The Future of PVCC – Leadership Message #1

Editorial Comment – In the spirit of “all-points leadership,” please take the time to read this series of five messages regarding the future of PVCC. The pandemic has created a seminal historic event for community colleges. See this article in the New York Times.

Greetings All,

I trust all of you continue to be well. As access to vaccinations expands to all Arizonans aged sixteen and above, my confidence for a safe and timely further opening up of the college for in-person learning and working continues to grow. Now that the IT shutdown is behind us, it is time to refocus our perspective on our shared future.

This is the first of five short leadership messages addressing the organizational and leadership directions for Paradise Valley Community College as we continue to move through and beyond the pandemic.

As you know, in April of 2020, we commissioned the work of Futures teams with the goal to: Re-imagine the learning experience. Over 50 faculty and staff engaged in the work addressing the problem statement: Ensuring that PVCC is accessible to all students, relevant, organizationally sustained, and thriving while transitioning through and beyond the pandemic.

Like me, I am sure that none of you in your preparation for a career and life-calling as a community college faculty or staff member took a course in leading, learning, working or even living through a pandemic. With that said, regardless of our level of preparation, I am also equally confident that all of us share in the commitment that PVCC has to emerge as a better and more adaptable college – because student learning and success matters most. None of us believe that returning solely to the approaches used in fall 2019 is a viable option.

Last summer, I shared three leadership challenges that we were facing in the midst of the pandemic. Let me briefly recap those:

First, I suggested that the pandemic accelerated the need for us to address “big picture” issues such as the modernization of teaching and learning and confronting timely social justice issues. At the same time, we had to focus on the endless minutiae of operating the college.

Second, I suggested the pandemic dramatically raised the stakes on decision-making to address issues such as:  how to close the technology digital divide, how to close equity gaps, and how to assist our students experiencing unemployment and food insecurities – at the same time, our decision-making focus, by necessity, was on short-term, low-level survival decisions rather than those that mattered most socially over the long term.

Lastly, I suggested that the pandemic was forced upon us (requiring us to immediately pivot and to adopt new work and learning conditions that were invasive) – and we could not compartmentalize the pandemic out of our lives. In the midst of this,  we really could not fully or voluntarily embrace the opportunities that the pandemic presented us in terms of redefining the learning and working environment. The pandemic also showed us that we already had many “tools” in our teaching and learning toolboxes that were not leveraged to full capacity and impact.

Collectively – and I mean all of us – students, faculty, staff, adjunct faculty, part time staff – we are now at the vantage point of owning our future.  We need to capitalize on opportunities that lie ahead of us while supporting each other  – not only ensuring continuity of teaching and learning but further implementing innovations  as recommended by the Futures work. Again, we want to make PVCC accessible, relevant, and thriving moving forward.  You’ll hear more from me soon about what this challenge means to each of us.

Paul