Tag Archives: developmental education

Engaging our constituents

Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in two events that illustrate the breadth of the College’s impact on our community.

On Oct. 27, I attended our annual luncheon for the area’s K-12 district school superintendents. I shared our progress on accreditation, and spoke about advancing the development of Centers of Excellence around occupational professions at PCC. College personnel shared information about dual enrollment, Developmental Education, and Admissions & Recruitment. I want to commend the Provost’s Office for holding an informative event.

On Nov. 1 at our Downtown Campus, I took part in an informational event coinciding with the start of the Affordable Care Act’s 2016-2017 Open Enrollment period. I emphasized that as an institution of higher learning, PCC has a responsibility to make sure our students have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their lives, including their health coverage.

Also taking part were Downtown Campus President Dr. David Doré, as well as Cynthia Estrada of the Pima County Enrollment Coalition and Melissa Stafford Jones, Regional Director for the Department of Health and Human Services. Thanks to all for helping the College connect with students and the community about a topic of high interest.

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.

Connecting with K-12

Metro Tucson’s district school superintendents came to PCC last week for our second annual luncheon, which brings together local K-12 leadership, PCC campus presidents and key College administrators. We shared information about PCC initiatives that affect our partners in the education pipeline, and to discuss ways to connect in order to build clearer pathways to student success, something our external constituents expect and deserve.

Group 1 MM and LL

As at last year’s inaugural event, there was a lot to talk about. Provost Dr. Erica Holmes shared PCC’s progress in redesigning developmental education, based on the bedrock principle of open access. “We meet students where they are,” Dr. Holmes said, and “take them where they want to go academically.”

We are redesigning our developmental Reading, Writing and Mathematics curricula to align them with best practices, and are assessing the impact of an innovative Math Emporium pilot program. Of special interest is a plan to work closely with Adult Education to move students into college-level coursework as quickly and effectively as possible.

A bonus for everyone was a visit by Mark Mitsui, Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, who graciously drove from an event in Phoenix to provide an update on federal initiatives to align our education system to meet college- and career-readiness standards. Mark told us, “You are doing hard work, but good work, in creating important seamless pathways” between K-12 and postsecondary education.

The meeting also included a presentation by Dr. Nic Richmond, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Planning and Institutional Research who presented data regarding the high schools that incoming PCC students have graduated from. Executive Director of Enrollment Management Dr. Heather Tilson described PCC’s re-energized outreach efforts, which are an important part of our comprehensive Enrollment Management initiative. Vice Provost Dr. Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez discussed potential alternatives to PCC assessment to determine student placement, such as examining high school transcripts or scores on the ACT, and described our efforts to expand dual enrollment.

The superintendents astutely emphasized the need for K-12 systems and PCC to present clear, unified messages to stakeholders, be they high school students and faculty regarding placement standards, or state government decision-makers as we explore ways to remove regulatory obstacles to dual enrollment expansion.

Cohesive, focused collaborations can pay big dividends – PCC’s recent $2.5 million grant from the federal government to train adults for occupational careers is tangible proof of that. By strengthening the dialogue with our partners in K-12, we can unearth ways to work together for the benefit of students and the community.