The Top 50 Greatest Things about Pima

Photo and story

by JOE GIDDENS

We conclude our the best-of-Pima list in honor of Pima’s 50th anniversary in no particular order.

41. Culinary careers

Pima’s culinary program at the Desert Vista campus offers a variety of options for Tucson’s aspiring master chefs to receive their education. The college offers a Culinary Arts associate degree that goes beyond providing hand-on cooking by giving students a foundation in financial budget and management.  

“My attendance at Pima Community College allowed me to interact with some of the best chefs and instructors in the Southwest,” culinary alumni Jonathan Revies said. “I feel that I received a well-rounded education in the various aspects of food and its production. Pima takes great pride in offering the finest aspects of culinary education in a comfortable setting that keeps students yearning for more knowledge.”

This semester also saw the return of the Aztec Grill where students prepare food to sell in the cafeteria. The Aztec Grill is open 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays.

42. Nicolas Cage! 

Tucson High School was the filming location for the 1987 Patrick Dempsey teen romantic comedy “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The 1984 movie “Revenge of the Nerds” was filmed at the University of Arizona.

It’s the editor-in-chief’s opinion that it’s time for Tucson to properly celebrate, in its annals of movie making, the superior acting of Nicolas Cage in the superior 1990 motion picture “Fire Birds,” co-starring Tommy Lee Jones.

“Fire Birds” is about hotshot up-and-coming Apache helicopter pilot Jake Preston (Cage) and his mission to aid the CIA in drug intervention in South America. 

The exterior scenes of the fictional Fort Mitchell was filmed at the West Campus. If you get excited at Sylvester Stallone running up the stairs during his training montage in “Rocky,” a totally different movie, perhaps you’ll get a jolt next time you’re running up the steps on the North side of campus following in the steps of Cage’s tennis shoes. 

43. A Veterans Center at every campus

Pima has been named by Arizona as a veteran supportive campus for the last few years based on over a dozen criteria.

“We just started Veterans Upward Bound,” said Campus Vice President Ted Roush. “We’re just starting our third year on that … So in other words, just kind of building the veterans infrastructure to make this a better place for them to get an education.”

44. First live fire cyber warfare range in the country

The East Campus opened the doors of its new cyber warfare range in January. In addition, it now offers a new associate degree of Applied Science in Cybersecurity. 

The facility is run by Arizona Cyber Warfare Range, a non-profit that deals with information security. It’s staffed with volunteers and offers the opportunity to learn about security in live and controlled environments. 

One of its hands-on opportunities is playing a cyber version of Capture the Flag, where visitors put their new skills to the test. 

For more information, visit: www.azcwr.org

45. The sweet sound of music in the desert air

Pima Center for the Arts at the West Campus offers an eclectic mix of live music to experience every semester.

Here’s what’s coming up next on the playbill. 

Dec. 3: Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo – 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5: Wind Ensemble and Orchestra – 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8: Chorale/College Singers and Music Theatre/Opera Scenes – 3 p.m.

46. Artistic Legacy

Hazel Larsen Archer’s family accepts an award from the Pima Community College Board of Governors on Nov. 13 at the District Office off Broadway Boulevard.

Hazel Larsen Archer was one of the major figures of 20th century photography. She came to Tucson in the late ’60s to join the then-fledgling Pima College and helped build the fine arts program.

“In the early ’70s, the state of Arizona created a loyalty oath that all state employees, including Community College employees had to take, and in an act of political defiance, she refused,” board chairman Demion Clinco said at the Nov. 13 meeting.

The college didn’t renew its contract because of Archer’s defiance and her legacy was honored by the Pima College Board of Governors on Nov.  13 with a plaque was presented to her family. 

“It was recognition of a major figure in American history who really is reemerging as sort of an important pillar of American Photography who was integral in helping craft this institution’s art program,” Clinco said.

47. Free stuff 

Your Pima College student ID offers a whole new set of perks. Are you a broke college student? Do you want a cheap date? 

The Act One Culture Pass is now available at the West Campus Library. You can check out a free pass once a week/twice a month to a variety of local attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Jewish History Museum and more. Or you can also use Act One to check out local theater productions such as Arizona Theatre Company’s production of “Cabaret,” which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 5.    

For more information, check out www.act1az.org/culture-pass-tucson/

48. Dat Architecture 

The West Campus is a superior example of the “Brutalism” style of architecture, so yes, it can be brutal. 

49. Soup and Coffee

For those who love liquids, Pima’s West Campus cafeteria will keep a punch card for you and will note every time you order a coffee or cup of soup. 

After eight punches, you get a free soup; after 10, a free coffee. A small soup regularly costs $2.19; the large is $2.79, and a large coffee is $2.55 ($1 for refills using the same cup).

The soup selection changes daily, features four tasty varieties, and comes with tortilla strips or crackers.

50. Centers of Excellence

A danger when any organization hits a major anniversary is to use the occasion more to rest and reflect on the previous years and successes rather than use the occasion to justify their continued existence. 

The college faces a number of budgetary and structural challenges, however. 

Under Chancellor Lee Lambert’s leadership, it does have a vision of what it wants to be with its aggressive capital expansion plans with its Centers of Excellence.

The new automotive building at the Downtown Campus broke ground on Nov. 14 and will be ready for students for the Spring 2021 semester. 

“And then the advanced manufacturing will break around this September and then it will be ready for the Spring 2022 semester,” said Dean of Applied Technology Greg Wilson.

Additional construction will be taking place at the West Campus on top of the Aviation Center expansion near the airport.

It’s an exciting time to be an Aztec.

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