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Pima Wins National Award for Redesigning Its Developmental Education Program

February 5, 2020

Tucson, AZ – Pima Community College’s redesign of its Developmental Education program today received best-in-the-nation recognition, beating out nine other community colleges from across the U.S. to win a Bellwether Award for higher education innovation that produces substantial results.

Pima won for its entry “Transform Developmental Education, Transform an Institution” in the Bellwether Awards category of Instructional Programs and Services. The competition was held at the Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio, Texas. 

The achievement in Developmental Education (commonly known as remedial education) is a milestone in Pima’s nearly decade-long effort to solve a problem that community colleges across the nation have long grappled with: How to prepare students for the rigors of college-level coursework.

Pima’s response was sparked in September 2013, when Lee D. Lambert, who had become Pima’s Chancellor in July 2013, set an objective to “begin the redesign of the Developmental Education program no later than Fall 2013.” Chancellor Lambert charged the Provost’s Office with implementing the objective.

The Provost’s Office formed a committee of external and internal constituents. The College hired a Dean of Developmental Education, who created interdisciplinary teams to revise placement processes, improve curriculum and student support, and undertake other initiatives to move the needle on gateway courses -- General Education courses that students need to successfully complete in order to get a degree in their major.

At the competition today, Pima produced substantial success: a 20 percent increase from 2014 in students earning credit in English Composition, and a phenomenal 90 percent increase in students earning credit in a gateway Mathematics course.

“The reality is that everyone who participated in this comprehensive Collegewide effort deserves kudos,” Chancellor Lambert said in a message to the College community. “Thank you for helping break down a barrier to student success!”


Libby Howell, APR, Executive Director

Media, Government and Community Relations

(520) 206-4778,

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