Listening to the community

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There’s an old saying that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. In that spirit, I have spent my first two weeks as Chancellor listening to the College’s many constituents. I have met and heard from business and education leaders, groups of concerned community members, individuals impacted by the former Chancellor, PCC employees, and government leaders at the federal, state and local levels.

I am heartened by what I’ve heard. People care deeply about Pima because it has such a broad and deep connection to the community. They want Pima to be at its best. In that context, I appreciate the apology included in the Message to the Community in the draft Monitoring Report that PCC is preparing for the Higher Learning Commission. We need to own the fact that we didn’t live up to our ideals. We need to acknowledge that the wheels on the bus came off before we begin making substantive improvements to our processes.

I also have been heartened that many community members are hopeful the College will successfully emerge from probation. Granted, theirs is a cautious optimism, and is tinged with healthy skepticism. But many people realize PCC takes the probation sanction very seriously, and has put in place an effective process, led by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jerry Migler, that will allow us to reflect, learn from our mistakes and improve our service to the community.

The College’s decision to reaffirm its open-admissions policy is a strong first step in that direction. The Governing Board, at a Special Meeting June 25, supported a resolution removing language from Standard Practice Guide 3501/AA in order to make permanent an earlier one-year suspension of minimum-level scoring on assessment examinations. The reality is that open access historically has been the reason for the existence of community colleges. The College shouldn’t turn someone away any more than a hospital should.

I have also heard widespread agreement that PCC has a crucial role to play in the economic development of our region. Many jobs of the future will be concentrated in industries that make and service new products. These jobs will not necessarily require a bachelor’s or advanced degree but can be the backbone of a prosperous, stable community. PCC is perfectly positioned to teach machinists, mechanics and other workers – many of whom will require sub-baccalaureate scientific, technical and engineering training — to meet new opportunities in the rapidly evolving global economy. I look forward to collaborating with the business community so that the College can continue to provide the best equipment and expertise to its students. I am committed to listening to the College’s stakeholders, the students, employees, and community members whom I am proud to serve.

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