By ANDREW PAXTON
The two candidates vying for a seat on Pima Community College’s governing board met in a pair of forums to give the community a chance to learn more about their past and vision for the future.
Michael Duran, an executive at Tucson Medical Center, is facing off against Mark Hanna, a former high school counselor and business manager, for the District 1 Board of Governors seat. Voters in the district will cast a ballot for one of the two candidates during the election on Nov. 4.
Hanna and Duran are vying to replace longtime board member Brenda Even, who decided earlier this year not to run for re-election.
During the forum at PCC’s district office on Oct. 20, the candidates were asked questions on several topics, including student services, how they would improve Pima’s status and how to make sure the college continues to innovate and improve.
Both were also asked what the top goal should be for Pima once probation is lifted from the college.
“Its absolute number one priority is enrollment growth,” Duran said. He said the college needs to make targeted investments to attract more students.
Hanna said the college needs to be looking at both the short and long-term future and offering degrees in new fields.
“Pima has the opportunity to move very quickly on adjusting to what is in the marketplace and to create those classes that will serve those students,” he said.
Duran said Pima needs to look through the eyes of students to understand the challenges they face with financial aid and student services.
“Once you do that, all of a sudden you have a different mentality and a different approach to make sure we are providing the resources to serve our students efficiently and effectively so that we make this their institution of choice,” he said.
Hanna said he understands the problem after helping students through the steps during his time at Catalina High School.
“Streamlining the whole process of applying for financial aid and finding and facilitating more scholarships would help so many students at this school and that is what I would certainly suggest happen.”
Both candidates also stressed the need for Pima to engage in strategic planning.