21st-century supervision

The College held its inaugural “Supervision in the 21st Century” training recently, with Director Gary Cruze and his team in Organizational Effectiveness & Development devising and facilitating an informative and thought-provoking session.

The inaugural class focused on strategic communications in the workplace. Twenty-five supervisors have been selected to go through the six-month curriculum.

I opened the session by stressing the importance of understanding the relationships between and among doers, supervisors, managers and leaders. I gave examples from my work experience to illustrate the need for meeting needs even with limited resources.

For instance, when I worked at Centralia College as the Chief Human Resource officer, I created my own filing system because I only had a half-time secretary. At Evergreen State College, I developed a sexual harassment training program for students. I created a curriculum, a train-the-trainer program, and guided my students to deliver the training in a peer-to-peer model.

My main point: As a supervisor you have a responsibility to devise ways to get done the work that needs to be done. You are responsible for the success of your work unit. You also must meet the charge of developing your employees. Effective, professional supervision through all levels of the College hierarchy is crucial if we are to improve the work experience of our employees, and to become a premier community college.

LULAC awards banquet

I was honored last week to be recognized by the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 1057 at the group’s annual Educators Awards & Scholarship Banquet.

LULAC recognized several members of the community for bettering the lives of youth through investments in the community and education. I was in illustrious company: Also honored were restaurateur Frances Erunez, Alma Gallardo of Arizona Bilingual magazine, teacher/coach Saturnino “Curly” Santa Cruz, radio journalist John C. Scott, educator Dr. Vicki Balentine, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and Bishop Gerald Kicanas.

I should note that PCC’s West Campus has been the longtime host of LULAC Council 1057’s Annual Youth Leadership Conference, which has drawn national acclaim for hosting more than 115,000 middle and high school students, encouraging them to stay in school and to recognize that education is the key to success. Also, other PCC employees have been honored by LULAC numerous times for their contributions to this important organization. It all adds up to a deep individual and institutional commitment to constructive community engagement.

 

 

Defining our mission

Futures

PCC is committed to serving the needs of the community. A critical piece of this commitment must be serving the needs of the individual.

That was one of the insights emerging from the 2015 Futures Conference, which I had the privilege of attending on April 13. Approximately 100 community members and employees enjoyed a spirited discussion about a wide range of topics, including access, success, program excellence, stewardship, and more. The information gathered at the conference will inform PCC planning, and my thanks go to Assistant Vice Chancellor Nicola Richmond and her staff in Planning and Institutional Research for organizing an event that produced many great ideas. [A PowerPoint presentation from the conference is available on our website.]

Our inaugural Futures Conference, in April 2014, was devoted to strategic planning, as well as defining six directions for the College to pursue over the next two to three years. This year’s Futures Conference focused on our mission – our reason for being, the answer to the question, “Why does PCC exist?” [Our current mission statement is “to develop the community through learning.”] At the conference, one argument was made that the best answer regarding mission was “to serve every individual, every day.’’

However our mission is defined, it must drive PCC to success in ways that benefit our diverse students. One might need Adult Education, another Developmental Education. A student seeking the skills for gainful employment is best served if we successfully align Career and Technical Education curriculum with the needs of business and industry and offer short-term, stackable credentials. A student looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree makes it incumbent on us to improve connections with K-12, colleges and universities to ensure seamless transfer. A student balancing work and family obligations needs PCC to provide robust online programs.

I began and ended the conference with personal stories of students who succeeded at PCC after taking long and winding education journeys that sometimes tested their resolve. One of our former students graduated from a local high school, served in the military and graduated from college, yet could find work only as a server in a restaurant. “I did everything right,” she told U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez when he visited the Aviation Technology Center in January 2015, yet still had not reached her career goal. Then she found, on the ground, a piece of paper with information about Pima Community College. She got her start at PCC through that scrap of good fortune, completed our rigorous Aviation Technology program, and now works at Bombardier.

Every path to PCC is a bit different, but student success at PCC should be a function of effective systems, not serendipity. Our mission and vision statements, which will compel change at the College, should be the result of a transparent, inclusive, evidence-driven process. Working together, PCC can help individuals achieve their goals so that collectively they form the foundation of a stable, prosperous community.

PCC, ITSON renew friendship, sign agreement

ITSON 2On Tuesday, Rector Isidro Roberto Cruz of the Technological Institute of Sonora (ITSON) and I signed an agreement of cooperation between our two institutions. ITSON (www.itson.mx) is a prestigious public institution of higher education in northwest Mexico and an important player in its regional economy. Among many projects in southern Sonora, ITSON has a business incubator, a software development center (NOVUTEK), an International District for Agribusinesses, a University Center for Community Development, and a Research Center for Biotechnology, Agricultural and Environmental Innovation.

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This summer, 15 ITSON professors from different fields will spend four weeks at Pima improving their English and exploring pedagogical methods for the delivery of classes in English. The PCC-ITSON agreement will also allow for PCC students and faculty members to do studies, research and professional development at ITSON. West Campus President Lou Albert and I received an invitation from Rector Cruz to visit his institution to continue developing bi-national partnerships. Agreements such as this strengthen global education at PCC and have benefits that extend across national borders.

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PCC: “Pioneers of the Present”

From left: PCC faculty member Rick Rosen, student Alec Moreno ad Chancellor Lee D. Lambert

From left: PCC faculty member Rick Rosen, student Alec Moreno and Chancellor Lee D. Lambert

Pima Community College is navigating wholly new territory. More than 1,200 PCC faculty members, students, staff, Governing Board members, and administrators took part in an all-College meeting and workshops last week at West Campus to address that reality. The members of the College community are “pioneers of the present,” to use faculty member David Bishop’s evocation of anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous phrase. We are going where PCC has not been before, and are facing a series of threats that, if unmet, puts the College at risk.

We face very serious challenges in a variety of areas. The State of Arizona has zeroed out appropriations to PCC for Fiscal Year 2016. Our enrollment has declined beyond pre-Great Recession levels; the reality is that fewer students are enrolled at PCC than in any year since 2000.

Though the Higher Learning Commission has removed PCC from Probation, it has placed us on Notice. Notice means the College is now in compliance with the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, but remains at risk of being out of compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation and the Core Components.

The consequences of failure, too, are spelled out clearly. In February 2017, after the HLC has made a focused visit by September 2016 to PCC to determine whether we have made progress in 11 areas, “The HLC Board will determine whether the institution has demonstrated that it is no longer at risk for non-compliance … or if the College has not demonstrated compliance, whether accreditation should be withdrawn or other action taken,” according to a letter from HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley.

I am always open to a good idea, and when faculty member Rick Rosen suggested bringing everyone together for a discussion of the College’s future, I called the College’s first-ever mid-semester meeting, and we closed the school for a half-day. PCC needs to hear from all stakeholders about the problems, both new and decades in the making, which must be resolved, along with an outline of developing solutions. Put another way, we gathered to begin answering the question, “Why does PCC exist?” It is a crucial question. As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says, in any endeavor, why matters more than what or how, because why reflects an institution’s core values.

We are at a Strategic Inflection Point, a term coined by Andy Grove, then-CEO of Intel Corp. A Strategic Inflection Point is that which causes a fundamental change in business strategy. “Nothing less is sufficient,” Grove said. Many of the assumptions Pima makes about its markets, its competition and its customers need to be re-examined and retooled at a fundamental level in order for us to succeed in a brutally competitive environment.

The frank conversations and workshops that followed centered on how best to meet the College’s future challenges. Our goal for augmenting revenue is to increase enrollment by 1,000 full-time student equivalents over each of the next five years. The College has the capacity to manage this increase. We can increase enrollment through several initiatives, including PimaOnline, the Education Master Plan, International Education and Workforce Education. Regarding expenditures, we will reduce costs by $2.5 million a year to align infrastructure to community needs. A hiring freeze, attrition and other strategies will help close the gap. Also, creative ways to increase revenue and-or reduce expenditures are being collected through our College-wide GREAT IDEAS survey.

Each day, so many faculty and staff at PCC help our students succeed. Our challenge is to provide evidence that teaching and learning at PCC result in an effective cycle of assessment. We also need to offer superlative service to students from the moment they consider PCC through graduation and beyond. Everyone – full-time and adjunct instructors, administrators, the Governing Board, temporary, exempt and non-exempt employees — must play a part.

Heaped upon Nelson Mandela were injustices that would have crushed a lesser person or driven him to retribution. Yet, Mandela said, “I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hate behind I would still be in prison.” I am sorry that many employees were hurt by the overly negative approaches of the past. However, PCC must free itself from its history so that we can focus our energies on our students and our future. Given the seriousness of our challenges, we must let go of the past so we can move forward immediately.

Let me close with the story of a student whose experience illustrates the promise and power of education and the personal relationships that make PCC a great school. David Lee is a native Tucson who graduated from Pusch Ridge Christian Academy with a diploma but without a plan for the future. At the urging of his siblings, he visited PCC Counselor Melinda Franz. They talked — about his interests, dreams and talents. David entered the Radiologic Technology program, studied diligently and was aided financially by scholarships from the PCC Foundation. Since November he has worked at Radiology Ltd.; he is the 79th employee there to have gotten a start at PCC. “PCC gave me the life I have today,” David says.

PCC has changed the lives of tens of thousands of people like David over our almost five-decade history. As we change to adapt to 21st-century realities, we must remain surefooted and focused on the institution’s North Star of student success, community engagement and diversity. All PCC employees should ask themselves, “What can I do to move the College forward?” We are Pima, and working together, we can accomplish great things. Students are among our most important investors, giving us their time, money and dreams. We cannot and will not let them down.

My presentation and video of the day’s proceedings are available on the College’s website.

PCC has been removed from probation

Here is a sentence I have been waiting to write since I became Chancellor of this great institution on July 1, 2013: The Higher Learning Commission, an organization that accredits universities and colleges, has removed PCC from probation.

The HLC has placed the College on the status of Notice, in recognition of the progress we have made and the work we still must do to gain our accreditor’s fullest degree of confidence. I want to assure the public that we already have begun work on areas identified by the HLC. We are putting into place processes that will produce results to meet the standards of the HLC.

PCC will submit a Notice Report to the HLC by July 1, 2016. The HLC will conduct a Focused Evaluation Visit no later than September 2016, and in February 2017 the HLC Board will review our Notice Report.

I am confident that the College will continue its hard work as part of a cycle of continuous improvement at PCC. I also am grateful for the dozens of community members who communicated with the HLC over the past months. They helped demonstrate that we have a crucial role to play in making the American Dream come true for our neighbors throughout Southern Arizona. In fact, we have been heartened by the outpouring of support for PCC from students and all corners of the community recently.

PCC will continue to improve as we focus on student success, community engagement and diversity. Working together, we can build a premier community college.

National Legislative Summit

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Raul Grijalva

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Raul Grijalva

Last week, I attended the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. and joined 1,000 other community college trustees, presidents, and other leaders to advocate for increased funding and resources to support community colleges. The summit was convened by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) with support from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Top priorities for AACC and ACCT for 2015 include federal funding for community colleges and students, funding for the Pell Grant Program, Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act reauthorization, veteran students, the DREAM Act, higher education tax provisions, and extension of the TAACCCT Program, along with promotion of President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal.

PCC Governing Board Members Scott Stewart and Mark Hanna attended the summit and meetings on Capitol Hill, along with Michael Peel, Government Relations Liaison; Amanda Kaminski, Advanced Program Coordinator, Grants Resource Office; and two exceptional student leaders, Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez. We met with Senator Jeff Flake and Representatives Raúl Grijalva, Martha McSally, and Ann Kirkpatrick. We also met with the staff of Senator John McCain’s Office. We emphasized continued support for the Pell Grant Program, adult education, and workforce development programs such as TRIO for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant agency meetings were also held with the U.S. Department of Education.

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

In addition to the meetings on Capitol Hill, the summit included many group meetings and sessions focused on the economic and workforce development role of community colleges. Sessions included distinguished speakers including: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden; and Thomas E. Perez, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.

Secretary of Labor Perez highlighted Pima Community College and his recent visit to our Aviation Technology Center in January during his speech for the closing of the summit as an example of successful efforts to address unemployment and economic development.

I presented the 2015 Government Relations Award to Rachel Gragg, former federal policy director of the National Skills Coalition. Senator Al Franken was presented with 2015 National Education Service Awards for his ongoing support of community colleges.

In addition, we were honored to be invited as guests of Congresswoman Kirkpatrick to attend the dedication of a statue of the late Senator Barry Goldwater unveiled in Statuary Hall. House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator McCain, Representative Grijalva, members of the Goldwater family, and many other congressional leaders were in attendance for the dedication ceremony.

I want to thank Michael Peel for his great work in organizing and facilitating our congressional visits. I also want to thank Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez for the leadership they displayed with our legislators as they recounted the positive impact of PCC on their lives during this critical time for funding for community colleges at the federal and state levels.

Alec is studying Mechanical Engineering. His is a member of the PCC Governance Council, Native American Student Association (NASA), Asian Pacific American Student Association (APASA), Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and STEM-related clubs such as Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He plans to study Engineering at UA.

Yaritza is studying Nursing. She is an Upward Bound student from Desert View High School and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. She is currently a TRIO student, an Upward Bound tutor, Amigos de Pima scholarship recipient, and a PCC Merit Scholar. Her GPA is 4.0 and she is pursuing a Nursing Degree through the PCC/NAU-BSN program.

Pima Community College is incredibly fortunate to have such strong student leadership to represent the College in the best possible ways.

For more information about the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit, go to www.acct.org.

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Martha McSally

Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez with Rep. Martha McSally