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.
By NICK MEYERS
Back in ’78, Daniel Kester was a young airman recruit. One stripe on his shoulder, no more than a year out of high school, his second lieutenant asked him, “Kester! You ever think about going to college?”
Truth was, he hadn’t. College was for lawyers and bankers and senators’ sons; he was the son of a fireman who grew up in Ohio.
“Kester,” said his lieutenant. “I’m ordering you to go to college!” Kester told his officer he didn’t think he could do that. His officer didn’t think so either. Even still the officer told him to get into his car and drove him to the base education office. He sat in the car, engine running, and told Kester he’d wait there until he signed up for a college course.
“I was immediately addicted to learning,” Kester said. “I think about him every day and I’m thankful that he saw something in me that I didn’t see.”
Kester hopes to find his old lieutenant someday and tell him how his life was impacted by that almost order.
“I can’t wait to tell him what those words meant to me. It’s a constant reminder to me to help others in the same way.”
Kester is Pima Community College’s new director of veterans and military affiliated service, a newly created position to oversee veterans’ affairs at the college.
The new addition comes following mishandling of veterans’ files, which led to a temporary suspension of veterans’ benefits at PCC in March.
“In creating this position, we are ensuring that our student veterans consistently receive the best possible administrative services,” Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a press release.
Kester intends to incorporate a series of student success courses, which he hopes to teach, as well as establish a veteran’s center on every campus like the one on Downtown Campus.
Additionally, he plans on digitizing aspects of student veteran records to streamline various processes.
“I’ve been really impressed with everyone here and really impressed with their willingness to support veterans,” Kester said.
His background in education coupled with his military experience makes him uniquely qualified for Pima’s new position, which coincidently opened up shortly after he finished writing his dissertation on the transition of military personnel from active duty to post-secondary education.
“During my research I’ve always said, ‘people spend more time planning their vacations than their careers,’” he said.
He aims to improve career planning and sees his time at Pima as a counselor to student veterans.
“I’ve always been a counselor at heart,” he said.
“My very first teaching gig was at a community college,” Kester says. “And I’ve always felt like I had it right the first time at community college.”
Kester began his teaching career at Owens Community College in Ohio after spending 10 years in the Air Force. During his time in the military, he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
“It’s kinda like an efficiency expert,” Kester said. “So you look at processes whether it’s an assembly line or a bank or an institution such as here. I look at, say, our certification process and I can see where the bottlenecks are and where there are opportunities for improvement.”
Many student veterans at Pima are already familiar with Kester due to his time spent at the college researching his dissertation, during which he worked closely with PCC student veterans.
Pima student Adrienne Lujan, a six-year Navy veteran, was one of the students interviewed by Kester during his research.
“We had no idea what the future was gonna hold. We had no idea he was gonna walk through that door and be the director,” she said. “That initial contact, though, did make it easy, I think, for everybody.”
Lujan also stressed the importance of having a military veteran to act as an advocate for service members at the college within the administration.
“We need a communication system with the upper echelon of Pima College,” she said. “Hopefully Dr. Kester along with student veterans have a chance to attend steering committees where issues can be addressed as they come up.”
During his dissertation, Kester discovered that while student veterans rated Pima’s veteran services highly, they didn’t necessarily take advantage of the services due to what he identified as culture shock.
“They really felt abandoned by the military,” Kester said.
“They built a military identity for four years, and then they only give them five days to go ‘OK, go find a job, here’s how to write a resume.’ You can’t change that identity in five days. That’s the whole idea behind this position, is to ease that transition.”
Sean Lore, a two-and-half-year Army veteran, agrees.
“Transition is very hard. It’s just a different world – a totally different world – and it’s hard to connect with people,” he said.
Kester also helps student veterans make the transition from active duty to community college. His ideas and passion for helping veterans to not only attend, but succeed, at Pima embody the goal of his position.
“What is cool is the young kids that are comin’ right out of four years, they have the whole world open to them.
“So they come out, they probably don’t have a degree, they don’t have that much experience, they’re like ‘I can do something different. I don’t have to do what I did in the military.’
“So it’s a wonderful group to talk to. It’s exciting, you can kinda live vicariously through them,” he said.
“Just say ‘wow you’re 21 again and you can go anywhere you want: you can go into the arts, you can go into music, you can go into journalism, you can go into fire fighting,’ and I just think that’s so exciting to sit down with them and choose a career.”
By TANISHA KNUTZEN
Pima Community College psychology instructor Sarah B. Burger will discuss “The Aging Brain” at PCC’s Speakers’ Series on Nov. 4.
Her lecture will begin at 6 p.m. in the PCC District Office Community Board Room, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd. Light refreshments will be available.
Burger’s presentation will discuss the brain and its aging process.
She will define dementia and explain techniques to help minimize the impact of aging.
She’ll also identify common myths about aging and highlight normal age-related changes to memory and cognition.
Burger earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona and became a licensed psychologist in 2013.
She has been an adjunct instructor at PCC since 2012. She also teaches undergraduate courses and supervises doctoral students at UA.
In addition, Burger works full time in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist while also pursuing her board certification.
The Speakers’ Series, which is co-sponsored by the Faculty Senate and the provost’s office, spotlights PCC faculty and their expertise.
All lectures are free and open to the public.
One final lecture remains as the Speakers’ Series concludes its fourth year.
Writing instructor Kristen Hoggatt will discuss “The U.S. Poetry Academy” on Dec 2.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Four Pima Community College students earned second-place honors Oct. 17 in the Arizona Community College Excellence Case Competition.
The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management invited community college faculty to nominate talented business students.
The competition challenged teams to create an innovative business plan that solved a specific case problem.
PCC students James Brindley, Alanna Castro, Kalinda Lindmark and Rie Midei took second place after impressing judges with their ideas for online enrollment growth.
Rebecca Byers, Rachael Drozdoff, Jasmin Gonzalez and Peter Vesely competed on the second PCC team.
Case details were not revealed until the day of competition.
“The case competition was that each team was hired as a consultant by Eller College,” Midei said. “We had to conduct a benchmark analysis of the three primary competitors who offer online business degrees.
“I didn’t even know what a ‘benchmark analysis’ was until this event, so it was a really challenging task for me,” she said.
After a brief orientation, teams were allowed to gather research, develop their proposal and prepare a formal presentation.
“We only had two and a half hours to complete our research and PowerPoint to present it to the judges,” Midei said.
Nine teams from Arizona community colleges presented to a panel of judges, who posed challenging questions to team members.
Midei was impressed with several of the other teams’ presentations.
“They all seemed very calm and keen, and were full of great ideas,” she said. “My knees were shaking during the presentation, but when it was over, I felt great.”
The competition featured seven teams from the Phoenix area alongside Pima’s two teams. Glendale Community College won first place.
“When the judge announced our team as the runner-up, I realized that we were so close to the winning prize, which was a $600 individual scholarship for Eller College,” Midei said.
“It’s too bad that we didn’t win, but I was very happy that I had the opportunity,” she said.
“It was a resume builder and confidence builder as well.”
Midei said she was happy to be one of the first students representing Pima at the competition.
“Last year, no one signed up from PCC, so my accounting teacher was eager to nominate students,” she said “I needed to challenge myself for something totally out of my comfort zone, so I signed up.”
By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
We change the world every day, and this is especially true on Election Day.
Local elections feel the weight of our decisions regarding propositions. These state amendments are put on the ballot in order to change the Arizona Constitution. By casting a vote, we help to shape the future of our community.
Prop 122: Rejection of unconstitutional federal actions
What it does: Allows state law to reject federal laws that Arizona officials consider inconsistent with the Constitution.
Supporters say: It will prevent state and local taxes from being spent on federal laws that Arizonans consider illegal. Other supporters assert that the prop will help to strengthen Child Protective Services.
Opponents say: It will permit the state to bypass federal environmental safeguards. Opponents say that the prop does not help to protect children from abuse.
My take: This proposition has been rejected by voters in the past due to suspicions that there are underlying motives. There are also concerns that this is a way to reject the federal health care mandates recently instated by the Affordable Healthcare Act. Vote against the measure, because Arizona lawmakers need the guidance and restrictions of federal laws.
Prop 303: Right to try; use
of investigational drugs
What it does: Allows medications that have not been approved by the FDA to be tested by terminally ill patients.
Supporters say: This measure will help to get possibly life-changing medications to patients faster, since the process of getting a new drug passed by the FDA can take years. Terminally ill patients have nothing to lose and should be allowed control over their bodies and treatment.
Opponents say: The proposition would allow terminally ill patients to become experimental test subjects while charging them with costly medical bills. It also could result in false hope and wasted time.
My take: In theory, this measure sounds like it may help terminally ill patients. After hearing a number of debates on the topic, there seem to be too many unanswered questions. Similar to Prop 122, I suspect there might be hidden agendas behind this proposition. I plan to vote against this initiative because I am concerned that it may actually delay proper treatment while experimenting with medications that do not have proven results.
Prop 304: Increase
What it does: Raises the annual salaries for 30 state senators and 60 state representatives from $24,000 to $35,000, beginning on Jan. 1, 2015.
Supporters say: The increase would help guarantee more qualified state officials are in place or remain in their positions with less financial concerns. These lawmakers have not received a pay raise since 1998.
Opponents say: Government officials shouldn’t do the job for the paycheck, and lower salaries ensure people seek office to serve the people. Legislators receive other benefits that help to supplement their income such as insurance and pension plans.
My take: Considering that Arizona state lawmakers have not received a pay raise in more than 15 years, it seems that an increase is necessary. I hope the salary increase will help to ensure that the officials will be able to focus on doing their jobs well. I support this measure.
If you are a registered voter and are unsure of where and when to vote, visit webcms.pima.gov/government/elections_department.
To register for future elections, Arizona residents can visit dmv.org/az-arizona/voter-registration.php.
By ANDREW PAXTON
The Pima Community College Honors Club has been keeping busy with a full array of community service projects this semester.
On Oct. 26, several members of Honors Club combined with members of the Alpha Beta Chi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to volunteer at one of Tucson’s scariest haunted house, Slaughterhouse.
Most of the Pima students and their families found themselves as zombies in the “Apocalypse” haunted house.
The volunteers played the role of attackers as customers proceeded through the war zone, blasting any undead in their path with laser-tag guns.
The funds raised by the Pima clubs will be donated to The Florence Project, a non-profit group that helps undocumented immigrants by providing pro bono legal services for deportation hearings, filing for refugee status and more.
The clubs will also volunteer at Produce On Wheels With Out Waste and donate the funds to Florence. The first POW WOW is on Nov. 1 from 5-11 a.m. at the Desert Vista Campus north parking lot.
The clubs will also volunteer at the VA for their annual Veteran’s Day celebration and throughout the holiday season.
Compiled by Alex Fruechtenicht
Campus Halloween activities include:
• Oct. 30-31: Free Haunted Haven at Desert Vista Ocotillo Room with refreshments, costume contests, live entertainment and a haunted house. Thursday hours 4-8 p.m., Friday 3-8 p.m. Details: 206-5070.
• Oct. 31: Diá de los Muertos celebration at West Campus JG-05 community room from 2-4:30 p.m. Details: 206-6742.
• Oct. 31: Northwest Campus Zombie Walk, second level Student Life Center, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Have professional zombie makeup applied for a small fee. For additional information, call 206-2131.
East Campus hosts Diá de los Muertos
East Campus will hold its annual Diá de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festival on Nov. 3 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the library courtyard patio.
Free activities will include songs, folklórico dances, poems and art. Visitors can also sample Pan de Muertos, or All Souls Bread. Spanish faculty and students will make altars to honor the dead.
For additional information, call 206-7616.
Policing topic of round-table discussion
The East Campus humanities department will host a round-table discussion on Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the East Campus community room.
The event will highlight the history of policing, from ancient times to modern-day tactics and stories.
For additional information, call 206-7616.
Downtown Campus to celebrate veterans
Downtown Campus will hold a free celebration for veterans on Nov. 10 from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the parking lot near the RV building.
Highlights will include speakers and recognition of local businesses that support veterans, plus food, activities and entertainment.
For additional information, call 206-7258.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Students hoping to enroll in classes at Pima Community College during the holiday break will find nothing but coal in their academic stockings this winter.
The decision not to hold winter classes was made during a PCC governing board meeting in May 2013.
The move wasn’t formally announced on Pima’s website until more than a year later, on Oct. 6.
Brigid Murphy, vice president of instruction at Downtown Campus, was one Pima administrator who analyzed winter classes after concerns surfaced regarding the effectiveness and efficiency.
Murphy said the college looked at success rates during winter classes and found that a large number of students were not completing the courses, or not earning credit.
“If students took a class during the regular session and didn’t succeed, and are then trying to make it up during the winter, they probably aren’t going to make it through,” she said.
Another factor in eliminating winter classes was a decline in enrollment, Murphy said.
In 2011, 1,092 students were enrolled in winter classes after the drop deadline.
By comparison, 549 were enrolled in winter courses by the end of the 2013 winter session. More than half of the 33 courses were only available online.
“So many of the winter classes were offered online, so we have a campus that’s open but serving very few students,” Murphy said.
Keeping a campus open requires support staff, security and other employees as well as instructors.
Murphy said it didn’t make sense financially, for so few face-to-face classes.
“We have to make sure we are making smart financial decisions and doing what makes the most sense,” she said.
Murphy said Pima considered holding only online classes when the fate of winter courses was being determined.
However, the college ultimately decided to eliminate the winter intersession altogether.
If there is sufficient demand in the future, Murphy said winter classes could be added back to the calendar.
“We just have to be smart about what we offer,” she said. “For example, maybe offer more art classes instead of developmental education courses.”
Murphy conceded that high turnover in Pima’s provost office may have led to the delay in formally announcing the end of winter classes.
PCC has had five provosts since the idea to drop winter classes was first discussed several years ago.
“The communication plan may not have been as good as it would have been if the provost hadn’t kept changing,” she said.
By CALEB FOSTER
After seeing enrollment drop for three years in a row, Pima Community College has created a department of enrollment management and funded an ad campaign to attract potential students.
“We are targeting the 50-plus group, high school and even elementary school,” said Heather Tilson, executive director of enrollment management.
Pima’s fall enrollment totals 25,253 district-wide, according to college officials.
That’s down 2,090 students from the 2013 fall semester enrollment of 27,343, about an 8 percent drop.
Downtown Campus saw the biggest decrease, with a 10 percent decline.
Northwest and East campuses both had a 9 percent drop.
West Campus experienced a 7 percent drop, Community Campus dropped 4 percent and Desert Vista Campus declined 2 percent.
PCC is not the only Arizona community college seeing a decline. Cochise College also experienced an 8 percent decrease, and Central Arizona College enrollment dropped 1 percent.
The University of Arizona, meanwhile, reported a 3 percent increase this year. Fall enrollment reached a record high of almost 42,000 students.
Tilson said many factors have contributed to Pima’s enrollment decline.
Enrollment is directly linked to unemployment, she said, and community colleges usually do better in a bad economy.
Conversely, universities record higher enrollment in a better economy.
Local unemployment currently stands at about 7 percent, compared to 10.6 percent in 2010. When more jobs are available, people go to work instead of enrolling in school.
Pima’s academic probation by the Higher Learning Commission provides another key reason, she said. The probation has generated negative publicity for the college.
In addition, the Tucson area has seen a 7 percent drop in the number of graduating high school seniors.
PCC found that enrollment is dropping at a higher rate for women. Between the 2012 and 2013 fall semesters, there was a 7 percent loss in enrollment among men and a 10 percent drop among women. Enrollment also decreased at a faster rate for non-Hispanics.
A taskforce of outside experts recommended steps for getting PCC back on track. In addition to creating a permanent office for enrollment management, the experts urged Pima to revitalize outreach to high school seniors.
The college hired a consulting group, Collaborative Brain Trust, to give initial advice and help get the enrollment management program started. The contract calls for payment of $108,680, with an additional $12,500 in travel expenses.
Guidelines stipulate that the ad campaign may not exceed $200,000.
The enrollment management department, which is still in development, has spent $588,000 to date, Tilson said. Roughly $329,000 went to pay salaries of current employees.
Donna Martinez has been named the program manager in charge of high school outreach. The department plans to hire three more outreach specialists, in addition to the two already on the payroll.
Each Pima campus is in charge of specific high schools in its surrounding area. One goal is to have outreach specialists at each campus who work directly with the high schools in their area.
PCC plans to focus more on reaching out to elementary and middle schools as well, to inform children of their options when they get to college.
Tilson is positive that Pima will see a spike in enrollment if changes are made and if the college’s probation is lifted.
“We are definitely expecting a rise in enrollment,” she said.
By NICK MEYERS
The Pima Community College Department of Public Safety released the Annual Clery Report for 2013 on Oct. 1, and Downtown Campus again has the highest crime rates despite an increased police focus.
The report, which contains information on available services, various procedures and data on crimes and arrests made on PCC campuses over the past three years, is required by the federal government for all public education institutions that receive government funding.
Downtown Campus maintains the highest volume of illegal activities, which may not be surprising given that it’s the closest Pima campus to Tucson’s central city. West Campus comes in second in pure volume of crimes.
Both campuses, however, have experienced a decrease in the level of crimes and arrests since their three-year spike in 2012.
PCC chief of police Manny Amado attributes the decrease to changes in DPS policies to implement “more of a community and student based philosophy of policing.”
Officers have increased foot and bike patrols to better integrate with the community as a whole.
The most common crimes committed on any Pima campus are illegal drug and liquor arrests on and around Downtown Campus.
In 2013, there were 18 illegal drug arrests and 11 liquor law arrests on campus while there were 13 illegal drug arrests and 17 liquor law arrests on public property within Pima police jurisdiction.
These numbers are almost universally lower than last year, except for the amount of illegal drug arrests, which has risen from 13 in 2012. Liquor law arrests on campus have fallen from 25 in 2012 and arrests near the campus has fallen from 18 illegal drug arrests and 20 liquor law arrests.
Amado attributes part of the success to Pima students and employees in addition to an increase in the number of Community Service Officers to observe and report incidents.
There were only four arrests made at West Campus in 2013, a single liquor law arrest and three vehicle thefts. In areas surrounding the campus, there were two illegal drug arrests and three liquor law arrests.
These numbers have also fallen since 2012, when 11 arrests were made on West Campus including burglary, vehicle theft, illegal drug and liquor law arrests.
Other campuses experience a much lower volume of crime with the exception of Desert Vista Campus.
Eight arrests occured at Desert Vista last year. Two arrests each were for burglary, motor vehicle theft and administrative drug referrals and two single arrests for alcohol and weapons.
These numbers have jumped in the past year from three arrests in 2012 but did not reach 2011 levels when the campus saw 12 arrests for the common vehicle thefts, burglaries and robberies, illegal drugs and alcohol.
East Campus police made two arrests and Northwest Campus police arrested four individuals. These crimes were made for a variety of vehicle theft, illegal drugs and alcohol.
While these numbers do reflect the actions of officers across all campuses, they are not necessarily representative of crime taking place at Pima Community College.
Each month Pima releases an activity log containing the number of incident reports made at each campus.
Many of these incidents are for benign events such as found property, public assists or simply suspicious persons. However, the number of incidents which may correlate with the categories of arrests typically out-number the amount of arrests made.
This does not mean that incidents reported do not lead to the arrests detailed in the Clery Report as it is possible for multiple arrests to be made from a single incident, but it is unclear which arrest categories represent each category of incident.
In any case, Amado stresses the importance of maintaining awareness.
“While Pima Community College is a safe place to study and work, from day one that you set foot on campus, to the day you graduate, you should always be aware of your surroundings,” Amado said.
He said that we become complacent in the safety on campus, which leads to the environment being “ripe for criminals because they are soft targets.”
“Follow what your instincts tell you,” he said. “If you’re walking on campus and just have a strange feeling that something’s wrong, then something may be wrong.”
In addition to crime statistics, the report details standard procedure for everything from fires and hostage situations to microbursts and downed aircraft.
The report also provides extensive advice for handling, seeking support and reporting cases of sexual assault.
This includes laws and definitions specifically pertaining to sexual assault and various contacts for medical or legal assistance, as well as counseling hotlines and local shelters.
“The Pima College Police Department takes the safety and security of students staff, and visitors very seriously,” Amado said.
“It is paramount to our existence here and at the forefront of our operations at all times. As our motto states, we are truly ‘Dedicated to Service, and Committed to Excellence!’”
The full report can be found at pima.edu/dps by clicking the “Read recent reports” link on the left of the page.
Another option is to follow the link provided: https://www.pima.edu/administrative-services/college-police/docs/2013-Annual-clery-report.pdf.
By NICK MEYERS
In the fallout of the riots that took place in Ferguson, Mo., a spotlight has been turned on the government’s 1033 program in which military surplus equipment makes its way to local law enforcement agencies.
It may surprise you to learn that the Pima Community College police department is not excluded.
“In our culture and society the citizenry will question when hard tactics are used against them by authorities,” Pima’s chief of police Manny Amado said. “And that is perfectly acceptable, as that is what sets us apart from other governments.”
With that said, Amado added, “I think that a review of the program is in order and I believe that any review or inquiry into the program will clearly illustrate that the vast majority of this equipment has been properly transferred to, and deployed by, our nation’s law enforcement agencies.”
A few weeks ago the Cronkite News Service reported that three Arizona colleges have received surplus weaponry under the 1033 program, including Arizona State University, Arizona Western College and PCC.
Amado has served as lead instructor in law enforcement ethics for the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board.
“I have visited and taught at many law enforcement agencies in Arizona and have become well acquainted with their administrators and leadership,” he said. “I have a great deal of trust and confidence that the proper oversight is occurring at these agencies in regards to the use of the equipment acquired by the program.”
Amado said that the program has saved agencies and taxpayers a lot of money that would have had to be spent to otherwise acquire the equipment.
While the other two schools received modern M-16 assault rifles, Pima acquired seven Cold War-era M-14 rifles in 2010.
PCC did not apply for the rifles explicitly, but instead received them through Pima County Sheriff’s Department for use by the PCC Police Honor and Color Guards, Amado said.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Pima Community College’s governing body held its last meeting before the Nov. 4 election that will decide who will be joining the five-member board.
Brenda Even, who has served on the board since 2001, decided earlier this year not to seek reelection.
She is one of several board members who faced calls for resignation following findings of leadership failings and a negative culture at Pima during a visit by the college’s accreditor last year.
Michael Duran, an executive at Tucson Medical Center, and Mark Hanna, a former businessman and high school counselor, are seeking the District 1 seat currently held by Even.
Hanna was present at the Oct. 7 board meeting, getting a firsthand view of what he will be in store for should he be victorious at the polls.
An update on the Higher Learning Commission’s Sept. 15-17 visit to Pima, results from an employee election, budget concerns and a presentation on how the college measures student success were all on the agenda.
Chancellor Lee Lambert spoke about the HLC’s visit to Pima and what will happen next for the college.
“This is not just about compliance, this is about continuous improvement,” he said.
Lambert said the HLC recognized the tremendous effort put forth by college employees, and said that Pima’s greatest enemy to getting everything ready for the inspection was time.
“We did something very, very significant and we should not lose sight of that,” he added.
Staff election results
On Sept. 10, Pima’s board approved an election to determine which of two worker groups would represent non-exempt staff. After a monthlong campaign, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union won with 53 percent of the vote.
“This was not a happy, textbook, Kumbaya kind of election,” said Jason Brown, the Independent Election Committee chair. “This was hard fought. There was a lot of emotion involved. People have very specific opinions about who should be the representative group, and that showed.”
Brown said there were concerns about moderating the groups behaviors during the election and that guidelines were violated, including home visits and misuse of college resources.
“We had some people feel they were bullied or intimidated,” he said.
Brown finished by saying even though the votes were accurate, the committee could not say the election was clearly fair and equitable.
PCC board chair David Longoria stressed the need for the two sides to work together now that the election is over.
“You are representing a split constituency,” Longoria told members of AFSCME who were in the audience. “It is incumbent upon you to unite the non-exempt workers. You need to find a way to come together and work together.”
David Bea, Pima’s vice chancellor for finances, delivered some grim budget news during his monthly report.
“The state’s budget forecast is not looking very rosy,” he said.
Bea said state revenues are down more than $200 million from were they were expected to be, and an impending K-12 lawsuit worth more than $300 million has created serious problems.
“I think it would be overly optimistic to think we will get what we requested,” he said.
Nicola Richmond, assistant vice chancellor for planning and institutional research, gave a presentation about how Pima compares to statewide and national college benchmarks.
Pima students spend about five percent of their annual income to go to school. The average for all Arizona community college’s is 15 percent, and the average for the three state universities is more than 30 percent, the report said.
Pima students are also more likely to have successful outcomes than their peers at other community colleges statewide.
The complete report can be found at pima.edu/about-pima/reports/benchmarking-studies/index.html.
By ALEX FRUECHTENICHT
The Pima Community College Chemistry Club at East Campus has won a commendable review from the American Chemical Society, a high achievement for a first-year club.
An ACS committee selects student chapters to receive recognition on the basis of programs and activities. Awards are classified as outstanding, commendable and honorable mention.
Pedro Flores Gallardo, a chemistry lab specialist, serves as the club’s co-adviser. The club formed in Fall 2013 and became affiliated with the ACS.
“I think we are moving forward in a good direction,” Flores Gallardo said. “I would like to see the other campuses get more involved, but it has been difficult to cover all the PCC district.”
The student chapter awards reception will take place during the spring ACS national meeting in Denver.
The Chemistry Club is working to send students to the meeting to represent the group and formally accept the award.
Last March, Chemistry Club members attended the 247th ACS national meeting and exposition in Dallas. The club presented a poster during a “successful student chapters” symposium.
To learn more about the Chemistry Club, visit pccchemclub.com and the club’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/pccchemclub.
By S. J. BARAJAS
Once a high school dropout and now Pima Community College’s Community Campus president, Lorraine Morales is a real-world epitome of humble beginnings to meaningful success.
“I dropped out of high school my junior year, just because it wasn’t working,” she said. “I wasn’t getting much out of it.”
She earned her GED high school equivalency a year later.
“I had a variety of dead-end jobs and it was after those jobs that I made the decision to go to college,” she said.
Morales earned a bachelor’s degree in human services from Western New Mexico University and a master’s degrees in higher education from the University of Arizona. Northern Arizona University awarded her doctorate in education.
Though she has worked for a variety of universities including UA, she harkens back to community colleges.
“All the time I worked with the universities, I would find a way to connect with the community colleges,” she said. “I always felt like the mission of community colleges more closely aligns with my own philosophy.”
She has worked at PCC for more than a decade.
“We take students where they are and begin the process there, she said. “Universities, in my mind, choose who they are going to educate.”
Community Campus, one of six campuses in the PCC system, serves a primary goal of providing distance education. Lines are short and hallways are not as packed with the hustle and bustle of a student population.
Morales has made it a goal to illustrate to her colleagues how important Community Campus is in terms of bettering a student’s life.
Take high school equivalency, for example. The adult education program awarded 1,578 diplomas last year, leading Morales to joke, “We’re probably one of the biggest high schools in Pima County.” Adult education composes 11 percent of the student population, roughly 6,000 students.
The campus also offers English as a Second Language and refugee programs.
PCC contracts with the state for the refugee program. It aims to acclimate those from war-torn countries and teach them enough English to work at a job.
Community Campus also hosts the college’s largest concentration of work-force training, including truck driving, paramedic and public safety institutes.
Morales has served at four campuses during her tenure at Pima, most recently as vice president of instruction at East Campus. She was named Administrator of the Year for her work as vice president/dean of student development at Northwest Campus.
Her community affiliations include United Way’s Women Leading United, a network dedicated to improving grade-level reading in elementary schools by the third grade.
Morales’ educational journey personifies dedication and the transformative power of learning, Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a press release announcing her promotion to campus president.
“Dr. Morales’ career at Pima has been marked by a deep commitment to students,” he said. “That dedication, as well as a recognized ability to lead and collaborate in a variety of settings, will make her an important member of the college’s leadership team.”
By ANDREW PAXTON
Both candidates for Pima Community College’s available seat on the college’s governing board have vowed to support open admissions, adult education and adjunct instructors at the college.
Mark Hanna, a counselor at Catalina Magnet High School, and Michael Duran, an executive at Tucson Medical Center, both spoke at an Education Accountability Session on Sept. 28.
They are vying to replace Brenda Even, who decided earlier this year not to seek re-election. She has served on PCC’s five-member governing board since 2001. The District 1 seat currently held by Even is the only one up for grabs this November.
The candidates were asked their vision for improving PCC’s transition of students with the greatest educational needs, basic literacy, adult education and inclusion.
Duran said he would work to ensure those students have access to the services that are available to all other students at Pima and not treat adult education differently than traditional classes.
“When you treat people equally, you honor their dignity as individuals,” he said.
Hanna said the most important mission for Pima is to have open access.
“In order to do that, they must provide developmental education that is available, and will earn credit, and scholarship and financial aid opportunities for all students,” he said. “These students must be able to pass their required classes, graduate and go on to college or the workplace.”
The candidates were then asked if they supported in-state tuition for Differed Action Childhood Arrival students, whether they will work to seek more funding for the non-profit development organization JobPath, and if they would work to improve conditions for adjunct instructors.
Both candidates answered “yes” to all three questions.
Duran said it is fundamental under our system of democracy to give people an opportunity for education.
“The DACA students I’ve come into contact with are incredibly bright and incredible contributors to our society and our community,” Duran said. “It’s imperative that the college continues to be open, accessible and affordable to all students.”
Hanna said there are more than 200 DACA students at Pima, and his work as a high school counselor has shown him the quality of these individuals.
“It is in the best interest of our community to educate these students,” he said. “Immigration reform will happen, and when it does, these students need to have the education and the skills to become a part of our society and our economy.”
On JobPath, Duran said “I will work very diligently to find other funding sources, both inside and outside the community, and to get other workforce partners so that JobPath and its participants have a clear path to success in our community.”
Hanna said JobPath is full of highly-motivated people that want to contribute to their community.
“It just makes sense,” he said. “Continuing JobPath, and maybe even expanding the programs, I would certainly support.”
Duran said he believes PCC administrators are taking the issue of adjunct pay seriously and want to improve conditions.
“I think that instructors, whether they are teaching basic education classes or transfer programs should all be treated equally,” he said.
Hanna said Pima “is built on the adjunct faculty” and their pay is below the national average.
“We must support them, not only with wages and benefits, but opportunities for professional development,” he said.