PCC names new Interim Chancellor - Tucson News Now

PCC names new interim chancellor

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima Community College has named Zelema Harris, Ed.D. from St. Louis, as interim chancellor.

She was formerly the chancellor of St. Louis Community College from 2007 to 2011.

With more than 30 years of experience, Dr. Harris also served as the president of Parkland College in Champaign, IIIinois and president of Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. Experience from the outside will have many people hopeful for a new direction.

"Improving the performance of an organization by listening to those who bring a different perspective. And that's what I seek," Dr. Zelema Harris said in an interview in a video on YouTube.

Dr. Harris was not at the Pima Community College governing board meeting Tuesday. She lives in Illinois. But the former chancellor of Saint Louis Community College from 2007 to 2011 will be here soon. The PCC governing board unanimously approved her contract as the next interim chancellor.

"She certainly has the background necessary to lead Pima forward and to get us through this period of time we're dealing with the HLC(Higher Learning Commission). She has been very active and very involved with them as well," said Pima Community College governing board chair Dr. Brenda Even.

Current interim chancellor Dr. Suzanne Miles is stepping down after the HLC told Pima that problems with governance could put the school on probation and place its accreditation at risk. Accreditation determines if the school's credits and degrees have any value. That situation has many faculty concerned about leadership at Pima.

"I looked online and she looks highly qualified and I'm just really excited that we're going to be moving forward," said Kimlisa Salazar, the faculty senate representative to the governing board.

The faculty senate gave four members of the board a vote of no confidence last week in response to the problems listed in the HLC report.

"I'm committed to doing everything I can to get people into the door, but not only that to ensure that they have the opportunity to be successful," Dr. Harris said in another YouTube video.

Dr. Harris's monthly salary was not available until she signs the contract that the board approved. She will start April 15th and could be here until the end of June or longer, which will depend on the search for a new, permanent chancellor.

A few of her honorable mentions include being named a YWCA of St. Louis Leader of Distinction in 2008, and was selected as one of the St. Louis Business Journal's Most Influential Women in Business, Most Influential St. Louisans and Most Influential Minorities in Business.

She earned her Master of Science and Doctorate of Education degrees from the University of
Kansas, with a Bachelor of Science degree from Prairie View Texan A&M University.

She is a resident of Decatur, Ill. and has three children.

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