By DAVID JOSEPH DEL GRANDE
Pima Community College held campus president candidate forums for its Downtown and Desert Vista campuses July 1-2.
The forums began with a brief opening statement from each candidate, followed by attendee questions deemed relevant to the position these presidential hopefuls are vying for.
PCC’s Desert Vista Campus had four candidates attempting to rally for the campus president position. During the two days of forums attendees spoke with Ross Santell, Peggy Bradford, Ted Roush and Morgan Phillips. Judging by the audience reaction here are some of the speaker highlights.
The initial question posed to Santell was what background experience, knowledge and training does he have that would help advance Pima’s Desert Vista Campus.
“I have worked at a number of campuses and a number of colleges around the country, urban and rural environments,” Santell said. “As part of that work, you have to work with business in the area to try to identify needs.
“I think those would be one side, the workforce side if you will, the employment side of the community,” he said. “Working to understand that, and working to develop programs to meet those needs.”
Bradford, a former adjunct instructor, was asked to speak about the strengths of adjunct faculty, the roll they play in higher education and how best to encourage part time instructors to engage with Pima’s learning community.
“The adjunct is a professional and we benefit by the expertise that they bring from their particular industry,” Bradford said. “If you want them to continue to be the professionals that they can be, you need to provide the resources.
“I see adjuncts as being crucial to the college, particularly when you think about student learning outcomes,” she said. “Can you separate out your classes and say, ‘we are just going to assess the full time faculty?’ Is the Higher Learning Commission going to allow you to do that?”
Roush, Desert Vista’s vice president of instruction, said the campus feels like home and the place he plans on finishing his Pima career. When Roush was asked what his vision for the future of the Desert Vista campus was he first spoke in generals.
“My vision is to make every one of our programs the best they can be, to improve the facilities and to get the best personnel,” Roush said. “That sounds like mom and apple pie stuff, but that’s truly what makes a great place.”
Ultimately Roush said it was more important to help create the vision through collaboration, rather than construct it himself.
“But my job is not to make the vision,” he said. “My job is to talk to you, engage with you and make the vision from that. And, that has not been the past practice at the college.”
Andrew Plucker, director of Downtown Campus administrative services, opened their July 1 forum featuring candidate Phillips with an anecdote thanking the crowd for attending the meeting during World Cup fever.
Phillips was asked to speak about the trends in higher education, and how community colleges are in a unique position to take advantage of the opportunities that those trends present.
“One of the things that is going to have the biggest impact is the federal government’s change in their willingness to fund direct assessment programs,” Phillips said. “The government is really trying to cut down the cost of higher education, and their looking at this direct assessment as one of the ways to do that.”
Phillips explained that working professionals could earn college credits via the direct assessment program and circumvent enrolling in institutions like Pima. But, he also said the direct assessment program could offer concurrent enrollment for students on a national level for study programs not offered locally.
“Even though Pima’s not officially a four year institution, functionally for students living in the area it could act like that,” Phillips said.
The forums were open to the public and Pima is encouraging all community members to provide the college with feedback no later than July, 7 at 8 a.m. If you were unable to attend the 45 minute candidate forums, video footage is now available to watch on Pima’s website.
All additional details can be found here.