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Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal

Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal

By EDDIE CELAYA

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.

 

ISSUES IN HUMAN RESOURCES

Frank Velazquez 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 Velazquez’s current position is tied to a federal grant, “going around regulations” would mean Velazquez misappropriated federal funds. “He has questioned my integrity, and therefore I cannot stay silent,” Velazquez 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 Velazquez’s statement, board members Sylvia Lee and Demion Clinco asked Chancellor Lee Lambert to look into Velazquez’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.

 

C-FAIRR RETURNS

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.

 

SUMMER SCHEDULE FIGHT

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.”

 

LAMBERT ANSWERS

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.”

 

TUITION DECISION DELAYED

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.

 

Potential tuition hike on governing board agenda

Potential tuition hike on governing board agenda

By EDDIE CELAYA

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.

TUITION DISCUSSION

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.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

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.

College in stretch run with accreditor

College in stretch run with accreditor

By EDDIE CELAYA

Former Chancellor Roy Flores packs his office early on March 1, 2012. Flores was expected to retire, but instead renegotiated his contract to receive a 3-5 month paid medical leave. (Shannon McBride-Olson/PCC 2012)

After nearly five years of sanctions, Pima Community College is waiting on its accrediting body to decide its fate. That ruling is expected when the Higher Learning Commission’s board of trustees meets Feb. 23-24.

The saga began in the summer of 2012 with numerous complaints, including allegations of sexual misconduct against then-Chancellor Roy Flores.

A team of HLC peer reviewers visited Pima in January 2013. That visit led the HLC to issue a scathing report and place the college on probation. Flores later resigned, citing ill health.

Since that time, PCC has struggled to shed the burden of sanctions. In 2015, the college escaped probation but was placed “on notice.”

Last September, another HLC peer review team visited the college. Pima officials hoped the team would recommend removing sanctions.

PCC Board of Governors Chair Mark Hanna thought the college presented its best case during the visit.

“The visit was a really positive visit,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I thought there was a moral uplift.”

AWAITING DRAFT REPORT

The wait for the team’s draft report prompted worries, with Hanna describing it as akin to “old movies where the pages keep coming off the calendar and waiting, and waiting.”

Vice Chancellor of Accreditation Bruce Moses, however, suspected the draft report simply ran behind schedule. He noted that peer review members are busy with high-level jobs at their own colleges.

“They set a timeline, but it’s just like with anything else,” he said. “These are not retired folks sitting around doing nothing, these are career folks.”

Pima officials received the peer review team’s draft report on Dec. 12. It did not yield a full elimination of sanctions.

“I would be less than honest with you if I didn’t tell you the hope was, ‘Hey, you’re off sanctions, you’re done with it,’” Hanna said. “As it turns out, there were some sticking points.”

Of the 11 areas targeted by the HLC, five were considered “fully addressed,” five were deemed “improving” and one was deemed “deficient.”

Newly hired Chancellor Lee Lambert address college employees on Aug. 23, 2013. (Nellie Silva/Aztec Press 2013)

OFFICE OF ASSESSMENT

The deficiency was in “student outcome assessment,” an area that has been a persistent knock against the college.

Student outcome assessment is more than just tests, according to Chancellor Lee Lambert. It’s making sure basic skills are imparted, and making sure instructors are tracking those skills in an effective manner.

The college is “trying to assess learning relative to that discipline or subject area the student is working on,” Lambert said. “We need to do that in a systematic way, and then the systematic way isn’t just administering the assessment, it is assessing the assessment process itself.”

District 3 board representative and former PCC instructor Sylvia Lee recalled the college’s past struggles.

“Pima was ‘written up,’ that assessment was a ‘weakness’ back in the ‘90s,” she said. “And then back in the 2000s, Pima was put on warning again.”

The HLC’s focus on assessment in the recent draft report was, in fact, actually Pima’s idea.

“Back in 2013, we said to the HLC, ‘We are going to staff an office of assessment,’” Moses said. “So when reviewers showed up in 2016 and we didn’t have a staff, now they are holding our feet to the fire.”

Efforts to establish an office of assessment never got off the ground, Moses said. He blamed a myriad of factors, from the job description to the pay rate. The specter of sanctions didn’t help.

“How attractive is that job, still on probation and it’s one of the main reasons you’re still on probation?” Moses asked. “You think about the applicants, they are thinking ‘man I’m on the firing squad right off.’”

ADDRESSING PROBLEMS

So with what part of assessment, exactly, did the peer review team find fault? Was it the systems and software put in place to track student outcomes? Was it a lack of an established human resources infrastructure? That depends on whom you ask.

Moses, who helped implement many of the assessment systems, points to the HLC’s recent findings. “The reviewers’ feedback didn’t say ‘your processes are crappy, your system is not working,’” he said.

Instead, Moses said, the criticism focused on human resources.

“One of the things we had a problem with as an institution is, we had never put the infrastructure in to actually manage and facilitate the student learning outcomes assessment process.”

New governing board member Luis Gonzales takes a different view. He points out that while only the student outcome assessment was found to be deficient, problems remain with the five areas deemed “improving” in the report.

“That one particular item is an item of focus that falls into line with the rest of the lines of focus,” Gonzales said. “Of the 11 areas of focus, six are inadequate. If you got a test with 11 questions and you fail six, it’s not a passing grade.”

The draft report also called on the college to make new hires at the administrative level.

“The college should submit an interim report by Sept. 1, 2017, documenting that the director of assessment and the research analyst have been hired and are in place,” it reads.

The position of director of assessment has been filled since the peer review team’s visit in September. Former chemistry instructor Wendy Weeks officially took that role on Jan. 3.

Moses said the research analyst position has been filled, but the college has not yet made an official announcement.

The two hires will put PCC over the sanctions edge, he said. “That’s what the reviewers want to see. They want to say ‘OK, you made a commitment to putting people in a position to manage this process.’”

Gonzales isn’t so sure.

“The spin is that the entire focus goes to assessment only and that we have made so much progress, that it all focuses on whether or not we hire two individuals to run that program,” he said. “I simply do not agree with that concept in its entirety.”

Gonzales said he was not implying Weeks “is not competent.” Rather, he is “concerned that it should be an individual who has experience and has a good foundation to make it work.”

GOALS AND ACTIVITIES

According to the draft report, the new hires should “include a description of the goals these individuals have set, and the activities they have implemented since they have assumed their position.”

That won’t be a problem, Moses said. “We’ve had goals, even before we had a position. The office of assessment had the goals, it’s built in.”

Lambert echoed those sentiments. “We already have goals identified for them, now it’s just monitoring fulfillment of these goals,” he said.

Goals and activities vary in range and scope.

The college’s strategic planning report lists broad goals for the office of assessment, including a call to “increase the rate at which students with a transfer goal successfully transfer to a four-year college/university.”

The tool used to measure progress is known as a Key Performance Indicator. In the case of the office of assessment, there are multiple KPIs.

For example, one KPI measures the effectiveness of the transfer rate from PCC to four-year colleges by tracking the distribution of former PCC students at in-state four-year institutions.

Another KPI tracks the number of students who indicate they intend to transfer and then successfully do so.

The HLC will be looking at evidence derived from data gathered in the last six months, according to Lambert.

“I think six months will show we are making pretty good progress along that continuum,” he said.

THE FINAL REPORT

The college received the HLC peer review team’s final report on Jan. 27. Pima had two weeks to review the report and send a reply either agreeing with or dissenting from the findings.

That reply will be the last correspondence between the college and its accreditor until Feb. 23, when the Commission’s board of trustees meets.

The final report could have three possible outcomes, according to HLC liaison Karen Solomon. One possibility is that the HLC will remove the college from notice.

“The board might determine that the college is no longer at risk of noncompliance with the criteria for accreditation and can be removed from notice,” she wrote in a letter accompanying the final report.

Moses sees some hope for that outcome.

“We are going to make an effort to do that,” he said. “There is no guarantee we’ll get it, but we’re going to make that plea.”

The HLC could also make a worst-case ruling. If the board of trustees determines that Pima is unable to demonstrate compliance in multiple areas, the board might determine that the college should be placed back on probation.

That scenario would require a major failure on the part of the college. “We would have to completely drop the ball on something that was already identified,” Moses said.

The most likely scenario, Moses said, is the HLC determining Pima still has work to do in the office of assessment and extending notice for another six months.

“I would accept something like a monitoring report, which is not a sanction,” he said. “It’s just ‘give us a report in six months and tell us how everything is going in this area.’”

STATE OF THE COLLEGE

The HLC’s next scheduled visit will come sometime during the Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semester. That visit, unlike the last two peer review team visits, will be a “standard” visit.

“That’s the four-year check in,” Lambert said. “That will speak to ‘we put this thing in, is it sustained?’”

Gonzales is cautiously optimistic about Pima’s trajectory.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I am confident that we are going to get there eventually.”

Moses knows it’s up to the college to change for the better.

“We are in a really good position right now,” he said. “All we got to do is not screw this up.”


Click for full-size graphic

Former chancellor wants apology

Former chancellor wants apology

By ANDREW PAXTON

Pima Community College is under fire from its former chancellor following the college’s response to sexual harassment allegations against him.

Pima received a letter from an attorney for the former chancellor, Roy Flores, on Aug. 20 that took issue with a video posted on Pima’s website by the current chancellor, Lee Lambert.

“Last week, members of the governing board and I received a letter from an attorney representing former Chancellor Roy Flores regarding the Aug. 15 release of a video statement in which I discussed past reports of sexual harassment and retaliation at PCC,” Lambert wrote in an email last month.

“The potential legal issues associated with the letter limit what can be said about it at this time” he said. “You should know, however, that this college under my leadership will not tolerate sexual harassment or abusive behavior by any employee.”

In the video, which was released as part of a settlement with one of the complainants, Lambert discussed the college’s past and what Pima is doing to move forward.

“A critical chapter of the college’s past occurred when eight women employed at the college had the courage to come forward and report sexual harassment and retaliation by the former chancellor,” he said in the statement.

“These women were willing to face him directly with an independent investigator. Rather than do so, he resigned more than a year before the end date of his contract,” Lambert said.

Flores and his attorney contend that the information released by Lambert and PCC have damaged his reputation

“The video and that article contain serious misstatements by Chancellor Lambert,” Benson Hufford, Flores’ attorney, wrote to PCC.

“Those misstatements have been made maliciously and with reckless disregard for the truth. Those statements have damaged and continue to damage former Chancellor Flores and his reputation.

“Among other things, Chancellor Lambert’s statements are inaccurate in the following respects. Although some complainants may have alleged ‘sexual harassment’ against Chancellor Flores, no actual evidence of any type of sexual harassment against Dr. Flores was ever established,” the letter said.

Flores maintains that the reason he stepped down was due to health concerns, and his retirement was not caused by the allegations against him.

“As has been reported publicly, Dr. Flores resigned for health related reasons. He recently had undergone heart bypass surgery and was experiencing serious complications from that surgery,” Hufford wrote.

“Realizing that he was physically unable to devote his full energies and attention to the business of the college, he resigned his position. That resignation was accepted by the Governing Board of the college.”

The letter also states that “no credible evidence” exists that any retaliation from the former chancellor took place.

The letter concludes by requesting a formal, public apology from Lambert and Pima’s governing board “acknowledging and regretting the incorrect statements and the damage that those statements have caused Dr. Flores and his reputation.”

If an apology is not issued, Flores “will be forced to take appropriate legal action against the college and responsible parties to seek redress for the damage caused to him.”

Hufford also sent a letter to the Arizona Daily Star requesting that every article pertaining to Flores mention that he stepped down for health reasons and that harassment allegations were never proven.

Chancellor Roy Flores meets with an Aztec Press editor in February 2012, the day before he was hospitalized for emergency heart surgery. Chelo Grubb/Aztec Press 2012

Chancellor Roy Flores meets with an Aztec Press editor in February 2012, the day before he was hospitalized for emergency heart surgery. Chelo Grubb/Aztec Press 2012

Chancellor asks students for input

Chancellor asks students for input

By ANDREW PAXTON

Since becoming chancellor of Pima Community College more than seven months ago, Lee Lambert has met with different constituencies.

To ensure that he understands student concerns, Lambert will hold open-office hours at PCC campuses and facilities. The first visit took place Feb. 5 at West Campus.

“I want us to be as student-centered as we can be,” he said.

Lambert toured West Campus and met with staff and faculty groups before spending more than an hour in the Student Life office discussing numerous topics.

Everything needed to get the college off probation is being done, he said. He also assured students their Pima credits will transfer to the three state universities.

Getting sanctions removed involves rebuilding trust and fixing the systems in place, Lambert acknowledged.

“It will take a while for people to start feeling comfortable again,” he said.
Lambert also spent time getting to know students on a personal level, asking about their backgrounds and career goals.

Students brought up issues including the lack of an African studies program, shortcomings with the college’s ROTC program and ongoing issues surrounding advising.

The chancellor used the advising situation to demonstrate larger problems at PCC.

“People are passionate but the system they are put in is bad,” he said. “The system isn’t designed to keep students informed and that has negative, unintended consequences.”

Lambert said the desire of people at the college has been misdirected and needs to be refocused.

“We need to have a serious conversation about what we can and can’t do in the community,” he said.

Enrollment was another topic of concern. Lambert said changes are being made so the college can better understand why fewer students are attending.

Lambert then turned the tables on the students, asking what they want him to accomplish.

Students mentioned an activity fee for student and club activities, as well as sustainability projects such as installing solar panels at PCC facilities.

They also requested specialized advising for difficult degree programs, a proposal Lambert said he supports.

Pima needs more applied components such as internships and hands-on training, he added.

Lambert said he would pass the student suggestions to the appropriate people but encouraged students to take their concerns directly to their campus president or vice president of student development.

“I don’t like the bureaucracy or hierarchy here,” he said. “Create the structure you want.”

Visitors took advantage of the laid-back atmosphere while chatting with Lambert. Several students and employees came by just to thank the chancellor for visiting or to welcome him on campus.

Those who visited with the chancellor said they appreciated that he took time from his schedule to meet with them.

In turn, the chancellor was excited to get a chance to meet with students in the relaxed setting away from the office.

“It was great for the chancellor to come see us on campus and listen to our concerns face-to-face,” said student government member Marquita “Kyra” Wallace. “It shows how much he cares about students.”

After the student meeting, Lambert joined several employees for lunch in the cafeteria.

He said that gives him a chance to meet with people in a less structured environment.

Lambert will continue to reach out to students and employees. He hopes to hold open-office hours at each campus at least once during the semester.

“There’s stuff going on out there that we need to be paying attention to,” he said.

Pg05-Chancellor visit

Pima Chancellor Lee Lambert, left, chats with Marquita “Kyra” Wallace and Joe McGrath. (Andrew Paxton/Aztec Press)

 

Feb. 4 talk will examine college classroom success

Feb. 4 talk will examine college classroom success

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.

Talks include:

  • 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.

Pg03-Lee Lambert
Chancellor Lee Lambert

Pg03-Gene Trester
Instructor Gene Trester

Chancellor outlines priorities

Chancellor outlines priorities

By SEBASTIAN BARAJAS

Pima Community College governing board members discussed the future of PCC under Chancellor Lee Lambert during the semester’s first board meeting.

The meeting took place Sept. 18 regarding plans for the rest of the year and to recognize PCC’s success in adult education programs.

Lambert addressed many topics during the meeting, including a 33-point plan to get Pima “back to basics” and off probation.

PCC has been on probation with the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, its accrediting agency, since April 6.

Pima was placed on probation after the HLC received complaints from the community and sent a fact-finding team to investigate the allegations.

The team discovered a “culture of fear” within PCC.

It found the college out of compliance with several criteria and recommended sanctions.

July, the college submitted a monitoring report to the HLC that spelled out Pima’s plan for getting back in compliance and having sanctions removed.

Lambert has collected and analyzed evidence, and the college has assembled 14 committees to address the HLC’s concerns.

“Together for change,” Lambert told the governing board audience.

The chancellor informed that he would work with the board to create a shared governance model that increases responsibility and engagement with the faculty.

Lambert intends his plan to restore professionalism and confidence in governance and leadership of PCC.

“Ultimately, all the power in this institution resides with you,” he told the board members. “We don’t get to make decisions that you don’t delegate.”

Lambert also said all PCC faculty will be required to attend a course on sexual harassment. Multiple female employees filed accusations against the former chancellor, Roy Flores.

“I will not tolerate sexual harassment,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the college should build on the success of its nationally renowned adult education programs and the Center for Training and Development. The CTD has an 85 percent effectiveness rate in job placement, according to a press release from PCC.

He also desires more student engagement with the board in order to create a stronger, more informed community.

“At the end of the day, we only exist because our community supports our existence,” he said.

During his administration, Lambert hopes to create outreach by incorporating social media to better connect students to their campuses.

“We need to continue to bring ourselves into the 21st century,” he said.

The governing board’s next regular meeting will take place on Oct. 9.

Meetings are held in the C-105 Community Room in the District Office complex 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.