considers the organizational structures and academic practices associated with community college entrepreneurship education. Mary Beth co-authored the article with Matthew Mars of the University of Arizona.

In closing, students, employees and the community can rest assured that Pima Community College's future is a bright one. Thank you for your continued support.

Suzanne L. Miles