platform and issues
It doesn’t matter where you started out in life. Knowledge is the way out.
Pima Community College fills a crucial need in our community. There is a dire need for affordable and accessible education to our entire community regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, and, most importantly, socio-economic status. There is a severe yet nuanced difference between equality and equity. By providing an affordable venue towards a technical certification or Associate’s Degree, PCC has opened the doors to a lifetime of possibility to many who might not have had a door to open. Pima also has robust and diverse Adult and Continuing Education offerings that bring both joy and a second chance to an entirely different demographic. However, in the midst of the global pandemic, we are facing a Post COVID world where jobs and the economy are threatened. Pima Community College no longer receives State funding, and our enrollment is dwindling. I will team with, and if necessary, fight to get the State Legislature to return funding. And I will strive to work with the Governing Board and Chancellor’s office to find creative and new ways to find balance through community partnerships. The road to recovery will be long, and Pima Community College will be one of the key lynch pins in assuring a continued pipeline of trained, equipped, and educated workforce.
PCC offers a diverse staff and faculty, bringing their varied expertise to their students. Community College professors—both permanent and adjunct—come from an extraordinary cadre of rich and diverse backgrounds. Most all of our adjuncts have hands-on world experience as practitioners and subject matter experts. To be sure, there is much to be said about Academia and those who have spent their lives in research and publishing. We need those talents combined with the quality of instruction from those who come to teach and serve after a lifetime of experience. We must continue to attract and retain both our academics and practitioners. It is what truly adds to the soul of Pima Community College. It takes a broad and diverse team to run the day to day operations of five campuses spread across the greater Pima County region. Without them, the college would not function. Retaining staff with corporate knowledge and devotion to our students is vital to the future of PCC. Faculty and staff pay and benefits are paltry compared to the universities. But I have found that many stay out of a belief that what we do is of immense importance to our most at-risk population. I vow to do all I can to protect and support our workers-both exempt and non-exempt, our staff, and our faculty.
There are two themes that PCC has adopted for this Fall: “Reskilling” and “Re-Imagining.” The hard work to implement those concepts will require proactive leadership. The single most significant source of low academic achievement is poverty. We must break this cycle. Leaders in government, business, and civic life must understand the interrelationships between education, economic development, and poverty, as well as the price we all pay when our citizens fall behind or are left behind. Quality education must continue to be affordable and accessible. The needs of the local businesses broadly define the community college curriculum. Today, and in the future, we must be ready and agile as the post-COVID world evolves. PCC must ensure our students can gain relevant training and education with less than a four-year degree. Whether they are veterans returning from their enlistments, older workers needing to be “reskilled” or high school students planning their futures, investment in affordable education is a win-win all around. The line between PCC and our local economy is a clear and direct one. I will work towards teaming and communicating with our local and state leaders, the business community, and our high schools to ensure all parties are clear about precisely what we can offer. We must partner with all stakeholders to articulate and execute a long-term strategic plan for our community. The continuum from K-12 to Community College and finally our workforce must be nurtured and bolstered. The high school JTED programs and industry apprenticeship programs have proven successful. I will ensure this concept continues to grow and improve.
Our world is evolving at rocket speed. This year especially has shown us the importance of flexibility and a willingness to change and grow with the times. The curriculum, pedagogy, and modes of delivery of our courses are changing every day. In order to keep up with the needs of the workforce and community, we must listen and learn from our students, faculty, graduates, businesses, labor unions and community. The PCC Governing Board, hand in hand with college leadership, should be working together to form a solid plan as we move forward in addressing the needs of our county. We must be creative and agile as we forge ahead with virtual classroom and eventual hybrid teaching methods. At the center of this challenge is a reliable and expert Information Technology staff. At PCC, high quality IT staff are hard to find and retain. Their skills are invaluable. To start, I will propose a scholarship program to grow our team of quality IT personnel who can meet the challenges of the post-COVID world. I will also introduce a more robust plan for professional development across the board, to include both faculty and staff. To be sure, the quality of PCC is excellent in many of its departments. The Chancellor’s “Train the Whole College” concept is a brilliant and creative way to allow students to learn, hands on, for example to build and repair HVAC units–by working on our own buildings! As a leader, I will work towards always ensuring that innovation and forward thinking is encouraged by ensuring our staff and faculty have all the tools they need to succeed. Two-way communication and teamwork is paramount.