By ANDREW PAXTON
Since becoming chancellor of Pima Community College more than seven months ago, Lee Lambert has met with different constituencies.
To ensure that he understands student concerns, Lambert will hold open-office hours at PCC campuses and facilities. The first visit took place Feb. 5 at West Campus.
“I want us to be as student-centered as we can be,” he said.
Lambert toured West Campus and met with staff and faculty groups before spending more than an hour in the Student Life office discussing numerous topics.
Everything needed to get the college off probation is being done, he said. He also assured students their Pima credits will transfer to the three state universities.
Getting sanctions removed involves rebuilding trust and fixing the systems in place, Lambert acknowledged.
“It will take a while for people to start feeling comfortable again,” he said.
Lambert also spent time getting to know students on a personal level, asking about their backgrounds and career goals.
Students brought up issues including the lack of an African studies program, shortcomings with the college’s ROTC program and ongoing issues surrounding advising.
The chancellor used the advising situation to demonstrate larger problems at PCC.
“People are passionate but the system they are put in is bad,” he said. “The system isn’t designed to keep students informed and that has negative, unintended consequences.”
Lambert said the desire of people at the college has been misdirected and needs to be refocused.
“We need to have a serious conversation about what we can and can’t do in the community,” he said.
Enrollment was another topic of concern. Lambert said changes are being made so the college can better understand why fewer students are attending.
Lambert then turned the tables on the students, asking what they want him to accomplish.
Students mentioned an activity fee for student and club activities, as well as sustainability projects such as installing solar panels at PCC facilities.
They also requested specialized advising for difficult degree programs, a proposal Lambert said he supports.
Pima needs more applied components such as internships and hands-on training, he added.
Lambert said he would pass the student suggestions to the appropriate people but encouraged students to take their concerns directly to their campus president or vice president of student development.
“I don’t like the bureaucracy or hierarchy here,” he said. “Create the structure you want.”
Visitors took advantage of the laid-back atmosphere while chatting with Lambert. Several students and employees came by just to thank the chancellor for visiting or to welcome him on campus.
Those who visited with the chancellor said they appreciated that he took time from his schedule to meet with them.
In turn, the chancellor was excited to get a chance to meet with students in the relaxed setting away from the office.
“It was great for the chancellor to come see us on campus and listen to our concerns face-to-face,” said student government member Marquita “Kyra” Wallace. “It shows how much he cares about students.”
After the student meeting, Lambert joined several employees for lunch in the cafeteria.
He said that gives him a chance to meet with people in a less structured environment.
Lambert will continue to reach out to students and employees. He hopes to hold open-office hours at each campus at least once during the semester.
“There’s stuff going on out there that we need to be paying attention to,” he said.