According to an e-mail sent to all Pima Community College employees and faculty at 4:30 p.m. today, Chancellor Roy Flores announced his retirement at the end of the year.
Last year certainly wasn't the easiest for Flores, who faced strong criticism for ending PCC's open-enrollment tradition. As a result, the college lost the opportunity in October 2011 to host a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit when community members put pressure on the White House to change locations. (The Summit has been rescheduled the end of this month on Monday, Jan. 30, at Sunnyside High School. To register go to go.usa.gov/nj1).
In October 2011, Flores underwent triple-bypass surgery.
Along with the e-mail sent to PCC staff today, Flores included an attachment that detailed the college's accomplishments since he took charge of the college almost nine year ago.
Read Flores' letter and accomplishments after the jump.
I hope your holidays were joyful and fulfilling in every way. For me, the holiday break was a time for reflection. I must confess that I have done a considerable amount of contemplation since October 21, the day I came home from the hospital. I have a few personal thoughts that I would like to share with you.
The first is that I have enjoyed every job I have ever had. This sense of satisfaction stretches back to my days as a shoeshine boy in East Chicago at age 9 and continued through stints as a newspaper delivery boy, a bowling alley pin setter, a furnace repairman in the Air Force, a pipefitter in a steel mill and, for the last four decades, an educator. No matter the job, I have always derived a great sense of personal satisfaction from giving my all to my work. And no matter the stage of my life, I have always taken personally the words of Sophocles: “Without labor nothing prospers.”
The second thought is that, apart from the occasional trip over a long weekend, I can’t remember the last time I had a real vacation. I know it was before I left the economics faculty at the University of Texas-Pan American to become an economic advisor for the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. That was many, many years ago. Such a single-minded focus to work takes a toll over time. Everyone needs to recharge the batteries, to do something different, or to do nothing at all. I am no exception.
For this reason I have informed the Board of Governors of my intention to step down as Chancellor of Pima Community College no later than the end of the year, health permitting. This decision was not made easily or hastily. But it should not come as a surprise that quadruple bypass surgery and an impending 70th birthday provide a compelling incentive to reassess one’s priorities. Forgive me for using an economist’s turn of phrase, but the bottom line is pretty straightforward: The time has come to retire.
Working together over the past decade, we have accomplished much in many areas: workforce training, planning and operations, grants, professional development, and, of course, student success. (Highlights of some of our accomplishments are included in the attached document.) Throughout it all, I believe we never wavered from our mission: to develop our community through learning.
I can personally attest to the transformative power of learning. College expanded my horizons and afforded me opportunities that I scarcely could have imagined as a pipefitter. I was fortunate to have a professor at Indiana State University who encouraged me in my freshman year, and counselors and mentors at Indiana State and Iowa State who helped me realize that learning must be a life-long pursuit.
There are so many people to thank. Coming to mind first is our Board of Governors, five individuals who, while independent and passionate in their beliefs, are considerate of each other’s opinions and are united in their dedication to improving the community. The Board has provided great leadership, not only at PCC, but at the regional and national levels as well.
I also want to thank the faculty, for their devotion to our students and for maintaining high academic standards, and our able administrators, who have always tried to come up with thoughtful and creative solutions to the challenges we have faced. Special thanks are due to our staff — the glue that makes everything work. They have created a safe, welcoming place to work and to learn.
The College will no doubt have challenges to overcome in the months and years ahead. But I am confident that we will have our share of successes as well. And when we achieve them it will be the result of the dedication and hard work of the men and women who are at the heart of this great institution.
The College’s future success will be assured if we continue to adapt and meet the needs of the community we serve. Change is inevitable. We must embrace it. “Change is nature’s delight,” Marcus Aurelius told us. Let it be ours, as well.
A Short Retrospective:
I am proud of what we have been able to achieve together over the past nine years. Our accomplishments are too numerous to record, but it is instructive to highlight a few:
The planning process: The starting point for virtually all of the College’s major accomplishments is the detailed blueprint set out in our College Plan. Pima has completed three College Plans since 2003. The plans comprised a total of 601 action items, and we completed 583 — a 97 percent success rate in which we can all take pride, for as you know, our plans address issues of fundamental importance to the College and the community. We are working to complete the 182 action items in the 2011-2013 College Plan — in my opinion, our most ambitious yet. As near as I can tell no other college has such an ambitious planning agenda or rigorous process.
A culture of evidence: PCC’s reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission in 2010 was never in doubt. But in noting that PCC is “developing a culture of data-driven decision-making,” the HLC recognized the importance of the College’s emphasis in collecting, analyzing and acting upon facts as it confronts challenges and evaluates opportunities.
A culture of accountability: We have undertaken numerous activities to monitor data about the College and to benchmark PCC to other institutions. It is crucial to do so, through initiatives such as the College Plans, the Exeter Report, the Organizational Climate Survey, the Reaccreditation Archive, and the Voluntary Framework of Accountability, in order to find and eliminate weaknesses. Moreover, we demonstrate to the public that we are fulfilling our mission by making this information readily available to the public, at our campus libraries, at the District office, and through our website. We tell people what we are going to do, and then we do it — that is how we live up to our core value of Accountability.
Operations: We have improved financial decision making, eliminating glaring deficits and unwarranted subsidies. Additionally, we have developed an efficient, effective system for capital outlay improvement. The process ensures that all requests are reviewed and evaluated at the campus, division and college level. Priorities are set according to objective predetermined criteria. The process identifies equipment replacement and facility projects greater than $2,500 that serve the needs and mission of the College. The benefits of this process are seen throughout the College: minimization of deferred maintenance, timely replacement of computers and other digital technologies, renovation of spaces, new construction. The most recent example of sound capital budgeting is the rental of Roberts Elementary School, which will provide an additional 15,000 square feet of teaching space and save the College money.
Maintaining Our Focus: Our physical and systemic improvements are all the more remarkable given that many have been made while Arizona and the rest of the U.S. were suffering through the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. The redesign of Student Services is a case in point. Another example is the expansion of our online courses — 16,000 students took online or hybrid classes in 2010, compared to 7,200 in 2005. And we devised a way to fund the Adult Education/GED program after the state zeroed out appropriations for this valuable program. We have continued to improve through double-digit enrollment growth, a 66 percent reduction in state appropriations since 2008 and a flattening of property values. During this time, though our workforce has shrunk through the elimination of vacant staff and administrative positions, we successfully avoided layoffs or furloughs. Administrative positions shrank by approximately 15%. I know from personal experience how families suffer when the breadwinner loses his or her job. This has been motivation enough to do everything possible to protect our people.
Leadership and professional development: The College continues to develop programs and activities that support the growth and professional development of our employees. We also have strengthened the review of credentials to ensure that those who are hired meet the requirements of the various accrediting bodies.
Athletics: We developed additional funding sources to ensure the financial viability of the athletic program. More importantly, we changed the focus so that academic achievement providing opportunities for local athletes is the highest priority.
Grants: We redesigned the grants application process, elevated the classification of chief grants officer position and required inclusion of campus administrators in grants management. The result is a dramatic increase in awards and increased integrity in oversight. PCC is as successful as any other multi-campus college in the nation in competing for grant dollars. Last year, we secured $26 million in grants, a record for the College. Grant funds have been used to create the Integrated Learning Center at Downtown Campus, as well as faculty professional development, creation of new programs and capital improvements.
Student success: We see the result of our good work every May at graduation. Since 2004, PCC has awarded approximately 32,000 degrees and certificates to some 24,000 students. Many go on to earn bachelor’s degrees; others begin careers in wide variety of fields, from accounting to nursing to welding. They help to build a more stable, prosperous, healthy community, and embody the value of fulfilling our mission, to develop our community through learning.