Tag Archives: economic development

PCC joins the M-List

Below is an announcement released to the media regarding PCC qualifying for The Manufacturing Institute’s M-List. The designation recognizes PCC’s outstanding courses in Machine Tool Technology, Welding, Mechatronics, and Building & Construction, and is a huge accomplishment for the College.

Pima Community College is the newest member of The Manufacturing Institute’s M-List. The designation acknowledges PCC’s outstanding Machine Tool Technology, Welding, Mechatronics, and Building and Construction courses.

Enrolled students will be eligible to receive certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, National Center for Construction Education & Research, and American Welding Society, as well as receive college credit.

In addition to being recognized on the M-List, PCC also participates on The Manufacturing Institute’s Education Council, representing institutions committed to delivering high-quality manufacturing education and training programs designed to meet the skill requirements of the nation’s manufacturers.

The M-List recognizes high schools, community colleges and universities that are teaching manufacturing students to industry standards. Specifically, these institutions offer students the opportunity to earn NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications as a standard part of their manufacturing education programs. Companies and schools interested in joining the Manufacturing Institute’s effort or learning more can visit themanufacturinginstitute.org/Skills-Certification/M-List/MList.aspx.

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 to the Community

This month’s edition of PCC Spotlight, the College’s e-newsletter, contains my annual Report to the Community.
Some of the topics addressed in the Report:
  • Accreditation: We have submitted a Notice Report to the Higher Learning Commission, a key step in regaining the fullest measure of confidence from our accreditor.
  • Fiscal stewardship: I put into perspective PCC’s budget, property tax rates, and tuition for 2016-17.
  • Student success: We are making strides in improving and expanding pathways for students at the beginning of their education journey.

Propelling economic development in Arizona

I am excited to note that last week Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a measure that represents a major leap forward for Pima Community College and for the economic development of our state.

Through newly enacted Senate Bill 1322, community colleges will be able to help Arizona’s workforce rise to the top of a brutally competitive 21st-century global marketplace.

It removes some caps on spending money necessary to develop career and technical education programs in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, nursing and aviation technology, and in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors. It also provides relief for community colleges engaging in entrepreneurial activities, such as entering into contracts with employers to provide workforce training.

The law does not raise taxes. In fact, it protects the interests of taxpayers by establishing a clear, transparent method for estimating full-time student enrollment used to calculate the College’s expenditure limitation. The law provides PCC with the financial predictability necessary for effective strategic planning.

SB 1322 passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. The Arizona Legislature and Gov. Ducey deserve praise for recognizing the legislation’s benefits to workforce and career readiness.

PCC joined with the state’s nine other community college districts in championing the legislation, but the effort would not have been successful without the backing of the area’s education, government, business and community leaders. Thank you for your ongoing support!

I am particularly proud of the way the College community stepped up, especially Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dr. David Bea and Executive Assistant Carl Englander; Executive Director of Media, Government and Community Relations Libby Howell and Advanced Analyst Michael Peel; and contract lobbyist Jonathan Paton.

As Governing Board Chair Mark Hanna remarked last week in a message to the College community, “This success will translate into a stronger Pima Community College that develops and trains students to become future workers and leaders and in turn strengthen our community and its economy. You should be proud of your accomplishment and we appreciate your efforts.” Well said.

 

SBDC back in business at PCC

I am excited to report that the College has re-established a relationship with an important business partner. The PCC Governing Board last week approved a three-year Intergovernmental Agreement with the Arizona Small Business Development Center (AZSBDC) for a cooperative effort to host a service center at Community Campus.

The AZSBDC Network is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration and eight community college districts throughout Arizona. Last year the network served more than 3,600 entrepreneurs and more than 3,100 business owners.  At Community Campus, the center will offer quality, no-cost confidential one-on-one counseling and no- or low-cost workshops to new and current businesses and entrepreneurs.

As Janice C Washington, AZSBDC state director says, the strategic alignment between community colleges and SBDC is strong. Small businesses are the engine that drives economic development in our region, and the College is placing a greater emphasis on working with business partners. We are honored to collaborate with an organization dedicated to helping existing and new businesses launch, grow and become sustainable.

A chance to graduate ready for the new economy

Anyone who works or studies at a community college had to stand a little taller after listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. The president made clear the important role that community colleges can and should play in the lives of those seeking a foothold in the middle class.

He related the story of a young couple, battered by the recession, who got back on their feet through hard work, sacrifice and the wife starting on a new career after retraining at a community college. The president also restated his proposal to lower the cost of community college to zero because “in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more” to educate America’s workforce.

Like my fellow community college leaders, I am awaiting the release on Feb. 2 of the president’s budget, when the details of the proposal will be revealed. But the realities underpinning his proposal are clear today. Forty percent of U.S. undergraduates attend a community college.

By the end of the decade, it’s estimated that two of three jobs will require some postsecondary education. And while community colleges such as PCC are a very affordable educational option, for many the cost of attending college is substantial.

One of the best aspects of the plan is that it rewards achievement. Students would qualify as long as they maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. Another commendable part of the proposal is that students of all ages will benefit, not only recent high school graduates. This is especially relevant for PCC, where the average age of our students is 27.

Clearly, debate over the proposal is going to be spirited and likely will spark many competing approaches aimed at having more students attend and complete some form of postsecondary education and training. However, the mere fact that we will have a robust conversation is a significant step forward. I stand with all those who serve at community colleges to assure decision-makers that the investment in our students, and our nation’s future economic vitality, is well worth it.

To read a letter sent to the members of Congress by American Association of Community Colleges’ President/CEO Dr. Walter Bumphus and other higher education leaders: Community Colleges Leaders to Congress 1 21 15