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Pima College submits accountability plan

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Pima College submits accountability plan

  • Kynn Bartlett/Wikimedia

Pima Community College submitted Monday an outline of steps to improve the school's administration and comply with the mandates of accreditors. The accountability plan included the widest-ranging apologies for mismanagement yet made by PCC officials.

The 73-page plan, due by Aug. 1, handed in to the Higher Learning Commission outlines management improvements and policy changes necessary as the school works to get off probation imposed because of administrative shortfalls. 

The authors of the plan, which new PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert called "major step forward" in a news release, acknowledged "serious breaches of integrity."

"Our constituents, stakeholders and colleagues spoke, but we did not listen. For this, we are truly sorry and are fully committed to ensuring that we never again act in such a manner. That era of inattention and heedlessness ends with the Monitoring Report," they wrote.

The school has been beset with allegations of sexual harassment by former Chancellor Roy Flores, along with allegations of financial mismanagement, complaints of an institutional "culture of fear and retribution," calls for the resignation of most of the Governing Board, and the two-year probation by the HLC.

The accountability report includes PCC's plan to conform with HLC practices on complaints and grievances, and faculty oversight of curriculum.

From the report:

The College acknowledges that it also must regain the fullest confidence of the public – those who come to PCC seeking a better life through education, and those whose taxes support College operations. To succeed at this essential endeavor, we must begin by apologizing to the people of Pima County for our past mistakes, pledging to do better and offering a plan by which the public can hold PCC accountable for meeting that pledge.

We accept full responsibility and say we are profoundly sorry for the serious breaches of integrity cited by the HLC. We understand that as a result of these deficiencies, many members of the community we serve have serious doubts about our commitment to the public good.

We recognize that at the core of our mistakes was a failure to recognize that ―shared governance should be our guiding principle,‖ in the words of the Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility (C-FAIRR), a citizens‘ organization. We failed to respond quickly and give proper credence to allegations of sexual misconduct by former Chancellor Roy Flores. And we did not consider the legitimate concerns of the College community and the public that in changing our admissions policy we were diverging from a longstanding philosophy to ―take the student from where he is, to where he wants to go. in the words of a letter sent to PCC by the Pima Open Admissions Coalition, an organization led by two former PCC Board members, faculty, administrators and a student.

"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," Lambert said.

PCC was placed on probation by the national accrediting body in April. The HLC said it "took this action because of concerns related to integrity, financial management, personnel policies and procedures, shared governance, Board oversight of the institution, and systemic and integrated planning."

The HLC outlined a two-year process for Pima to improve its operations and retain its accreditation.

The commission investigated complaints about the school's administration earlier this year, and released a report finding that PCC "had "a culture of fear and retribution."

In addition to questioning whether a change in admission standards was an abandonment of its community mission, the report pointed to allegations that former college chief Roy Flores sexually harassed eight women, questioned Pima's awarding of high-dollar no-bid contracts, and described a culture of "fear and retribution" among campus faculty and staff.

In a response to the report, Pima acknowledged "serious breaches of integrity" and outlined a plan to improve the school's administration in an attempt to stave off a vote to sanction PCC.

The HLC is requiring a number of steps for the school to renew its accreditation:

  • "The College is required to file a monitoring report no later than August 1, 2013, outlining a plan by which it will establish conformity with the Commission’s Assumed Practices related to complaints and grievance procedures (Assumed Practice A.4) and to faculty oversight of the curriculum (Assumed Practice B.2.c) by July 2014."
  • "The College is also required to file a comprehensive self-study no later than July 2014 or eight weeks prior to the comprehensive evaluation. The self-study must provide evidence that the College has resolved the concerns of the Board identified in the Probation action and evidence that the College meets the Criteria for Accreditation."
  • "The College will host a comprehensive evaluation visit in Fall 2014. At its meeting in February 2015 the Board will review the Probation Report and the report of the evaluation visiting team to determine whether the College can be removed from Probation. If the College has not resolved the Board’s concerns that led to the imposition of Probation and demonstrated that it is in compliance with all the Criteria for Accreditation, other action may be appropriate."

Lambert has said that he will hold Pima administrators "accountable" as the college works to get off probation. Several former top administrators have stepped down.

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