By STEVE CHOICE
New Pima Community College Provost Jerry Migler has essentially moved from one border of the country to the other.
“My hometown of Rugby, North Dakota, is about as close to the Canadian border as we are to Mexico here,” Migler said.
Migler earned his doctorate in education at the University of Minnesota. He brought more than 30 years of experience as an instructor and college administrator with him when he and his wife, Jackie, ventured south to the Old Pueblo.
His first day at Pima was July 30, and he immediately began working on a program he feels is crucial for the community.
“We’ve launched an initiative to sit down and spend time with local high schools, particularly focusing on their reading, writing and math curricula,” Migler said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do it with all the districts here in Tucson.”
Migler believes increased dialogue and partnering with high schools will benefit both incoming Pima students and the college.
“We’re going to have conversations to help us make sure that we’re understanding where the high school teachers and administrators are coming from,” he said. “At the same time, they can kind of see the things we’re looking at.
“The ultimate goal is to make it more seamless for people to go from high school to college.”
Migler said one way to streamline that process is to adapt to the state’s recent move away from the AIMS state assessment test, toward a common core set of standards.
“If you’re a high school faculty member wanting your students to do well in those areas, we need to figure out how that might match up with the expectations we have,” he said.
Migler envisions high school faculty speaking directly to Pima instructors to identify student needs and the best ways to address them.
“We see that as the best way, certainly, to reaching a mutual understanding of what everybody wants, which is for students to have the most successful and rewarding experience they can have,” he said.
The lifelong educator also wants to help students identify their educational goals quickly, so they can maximize their resources.
“You don’t want to burn up your Pell Grant eligibility or your other aid while figuring out what suits you best,” he said.
“Pima has great advising, but I think we’re going to have to have conversations about, ‘How do we help students become more focused earlier on?’”
Migler also intends to use his experience partnering with community members to help map out a plan for potential program development.
“We have access to local economic development people, and we’re going to visit with them and ask them what kinds of new industries they might be looking to bring into the community,” he said. “What are the skill sets they’re going to need?
“That’s one of the exciting things about being at a community college – we generally develop the highly skilled, frontline workforce that a community needs.”
Migler also has his eye on the broader picture.
“To some degree, these plans have been influenced by the national agenda,” he said. “President Obama and a lot of legislative bodies have focused on it, and a lot of different things are tied together.
“One of the realities is that we simply have to have more people in this country who have some postsecondary education, which goes hand in hand with economic improvement.”
Migler said he’s happy in his new town near another border.
“My wife and I absolutely love Tucson,” he said. “It’s been a great move.”