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Message from the Chancellor: George Floyd’s Legacy


Closing arguments began today in Minneapolis in the trial of the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd last year.

I have been following the proceedings, as I am sure many of you have. I am aware that the Black community has been subjugated by systemic injustice. That said, as an attorney and an American I am hopeful our system of justice will rise to this test.

Regardless of the verdict, the question remains: What can Pima Community College do to rectify the pervasive, systemic inequity that for centuries has held back communities of color in the U.S.?

I believe the answer is twofold. First, we must look inward. We must root out systems at Pima that create needless barriers and replace them with equity initiatives that advance underserved students to compete on an equal footing with students who have benefited from a culture of privilege.

At Pima, this critical work is being led by numerous groups. Our Breaking Student Barriers task force is preparing a wide range of recommendations, which will be integrated into our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and will provide a path to a fairer, better Pima.

Other important work in this area is being undertaken by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Faculty Senate Systemic Justice Action Committee and through the curriculum of our Administration of Justice program, Ethnic, Gender and Transborder Studies/Sociology, and other programs. The reality is all units of the College have a part to play in creating an equitable student experience.

Second, we should recognize that the College can take a leading role in bringing about economic opportunity in Pima County. We must follow through on initiatives that give everyone the opportunity to get a good job -- one that pays a family-supporting wage and remains relevant in the face of the coming decade of wrenching technological change. 

The universal need for a decent paycheck -- especially for those disproportionately disadvantaged both historically and by the economic impacts of the pandemic -- should drive learner-centric design of our programs. Successfully addressing that need will help us realize equity goals, given that the typical Pima learner today belongs to a community of color.

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others sparked passionate civil-rights protests last summer and a gigantic anti-racism movement that remains strong. A generation of young activists has been re-energized. Many attend Pima Community College. I am confident that we will succeed in the quiet revolution to repair our society. In this sense, a verdict already is in.

Lee Lambert, Chancellor

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