Days after the Higher Learning Commission issued a report slamming a college's administration and threatening the school's accreditation, the Pima Community College Governing Board is getting an earful from faculty tonight.
Governing board members are listening to past and present faculty tear them apart for allowing their college's leadership problems to get out of hand.
Not only was it a packed room, but there were two additional rooms overflowing with people as well.
The board chair started off tonight's board meeting by saying members will try to avoid probation at the end of the month by working with the Higher Learning Commission.
Then faculty took turns speaking.
"Those of you who served under Flores may consider resigning," Cecilia Cruz Baldenegro said.
Many of them want the board to select a new chancellor from outside the college because speakers said they can no longer trust anyone associated with former Chancellor Ray Flores.
"The faculty is at the point where it no longer has confidence in the board members who were here when Dr. Flores was here," said Joe Labuda.
Speakers also touched on that part of the report that cites a culture of fear in the administrative ranks.
"One of your primary challenges is that you have very few internal people that you can rely on who have not been named as culpable or complicit," Scott Collins said.
PCC also reached out to students in a letter issued by the Pima Community College Provost Dr. Jerry Migler. In it, Migler assures students that their studies will not change if the college is placed on probation by the end of the month.
"To all PCC students:
Last week, the Higher Learning Commission notified Pima Community College that it is considering a change in PCC's status. As a student, you should know what this means, and what's next for PCC.
The first and most important point is that the PCC you returned to after Spring Break hasn't changed. We remain fully accredited by the HLC. The quality of our instruction, programs and services is undiminished. PCC still is a great place to get a quality education at a reasonable price.
I want to emphasize that the HLC has not identified any concerns with our academic programs or student services. However, due to concerns related primarily to administrative and governance issues, HLC President Sylvia Manning is recommending to the HLC Board that it should place PCC on probation. The Board will meet next month to decide PCC's status.
Ms. Manning's recommendation is based on a report by a fact-finding team sent to PCC in January by the HLC. The team was here to learn more about PCC governance and administration. (You can read the report and other materials on the Accreditation page of our website.)
What does probation mean for PCC students, should the HLC Board impose it? Probation would not affect PCC's ability to offer financial aid to our students. Our academic offerings will remain unchanged. Also, about 20 individual PCC programs are accredited or certified by specialized agencies recognized by the Arizona Department of Education and/or the U.S. Department of Education. Their status also remains unchanged.
According to the HLC, probation indicates an institution is not in compliance with one or more of the commission's Criteria for Accreditation, and must demonstrate within two years it has remedied the issues that led to the sanction. (For more information, consult the HLC's Special Conditions for Affiliation webpage.)
We are cooperating fully with the HLC, and while our obvious goal is to avoid probation, we will work diligently to quickly improve our operations should it be imposed. The HLC accredited PCC in 2010 for 10 years, and we are confident that we will be able to demonstrate that our accreditation is well deserved.
Lastly, please know that you, our students, are PCC's top priority. We will take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the education you receive at PCC is the best it can be. That is my promise to you.
Feel free to direct any questions you may have regarding accreditation to my office at Accred-Questions@pima.edu.
Jerry Migler, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Pima Community College"
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