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Chancellor’s Report June 2011

Pima Community College Seal

Chancellor's Message

In its 2011 session, the Arizona State Legislature passed bills, later signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, which significantly alter the relationship between the state and Pima Community College.

The state reduced the College’s funding appropriation by 55 percent, a cut of $8.8 million. To put this in perspective, it costs the College approximately $6,200 to educate a typical full-time student, and the state is funding only $325 per full-time student. The College falls deeper in the hole for every student it enrolls. The $5,900 gap must be made up through local taxes, tuition, and budget cuts.

The reality is that the College’s role in the community must change. We have enjoyed great success in providing occupational education programs. These disciplines are expensive to offer, but they produce top-rated nurses, machinists, airplane mechanics and pharmacy technicians who enter the local workforce and make our community more stable and economically healthy. Providing quality occupational education is an especially important function as unemployment remains painfully high, and citizens who have lost their jobs continue to come to the College to restart their careers.

But like most colleges, we have had less success in developmental education. Many students come to us without a high school diploma, and some who do have a diploma nonetheless come with severe deficiencies in mathematics, reading and writing. Despite having success with many students who need developmental education, we have not been able to prepare for college-level work students who come to us at fifth- to seventh-grade level.

The deep budget cuts made by the state, combined with a decline in property values, dictate that we no longer educate more than 70,000 students annually. Thus, the question for the College is clear: Where do we cut enrollment – in occupational programs that have helped students get jobs, in transfer programs that prepare students for bachelor’s degrees, or in developmental programs, that despite our best efforts and considerable expenditures of resources, have been less successful? The answer is equally clear: We must concentrate our resources on what the College does best as an institution of higher education. This reality presents difficult choices, but choices we must make nonetheless.

Beginning in Summer 2012, the College will require a high school diploma or equivalent, and appropriate scores on assessment tests. The Board of Governors recognizes that first and foremost, we are a college, and that we value education. The people of Pima County, in establishing the Pima County Community College District in 1969, sought to create an institution of higher learning. Responsible governance demands that we direct our limited resources where our constituents have directed us, and where our resources will do the most good.

College Report

Legislative Update

The 2011 Legislature is notable for new laws that have the potential to recast the relationship between the state and its employees. Senate Bill 1609 contains several provisions, including the establishment of a committee whose purpose is to examine over the next 18 months the feasibility of converting state retirement programs from defined-benefit plans, such as pensions, to defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s. In defined-benefit plans such as the Arizona State Retirement System, the contribution is variable but the payout is predictable, based on an employee’s years of service and salary. In defined-contribution plans, the payout can vary, depending on performance of the underlying investments. The College will closely monitor the progress of the committee, whose work could profoundly impact our employees.

Of immediate concern is Senate Bill 1614, which changed mandatory contribution rates of employees and employers into ASRS. In the past, each contributed 50 percent of the total to fund the system; the new law requires that employees pay 53 percent, and employers 47 percent. For PCC employees, it means an increase in their contribution from 9.85 percent to 11.39 percent of their pay.

At its May meeting, the Board of Governors approved a Fiscal Year 2012 budget recommendation that provides a 3 percent pay supplement to employees. This will cover the employee retirement contribution rate increases for the last two years, as well as the associated taxes. Because of this action, all regular employees will see a modest increase in their take-home pay rather than a pay cut.

Also, as it did last year, the Board approved an expenditure that covers increased costs for employee health coverage so that employee premiums remain at current levels.

2011-2013 College Plan

The Board of Governors has approved the 2011-2013 College Plan, the most aggressive College Plan ever developed by PCC. The Plan addresses difficult and fundamental issues. Its elements – five initiatives, 30 strategies and 182 specific actions – provide a detailed map of the College’s focus for the next two years.

The five initiatives are:

  1. Strengthen developmental education
  2. Improve the overall success of student learning
  3. Enhance course delivery
  4. Expand educational and workforce opportunities
  5. Enhance operations

The Plan is unique in its specificity. Each action is assigned a funding source, a responsible administrator and a completion date. The Plan enhances our mission, “to develop our community through learning,” as well as our fiduciary responsibilities as stewards of a public resource.

Through our College Plans, the College provides the public our priorities and direction. To allow the public to better gauge our progress, the College’s website contains summary results from the 2008-2011 College Plan.

Dozens of people from both the College and the community took part in developing the plan. Special thanks go to Dr. Nicola Richmond, Executive Director of Institutional Research; Dr. Suzanne Miles, Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor for the College and Community Campus President; Dr. David Bea, Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration; and to the Executive Team.

A draft of the 2011-2013 College Plan can be viewed at the College Plan website [LINK TO 17.6 College Plan].

Graduation 2011

Richard Thompson Graduation always is an exciting, festive time at the College, and May 19’s ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center provided a happy reminder of the relevance of the College’s mission and the role that PCC plays in the educational and professional growth of our community.

The College awarded 5,064 degrees, certificates and advanced certificates this year, a 7.3 percent increase over 2010’s total. A total of 3,396 students graduated, with many students earning more than one degree or certificate. 

As usual, the diversity of the graduates was remarkable. The oldest was a 76-year-old woman who earned an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts; the youngest, a 17-year-old young woman who received a Certificate in Veterinary Practice Assistant.

Commencement Speaker Richard Thompson touched on several important themes in his speech, and eloquently challenged his fellow graduates to “take the reins of progress and our own past so that we can earn the future.”

I wish the Class of 2011 continued personal and professional success.

Pima2NAU Joint Admissions Agreement

Dr. Roy Flores and Dr. John Haege Expanding and streamlining our connections to the state’s four-year universities is a priority for the College, and I am happy to announce a new collaboration between PCC and Northern Arizona University.
The signing on April 6 of the Pima2NAU joint admission agreement between the College and NAU crowned a year of work between the two schools.

Through Pima2NAU, students are admitted to Northern Arizona University while attending classes and receiving services at PCC. The joint admission program allows students to work toward a PCC associate’s degree, and assists them in making a seamless transition to NAU, where they can earn a bachelor’s degree at NAU in Tucson, NAU’s Flagstaff campus, or online.

While Pima2NAU students are attending PCC, NAU will provide them with advising, library services, a student ID and email, and information about financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

The need to increase the number of Arizonans with bachelor's degrees is great. Improving educational attainment is crucial if Arizona is to rebound economically. The agreement also complements our pathways agreements with Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

Thanks for making Pima2NAU a reality go to NAU President Dr. John Haeger; Christy Farley, NAU Associate Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Business Partnerships; Dr. Suzanne Miles, Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor for the College, and Community Campus President; and Jennie Scott, PCC Director of Curriculum and Articulation Services.

Awards and Recognition

PCC Student Wins Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Astride Tchoffo was unsure of her academic path when she came to Tucson in 2009 after graduating from high school in the West African nation of Cameroon. But she quickly recognized that Pima Community College would be an excellent fit for her.

“Once I was here, I realized that PCC was the best option [for me],” Astride says. “Financially, it was less expensive. Plus, with [Pima’s] small class sizes, and being an international student, Pima was the better fit.”

Astride’s choice of Pima has turned out to be successful in several ways. She received an Associate of Science degree at graduation last month. Moreover, she is one of only about 50 community college students nationwide to win a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Scholarship, which will provide up to $30,000 a year for up to three years as she pursues her baccalaureate studies.

The Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation is dedicated to helping exceptional young people reach their full potential through education. The scholarship is awarded based on grade-point average, critical thinking ability, the will to succeed, financial need, and breadth of interest and activities. It is the largest private scholarship for community college students in the nation.

Astride intends to study electrical engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, in the fall. Her ultimate academic goal is a Ph.D., and she hopes to return to her native nation and open a facility that designs and produces high-tech medical equipment.

Astride’s advice for Pima students is straightforward: “Work hard and go after your dream. This year has been a wonderful year for me, and without my instructors and advisors, I would not have succeeded. . . . Never give up.”

Chemistry Instructor Honored for Teaching Excellence

East Campus Chemistry Instructor Lonnie Burke, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2011 College Educator Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Southern Arizona Section of the American Chemical Society.

This award recognizes excellence in teaching chemistry, biochemistry or a chemistry-related field at a post-secondary institution that does not offer a Ph.D.-granting program in that field.

“This honor is very important to me and leads me to believe that a number of my students are appreciative of the college education that they have,” Burke said. “As student, I was greatly indebted to my professors for their time, patience and the education they provided me. It is my objective to provide my students with a similar academic experience.”

Burke, who has a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California-Irvine, has been full-time Pima faculty since 2006.

Grants and Scholarships

Desert Vista Endowment Update

Dignitaries celebrate Desert Vista Endowment milestone The Desert Vista Endowment has reached another milestone, exceeding $400,000 in donation and matching funds. As of mid-May, the endowment’s balance was $408,574.

The Endowment is a fund-raising component of a $5.4 million Title V grant awarded to Desert Vista and West campuses. Funds raised will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the federal government up to $310,000.

Interest from the endowment will generate annual income for scholarships, program development and facilities at Desert Vista. The educational opportunities funded by the endowment will strengthen the county’s workforce as it emerges from the recession. The entire community will benefit.

The College is grateful for a recent $2,500 gift from Rosemont Copper and for $3,713 from the friends and family of Manny Alvarado, a former PCC employee who passed away several years ago.

If you would like to support the Desert Vista Endowment fund-raising campaign, you can find details on how to contribute on our website, or call 520-206-4646. The deadline to contribute is Sept. 30.

Scholarship for Aspiring Scientists

I am pleased to note that Chuck George, an adjunct instructor at the College and chief meteorologist for television station KOLD, has established the Archimedes Scholarship, a PCC Foundation scholarship for aspiring scientists.

Named for the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, the scholarship is available to students majoring in any scientific discipline who are enrolled in at least six credit-hours, demonstrate financial need and have a grade-point average of at least 3.25.

The need for the United States to produce more scientists and researchers is well-documented, and the College is grateful to Mr. George for giving our students the chance to advance their studies.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the PCC Foundation or to apply online for scholarships, visit the PCC Foundation website.


Never Too Old to Learn

The average age of a Pima Community College student is 27.1 years. The College has seen an influx of older-than-average students enroll over the past few years. Many are seeking to move up in their field and attend PCC to hone their skills.

That was true for Andrew Mahan of the Informational Technology staff at Northwest Campus.

Andrew received his GED in 1970, and worked at a variety of jobs. He always wanted to go to college, but did not have the chance until 1988, when he took courses at PCC in management and writing while working full-time as the night manager of a local guest ranch. The realities of that job – his day often didn’t end until 1 a.m. – kept him from completing those classes.

Andrew spent the next 17 years working for a local company that made ornamental license plates. In 2005, he went back to school, at the urging of his wife, while still working at the license plate manufacturer. In 2006, he and his wife went over their finances and realized he could afford to go to school full-time. So he took the plunge and began taking classes in computers.

In his second semester he began working part-time at PCC in the IT department. He added a second part-time job: working the weekend graveyard shift at a Tucson firm that tracks lightning strikes around the world. (He since has accepted full-time employment with the firm.)

At first, Andrew was concerned how he would fit in attending classes at PCC. “It would be me around a bunch of smart kids. I’d be the old guy who didn’t know much,” he remembers worrying. “But they are incredible kids, and my perceptions of them were off by 180 degrees. Once they know that you are like them, just trying to get an education, age isn’t an issue. It’s attitude.”

Andrew graduated with honors in May 2011 with an Associate’s of General Studies degree; in 2010, he had received two certificates – in LINUX (a computer operating system) and in system administration. He is looking at several options for his bachelor’s degree, with UA South’s Bachelor of Science program in Systems Administration at the top of the list.

“My wife says it took her 10 years to get me into school and it will take 10 years to get me out,” Andrew says.

Program: New Certificate for Direct Employment in Phlebotomy

Tucson’s population is growing and aging, creating a need for jobs in health-related professions locally. To meet increasing demand, the College is offering a new Certificate for Direct Employment in Phlebotomy.

Phlebotomists, who draw patients’ blood samples for analysis in laboratories, work in a variety of healthcare settings, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics. Job market analysis indicates that the number of jobs for phlebotomists in Pima County will grow 11 percent by 2015.

The College’s program has been offered through the Desert Vista Campus’ Center for Training and Development (CTD) since late April, following approval of the program by the College’s Board of Governors. There are 20 students in the first cohort. The College plans two cohorts per year, says Brian Stewart, Advanced Program Manager at the CTD.

The program consists of three months of classroom and laboratory work, followed by three months of work in clinical settings. Students must make a minimum of 100 successful blood draws to graduate from the program. After a period of employment, graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for a national phlebotomy certification examination, after which the graduates may be eligible for increases in pay.

Eligible students can receive financial and other assistance through the Health Professions Opportunity Grant, a five-year, $16.8 million federal grant primarily administered through Desert Vista that provides low-income residents of Pima County with a variety of training programs in the healthcare professions.

For individuals and for the community, true economic gain depends on finding work that pays well. Through programs such as our new phlebotomy program, Pima Community College remains committed to helping the people of Pima County, who know that education remains the key to prosperity, achieve that goal.

Faculty:  Claire Campbell Park

Claire Campbell ParkWhen the economy is weak, art often is seen as an extravagance, says Claire Campbell Park. But the irony is that it is precisely during hard times, both personal and financial, that people from every circumstance come to art, because it can revive, renew, inform and sustain them, says Claire, who has been an Art instructor at the College for 33 years.

Communicating the durability and universality of the value of art is one of the reasons that Claire wrote “Creating With Reverence: Art, Diversity, Culture and Soul.” Claire, who is an internationally exhibiting Fiber artist, wanted to support others through the insights of her incredibly diverse students and the stories of artists from around the world, whose work connects them to their cultural heritage, their faith, and to universal human values.

Claire says she has seen people from all walks of life “transformed” by their exposure to art. “Over the years, so many students have come to art to get a better sense of self -- to strengthen their spiritual well-being. . . I have had homicide detectives in my classes, nurses, students who lost family members, people dealing with cancer, AIDS, the homeless. . . . . [Art] helps people get their lives back together.”

Claire talked about these and other themes during a well-attended PCC Speakers’ Series presentation this spring in the Community Board Room at the PCC District Office. The Speakers’ Series, which is free and open to the public, resumes during the Fall semester.

Alumna: Bilinda Mize

Bilinda MizePima Community College students often take varied paths to reach their educational goals. That is true in the journey of graduate Bilinda Mize.

When Bilinda graduated from Vail High School in Tucson in 2006, she knew that wanted to continue her education at a friendly place with small classes. That’s why she chose Pima Community College.

Bilinda began at Pima with a goal of becoming a teacher. But when she began working and interning at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, she realized that her career goal had changed. And her educational goal changed with it.

In May 2010, Bilinda graduated from Pima with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration, and an Arizona General Education Curriculum certificate. She attends Northern Arizona University in Tucson and will graduate in December with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. That will help her in her potential career at Raytheon, where she coordinates several Engineering programs that provide operational support for more than 5,500 employees across the organization.

Bilinda says that the transition from high school to Pima, and from Pima to NAU, has been very user-friendly, thanks to the culture that exists at both schools. “The people at Pima and NAU want you to succeed,” she says.

Roy Flores

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