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Interim Chancellor's Report - January 2013

Pima Community College Seal

Interim Chancellor's message

Welcome back! 2013 will be a year of tremendous opportunity for Pima Community College. PCC clearly is embarking on a new course, but be assured that in spite of the changes, the great constant is our dedication to the College’s students and the community.

"Great progress" in student learning

During its 2010 accreditation visit, the Higher Learning Commission asked the College to submit a report by January 2013 describing how we are improving curriculum through careful monitoring and assessment of student learning.

I am pleased to note that the HLC has accepted our report, and has praised our many efforts to better serve students through improvement where it matters most – in the classroom.

“Pima Community College is commended, not only for an outstanding monitoring report, but as well for the great progress the College has made in assessment and the wholehearted response to the [HLC] report that enabled such progress,” the HLC analysis of our report noted. “The commitment of the [PCC] Board, administration, faculty and staff are clearly evident in the many initiatives taken by the College to build and further develop the assessment system at the College,” the HLC added.

PCC worked for 18 months on the issue, and our writing team took a year to research and create a clear, comprehensive account of the steps the College has taken to assess and improve learning. Our report focused on three areas:

  • Faculty participation in Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and assessment. The HLC noted increased faculty buy-in through improved training, outreach and education in SLOs, and in the use of TracDat to report SLO progress.
  • Improvements in curriculum made based on faculty review of SLO data. The HLC commented on the “impressive list” of improvements demonstrating that the College is “closing the loop” – building a complete process in which assessment results in curriculum changes that benefit students.
  • Assessment of institution-wide general education outcomes. The HLC noted re-establishment of the General Education Committee and creation of a mandatory SLO interface for reporting of grades as two of many significant improvements in this area.

There are plenty of people to thank for the report and the effort behind it, faculty foremost among them for helping refine our processes. I want to thank Provost Dr. Jerry Migler; East Campus President Char Fugett, in her role as Acting Provost; and Downtown Campus Dean Dr. Nic Richmond, former executive director of Planning and Institutional Research (PIR). Special thanks go to Vice Provost Dr. Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez, and Rachelle Howell, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Grants & PIR. And the writing team, of course, deserves special mention for its “very thorough and detailed report”: Anne Denogean, Public Information Coordinator; Josie Milliken, Instructional Faculty, Writing; Andrew Plucker, Program Manager, Grants One Stop Center; David Purkiss, Research Project Manager, PIR; and Dr. Heather Tilson, Executive Director, PIR.

You can read the monitoring report and the HLC staff analysis on the Accreditation page of our website.

Higher Learning Commission update

Educators from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools visited the College on Jan. 17-18. The team came to PCC to get a better sense of issues raised by some community members in letters to the HLC earlier this year. (You can read our correspondence with the HLC on the Accreditation page of our website.)

Team members interviewed Board members, PCC administrators and representatives of community groups that had contacted the HLC in 2012. Team members also visited East, Northwest, Desert Vista and West campuses so that faculty, staff, students and community members could speak confidentially to them. I am sure that in visiting our campuses, team members experienced first-hand the excitement and promise that infuse the beginning of a new academic semester.

The subject of the visit was PCC governance, administration and human resources. The integrity and quality of PCC’s programs and student support services have not been questioned by the HLC, nor has the overall financial health of the College.

We have cooperated completely with the HLC and the fact-finding team. The HLC will contact us in four to six weeks, and I will share their findings as soon as we receive them. The HLC may mandate that the College make changes. However, we believe that our ability to provide financial aid, our students’ ability to transfer courses and programs to another college and, most importantly, the value of our degrees and certificates will not be impacted by the HLC’s visit and report.

In renewing our accreditation in 2010, the HLC gave us high marks, as you can see in the Comprehensive Visit Report. I sincerely believe that what the HLC noted in 2010, that “Tucson is greatly enriched by the presence of its community college,” holds true today.

Chancellor search update

The Board of Governors has accepted two finalists from a citizens’ advisory committee assisting it in a nationwide search for the next chancellor. In alphabetical order, the finalists are:

  • Terrence J. Burgess, Ph.D., President, San Diego City College, San Diego, Calif.
  • Dr. María C. Sheehan, President, Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Nev.

The finalists will visit PCC next week to participate in forums where the public and PCC employees can ask questions.

For information on the finalists, the forums and other aspects of the chancellor search process, simply click on the Chancellor Search button on the College’s home page. There you will also find a link to for commenting to the Board of Governors.

The Board hopes to have the new chancellor on the job by July. To ease the transition, I have served in the dual role of Interim Chancellor and President of the Community Campus since Jan. 2. The presidency of Community Campus is my home position, and my making the switch now will smooth the change-over for the College to the new chancellor later this year.

College Plan Update

Make PCC a community hub, and make sure to include the needs of all constituencies in the College’s plans. Those were the messages that came through loud and clear from community members during a series of public forums held to gather insights as the College develops its 2013-2015 College Plan.

In October and November, PCC held five forums at libraries and schools throughout metropolitan Tucson. More than 75 people attended, everyone from retirees to high school students. The goal was to obtain the widest cross-section of opinions and insights so that our College Plan -- a detailed blueprint that addresses educational and economic issues – truly meets the needs of the community. (You can learn more about the College Plan on our website.)

The next step in the College Plan process is a series of forums for employees to have their say.

All forums are from 2:30-4 p.m. (A forum at Maintenance and Security was held Jan. 29.)

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30: Northwest Campus, Room A207
  • Thursday, Jan. 31: Desert Vista Campus, Ocotillo Room
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6: Downtown Campus, Amethyst Room
  • Monday, Feb. 11: Community Campus, Room A109-112
  • Tuesday, Feb. 12: West Campus, Community Room
  • Wednesday, Feb. 13: District Office, Break Room
  • Thursday, Feb. 14: East Campus, Community Room

PCC Foundation update

Federal Express 727 aircraft donated to PCCThe 2011-2012 Fiscal Year was a big one for the Pima Community College Foundation, which reported total and in-kind contributions of $1.14 million.

In a presentation to the Governing Board earlier this month, Foundation Chair Dennis Holden, director of Customer Relations/District Operations at Southwest Gas Corp., listed the Foundation’s notable accomplishments during the year.

The accomplishments were numerous:

  • The Desert Vista Endowment campaign, which concluded October 1, 2011, generated $425,958 in contributions and matching funds.
  • The Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship Endowment – funded by PCC’s Golf Tournament and Staff Council – totals $44,124, and has been awarded to two recipients.
  • The establishment of the $100,000 Michael Charles Rothman Endowment for the Arts from his bequest
  • The Amigos de Pima - Hispanic Student Endowment Fund totals $261,596 and awards 14 scholarships annually.
  • The creation of two endowments for Tucson Magnet High School graduates, funded by THS alumni from the classes of 1959 and 1962

The PCC Foundation’s successes have continued, led by the donation last year by FedEx Express of a Boeing 727 valued at $800,000. The jet is a hangar-sized training tool that is helping our top-flight Aviation Technology program serve its students even better.

It’s clear that the 32-member foundation is fulfilling its mission, to develop resources to provide learning opportunities at PCC. The College is grateful for the support.

College Report

Job Fair helps Tucsonans find meaningful employment

Suzanne Lawder, Representative Raul Grijalva and Interim Chancellor Suzanne MilesThough the economy is slowly improving, many of our neighbors are still looking for work. This reality made the Community Job Fair hosted earlier this month at our El Pueblo Liberty Adult Education Center so important.

More than 1,600 people learned about work opportunities available at more than 40 organizations from across Tucson. The event would not have been a success without the planning and hard work of Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona and its executive director, Suzanne Lawler (pictured at left, with Rep. Raúl Grijalva); the office of Rep. Grijalva; the City of Tucson; and Micki Ulrich, Assistant Program Manager, and the staff at El Pueblo Liberty, which hopes to host similar events in the future.

Speakers Series 2013

Art, knowledge, climate change -- and saladitos: The topics covered in the 2013 PCC Speakers Series are nothing if not eclectic.

The yearlong free lecture series by PCC faculty is sponsored by the Provost’s Office and Faculty Senate. All lectures are on Tuesdays. They begin at 6 p.m. and are held at the PCC District Office Community Board Board Room, 4905 E. Broadway.

As always, the series features a wide-ranging list of subjects. The series kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 12, when Dr. Bernard Ngovo, Reading faculty, lectures on “Historical Connections between the United States and Liberia.”

The rest of the 2013 schedule:

  • March 5:  “Ars Moriendi, Ars Vivendi: The Art of Death, the Art of Life,” by Dr. Dianna Repp, Anthropology faculty
  • April 2:  “Knowing is as Knowing Does,” by Dr. Jerry Gill, Humanities/Upward Bound
  • Oct. 1:  “Chinese Grocery Store:  From Chorizo to Saladito,” by Barry Infuso, Culinary Arts
  • Nov. 5:  “Whales of Baja,” by Katie Iverson, Biology
  • Dec. 3:  “Climate Change at Arctic’s Edge,” by Dr. Silvia Kolchens, Chemistry

For more information, go to

Adult Education's powerful story

Many of the women and men who take part in Adult Education programs have powerful stories to tell. In November, Laura Porfirio, an Advanced Program Coordinator for PCC Adult Education Civics and Student Leadership Program, and Charles Swanson, an Adult Education instructor, planned and co-facilitated a statewide Adult Education Ambassadors “Train the Trainer” session at Rio Salado College. Staff and student leaders from around Arizona learned compelling ways to tell their personal stories with the goal of raising awareness about the importance of Adult Education in Arizona.  This was the third training held statewide and supported by the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning.

Working with two other Phoenix-area facilitators, including a GED graduate who now works for Tempe Adult Education, they trained 18 staff and students about public speaking, planning meetings with decision-makers and innovative ways to raise awareness. The participating adult education programs included Rio Salado College, Queen Creek, Mesa Public Schools, and Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County. Student ambassadors practiced their new skills in a meeting with Rio Salado President Dr. Chris Bustamante. The training culminated in a December follow-up activity at the Capitol where students met with the director of Gov. Brewer’s Office of Education Innovation.

Ana Chavarin and Teresa PerezAmong those in attendance were PCCAE students Ana Chavarin (pictured at left) and Teresa Perez (right) and PCCAE instructor Wendy Scheder-Black, who have taken the lessons learned at the session to encourage others to speak up for Adult Education, a crucial program that helps thousands of Arizonans to lead more prosperous lives through the power of learning.

Adult Education has been training student leaders to share their stories for over 20 years.  AE began formally training others with a set curriculum in 2009.  The PCCAE Ambassadors Program is an advanced leadership initiative further developed for statewide implementation in 2011.  It focuses on the development of student voices in the fullest sense.  It provides adult learners a recognized opportunity to publicly speak about their experience and represent the common interests and needs of Adult Education students. Moreover, students develop skills and confidence that transfer to other personal, academic and professional pursuits.

Pima Achievers

Over the past month or two, members of the PCC community have accomplished much of note. Here is a sampling of awards and achievements:

The College was well-represented at the second annual Healthy Habits Community and Health Fair on Jan. 26. Hundreds of people came together at Mission View Elementary School in South Tucson to learn ways to enhance individual and family lifestyles. Four PCC programs – Dental Hygiene Education, Massage Therapy, Nursing and Respiratory Therapy – participated. Thanks to West Campus Dean of Nursing Marty Mayhew and Northwest Campus’ Janet Vizard, Therapeutic Massage lead faculty. . . .

East Campus Mathematics instructor Ana Jiménez has been appointed Traveling Workshop Coordinator by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC). As coordinator for this three-year term position, Ana will play a major role in promoting, coordinating, maintaining and evaluating Traveling Workshops throughout the nation, providing professional development opportunities that AMATYC has expanded in recent years, especially those relating to developmental mathematics and statistics.

Aspiring paramedics and EMTs at our Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute outperformed the state and national averages on National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exams in 2012. The first-time pass rate of PSESI’s paramedic students was 88 percent, compared to a statewide rate of 75 percent and 74 percent nationally. Our students overall pass rate of 94 percent bettered the state rate of 84 percent and the 83 percent national rate. Similarly, the first-time pass rate of PSESI’s EMT-Basic students was a stellar 100 percent, compared to 73 percent nationally, and our overall 100 percent pass rate outdistanced the national rate of 83 percent. Our students, faculty and staff are doing a great job, as always.

. . . Science Laboratory Supervisor Rob Carey and Biology Faculty Steve Uyeda are Phi Theta Kappa 2013 Faculty Scholars. The international scholastic honor society for two-year institutions chose only 25 instructors for the distinction. . . .

Jeffrey SilvynI want to congratulate Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, who has been named Senior Assistant to the Provost (Acting), welcome back Debbie Yoklic as Assistant Vice Chancellor at District Office, welcome Jeffrey Silvyn (at left) as our new general counsel, and happily note that our longtime AVC for Facilities Bill Ward has been named the College’s new Vice Chancellor for Facilities.

Making Things Better

In August, I asked faculty, staff and administrators to tell me how they and their loved ones “make things better” – how they give back to the community through volunteering. After three months, we received more than two dozen responses! Allow me to share a few in this edition of the Interim Chancellor’s Report:

Dennis BonillaDennis Bonilla, a Laboratory Specialist at Desert Vista, keeps busy by helping the Watershed Management Group (WMG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental sustainability. Dennis started volunteering with WMG four years ago and has helped conduct nearly a dozen workshops, assisting people interested in creating rain harvesting and water conservation systems. He also volunteers at Southern Arizona Roadrunners races.

Gloria McMillan, adjunct faculty in Written and Oral Communication at Community and Northwest, volunteers with the Tucson Balkans Peace Support Group, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for humanitarian assistance for refugees, teaches English-language skills to refugees and promotes the culture and values of the region. 

In closing

I had the privilege of participating earlier this month in an interfaith celebration honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of the celebration, held at Catalina United Methodist Church, was forgiveness.

One of Dr. King’s most powerful sermons was dedicated to the topic. He delivered the sermon on Christmas Day 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He had composed it while in jail for his role in the bus boycott in Montgomery earlier that year.

The sermon is undeniable powerful, especially its underlying message. “Forgiveness means . . . a coming together again,” Dr. King told his parishioners. “Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.”

In essence, Dr. King believed that forgiveness is a special type of opportunity – the opportunity for a second chance. I was struck by how relevant that notion is at PCC. Many of the men and women who come here are looking for a second chance at the greatest of opportunities, the opportunity to learn. 

Through our Adult Education and GED programs, for example, we provide a second chance for thousands of undereducated adults to obtain a high school credential that will open the door to more prosperous, happy lives for themselves and their loved ones. In a similar fashion, over the past years of the Great Recession, thousands of people have turned to Pima for a second chance at restarting their careers after losing their jobs. In May 2012, we graduated a record number of students, many of whom had come to Pima in 2009 and 2010, when the economy was at its bleakest.

Be assured that, regardless of the new direction the College is taking, PCC always will welcome those who come to us for that second chance at a fresh start and a new beginning that Dr. King wrote of. That will never change.

Suzanne L. Miles