- 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.
I am excited to note that last week Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a measure that represents a major leap forward for Pima Community College and for the economic development of our state.
Through newly enacted Senate Bill 1322, community colleges will be able to help Arizona’s workforce rise to the top of a brutally competitive 21st-century global marketplace.
It removes some caps on spending money necessary to develop career and technical education programs in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, nursing and aviation technology, and in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors. It also provides relief for community colleges engaging in entrepreneurial activities, such as entering into contracts with employers to provide workforce training.
The law does not raise taxes. In fact, it protects the interests of taxpayers by establishing a clear, transparent method for estimating full-time student enrollment used to calculate the College’s expenditure limitation. The law provides PCC with the financial predictability necessary for effective strategic planning.
SB 1322 passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. The Arizona Legislature and Gov. Ducey deserve praise for recognizing the legislation’s benefits to workforce and career readiness.
PCC joined with the state’s nine other community college districts in championing the legislation, but the effort would not have been successful without the backing of the area’s education, government, business and community leaders. Thank you for your ongoing support!
I am particularly proud of the way the College community stepped up, especially Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dr. David Bea and Executive Assistant Carl Englander; Executive Director of Media, Government and Community Relations Libby Howell and Advanced Analyst Michael Peel; and contract lobbyist Jonathan Paton.
As Governing Board Chair Mark Hanna remarked last week in a message to the College community, “This success will translate into a stronger Pima Community College that develops and trains students to become future workers and leaders and in turn strengthen our community and its economy. You should be proud of your accomplishment and we appreciate your efforts.” Well said.
At the Arizona Technology Council’s recent After 5 networking event, held at our Aviation Technology Center, more than 100 local business leaders met to strengthen connections to PCC in service to a common goal: building a more robust economy.
The Arizona Technology Council is a trade association promoting growth in aeronautics, energy, particularly solar, healthcare, and technology. My welcome message noted that PCC can supply qualified people to work in these sectors by aligning our programs with transfer pathways, industry needs and nationally recognized credentials.
Several of our key programs were well-represented at the event, including Aviation Technology, which in January was honored to host the first-ever visit to PCC by a Cabinet secretary, when Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez praised PCC for implementation of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants.
A TAACCCT grant supports the Get Into Energy program, a joint venture that includes PCC and Tucson Electric Power and which awards students an Electrical Utility Technology certificate. Students who complete the program are eligible to apply to internships at TEP and may pursue an associate in applied science degree.
Another TAACCCT grant will create a degree pathway in industrial technology with certificates in instrumentation, industrial maintenance, industrial mechanics and mechatronics, in addition to certificates in basic and advanced industrial welding.
We are working toward National Institute for Metalworking Skills accreditation and recently graduated nine students, our first high school cohort to complete the Machine Tool Technology certificate in collaboration with Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership. And we just dedicated an art/design space where students will learn to write software for 3D printers.
I want to thank Arizona Technology Council Southern Arizona Regional Vice President Alex Rodriguez, ATC president Steven G. Zylstra, Interim Vice Chancellor for Technology Cindy Dooling, and the always-indispensable team at the Aviation Technology Center for a great event.
Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Through our ever-stronger connection to employers, PCC can supply students with the education to successfully compete in the global workplace of the future.
PCC is committed to serving the needs of the community. A critical piece of this commitment must be serving the needs of the individual.
That was one of the insights emerging from the 2015 Futures Conference, which I had the privilege of attending on April 13. Approximately 100 community members and employees enjoyed a spirited discussion about a wide range of topics, including access, success, program excellence, stewardship, and more. The information gathered at the conference will inform PCC planning, and my thanks go to Assistant Vice Chancellor Nicola Richmond and her staff in Planning and Institutional Research for organizing an event that produced many great ideas. [A PowerPoint presentation from the conference is available on our website.]
Our inaugural Futures Conference, in April 2014, was devoted to strategic planning, as well as defining six directions for the College to pursue over the next two to three years. This year’s Futures Conference focused on our mission – our reason for being, the answer to the question, “Why does PCC exist?” [Our current mission statement is “to develop the community through learning.”] At the conference, one argument was made that the best answer regarding mission was “to serve every individual, every day.’’
However our mission is defined, it must drive PCC to success in ways that benefit our diverse students. One might need Adult Education, another Developmental Education. A student seeking the skills for gainful employment is best served if we successfully align Career and Technical Education curriculum with the needs of business and industry and offer short-term, stackable credentials. A student looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree makes it incumbent on us to improve connections with K-12, colleges and universities to ensure seamless transfer. A student balancing work and family obligations needs PCC to provide robust online programs.
I began and ended the conference with personal stories of students who succeeded at PCC after taking long and winding education journeys that sometimes tested their resolve. One of our former students graduated from a local high school, served in the military and graduated from college, yet could find work only as a server in a restaurant. “I did everything right,” she told U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez when he visited the Aviation Technology Center in January 2015, yet still had not reached her career goal. Then she found, on the ground, a piece of paper with information about Pima Community College. She got her start at PCC through that scrap of good fortune, completed our rigorous Aviation Technology program, and now works at Bombardier.
Every path to PCC is a bit different, but student success at PCC should be a function of effective systems, not serendipity. Our mission and vision statements, which will compel change at the College, should be the result of a transparent, inclusive, evidence-driven process. Working together, PCC can help individuals achieve their goals so that collectively they form the foundation of a stable, prosperous community.
Last week, I attended the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. and joined 1,000 other community college trustees, presidents, and other leaders to advocate for increased funding and resources to support community colleges. The summit was convened by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) with support from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Top priorities for AACC and ACCT for 2015 include federal funding for community colleges and students, funding for the Pell Grant Program, Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act reauthorization, veteran students, the DREAM Act, higher education tax provisions, and extension of the TAACCCT Program, along with promotion of President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal.
PCC Governing Board Members Scott Stewart and Mark Hanna attended the summit and meetings on Capitol Hill, along with Michael Peel, Government Relations Liaison; Amanda Kaminski, Advanced Program Coordinator, Grants Resource Office; and two exceptional student leaders, Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez. We met with Senator Jeff Flake and Representatives Raúl Grijalva, Martha McSally, and Ann Kirkpatrick. We also met with the staff of Senator John McCain’s Office. We emphasized continued support for the Pell Grant Program, adult education, and workforce development programs such as TRIO for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant agency meetings were also held with the U.S. Department of Education.
In addition to the meetings on Capitol Hill, the summit included many group meetings and sessions focused on the economic and workforce development role of community colleges. Sessions included distinguished speakers including: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden; and Thomas E. Perez, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.
Secretary of Labor Perez highlighted Pima Community College and his recent visit to our Aviation Technology Center in January during his speech for the closing of the summit as an example of successful efforts to address unemployment and economic development.
I presented the 2015 Government Relations Award to Rachel Gragg, former federal policy director of the National Skills Coalition. Senator Al Franken was presented with 2015 National Education Service Awards for his ongoing support of community colleges.
In addition, we were honored to be invited as guests of Congresswoman Kirkpatrick to attend the dedication of a statue of the late Senator Barry Goldwater unveiled in Statuary Hall. House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator McCain, Representative Grijalva, members of the Goldwater family, and many other congressional leaders were in attendance for the dedication ceremony.
I want to thank Michael Peel for his great work in organizing and facilitating our congressional visits. I also want to thank Alec Moreno and Yaritza Vasquez for the leadership they displayed with our legislators as they recounted the positive impact of PCC on their lives during this critical time for funding for community colleges at the federal and state levels.
Alec is studying Mechanical Engineering. His is a member of the PCC Governance Council, Native American Student Association (NASA), Asian Pacific American Student Association (APASA), Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and STEM-related clubs such as Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He plans to study Engineering at UA.
Yaritza is studying Nursing. She is an Upward Bound student from Desert View High School and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. She is currently a TRIO student, an Upward Bound tutor, Amigos de Pima scholarship recipient, and a PCC Merit Scholar. Her GPA is 4.0 and she is pursuing a Nursing Degree through the PCC/NAU-BSN program.
Pima Community College is incredibly fortunate to have such strong student leadership to represent the College in the best possible ways.
For more information about the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit, go to www.acct.org.
Pima Community College was honored to host a visit Jan. 29 by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. Secretary Perez joined me, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez, PCC Board Chair Sylvia Lee and other PCC leaders on a tour of our Aviation Technology Center (ATC). Secretary Perez also attended an event at our Downtown Campus regarding health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.
During the visit to the ATC, Secretary Perez learned about initiatives PCC is undertaking through Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT), which is administered by the Labor Department. In September 2014, PCC received a $2,499,997 grant under the fourth round of TAACCCT, which enables community colleges to work with industry to develop training and education programs that will lead to high skill-high paying jobs. As part of the grant, PCC is partnering with business to develop a degree pathway in Industrial Technology that includes four short-term certificates. PCC also is adding short-term options to existing degree programs in Welding and Aviation.
At ATC, Secretary Perez attended a roundtable discussion with a cross-section of government, education, industry and workforce leaders. The takeaway from the meeting was clear: Community stakeholders need to coordinate their efforts to advance Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a ticket to the middle class, and that investments such as those made through TAACCCT make a difference. Mayor Rothschild noted that women, minorities and military veterans are among the populations that could make great use of this valuable education.
Superintendent Sanchez emphasized that the focus in education has been weighted toward making students college-ready over making them career-ready. The value of CTE is borne out by data. As the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce has discovered,
43 percent of young workers with licenses and certificates earn more than those with an associate degree, 27 percent of young workers with licenses and certificates earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree, and 31 percent of young workers with associate degrees earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
I pointed out the need for a state and federal governmental framework that offers flexibility in student aid and allows educators to offer industry-driven programs that keep up with oft-dizzying pace of technological change.
Secretary Perez and the group did hear from a veteran, Ashley Rodriguez, who served as a Marine in Iraq before graduating from the Aviation Technology program and getting a job with Bombardier in Tucson. Rodriguez forthrightly described the roadblocks she had to overcome to go from the military to PCC and her new career. Secretary Perez summed up what we at PCC know about Ashley – “You’ve got game,” the secretary said – and said he would seek to find ways to straighten the pathway to civilian training that veterans must often travel.
Many employees made Secretary Perez’s visit to the ATC a success. Tom Hinman, Advanced Program Manager at the ATC, led an informative tour that included stops at the center’s two 727s. [PCC is one of the few U.S. programs with hands-on training on commercial and regional jets.] Tom’s team did a first-rate job with the logistics of a multifaceted event. Joanne Kingman, Program Manager in Workforce and Business Development, clearly explained the grant, sharing our best practices and highlighting our partnerships with industry.
Dr. Morgan Phillips, who as president of the Desert Vista Campus is responsible for the ATC, moderated the invigorating discussion. Government Relations Liaison Michael Peel reached out and brought together the community leaders for the valuable sit-down.
Secretary Perez has said that community colleges are the “secret sauce” of workforce development. I believe his visit confirmed that PCC’s wise use of the federal government’s investment in Career and Technical Education is improving the lives of individuals and contributing to economic development, and that the recipe for continued success demands that all stakeholders in the community continue to work together.
Last week I attended a welcome reception for Dr. Lorraine Morales, the new president of our Community Campus. Lorraine was one of the first people I met at PCC when I interviewed for the chancellorship last year, and it’s because of people like Lorraine, who combine exceptional talent with boundless compassion for the community, that I took the position.
In a sense, last week’s event was a “welcome back” reception, as Lorraine had served as president in an acting capacity in 2012-13. Lorraine is an extremely good fit for her new post. In addition to wide-ranging administrative experience at PCC (she has served at four of our six campuses), Lorraine understands the special role Community Campus plays at the College.
Community is home to PCC’s Workforce Development initiatives, and partners with local employers to provide efficient, effective training to their workers. Our top-rated Adult Education program and our online education services have their roots at Community, but as Lorraine recognizes, their branches extend through the College. Lorraine’s vision is to increase the integration of Community’s functions throughout the College for the betterment of our students and community partners.
Lorraine’s education journey exemplifies the incredible power of learning. After receiving her high school equivalency, she went on to earn bachelor and master’s degrees, and received a doctorate in Education from Northern Arizona University. Her academic achievements led to a decades-long career at colleges and universities. Yet, as she put it, Lorraine always felt drawn to community colleges. PCC is the better for it.
Under Lorraine’s leadership, Community Campus – or as Lorraine called it, “that little building on Bonita” – is poised to have a tremendous positive impact as we remake PCC into one of the United States’ premier community colleges.