Service excellence

Pima Community College’s workplace culture reflects our values, and we owe it to ourselves and our constituents to treat everyone as we wish to be treated. One of our College objectives is to increase efforts regarding recruitment, enrollment and retention to foster student success and goal attainment.

In that spirit, the College has a new training, “Creating a Culture of Service Excellence.”  Developed by our Office of Organizational Effectiveness and Development, the workshop offers tools to improve the student/stakeholder experience so employees can live up to PCC’s new Service Philosophy Statement, “We work together every day to inspire trust and ensure student success.”

PCC’s relationship with our students and stakeholders extends beyond the transactional experience that takes place between a company and a customer. Students invest their time and entrust their dreams with us; there is no refund we can offer that will be sufficient if we break that connection of trust. It is my hope and expectation employees will re-examine policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure they are consistent with our service excellence philosophy and practice.  This initiative will strengthen PCC by deepening our commitment to be more responsive, resourceful, and helpful as we assist students in achieving their academic goals.

Our condolences to Paris

Eiffel towerAs we reflect on the recent events that occurred in Paris, France, our hearts and condolences go out to the individuals and families impacted by these tragedies. As a community college we are committed to serving thousands of global learners through our International Education Program, Refugee Education Program, English as a Second Language Program, and Bécalos Program.

Pima Community College will continue to build bridges, strengthen our human connections, and eliminate barriers under the common themes of education, imagination, and learning for the world community.

Connecting early and often

Overall 2As we at PCC know, the road to college begins early in a student’s formal education. Last week I had the pleasure of attending two events that help propel middle school and high school students along the path to further academic achievement.

The College is a supporter of the Sunnyside Unified School District Foundation, and at the organization’s annual Pathways to Success Luncheon, PCC and a wide range of community partners learned how the Foundation is furthering educational aspirations of the district’s students. Particularly inspiring were Sunnyside’s middle school orchestra students, whose achievements illustrate once again how the power of the arts extends from the stage or concert hall to the classroom.

Diane Lussier

Diane Lussier

On Oct. 23, we held our 10th annual High School Mathematics Competition, with more than 130 high school mathletes, some coming from as far away as Yuma and Willcox, taking part. For a decade, Diane Lussier, Downtown Campus Mathematics faculty, has been the driving force of the event, with math faculty from all six campuses involved.

The impact of Diane’s longstanding collaboration with our area K-12 districts became especially clear this year, when a former participant, now a high school math teacher, brought a team to the competition. At PCC, supporting community partners in order to foster a culture of educational excellence, and connecting with students years before they graduate from high school, is important work, and some of the most rewarding.

Paying tribute

WallThe Pima Community College Governing Board last week paid a moving tribute to the 43 members of the Board who have served before them.

The ceremony was inspired by current Board Chair Dr. Sylvia Lee, and its centerpiece was the unveiling in the Community Board Room at District Office of a wall of photos, one for each of the former Board members.

I had the honor of introducing Dr. Lee to the current and former Border members in attendance. Collectively, past board members have served the College more than 240 years since its inception in 1969.

ChancellorPast Board members shared thoughts about their service and the special place the College has in their hearts. Georgia Brousseau (who served from 1976-1984), Dr. Brenda Even (2001-2014) and Marty Cortez (1995-2015, the longest span of service in Governing Board history), described the difference the College has made to the community. Richard Fimbres (1997-2010) talked about how coming back to PCC always leaves him feeling rejuvenated. Dr. James Klein (1977-82) related how the College’s Nursing program first received accreditation. And Chris Molina (1985-1994), who like Dr. Lee began at PCC as a student, promised to make sure that the current Board stays true to the College’s ideals.

Before the unveiling, everyone had a chance to catch up on old times. And one need only look at the accompanying images to recognize how touched the former members of the Board were to see the display of an enduring symbol of their legacy of service.

There are plenty of people to thank for making the celebration a reality. Christy Yebra of College Events and Angie Wesson of the Chancellor’s Office organized the event. Shannon McBride-Olson and Bryce Morthland of Media Production prepared the photos, and Mic Bouley and James Carter from Facilities made sure they were hung properly. Great job!

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PCC4Me, a great night for higher education

The Women in Technology table was one of many places prospective students and their parents could learn about PCC

The Women in Technology table was one of many places prospective students and their parents could learn about PCC

Thousands of Tucson parents and high school students had a chance to preview Pima Community College at its best Sept. 29 at PCC4Me, held in conjunction with the Tucson Unified School District’s annual College Night at the Tucson Convention Center.

PCC faculty, staff, administrators, and Board of Governors reached out to our diverse community with information about PCC’s myriad exceptional programs and services. Our friends and neighbors had the opportunity to learn and connect with PCC instructors, advisors, counselors, support staff, and other members of the PCC family through direct face-to-face conversations and meaningful dialogues.

I want to point out that many of these potential students will be the first in their family to attend college; for them, PCC is the institution which represents the transformational power of learning. In all, it was a great night for higher education in Tucson, and represented an unprecedented outreach effort by PCC. Congratulations are in order for all involved in PCC4Me’s planning and implementation. Special thanks go to the outstanding work of the Enrollment Management Team!

Events such as PCC4Me demonstrate that by working together, PCC employees can help the College meet our enrollment gap and other challenges, and help us realize our vision to enhance the academic, economic and cultural vitality of our students and community.

With deepest sympathy to Umpqua Community College

The employees of Pima Community College extend their deepest sympathy to the employees and students of Umpqua Community College and to the residents of Roseburg, Oregon, following today’s’ tragic shooting.

The security of our students, employees and the public is of paramount importance to PCC, and we are committed to supporting on-campus safety and security throughout the College.

Since 2011, we have put into place several measures to increase awareness and improve safety and security at PCC.

The College’s alert notification system is available to provide accurate information and guidance via text message to the PCC regarding emergencies. Please refer to the Emergency  page of our Web site.

Pima is incredibly saddened by today’s events, and we hold the victims and their loved ones in their thoughts.

Trip to Israel

Members of the Ethiopian National Project

Members of the Ethiopian National Project

I recently returned from a community leadership mission to Israel coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and led by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. My primary focus was to learn more about the State of Israel’s human development system and potential partnerships that might be available to Pima Community College.  Important aspects of this visit included addressing challenges associated with Israel’s youth, immigrant communities, and diversity.

At the Western Wall with a delegation including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

At the Western Wall with a delegation including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

I learned that the talent development system in Israel is grounded in a larger commitment to social justice with broad participation from employers, educators, community organizations, and concerned individuals from Israel and the USA. This commitment is an important counterbalance to a public education system that appears overwhelmed by large class sizes (up to 40 students per teacher), and limited state investment compared to their defense industry.

My first exposure was with Liliyot Restaurant, a leading culinary institution.  One aspect of their uniqueness centers on their work with at-risk youth.  As noted on their web site,, “Every year Liliyot Restaurant trains and employs 15 high school drop-outs, who receive instruction, supervision, and employment for a period of up to a year and half.”  Some of the keys to success of this initiative include partnerships between the ELEM-Israel organization ( and the Liliyot Group, including the involvement of a full-time social worker and a caring, committed team of professionals at the Liliyot Restaurant.

We visited the Tel Nof Air Force Base where we met the elite Rescue Training Unit 669, an airborne combat search-and-rescue team of the Israelis Defense Forces ( The training of this elite unit takes about 18 months.  This unit has a special connection to Tucson, because the unit has participated in joint training exercises with similar units here in our community.  Some members of this unit will be returning to Tucson in the future.  It is my hope to connect members of PCC’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute with this elite group.

We met with the program staff, faculty and students of the Ethiopian National Project (ENP).  This project “unites global Jewry, the Government of Israel, and the Ethiopian-Israeli community in its mission to advance the integration of Ethiopian-Israelis into Israeli society” ( We had an opportunity to interact with the students in a small group setting.  I was deeply inspired by their passion and commitment to learning.

We heard student testimonials about the positive impact the ENP is having on their lives.  One of the stories that stood out for me was of a male student who was not taking his studies seriously. He was known for not participating in class and other school activities, and sometimes would skip school.  Thanks to the coordinator of the ENP’s Scholastic Assistance Program checking in with the student’s teachers, an intervention strategy was developed.  This included the coordinator going out to the student’s neighborhood to find out was going on with him.  Thanks to the care, commitment and passion of the coordinator taking the time understand the familial dynamics, the student is back on a path to success.

We also learned about Israeli and Arab challenges from the founders of Alpha Omega, an Arab start-up company (  The co-founders attended a well-regarded Israeli university, but following graduation, still had difficulty finding meaningful work.  Eventually they decided to start up what eventually became a highly successful medical device company focused on neurology and degenerative disease.  Another aspect of their story that struck me was their commitment to their employees and community. They encourage their employees to start their own businesses.  They are very involved with community organizations.

We had a fascinating visit with the BioBee Biological Systems in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (  They are the world’s leading experts on mass production and implementation of beneficial insects and mites as an alternative to chemical pesticides used in agriculture  They run a very sophisticated operation that attracts leading experts to their kibbutz.  Additionally, they invest heavily in the training and development of their front-line team.

I left Israel feeling inspired and affirmed in my decision to work in higher education.  The U.S. and Israel have much that they can learn from each other, but one thing is common to both countries:  Student success happens when educators and community members care enough to develop personal relationships with students.