By ANDREW PAXTON
Safety systems at Pima Community College were on display Feb. 14 when students and employees were evacuated from Northwest Campus following a malfunction of the fire alarm.
The alarm sounded around noon, prompting an impromptu evacuation of classrooms, offices and other facilities. People were directed to a parking lot and told to wait for further instructions.
Confusion was evident amid the evacuation, with most people unsure exactly what to do, where to go or what was happening.
Those affected, including an Aztec Press staffer, attempted to determine what was happening.
Calls to the college’s district office revealed that officials were initially unaware of what was occurring at the campus. Evacuees speculated whether a gas leak or other emergency was taking place.
After about 30 minutes, students and employees were allowed back into buildings. Officials did not openly discuss what occurred, but revealed after questioning by Aztec Press that a technical malfunction was to blame.
“When the alarm goes off, we are instructed to get everyone out, which we did,” said Donna Gifford, vice president of instruction of Northwest Campus. “So the system worked.”
Paul Schwalbach, Pima’s public relations manager, confirmed there was never any danger and officials acted out of an abundance of caution.
By WILL WILLCOXSON
Students and employees are enjoying the new and expanded student life center at Northwest Campus.
“It’s my first time in here and I already love it,” said student Brianna Reyes, 22. “It’s fun, relaxed and I’m not pressured by rules.”
The center opened in Fall 2013, replacing the old bookstore. The former student life center was a small room with an office and some recreational equipment.
“It was essentially just a hallway, and nobody could really hang out,” said student aide Morgan Gottschall, 19. “There was really nothing recreational about it.”
The new center in D-201 includes a main lobby, a conference room, a recreational room and an outside balcony.
The main lobby contains four booths and tables, a reception desk and a TV for “Monday movie mania.” Each booth has multiple charging outlets for laptops and cell phones, providing an ideal site for homework.
“It caters to most needs rather well,” said student Dawndreia Reyes, 24.
The conference room contains a large table that can sit a group. The room is intended for workshops, teacher study sessions and club meetings.
There is also a recreational room with space for public hangouts. It includes an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and many board games.
“We try to make it a really colorful, happy environment,” Gottschall said. “Some students might have a class at 8 a.m. and then the next one at 4 p.m., and what are they supposed to do?”
The balcony portion won’t open until construction on the nearby science building has finished. The balcony will contain four outside tables.
The center was designed to give students and employees solitude, and it appears to be working.
“What we provide to the students is something I really enjoy,” said aide William Johnson, 21.
The center is still in a growing phase, not yet fully equipped for its potential, Gottschall said.
Still, Johnson praised its current status.
“As the center grows, new programs will be needed, and other improvements as well,” he said. “But the center is great as it is right now.”
By JAMIE VERWYS
The words of Maya Angelou accompany the sound of a dancer’s feet hitting the floor at Pima Community College Downtown Campus. The swish of her dress plays out like a musical instrument as she recites beat poetry.
The Feb. 12 event in honor of Black History Month was the first by a group of about 12 students and faculty who share a goal of educating Pima’s students on the value of diversity.
The new Diversity Club hopes to unify PCC students and empower them with a new understanding of different cultural groups.
“Instead of having a club dealing with one issue, one ethnicity and one idea, let’s expand to include everyone,” club adviser Sharon Arceneaux said.
The club plans to host an event each month focusing on a different culture. Members hope to expand the club to the other PCC campuses.
“We are trying to give to the community in different aspects,” club president and founding member Rahsheen Taborn said. “They can come in and rejoice with us and we can educate them about everybody. There will be no stereotyping in this college, ever.”
During the Feb. 12 event, the club hosted a diversity workshop and a performance by Tucson dancer Barbea Williams. Members also provided free Eegees sandwiches to students.
Speaker Michael Engs opened with an interactive presentation that included an exercise for audience members.
“Diversity is the awareness that all of us have unique gifts to offer the world and you have to tap into that gift that the other person has,” he said. “It’s really the source of everything that’s not violent.”
Engs has worked at PCC since 1973 as an advisor, counselor, administrator and instructor. He currently teaches Dynamics of Leadership at the Downtown Campus.
“Pima has the ability to help create people and make them better at who they are,” he said.
Williams performed choreo-poetry and led the audience in a call-and-response style of dance.
Her dance group, Barbea Williams Performing Company, has expressed African heritage through dance, face painting and choreo-potery since 1975.
“I have lived in a lot of different worlds and had a lot of different exposures,” Williams said. “It’s made me the person I am. I am a powerful woman of African descent and that allows me to interact with people very naturally because I know who I am.”
The Diversity Club plans two events for March.
The first, a food fair called Taste of Downtown Campus, will expose students to the foods of different cultures. All PCC students and staff are invited to prepare their best dish, to be judged by the community.
The club will also host a Market on the Move on March 29 from 8-11 a.m. in the north parking lot of Downtown Campus.
The program, created by the nonprofit 300 Club, gathers unsold produce from distributors in Nogales and brings it to varied locations. A $10 donation buys up to 60 pounds of fresh produce.
The Diversity Club is seeking about 30 volunteers for the setup, cleanup and running of the event. The group will receive about 20 pallets of food from the 300 Club and will service up to 800 families.
The Diversity Club is open to all who share its vision of unity for the people of Tucson. Meetings are held every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Student Life room, LB-172, at Downtown Campus.
For additional information, email Sharon Arceneaux at email@example.com.
By LOC TRAN
Anyone looking to become published may want to mark the next Speakers’ Series on their calendar.
Carin Rubenstein, a retired New York Times journalist and current Pima Community College psychology instructor, will share the necessary steps to take in order to become published in newspapers.
Rubenstein will also discuss eight key steps to writing and publishing a book.
The presentation will begin at 6 p.m. on March 4 at the Community Board Room in PCC’s District Office, Building C, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.
Admission is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available.
“This talk will be interesting for anyone who has ever, even vaguely, thought they might want to get published,” Rubenstein said in a telephone interview.
Rubenstein, who earned a PhD in social/personality psychology, writes with an emphasis on conducting survey research. She has written numerous articles for the New York Times, as well as many women’s magazines.
Rubenstein is also the author of four nonfiction books, including “The Superior Wife Syndrome,” which was published in 2009 by Touchstone.
This will be the second of six talks by PCC faculty for the 2014 Speakers’ Series.
The next discussion will take place April 1 with geology instructor Noah Fay’s presentation, “Earthquakes in the Western U.S: Is Arizona at Risk?”
For more information about the Speakers’ Series, call 206-4500.
Committee seeks graduation speaker
A Pima Community College graduation committee is accepting applications for student speakers for the May 22 commencement ceremony.
The application deadline is March 24.
Applicants must be receiving an associate degree for the Spring 2014 semester.
Other requirements include detailing involvement with PCC and a summary of the possible speech opening. Applicants must also submit the names of two PCC faculty members who support their application. Faculty members will be contacted directly.
Application forms are available online at pima.edu/graduationspeaker and at Student Service Centers on all PCC campuses.
Physical applications should be mailed to: Pima Community College, Office of College Events, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, Arizona 85709-1150. Send faxes to 206-4729.
For more information, call 206-4500.
-By Nick Quihuis
Downtown Campus hosts storytelling
The Downtown Campus Reading Series will stage a storytelling session on March 5 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the campus writing center, Room LB-140. Refreshments will be served.
“Storytelling: Gigs and Scams” will feature Pima instructor Molly McCloy and other Tucson storytellers. McCloy and her guests will share stories on the theme of gigs and scams.
McCloy has been published in Slate magazine and Nerve.com, and has performed in the award-winning Lit Lounge series at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Students and community members are encouraged to share their own six-minute stories about odd jobs, dirty work and fraud. Those who plan to participate should sign up in advance.
For more information, contact Brooke Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-7350.
-By Jamie Verwys
Northwest Campus offers student fun
Northwest Campus is hosting “Fun Friday” and “Monday Movie Mania” events in the student life center, D-201.
“Fun Friday” takes place every Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 gaming systems are available, along with board games.
Students can watch a free movie during “Monday Movie Mania” each Monday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
For more information, call 206-2131 or email email@example.com.
-By Will Willcoxson
By EBONY STOGLIN
Twenty-four faculty members and administrators have come together to form a task force that focuses on increasing enrollment rates and figuring out why they are suddenly dropping. There has also been talk of hiring a consultant.
“We are bringing in someone who is trained and skilled at this to help us out,” PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said.
According to a recent registration report, enrollment has decreased by an average of approximately 10 percent between the academic years of 2013 and 2014.
Officials believe that prior issues involving Pima could be scaring potential students away. The college being placed on probation by its accreditor, allegations against the former chancellor and reports of mistreatment of student veterans are just a few of the problems that Pima has faced so far.
“People might not have the confidence that they once had in Pima Community College,” Vice Chancellor for Public Information C.J. Karamargin said.
However, he emphasized that enrollment issues are common among community colleges, especially when the economy is recovering.
“Community colleges across the country experience similar things when the economy goes bad,” Karamargin said. “It happens all the time.”
He explained that people come to a community college to either transfer or gain skills for the work force. When the economy begins recovering, more people are working and fewer people are going to school.
Karamargin said that a previous change in admission standards could have also affected enrollment.
In 2012, Pima’s board voted to tighten up admission policies by granting acceptance only to people whose reading, writing and math skills were at the seventh grade level and above. Students also had to achieve a certain score on the COMPASS test to enter credit classes.
Because of the large decline of remedial students and community backlash, Pima’s board decided to rollback the admissions policies last year.
Despite the bad press, Pima’s Assistant Vice Chancellor Deborah Yoklic is hopeful for the future. Her solution to the enrollment drop is simple.
“We need to do a much better job of letting the community know we’re here for them,” Yoklic said.
She and other officials will be informing the community about the big plans Pima has for the next few years during the upcomming PCC’s Futures Conference.
“We want to know what’s important to the community,” Yoklic said.
The conference will be at the Doubletree Hotel Tucson, 445 S. Alvernon Way in Salons A-D from 7:30-10:30 a.m. on Feb. 18 and is open to the public.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By SHAQ DAVIS
After the top two administrators at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus were fired last fall, the college hired Gwendolyn Joseph as interim campus president and Quincy Moore as interim vice president for student development.
Joseph sat down with Aztec Press on Feb. 3 to discuss the next steps for Downtown Campus and PCC.
Q: Where did you grow up? What are some things that have happened during your career?
A: I was born and raised in Texas. I grew up in an area called Beaumont, right outside of Houston. Most of my adult life was spent in the Houston area. Late in my career, I accepted a position in Kentucky, an executive-level position.
I’ve been in community colleges over 30 years. I love the commitment that faculty and staff have for the students, I love the creativity you find in community colleges. Out of those 30 years, I don’t think I’ve had two days that have been the same.
Q: What are some things that took place on your first day here? What was immediately on your agenda?
A: My first day here, I was meeting a lot of people, just getting to know the campus. I came in at a time where the campus students and faculty were all on Christmas break.
The majority of that time was just getting a feel for Pima, for Tucson, and trying to understand various issues. So I spent a lot of time in meetings and trying to get on board as an employee.
We went through the process of hiring a vice president. The first week, that was the main thing — to get that position filled.
Q: What are some changes you believe need to happen while you are president?
A: There are a number of things that we can do differently and the chancellor started putting a lot of those things in place even before my coming onboard. I need to be more visible, to hear what people are thinking, their needs.
It’s critical to listen, to start the healing process. A lot of the press has been hard on people, especially the people who are trying to do a very good job. I need to take the time to listen to what they are saying.
We need a plan of action, how do we really approach where we’re trying to go overall.
I want people to feel safe, I want people to feel good about being at Pima. I’d like to see our numbers come up in terms of enrollment, but more so in student success.
I’d like to see people more engaged in who we are as an institution and feel they’re contributing to what we’re trying to accomplish.
If I can start putting things in place in making some of those things happen, then whoever comes in after me would be able to take them to the next level.
Q: What is your specific role in making sure Downtown Campus is ready for the Higher Learning Commission’s visit this fall?
A: Because part of the requirement for reaccreditation is that we have a strategic planning process, I am actively involved in that process. I’m on the steering committee, or planning team.
We’re having a big Futures Conference on Feb. 18. We are inviting the community in, so we can hear where they want to see Pima go in the long run and what are those critical items they want us to focus on.
The other thing I’m doing is some development for the campus leadership, and broadening the concept of just what is campus leadership.
Q: How are employees handling this period of transition while the HLC is the No. 1 priority?
A: There are some concerns, but I think employees are handling it very well.
It says a lot about the employees here overall that so many were willing to jump in and work toward doing what they need to do to meet the requirements of the HLC.
There are anxieties because it could impact their livelihoods if we don’t get our accreditation. But, I think we are doing some things right to make that happen.
I think employees are glad to see at least a level of stability for a short period of time because that has been a concern.
I do think that Chancellor Lambert is trying to put together a team and bring as much stability as possible in this period of time.
By DAVID J. DEL GRANDE
Pima Community College’s dean of nursing, Marty Mayhew, resigned from her position Jan. 28 following the completion of an independent investigation into claims of her misconduct.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 449, which represents 140 Pima employees, filed an anonymous complaint of no-confidence against Mayhew on Sept. 24, 2013.
According to the official statement filed by AFSCME, Mayhew, “consistently creates a hostile work environment in the programs she oversees, and tried repeatedly to solicit prescription painkillers from subordinates.”
In November 2013, Mayhew explained any of the choices she needed to make as dean of the department were thoughtfully made with intentions of bettering the curriculum.
“Sometimes the decisions I make will make some people unhappy, but they’re the best decisions for the program,” Mayhew said.
On Jan. 29, PCC chancellor Lee Lambert wrote in an email to employees that the results of the investigation conducted by Gust Rosenfeld, Pima’s hired legal firm, were submitted to the Arizona State Board of Nursing for review.
“As you might know, serious allegations were made involving personnel in the nursing program,” Lambert said. “The college completed its own comprehensive investigation and an Arizona State Nursing Board review is taking place.”
The Arizona State Board of Nursing was contacted regarding their review of the investigation, but did not respond for comment.
Chancellor Lambert said that Brian Stewart, an academic dean from PCC’s Desert Vista Campus, was asked to take over the duties of the nursing department on an interim basis.
“Brian is an RN and MSN who has done great work with our Center for Training and Development,” Lambert said.
Stewart wrote via email he felt it unfortunate Mayhew resigned, but said he is qualified for the position and happy to contribute to the strength of the department.
“I was initially shocked and sad to hear that Marty was leaving Pima,” Stewart said. “Additionally, the transition of a dean or any employee with whom you have worked with for years is difficult for all of us.”
Lambert also said in the email that Nancy Peasley, Pima’s nursing program laboratory specialist, had been placed on administrative leave.
One PCC faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, said regardless of the daunting issues that Pima currently faces, they were disappointed and confused when reading the specifics contained in Lambert’s email.
The employee applauded the progress Lambert has continued to affect, but felt the email was unfairly worded in the name of transparency.
C.J. Karamargin, Pima’s vice chancellor of public information and federal government relations, said in a phone interview that due to the esteem PCC’s nursing department is held, it was the college’s responsibility to disclose information regarding changes in faculty.
“Our nursing program is a highly ranked program,” Karamargin said. “So when changes happen, the students, our partners and our community, both internal and external, deserve to know about it.”
Also in November 2013, Mayhew asserted Pima’s nursing department was striving to surpass the college’s exceptional educational model, despite the multiple ongoing investigations and contrary to the unfavorable publicity in the media.
“I really want to emphasize how despite the negative press that the program has received, our program is still strong as ever,” Mayhew said. “The curriculum is sound, and like I said we’re making some revisions, but we’re making the revisions to tailor it to strengthen our weaknesses.” Mayhew was not available for comment following her resignation.
During a Feb. 7 Faculty Senate meeting, Lambert was asked how much money Pima has spent on its multiple investigations. Lambert said the total cost was unknown, and that it was unfortunate the investigations were occurring, but he assured the crowd that Pima was moving beyond its “culture of fear” and everyone needed to display model behavior.
“There’s usually a preceding event that occurs before someone is no longer an employee of Pima,” Lambert said during the meeting.
“I want folks to know it’s not just happening out-of-the-blue. And our tax-payers have invested in us, and they expect a level of professionalism that isn’t always the case in the private sector,” he said.
By WILL WILLCOXSON
Pima Community College’s Aztec Shuttle transport van has slowly gained passengers since starting last August, from two daily passengers to six.
The van can hold up to 14 passengers and two handicapped riders. The service is free, and requires only an up-to-date student I.D.
The shuttle runs Mondays through Thursdays. It starts at Old Main at the University of Arizona and makes stops at the Downtown, West and Desert Vista campuses.
The PCC governing board approved an annual contract with Arizona Shuttle for up to $80,000. The contract is renewable through 2017.
Passengers say the shuttle has proved to be a useful resource.
“It’s very convenient,” said Stephanie Avalos, 20, a first-year Pima student. “It’s a good way to make friends.”
Others praised the friendly atmosphere and the van’s cleanliness.
“I know people pretty well,” said Alec Moreno, 19, a fourth-year student. “It’s pretty clean compared to most shuttles I’ve been on.”
Moreno also complimented the drivers.
“All the bus drivers we’ve had, we get along with pretty well,” he said.
Gabe Nyrkkanen, 35, a handicapped rider and disabled student resources employee, said the equipment is nice but it all depends on the operator.
However, the morning schedule has been a problem for students.
“It’s boring waiting,” said Karina Valdec, 18, a first-year student who must wait two hours for a 10 a.m. class.
“Even 10 minutes later in the morning would be easier,” Moreno said.
An additional route or two appears to be the biggest suggestion among passengers.
“More than two runs would make it better,” Avalos said.
Bus driver Richard Krohn, 71, has a four-hour break between shuttle runs. He also suggested that an additional two routes be added later in the morning.
Krohn thinks highly of his riders.
“I have very good students aboard,” he said. “Very mature, and handle themselves properly.”
Krohn, an Arizona Shuttle employee, has enjoyed an easier stress-free routine since starting the PCC route at the beginning of spring semester.
“Big difference going from Speedway and Craycroft than going to Phoenix,” he said. “It’s a five-hour round trip and you get no breaks.”
For more information about the Aztec Shuttle, call 206-4500.
Group sponsors ‘Villains & Heroes’ bake sale
The West Campus Pima Pride club will hold a “Villains & Heroes” bake sale on Feb. 13 from 11:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. in the book store lobby.
Decorated lollipops will be sold for $1.50. The hero-theme treats represent people who love Valentine’s Day, while the villain theme represents those who do not.
All proceeds will fund future events and workshops for Pima Pride.
The goal of the project is to encourage thinking outside of the box.
“Anyone can sell lollipops, so why not jazz them up?” public relations officer Marcia Stagle said.
-By Will Willcoxson
Presbyterian Campus Ministry hosts lunches
The Presbyterian Campus Ministry will host a free weekly lunch at Downtown Campus every Monday from 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. in Student Life LB-171. Students of all backgrounds are welcome to attend.
The first lunch of the year was held Feb. 3. They will continue through the rest of the semester.
The meals are provided by participating Tucson congregations, including St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 7650 N. Paseo del Norte.
For more information, email Kristina Beckman at email@example.com or visit pcmarizona.org.
-By Jamie Verwys
Northwest Campus hosts Monday Movie Mania
Northwest Campus will host a free “Monday movie night” on Feb. 17 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. in the Student Life building. Three to four movies will be shown, with ratings as high as PG-13.
Students can bring their own food.
For more information, call Student Life at 206-2131.
-By Will Willcoxson
By DAVID JOSEPH DEL GRANDE
Several local start-up business elites offered insight into their success and provided experienced encouragement to a crowd of Pima Community College students, employees and members of the public at the “Entrepreneurs: Doing Business Their Way” panel discussion held on Jan. 8.
Graphic artists, clothing designers, business owners, students and aspiring entrepreneur networkers lined the seats of Pima’s Proscenium Theatre at West Campus to hear five panelists impart their knowledge about business strategies and marketing tips.
Ari Shapiro, owner of Tucson’s Xoom Juice, Sparkroot Coffee Bar and Fare and Falora, was the first panelist to respond to the question, What is the most important executive decision you would change to become successful sooner?
“As much there is a truism that hindsight’s 20-20, I do really think that another truism in business is what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger,” Shapiro said. “But if I have to put it down to one, I think trusting my gut ever so slightly more with very important decisions.”
Shawn Graham said he received an email two days before the event, and made special arrangements to attend the entrepreneur panel. Graham graduated from Pima in 2012 with a business degree and is an administrative support technician for Pima’s West Campus Student Life Department.
Graham is now studying business administration at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management while continuing to operate Boogie Down Soundz, a mobile D.J. business he founded in 1992.
“I plan on diversifying and opening other businesses, possibly restaurants,” Graham said. “Definitely music-related as well because I’ve also produced music.”
The organizers of the free event invited Pima’s Entrepreneurship Academy and Entrepreneurship Boot Camp alumni of the past three years, and advertised through administrative emails and local media.
Matthew Jeschke, a realtor for Tierra Antigua Realty, read about the event and said he’s continually looking for new ways to network. Jeschke said the panel discussion looked like a fantastic opportunity, and would recommend such an event to entrepreneurial hopefuls.
“There was a common thread I heard through all the panel speakers. They wished they had trusted themselves more,” Jeschke said. “The best way I have found to build confidence is meeting other entrepreneurs who have gone into the unknown to create their businesses.”
The other panelists were Tom Alfonso, of Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamics; Marion Hook, co-proprietor of Adobe Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast; Cecilia Mata, founder of AllSource Global Management, and Chris Schlesinger, founder and president of Best Finishing Incorporated.
Schlesinger was the second panelist to immediately jump in, and confirmed the shared wisdom to trust yourself when forging your path to entrepreneurship.
“I wish I had listened to my instincts more closely because I had all the answers,” Schlesinger said. “That sounds maybe a little foolhardy, but there was always a red flag and I wish I had paid attention to it.”
The entire panel tackled the daunting task of choosing the appropriate avenue for funding their businesses, then continually scrutinizing their business plans when their entrepreneurial lives began. Tom Alfonso assured the diverse crowd he understood the pressure, but spoke of determination.
“I think a lot of that is really mind-boggling,” Alfonso said. “Don’t give up. Take advantage of some of the great resources that are out there. They can really guide you in the right direction.”
Graham considers himself a life-long learner and plans to apply the shared triumphs of the five local entrepreneurs to his businesses and ideas.
“I got a lot out of all the panelists because it was such a diverse group,” Graham said. “People that are looking to become business owners or entrepreneurs should take advantage of all the resources that are out there.”
Nurses receive certificates
By Michael Anderson
Eleven students received their practical nursing certificates in a ceremony at Pima Community College’s Desert Vista Campus on Jan. 15. The event included a Practical Nurse Pinning Ceremony, complete with a candle-lighting and recitation of the “Nightingale Pledge.”
Practical nursing is among the nearly two-dozen certificate programs offered by the Center for Training and Development based at Desert Vista Campus. The CTD offers high quality training for in-demand fields including business technology, culinary and food industry, medical office, and surgical technology.
Licensed practical nurses work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctor’s offices and nursing homes. According to a press release by the college, healthcare is the fastest growing industry in America and prospects for practical nurses are better than for most jobs, particularly in Tucson.
For more information on practical nursing or any of the CTD’s other programs call 206-5100 or visit pima.edu.
Healthcare enrollment fair
By ANDREW PAXTON
Health and community organizations were at Pima Community College campuses on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 to deliver information to students about the importance of health insurance and how to get enrolled.
“Even if you are young and healthy, having health insurance guards you against astronomical medical bills for accidents or unexpected illnesses,” said Cheryl O’Donnell, Arizona state director for the Get Covered America campaign, in a press release.
“Without coverage, each of us is one step away from being financially wiped out by debt from a visit to an emergency room, which could cost thousands of dollars without an overnight stay,” she said.
More than 3 million people have signed up for insurance since Oct. 1, when the marketplace opened, according to figures released by the Obama administration.
By EBONY STOGLIN
When comparing a classroom from the 1980s to a classroom in 2014, the differences are drastic.
The way students learn and the tools they use to process information have evolved.
Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert and anthropology instructor Gene Trester will discuss those changes during a presentation titled “Creating Climates for Learning in 21st Century College Classrooms.”
The talk will take place on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Community Board Room at PCC’s District Office, Building C, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd. Presentations are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available.
The presentation will debut PCC’s fourth annual Speakers’ Series, which showcases the expertise and accomplishments of college faculty.
Lambert, a graduate of the Seattle University School of Law, will talk about his learning experiences at Evergreen State College in Washington.
Trester, who earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Toronto, Canada, will discuss the Transmission Model and Enculturation Model of teaching and learning.
Pima students who have experienced the enculturation method will also provide commentary on their learning experiences.
PCC faculty members will present five additional topics during the 2014 Speakers’ Series.
- March 4: Former New York Times journalist and psychology instructor Carin Rubenstein will share tips on “How to Get Published.”
- April 1: Geology instructor Noah Fay will discuss “Earthquakes in the Western U.S.: Is Arizona at Risk?”
- Oct. 7: Physiology instructor Tom McDonald will present “Life, Death and Redemption at the Grand Canyon.”
- Nov. 4: Psychology instructor Sarah Burger will give a presentation on “The Aging Brain.”
- Dec. 2: Writing instructor Kristen Hoggatt will discuss “The U.S. Poetry Academy.”
The Speakers’ Series is sponsored by the provost and by Faculty Senate.
For more details, call 206-4850.
By ANDREW PAXTON
A group of concerned community members has launched a recall effort to remove two embattled officials on Pima Community College’s Board of Governors.
The group, Citizens for PCC Integrity, formally launched its campaign Jan. 7 to remove Scott Stewart and Marty Cortez from Pima’s governing body.
Cort Chalfant is heading the recall effort in District 4 against Stewart. “We wish it wasn’t happening, but it is,” he said during a phone interview.
The recall drive is a response to the board members’ refusal to resign following a damaging report from the Higher Learning Commission, Pima’s accrediting body.
Last April, the HLC placed Pima on probation after finding institutional failures and a “culture of fear” at the college. The HLC directed much of the blame at the college’s governing committee.
After Pima was placed on probation, many members of the community, including organizations representing faculty and staff, called on members of the board to resign.
“A lot of work was put in to get people to step down,” Chalfant said.
However, Stewart and Cortez, along with board members David Longoria and Brenda Even, all resisted calls for their removal, pledging they have learned from their mistakes and will work to improve the college in the future.
Citizens for PCC Integrity, composed of community leaders as well as students, faculty and staff from Pima, now feel it has no choice but to attempt to remove the besieged board members by force.
The Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations support the recall.
The group has 180 days to collect about 25,000 signatures in order to get a recall measure on the ballot. Their goal is to have the vote take place during the general election in November.
The organization has also indicated it will campaign strongly against Even, who is up for re-election this year. It may also target Longoria at a later date.
Stewart, Cortez and Even did not respond to requests from Aztec Press for comment about efforts to remove them from office.
Petition gatherers have already begun canvasing neighborhoods in the districts where board members are being challenged. They will also hold signings at libraries, sports games and at some Pima campuses.
Only registered voters with a mailing address located within the district where a board member is being challenged will be permitted to sign the petition.
Anyone interested in volunteering or assisting with the recall effort is asked to visit the group’s website, fixpimacollege.com, for more information on how to get involved.
“Our goal is simple, to change the board,” Chalfant said.
Not everyone supports the group’s efforts for recall, even among those who called for resignations from board members last year.
Faculty Senate has not endorsed the recall of any board members, said president Joe Labuda in an email to Pima employees.
“I think that the college’s fate in terms of getting off probation, being a vital educational institution and being a place where employees feel safe, respected and appreciated lies more with the actions of our current administration and employees than it does with the BOG,” he wrote.
Although he doesn’t support the recall effort, Labuda said he understands and sympathizes with their desire to hold the board members accountable, and respects their point of view.
Labuda also said all the “heavy lifting” that needs to be done for the college to get off probation will occur before any new board members would take office, and there is no guarantee anyone would be replaced.
“At this point I am trying to make the best of the hand we have been dealt,” he said. “I have to work in the here and now. And that means working with the current BOG.”
But for those seeking a recall, working with the current board isn’t an option.
Chalifant highlighted three reasons why his group believes the board members must go.
“First, they are responsible for the damage done to the college, and they need to be held accountable,” he said.
“Second, their continued presence on the board threatens Pima’s accreditation,” he added.
“And third,” he said, “the college needs to heal, and that healing can’t take place with them on the board.”
Although the group faces an uphill battle to collect enough valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot and the board members removed, Chalfant is confident they will succeed.
By A. GREENE
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.