Tag Archives: mission

Living our values

The higher education landscape today is littered with colleges that failed to understand the trends, failed to innovate and took their focus off their core values.

Late last month I challenged our administrators to reflect on the College’s values, which begin with “We value our students, employees and the community members we serve by making decisions that address the needs of those populations.”  Our values also cover integrity, excellence, communication, collaboration and open admissions and access.

I then asked them if their values aligned with the College. I also asked, “What  have you done to fulfill the College’s mission?”

If Pima Community College is going to reach its potential to be a premier community college, each of us must be committed to our organizational values and to fulfilling our mission.

The challenge, of course, is that today’s world is much different than when  Pima opened its doors nearly 50 years ago. Today’s technology-driven, global economy  demands innovation at an unprecedented pace. Further, our students must be prepared for a world that  moves seamlessly across borders, thanks largely to technology, and a workforce that integrates ideas and cultures from every perspective.

To put students first at Pima Community College means exposing them to cultural opportunities and providing a global understanding. Even graduates who will build their lives and careers in Pima County must be prepared for a workforce where the company owner is from China or Germany or elsewhere; where the expectation is to be multi-lingual or culturally competent; where the workplace enjoys a rich diversity.

Our students return from study abroad opportunities to China, Ireland and other places they might have never thought possible as changed individuals with a new confidence. Pima students study alongside our international students, break bread with them, learn from them. Everyone benefits.

Putting students first at Pima means innovating to ensure they have access to the best services, the latest teaching methods and the newest technology.  STEM fields are changing rapidly and Pima must adapt to ensure that our students are prepared for those great jobs. If our programs aren’t innovating, they are dying.

Recently we were told that everything about college should be easy, except for the learning.

Putting students first at Pima also means innovating our student experience, providing welcoming, encouraging and effective interactions.

Finally, putting students first means that faculty, staff and administrators can’t wait for opportunity before they act. They can’t wait to be asked.  They can’t wait for crisis to compel change.  They can’t hope difficult times will simply pass by.  Each of us owes it to our students to live our values, to watch and understand the trends, to innovate to meet student needs.

The day is gone when good enough was enough.  “Good enough” is not in Pima’s lexicon.  I shared the story of James Dyson and how a local sawmill inspired his line of vacuum cleaners. For James Dyson, good enough was not an option and he found inspiration for something better, perhaps even the best vacuum cleaner.

I challenge Pima supporters and employees to find your inspiration.

Get excited when you think that Pima Community College can be a premier community college, with record-setting completion rates, multiple nationally recognized programs and standard-setting customer service.  We are certainly paving the way for that with guided pathways, Centers of Excellence, iBEST and other initiatives. We will continue that very good work and keep building on it.

Think about how you would answer “what have I done to fulfill the College’s mission? How I have lived the College values?”   If you don’t like your answer, know that you can aspire to more.

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.

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.

College submits Notice Report to accreditor

Below is a message I sent earlier today to the College community:

Colleagues,

The College yesterday afternoon sent our Notice Report to the Higher Learning Commission. The report can be read on the Accreditation page of our website.

In meeting the deadline for submission of the report, the College has reached another milestone as we seek to regain the full trust of our accreditor. It’s important to remember that successfully emerging from the Notice sanction is not an endpoint. It is a significant step toward our ultimate goal, providing the best possible programs and services to students and the community.

The Notice process has been marked by many changes at the College, including a re-evaluation of our Mission Fulfillment Framework, the foundation document for our efforts. Change is difficult, especially in a large, student-centered organization such as PCC, but it’s necessary, and I am proud so many employees have embraced new ways of doing things.

A project of this scope could not succeed without the teamwork of faculty, staff and administrators. Dozens of employees should be proud of their efforts, and I thank those who commented on earlier drafts of the report, or provided evidence.

As it has in past HLC-related matters, the Provost’s Office took the lead on the Notice Report and piloted the College through a long, complex process. The Subject Matter Experts team spent hours researching, writing, revising and editing the Notice Report, and deserve recognition: Dolores Durán-Cerda, Julian Easter, Carl Englander, Karrie Mitchell, Bruce Moses, Lee Nichols, Michael Parker, Nic Richmond, Carin Rubinstein, Kate Schmidt, Jeff Silvyn and Jeff Thies.

I am confident the Notice Report provides strong evidence that the College has substantially addressed the concerns raised in the HLC Notice Letter, and demonstrates we meet HLC standards. The progress made by the College over the past three years is strengthening our efforts to revitalize our community academically, economically and culturally.

Thank you for your support.

Lee D. Lambert,

Chancellor

Futures Conference 2016

I delivered opening remarks to the Pima Community College Futures Conference late last month. The conference was attended by almost 160 PCC employees and government, education, business and community leaders. The question posed at the conference was simple and fundamental: “How does PCC know it has fulfilled its mission?”

The answer is critically important to the College. We need to demonstrate to the peer institutions who accredit us, and to the public, that we can accurately ascertain our strengths and areas needing improvement. Over the two-plus hours of the conference, attendees met in small groups. They proposed a wide range of indicators to effectively measure performance in several areas, including diversity, student access and success, and community engagement.

The information gathered at the conference will be refined and converted into Key Performance Indicators that, pending Governing Board approval, will be embedded into the College’s strategic planning process.

Naturally, given the topic, most of the conversation centered on numbers and analysis.  I closed with a reminder that the College, while committed to being data-informed and evidence-based, must never lose sight of its underlying values or its focus on the individual student. At my table I heard the story of one student, Martin, whose goal is to become a lawyer and who has trusted in us his dreams and hopes for the future. In listening to Martin, who is of modest means, I was reminded of a quote from Melinda Gates: “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

This was the third Futures Conference held by the College. All have been expertly organized by our Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness. Dr. Nicola Richmond and her team — including Michelle Henry, David Purkiss, table facilitators and other volunteers – once again did a great job in bringing together a diverse group of internal and external constituents to creatively collaborate on an important topic.

All College Day 2015

About 1,000 employees attended All College Day.

About 1,000 employees attended All College Day.

Pima Community College held its annual All College Day employee meeting on Aug. 24.  It was the third All College Day I have attended since becoming Chancellor of PCC in 2013, and it was the most ambitious, information-packed and inspirational yet.

At the end of the morning session, I delivered remarks to the audience of nearly 1,000 – Governing Board members, regular faculty, adjunct faculty, exempt and non-exempt staff and administrators. It was a privilege to discuss the road PCC is taking to transform itself into a leading social justice institution that helps our students achieve their academic goals while leading our community to greater prosperity.

Dr. Aaron Thompson

Dr. Aaron Thompson

Among our guest speakers was Dr. Aaron Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of the Kentucky Council on Post-secondary Education, who touched on the distinction between climate, the current perception of an institution’s members, and culture, the institution’s deeply embedded values and beliefs. Our Institutional Climate Cooperative held afternoon sessions to help employees collaborate to make PCC a better place to work and learn.

Dr. Karen Solomon and Provost Dr. Erica Holmes

Dr. Karen Solomon and Provost Dr. Erica Holmes

Dr. Karen Solomon, Vice President for Accreditation Relations and Director of the Standard Pathway at the Higher Learning Commission, also presented. Dr. Solomon noted that PCC had been a nationally recognized thought leader in higher education in years past and challenged us to regain that position. She added she was “confident the institution can make the necessary changes and be removed from Notice.” [Notice means that the College is now in compliance with the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, but remains at risk of being out of compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation and the Core Components.] I share the view that although plenty of work remains, we are on our way toward regaining the fullest confidence of the HLC.

Chancellor_IMG_0059In my remarks, I shared the College’s new Vision, Mission, Values, and Core Themes and Objectives, a framework to guide us forward as we navigate through an ever-changing local, national and global landscape. I highlighted three of our Core Values:  our unshakeable belief in open access, our commitment to student success and to creating a civil, compassionate and kind College community.

I’d like to note one of the more than two dozen afternoon breakout sessions, a thought-provoking presentation on Emotional Intelligence by Dr. David R. Katz of Mohawk Valley Community College. Each of us can have a profound impact upon the emotional state of people we interact with, so everyone at PCC can make a difference in the lives of our students and colleagues.

It takes a College-wide effort to make All College Day a resounding success. Events Coordinator Christy Yebra and her team, along with colleagues in Access and Disability Resources, Facilities, Information Technology, Marketing, PCCTV, the Provost’s Office and volunteers District-wide once again mastered the logistics necessary for mounting such a great event. Most of all, I want to thank our employees for their support as we remake PCC into a premier community college, one dedicated to student success, community engagement and diversity.

Carl Englander, Pedro Flores-Gallardo, Ed Gallagher, David Bishop, Amy Cramer, Ph.D., Anthony Sovak, Ph.D., and Dolores Durán-Cerda, Ph.D., winners of outstanding staff/faculty/administrator awards

Carl Englander, Pedro Flores-Gallardo, Ed Gallagher, David Bishop, Amy Cramer, Ph.D., Anthony Sovak, Ph.D., and Dolores Durán-Cerda, Ph.D., winners of outstanding staff/faculty/administrator awards

PCC’s place in a rapidly shrinking world

I was fortunate to be part of spirited discussions at annual professional development events last month, and I thank the 80 exempt and 180 non-exempt employees who attended. At both gatherings, we talked about topics affecting individual campuses and the College as a whole, as well as trends affecting education nationally and globally. The key takeaway, I believe, is the distance between the PCC and the rest of the world is shrinking rapidly, and we need to start thinking globally if we are to successfully compete in the 21st century. [The McKinsey Global Institute has interesting insights on the rapid rebooting of the world’s economy.]

The growth of the middle class in Latin America, Africa and Asia has been well documented. Hundreds of millions of college-age students live in Mexico, India, China and elsewhere. PCC’s internationalization efforts, through the Becalos program and in recent visits to China and Korea, can enhance the global education of our students while fostering the economic and cultural development of the College and the community.

Of course, we also must take care of business at home. As you know, the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s accreditor, has removed PCC from Probation and placed us on Notice, meaning the we are in compliance with the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation but remain at risk for being out of compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components. Refining the College mission and developing a system to assess its fulfillment are among the areas we must address to regain the fullest confidence of our accreditor.

Beyond accreditation, we have a pressing need to rebuild enrollment. In addition, our commitment to student access should be buttressed by a redesign of foundational education that quickly and effectively advances students into credit programs. We can address Pima County’s achievement gap by strengthening transfer pathways to four-year schools and ensuring our programs provide students with skills area employers value. It adds up to a commitment to a great experience for our students, our most important customers and investors.

The work of our employees is crucial to the success of these efforts. Every workday, we can build a culture of accountability at PCC. Everyone can contribute to a workplace that values clarifying questions, contrasting viewpoints and new ideas, expressed in honest, open discussions, and free from fear of retaliation. All of us also have an opportunity to influence public perceptions about the College. “Regular employees” are considered very credible sources of information about a company or organization, according to a 2012 survey of trust in institutions – more credible, I hasten to add, than CEOs of the organization. In talking to family, friends and community members about PCC – whether good or ill — our words matter.  It is another example of how the opportunity to help transform PCC into a premier community college starts with our most valuable asset, our employees.