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Interim Chancellor's Report - February 2013

Pima Community College Seal

Interim Chancellor's message

The College has received a report from the State of Arizona's Office of the Auditor General regarding our internal controls over financial reporting and compliance. While the report noted no material weaknesses in our internal controls, it did identify several matters important enough to merit attention by the College.

As you can see in the report, the College has an action plan in place to address the concerns raised in the audit. The plan contains a solution, a deadline and a responsible person to ensure that the deficiency is corrected.

The College is concerned any time there is an audit finding of any type. We work hard to prevent errors and improve processes at all times.

College Plan update

Improve outreach to the community. Be more responsive to the workforce training needs of local employers. Foster a culture of innovation at the College.

Those were three common suggestions emerging from eight PCC employee forums regarding the 2013-2015 College Plan. About 115 PCC employees – faculty, staff and administrators -- expressed their views as they answered two questions at the core of the planning process: What are the biggest challenges facing PCC? What are the biggest challenges facing their neighborhood, city and region?

As always, the goal is to obtain the widest cross-section of opinions and insights so that our College Plan -- a detailed blueprint that addresses educational and economic issues – truly meets the needs of the community. (You can learn more about the College Plan on our website.)

Insights from the employee forums, as well as from community forums held in late 2012, will be summarized and presented to the College’s Planning Committee, which is working to write the plan. The PCC Governing Board will review and amend the plan’s drafts, and will vote on the plan later this year.

The College has set up a special email for the public to offer its suggestions regarding PCC priorities and the planning process. The address is college-plan@pima.edu. We want to hear from you.

Chancellor search update

Pima Community College’s Governing Board has hired a new firm, Association of Community College Trustees, to assist it in the search for a chancellor and has reasserted its goal of having the new chancellor at work by July.

As always, more information on the search, including an email link to comment to the Board about the search, is available on a webpage at www.pima.edu.

In January, the Board approved for me to serve as Interim Chancellor and President of Community Campus, my home position, in order to smooth the arrival of the new chancellor to PCC.  I will continue to serve in the dual roles until June 30, 2013; however, there is a slight modification due to the extension of the search.  Originally, I was going to be working mainly from my office at Community Campus; because of the extension of the search, I will be spending time and conducting business mainly out of the District Office.

Safety Update

A public safety incident Friday, Jan. 18 at the Downtown Campus has led the College to review our practices, so that on those rare occasions when a crime occurs at the College, we continue to keep the College community well informed and safe.

We appreciate the importance of notifying the College community as soon as possible. By March 15, we will have new procedures in place that will allow us to inform as quickly as possible our students and staff at the site where the incident took place.

We are exploring ways to expand notifications to the entire College community, such as through a College-wide email, better updating of the PCC website and emails to all PCC students. For students without access to email or the Internet, we are considering asking faculty to read a notice to students in their classes. New procedures will be in place no later than April 15.

Also, we are exploring an opt-in text message alert system for students and employees, such as the one in place at The University of Arizona and other schools. We will have a plan ready by Dec. 20.

We intend to do more to increase the readiness of our employees to react to an emergency, including having an external agency audit our safety and security procedures, exploring the possibility of increasing DPS staff, and surveying College offices to ensure that all can be locked.

Please know that there is no higher priority than ensuring the safety of our students and employees, and that we are committed to making PCC an even better place to work and to learn.

College Report

The College at the summit

Representative Raul Grijalva and Senator Jeff Flake with PCC Summit attendeesThe College was well represented in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago when two students, three Board members and three staff members joined me at the Association of Community College Trustees’ National Legislative Summit. The annual summit is an excellent opportunity for representatives from more than 1,000 community colleges to speak about the importance of our institutions to decision makers in our nation’s capital.

Students Elizabeth Pino and John Valenzuela eloquently and passionately made the case for funding Adult Education and Pell Grants to Congressmen Raúl Grijalva and Ron Barber, who each spent a considerable amount of time with us and showed genuine interest in what our students had to say. Elizabeth is a determined mother of four who would like to be social worker. John is a member of the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe who has his sights set on a career in law enforcement. Both proved to be effective advocates – not just Pima but for higher education nationwide.

We also met with administration officials, our new Senator, Jeff Flake, and representatives from the offices of Sen. John McCain, Congressman Ed Pastor and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick. Even with their very busy schedule, the students managed to take in some of Washington’s notable attractions, like the Lincoln Memorial and the Library of Congress.

The Pima delegation also included board members Dr. Brenda Even, Dr. Sylvia Lee and Scott Stewart; Vice Chancellor of Public Information and Federal Government Relations C.J. Karamargin; Advanced Program Manager Regina Suitt; and Donna Martinez of our Office of Public Information and Federal Government Relations.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Donna for her work in organizing many of the details for the trip and helping to make sure Elizabeth and John got the most of their time in Washington.

Celebrating mentors

Ronald A. Wilson and Geneva EscobedoMaking smart choices can be a challenge for at-risk youth, who often need a mentor’s guidance to choose the right path. A celebration of area mentors and mentoring programs held Jan. 25 at PCC’s West Campus recognized the critical role that all of us can play in making a better future for young people.

The event was sponsored by PCC and the Southern Arizona Mentoring Coalition. TV journalist Kristi Tedesco served as mistress of ceremonies.  About 150 people attended; they learned of the importance of mentoring at-risk youth, heard stories of successful mentor-mentee relationships and connected with representatives from a dozen local mentoring programs.

PCC knows that proper support can be invaluable during a young person’s formative years. That is why the College was honored to take part in the celebration. It’s also why the College is involved in several initiatives, including “adopting” Oyama Elementary School and taking part in Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, two programs that provide counseling and encouragement to help low-income high school students become the first in their family to attend college.

Geneva Escobedo, Executive Assistant to West Campus President Dr. Lou Albert, was instrumental in making the mentoring celebration a reality, as was Ronald A. Wilson, president of the Southern Arizona Mentoring Coalition, and I thank them for their hard work and dedication.

More information on the Southern Arizona Mentoring Program is available at mentorkidsusatucson@gmail.com

[Photo courtesy of Barney Hilton Murray]

Black Male Roundtable

West Campus had the honor of being the site of the Black Male Roundtable on Feb. 22. The roundtable was another example of our partnership with the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce to present a discussion of issues of paramount importance to the College and the community. In 2012, Downtown Campus hosted Project Hoodie, a community discussion following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

With 50 percent minority enrollment, the College is committed to serving our region’s diverse constituencies. Moreover, mirroring a national trend, PCC’s enrollment is 55 percent female and 45 percent male, and we are acutely aware of the profound economic and sociological implications of such a disparity.

We wholeheartedly support the contention of Chamber President Clarence Boykins that the topics discussed at the roundtable cannot be addressed “from the sidelines.” We stand ready to assist the Chamber, the We Care Coalition and other community partners to achieve their goals of promoting healthier lifestyles, locating economic opportunities and restoring hope.

Pima Achievers

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

Vice Chancellor of Information Technology Keith McIntosh is leading a partnership with Tully Elementary Magnet School to support the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs. Community connections between PCC and Southern Arizona’s K-12 districts, such as our adoption of Oyama Elementary School last year, will have long-term benefits for the schoolchildren, many of whom no doubt will attend PCC in the future. . . . Our Office of Human Resources has received the Excellence in Human Resource Practices Award from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for its fine Professional Development programs. Congratulations to Vice Chancellor Janet May and the Human Resources team. . .

Twelve students have been named to the 2013 All-Arizona Academic teams by Phi Theta Kappa, the international scholastic honorary society for two-year colleges. The students were elected based upon academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. They should be very proud, as should PCC faculty, who have been providing top-notch instruction.

First team: Geoffrey Armstrong, Mathematics; Jessica Carbajal, Psychology; Mary Beth Ross, Computer Information Systems; Kelly Ruhlman, Cellular and Molecular Biology; Eryn Brittaney Wuori, Psychology

Second team: Dax W. Crocker, Religious Studies; Gina Mancebo, Sports Management/International Business

Third team: John Anglin, Social Services; Leila Camus-Lamnaouar, Liberal Arts; Johnna Carrig, Nursing; Serena B. Davis, Business Management; Maria Elena Moreno, Liberal Arts. . . .

It was an amazing month for PCC Adult Education. More than three dozen students from PCCAE were winners in Arizona Adult Literacy Week contests earlier in February.

Distinguished Merit – Poetry Collection: “We Thought We Couldn’t – Our River of Words,”  

Adriana Flores, Ailing Song, Alejandra Castilo, Arthur Wells, Brandylynne Jenkins, Candice Brown, Caroline Chavez, Darlene Gonzales, Debra Williams, Donna Laguna, Esther Mullenax, Frances Mariscal, Francisca Galaz, Glafiro E. Perez, Jessica Urrea, Lisa Ren, Matthew Schubert, Ricardo Monteverde, Roman Perez, Tammie Davis and Vincente Benitez

Partner Award with Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning: “Power Word ABC Project,” Ivonne Pereyra, Maria M. Moreno, Patricia Garcia, Veronica Barron, Ixerida Moreno Villalobos, Erika Chavez, Maria Silvia Fonseca, Maria Jaqueline Rodriguez, Gilda Quintero-Armenta, Melinda Virgen, Nadia Razo, Mireya Taylor-Zepeda, Marina Gomez, Raquel Valenzuela and Alejandra Castellanos

Special Category, Digital Story: “Positive Changes” by Elizabeth Pino, and “Importance of Improving Your Life” by Mari Guillen.

Also, nine students were inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society during a ceremony at the PCC 29th Street Coalition Center, attended by Governing Board Member Marty Cortez and Desert Vista Campus President Dr. Johnson Bia: Jorge Carreon, Jin. Y. David, Gabriel Duarte, Debra Echols, Maria Figueroa, Blanca Ortega, Lauralee Sorilla, Tenny Tenka and Olga Zamorano. . . .

The College is honored to renew its role as Education Sponsor of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 “40 Under 40” program. “40 Under 40” annually recognizes promising young leaders from all walks of life – educators, business owners, students, mentors – who are united by precocity and dedication to community. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the list of past honorees includes Dr. David Bea, Executive Vice Chancellor, and Edgar Soto, Executive Director of Athletics. More information is available at the Chamber’s website. . . .

And a reminder: The 2013 PCC Speakers Series, sponsored by the Provost’s office and Faculty Senate, continues  on Tuesday, March 5, at 6 p.m. with “Ars Moriendi, Ars Vivendi: The Art of Death, the Art of Life,” by Dr. Dianna Repp, Anthropology faculty. The free lecture will be at the PCC District Office Community Board Board Room, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.

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 three months, we received more than two dozen responses! Allow me to share one in this edition of the Interim Chancellor’s Report (and, as always, email me with news of your volunteer endeavors):

David FreitagDavid Freitag, IT Principal Analyst, volunteers with the Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol (SCVP) and the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Bike Patrol. David directs people to the Visitor Center and gently encourages hikers and cyclists to follow the rules in Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon while he answers questions about roads, trails and local wildlife. The patrols are volunteer associations working with the U.S. Forest Service in the Coronado National Forest Ranger District. The SCVPs’ primary focus is patrolling the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and nearby Mount Lemmon, which receive over 1 million visitors each year.

In closing

9/11 MemorialMy husband and I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York earlier in February. It was a powerful  experience in every sense – like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., you can touch the names of the fallen, which are inscribed into the bronze that surrounds the memorial’s pools. By placing the names of those who died within your grasp, the memorial puts the horrible enormity of the tragedy into human terms.

While walking through the plaza, Rob and I realized how fortunate we are to live in a society that is built on the freedom to assemble and contemplate as we choose. The 9/11 Memorial offers a modest, serene space where we can come together, solemn yet hopeful, as a community. I urge you to visit it if you can.


Suzanne L. Miles