Author Archives: pimachancellor

About pimachancellor

Lee D. Lambert has been Chancellor of Pima Community College since July 1, 2013. Before coming to PCC, Chancellor Lambert was President of Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Wash., outside Seattle. He also served as Interim President, and was Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs at Shoreline from January 2005-June 2006. He also has served as Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs at Centralia College in Centralia, Wash., and as Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights and Legal Affairs at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Chancellor Lambert is a board member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and has participated in AACC’s Vocational Education Leadership Training Program. He is board chair of the National Coalition of Certification Centers and is a founding member of the Manufacturing Institute Education Council. Chancellor Lambert received a Juris Doctor degree from the Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. He often is asked to speak at national and international conferences. He recently spoke at the International Conference on Community Colleges and at AACC’s 20th Annual Workforce Development Institute, where he presented on “The Keys to Collaboration: K-12 and Workforce Relationships.” Chancellor Lambert received the Pacific Region 2009 Chief Executive Officer Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. He contributes to and serves on the editorial board of The Source online magazine. He is a member of the Washington State Bar Association. Chancellor Lambert has taught a Human Resources course at Centralia College, and has taught courses on Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice, and Employment Law at The Evergreen State College. A U.S. Army veteran, Chancellor Lambert was born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up on three continents, and graduated from high school in the Olympia, Wash., area. He likes for people to call him Lee.

Building Community 2017

Giant check

A $428,000+ donation from the estate of a Tucson woman will help fund scholarships for aspiring nurses.

I had the privilege of speaking last week at the Building Community breakfast, a Pima Community College Foundation event in which students and friends of PCC share the ways PCC support has helped students realize their academic and career dreams.

About 200 people heard from Shekeycha Ward and Kyle Hughes, both of modest means. Shekeycha is an aspiring pediatric nurse; Kyle is studying to be an accountant and hopes to become a lawyer. They described how scholarships helped them pay for school, and how PCC supports students who are new to the world of higher education. As Shekeycha says, “College is different from the movies . . .  It’s OK to know that there are things you don’t know.”

I shared how the College’s North Star – student success, community engagement and diversity – is driving a wide range of developing initiatives. These include regionally and nationally recognized Centers of Excellence in Applied Technology, Healthcare and other areas essential to the economic growth of our county and state.

We also are building academic pathways that precisely map students’ education journeys at PCC, so they can save time and money by earning credentials quickly and efficiently.

Howard N. Stewart, president and CEO of AGM Container Controls, spoke eloquently about the need for companies to provide financial assistance to employees who wish to continue their education.

Rachel Schaming, Executive Director of the Foundation, and her team deserve recognition for bringing together community leaders and students in an enriching celebration of achievement and promise.

What a week!

Last week was phenomenal, and not only because on March 9 our accrediting organization lifted all sanctions from the College. On March 10 we held two events with the potential to shape PCC and community for years to come.

More than 100 business, education, government and community leaders joined PCC employees for Futures Conference 2017.  The theme of 2017’s conference is an echo of the first conference.  As in 2014, we are looking to define a handful of comprehensive priorities, or Wildly Important Goals (WIGs), to guide the College through 2020. [Another session of the conference will be held March 23. You also can offer your insights in an online survey.]

March 10 also was the inaugural Ethnic, Gender and Transborder Studies summit. More than 300 students, community members and employees gathered for a morning of scholarship and idea-sharing. The afternoon was spent discussing ways to create a Center of Excellence devoted to diversity, inclusion and social justice.

I am extremely proud of the event’s organizers, who have applied the Center of Excellence concept in a way that will make us a leader among community colleges. Moreover, the center has the capacity to give students a physical space devoted to data-based scholarship, alliance-building, and advocacy for the historically marginalized. Or, as one student eloquently put it, the center will be a place for “inspiring humans.”

The key point to remember is that while the College worked with our accreditor, we have been developing an array of forward-looking initiatives that go far beyond compliance. Meeting regulatory standards is of course an important foundational activity, but it’s only one of a range of efforts we are undertaking to achieve a greater end – becoming a premier community college.

Accreditor removes PCC from sanction

Here is a message I shared with the College community earlier today regarding our status with the Higher Learning Commission, an organization that accredits community colleges, colleges and universities:

Colleagues,

I have great news. The Higher Learning Commission’s Board of Trustees has removed the College from Notice.

The College was notified in an Action Letter dated today from HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley. [The Action Letter and accompanying Public Disclosure notification are available on our website.]

“During its meeting on February 23, 2017, the Board removed the sanction of Notice from the College. This action is effective as of the date the action was taken,” President Gellman-Danley writes. “The Board determined that the removal of the sanction was warranted based on evidence provided by the College, including the Notice Report, the report of the visiting team, the staff analysis of the sanction, and the College’s responses to these reports.”

This is wonderful news for current and prospective students. While we remained fully accredited as we sought to comply with HLC standards, removal from Notice is a crystal-clear indication to students that their school is operating and will continue to operate at a high level. These students, who have invested their time and money in us, deserve nothing less.

It is also wonderful news for the community. Pima County residents can rest assured we are an institution that is worthy of their support and can continue to significantly contribute to our region’s economic development.

Regaining the full confidence of our accreditor required a Herculean effort that spanned nearly four years and involved hundreds of employees – regular and adjunct faculty; exempt, non-exempt and temporary staff; and administrators — along with Governing Board members, students and community stakeholders.

The creativity and perseverance of our colleagues and friends has been phenomenal. As you might imagine, there are many, many people to thank. I want to express special gratitude to the Provost’s Office, which was charged in early 2013 with leading our accreditation effort and time and again responded admirably to the challenge.

I need to point out that, as we celebrate today’s achievement, we are preparing for our next Comprehensive Evaluation, part of the routine Standard Pathway of the HLC’s accreditation process.  This process will include developing an Assurance Argument and Evidence file, previously known as a Self-Study, as well as hosting a Comprehensive Evaluation Visit. We have been asked by the HLC to embed an Interim Report into the Assurance Argument in order to update the HLC Board on the status of items related to planning, budgeting, Developmental Education and the assessment of student learning.

We welcome the HLC’s interest in our institution, and confidently look forward to meeting and exceeding their standards now and in the future. We welcome the passionate interest so many have in PCC. The work we do matters. I am always proud to be part of PCC, and today, I am especially proud to lead a school that helps our neighbors climb the economic ladder and realize their personal, diverse vision of the American Dream.

Lee D. Lambert,
Chancellor

The role of grants in higher education

As states experience fiscal challenges, higher education institutions across the U.S. are facing reductions in publicly funded support.  One of the ways to counter this loss of revenue is by winning grants from government and private entities. Pima Community College is actively competing for this source of funding.

Currently, we have 45 active grants, totaling more than $50 million. The grants range in size from $5,000 to $15 million. The grants serve 12,000 students and employ 200 staff and faculty. They provide student support services, curriculum development, professional development for faculty, classroom redesign and other services.

Our most recent grant award is a $3.1 million Hispanic-Serving Institutions Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (HSI-STEM) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will expand student support services and tutoring, and establish specific transfer pathways to Arizona’s four-year universities. The goal is to improve the academic and career success of Hispanic/low-income students by increasing the number of students who receive certificates or degrees from PCC in STEM-related majors, and-or who transfer to STEM fields at Arizona’s three four-year universities.

As Program Coordinator Lupe Waitherwerch told Tucson’s NPR radio affiliate, the goal of the grant is straightforward: “We want [students] to feel like they belong in college to begin with and … be able to believe that they can succeed.”

It’s important to put awards like these into context. First, PCC was in the running for the grant because we are viewed as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. More than 43 percent of our students are Hispanic, far exceeding the 25 percent threshold for an HSI designation from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

The College’s HSI designation benefits not only Hispanic-Latino students, however. Low-income students of every ethnicity are eligible to take advantage of the grant’s resources. As individuals, the students who achieve academic and career success through the program will become Pima County’s taxpayers, homebuyers and entrepreneurs of the future. Additionally, they will enhance southern Arizona’s reputation for producing employees capable of powering cutting-edge 21st-century industries. Everyone will benefit.

It’s also important to recognize the limitations of grants. While grants greatly enhance education of our students, they are not part of the operating budget; our fiscal hurdles remain. Additionally, grants pay for programs for a specific time. The HSI-STEM grant has a five-year life. It is a challenge for colleges and universities to find ways to institutionalize a promising initiative after the money runs out.

So PCC, like most of its counterparts in higher education, will continue to pursue grant opportunities that benefit our students and communities in order to ameliorate the impact of budget reductions. In that respect, we are walking the path well-trod by businesses everywhere. We’re adjusting and diversifying our revenue streams.

Report validates our progress on accreditation

I am pleased to report that we have received the Draft Feedback Report from the Higher Learning Commission’s Peer Review Team, who recommended removing the College from sanctions in 10 of the 11 areas of concern.  And while they determined that one area required the College to remain “On Notice” for an additional six months, our work earned praise and recognition.

In fact, the Report validates every effort we have made to strengthen Pima’s commitment to students and the community.

As you know, while remaining fully accredited, the College was “On Notice” as we addressed 11 areas of focus where the HLC, the College’s accrediting body, thought we could easily slip out of compliance with accrediting standards.

Following review of considerable documentation and an intensive September Focused Visit, the Peer Reviewers, who are college leaders from across the country, concurred that PCC made significant progress and fully addressed the concerns of the Commission in five areas of focus.  That is outstanding news.  It allows us to move forward with no need for monitoring.

In five other areas, Reviewers complimented the College on its work and acknowledged the strong foundation built in each area, but believed we needed additional time to provide evidence of effectiveness. As we expected, those areas were recommended for additional monitoring, but there was no recommendation of a sanction, and of those, only one required HLC follow up. Again, more good news.

In only one area, regarding assessment of student learning outcomes, the Peer Reviewers thought the “evidence of effectiveness was insufficient” enough for the college to remain “On Notice” for an additional six months, until Sept. 1, 2017.

Specifically, Reviewers want to see the College complete hiring of two critical assessment positions, a Director of Assessment reporting to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Accreditation and Academic Quality Improvement, and a Research Analyst reporting to the Director of Assessment. The extra time gives the College the opportunity to complete the hires and to allow these individuals to develop goals, strategies and tactics. We are firmly on track; an offer has been made to a candidate for the Director’s position and interviews for the Research Analyst position occur this week.

Reviewers were particularly attentive to assessment of student learning outcomes, in part because it viewed the College’s efforts as overdue, and in part because our model is still new and will require continued oversight and direction by someone who has a direct line of accountability for its success.

Even so, Peer Reviewers said the “new structure has enhanced visibility, consistency and stronger leadership of the PCC assessment efforts.”

Next steps

The College was given the opportunity to review the Draft Feedback Report for errors. After reviewing the College’s comments, the HLC will finalize and issue the Feedback Report.  We expect this to happen in the next few weeks.  The Final Feedback Report and supporting evidence will be reviewed by the HLC Board of Trustees in February 2017 for a final decision. The status becomes official with the HLC Board vote.

By Sept. 1, 2017, we will submit a report on the status of hiring the two assessment positions. The report also will include updates about the monitored areas. Review of the College’s report will determine if a site visit is required for Fall 2017.

While the College had hoped to come fully off sanction, we are heartened and encouraged by the significant progress to date.

The Reviewers’ compliments were abundant and included statements such as “the institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission. … The team found during its visit that it appeared the College had improved the climate of openness and inclusivity of individual perspectives.”

And “it is clear that PCC has embraced a new culture that includes a focus on Developmental Education and on Adult Education, including KPIs related to the development of both within the Strategic Plan. The Dean of Developmental Education is progressively leading an enthusiastic group of faculty, advisors and staff who are focused on student success.”

We are grateful for the Reviewers’ thoughtful evaluation and for recognizing the hard work behind all of the achievements in these past several months. We still have much hard work ahead, but now our path is clear and we can be confident in our actions.

 

Realizing the American Dream

With new citizens Viri and Simin

With new citizens Viriviana and Simin (right)

Earlier this week, I joined with business, education and government partners at an important announcement by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild: Tucson would join more than two dozen major U.S. cities in the Cities for Citizenship initiative.

The mayor explained that people who want to become U.S. citizens can face educational and financial hurdles, and that Cities for Citizenship would support those who want to take on the rights and responsibilities that citizenship entails.

The announcement was made at the College’s El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center. It was an appropriate venue, as PCC has for years been a provider of effective citizenship education.

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After the announcement, Xail Hernandez, a PCC instructor in English Language Acquisition for Adults who also works with our AmeriCorps program, shared information.

Our citizenship classes are part of our Adult Basic Education for College & Career division. All of our classes, including citizenship classes, are free and open to everyone. This year 366 students received more than 3,300 hours on Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship instruction at classes taught at the El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, El Rio Learning Center, and the 29th Street Coalition Center, as well as several area libraries.

simin-and-teacher

Simin and Linda, a volunteer citizenship instructor

Citizenship instructors are trained volunteers who get ongoing support and professional development.  We have some who have volunteered with us for over 15 years.

About 60 of our students have become citizens this year, and two were acknowledged during the announcement of the initiative.

This topic is personal for me. My mother came to the U.S. from South Korea in the 1960s, seeking her vision of the American Dream. My family’s story is, at its essence, similar to hundreds of millions of stories in our great country. As one speaker put it, virtually all of us are descended from immigrants.

PCC is eager to help provide the education component to the Cities for Citizenship initiative. We are proud to join with the Mayor’s Office, Chicanos Por La Causa, Citi, Vantage West Credit Union, Pima County Library and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to empower new citizens who contribute to the ongoing prosperity and sustainability of our nation.