Tag Archives: engagement

A big start to the new year

The past few days have been busy and productive as the College made progress in two important areas: state government engagement, and accreditation.

On Monday, I attended the opening session of the Arizona Legislature in Phoenix. Sen. David Bradley, District 10, invited a PCC team to the session, where we met briefly with Sen. Steve Farley, District 9. Sen. Bradley’s other guests included Daniel Ranieri, President/CEO for La Frontera Arizona, and H.T. Sanchez, Superintendent of TUSD. We discussed the importance of continued funding for education on all levels, including community colleges and universities, and our interest in Gov. Ducey’s proposed budget. I also met Senate President Andy Biggs and Rep.Vince Leach, District 11, Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

On Tuesday, I led a PCC team at a hearing of the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council Hearing Committee in Chicago. The hearing was held to review the report of the HLC evaluation team that visited PCC in September. As I have written, the College last month received the good news that the team recommended we be taken off probation.

I believe the hearing went extremely well and the atmosphere was positive. I asked that the Hearing Committee accepts the recommendation of the site evaluation team.

The hearing was significant because it was the last chance for us to describe, person to person, to the HLC the many improvements that are taking place at PCC and make our case to be removed from probation. The Hearing Committee asked a variety of questions covering a number of areas, such as integrated planning and budgeting, program review, board governance, leadership transition, and diversity.

The meeting reinforced my belief that the HLC Board of Trustees’ final decision, due in late February or early March, will be a positive one for the College.

To top off the last few days, before Wednesday’s PCC Governing Board meeting a new member of the Board, Mark Hanna, was sworn to begin his six-year term. Mark, a former chair of the PCC Alumni Association and a former member of the PCC Foundation, replaces Dr. Brenda Even, who chose not to run for re-election after ably serving on the Board since 2001.

Clearly, a lot of good things are happening at PCC as we learn, change and improve in order to better serve students and the community.

Looking back, looking ahead

I began my second year as chancellor with a review of my first. At the July meeting of the PCC Governing Board, I summed up the progress made in achieving my 2013-14 Goals, Objectives and Timelines. [My presentation is available here.] PCC has been able to move forward in many areas, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of the College community. Of course, much more needs to be done to transform PCC into a premier community college focused on our North Star of student success, engagement and diversity.

We have done an excellent job conducting an Institutional Self-Study, a comprehensive self-examination of the College’s policies, processes and goals. The Self-Study was set into motion when our accrediting organization, the Higher Learning Commission, placed the College on probation in April 2013 after determining it was not complying with several HLC standards.

We are in the midst of a crucial time regarding reaccreditation. The Self-Study Report must be submitted to the HLC by July 31. On Sept. 15-17, a team of HLC representatives will visit PCC. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate we deserve the HLC’s and the public’s highest degree of trust, and are confident we will provide strong evidence that the College has resolved the HLC’s concerns and meets its requirements.

Beyond accreditation, the College has improved significantly in several areas. For example, we now are consistently engaging our internal and external constituents. We will use the results of an employee satisfaction survey to develop a plan to improve the culture of the workplace. We have begun sexual harassment prevention training with a goal of training everyone in our organization. In addition, we are addressing the needs of our all-important adjunct instructors and temporary staff.

We have expanded outreach to area business, K-12 schools, the state’s colleges and universities, neighborhood associations, community groups, and state and federal leaders. The result has been increased alignment with important industry sectors, improved assessment testing at high schools, strengthened dual enrollment, streamlining of pathways to The University of Arizona, and stronger engagement by donors and alumni.

The Governing Board deserves praise as well, for updating its bylaws and policies, and especially for approving a new Governance Council. I chair the council, which comprises students, adjunct and full-time faculty, administrators, and regular and temporary staff. It is designed to keep leadership apprised of topics of College-wide importance, and is an example of our commitment to accountability and collaboration.

Still to be accomplished are several major initiatives, including redesigning remedial education, as well as completing a review of College regulations and guides of standard practice.

Designing effective organizational goals means striking a delicate balance. Goals should not consist merely of low-hanging fruit, objectives that can easily be met but are essentially incremental and do not address critical issues. Nor should goals be so sweeping in breadth and depth that attempting to achieve them means pushing the organization into a perpetual, paralytic “crisis mode” that hamstrings its ability to function.

The culture of continuous improvement taking hold at PCC means we are constantly stretching our limits through a cycle of assessment, implementation of change and reassessment. We have achieved several milestones this past year in improving our operations, but few endpoints. The process necessarily must be ongoing in order to meet the needs of our students and make a significant contribution to the progress of our city, our state and our nation.