Tag Archives: economic development

Futures Conference 2018

Futures Conference logoThe College held its fifth annual Futures Conference last week. The conference is an important element in our strategic planning process, as it brings together students, Governing Board members, community members and PCC employees to discuss matters of College-wide importance, and to engage in small-group discussions that surface new ideas. Futures Conferences are a vehicle for constructive community engagement — we partner with the public, seeking advice and innovation.

This year’s conference focused on three areas:

  • Guided Pathways, clearly defined roadmaps to credentials that let students get the best return on their investment of time and resources.
  • Centers of Excellence, which enhance student success and economic development by providing students with rigorous, best-in-class training so they can succeed in leading-edge sectors of the economy.
  • Diversity and Inclusion, drivers of equity that need to be addressed if organizations are to succeed economically in a rapidly globalizing 21st

I opened with remarks that put the College’s work into prospective. New technological, economic and demographic realities are converging to create an age of accelerated change not seen since the 1440s, when Johannes Gutenberg introduced mechanical printing and ushered in the modern age. These changes, which range from the rise of Artificial Intelligence to persistent education and skills gaps, present higher education with numerous challenges. The foremost is realizing opportunities within our grasp today while preparing for opportunities of the future. This is a formidable task, given that 65 percent of today’s first-graders will be employed in jobs that currently do not exist. My path forward for the College, unsurprisingly, is to improve delivery of instruction and services so our students have the knowledge, skills and abilities to thrive regardless of what the future may bring.

Clearly, given this uncertain landscape, the College needs the insights of its partners, and Future Conferences are an excellent way to leverage their creative energy. Past conferences have resulted in real change. In 2017, attendees identified as priorities “Establish guided pathways for in-demand programs” and “Align College programs, processes, systems and resources to support economic opportunities within Pima County through relationships with local business and industry.”  Those insights were woven into the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, which was approved by the Governing Board in May 2017. I am confident this year’s Futures Conference will yield similar advances.

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.