M.A.G.I.C Weekend

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I was honored to deliver remarks at My Air Guard Incentives Center (M.A.G.I.C.) Weekend earlier this month. The event, hosted by our West Campus, is a collaboration with the Arizona National Guard’s 162nd Wing. M.A.G.I.C. Weekend provided about 200 newly sworn-in Airmen from the Student Flight program, Drill Status Guardsmen and active-duty U.S. Air Force Airmen, along with their spouses and dependents, with tools to make informed career, personal and family decisions

PCC is excited to strengthen its relationship with the military and veterans community of Tucson and the state of Arizona. I appreciated the opportunity to speak about my experience in the Army, and I want to note PCC employs members of the 162nd Wing in key positions. PCC is committed to enhancing opportunities for our military and veterans through education. We owe these brave men and women our best.

SBDC back in business at PCC

I am excited to report that the College has re-established a relationship with an important business partner. The PCC Governing Board last week approved a three-year Intergovernmental Agreement with the Arizona Small Business Development Center (AZSBDC) for a cooperative effort to host a service center at Community Campus.

The AZSBDC Network is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration and eight community college districts throughout Arizona. Last year the network served more than 3,600 entrepreneurs and more than 3,100 business owners.  At Community Campus, the center will offer quality, no-cost confidential one-on-one counseling and no- or low-cost workshops to new and current businesses and entrepreneurs.

As Janice C Washington, AZSBDC state director says, the strategic alignment between community colleges and SBDC is strong. Small businesses are the engine that drives economic development in our region, and the College is placing a greater emphasis on working with business partners. We are honored to collaborate with an organization dedicated to helping existing and new businesses launch, grow and become sustainable.

A vehicle for economic, cultural growth

Last week, I welcomed one dozen students from the Universidad Tecnológica de Chile, better known as INACAP, to Downtown Campus. INACAP is the largest and most diverse university and technical education system in the South American nation, and these Automotive Technology students are at Downtown for an intensive week-long training in Engine Diagnosis and Repair.

Like our other collaborations with Latin American countries, such as the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades International Program, the Chilean students’ visit supports President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative. The objective of 100,000 Strong is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America to 100,000, and the number of Latin American students in the U.S. to 100,000 by 2020. The ultimate goal is to increase hemispheric competitiveness and prosperity by developing a globally conscious and culturally competent workforce.

The visit is a first for PCC – it’s the first time we have hosted international students in career and technical fields – and we have stepped up to provide the best-possible training for our guests. We located instructors to deliver the course in Spanish and we translated the curriculum into Spanish in-house.

Lisa Nutt is part of a team ensuring the visiting Chilean students have a positive experience at PCC.

Lisa Nutt is part of a team ensuring the visiting Chilean students have a positive experience at PCC.

Lisa Nutt and Daisy Rodriguez Pitel from our International Student Services Office have gone above and beyond to create activities to make the groups feel comfortable and welcomed here. Downtown Campus  Dean of Business, Occupational, and Professional Programs Greg Wilson has been instrumental in putting the technical training pieces in place, and Ricardo Castro-Salazar, in his leadership role as Acting Vice President for International Development, has outlined a clear, wide-ranging vision for expanding global education at the College.

Historically, athletics has been an avenue for spanning cultures, as encapsulated in the motto of the 2008 Olympics, “One world, one dream.” The reality is that education is a key aspect of the bridge that can connect cultures in a long-term, sustainable sense. Pima Community College is proud to be part of a hemisphere-spanning initiative that can expand global awareness and aid economic development.

PCC’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Here is a message I sent to the College community about an extremely important topic at PCC.

Colleagues,

In January 2015, I approved Pima Community College’s Diversity Statement as a welcome to celebrate and foster the diversity and contributions of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, while emphasizing the inclusiveness of our college community. In light of the recent tragedies across the country, specifically in St. Louis, Missouri and San Bernardino, California, and comments made during the current political campaign, I would like to reflect on PCC’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice and ensure we maintain the utmost levels of civility and respect for all.

During my leadership and through the creation of the PCC Diversity Committee, I am dedicated to promoting student success, community engagement, and transparent communication through the stories like those of Celeste Nunez. Ms. Nunez is a PCC alumnus, and the first student in the six-decade history of the Arizona Town Hall to serve on its Board of Directors. As a first-generation and predominantly Spanish-speaking student, Celeste says that, “Having instructors that were an email or phone call away, and would go above and beyond, made all the difference in my success at Pima Community College.”

On any given day, the College serves a broad variety of learner needs, from the concurrently enrolled high school student, to the newly arrived refugee student, to the first-generation ESL learner. PCC programs span the advanced needs of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines in our unique Aviation Technology program, and meet articulation transfer requirements for students who choose to complete their associate degrees and transfer to universities throughout the nation. We serve more students through our Adult Basic Education Programs than anyone in Southern Arizona. PCC also recognizes the more mature learners and students over 50 retraining for second careers in new high-demand occupational fields. The students in these programs come from varied backgrounds, have different learning needs, and range in ages from 15-50+, but as the PCC Diversity Statement says, “Our differences are our strength and a source of innovation, excellence, and competitiveness.”

For more than a century, community colleges have stood as the open door to higher education, and, as democracy’s colleges. We uphold equity and social justice, and our open doors ensure equal access and opportunity. I will continue to work on behalf of PCC to support diverse ideas, safe learning environments, secure policies and practices, and to value multicultural education that unifies us as a learning community through open ideas and expression.

Success at any age

I recently co-authored an article with PCC Interim Vice Chancellor for Operations Dr. Stella Perez on our Back to Work 50+ program.

In January 2014, the AARP Foundation selected PCC as one of 15 community colleges across the nation to collaborate with in the delivery of Back to Work 50+ services. The program provides career training for workers 50 and older to make them job-ready in the post-recession economy.

For students such as Janette Thornton, an experienced administrative professional, the program put her career search on a new trajectory. After moving to Tucson, Janette submitted 136 job applications and had gone on 10 interviews, but remained jobless after seven months. Connecting with Back to Work 50+ opened Janette’s eyes to the growing healthcare job market, and she is returning to school to update her skills to meet the needs of employers in that sector. [You can read more about the Janette and the program on page 8 in the December 2015/January 2016 edition of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Community College Journal.]

Pima Community College is committed to promoting initiatives that create opportunities for our students and community, and to building partnerships that respond to the needs of students and employers.  Programs such as Back to Work 50+ demonstrate that when students realize their academic goals, the benefits accrue to the community as well as the individual. Everyone wins.

Journal of State Dental Group Features PCC Program

Our Dental Studies Program is featured in the latest edition of the Arizona Dental Association journal Inscriptions.

The article, “Pima Community College: Their New Innovative and Integrated Approach to Learning,”focuses on recent improvements in the program through a $3.25 million federal Title V grant. The grant, which was awarded in 2013 through the U.S. Department of Education, is funding upgrades, including adding cutting-edge technology to the program’s facilities at West Campus. This allows the program to enroll more students and pilot new curriculum. Title V is a program that helps Hispanic-Serving Institutions, such as PCC, improve their services.

Inscriptions is the official journal of the AzDA, and is a benefit of AzDA membership. It is published monthly in print and online.

PCC’s Dental Studies Program offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Dental Hygiene, and Dental Laboratory Technology, as well as certificates for direct employment in Dental Assisting Education. It also has specialized Dental Lab Tech specialization certificates in Complete Dentures Technologist, Dental Ceramics Technologist, Fixed Bridgework Technologist and Partial Dentures Technologist.

Season’s greetings!

Here is my annual holiday video message to PCC employees. At just after the 1-minute mark, PCC’s College Singers, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Ng of our vocal music faculty, performs a collection of works.

Making the video  required an above-and-beyond effort by the PCCTV team, the team at the Center of the Arts, Marketing, Web Systems, and of course Dr. Ng and the College’s superb choral group. I want to thank everyone involved, and wish you all the happiest of holidays.