Fifty years expose need for campus facelift

Photo and story

by KEVIN HARTUNG

If the Pima Community College West Campus lacks a certain prestige, a close look provides the answer. Walls in need of paint, carpets needing replacement, bathrooms needing repairs, and outdated elevators demand attention. 

Revitalization of student and faculty enthusiasm compensates for the remodel. If you want to celebrate PCC’s 50 years, maybe start by giving the West Campus buildings a fresh look.  

PCC is doing a great job enriching its academic infrastructure. The Aztec College program, designed for high school students to earn concurrent college credits, has been quite successful. 

Raylee May, Vail Early College Coordinator for the program, affirmed in a Dec. 16, 2019, article for AZEDNEWS that “Of the last cohort (of students), 90 percent continued on to college, most at a 4-year university.

“They carried an average of 26 transferable college credits, in addition to their high school diploma. The average GPA was 3.27.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Building is set to open this fall at the Downtown Campus. It’s a joint effort between business enterprises and our community to attract students who want to join the workforce by adding today’s marketable skills to their profiles. 

Center of Excellence design plans indicate incorporation of new technologies from both the automotive and aviation industries. Remodels of the science and healthcare programs at the West Campus are also in the works. These innovations are putting PCC out front in the 21st Century and easing efforts to inflate dwindling enrollment.

Yet, does a timeworn campus contribute to the par excellence PCC is aiming for? Today’s young adults care about the branding and imagery of entities with which they associate. This is lacking in the persona PCC presents to current or prospective students and faculty. 

Community colleges struggle for status alongside attractive universities that offer the picture-perfect campus life students want. Lower tuition (while technically on the rise) cannot be the only thing that a community college has to offer. 

Elizabeth Trask, a nursing program student, responded, “I think they need to paint the walls. The cement is kind of depressing all over. It’s not very inviting and it would be a better learning atmosphere if there were some color.

Trask continued, “Glass elevators (would be nice) so that you can see the grounds as you ride in them because there is beautiful scenery around the campus.”

Agustina Marmion, a student employed at the West Campus library,  offered suggestions, “I would allow the art students to paint like the art building more outside to make it more colorful, so this campus has more of the art themes because it’s like gray and dull. I really would say it’s important to update it especially if you want to attract new students to have them want to go here. I think elevators are really important. I think it’s ridiculous that one of them doesn’t work. And in fact, it did work before the semester started, but now it broke down once.” 

Marmion continued, “I noticed that the bathrooms are usually open more, but I think they need more attention when it comes to cleanliness. Depending on what floor you are on, they smell. It would greatly improve my enjoyment. It would make everything more comfortable. And it would make you feel safer. Oh yeah, it would entice a lot of people to come here.”

Deflectors advance the theory that PCC has lost some state funding, and it has. A faculty Q&A memo sent out on July 6, 2018, addressed this.

 “The decision to reduce the College’s workforce was a convergence of two factors. The first was the budget pressure placed on PCC by our reduced enrollment and Arizona’s expenditure limitation law. The second is that the College is overstaffed for one of our size.” 

The rewards for students, faculty, and visitors make improvements advantageous to the college. The opposition of financial administrators lacks the push of frustrated students and faculty who disapprove of the impoverished atmosphere of the West Campus.”

Instructor Eliud Chuffe summarized, “They keep up with the campus pretty well.  I think sometimes the carpets for the classrooms are dirty. And I think sometimes they lack signs for handicaps.  

“Aesthetically, improvements would benefit the college. It would make it more appealing, a healthier environment, a cleaner environment.  It would give a better image of Pima in general.”

The need for renovation is plain. Money spent on academic development is essential to PCC’s survival and shows Chancellor Lambert’s perceptiveness. Still, to brighten the student and faculty outlooks and offer a warmer welcome to PCC’s West Campus, the way forward is a facelift for our campus buildings.

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