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PCC interim chief: 'Not here to keep chair warm'

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PCC interim chief: 'Not here to keep chair warm'

Pima College a 'fundamentally strong institution'

  • Harris

A letter released Wednesday by the interim chancellor of Pima Community College, Zelema Harris:


I began serving as Pima's Interim Chancellor on April 15 and it already it has become clear that we are rapidly moving toward addressing the two greatest challenges confronting the College: our status with the Higher Learning Commission and the search for a permanent Chancellor.

My top priority as Interim Chancellor is to work with Provost Migler to make sure we are prepared to meet a number of rapidly approaching deadlines with regard to the HLC. As I noted in my April 17 message to you, the first of those deadlines is the filing of a monitoring report no later than Aug. 1, 2013. To help us meet our goals, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Karen Solomon and Dr. Cecilia López will visit the College on May 2-3.

Dr. Solomon is the Higher Learning Commission staff liaison for PCC. Dr. López, a former HLC associate director, currently is Associate Vice Chancellor for Accreditation and Assessment for the City Colleges of Chicago. They will be here to offer accurate information, unique perspectives and solid advice as the College creates a strategic plan to address areas in need of improvement. We'll keep you posted as soon as more information becomes available.

Concerning the search for a permanent Chancellor, the College plans to announce a series of candidate forums by the end of the week. These forums are an excellent opportunity for Pima's students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the community, to meet the four individuals who have applied to be the College's next Chancellor. I strongly encourage each of you to take time out from your busy schedules and attend.

On a related matter, please let me take this opportunity to clarify any misconceptions that may have arisen over my role as Interim Chancellor of the College and the duration of my service.

First, let me state that I came out of retirement because I believe PCC is a fundamentally strong institution. I wouldn't be here if I thought PCC was a lost cause, or was fundamentally flawed.

My confidence in PCC has been justified in the short time that I have served as Interim Chancellor, and I am very optimistic that PCC will be taken off probation. PCC has the talent, the experience and the drive to get the job done. Fortunately, in Provost Migler and his staff, the College has a team which can take the lead in a process that will be challenging but ultimately successful. Vice Provost Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez, PCC's liaison to the HLC, will play a critical role in this effort.

I am here to get the College off to a good start. I am not here to keep the Chancellor's chair warm until a permanent successor is chosen. I have a job to do and I fully intend to do it. My contract clearly states that my last day at PCC will be June 30, with the possibility of an extension through August 23, 2013. It is not my intention to stay beyond that date.

When the time comes for me to return home, I will do so with the certainty that the College is well on its way toward regaining the full confidence of the Higher Learning Commission and the public.

Zelema Harris,

Interim Chancellor, Pima Community College

Zelema Harris is the interim chancellor of Pima Community College.

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