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Interim Chancellor's Report - October 2012

Pima Community College Seal

Interim Chancellor's message

The College’s Governing Board is on track to name a new Chancellor in spring 2013. Since being chosen on Feb. 29 to lead the College in the interim, one of my top goals has been to hand over to the new Chancellor an organization whose finances are in the best-possible order.

Toward that end, PCC is in the midst of a comprehensive examination of all contracts maintained with its vendors. This top-to-bottom review includes contracts with vendors who do business with the District Office and each of our six campuses.

Typically, we do not announce audits, but I feel the public deserves to know the specific steps we are taking to maintain the most prudent stewardship of their tax dollars.

The College, which is required to maintain a balanced budget, regularly audits its operations through its Office of Internal Auditor. In addition, we are subject to annual external audits by the Auditor General of Arizona, and by other entities in order to fulfill contractual obligations or to ensure compliance with federal, state or College procedures.

I hasten to point out that the overall fiscal integrity of PCC is not in question. But while we are extremely efficient and effective in our use of public funds, I believe a comprehensive audit represents the best way to demonstrate to the public the propriety of our business relationships.

Enrollment, in context

The College’s Fall 2012 enrollment is down approximately 11 percent compared to Fall 2011. Dr. Jerry Migler, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Services, presented the Governing Board with information to put that single data point into better perspective.

Driving the drop in PCC enrollment, which Dr. Migler said mirrors similar decreases at community colleges elsewhere in Arizona and around the U.S., are changes in the economy. Traditionally, community college enrollment closely correlates with unemployment rates – when people get laid off, they return to school to gain the skills to restart their careers.

Enrollment at PCC and at other community colleges spiked during the Great Recession of 2009-10. Those students have received their education, as reflected in the record number of diplomas and certificates awarded by PCC at graduation in May, and aren’t being replaced. More people in Pima County are finding work, as evidenced by the decline in area unemployment from more than 10 percent in early 2010 to 7.6 percent in August 2012. Additionally, federal stimulus funds, which provided incentives for unemployed workers to return to college, have gone away. Enrollment has returned to pre-recession levels, Dr. Migler said -- “We’re essentially where we were in 2007” – and is generally consistent with projections.

Other factors affecting enrollment:

  • The county’s population has remained flat, at just under 1 million, for the past five years.
  • Changes in Pell Grants -- including restricting grants to students with a high school diploma or a GED, reducing the number of Pell-eligible semesters from 18 to 12, and lowering the income level for the maximum grant from $30,000 to $23,000 – have kept students from coming to PCC.
  • Recent changes in PCC’s registration and placement procedures have had an impact, but it is difficult to discern their extent because historical data doesn’t exist, and because it is hard to determine why a person who is not at PCC did not enroll.

I want to thank Dr. Migler and Dr. Heather Tilson, Executive Director of Planning and Institutional Research, for a succinct and cogent analysis of an important issue.

Wealth of College information just a click away

I am pleased to announce a new page on the PCC website dedicated to fostering greater transparency and openness. This page – Key College Documents – is intended to provide quick, one-stop access to the many College resources of interest to our stakeholders.

The Key College Documents page includes links to information about accreditation, the budget, Board of Governors, Chancellor’s Cabinet, College organization, crime reports, faculty and Human Resources. It also features a searchable database of base salaries and wages for all regular, full-time College employees.

This new webpage is one of the many ways that PCC is strengthening our commitment to be accountable to the people of southern Arizona and to you.  

College Plan Update

The first two brainstorming sessions for the public to offer suggestions for the College’s direction over the next few years yielded several interesting ideas.

The overarching priority for PCC, according to those who attended forums at the Nanini Library on the city’s Northwest Side and the Sam Lena Library in South Tucson earlier this month, was for its facilities to become centers for neighborhood activity. PCC should be about “building communities,” forum participants said. The word “hub” came up often.

Insights such as these are most welcome, and we want more so that our 2013-2015 College Plan -- a detailed blueprint that addresses educational and economic issues – is deeply infused with the thoughts of the community. (You can learn more about the College Plan on our website.)

Three more forums are scheduled:

  • Monday, November 5, 2012, 6-7:30 p.m.
    Wilmot Branch Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 8-9:30 a.m.
    Santa Rita High School, 3951 S. Pantano Road
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 10-11:30 a.m.
    San Miguel High School, 6601 S. San Fernando Road

We are looking for a wide range of opinions. If we are missing something, tell us.

Toward that goal, we are developing a webpage where you will find extensive information on the planning process. There also is a link to college-plan@pima.edu, through which you can comment on all aspects of the planning process. We want to hear from you.

Chancellor search update

The PCC Governing Board is conducting a search for a new chancellor, as many of you know. Earlier this month, the College posted the Executive Search Profile for chancellor. The document lists the qualifications expected of candidates for the position, as well as challenges and opportunities. PCC will begin reviewing applications on Nov. 16, 2012. You can suggest prospective candidates via email to Elizabeth Rocklin of R.H. Perry & Associates, an executive search firm hired by the Board earlier this year.

For more information on any aspect of this important process, simply click on the Chancellor Search button on the pima.edu home page. There you will find a link to ChancellorSearch@pima.edu, which you can use to comment to the Board of Governors. You also will find other information related to the search, including updates, a detailed timeline and other resources.

College Report

Helping young students, parents aim high academically

Oyama School logoIt is never too early to instill the importance of educational achievement into a community. That is why I am delighted that the College and the Tucson Unified School District (pending TUSD Board approval) are poised to enter into a collaboration to help Oyama Elementary School begin a journey that will end, more than a decade from now, with their students earning college diplomas or certificates.

PCC’s Governing Board has approved a multiyear agreement with TUSD to provide tutoring, mentoring and other learning opportunities at Oyama Elementary, which has about 450 students, most of whose parents have not attended college. In addition to free tutoring and mentoring of students, PCC will hold activities for parents to promote planning for their children to attend college. Activities will be held at Oyama and at PCC’s West Campus, 2202 W. Anklam Road. We intend to adopt other schools in the future.

Our close connection with TUSD gives us a unique opportunity at Oyama, which is a fitting site for such a partnership. Oyama Elementary School is named for Dr. Henry “Hank” Oyama, a longtime Tucson educator, both at PCC and TUSD, where he helped create a curriculum for native Spanish speakers while at Pueblo High School. Hank was part of a team whose groundbreaking work on bilingual education, which culminated in a pioneering report titled “Invisible Minority,” sparked nationwide interest in bilingual education and ultimately led to the signing of the Bilingual Education Act in 1968. In 1970, he became PCC’s director of bilingual and international studies; in 1978, he was named associate dean of the program. He retired in 1992 after having served as vice president for multidisciplinary education and services in 1989. Hank also is a co-founder of Amigos de Pima, which provides scholarships through the Hispanic Student Endowment Fund.

My sincerest thanks go to Geneva Escobedo, Executive Assistant at West Campus, for spearheading the project; Tamara Christopherson, Oyama Elementary’s principal; West Campus President Dr. Lou Albert; Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, Acting Assistant Vice Chancellor; Ann Oyama, Hank’s wife; and of course to Hank, who continues to be an inspiration for us all

Neighborhood celebrates 29th Street Coalition Center

Speaker at the 29th Street Coalition Center Open HouseMore than 400 people celebrated the opening of the PCC 29th Street Coalition Center on October 26 with hot dogs, hamburgers, entertainment and tours. The children in attendance decorated cookies and received education-themed goodie bags. Speakers included Tucson City Council Member Richard Fimbres, Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez, PCC Governing Board Member David Longoria, Rene Gastelum of the 29th Street Corridor Coalition, and PCC Adult Education students Nathalie Lolika and Lucy Pacheco Slate (pictured).

The celebration marked a milestone that had been months in the making. In February, the College broke ground on renovating the facility, formerly Roberts Elementary School, at 4355 E. Calle Aurora, after reaching a lease agreement with our partners the Tucson Unified School District, which had closed the school.

There were a lot of twists and turns, but Rene and the 29th Street Corridor Coalition were with us every step of the way, providing insight and support.  And thanks to Bill Ward, PCC’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities, and our award-winning Facilities crew, the center opened for business in early October.

It’s important to note that the College is committed to making at least $300,000 in improvements to the facility. But that tells only part of the story. The positive impact the center has on the surrounding area goes beyond dollars and cents.

It’s home to one of our Adult Education learning centers, and to our Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute, where we teach the police officers, firefighters and first responders of tomorrow.

And it is a temporary home to the Eckstrom-Columbus branch of the public library while the branch’s permanent home gets its own makeover.

Thus, the real value of the project: What once was a vacant building is now a thriving resource. The center adds to the security and stability of a great neighborhood located right in the heart of Tucson.

PCC Adult Education:  Money well spent

Pima Community College Adult Education’s annual report to the Pima County Board of Supervisors revealed a year of superlative performance. The county allotted $250,000 to PCCAE for 2011-12, and the report is an instrument of accountability showing that the money is well spent.

For 2011-12, PCCAE students’ test scores met or exceeded performance standards set by the Arizona Department of Education, based on significant gains made by the students on a state- and federally-approved standardized test. Given that PCCAE is the second-largest provider of Adult Education services in the state, its success is reflected in Arizona Adult Education consistently ranking high nationwide. As Adult Education Dean Deborah Gaddy says, “When we do well, the state does well.”

For the second straight year, Arizona Adult Education programs rank fourth in the U.S., based on nationwide reporting that takes into consideration several factors, including test scores, number of GED recipients, and the number of AE students who found a job, moved to a better job, or began college or career training. Arizona is one of only three states (Ohio and Alabama are the other two) to rank in the top four for the past two years.

In addition to Pima County, PCCAE receives funding from several other sources, including PCC, the City of Tucson and the federal government. It also contracts to supply family literacy education, on-site GED training at area businesses, and education and training for refugees and the developmentally disabled. It should be noted that, for the second straight year, the Arizona Legislature did not appropriate money to fund the state’s Adult Education programs.  

It also should be noted that Proposition 204, which is on the state ballot this year, contains a provision that could generate funding for Adult Education. Proposition 204, which would permanently continue the temporary 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax that expires next year, will maintain the statewide rate of 6.6 cents on the dollar. If passed, the measure would allot 2 percent of revenue generated over $1 billion to the state’s 25 Adult Education programs.

The need for Adult Education in Pima County is enormous. PCCAE serves about 8,000 people a year. However, it is estimated that more than 107,000 adults in Pima County lack a high school credential. The economic hardships these individuals and their families confront are profound.

A Pima County resident without a high school diploma or GED earns about $9,000 less per year than one with a credential. Nationally in 2008, an adult lacking a high school credential earned $24,800 annually, compared to $33,800 for an adult with a credential. That’s a huge difference in income for a family struggling to make ends meet, especially in these challenging times. Moreover, for many, earning a high school credential is a steppingstone to further educational achievement, and higher income. In this context, the value of Adult Education to the economic stability and development of Pima County cannot be overstated.

Training to meet community's healthcare needs

Employment opportunities in healthcare professions are expected to grow in Pima County for the rest of the decade, and the College is building on longstanding connections with its partners to see that area residents receive training for meaningful employment in careers that meet the needs of the community.

In a recent collaboration, PCC’s Center for Training and Development is adding a new program in Behavioral Health Specialist Training that will prepare graduates to enter the workforce in six to nine months.

Behavioral Health Specialists work as behavioral health workers, case managers, patient aides, family advocates, respite care workers or paraprofessional counselors. They provide the care and support critical to the mental and emotional well-being of clients and patients.

In Pima County, an 18 percent growth rate is predicted for both behavioral health specialists and psychiatric technicians over the same period, according to the firm Economic Modeling Specialists.

PCC’s Behavioral Health Specialist Training program is part of the College’s Pathways to Healthcare Program, which offers financial assistance for low-income people to train in in-demand health professions.

The University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus and Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, the umbrella organization for many behavioral health operations in Pima County, were the primary partners in developing the program.

PCC participates in national motivation study

In this era of scarce resources, the public and their representatives in government have a legitimate interest in seeing that tax dollars spent by colleges and universities yield results. An increasingly common measure of accountability in higher education is exit testing that discerns what students have learned.

The impact of these exams on individual students is minimal; however, as more states adopt performance-based funding, these assessments have potentially huge implications for higher education institutions. Determining the correlation between motivation and performance becomes crucial, so that colleges and universities can employ strategies that lead to more accurate evaluation of student learning.

This was the rationale for PCC’s participation in a nationwide research study to determine if motivational instructions can improve students’ scores on tests. The study, conducted by ETS, a Princeton, N.J.-based non-profit firm that develops and administers numerous standardized tests, found that when a motivator is applied to test-taking, performance improves. In the study, the motivator was that students were told their scores might be released to faculty at their school or to potential employers to evaluate their academic ability.

Studies of this nature will help PCC as it explores low-cost, practical ways to improve student performance. My thanks to Dr. Nancee Sorenson, Vice President for Student Development at East Campus and PCC coordinator of the research project, and her team: Robert Teso, Del Dawley and Nicola Richmond (PIR); Jerry Haynes, Jane Worrall, Pam Gylling, Chris Fox, Pam Lanser, Cinthia Gomez, Mary Beth Benton and Jerry Bench (Downtown Campus); Craig Winters, Sylvia Ortega, Silvia Gonzales, Sherry Wright, Chris Case and Daniel Soza (East Campus);  Louise Glogoff and Brian Basgen (District IT);  Terra Benson (Provost’s Office); Bill Howard (Finance); and Lou Albert (Chair, Human Subjects Committee).

Pima Achievers

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

The College won 10 awards, including four first-place honors, from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. PCC won first-place awards for its new website, its publicizing Downtown Campus’ Neon Mile Sock Hop and the donation to PCC of a 727 jet, and for a 30-second TV advertisement about a class on understanding smart gadgets. Congratulations to our Office of Public Information, Center for Learning Technology and Web Systems.

Barbara Jo McLaughlin, Art faculty, was one of six artists in a show at the Hanson Gallery in New York City. Her sculpture, “Tzompantli,” was part of an exhibit that ran through Oct. 6. . . . West Campus’ architecture will be featured during Tucson Modernism Week, Nov. 9-11, sponsored by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. . . . Six students participated in the National Latino Children’s Summit in Phoenix earlier this month. Mari Guillen, Mireya Taylor, Lorena Castillo, Claudia Alfaro, Andrew Alvarez and Spencer Grijalva took part in workshops on building healthy communities, political empowerment and other topics.  . . . PCC was well-represented at the 24th annual YWCA Tucson Women’s Leadership Conference, with Director of Internal Audit Lori Cox, Acting Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, Support Coordinator Gaby de Echavarri and Support Technician Mia Islas attending the conference’s informative workshops.

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 two months, we received nearly 20 responses! Allow me to share a few in this edition of the Interim Chancellor’s Report:

Images of black and white dog named PepperTwo members of the PCC community aid dogs who need help.

Information Technology Principal Analyst Juanita Alvarez is fostering two dogs (pictured is Pepper) for Arizona Bird Dog Rescue, a Tucson-based non-profit dedicated to finding homes for sporting breeds. 

Adjunct instructor Judy Ferrig helps socialize abused and abandoned animals at Hope Animal Shelter, a no-kill haven for cats and dogs awaiting adoption.

Operation Christmas Child Aleksandra Knezevic, IT Advanced Analyst at District Office, and her son Mladen Pecanac support Operation Christmas Child (OCC), an international relief organization that distributes shoe boxes filled with small toys and school supplies.

Their support is a way of paying back OCC’s kindness; during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, then-1-year-old Mladen received a shoebox gift through the charity.

In closing

Halloween Door decorators

The College is a friendly, welcoming place. However, with more than 80 offices competing in a College-wide Halloween door-decorating competition over the past few weeks, crossing many a PCC threshold has become an unnerving experience.  

Without any further delay, here are the winners, as judged by PCC Events Coordinator Christy Yebra and her team of judges:

  • Halloween: “Traditional Halloween,”  Community Campus, Student Services, B-105
  • Scariest:  “Alcatraz,” Community Campus, Vice President of Student Development, B-113
  • Beautiful:  “Aztec,” West Campus, Biology, K-103
  • Creative:  “Frankenweenie,” District Office, Media Production & Publications, B-102
  • Humorous:  “Deal or No Deal,” District Office, Human Resources, D-102
  • Autumn:  “Haunted Autumn,” Downtown Campus, Administrative Services, CO-131
  • Handmade:  “Voodoo,” District Office, Curriculum, A-211

You can view the winners’ handiwork here. My thanks to Christy, her fellow judges, and to all who participated. The contest was a fun way to kick off what I’m sure will be a joyous holiday season. Enjoy the last few weeks of autumn!

Suzanne L. Miles