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Interim Chancellor's Report - May 2012

Pima Community College Seal

Wanted:  Community insight in planning the College's future

The College is deep into a two-year process that will result in its College Plan, a dynamic document that sets out the College's direction for 2013-2015.

The College Plan typically comprises a half-dozen initiatives, which are broken down into several strategies. Each strategy contains multiple action items - the 2011-2013 Plan has 182 in total. The action items are specific and their success is measurable, making the College Plan more than a lofty statement of vague aspirations. Each item comes with a completion deadline, a responsible party and a funding source. Through our plans, which can be viewed at, PCC holds itself accountable to the taxpayers of Pima County.

A 50-plus member Planning Committee, comprising employees from all areas of PCC, has been laying the groundwork for the 2013-2015 Plan. Throughout the process, the PCC Governing Board will offer insights and direction.

But the Plan is much more than a to-do list that tinkers with mundane College internal processes. It is an outward-looking document that addresses issues and concerns of importance to the people of Pima County. This is where you come in. We need the public to contribute its collective wisdom to make the Plan a vibrant, powerful tool through which PCC can achieve its mission, to develop our community through learning.

Toward that end, in September and October, Pima will host a half-dozen public meetings at locations throughout the metropolitan Tucson area. The purpose of the meetings is to listen - to gather insights from Pima County residents. We are eager to hear what you expect of PCC, and where the College should be directing its energies and resources.

"Our goal is to be as open and transparent as possible," says Dr. Nicola Richmond, PCC's Executive Director of Planning and Institutional Research. "We want the widest range of opinions. We want the public to tell us if there's something we've missed."

The College is developing a webpage where you will find extensive information on the planning process, along with ways to sign up to participate in the upcoming meetings. There also is a link to, through which you can comment on all aspects of the planning process. We want to hear from you.

Graduation 2012 sets a record

Commencement speaker Dax. W. CrockerGraduation is always a special time of year at Pima Community College, but this year’s ceremony on May 17 was a record-setter. PCC’s 2012 graduating class was its largest ever: 3,624 students earned degrees or certificates this year. That is about 60 more than the previous record. It also brings the number of students receiving degrees or certificates from PCC over the past 10 years to 31,975.

This year’s graduates were, as usual, a diverse group. The class included 2,066 women, 1,522 men and at least 253 veterans. The oldest graduate, 73-year-old Fernanda Maria Gallardo, earned a Direct Care Professional Certificate. The youngest graduate, 17-year-old Alec R. Moreno, earned a Certificate in Business and Industry Technology.

Eighty-eight graduation candidates earned a grade point average greater than 3.90, allowing them to meet the requirements for graduation with highest honors.

Commencement speaker Dax W. Crocker embodied the varied life stories and accomplishments of the Class 2012. Dax is a 40-year-old native of Guatemala who came to the U.S. at age 14. He graduated with honors and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa scholastic honor society. Dax has done missionary work throughout Europe and is minister of a local church.

In his eloquent speech, he called for his fellow graduates to pull together and remain optimistic about the challenges that lie ahead. “Class of 2012,” Dax said, “I can hear Thomas Jefferson saying Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; but nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.’”

The graduation ceremony at TCC was the largest of the season, but it was not the only one:

  • Our Nursing Department honored 90 graduating students at a candlelight pinning ceremony on May 10. PCC's pinning ceremony is a time-honored rite of passage that stretches back more than 150 years to the Nightingale School of Nursing in London. The school's legendary founder, Florence Nightingale, honored her graduating students with a pin as a symbol of excellence. In a profession long dominated by women, men comprise 20 percent of this year’s nursing graduates at PCC, reflecting a national trend.
  • The Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute hosted a graduation ceremony for 36 Fire Academy graduates on May 15 at Rincon High School. PCC provides two training program options within Fire Science: a Certificate for Direct Employment and an Associate of Applied Science Degree for Direct Employment. These programs provide students with the academic and hands-on skills training necessary for employment in the firefighting industry.  Graduates are prepared to take the state licensing exam for certification as an Arizona Center for Fire Service Excellence (AzCFSE)-Firefighter I & II. 
  • More than 190 people attended PCC's Respiratory Therapy program graduation at Downtown Campus on May 15. The 28 graduates received unique, lung-shaped pins at the ceremony.
  • Governing Board member David Longoria was among more than 200 people who attended the Dental Hygiene Education pinning ceremony May 15 at West Campus’ Proscenium Theater. Twenty-five students received pins.
  • Nineteen graduates of the College’s Radiologic Technology program received pins May 12 at Downtown Campus. About 150 people attended the ceremony.

Helping students prepare for and succeed in college

Over the past five years, more than 900 Tucson-area high school students have come to PCC to take part in an important program that prepares them to succeed in college. Thanks to renewal of a five-year, $5.24 million federal grant earlier this month, PCC will continue to be help these young women and men achieve their educational potential.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund Upward Bound, which is designed for freshman or sophomores at 12 local high schools. Students who are eligible for Upward Bound must come from low-income families in which the parents have not graduated from a four-year university.

Upward Bound students remain in the program throughout high school and their first two years of college. The program supports the students through summer classes, tutoring, career counseling, financial aid advising, assistance with college admission applications, scholarship searches, field trips and current events.

In essence, Upward Bound creates opportunities that might not otherwise be available for students in Tucson, throughout Arizona and across the nation. It plays a critical role in helping students pursue a college education.

College Report

Top national award for PCC Facilities

coil installation at a campusOne of the greatest honors in educational facilities management is to receive an Award of Excellence from the internationally recognized Association of Physical Plant Administrators. That is because the APPA award is for comprehensive excellence  -- a winning institution is recognized as a leader in strategic and operational planning, customer service, data analysis, human resources, process management and other areas.

So I am proud to note that PCC is one of only three recipients of APPA’s 2012 Award for Excellence. Making the honor more special is that PCC is just the third community college to receive the award in its 24-year history.

Winning puts PCC in prestigious company. Past Award of Excellence recipients include the Smithsonian Institution, University of Michigan, University of Oklahoma, Duke University, University of California-Berkeley and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

An APPA team conducted a three-day site review of PCC to examine District facilities and to meet administrators, facilities professionals and customers.  During the visit, the team was briefed on upcoming construction of the new addition to the Northwest Campus, as well as the conversion of Roberts Elementary School into an Adult Education and Public Safety training facility.

“The award definitely speaks to the effectiveness and dedication of the facilities management team in supporting the college’s mission,” said William Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities.

"The College has a staff of talented professionals who are dedicated to making sure that we provide our students and employees with the best possible educational facilities," said Dr. David Bea, PCC's Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. "The Award of Excellence from APPA is a testament to the superior quality of their work."

My deepest appreciation goes to William Ward; Dr. David Bea; Mike Posey, Director of Plant Operations and Maintenance; and the entire Facilities team. They do a great job every day.

Behind the scenes

Juanita Alvarez, Dorothy Donovan, and Naomi DavilaPCC’s database analysts have an important job. They are charged with ensuring the security and accessibility of the huge amounts of information the College maintains in its computer system to serve our students and the community.

But, as the accompanying photo shows, the job has its lighter moments. From left: Juanita Alvarez (or “Database Queen,” as it says on the peak of her cap), Dorothy Donovan (with the propeller hat) and Naomi Davila (“The Good DBA”) take a break to display a little fashion-forwardness.

Adelante:  a win-win-win

Earlier this month PCC celebrated the achievements of 109 students who completed the three-semester Adelante program, a nationwide study examining whether performance-based scholarships can help improve the academic achievement of college students.

Adelante at PCC is for Latino males, but there is remarkable diversity in the group. They range in age from 18 to the mid-50s. And it should be noted that Adelante is funded by private foundations; no taxpayer dollars from residents of Pima County or Arizona have been allotted.

I often describe Adelante as a win-win-win situation. It’s clearly a win for students such as David Kaiser, who, after losing his job when his company moved outside the U.S., turned to PCC and Adelante to further his education to provide for this family.

David, a 46-year-old Tucson High School graduate, earned an Associate of General Studies degree with the help of Adelante, which provides full-time students with $1,500 a semester for three semesters, provided that the students meet numerous objectives. They must complete all their classes, achieve C’s or better, and take part in mandatory advising, student success workshops, tutoring and other activities.

David has enrolled at Arizona State University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Human and Family Development. His career goal is to be a college instructor in either Psychology or Biology.

“Adelante has been very strong support for me,” David said, noting that Adelante’s tutoring requirements helped keep him focused on schoolwork.

Adelante is a win for PCC as well. Adelante is all about fostering self-efficacy, which is at the center of everything PCC does.  The real reward of Adelante is how it transforms students, who stay in school, furthering PCC’s goal of increasing student success as well as access.  

And Adelante is a win for the community. Academic success begets career success. The result is better-educated citizens who are sought after by employers, get good-paying jobs and further the economic development of the region. Everyone wins.

Helping Arizona's youth get a good start

I am pleased to note that PCC led all Arizona community colleges in the number of students taking part in the Teacher Education And Compensation Helps Early Childhood AZ program for the Spring 2012 semester. T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood AZ is a comprehensive scholarship model that links early educators’ college education, compensation and commitment to improving the quality of the early childhood workforce. Ensuring that Arizona’s youngest citizens get off to a good start in early childhood is crucial if they are to succeed as they move through school.

In Spring 2012, 145 students enrolled at PCC under the T.E.A.C.H. program, which is funded through First Things First, a series of early-childhood initiatives in Arizona funded by taxpayer-approved taxes on tobacco. The number of PCC scholars in the program has grown every semester since its inception in Fall 2009. A total of 307 students have taken part in T.E.A.C.H. at PCC.

The program is for teachers in the child-care field who work 30 hours or more a week. The goals of the scholarship are creating and retaining a highly skilled and well-prepared early childhood workforce.  Teachers commit to completing degrees in early childhood studies and to staying in their place of employment for one year after each year of the scholarship.

“Many T.E.A.C.H. scholars are first-generation college students,” said Shanna Kukla, Program Manager at Desert Vista Campus. “Many are single parents in their 40s who are working full-time. There’s no typical common denominator,” Shanna said, but all students recognize that college-level coursework improves their ability to do their jobs. “It’s pretty inspiring to work with this group,” she said.

The scholarship is getting results: Ten T.E.A.C.H. Scholars applied for graduation for the just-completed 2011-12 academic year. Overall, there were 49 Early Childhood Studies graduates this year, making it one of the 10 most common associate degrees for the third straight year,  with several students planning to transfer to the University of Arizona and other universities to obtain bachelor’s degrees.

Shanna attributes the program’s success to several factors. Accessibility is important: PCC has six campuses in metropolitan Tucson, and offers classes at night, on weekends, in accelerated formats and online. Also, PCC’s Center for Early Childhood Studies at Desert Vista has advisors with extensive expertise in helping students plan their educational paths. PCC’s Center for Early Childhood Studies is a community partnership with significant support from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.  But much of the credit goes to the T.E.A.C.H. students themselves. Said Shanna: “Our students rock.”  

Pima Achievers

Over the past month, PCC’s students and employees have accomplished much of note. Here is a sampling of their awards and achievements:

Charlette Padilla and Kris SwankCharlette Padilla (at left) and Kris Swank (right) have received the Faculty Professional Enrichment Recognition Awards from PCC for innovations and activities that have had a positive impact on the College and the community.

Kris, Library Director at Northwest Campus, led a team of librarians to create instructional videos highlighting library resources and promoting information literacy, and mentored other faculty and librarians to make their own tutorials.

Charlette, Pima’s only full-time instructor in Fashion and Fashion Merchandising, manages the program, advises students and is faculty advisor for the Fashion Club. She has taken club members to fashion events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where students attended seminars and obtained information on internships and working with designers.

PCC student and Air Force veteran Maria Elena Moreno introduced first lady Michelle Obama at a fund-raising event at Tucson Convention Center on April 30. Maria Elena, who trained on A-7 Corsairs before becoming a baker in the Air Force, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa scholastic honorary society. She is working toward an associate degree in Liberal Arts and wants to become a social worker. She also volunteers in the Your Sister’s Closet, a YWCA program that helps women seeking to find jobs or re-launch their careers.

Dr Bio and Dr. KajsturaDesert Vista Campus President Dr. Johnson Bia and Northwest Campus President Dr. Alex Kajstura attended the annual celebration by the Pascua Yaqui tribe of its graduates from PCC, The University of Arizona and area high schools. Graduates of PCC programs in Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, Health-Related Professions and General Education were recognized at the event, held at the Casino del Sol resort.

The Tucson Pterodactyls, a wheelchair rugby team coached by Gabe Nyrkkanen, a Disabled Student Resources Program Specialist at Downtown Campus, won its second straight U.S. Quad Rugby Association Division I National Championship last month in Louisville, Ky. The Pterodactyls’ roster includes PCC student Derrick Helton, a USA National Wheelchair Rugby Team member who will be competing at the 2012 Paralympics this September in London.

In summary, we have plenty to be proud of at PCC, and many reasons to be optimistic about the coming year. Fall classes are only a few months away! Complacency, however, is not in Pima’s DNA. As always, we are eager to respond to the needs of the community, to identify new challenges and to find ways that together we can make things better.  Thank you.

Suzanne L. Miles