August 12, 2019
We begin our 50th anniversary year celebrating our numerous recent institutional and individual achievements, and by embarking on a deeper understanding of ways to enhance our relevance to the community. This will be a long-term, multifaceted effort, given the amazing diversity of the constituencies we serve. The genesis of the effort is our institutional acknowledgement that student success, our top priority, is inextricably intertwined with the concept of equity.
Equity is not equality. In education, it is the removal of barriers to student success, with the understanding that the height of the barriers varies with the student. Pima’s emphasis on equity is an extension of our values, specifically our value of People, in that we honor the individual – their background, their experiences, their stories. The task for the College is find ways that recognize individuality while benefiting the greatest number of students.
Thus, it makes sense that we start with a systematic examination of strategies to maximize the value to students of two current initiatives, Online Educational Resources and Guided Pathways. Both seek to address the roadblock of cost. OER lowers the cost of textbooks, and has been extremely effective, saving our students more than $1.9 million. Guided Pathways, combined with Academic Maps, block scheduling and other initiatives, seeks to give students the most efficient route to a degree or certificate. All students benefit from our successes in these areas. But for our low-income students, for whom every single dollar counts, our efforts in these areas profoundly affect their ability to access, persist at and complete a Pima education. They need us to succeed.
It should be noted that we can significantly improve the College not by taking on more initiatives but by changing our mindset regarding what we already are doing, such as with OER and Pathways. Transforming mindsets begins with self-examination. I have no doubt that the process will be revealing. As the College achieves a better understanding of our curriculum, processes and culture, the result will the best-possible outcomes for all our students.