There’s nothing like the first day of school to affirm one’s confidence in the power of education. I just returned from a short visit to PCC’s Downtown Campus, where I couldn’t help but marvel at the excitement and energy, the great expectations, and the sense among students, faculty and staff that this semester’s academic journey will be stimulating and consequential.
Actually, the notion that the start of the fall semester marks the end of “summer break” is a bit misleading, because learning goes on year-round at PCC. There’s summer school, of course. Also, over the summer, two programs held completion celebrations. Some three dozen students graduated from our nationally renowned Aviation Technology program, and 13 students earned Practical Nursing certificates from our Center for Training and Development. Tonight, the 11 members of the first class of graduates from CTD’s Behavioral Health Specialist certificate program will be honored. For all these graduates, reaching academic milestones will go a long way toward securing meaningful work in important sectors of the local economy.
Our employees’ focus this summer, as always, has been on our students. Last week we began offering PCCAlert, an emergency text-message system for students and employees. Also, today marks the first day of operation of the Aztec Shuttle, a bus that runs between our Downtown, West and Desert Vista campuses and The University of Arizona.
We also have made major improvements to student complaint processes, one of the areas that the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s accreditor, directed us to examine in a Monitoring Report submitted last month. We updated the online student complaint form, deleted redundant procedures and made the entire process consistent and clear. The goal was to improve service to our students.
Those changes represent the College’s commitment to our top priority, to successfully emerge from probation. They also are indicative of the strong foundation at PCC: humility to recognize the need to improve, competence to make substantive changes, and readiness – really, eagerness – to be held accountable.
The Self-Study process that is central to getting off probation forces us to ask the question, “How are we doing?” In the classrooms of Downtown and our other campuses and facilities, I think the answer is “excellent.”