RSSArchive for 2013

Pima hires Monaco as next football coach.

Pima hires Monaco as next football coach.


It’s been a little more than a month since Pat Nugent resigned as Pima Community College’s head football coach.

The search for his replacement came to an end on Dec. 5, when PCC announced the hiring of former assistant coach Jim Monaco as the Aztec’s newest football coach.

The hiring is on an interim basis and still needs to be approved by Pima’s governing board.

Monaco has been Pima’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons.

A majority of the football staff wanted to see Monaco get the job, based on interviews conducted by Aztec Press.

Athletic Director Edgar Soto interviewed many qualified candidates, and felt that Monaco was the best choice.

Coach Monaco has done an outstanding job here at Pima Community College,” Soto said.He has a passion that is unparalleled when it comes to coaching football.”


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Jim Monaco, new PCC interim head football coach. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: Student-parents need cheaper day-care

AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: Student-parents need cheaper day-care

Almost everyone taking a class at Pima Community College knows fellow students who are parents, people who are trying to make a better life not only for themselves but for their children as well.

All of us know how challenging success in college can be. Those difficulties are easily compounded by the uncertainties inherent in raising children.

Trying to find someone to look after a child in order to take classes can be daunting. Paying for childcare is usually impossible for community college students, and burdening family or friends with the responsibility is often too much to ask.

Because of these limitations, many parents are not able to attend college at all. They are forced to work dead-end jobs for menial pay with no prospect of a better life, no hope of attaining the American Dream.

Pima once had a low-cost day-care program on three of its campuses that allowed parents to go to classes while their children were in a safe, supervised environment.

As a community college, Pima recognized its obligation to be open to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or other circumstances.

A few years ago, the college did away with its day-care service, citing budget cuts. Since that time, enrollment numbers at the college have steadily fallen.

While it is problematic linking the decreased enrollment solely to the lack of childcare at the college, more people would undoubtedly attend class if their children had a safe place to stay.

Pima is currently undergoing a top-to-bottom assessment to address probation. College leadership should analyze this issue and find a way to once again provide low-cost childcare to student-parents.

The college should reach out to local non-profits and other organizations, and work together to provide low-cost childcare for students. Doing so would move Pima closer to true open enrollment for everyone seeking an education.

Reliable, inexpensive day-care is needed to allow student-parents to improve their lives and provide more opportunity for the next generation.

Written on behalf of the Aztec Press Editorial Board by Editor-in-Chief Andrew Paxton. Editors can be reached for comment at

Comic: Tucksonans

Comic: Tucksonans


Film students bring 'Dead Meat' to life

Film students bring ‘Dead Meat’ to life


Movie-Thomas zombie

PCC student Thomas F. Johnson channels his inner zombie for a student movie production. “Dead Meat” is now in post-production and will be screened next May.
(Photo by David Wing)


Chaos ensues when an exiled citizen brings a curse to town upon his return.

That’s the premise of a “zombie western” movie titled “Dead Meat” being produced by Pima Community College digital arts students under the direction of instructor David Wing.

Students planned production throughout the fall semester and shot footage in four days in an Old Tucson-esque setting.

The original script was written by adjunct faculty member Leonard Thurman and edited by student director Jet Guido.

“The idea was given to the advanced production class,” Wing said. “Jet took the helm editing because he was to direct the film.”

Guido said the first few nights of shooting were a little rocky because the student crew had never really worked together.

“Each night was well over 12 hours of shooting and it was cold as hell,” Guido said. “By the third and fourth nights, it got better.”

Wing, who serves as executive producer, said the crew was still figuring out the lay of the land. Most had never been to the film location.

“The first day is coalescing and figuring out your job and how it’s going to move,” he said. “It’s always a slow start.”

Guido and other students initially had an optimistic view.

“In reality when it comes down to actually shooting, you go in there thinking ‘lets make the best fucking movie,’ but then you realize things you didn’t anticipate,” Guido said. “It becomes a learning experience.”

Five digital arts classes were involved in the project, which is now in post-production. It will be edited during spring semester, and ready for viewing during screenings on May 19-20.

Guido is anticipating the release.

“Our director of photography, Aaron, is a badass with his camera and the actors and crew were down for late nights,” he said. “In that, we got the best possible thing.”


PCC digital arts student Jet Guido (glasses) directs a scene from “Dead Meat” as Kevin Denst (baseball cap) operates the camera. (Photo courtesy of David Wing)



“Dead Meat” production crew

Director: Jet Guido
Assistant director: Diego Dorame
Director of photography: Aaron Lochert
Producer: Sean Curley
Unit Production Manager: Jacqueline Hosmer
Production design: William Sherill
Location manager: Justin Miller
Stunt coordinators: Andrew Irwin, Louis Chacon
Special effects: Derek Lookingbill (armorer), Andrew Irwin
Casting directors: Derek Lookingbill, Brendan Peterson
Script supervisor: Jacqueline Hosmer
Makeup/hair/wardrobe: William Sherill
Props: Donovan Doyle
Craft services: William Sherill
Gaffer: Sean Curley
Key grip: Jesus Gonzales
Best boy: Brendan Peterson
First AC: Kevin Denst, Will Stafford
Digital file manager: Derek Lookingbill
Grip/camera operators: Diego Dorame, Don Barney, Kevin Denst, Donovan Doyle, Rene Acuna

STOMPING GROUNDS: A new tattoo era inks onto Tucson’s skin

STOMPING GROUNDS: A new tattoo era inks onto Tucson’s skin


After 11 years in the tattoo industry and seven years operating his own shop, Isaiah Toothtaker has created one of Tucson’s finest body art parlors in Staring Without Caring.

In an era in which tattooing styles are diverse and widespread, Toothtaker sensed a lack of traditional fundamentals during his time as an apprentice.

“I think what inspired me to open my own shop was to fill a gap and a void that wasn’t really here in Tucson,” Toothtaker said.

“There wasn’t so much of a parlor that did a lot of custom work in a sense where it still had a lot of elements to traditional tattooing, still gave a lot of nods to what was traditionally done but also being an upscale shop, something that was different than a lot of street shops.”

With a reputation for possessing vibrant quality, along with clean consistency and an individual uniqueness labored into every design, Toothtaker’s employees understand the significance of technicality and cohesiveness.

“It’s not that we’re marketing or advertising something, it’s mostly off our reputation and for people who have a vocabulary for tattooing,” he said. “They can come in to us and not be overpriced. They get it on a fair basis and you know it’s something more or less customized.”

As styles of body art evolve, Toothtaker feels confident his brand is recognized not only statewide but across the nation.

“I would hope that we have a certain esteem amongst people who do know what tattooing is and like what quality tattooing is,” he said.

That esteem is one of the attributes artists at Staring Without Caring seek to provide to their patrons during their experience under the needle.

Toothtaker said harnessing the talents of his apprentices helps to drive and inspire him.

“The challenge to constantly progress and the stimulation that I’m having right now, the artistic output I’m having right now and body of work I’m producing right now, is my favorite moment,” he said.

Shannon Garvey has been under Toothtaker’s tutelage for six months.

“This apprenticeship is different probably than usual,” she said. “We’re moving faster because of circumstances of the shop, we’re learning faster and we’re tattooing more stuff in a short period of time.”

Although the stress of an apprenticeship can be taxing, a mutual benefit awaits at the end for both individuals.

“I just feel like I’m lucky to have learned a lot,” Garvey said. “He’s really good at specifying the way he teaches things to each apprentice.”

Toothtaker wants his team of employees to maintain a humble mindset.

“My perspective is very myopic,” he said. “I’m only concentrated on the progression of tattooists that are employed by me and myself.”

He compared the tattoo experience to solving a riddle or puzzle.

“I think that some of the biggest satisfaction I can take from it is being able to bring an idea or a concept that’s from somebody’s mind into fruition,” he said.

Walk-ins are welcome. The shop charges a $150 hourly rate for large sessions.

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Isiah Toothtaker works the counter at his Staring Without Caring tattoo parlor, as apprentice Shannon Garvey works in the background. (Diego Lozano III/Aztec Press)



Basketball in DNA of longtime player

Basketball in DNA of longtime player


Basketball runs in the family of Pima Community College sophomore Holly Bolen. Her grandfather, Rudy Castro, played college basketball and baseball at the University of Arizona.

Bolen was introduced to basketball as a child.

“I started playing ball when I was 8 in the National Youth Sports league, and since then I’ve been in love with the game,” she said.

Bolen also participated in volleyball at Tucson Magnet High School but her talents blossomed in basketball.

After graduation, Bolen took her skills to Thatcher, Ariz., and played basketball at Eastern Arizona College. She spent a year as a Gila Monster before becoming a PCC Aztec in 2012.

“Holly is one of the best shooters I’ve ever had,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.

Bolen’s versatility makes her a go-to weapon the Aztecs like to utilize. The 6-foot-1-inch forward holds her own on both offense and defense.

“I’m a mutt,” Bolen said. “I play down low when needed but can also be a guard. I play any position that’ll benefit the team.”

Holthaus admires Bolen’s laid-back demeanor and quick wit.

“She’s very loose and is just a great teammate with a great personality,” he said.

Bolen’s only flaw is that she can be a little too mellow on the court.

“That’s something we’re working on,” Holthaus said. “Once you’re on the court, it’s OK to be a little nasty and more intense. It’s hard for someone who’s laid back to turn on the switch, but she gets better at it every game.”

Bolen originally hoped to major in athletic training, but class times didn’t mesh with her basketball schedule.

“I wanted to help young athletes, but the time for that and basketball didn’t match up,” she said.

Bolen is still deciding on a new major, and has considered becoming a paramedic, firefighter or nurse.

Whichever field she chooses, it will involve working with people.

“I love helping others, old, young, it really doesn’t matter,” she said.

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Sophmore forward Holley Bolen works hard during practice at the West Campus gym. (Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press)


Pima to host tournament over winter break

Pima to host tournament over winter break


The Pima Community College men’s basketball team couldn’t hold on to a halftime lead Dec. 7 and lost 97-80 to Mesa Community College.

The Aztecs’ record fell to 3-7 overall and 3-4 in conference.

Pima was led by freshman Murphy Gershman’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Matt O’Boyle had his second straight strong performance with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman Andres Marquez finished with 12 points and seven assists, while freshman Bryan Cervantes had 11 points and freshman Tyler Roberts had 10.

Gershman was happy with the team’s overall performance. He said the team is showing flashes of just how good it can be, but needs to show it on the court for a full 40 minutes.

“We have to get better, myself included, to be able to compete with a team like Mesa, but I have no doubt we will get there,” Gershman said.

On Dec.4, PCC defeated South Mountain Community College 91-81.

The Aztecs controlled the game until Gershman fouled out with 4:28 left. It then became a free throw shooting contest, and Pima held on for the win.

South Mountain pressed Pima, and was able to force turnovers to take an early lead.

As the game progressed, Pima players figured out the press and got some easy points.

Head coach Brian Peabody was pleased with the team’s performance, and said players have shown improvement from game to game.

They are moving the ball better and looking to make an extra pass, he said.

O’Boyle had a game-high 26 points. Gershman recorded another double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Marquez had 12 points and eight assists, while Cervantes scored 13 points and freshman Cameron Volk had 11 points.

On Nov. 26, the Aztecs fell to Scottsdale Community College 104-99 in a back-and-forth battle that marked their second straight loss. They were led by Gershman’s 31 points and seven rebounds.

The Aztecs will host the Pima Invitational Tournament Dec. 28-30 at West Campus.

Pg14-Men's basketball-Kendrick Little

Freshman Kendrick Little calls a play during a game against Chandler-Gilbert Community College. (Jaime Hernandez/Aztec Press)


‘Signature Selections’ on tap

‘Signature Selections’ on tap


Pima Community College dance students and instructors have choreographed “Signature Selections” in genres ranging from hip-hop to jazz to ballet for an end-of-semester showcase.

Performances will be Friday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.

“This concert represents PCC’s younger generation, with the student pieces,” director Aurora Gonçalves-Shaner said. “It also has the faculty signature works with a different variety of pieces.”

Performance pieces were all in rough shape at the beginning of the semester, she said, but with hard work they now look professional.

Gonçalves-Shaner, a native of Brazil, choreographed “Carcará.” The dance about the carcará bird of prey features capoeira martial art in a fighting scene, vocal sounds of “Baianá” by Barbatuques and tribal makeup to help build tension.

“I really pushed myself with this dance,” she said. “It reaches my Brazilian roots.”

Student Julie Cannaday choreographed a dance called “Sea of Life” using music from “Titanic.” Her story of sea life joins different styles of movement into one cohesive dance.

“I definitely think this showcase will be different from all the rest, being that this semester we don’t have a theme exactly,” Cannaday said. “All the pieces are unique in theme, style and concept — hence, the show name ‘Signature Selections.’”

Faculty member Nichol Mason created a dance based on the quote, “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”

Mason also choreographed a dance set to the song “Kill of the Night” by Gin Wigmore. It’s a passionate number that mixes classic jazz with burlesque.

A “Crazy Bus” finale provides humor and playfulness. The hip-hip dance, set to “Cagado” by Bonde do Rolê, features dancers moving into, out of and around a school bus.

Concert admission costs $10, with discounts available. For more information, call the box office at 206-6986 or visit


Ariangilee Foley, left, and Sarah Bjorndahl rehearse a classic ballet number en pointe for the “Signature Selections” concert. (Photo by Ed Flores)


Mirror neurons echo empathy

Mirror neurons echo empathy


Pg07-Brain illustration

(Aztec Press photo illustration by Nellie Silva)


What does it mean to be human?

Since the dawn of self-awareness, the answer has evaded inquiring minds, but recent developments in neuroscience have provided a piece to the puzzle that is human consciousness.

Behind our mind’s eye exists an intricate network of brain cells possessing science-fiction-like functioning. These brain cells are known as mirror neurons.

Located within the neocortical regions of the brain, our mirror neuron system is part of the most recently evolved portion of the cerebral cortex concerning visual and auditory motor-skills within mammals.

University of California San Diego neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran speculates these neurons’ evolutionary role coincides with the dawn of self-awareness.

“This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self-awareness and other awareness,” Ramachandran wrote in a 2009 essay.

This connection between motor skills and emotionality acts as our perceptual link to empathy.

The science of empathy

By virtue of imitation, mirror neurons have equipped modern minds with a telepathic capacity for connecting, observing and understanding.

This serves as the mind’s functional form of empathy.

Whenever we perform an action, watch an action being performed or imagine an action’s performance, the same mirror neuron regions of the brain are activated.

If the brain can attain another’s perception, it can begin to understand, and learn from that point of view.

The brain game

We connect through imitation on a daily basis, in watching movies, music, dance, sports and other activities. If we know the game, our brain plays along, acting as if we are the one in action.

Whether we are observing, imagining or performing, our brain interprets it all the same.

As of 2005, FMRI scans revealed the mirroring system of neurons communicates with the emotional limbic system in the human brain.

Astonishingly, 2009 EEG recordings offered insight into mirror neurons’ electromagnetic nature and the interdependent neural frequencies that communicate with the frequencies of other’s brains.

Therefore, if the mirroring network of neurons connects to emotions within our own minds while communicating with the mirror neuron frequencies of other’s minds, we experience the emotions of another as if they were our own.

The human connection

Of all the traits setting humanity aside from the rest of the animal kingdom, empathy is our greatest biological anomaly.

Empathy at its core directly contradicts the brain’s primal survival instinct.

While it is evident through existence that emotional connection is an innate necessity within humankind, this drive could be argued as an egocentric need for recognition.

It is the self-sacrificing side of empathy that truly perplexes our survival instincts, which is where mirroring neurons come into play.

With greater insight into mirror neurons as electromagnetic conductors of empathy, the anomaly of self-sacrifice can be understood through unbiased telepathy.

Imitating emotions

If the brain imitates emotions, as it does actions, biologically our minds can convolute the emotions arising within us, with those emotions being experienced by others.

This emotional confusion is quintessential intimacy.

Empathy overrides selfish instincts as emotions of another can be experienced as our own.

Of the near 100 billion neurons firing within the human mind, these mirror neurons are profoundly unique in their brain placement and functioning.

Found on either side of the brain, mirror neurons sole purpose is the neural processing of social information within humans.

Until now, consciousness had long been considered an internal expression of personal identity.

All for one

However, at our neurological essence, we are creatures of imitation.

Every aspect of “being me” comes from mirroring another’s behavior.

Previously, neuroscience limited neighboring neuron interaction between the cerebral hemispheres of one brain.

What made these neurons so exceptionally unique was their associative form of communicating, which indicates one’s mirroring system does not differentiate between self-awareness and the awareness of others.

We are in fact, harmoniously hardwired to connect within one conscious reality

Consciousness has been perceived as a sense of identity within each individual brain.

Mirror neurons confirm collective consciousness between all minds.

There is no “one for all.” We are one being, expressed simultaneously as interdependent entities of a conscious force.

PCC faculty concerned about safety

PCC faculty concerned about safety


Complaints from instructors dealing with a disruptive student led to an investigation at Pima Community College.

During the Spring 2013 semester, a student referring to himself as “Heinrich Himmler” was troubling students and faculty alike, making comments about cutting flesh and killing babies, according to an article by The Arizona Daily Star.

The disruptions were especially alarming after Jared Loughner’s January 2011 shooting spree, where he killed six people and wounded 12 others. Both students attended classes at PCC’s Northwest Campus.

In the 2013 case, instructors complained about the student’s behavior and college psychologist James Sanchez met with him.

The student was ultimately allowed to remain in classes.

Sanchez said his investigation found no confirming evidence.

“The investigation showed that there was nothing to be concerned about,” he said.

“All other info we got said this was an unusual incident and that the student could be successful given the right direction,” he said. “Sometimes students try things out and step over the line.”

Unhappy instructors filed a formal complaint against Sanchez through the Pima Community College Education Association.

The college has since hired a nationally recognized threat assessment firm to analyze security.

“As we have in the past, our plan is to bring in an outside expert to collect accurate information, identify any areas needing improvement and find solutions,” Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a letter to faculty.

“Have no doubt that we will act quickly and decisively to implement those solutions in the ongoing effort to ensure that our college is a secure and safe place to learn and work,” he wrote.

Ana Jiménez, PCCEA’s immediate past-president, wrote in an email, “We are pleased that the college is taking the concerns seriously and will refrain from further comment pending completion of the investigation.”

Mark Ziska, hired in October as interim vice chancellor of PCC’s human resources division, thinks more communication with instructors is a key factor.

“We need to work with faculty,” Ziska said. “They’re on the front lines.”

He said that after hearing of the complaints, he met with the instructors that day.

“The key was listening, not talking,” he said of the meeting. “I can talk after I listen.”

According to Ziska, communication between Pima faculty and staff has been less than stellar, and one of his top priorities is remedying that.

“The changes we are making are significant,” Ziska said in a phone interview.

Ziska said the HR department needs to get more input from outsiders. He assigned each human resources employee to ask people four questions.

“What are we doing well, what are we not doing well, what should we do more of, and what should we do less of,” Ziska said.

Ziska said he wants human resources employees to ask people outside of the HR department and community members for suggestions to improve the department.

“The more people we can talk to the better,” he said.

Ziska also hopes to make changes to the human resources governances.

“We’re looking to rewrite all those so they’re clear and understandable,” Ziska said. He hopes to have the task done by May 31.

Before placing Pima on probation, the Higher Learning Commission had a fact-finding team look into policies and practices at Pima. The president of the HLC, Sylvia Manning, discussed the team’s findings in a letter sent to the college in April.

She wrote that the college fails to provide clear information regarding procedures for receiving complaints and grievances from students and other constituencies.

For administrators to facilitate effective communication, Ziska said the college is conducting meet and confer sessions with all employee groups at Pima. The groups include faculty, managers and information technology, as well as support staff such as secretaries and maintenance crews.

A meet and confer session allows for all involved groups to share their insights and opinions on personnel policies related to wages, salaries and working conditions.

Ziska said that they are working with a University of Arizona group called Eller Executive Education to facilitate “interest-based consensus building,” to ensure that all staff concerns are heard and responded to.

“We want HR to be more involved in campuses,” Ziska said. “HR has become isolated from the rest of the college.”

All the changes are underway  for good reason, Ziska said. With the HLC report and the student complaint investigation ongoing, Ziska said he wants to do what he can to put Pima on track to getting sanctions removed.

“We have an interest in seeing Pima succeed,” he said.

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PCC psychologist James Sanchez (Chelo Grubb/Aztec Press 2011)


Addressing probation:

Addressing probation:

Pima still faces serious issues less than a year away from an evaluation that will determine the fate of the college


As Pima Community College looks to improve operations and emerge from probation, several events suggest the college may not be moving in the directions recommended by its accreditor.

Complaints regarding the handling of disruptive students, missteps involving the hiring of senior administrators and the continued use of interim administrators are just some of the problems Pima continues to face less than a year before being evaluated by their accrediting body.

The Higher Learning Commission placed the college on probation in April after identifying several operating deficiencies and a “culture of fear” at PCC.
Pima has until July 2014 to show progress in the areas of deficiency identified by the HLC, which will then send a team in August to evaluate the evidence presented by the college.

If the HLC determines that Pima has not sufficiently dealt with the issues that led to PCC being sanctioned, the commission could decide to impose further penalties against the college, including loss of accreditation.

Disruptive student policy

When the fact-finding team visited Pima in January, they found that the college did not have an effective system for receiving or analyzing complaints against administrators.

Now, some instructors are concerned with the way the college deals with students who make disruptive comments in class or otherwise interfere with the learning environment.

Chancellor Lee Lambert addressed the issue of faculty and student safety in a recent email to employees, which said he takes the concerns “very seriously.”

Lambert said an outside expert will be brought in to assess how the college handles complaints from faculty and find a solution to the problem.

“Have no doubt that we will act quickly and decisively to implement those solutions in the ongoing effort to ensure that our college is a secure place to learn and work,” he wrote.

“As long as I am chancellor, your security and safety will be a top priority,” Lambert wrote.

Administrator search reboot

The college hired Gwendolyn Joseph as interim president for Downtown Campus on Nov. 25 and is searching for a vice president for student development, but the process has not been smooth.

The hiring follows the dismissal of the previous administrators earlier in the semester after reports of mishandling student concerns.

Only one viable candidate for the position was available after a nominee withdrew from the process when allegations of misconduct at a previous job were discovered.

Candidate forums for the vice president position had been set until it was discovered that one of the two finalists had to withdraw from consideration.

The candidates were recommended to Pima by a national executive recruiting organization, which failed to find the allegations of misconduct.

The candidate forums have been rescheduled for Dec. 16 in the Amethyst Room at Downtown Campus. PCC employees are encouraged to attend.

The HLC fact-finding team noted a lack of appropriate oversight for the college’s human resources department in its January report.

“This team believes that a careful review of HR hiring, promotion, transfer and dismissal policies and procedures is warranted,” they wrote.

Interim hirings

The college’s frequent use of interim and acting administrators was also an area of concern outlined in the HLC’s report.

The president of the HLC wrote in a letter to college officials that the frequent use of interim leaders led to difficulty in meeting institutional goals.

However, the college continues to hire interim leaders for many of its top positions.
Mark Ziska, the recently hired head of human resources, is an interim executive, as are several other leading figures at Pima, including the presidents of Downtown and Community campuses.

Jerry Migler, the current provost, is leaving the college on Dec. 13, creating a void in an important position at a crucial time.

The provost office has been leading the effort to bring Pima into compliance with the HLC.

Once Migler leaves, the position will be led on a short-term basis by Zelema Harris, who was herself hired as an interim vice chancellor for institutional effectiveness to help Pima get on-track.

Harris served as PCC’s interim chancellor earlier this year and received recognition from employees and community members for her efforts to restore the college’s reputation.

Some students wonder what Migler’s departure means for the college’s future.

“It’s very unfortunate that he chose to leave Pima at such a critical time,” said April Ramey, president of student government at Downtown Campus.

“However, I’m very glad Dr. Harris has agreed to return to Pima,” she said. “I feel the transition will go smoothly due to her familiarity with Pima and the issues Pima is dealing with at this time.”

The college has indicated it plans to fill the provost on an interim basis, according to a press release from the college.

Many other administrators are acting heads of their department, including the college’s police chief and the president of Northwest Campus.

The HLC team made their opinion regarding these temporary appointments clear during their visit in January.

“The team does believe that the college appears to have used ‘interim’ and ‘acting’ administrative positions excessively,” the HLC investigators wrote.

They also reported the high level of turnover “caused disturbances within the college’s programs and has proven unhealthy for the institution.”

Citizen’s finance panel

The college has made progress in addressing at least one crucial concern reported by the HLC.

The commission highlighted monetary mismanagement as a key issue at Pima when it placed sanctions on the college earlier this year.

“Some issues involving financial problems or errors are not brought into full public view during board meetings,” the team wrote in its report.

The fact-finding team also noted that the college did not have a finance committee that reported to the board.

Now, Pima is forming an oversight committee composed mostly of volunteers from the community to provide an extra layer of scrutiny to the college’s spending and purchasing practices.

The panel will meet at least four times a year and report their finding to Pima’s governing board.

Two members of the board will serve on the committee, and the college’s financial officer David Bea will offer advice as an ex-officio member.

Moving forward

Despite the issues Pima is facing, the college remains optimistic it will address all the problems in time to have sanctions lifted.

“I do believe we will get off probation,” Harris told a group of employees and students on Nov. 15, according to a press release.

A self-study conducted by Pima found 106 of 125 areas analyzed were in compliance with HLC standards.

However, about 15 percent of the college’s operations and procedures are not meeting criteria.

The college has assigned a team to each of the areas not in compliance to make changes no later than May 1, 2014.

“We will do the right thing because that is in the best interests of students and their success,” Harris said.

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Gwendolyn Joseph, newly appointed interim president of Downtown Campus.


Nursing dean upbeat despite allegations

Nursing dean upbeat despite allegations


Marty Mayhew, dean of Pima Community College’s nursing program, is trying not to let a recent string of controversies and allegations detract from the education that nursing students receive.
“We’re still strong, despite some of the negative publicity that we’ve gotten,” Mayhew said.

The college has asked its legal counsel, Gust Rosenfeld, to investigate two separate issues: a notice of deficiencies from the Arizona State Board of Nursing and allegations of misconduct by Mayhew.

C.J. Karamargin, Pima’s vice chancellor of public information and federal government relations, said contracting Rosenfeld is not an unusual decision by Pima to ensure an impartial examination.

On Oct. 19, the Arizona Daily Star reported about complaints from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 449 claiming Mayhew, “consistently creates a hostile working environment in the programs she oversees, and tried repeatedly to solicit prescription painkillers from subordinates.”

Mayhew said she was shocked to read the article in the Daily Star.

“I was as surprised as anyone in the community was when they read that in the newspaper,” Mayhew said.

But due to the active probe, there is little Karamargin or Mayhew can directly comment on in an effort to preserve the integrity of the query.

“There is an ongoing investigation so I can’t say anything more,” Mayhew said.

In a Dec. 3 email, Karamargin wrote “the investigation should be complete in a few weeks.”

Specifics of the investigation were requested by Aztec Press but were not made available.

Lalo Macias, AFSCME Local 449 deputy administrator, and Matthew Cline, AFSCME Local 449 executive director, were contacted about the allegations but did not respond for comment.

Pima is also taking corrective action after receiving a Notice of Deficiencies statement from the Arizona State Board of Nursing.

On July 30, the ASBN gave the college one year to either make significant progress toward, or completely correct, the deficiencies highlighted in the notice.

The state board issued the formal action after receiving an anonymous complaint and completing an investigation. The complaint said Pima undermined Mayhew’s authority.

The notice says any interference compromises nursing education, places patient safety at risk and undermines the authority of the nursing program administrator.

If the college fails to address the ASBN concerns, the board could restrict nursing student admissions at Pima or remove state approval of the PCC nursing program.

Despite the investigations, Mayhew said PCC is expanding the nursing program and analyzing its effectiveness in order to create ways to improve student learning during clinical assignments, laboratory and lecture times.

“We’ve partnered with Northern Arizona University and students can attend Pima Community College and get their bachelor’s and their associate’s in nursing at the same time,” Mayhew said. “We’re taking a look at everything in our curriculum, and saying ‘What do we do good? And what can we do better?’”

Katy Challenger, PCC’s nursing program department chair, has worked extensively with Mayhew. She said she has held her in the highest esteem since beginning her instructing career at Pima.

“I don’t want to speak for other people, but I don’t feel that it’s a hostile work environment,” Challenger said.

“I’ve been comfortable with her and would actually consider her a be great mentor to me.”

And, Pima’s nursing faculty continues to provide advanced educational training to students, which is reflected in PCC graduates’ above-average state certification test scores.

Arizona’s state average is 89.49 percent, and Pima’s graduates averaged 92.49 percent.

Challenger said she’s delighted to be a part of Pima’s nursing department and enjoys sharing the achievements of her current students, and of former students who are practicing throughout the Tucson area.

“I’m very proud of this program. I’m proud of our students and our graduates. You go out to our hospitals in the city, and you see Pima graduates all the time.” Challenger said. “You see Pima nurses doing a wonderful job.”

Challenger spoke of the potential negative repercussions any misinformation may have on Tucson’s perception of Pima, the nursing program’s current student body or anyone who has successfully completed their education at the West Campus.

“I feel, unfortunately, these stories can sway public opinion about our students and our graduates,” Challenger said. “And that saddens me.”

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Pima Community College nursing students, from left, Barbara Autill (partially hidden), Jenni Brownson and Nicole Jackson practice new skill-set techniques in the West Campus simulation laboratory. (David J. Del Grande/Aztec Press)


Armed man arrested

Armed man arrested

Campus police arrested a man at Pima Community College East Campus on Dec. 4 after a cafeteria employee noticed that he was carrying a gun.

The cafeteria worker notified the PCC Department of Public Safety officer on duty at the campus. Not long after, other DPS officers responded and took the man into custody.

Officers discovered the man was not a PCC student and the gun was unloaded.

The man was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant and was booked into the Pima County Jail. No threat was made and no students were harmed.

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert sent a letter to campus employees informing them of the incident and praising the quick actions of those involved.

“The arrest took place with no disruption to East Campus’ operations, thanks to our officers’ decisive work and keen observation by the cafeteria employee,” he wrote.

The arrest comes as the college continues to assess security on campuses. PCC has hired Security Risk Management Consultants LLC through 2014 to help the college determine areas where security needs to be improved.

Lambert thinks the security firm will continue to improve security on campus.

“To bring in people that have a broader perspective … that’s an asset,” Lambert said during an October interview.

The security firm’s contract with PCC is worth $86,000.

-By Brenda Pacheco

Medina earns All-American honor

Medina earns All-American honor


The Pima Community College men’s soccer team can add one more honor to its list of accomplishments.

Sophomore midfielder-forward Alexis Medina was selected Third Team All-American for the 2013 season. Medina was one of the Aztecs leading scorers. He earned 26 points and scored 10 goals.

Head coach David Cosgrove was extremely happy when he heard the news.

“He was one of our best offensive players and scored lots of important goals,” Cosgrove said. “He has been extremely durable and worked hard for all his honors.”

Medina helped lead the Aztecs to a 14-7-1 record and to the Region I, Division I semifinals.

To see the complete list and other All-American listings, visit the NJCAA website at


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Sophmore Alexis Medina (Photo courtesy of PCC)





Religion classes help students explore beliefs

Religion classes help students explore beliefs

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100


Religion classes are not often a top priority for college students. Students may stay away because the class is not needed for a selected major, or because the topic seems intimidating.

“I’ve never thought about taking religious classes until now,” Pima Community College student Kenya Jimenez said. “But it’s good to know the meaning behind certain stories in the Bible and to understand how society views our faith.”

PCC is offering dozens of religion class sections for Spring 2014 at five campuses and online. Choices include Asian Religions, Philosophy of Religion, Religion in Popular Culture, Old Testament and New Testament.

Student Victor Gonzales said he enjoyed taking an Old Testament class at the Downtown Campus this fall.

Gonzales said Bible classes like the ones offered at PCC give people a better understanding of Christianity.

“As maturity comes, you start to see a benefit to religious practices,” Gonzales said.

PCC instructor Julianna Wilson taught a REL 220 Old Testament class this semester and will teach a REL 221 New Testament class in the spring.

She thinks students enroll to better understand the Bible.

“People take my classes because they want to know what’s in the book from someone who’s perceived as not being biased,” Wilson said. “I’m just here to set the table. You decide what to pick up and eat.”

Just 24 percent of self-reported American Catholics say they attend mass regularly, according to an article on Gonzales said the finding echoes his personal observations.

“When I look at Christianity as a whole, I tend to see a lot of people not practicing it,” he said.

As a young adult who balances college and a life outside of school, Gonzales credits being around positive people who share similar beliefs as a big reason why he has remained devoted to God.

“It takes being a part of a group that really practices what the scriptures say,” he said. “Other people see that and it’ll call to them.”

Jimenez said peer pressure sways religious belief for many students. “Honestly, influences have a lot to do with why people leave the faith,” she said.

Many young people want to separate themselves from their parents’ beliefs, Wilson said.

“When you’re growing up, you want to be your own person and establish a difference,” she said. “If you feel like an opinion is being pushed onto you, you’ll want to resist it.”

Young people may also view traditional religion as out of touch with modern times.

“A lot of churches miss out on an appeal to young people because they’re seen as so conservative,” Wilson said. “They have these dogmatic principles that kind of drive out young people.”