Tag Archives: Hispanic-Serving Institutions

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.

HSI Week

We are pleased to join President Obama in recognizing National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week. The President issued a proclamation Sept. 9 designating this week to honor our nation’s Hispanic-serving colleges and universities, including Pima Community College.

The President said Hispanic-serving institutions “have given more Hispanics access to the resources and opportunities they need to compete in our economy. More than half of America’s Hispanic undergraduates attend HSIs, which have played a critical role in increasing access to a college education and have worked to bolster enrollment, retention and graduation rates.”

The proclamation was timely for PCC. Just last week I had the honor of accepting The Edith Sayre Auslander Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award from The Victoria Foundation on behalf of PCC. The Foundation was created to honor Hispanics in higher education as well as those working hard to support Hispanic higher education.

PCC was recognized for renewing its commitment to open access and student success for all students.  Forty-two percent of all PCC students are Hispanic/Latino, many first-generation college students.

Also, exciting, Hispanic/Latino students earning both certificate and associate degrees is up by more than 16 percent from just last year.

In 1992, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) led the effort to convince Congress to formally recognize campuses with high Hispanic enrollment as federally designated HSIs.  To be recognized, colleges must be not-for-profit with a full-time equivalent undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week is part of awareness and celebration efforts.

Journal of State Dental Group Features PCC Program

Our Dental Studies Program is featured in the latest edition of the Arizona Dental Association journal Inscriptions.

The article, “Pima Community College: Their New Innovative and Integrated Approach to Learning,”focuses on recent improvements in the program through a $3.25 million federal Title V grant. The grant, which was awarded in 2013 through the U.S. Department of Education, is funding upgrades, including adding cutting-edge technology to the program’s facilities at West Campus. This allows the program to enroll more students and pilot new curriculum. Title V is a program that helps Hispanic-Serving Institutions, such as PCC, improve their services.

Inscriptions is the official journal of the AzDA, and is a benefit of AzDA membership. It is published monthly in print and online.

PCC’s Dental Studies Program offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Dental Hygiene, and Dental Laboratory Technology, as well as certificates for direct employment in Dental Assisting Education. It also has specialized Dental Lab Tech specialization certificates in Complete Dentures Technologist, Dental Ceramics Technologist, Fixed Bridgework Technologist and Partial Dentures Technologist.