Tag Archives: diversity

“One City, One County, One Community”

It was an honor to join nearly two dozen of our region’s leaders at the “One City, One County, One Community” event organized by Tucson City Council member Richard Fimbres.

Pima Community College is committed to social justice. We stand for what is right and in support of diversity, equity and inclusion. And we know that working with the community, we can make great strides in improving life for our neighbors and constituents.

Learn more about the “One City, One County, One Community” initiative.

A message of hope

Below is a message to the College community from Dr. Sofia Ramos, PCC’s Interim Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Dear Colleagues,

As we prepare for the upcoming school year and the return of our students to campus, our thoughts are with the families affected by the tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, and all of us who bear witness.

Pima Community College stands firm in embracing our rich differences in identity, religion, heritage and ability as cornerstones of excellence.  We remain committed to engaging our entire community in weaving diversity and inclusion into our institutional fabric and beyond.

While national events bring pain and threaten to divide us, with the support of Chancellor Lambert and Provost Durán-Cerda, Pima will continue to build community and encourage acceptance and understanding around civility, diversity and inclusion topics through periodic gatherings in a series called Inclusion Matters.

Every day is an opportunity to spread kindness, goodness and to honor our unique identities, cultures, traditions and history. We look forward to the start of the new year and to working together as a community to create positive change.

Report to the Community 2017

This is an exciting time at Pima Community College. We are moving forward with significant, wide-ranging initiatives with the potential to reshape PCC so that we can best serve our community for years — and in some cases, decades — to come.

PCC continues to reduce its budget to account for declines in enrollment and upcoming expenditure limitation realities. At the same time, the College is undergoing a strategic renewal, positioning itself to become a premier community college:

  • In May, the Pima County Community College Governing Board approved PCC’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. The plan commits the College to the goal that 60 percent of Pima County residents age 25 and older have a college certificate or degree by 2030, aligning us with Gov. Doug Ducey’s Achieve60AZ initiative.
  • We are moving forward with our first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.
  • The College has developed a conceptual Educational and Facilities Master Plan, which provides a vision for where we need to go as an organization.

On diversity

Our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan is an important step forward. The plan commits us to help close the academic achievement gap for Hispanic/Latino Pima County residents. While the plan embraces our primary responsibility to Southern Arizonans, especially its underrepresented, marginalized communities, it also includes an initiative on global education.

I was born in South Korea and have lived on three continents, so I know first-hand the value of interacting with people from all over the world. Being aware that one is a member of a global community, and having an appreciation for other cultures, has benefits that go beyond the personal, however.

Global competencies give individuals and businesses an edge. Speaking to the Governing Board earlier this month, Caterpillar Inc.’s Brian Weller, Chief Engineer, Surface Mining & Technology, emphasized that an “open mind to diversity of thought” is critical to the success of individuals in his company. He knows, as PCC does, that when we understand and respect each other, everyone wins.


Centers of Excellence

Studies show that Arizona, like many states, suffers from a shortage of middle-skill workers, those who have attended college but haven’t received a bachelor’s degree. Key Arizona industries — aviation, advanced manufacturing and others — can’t find work-ready employees, thus hampering their ability to thrive and grow.

PCC and other community colleges offer affordable programs that can fill industry’s middle-skills gap. PCC is committed to ensuring the quality and relevance of our programs, and to creating clear curriculum pathways to student success. We work with business and industry partners so that our courses meet their current and future needs. We train people today so they can move into jobs tomorrow.

Our commitment to student success will take physical form in new Centers of Excellence. Students in our renowned occupational programs, such as Allied Health, Aviation Technology and Applied Technology, deserve to learn in modern facilities containing state-of-the-art equipment. Moreover, area employers are looking to us to provide work-ready graduates with the skill sets, curiosity and flexibility needed to be productive in an ever-changing workplace. Our goal is for the Centers to be recognized nationwide as places to gain skills needed for well-paying careers.


Accreditation in context

In past years, I have begun messages to the community with a report on our status with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an organization that accredits institutions of higher learning such as PCC. That was because since April 2013, we had been under some form of sanction by the HLC, and working to have those sanctions removed was our top priority. We are proud to report that since March, when HLC lifted our On Notice status, PCC has enjoyed the full measure of confidence from our accreditor.

For our employees and Governing Board, our good standing with the HLC is a milestone that validates their hard work. For current and future students, a degree or certificate from an accredited institution shows interested employers that our students have the education and skills to meet their standards.

Assuring our full accreditation is always an important activity for PCC, and we are preparing for the HLC’s regular visit in 2018. However, the lifting of sanctions means the accreditation warning light isn’t blinking on our institutional dashboard.  Thankfully, we can devote full attention to opportunities and challenges in front of us.

About the Report to the Community

This letter and the accompanying Report to the Community provide a concise snapshot of the state of the College in late spring 2017. It is organized around PCC’s institutional North Star of student success, community engagement and diversity. The report respects the reader’s time — it is short and hopefully jargon-free. Data is presented as a point of entry to a larger topic, and often links to reports and information sources for those readers who wish to learn more about the College.

A final word

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” PCC is an evidence-based organization, and our future activities will be informed by collection and analysis of data, as well as by insights from our community partners. We also are guided by our values: People, Integrity, Excellence, Communication, Collaboration, and Open Admissions and Open Access.

We know there will be detours and resets, as there are with all dynamic, substantial changes. Our commitment to taking the first step, to meeting challenges in order to improve the lives of our students and the community, will not diminish. We’ll always be climbing the staircase.


Lee D. Lambert, J.D.
Chancellor, Pima Community College

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.

Ethnic, Gender and Global Studies rising at PCC

On Oct. 20, I had the great pleasure of making introductory remarks at the College’s inaugural Raquel Rubio Goldsmith Lecture in Ethnic, Gender and Global Studies, featuring Dr. Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo.

ethnic

Dr. Hernández is a noted Mexican cultural anthropologist. She spoke on “Multiple Injustices: Indigenous Women, Law and Political Struggle.” An intellectual and activist, Dr. Hernández shared profound perspectives on how social justice, gender equity, human rights and race intersect globally.

Following the lecture, Dr. Hernández, along with Ethnic Studies scholar Rubio Goldsmith, engaged in a lively discussion with students and the social activists, educators, intellectuals and human rights defenders in the audience. It was pointed out during the community discussion that our region’s great diversity connects to environmental, political and economic issues that extend far past our borders in ever-changing ways.

The event was a huge success, filling the lecture room and overflow rooms at Downtown Campus. Major leaders of our community were present, including Dr. Anna O’Leary, head of the Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona, and Isabel García, who for decades has been at the forefront of immigrant and refugee rights.

The lecture series is the brainchild of our rising program in Ethnic, Gender and Global Studies. As an instrument for social justice, PCC is committed to diversity, inclusion and equity, and a robust, multifaceted program in Ethnic, Gender and Global Studies is critical to honoring our commitment.

The essential goal of the College’s initiatives in this area is individual empowerment. I shared that one in three people are affected by domestic violence within his or her lifetime in the U.S., and that 3 million children between ages 3-17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. I shared these statistics to drive home the point that achieving success is crucial for the College and the community.

My thanks go to everybody who helped pull this wonderful event together. Provost Dolores Durán-Cerda, Ethnic Studies faculty members Francisca James Hernandez, Rosalia Solorzano and their colleagues are to be commended, as are President David Doré and the team at Downtown Campus; support coordinator Yolanda Gonzales; and the Marketing, Web Systems, and Media Production teams at District Office.

As Dr. Hernandez’s research shows, communities such as ours are microcosms of global diversity and thus demand we develop new visions of “diversity within diversity” as we work for social justice. Ethnic, Gender and Global Studies are essential to understanding our history and setting the groundwork for a better future for all.

Preliminary draft, PCC Diversity Plan

Earlier this week I encouraged College employees to provide insights regarding the preliminary draft of the College’s Diversity Plan. The draft is available for feedback on the PCC Diversity web page through Oct. 12. I invite you to comment on a document that will map PCC’s future direction in this essential area.

The draft Diversity Plan outlines the philosophical underpinnings of our effort, and recommends goals and activities to fulfill our mission: to provide affordable, comprehensive education opportunities supporting student success, and to meet the needs of the multiple constituencies we serve.

Your comments, questions and concerns will inform a document that will have a profound impact for years to come. As I have said, a commitment to diversity will benefit all students and employees, and enhance the economic and cultural vitality of our region.

Embracing diversity amid tragedy

Here is a message I sent to the College community on June 13:

 

At last week’s Governing Board meeting, the College shared with the Board a preliminary draft of our 2015-2020 Diversity Plan.

“Pima Community College’s diversity plan supports cultural awareness, and sensitivity in understanding differences in race, ethnicity, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, veteran status, languages, socio-economic conditions and political systems,” the plan states. “The concepts of equality and inclusion go beyond ‘representation’ by creating welcoming environments where all individuals feel respected, valued and supported.”

The sentiments and goals embodied in our plan are poignant, in light of the horrific shooting in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, survivors, their family and friends, and to the city of Orlando.

As a school, we are limited in our ability to fight terror and hatred. But we can fight ignorance, and we can foster respect and civility by vigorously encouraging diversity and inclusion. This weekend’s atrocity has made the importance of our endeavors in these areas evermore clear.