Tucson, Arizona – The Higher Learning Commission (HCL) placed PCC on probation. Their reasons and findings included:

• Sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviors by the college’s Former Chancellor and failure of the Board to institute an appropriate investigation into these claims.

• Created an unhealthy college culture was established through the use of intimidation, fear and an abuse of executive power.

• Violating their own Board procurement policy in regard to sole sourcing and that it lacked transparency on fiduciary matters.
• Failure to uphold its responsibility to conduct its work ethically, honestly, and in the best interests of the college, its employees and its students.

I was a member of the Board of Trustees at Centralia Community College in Washington from 1986 to 2000. There, new trustees attend workshops to learn their responsibilities, and the issues at Pima Community College could be a case study in a future workshop.

In 2002 I was named chairman of a presidential search committee at Centralia and Lee Lambert, recently appointed chancellor at PCC, provided legal counsel to the committee.

During the years I was on the board at Centralia we occasionally heard reports of issues at other community colleges. None, however, were as egregious as those at Pima. Lee Lambert can solve the problems at PCC, but the endeavor can be facilitated with a new board, free of controversy and hubris.

If the current Governing Board truly wants to serve the public, it will promptly resign, save the expenses of a recall and end this mess.

Arland Lyons
Retired educator, Sahuarita

Replacing Failed Leadership Necessary For Pima Community College’s Future

Most in our community are familiar with news in the past year about Pima Community College’s unprofessional administrative and Governing Board behavior, including ignoring reports of eight employees who said they were sexually harassed.

Over the last six months, several meetings with Governing Board members have occurred, yet despite pleas from educators, students and community leaders for them to resign, the board chooses to continue governing in the same shortsighted fashion that has created the crisis.

Crisis is not too harsh a word for the current situation. In April 2013, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the accrediting organization for Pima Community College, placed the college on probation. The scathing report highlights many egregious actions and places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Governing Board.

In its conclusion HLC stated that “the Board has essentially abdicated appropriate oversight of college operations in personnel policies and action … (and) serious breaches of acting with integrity have been demonstrated by PCCD’s Board of Governors.”

What would the loss of accreditation mean? For starters, it would undermine the worth of the PCC degree, making it harder for graduates to compete in the job marketplace or transfer to a four- year college. It would hinder our community’s ability to address our stagnant economic development situation, creating a strong disincentive for new companies to move to Southern Arizona. And it surely would make it very difficult to retain good teachers and administrators, let alone attract new, qualified individuals.

Yet our numerous and passionate calls for resignation have been ignored. In fact, the response from some board members has been defiance and a total failure to take responsibility.

For that reason, we have formed Citizens for PCC Integrity. Our mission: Change the board.

We are the offspring of a loosely formed coalition that came together after the probationary status was announced. We are the voices of staff, faculty, students, alumni, business leaders and appalled residents who know how important PCC is to our continuum of education and workforce development in Pima County.

How Will We Go About Changing The Board?

Regretfully, recall. Our New Year’s resolution is to recall board members of the former Chancellor Roy Flores era. It will require many people and considerable financial resources. However, the risk of continuing with this failed leadership is too great.

Recalling an elected official should never be frivolous or just because you disagree with a position on an issue. It should be reserved for those times when the elected official’s behavior is indisputably damaging. This is indeed the case with board members Brenda Even, Scott Stewart, David Longoria and Marty Cortez. They have failed to protect the very people they were elected to serve. They have caused serious damage to PCC’s reputation, but with new leadership we can repair PCC’s image.