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Interim Chancellor's Report - March 2013

Pima Community College Seal

Higher Learning Commission report update

As you know, the Higher Learning Commission's President, Sylvia Manning, notified the College earlier this month that she will recommend to the HLC Board that PCC be put on probation. President Manning's recommendation is based on a report by a fact-finding team sent to PCC in January by the HLC to learn more about PCC governance and administration.

In accordance with HLC procedures, PCC will send its written response to the team's findings and President Manning's recommendation by tomorrow, March 29. Our response includes an outline of a plan to remedy many of the deficiencies in PCC governance and administration, as well as a list of steps we already have taken to improve the College. The College's response will be available tomorrow on the Accreditation page of our website, joining other information related to accreditation, including answers to frequently asked questions.

Let me emphasize that PCC remains fully accredited by the HLC. Our ability to offer financial aid to our students is not changed. We do not anticipate any change in a student's ability to transfer courses. The integrity of PCC's academic programs has never been in question.

The HLC Board will decide PCC’s status at a meeting of its Board of Trustees on April 6, 2013.  However, its written response will not be available until approximately 10 days after the meeting.

You can send questions about accreditation to the Provost’s Office through the email.

Remembering Hank Oyama

Hank OyamaThe College and the community lost a great friend. Dr. Henry “Hank” Oyama, a pioneer in bilingual education whose half-century of service as a teacher and administrator included 22 years at PCC, passed away earlier in March. Hank was 86.

Hank’s distinguished career at PCC included overseeing PCC’s Bilingual and International Studies program and serving as vice president for Multi-Disciplinary Education and Services. He retired as Vice-President Emeritus, but continued to contribute to the College.

In 1992, Hank co-founded Amigos de Pima with then-Chancellor Robert Jensen and Richard Fimbres, a former Governing Board member who currently serves on the Tucson City Council. The mission of Amigos de Pima is to promote academic excellence among students studying the Spanish language or Hispanic culture at PCC through scholarships and mentoring with local business professionals. Hank has been a guiding force helping hundreds of students receive scholarships through the Hispanic Student Endowment Fund, which now totals nearly $250,000.

Hank led an amazing life, and it is important to remember that his impact on education reached far beyond PCC or Tucson. Landmark research conducted by Hank and other Tucsonans led to passage in 1968 of the Bilingual Education Act by the U.S. Congress.

TUSD dedicated Oyama Elementary School in 2003, and the College adopted the school in 2012.

A true gentleman, Hank thought before he spoke. His voice, so full of modesty and warmth, will be missed, and my sincerest condolences go to his wife, Ann, and his family.

Chancellor search update

The College is looking for a new chancellor, and the Board of Governors recently reaffirmed its goal of having a new person at work by July. To learn more about the search, or to comment to the Board, go to the Chancellor Search page on the College’s website.

Adalante update

The College’s participation in Adelante, a promising study of ways to improve academic achievement, has been extended for a year.

About 25 students will take part in Adelante in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. They will join the more than 600 PCC students ranging in age from 18 to 50+ who have benefited from the project, a nationwide study examining whether performance-based scholarships provided in addition to federal needs-based funding can improve the academic achievement of college students.

Students come from varied backgrounds at educational institutions across the U.S. At Pima, the focus is on Latino males, who enroll and graduate from higher-education institutions less often than other groups, research has shown.

Like numerous existing academic-aid programs, Adelante rewards performance and is back-loaded. Students must complete classes, achieve C’s or better, and take part in orientation, academic advising, student success workshops, tutoring and pláticas, student-driven discussion groups. The latest group of students also will have to volunteer in the Tucson community.

West Campus Program Coordinator Frank Velásquez Jr. is the force behind Adelante, which is funded solely by private foundations. His guidance and support are instrumental, as are the excellent services Adelante students receive from student accounts, financial aid, registration and advising. As Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Services Leticia Menchaca says, “All have been wonderful partners in making this a premier program.”

College Report

Sky's the limit for budding scientists

Northwest Campus hosted the second annual Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona Imagine Engineering event on March 16. More than 170 girls from southern Arizona participated in fun, hands-on science and engineering activities led by STEM outreach volunteers, including Northwest faculty, University of Arizona students, Science Foundation Arizona faculty, Raytheon Missile Systems staff, UA Lunar and Planetary Lab Kuiper Circle Outreach Committee members, and community STEM professionals. 

The goal of this event is to encourage and support girls in the exploration and pursuit of STEM-related educational opportunities and careers.

KOLD meteorologist Erin Jordan shared her educational experiences with students via Skype, and Northwest Counselor Suzanne Desjardin held sessions for parents and teachers on college preparation and financial aid. 

Northwest participants included Biology Adjunct Faculty Chris Wilson, who led sessions on forensics, and Science Department Chair, Astronomy & Physics Faculty Dr. Denise Meeks, who facilitated sessions during which girls made 3-D glasses, planispheres, moon phase books, and UV bead bracelets.

Northwest personnel who helped to make this event a success were Lab Technician Maggie Mendoza, IT Supervisor George Ahlers, IT staffer Milo Mazanek and Maintenance Technician Martin Huerta. Thanks to Michelle Higgins and Kat Salthouse of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, Georgia Armstrong of the Society of Women Engineers and Raytheon Missile Systems, and Dr. Meeks, also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Kuiper Circle Outreach Committee.

Connecting with the community

Astronomy magazine’s skywatching party in February at the East Campus Observatory was a success, so much so that the magazine intends to hold it again next year.  Dozens of people attended the all-day event, which included day and night viewing, astronomy presentations and exhibits by various local groups and Astronomy magazine. Thanks to David G. Iadevaia, Astronomy and Physics faculty member, for raising everybody’s horizons.

Photograph of the restored Tropicana neon signOur relationship with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation keeps opening new doors to the revitalization of Tucson.

Last year, the College and the foundation partnered to give four beautifully restored historic neon signs a new home at PCC’s Downtown Campus, helping revitalize the surrounding area near Oracle Road.

The foundation made that project a big part of its successful effort to have Tucson designated as a Preserve America Community by the White House and first lady Michelle Obama.

The College, principal sponsor of the Foundation’s hugely successful Tucson Modernism Week, looks forward to building on this momentum in future endeavors that, as foundation President Demion Clinco puts it, “leverage the past to build the future.”

Truck Driver Training program open house

Image of PCC tractor-trailer with instructors and studentsThe high demand for commercial truck drivers nationwide is expected to persist throughout the decade, and PCC is meeting that need with a program that provides intensive direct training and comprehensive student support services.

The big rigs were on display earlier this month at a Truck Driver Training Program Open House at our training site at 6680 S. Country Club Road. Dozens of potential trainees toured the facility, met our experienced faculty, and got in touch with representatives of seven commercial trucking companies, along with representatives of Pima County and Cochise County One-Stops, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Department of Economic Security’s employment and veterans’ programs, Job Path and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The open house was coordinated by the Truck Driver Training Program Team: Sandy McCoskey, Dale Bohnet, Wade Kuharski, Roy Burks, Ginny Pizano and Dan M. Offret.  Thanks to all of them, the regional carriers, and TDTP’s partner agencies for making the event a success.

Pima Achievers

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

Image of the 2012 PCC CalendarThe National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, which represents marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges across the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, awarded PCC a Gold Paragon award for its website, and Silver Paragon awards for online services and computer-generated illustration, the 2012 calendar. Congratulations to Louise Glogoff, Leah Einecker and David Van Horn of Web Services, to the Web Redesign Team, and to Shannon McBride-Olson and Bryce Morthland of Media Production and Publications.

Adam Hostetter
, Assistant Program Manager in Teacher Education, finished third in nonfiction writing in the Tucson Festival of Books first Literary Awards Competition, which drew 310 entrees from across the U.S. Adam wrote “White Horse Days” in 2012 after attending a family reunion in the village of White Horse, Pa., his ancestral home. Adam portrayed his great-grandfather in a re-enactment. Dressed in period costume, he stood on the porch of his great-grandfather’s house, recounting his life, including a half-century as the village doctor, to an audience that included many members of the area’s Amish community. “It’s an essay about being inside and outside at the same time. It’s about going home, being different, wondering who your people are and where you fit,” Adam says. Adam also was one of eight finalists in a 500-word Flash Essay Contest for Brevity Magazine. That essay, about the significance of a name, is called “Being Adam.”

Director of Internal Audit Lori Cox has been selected to present at the Association of College and University Auditors’ annual conference in September. Lori’s presentation will be on “The Ten Commandments of Leadership” (sample commandment: Walk the Talk). She also will present at an audit director’s roundtable on “Quality Assurance for Small Audit Shops.”

Assistant Vice Chancellor Debbie Yoklic has been chosen to take part in Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program in June. I’ve taken part in the program and can attest to its value.

Dr. Johnson Bia Desert Vista Campus President Dr. Johnson Bia will receive a National Presidential Citation Community Service Award from Council 1057 of the League of United Latin American Citizens at a ceremony in April. Johnson is being recognized for what those at the College have known for years: that he is a dedicated community advocate who works tirelessly to ensure that local youth can succeed in college. . . .

The College has been selected to host an international scholar during the 2013-14 academic year as part of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program, which brings a global perspective to college campuses, through instruction, curriculum development and community outreach. It’s a great way to increase our students’ understanding of the world.

And a reminder: The final Spring semester offering of the 2013 PCC Speakers Series, sponsored by the Provost’s office and Faculty Senate, is Tuesday, April 2 at 6 p.m. with “Knowing Is as Knowing Does,” by Dr. Jerry Gill, Humanities faculty. The free lecture will be at the PCC District Office Community Board Board Room, 4905 E. Broadway.

Making Things Better

Image of Hirotsune Tashima with high school studentsIn 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.

Hirotsune Tashima
, a Visual Arts faculty member at West Campus, works with high school art students. Hiro has visited Sahuaro, Catalina Foothills, Catalina Magnet and Salpointe Catholic, sharing his expertise in sculpture and ceramics.


In closing

As you probably know, I will step down as Interim Chancellor no later than Friday, April 12, returning to my home position of Community Campus President. As I wrote earlier this month, it has been an honor serving as Interim Chancellor. PCC is a wonderful, vibrant institution that will surely overcome our present difficulties because we never lose sight of our reason for being here: our students.

I cannot help but think back to the Board meeting of February 27, when dozens of our students packed our El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, to eloquently and passionately – and in one case, poetically – urge the College to approve in-state tuition for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival students.

 Those young people were amazing, and the College listened to the community and did the right thing. We were at our best that night, and I truly believe that for PCC, the best is yet to come.  Thank you.

Suzanne L. Miles