Pima Community College today reached a milestone as it works to emerge from probation, sending its accreditor a 73-page plan outlining dozens of ways the College can improve its operations in two key areas.
The 26,000-word Monitoring Report also included a list of recent improvements the College has made, including restoring its open admissions policy.
The Monitoring Report submitted to the Higher Learning Commission contains PCC’s plan to conform with HLC practices relating to complaints and grievances, and to faculty oversight of curriculum. [The report is available to read on the PCC website at www.pima.edu/about-pima/probation/monitoring.]
Submitting the report by August 1 is one of the activities the HLC directed PCC to undertake when it placed the College in probation in April. [For more information, see the Pima Addresses Probation webpage.]
“The report is a major step forward in an ongoing process of self-examination and reassessment for the College,” Chancellor Lee D. Lambert says. “We are identifying what went wrong and how we can put it right, with the result being improved service to our students and the community.”
The Monitoring Report lists 30 recommendations for improvement, including:
- Reviewing how PCC teaches its remedial education classes to help students achieve their academic goals.
- Creating an office charged with tracking all complaints to ensure that all parties are treated ethically.
- Finding external investigators without a strong financial connection to the College.
The report also lists recent substantial improvements already made by the College, including:
- The Governing Board’s approval on June 25 of a resolution affirming the College’s commitment to open admissions.
- The creation of an email address for each member of the Board, so that the public can communicate quickly and directly with its elected officials.
- Online publication of the rules that define the operation and responsibilities of the Board, known as the Board Bylaws.
Public comment: “a unique collaboration”
On July 3, PCC posted a draft of the report online and invited the public to share insights through an accompanying online survey. A total of 132 comments were received, most coming via the survey and others as heavily annotated paper copies of the report, or multipage commentaries. [The first draft and final report are available on the website.]
“The breadth and thoroughness of the comments indicate that the people of Pima County recognize the crucial role the College plays in the community,” said Dr. Jerry Migler, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
All comments were reviewed using a common standard. Many suggestions were included in the final draft of the report, Dr. Migler says. “Our constituents put in considerable time and effort to collaborate with us, and their assistance has resulted in an improved report.”
Accountability: “committed to regaining trust”
PCC has created a process to ensure that the Monitoring Report’s recommendations become reality.
A team of staff, faculty and administrators has been formed to make the changes in PCC policy and procedures specifically regarding complaints and grievances. Another committee has been charged with ensuring that the College follows up on all recommendations made in the Monitoring Report.
“The College has put the necessary structures in place for implementation and oversight of the recommendations,” Dr. Migler said. “We are committed to regaining the complete trust of the HLC and public.”
Dr. Migler stressed that as the College works to emerge from probation, it remains fully accredited by the HLC.
“Our ability to offer financial aid will not be affected, nor will course transfer,” Dr. Migler said. “The University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University have assured us that transfer will continue as it always has for PCC students.” [Read these assurances on the Accreditation page.]
“The quality of our instruction and programs is undiminished. The HLC has not identified any concerns with PCC academics or student services. We remain a great place to get a quality education at a reasonable price,” Dr. Migler said.
The Monitoring Report addresses two of several areas in which the HLC found PCC to be deficient when it put the College on probation. The report is the culmination of four months of self-examination that will broaden and intensify over the next 12-15 months into a top-to-bottom review of PCC operations known as an Institutional Self Study. PCC must submit a Self-Study Report by July 2014 that provides evidence PCC has resolved the concerns of the HLC and meets the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.
An HLC evaluation team will visit PCC in fall 2014, and in February 2015, the HLC Board will meet to determine whether the College can be removed from probation.