Welcome, Dr. Lorraine Morales

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Last week I attended a welcome reception for Dr. Lorraine Morales, the new president of our Community Campus. Lorraine was one of the first people I met at PCC when I interviewed for the chancellorship last year, and it’s because of people like Lorraine, who combine exceptional talent with boundless compassion for the community, that I took the position.

In a sense, last week’s event was a “welcome back” reception, as Lorraine had served as president in an acting capacity in 2012-13. Lorraine is an extremely good fit for her new post. In addition to wide-ranging administrative experience at PCC (she has served at four of our six campuses), Lorraine understands the special role Community Campus plays at the College.

Community is home to PCC’s Workforce Development initiatives, and partners with local employers to provide efficient, effective training to their workers. Our top-rated Adult Education program and our online education services have their roots at Community, but as Lorraine recognizes, their branches extend through the College. Lorraine’s vision is to increase the integration of Community’s functions throughout the College for the betterment of our students and community partners.

Lorraine’s education journey exemplifies the incredible power of learning. After receiving her high school equivalency, she went on to earn bachelor and master’s degrees, and received a doctorate in Education from Northern Arizona University.  Her academic achievements led to a decades-long career at colleges and universities. Yet, as she put it, Lorraine always felt drawn to community colleges. PCC is the better for it.

Under Lorraine’s leadership, Community Campus – or as Lorraine called it, “that little building on Bonita” – is poised to have a tremendous positive impact as we remake PCC into one of the United States’ premier community colleges.

Building better pathways to in-demand careers

The reinvigorated push for better job training announced this week by the White House is important for numerous reasons. As PCC’s chancellor, what struck me was the critical role community colleges are again being called upon to play in readying our workforce for the in-demand jobs of the 21st century.

One of the key themes of the report, developed by a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, was the need for a systemic, connected approach by stakeholders. “Many businesses, community colleges, and state and local training programs … have found ways to successfully prepare Americans for these jobs. We must expand on these successful efforts and ensure that our entire system is learning from them.”

Clearly, PCC is well situated to make a critical difference in clearing the path to jobs that lead to the growth of a thriving middle class. Our connections to the Workforce Investment Board, Pima County One Stop and JobPath have proven to be extremely beneficial. For example, by allying ourselves with One Stop to implement the Health Professions Opportunity Grant, we have been able to help hundreds formerly jobless men and women find careers in the fast-growing healthcare sector.

The report emphasizes the need to align training and curricula with employer needs and expectations. PCC is a member of the National Coalition of Certification Centers, and I can vouch for the importance of industry-driven credentials that validate the skills and knowledge we have imparted to our students.

The signing of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is another generally positive step for workforce training. In addition to streamlining federal programs, this bipartisan legislation sets standards for measurements of effectiveness. The initiative aligns with the College’s goal of improving assessment through development of metrics regarding tangible outcomes to the extent that our access to data allows.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the College should aggressively pursue resources that advance job training efforts. Our participation in the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT) has been extremely successful, and is an example that should be replicated. As part of a consortium of the state’s community colleges, PCC prepares students for skilled, high-wage jobs in the energy industry. This program is geared to helping military veterans and other adult learners. Working in partnership the Tucson Electric Power Co. we have developed an Electrical Utility Technology certificate.

Our participation in an Arizona Commerce Authority-facilitated sector partnerships initiative also holds great potential. In sector partnerships, employers work with governments, educators, labor, economic development groups and community organizations on a holistic approach to growth. We can do our part by providing an education pipeline producing qualified workers such industries as aerospace, renewable energy and optics.

The College knows what is effective in helping people find meaningful work. Now we need to get to work. I am confident that by taking advantage of our improved, inclusive strategic planning structure, and with the leadership provided by our new Community Campus President, Dr. Lorraine Morales, we can effectively coordinate with our partners for the betterment of the community. PCC can, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, set our students on an upward trajectory for life.

Welcome, Dr. Erica Holmes

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It was an honor for me to attend a welcome reception on Monday for Dr. Erica Holmes,
our new Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Services.

Since July 1, her first day on the job, Erica has immersed herself in accreditation issues.
She has put in long hours reviewing the Self-Study Report we will submit to the Higher
Learning Commission next week. The “fresh set of eyes” she has brought to this all-
important task has already had a positive impact, and for that I am extremely grateful.

At the reception, Erica noted that she is reading the Self-Study from the perspective of a
peer reviewer, and is paying close attention to the document’s consistency, the
supporting body of evidence and how it aligns with our Standard Practice Guide.

She also observed that she is excited about the “people and possibilities” at Pima and
that she sees how committed our faculty and staff are to creating a premier learning
environment for our students.

Erica is a first-generation college student from a small town in Virginia. She is a
community college graduate herself and spent time as an instructor before becoming an
administrator. She joined the Pima family after serving as Vice President of Academic
and Student Affairs at Kennedy-King College, one of the colleges in the City Colleges of
Chicago system.

This breadth of experience will serve her – and Pima – well as we move forward. As I
noted in the announcement of her appointment early last month, Erica will be an
integral member of the Pima’s leadership team.

And please mark your calendars, a welcome reception for Dr. Lorraine Morales, the new
President of our Community Campus, will be held Thursday, July 24 at the campus in
Room A109-112. The 90-minute reception begins at 3:30. I hope to see you there.

Looking back, looking ahead

I began my second year as chancellor with a review of my first. At the July meeting of the PCC Governing Board, I summed up the progress made in achieving my 2013-14 Goals, Objectives and Timelines. [My presentation is available here.] PCC has been able to move forward in many areas, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of the College community. Of course, much more needs to be done to transform PCC into a premier community college focused on our North Star of student success, engagement and diversity.

We have done an excellent job conducting an Institutional Self-Study, a comprehensive self-examination of the College’s policies, processes and goals. The Self-Study was set into motion when our accrediting organization, the Higher Learning Commission, placed the College on probation in April 2013 after determining it was not complying with several HLC standards.

We are in the midst of a crucial time regarding reaccreditation. The Self-Study Report must be submitted to the HLC by July 31. On Sept. 15-17, a team of HLC representatives will visit PCC. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate we deserve the HLC’s and the public’s highest degree of trust, and are confident we will provide strong evidence that the College has resolved the HLC’s concerns and meets its requirements.

Beyond accreditation, the College has improved significantly in several areas. For example, we now are consistently engaging our internal and external constituents. We will use the results of an employee satisfaction survey to develop a plan to improve the culture of the workplace. We have begun sexual harassment prevention training with a goal of training everyone in our organization. In addition, we are addressing the needs of our all-important adjunct instructors and temporary staff.

We have expanded outreach to area business, K-12 schools, the state’s colleges and universities, neighborhood associations, community groups, and state and federal leaders. The result has been increased alignment with important industry sectors, improved assessment testing at high schools, strengthened dual enrollment, streamlining of pathways to The University of Arizona, and stronger engagement by donors and alumni.

The Governing Board deserves praise as well, for updating its bylaws and policies, and especially for approving a new Governance Council. I chair the council, which comprises students, adjunct and full-time faculty, administrators, and regular and temporary staff. It is designed to keep leadership apprised of topics of College-wide importance, and is an example of our commitment to accountability and collaboration.

Still to be accomplished are several major initiatives, including redesigning remedial education, as well as completing a review of College regulations and guides of standard practice.

Designing effective organizational goals means striking a delicate balance. Goals should not consist merely of low-hanging fruit, objectives that can easily be met but are essentially incremental and do not address critical issues. Nor should goals be so sweeping in breadth and depth that attempting to achieve them means pushing the organization into a perpetual, paralytic “crisis mode” that hamstrings its ability to function.

The culture of continuous improvement taking hold at PCC means we are constantly stretching our limits through a cycle of assessment, implementation of change and reassessment. We have achieved several milestones this past year in improving our operations, but few endpoints. The process necessarily must be ongoing in order to meet the needs of our students and make a significant contribution to the progress of our city, our state and our nation.

Welcome, Dr. David Dore

It was my great pleasure last week to attend a welcome reception for Dr. David Doré, the new president of our Northwest Campus.

David is a top-notch addition to Pima, with nearly three decades’ experience in teaching and community college leadership. David’s wide-ranging background serving students, combined with vast administrative expertise, will serve the College well.

At last week’s reception, David shared his vision for forging partnerships with the K-12 and university systems and with the business community. He spoke about working toward Pima’s overall goal of creating a student-centered institution and keeping students engaged to enhance their opportunities for academic success. It was particularly great to hear from David that every person he has met at the Northwest Campus has talked about students and how much they care about students.

David, who started on July 1, comes to us from Mesa Community College where he was the Dean of Instruction for Career and Technical Education (CTE). Since July 2013, he has been responsible for 150 degree and certificate programs and also oversaw the newly created Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute. David plans to use this expertise to help determine what types of new CTE programs might best serve the Northwest Campus and this region.

David holds a Doctorate of Education from Pepperdine University, a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University, a Master of Education from Boston College, a Master of Theological Studies from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Gannon University.

In our search for a new president of Northwest, the search committee wanted to find someone who is passionate about students and passionate about the community. Without a doubt, David meets those criteria.

And please mark your calendars, a welcome reception for Dr. Erica Holmes, our new Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Services, will be held Monday, July 21 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the lunch room at the District Office. Hope to see you there.

Thank you, Ed Stolmaker

Something very nice happened at last night’s Governing Board meeting. An important member of the business community came forward to publicly praise PCC.

Ed Stolmaker, the president and CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce, expressed his support for “the vision and mission” of the College because of the role we play in training our region’s workforce.

“Our business community needs a skilled workforce that is able to meet and exceed the changing demands of today’s employers,” he said. “Creating jobs and growing our local economy are key to our success.”

Well put, Ed. Thank you.

New resources to enhance economy through education

I want to thank the Arizona Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer for their generous support of PCC’s efforts to improve workforce training and education in the all-important Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

The state’s $600,000 STEM-workforce appropriation to PCC, part of its 2014-15 budget allocation to Arizona’s community colleges, will have an immediate impact on academics. New microscopes, a computerized milling machine, and a life-sized human anatomy model will benefit students in diverse disciplines that range from Biology to Machine Tool Technology.  [You can read a complete list of projects here.]

In working toward becoming a premier community college, we recognize the necessity of giving students the tools to succeed in a profession. For some, the road to success begins at PCC and eventually includes attaining a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. Others are attending PCC to gain the skills and abilities needed by employers in industries that increasingly require sophisticated STEM knowledge.

We are here for all students who wish to learn, prosper and connect. PCC stands with the state’s community colleges, as well as our partners in K-12 and at four-year universities, as we work with the state to enhance Arizona’s economic development through education and training.