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Accreditor releases Pima from notice

Accreditor releases Pima from notice


After five years of being on probation and notice, the Higher Learning Commission has recognized Pima Community College’s improvement and has removed the college from “notice.”

PCC began facing scrutiny after the summer of 2012 when allegations of sexual misconduct against ex-Chancellor Ray Flores became public.

The college was first placed on probation in January of 2013 after an HLC visit found Pima was not in compliance with standards of function in financial, academic and personnel integrity and other issues according to the HLC website.

More frequent visits from the HLC to inspect Pima followed, with a peer review team visiting Pima campuses in September 2016.

After that visits, the HLC Executive Board met on Feb. 23 and notified PCC March 9 of its decision to lift the “notice” sanction.

“The Board determined that the removal of the sanction was warranted based on evidence provided by the College, including the Notice Report,” wrote HLC President Gellman-Danley.

Removal from sanctions means PCC is fully accredited and is meeting the standards of the HLC, including in “student outcome assessment,” an issue that had kept the college back for quite some time.

Chancellor Lee Lambert put out an email to all PCC staff and students. “Removal from “notice” is a crystal-clear indication that we are operating and will continue to operate at a high level,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of Accreditation Bruce Moses made sure to thank the HLC for recognizing the college’s hard work. “I am very appreciative of…their recognition of the efforts undertaken by everyone at PCC to satisfactorily resolve all concerns identified in March 2015,” Moses said.

Pima Community College will now prepare for the next HLC visit in 2018 or 2019. That visit will be part of a 10-year accreditation cycle.

To read the HLC’s full report on Pima’s removal of notice, visit

Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal

Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal


The March 8 Pima Community College Governing Board meeting will be remembered for two reasons: its nearly intolerable length and its bombshell accusations. A scheduled vote on the college’s most important issue, tuition rates, was postponed.

The nearly five and a half hour long meeting tested the patience of the board members, who openly sniped at each other verbally. Right off the bat, the public comment portion set the tone for the adversarial (and long) evening.



Frank Velasquez Jr. delivered the night’s most serious charge. Velazquez, who is the program manager for a West Campus’ STEM grant, informed the board of his impending contract termination and his frustrations in applying for another position.

“Yesterday I found out the reason why I wasn’t moved forward for the last position I was in the running for,” he said. “The feedback given to me by HR was that the campus VP was concerned about my ‘going around regulations’ based on something I said in the interview.”

Because Velasquez’s current position is tied to a federal grant, “going around regulations” would mean Velasquez misappropriated federal funds. “He has questioned my integrity, and therefore I cannot stay silent,” Velasquez said.

“There is an inherent fallacy in his allegation,” he said. “In layman’s terms, no grant project director can ever ‘go around regulations’ when it comes to redirecting federal grant money.”

At the end of Velasquez’s statement, board members Sylvia Lee and Demion Clinco asked Chancellor Lee Lambert to look into Velasquez’s allegations.

Board member Luis Gonzales made a more forceful request.

“If anyone, any department needs to follow rules and protocol, it is HR,” Gonzales said. “I would ask today for the Chancellor, to undertake a complete and thorough investigation of the HR department to determine what is going on.”

Board Chairman Mark Hanna made note to move the issue onto a future board agenda.



Coalition For Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility President Mario Gonzales kept the tone fiery.

“As chairman of C-FAIRR I urge the new board majority to recognize that Mr. Hanna and Mrs. Lee have failed in their duties and have not undertaken the task of seriously assessing the chancellor’s leadership,” Mario Gonzales said.

Gonzales statement laid out C-FAIRR’s reasoning for wanting to assess Lambert. Recent lawsuits, and the Higher Learning Commission were among the culprits.

The chancellor’s decision to send a letter and envoy on behalf of former Tucson Unified School District H.T. Sanchez representing the college was also cited.

The problem, Mario Gonzales said, was that Lambert issued the letter on official PCC letterhead and claimed to speak for the board.

“By supporting one political faction against another, he jeopardized PCC’s credibility in the community,” Mario Gonzales said. “What’s more, his actions demonstrate Mr. Lambert’s total ignorance and lack of awareness of the community.”

Board member Lee sternly addressed Mario Gonzales after his statement. “I really urge C-FAIRR, rather than bring back issues again and again that are not based on fact, in my opinion, to work with us and not sabotage the college,” Lee said.

“I challenge all of the board members to tell us what issues we have brought to the table that have not been documented publicly,” Gonzales said.

“Ok, we’re not in discussion Mr. Gonzales so you can please return to your seat” Hanna said, interrupting Gonzales.



The tense night continued with faculty representative David Morales’ report to the board. He focused heavily on the implementation of the upcoming Summer Session schedule.

“The past month was filled with the focus on the summer scheduling decision that has undermined our efforts to innovate and move forward,” Morales said.

For instructors, the main concern was “what is the ultimate goal of the summer scheduling decision?” Morales said.

When Morales ended his report, Lee immediately spoke. “Whenever you roll something out there’s got to be a communication plan,” she said. “It can’t be done unilaterally, which it sounds like it was.”

Board member Luis Gonzales was more blunt.

“What are we going do about this?” he said. “Do we say ‘administration, you made a little bit of an effort and it was ok, but since we already screwed it up, let’s move forward with it anyway?”

Referencing Higher Learning Commission recommendations, he addressed Lambert. “To be honest with you Mr. Chancellor, I’m not sure how the hell we passed the HLC test,” Gonzales said.

“Ok Mr. Gonzales,” Hanna said, quickly. “We need to be careful we are not in discussion.”



After remaining mostly quiet throughout the night, a defiant Lambert spoke out during the Chancellor’s Report. The letter to TUSD was first on the agenda.

“I will own that, but I will say this,” he said. “My statement was not about what was going on at TUSD, it was simply to point out that we have a great relationship, and we want that relationship to continue.”

Summer session issues came next. Lambert said PCC had seen a decline of 22 percent in summer enrollment since 2012. He added a majority of students taking classes in the summer do so online.

“How do we justify to our taxpayers that we are running six facilities at full staffing levels in the face of this fiscal reality?” Lambert said. “That’s what’s driving the need to examine what we are doing on the summer.”

Lambert then went into a timeline detailing various meetings he held with important constituencies. He claimed it highlighted how open the summer scheduling process had been.

“I just want you to know,” Lambert said. “Extensive input was sought from employees over the course of a few months.”

Luis Gonzales was unimpressed by Lamberts litany of meetings and forums.

“Yeah, you can have all kinds of meetings, but if you don’t listen and don’t take it into account, what’s the result?” he said. “What we get is this argument here.”

He chastised Lambert further. “It certainly sounds like somebody isn’t listening.”

Lambert shot back. “I just gave you an example of how we listened,” he said. “Because of the feedback I received from the employee groups, we decided not to adjust contracts for the summer.”

Human Resources will also up be up for review, Lambert said. The college will go over contracts and hiring practices in place.

The issue Velazquez testified to earlier in the meeting seemed to take the chancellor by surprise. “I didn’t know that was what he was told by HR,” Lambert said. “But I also have to give the benefit of doubt to the other person.”



A presentation on the college’s new (and first) diversity plan had been scheduled to last 30 minutes, but ended up lasting three times that long. That last item on the board’s agenda for the evening was a vote on finalizing tuition rates.

College Executive Vice Chancellor David Bea laid out the financial benefits and drawbacks of three scenarios. Two scenario’s called for a $3 increase and another a $7 increase.

“What we know is, unless there is a significant enrollment turnaround, we are facing a pretty significant decrease in our expenditure limit capacity,” Bea said. The expenditure limit dictates how much of the college’s funds raised through taxes it can spend in a given year.

A severe decrease in expenditure limit spending would be catastrophic, Bea said.

Lee asked Bea if there could be salary increases without an increase in tuition rates.

“No, it would be very difficult to give salary increase of any significant type,” Bea said.

In response, Luis Gonzales asked if Bea had done any studies on how no increase or a 1% increase in tuition would affect the average instructor.

Hanna reminded Luis Gonzales that the topic at hand was tuition rates. “So it’s ok to go until midnight when the topic is tuition, but we can’t go a little longer on diversity?” Gonzales said, clearly perturbed.

Hanna, in an attempt to defuse some of the tension, said he agreed with Gonzales’ position that increasing tuition to balance the college’s ledger was wrong-headed.

“Write this down Mr. Gonzales,” said Hanna. “I absolutely agree with you that to vote on a tuition increase at this point, before we know what we are going to cut is something I don’t feel comfortable about.”
Bea attempted to explain that voting on tuition rates would not be out of the normal, even before the college had set a budget. However, citing the absence of Meredith Hay, Clinco made a motion to table the decision.

Gonzales asked if Clinco wanted more information on the topic. “No, I mean I think we are missing a board member, and I think it’s important that everybody be here for this decision.”

With that, Hanna adjourned the meeting.


FIVE QUESTIONS: A brief conversation with Ashley Goode

FIVE QUESTIONS: A brief conversation with Ashley Goode

Editor’s note: In this ongoing feature, we ask a Pima Community College student some not-so-serious questions.


Sophomore Ashley Goode takes time to chat about varied topics between behavioral health classes at Desert Vista Campus. (Photo Credit: Nicholas Trujillo/ Aztec Press)

Compiled by Nicholas Trujillo

Ashley Goode is a student at PCC and a mother at home. She’s studying behavioral health at Desert Vista Campus and loves to have “Goode” days.

Question 1: What classes are you enjoying most, and why?

Ashley: I like the substance abuse classes. I like learning about why things happen, I like learning about theories. So far, we’re doing the Black Hand. He’s an FBI agent and he basically started the drug war. It talks about how he built a lot of stigmas because of the drug war. I like learning the truth.

Question 2: What color socks are you wearing?

Ashley: I’ve got mismatched on. They’re still the same, but one’s brighter than the other. I like bright color socks. My socks never match but I have to make sure my kid’s socks match.

Question 3: What’s your favorite movie, and why?

Ashley: One of my favorite movies is “Forest Gump.” When I was younger I would watch it every day. I think it’s because people titled him but he overcame a lot of things that they say a person with special needs can’t overcome. It’s kind of inspirational.

Question 4: What is the last song you listened to?

Ashley: “We Know How to Party” by Chris Brown. It keeps me going on the treadmill.

Question 5: What did you eat for breakfast?

Ashley: I had this gross sandwich from downtown that was kind of expensive. It was a Jimmy Dean sausage sandwich but it didn’t taste like that. It just tasted like it was frozen, in my grandma’s refrigerator. For six months.

THE WORD: How do you spend your extra money?

THE WORD: How do you spend your extra money?

Interviews and photos by Elise Stahl at Northwest Campus


“Usually on either crafts or on the kids I babysit.”

Caleb Kern

Major: Nursing


“Sometimes I spend it on clothes or something, but mostly I’ve been saving it to get gas and stuff like that.”

Ashley Dixon

Major: Business


“Smoothies and Starbucks.”

Amy Alonso

Major: Anatomy and physiology


“Probably fast food.”

Jacob Crow

Major: Business


“I usually just give it to my siblings, whenever they go out with friends.”

Alex Molteni

Major: Environmental biology

SPEAKERS' SERIES: Talk to focus on global strategies

SPEAKERS’ SERIES: Talk to focus on global strategies

PCC instructor Maureen Salzer will discuss curriculum April 4. (Photo courtesy of PCC)


Pima Community College will stage the final installment of its spring speakers’ series on April 4.

Instructor Maureen Salzer will discuss “Going Global Without Leaving Town: Strategies for Internationalizing the General Education Curriculum.”

The presentation will be in the community board room (building C) at the PCC district office, 4095 E. Broadway Blvd. The event is free to attend and will have light refreshments.

During her talk, Salzer will address techniques to successfully incorporate diversity awareness and global awareness into established courses throughout all college programs.

She’ll have literature resources available for faculty, including a bibliography.

Salzer developed the strategies while on a research sabbatical in Fall 2016.

She has been an instructor of writing, literature and humanities at West Campus since 2010. She earned a Master of Arts in English from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Arizona.
For additional details about the speakers’ series, call 206-4500.



Rape defense training begins March 27

The Pima Community College Police Department will offer Rape Aggression Defense training at Desert Vista Campus on March 27, April 3 and April 10.

PCC police offer the self-defense class to females as a way to help them recognize and avoid dangerous situations. The class is open to PCC employees and students, and to their friends and family members.

The classes will be held in Desert Vista’s Plaza building, room F123, from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Students must attend all three sessions to complete the course.

To register, call 206- 2671 or email

For more information about the Rape Aggression Defense program, visit

-By Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


West Campus launches film, dialogue series

A film and dialogue series, “Exploring Narratives about Identity, Inclusion and Introspection,” will premier March 28.

“The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter” will screen at the West Campus Center for the Arts Recital Hall from 6-8 p.m. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the historical film honors working women of World War II and celebrates a “we can do it” attitude.

The film series is designed to provide an opportunity for dialogue relating to perceptions of humanity. Hosts include the West Campus Social and Behavioral Sciences department, Student Life and the Bookaneers.

A second film “Two Spirits,” will screen April 25 at the same time and location.

For further information, call West Campus Student Life at 206-6742.

-By Robyn Zelickson


East Campus hosting film screenings

East Campus Student Life will screen a series of films through March 30 to honor the contributions of women and the farmworker’s movement. The movies will be shown in the Student Life office, E6-618.

Remaining screenings include:

March 23: “Makers: Women who Make America,” 10:30a.m.-1 p.m.

March 27: “Miss Representation,” 9:30-11 a.m.

March 28: “Suffragette,” 11:10 a.m.-1:10 p.m.

March 28: “Cesar Chavez,” 2- 3:30 p.m.

March 29: “A League of Their Own,” 9-10:30 a.m.

March 30: “Cesar Chavez,” 10-11:30 a.m.

March 31: “Cesar Chavez,” noon-1:30 p.m.

For additional details, contact East Campus Student Life at 206-7616.

-By Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


April 5 talks explore assault awareness

Traciana Graves, a singer/songwriter and equal rights activist, will present two interactive presentations at East Campus in recognition of sexual assault awareness month.

Graves will host “Don’t Call Me a Bitch” on April 5 from 11:25 a.m.-1 p.m. at the East Campus center courtyard.

A second talk, “Understanding What Yes Means in Sex” will take place from 2-3 p.m. at the East Campus student mall.

Graves has hosted workshops across the nation advocating solutions to common obstacles such as bullying and discrimination.

Attendees will have a chance to engage in activities and discussions that encourage them to be aware of the effect of their words and actions.

For further information, contact East Campus Student Life at 206-7616.

-By Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


Amigos De Pima accepting scholarship applications

The PCC Foundation is accepting applications for Amigos De Pima scholarships. Numerous scholarship for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 are available.

April 14 is the deadline to apply.

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be full-time students in the academic term for which they are applying.
  • Have a 2.0 high school or college GPA
  • Submit a letter of recommendation.
  • Enroll in a Spanish language or Hispanic heritage course, or volunteer for a minimum of 16 hours of community service during the Summer or Fall 2017 semester.

Access applications on the MyPima website by clicking on the “Students” tab and then “Register and Pay.” From there, select “Apply Now For PCC Scholarships” on the left column.
For further information, email

-By Brianna Hernandez


East Campus STEM Club seeks new members

The East Campus science, technology, engineering and mathematics club is recruiting new members.

“The primary goal of the STEM club is to better the world we live in through science and reason,” club president William Brown said. “The STEM club is a great way for individuals with a passion for the sciences to connect with other like-minded students.”

The club offers opportunities to build resumes through a variety of extracurricular activities and community outreach. Everyone is welcome, regardless of career interests or background experience.

The club meets Mondays at 1:30 p.m. in the East Campus O2 lobby office. Meeting times are subject to change.

For more information, contact Brown at

-By Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


AZTEC CALENDAR: March 23 - April 5

AZTEC CALENDAR: March 23 – April 5


April 5: Poetry literary slam, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Stop by the Student Center to show off your poetry skills and share them with other students.

Details: Student Life, 206-2121

April 5: Traciana Graves, “Don’t Call Me a Bitch,” 11:25 a.m.-noon, East Campus center courtyard. Interactive event for men and women will advocate for equality on campus and in the world. Details: Student Life, 206-7616

April 5: Traciana Graves, “Understanding What Yes means in Sex,” 2-3 p.m., East Campus student mall. Interactive program in recognition of sexual assault awareness month. Attendees can engage in activities and discussions that encourage awareness of the effect of words and actions. Details: Student Life, 206-7616



March 23: Baseball vs. Toros de Tijuana, Kino Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m.

March 23: Men’s tennis vs. Paradise Valley CC, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

March 25: Softball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2 p.m.

March 28: Women’s tennis vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

March 28: Baseball vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2:30 p.m.

April 3-4: Women’s golf, Pima Community College Invitational, Randolph Golf Course, noon start each day

April 4: Baseball vs. Central Arizona, Kino Memorial Stadium, doubleheader – 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m.



Through March 26: Tucson Cine Mexico festival showcasing contemporary Mexican movies at varied venues. Free, but reserve seats at Details:

Through April 1: Tucson Invitational Games: college baseball, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, game times and days vary. Single day tickets: adults $6, kids 12 and under free; weekly pass: $25. Details:

March 24-26: Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair, 10 a.m.-dusk each day, free to public. Details:

March 25: Marana Founders’ Day Festival, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Ora Mae Horn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road. Live entertainment, vintage tractor-car show, heritage village. Free. Parade along Marana Main Street begins at 10 a.m. Details:, calendar tab

March 25-26: Africa Night Dance Fusion live music and dance performances, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. each day. $20 in advance, $25 at door. Details:

April 1: Cruise, BBQ & Blues Festival and Car Show, Oro Valley Marketplace, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $5. Details:

April 2: Cyclovia Tucson car-free neighborhood stroll, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. Details:



March 23: Kate Mo$$, 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave., 7 p.m., $5. Details:

March 25: Gabriel Ayala, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$15. Details:

March 25: Joey Fatts, D Savage: At Your Neck Tour, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$17. Details:

March 25: Zeparella, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$17. Details:

March 26: LIE, Club Congress, 21+, 8 p.m. Free. Details:

March 26: KFMA Day, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, noon-10 p.m. $40. Details:

April 1: Why?, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$18. Details:

April 1: Miranda Sings with Special Guest Colleen Ballinger, Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., 8 p.m. $39.50. Details:



Theater releases

March 24


“Power Rangers”


March 31

“The Boss Baby”

“Ghost in the Shell”

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”


DVD releases

March 28

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

“Why Him?”

“Patriots Day”

“A Monster Calls”

“A Tale of Love and Darkness”

April 4

“Office Christmas Party”

“Rogue One”

Athletics audit suggests changes in record-keeping

Athletics audit suggests changes in record-keeping


An internal audit of Pima Community College athletics department business practices found late deposits, lax internal controls and improperly stored athletes’ documents.

The audit said current studentathlete’s files are properly secured at the Downtown Campus, but older records dating to the 1980s are kept in two separate broom closets in the West Campus gymnasium.

In an on-site interview at the gym, PCC Athletics Director Edgar Soto acknowledged the issues contained in the report.

“All of these things are issues we asked to be addressed,” he said. “We asked for this audit.”

A Finance and Audit Committee composed of college employees and community members conducted the audit last year, and issued its final report on Dec. 2. The newest audit was a follow-up to a larger November 2015 audit.

The report notes that since the initial audit, Soto and other high-ranking administrators have “updated management corrective action plans to address issues identified” within the audit.

The recent audit found problems with the athletics department’s timeliness in depositing donation checks. Eight of the 68 donation deposits reviewed by the audit took 30 days or longer to deposit.

Soto said new controls are being put in place to avoid such long delays, and offered an explanation for some deposits seeming to take more than a month.

“Sometimes when a parent is donating, they write a check in their checkbook and they don’t get it to the coach for a week or two,” he said. “They might date it today, but don’t get around to actually donating for a little bit.”

Similarly, “sometimes coaches throw checks into their games bags and don’t get around to checking it all in for a few days,” he said.

The audit also cited delays in processing receipts from game concessions. On two occasions, “game cash receipts deposits were not processed within three business days per cash handling procedures,” it notes.

Athletics Director Edgar Soto displays archived awards and articles
dating back to the 1970s. The archives were stored with student records.
Eddie Celaya / Aztec Press

Soto said one evening of men’s and women’s basketball games lead to both violations. “I believe that was over Thanksgiving,” he said.

The audit section discussing records for former student-athletes said files were kept in an area where “unauthorized” persons had access to them.

During the on-site interview, Soto allowed the Aztec Press to examine the two storage rooms. Both were locked at the time of the interview and required a key to enter. One room required two doors to be unlocked.

Soto said only athletic department staff have access to the rooms.

“A lot of this stuff is archival materials and trophies,” he said. “All the student info, we are in the process of moving to Downtown Campus.”

Chancellor Lee Lambert, writing in an email sent to PCC employees, said Soto requested the audit “in the spirit of continuous improvement and to address issues revealed in a 2012 audit, prior to Edgar’s leadership role.”

Lambert said the athletics department has made progress on issues identified in both audits, and has developed a timeline for implementing remaining changes.

“Frankly, this demonstrates the importance of having multiple layers of assurance,” Lambert wrote. “While the process does not always work as quickly as we might like, our detailed system of checks and balances worked as it should.”

With the spring athletic season in full swing and both basketball programs closing out historic seasons, Soto hopes the audit and its findings help improve the department.

“We’re just trying to provide the community with an idea of what’s going on in athletics,” he said. “We are just trying to stay accountable.”

Desert Vista library re-opens

Desert Vista library re-opens


Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press Students work on assignments at the renovated library’s new Centers for Individualized Learning compartments.


Pima Community College’s Desert Vista library has reopened after being closed 14 months for renovation. The college used federal Title V grant funds to pay for the $1 million project.

The renovated library exhibits a modern look with glass walls and open floor space. It features all-new furnishings, computers and outlet stations.

The library also gained areas called Centers for Individualized Learning, which are single seats where a student can work on assignments.

“I love the spacing for students,” retiring librarian Tony Arroyo said. “We are the smallest library of all five campuses, but since the remodel we do not have that many volumes of books.”

The renovation shrunk the amount of space used to display books, because of internet access reducing the need for print publications.

“We had to withdraw a lot of books,” Arroyo said. “Ninety-nine percent of our journals are now online rather than in hard copy.”

The redesign made space for conference rooms and student work areas. The conference rooms are compact but hold a table, seats and white boards.

Assistant librarian Anne Thames-Real said the renovation emphasized technology.

“It’s integrating to tech,” she said.

Students like the more technological and modern vibe.

“It’s a cool environment,” Ivan Medina said.

Fellow student John Rowe said, “I like it, it’s welcoming.”

Faculty members also praised the renovations.

“Beautiful, spacious area,” instructor Elizabeth Gooden said.

Potential tuition hike on governing board agenda

Potential tuition hike on governing board agenda


The Pima Community College Board of Governors will consider raising in-state tuition and cutting employee benefits at its next meeting.

The March 8 meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Community Board Room (Building C) at the District Office complex, 4095 E. Broadway Blvd.


The governing board might decide to increase tuition by $7 per credit hour, the college’s largest increase ever.

College officials have said budget shortfalls may force a tuition increase. They’ve listed factors such as state funding cutbacks and dwindling enrollment.

David Bea, PCC vice chancellor for finance, presented three budget scenarios to the Board of Governors last December. One scenario included a $7 per-credit-hour increase in tuition. The two other scenarios both proposed a $3 increase.

College spokeswoman Libby Howell said the proposals are just that: proposals. “It could be a $7 increase, yes,” she said. “It could just as easily stay the same or fall somewhere in between.”

In a typical year, the governing board schedules a study session devoted solely to tuition a month before its public vote, Howell said.

That didn’t happen this year.

“There was no study session on just tuition,” she said. “There was a budget session, and it was during that time they discussed and included tuition rates for the March meeting.”

Board chairman Mark Hanna said he is “concerned we’re voting on a tuition increase before we actually have taken a look at what we’re going to do to reduce costs.”

Hanna has voted against tuition increases the last two years.

“It’s the most important issue I have to deal with each year, because I know how it affects our students,” he said.

The governing board voted last March to decrease international tuition from $5,280 to $4,500 for a full schedule of classes, a drop of nearly 15 percent.

Hanna said the board’s 2016 vote doesn’t cheat in-state students by giving big breaks to international students. He argued it simply levels the playing field for all non-residential students.

“We are treating everybody who is not a resident of Arizona or Pima County the same,” he said.


The governing board will also be asked to approve contracts for employee benefits.

The board typically takes into account information from both employee groups and the administration when deciding the best course for benefit packages, according to Howell.

“Much like with tuition, the board can either vote to increase or decrease the cost and type of benefits packages,” she said. “It’s all related to the budget.”
Hanna, citing a presentation given by Bea, said the cost of employee benefits is high.

“Obviously, health insurance is the highest percentage of that,” he said.

The cost must ultimately be shared, Hanna said.

“Then we would make a decision based on how to adjust the cost to the “how much the college shares versus how much employees share,” he said.

Faculty talk will explore diversity

Faculty talk will explore diversity

Dorothy Brown-Smith (Photo Courtesy of Pima)


Pima Community College will host its second spring semester installment of a faculty Speakers’ Series on March 7.

PCC reading instructor Dorothy Brown-Smith will discuss “Cultural Awareness and Consciousness” in her presentation.

“When I am speaking of cultural awareness/consciousness, I am speaking of being conscious, mindful, attentive, cognizant and knowledgeable about diverse peoples and the culture they bring with them, and the value these diverse peoples and cultures bring to society,” Brown-Smith said.

The presentation will begin at 6 p.m. in the PCC Community Board Room (Building C) at the District Office complex, 4095 E. Broadway Blvd.

Admission is free and light refreshments will be available.

During the talk, Brown-Smith will conduct an experimental exercise titled “Wear the Label of Another.”

“This exercise, hopefully, will cause attendees to become aware of cultural bias that creeps into our lives without us being aware of it or even taking notice of it,” she said.

Brown-Smith began her teaching career in 2010 at various community colleges in Illinois. She joined PCC in 2015 and was named Rookie Teacher of the Year.

The final installment of the Speakers’ Series will take place on April 4. Writing instructor Maureen Salzer will present “Going Global Without Leaving Town: Strategies for Internationalizing the General Education Curriculum.”
For more information, call 206-4500.

Pima Briefs

Pima Briefs

Student veterans plan March 23 fundraiser

Pima Community College’s Student Veteran Organization will hold a hotdog fundraiser on March 23 from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Downtown Campus Free Speech area.

A hotdog, chips and drink costs $5. Proceeds provide funding for student veterans to attend conferences that help them reach full potential in civilian life.

For further information, call Downtown Campus Student Life at 206-7106.

-By Robyn Zelickson


Northwest Campus to celebrate Spirit Week

Northwest Campus will celebrate Spirit Week March 7-9.

Students can come dressed as a “twin” by wearing the same clothes as a friend on Tuesday, March 7. They can show their Pima pride by wearing school colors on Wednesday, March 8, and they can dress in the colors of their favorite sports teams on Thursday, March 9.

For more information, call the Student Life Center at 206-2121.

-By Elise Stahl


Desert Vista hosts career café March 8

Desert Vista Campus will hold a free career café for all Pima Community College students on March 8 from noon-2 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Faculty and staff volunteers will share tips, information and handouts on job searching and career exploration skills. Free coffee will be available.

“Changing careers” is the special brew topic for March.

Another career café will be held April 12. Its special brew topic will be “Small Talk for a Big Career.”

For additional information, call program coordinator Gustavo Miranda at 206-5235.

-By Rene Escobar


“Up with People” at Downtown Campus

Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus wants students to get involved in its cultural fair ‘Up with People’ on March 15 in the Amethyst Room from 1-4 p.m.

High school and college students from throughout Tucson will have opportunities to attend workshops and to meet people from different cultural backgrounds.

Seminars, musical shows and other activities will be presented. The objective of this far is set positive changes.

The event is free and open to the public but space is limited.

Check in time is at 12:45 p.m. Register at

For more information, call Student Life at 206-7258.

-By Dakota Fincher


Plarn Party for the homeless

Join Gabriella Encinas Monday, March 6 at the Amethyst Community room at Downtown Campus from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. to plarn.

“Plarn” stands for plastic yarn. The goal is to have 30 mats to give to the homeless at Corinne

Anderson’s RISE homeless event on April 22.

There will be pies and movies while you weave the plarn.

“I feel like I needed to be a part of something bigger.” Encinas said about her Honors Endeavor Project.

Plastic bag donations are appreciated, but not required.

For more information contact

-By Dakota Fincher


Downtown hosts Ethnic, Gender and Transborder Studies Summit

Pima Community College’s Downtown campus invites everyone to learn about ethnic, gender and transborder studies, March 10 starting 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

The summit theme is ‘Promoting Excellence in Social Justice Education’ in morning panels.

Participants will help design a ‘Center of Excellence’ in afternoon workshops.

There will be speakers, workshops, art exhibits, book signings, university recruiters with transfer information and more.

Register online at for a provided lunch.

This event is free but space is limited.

For more information call 206-7046.

-By Dakota Fincher

East Campus receives federal STEM grant

East Campus receives federal STEM grant

Dale Villeburn Old Coyote/Aztec Press Program manager Guadalupe Waitherwerch plans new ways to teach STEM students


Pima Community College East Campus has received a $3.1 million federal grant to supplement the science, technology, engineering and math programs offered to students.

The campus qualified for the STEM grant because it is a Hispanic-Serving Institute, meaning that 25 percent of enrolled students are of Hispanic descent.

The U.S. Department of Education grant seeks to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in STEM fields. Another goal is to develop model transfer and articulation agreements between other institutions.

The rate of degree completion in STEM fields is generally poor and worse for students of Hispanic or African-American descent, according to the Universal Journal of Educational Research.

Guadalupe Waitherwerch, the East Campus HSI-STEM program manager, said corporations need applicants who are better prepared.

“They are hiring people who look stellar on paper, but have no people skills and are not able to work on projects,” she said.

Job openings will be available. Data compiled by Pew Research Center indicates approximately 10,000 baby boomers have retired every day since 2011, leaving a void in the workforce.

Waitherwerch believes traditional college courses don’t provide students with the experience necessary to replace those who are leaving.

She hopes a new style of instruction will better prepare graduates to tackle real-world issues when they enter the workforce.

The first step is faculty redevelopment. Instructors will work together to develop integrated classes that help students understand where two subjects coincide in practical application.

The new class format encourages students to teach themselves while being supervised by an experienced guide. The instructor’s role will be to facilitate the application of knowledge rather than lecturing students.

To address the low completion rate of students in STEM programs, PCC will offer individual support for those enrolled in the redesigned classes.

The support will take the form of tutoring, student workshops, career and financial advisement, and helping students take advantage of community resources.

Plans to renovate the campus with up-to-date technology and infrastructure are also underway.

PCC’s renovation plan includes three phases. Each aspect is designed to provide low-income students with 21st-century resources.

Phases 1 and 2 involve creating modernized workspace for students to study alone or to collaborate in larger groups.

Phase 3 aims to provide a space for learning communities and faculty to cooperate while finding the crossroads of different subjects, such as biology and chemistry.

“We don’t have the structure here set up so that students can actually come together in groups, whether in classrooms or even in the library,” Waitherwerch said.

The grant funding will allow East Campus to purchase more smart-boards and to begin renting out laptops to students who may not have access to an off-campus computer or Wi-Fi.

Pima will receive the grant money in installments over the next five years. The college has committed to matching the grant funding and expects to use $3.1 million of its own money over the five-year span to support STEM programs.

The federal government monitors the funding to ensure it is being used efficiently and according to the college’s plan.

PCC is required to meet specific goals concerning the completion rate of the target demographic and their performance in the classes.

East Campus will implement the new teaching modalities in courses gradually, starting in the Fall 2017 semester.

An existing East Campus student STEM club is currently recruiting, and hopes to expand to other campuses as membership increases.

Part of the club’s function is to give STEM students “a chance to discuss and explore common ideas in a fun and open environment outside of the classroom,” club adviser Duke Schoonmaker said.
Club members will have opportunities to listen to guest speakers and to participate in field trips, fundraising events and social outings.

To join, email Schoonmaker at

BEST BETS: Enjoy fairs and festivals this February

BEST BETS: Enjoy fairs and festivals this February

Compiled by Elise Stahl

The holidays may be over, but there’s still plenty to do around town. Here are some festivals and activities happening in Tucson to keep your February fun:

Cruise, BBQ & Blues Festival & Car Show

Feb. 18

View a variety of trucks and cars, enjoy live blues music and fill up on barbecue at this show celebrating the art of vehicle design, hosted by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.

The event will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road. Tickets are $5, with a $1 discount for veterans and active duty military with a military ID, cash only.



La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo

(No PCC classes Feb. 23-24 due to rodeo holiday)

Feb. 18-26: Rodeo

Watch rodeo events and participate in barn dances at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave. Wear pink on Sunday to support breast cancer initiatives. Daily admission prices range from $15 to $31, with barn dances an extra $5. Parking costs $7.



Rodeo royalty lead the way at the 2013 La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press 2013)

Feb. 23: Rodeo Parade

The country’s largest non-motorized parade begins at 9 a.m. along a 1.5-mile route starting at Ajo Highway a half mile east of Park Avenue.

It proceeds east then south on Park to Irvington Road, west on Irvington to Sixth Avenue and north on Sixth to the north end of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.

Grandstand seating on Irvington Road, which includes pre-parade entertainment beginning at 8 a.m., is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Street spots along the parade route are free.

Details: or


Tucson Women’s Comedy Festival

Feb. 23-25

Celebrate women in comedy with the Tucson Improv Movement as it presents three nights of storytelling, improv comedy and standup comedy from local and out-of-town comediennes.

Shows run from 7:30-11 p.m. each day at Tucson Improv Movement, 329 E. Seventh St. Tickets are $5.



35th Annual Peace Fair and Music Festival

Feb. 25

The Tucson Peace Center will hold Arizona’s largest gathering of peace, justice and environmental groups from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. downtown at Armory Park, 220 S. Sixth Avenue. The festival’s 2017 theme is demilitarization.

Live music, food, entertainment, informational displays and children’s activities are all included at this free event.



Mardi Gras – Carnival!

Feb. 28

Enjoy themed food, drinks and entertainment at this festival, which combines Mardi Gras and Brazilian carnival traditions. Entertainment includes face painters, 10-foot puppets, Samba dancers and more.

The free event runs from 5 p.m. on Feb. 28 through 2 a.m. on March 1 at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

Details: or

Education by the numbers

Education by the numbers

Compiled by Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


$4.80 *

Amount of return in future income for every $1 spent on community college education.


$35,580 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring a high school diploma.


$58,240 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring an associate degree.

$68,190 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.


11% **

Unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma.


7.5% **

Unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma.


7% **

Unemployment rate for those with some college, no degree.


5.4% **

Unemployment rate for those with an associate degree.


4% **

Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree.


39.1 ***

Percentage of first-time college students enrolled in a community college who earn a credential from a two- or four-year institution within six years.


$5,400 ****

Average increase in annual pay someone with an associate degree can expect over a drop-out.



* AAAC Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges

** U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

*** National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Shapiro & Dundar, 2014

**** Bailey & Belfield, 2015