Tag Archives: inclusion

The killing of George Floyd

Below is my May 31 message to the Pima Community College community following the murder of George Floyd:

Dear Colleagues,

There is great wisdom in the words of people who have come before us and experienced first-hand times of hatred, confusion and strife. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

The cruel and senseless slaying of George Floyd, whose final cries of “I can’t breathe” weighs on our hearts and minds with inextinguishable horror. It followed so tragically on other acts of brutal violence involving people of color. 

These grievous acts of injustice stand in stark reality to the values held by Pima Community College, where social justice defines and guides our action and where compassion, integrity and inclusion help us move forward and compel us to demand better.

We know members of our community are suffering right now. Let us stand side-by-side and arm-in-arm with all who are affected and all who suffer as a result of ignorance and intolerance. 

As an instrument of social justice, Pima Community College has a responsibility to provide the knowledge, skills and mentorship to those students seeking to join the front lines in the struggle for equity.  We must cast light on darkness. We must replace ignorance with understanding. We must turn complicity into determination. We must, to paraphrase Dr. King, use love to drive out hate.

By doing what we do best – impart knowledge and open our students’ eyes to a world of possibility — we can help create a world that is more just and everyone has the opportunity to achieve their dream.

In the spirit of education, the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) in collaboration with the Office of Diversity of Equity, Equity, and Inclusion will offer virtual learning communities for all Pima faculty, staff, and administrators to discuss what it means to be an antiracist educator, using a common reading of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi‘s book “How to be an Antiracist.”   Please watch for details. I encourage you to participate.

Further as a bridge to greater academic achievement, we are obligated to provide students with pathways so that they can continue their educational journey. Thus, in alignment with the College’s goal to constructively engage with the community, I have directed the Provost to explore opening a dialogue with Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and its bachelor’s degree program in Social Justice and Human Rights to find possible collaborations that benefit each school and ultimately our students

As Gandhi said: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

As a community we are all affected. So please take a moment to connect with one another, embrace our shared humanity and remind ourselves that the work we do is so imperative to a better world.

Please also  remember the College has counseling resources available.

  • Employees have access at any time of day or night to our Employee Assistance Program, Jorgensen-Brooks. The EAP 24-hour phone number is (520) 575-8623.
  • Students also have 24/7 access to help through the Student Wellness Assistance, In MyPima: Go to Students > Student Resources tab.  

Graduation Season

Treece

With Jessica Treece

For the College, May is a month to showcase and celebrate our students’ success. Students, faculty, staff, administrators and the Governing Board have worked hard in 2017-2018, and the result of their efforts during the academic year deserves recognition.

I have had the privilege of participating in several ceremonies. At Multicultural Convocation, our annual celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion, I shared my story of coming to America from my birthplace in South Korea. I stressed the things we have in common, so that we can build bridges and bring back our humanity.

That same night, I joined more than 1,000 Tucsonans for the Fashionarte 2018 fashion event that showcased the amazing work of the students in our Fashion Design program. The event, held at the Fox Theatre Tucson with the support of several community sponsors, is an example of how public-private partnerships can benefit the College and the community.

I also had the opportunity to attend a ceremony honoring more than 75 graduates of our Nursing program. These women and men have completed a rigorous program that is deservedly recognized for the quality of their graduates.

On Friday, I broke bread with about 25 of the 295 student-veterans who will graduate from PCC this year. Those who attended heard the powerful story of Jessica Treece, who has fought back from severe injuries suffered in a mortar attack when serving in the Army in Iraq. Jessica will graduate from PCC with a certificate in Emergency Medical Technology and an Associate degree in Fire Science.

I congratulate all our graduates and thank the PCC teams that made each event memorable, and look forward to our Graduation May 17 and our High School Equivalency Graduation May 31.

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.

“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.

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.

Reiterating our commitment to diversity

 

Earlier today, I sent the following message to all College employees:

Colleagues,

In December 2015, I wrote to the College community regarding our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Recently, some states have considered or enacted legislation that undermines anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Thus, it is timely and appropriate to reiterate our ongoing pledge to live up to the College Value of People. Our Diversity Statement proclaims in part:

We cherish the diversity of our community and, in addition to equal opportunity and educational access for all, we respect and are inclusive of all beliefs, values, abilities, personal experiences and preferences, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and worldviews. We believe our differences are our strength and a source of innovation, excellence, and competitiveness. [More information is available on our Diversity webpage.]

PCC is committed to adhering to all federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding institutions of higher education. Among these is the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX statute, which protects students from discrimination on the basis of gender in education programs or activities that receive federal support.

Apart from laws and regulations, the College considers it a moral imperative to make our campuses places where all students, employees and community members feel secure and welcome, so they can focus on studies and activities that lead to student success. Together we remain resolved to move forward on the path leading to a multicultural society built on a foundation of civility, equity and social justice.