Tag Archives: Values

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.

Reiterating our commitment to diversity


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


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.


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