Appreciation – Fall 2021 Student Success Initiatives

Greetings All,

As we move to close the fall 2021 semester, I am most grateful and thankful to all of you for your relentless commitment to making Paradise Valley Community the most outstanding space/place for student learning and success. In celebration of another semester “job well done,” and in appreciation, I thought I’d highlight a number of our programs/practices that ensure that active and engaged learning is very much a part of the fabric of our culture. (please note that this list is not exhaustive).

Welcome Center and all of the surrounding students support services – our “front door” and open throughout the pandemic.

Amazing Campus Ecology – very often commented on by our students – clean, beautiful and welcoming. 

Highest Quality of Faculty – as demonstrated by our national recognition: AACC Dale Parnell Award winners, ACCT Regional Faculty of the Year winner, AACC and NISOD Award winners.

Equity NOW Initiative – our very early efforts to instill learning practices that addressed and combat educational attainment gaps that set the foundation for the HLC Quality Initiative.

Critical Thinking Academy – faculty led professional development that fosters fair-minded critical thinking integrated into the curriculum and increased engagement.

Peer Mentor Program – students placed in courses in support of student learning and persistence. 

Peer Leader Program – students assigned by Field of Interest to create a sense of connection to reinforce a cohort approach to learning. 

Leading in Open Educational Resources (OER) – dramatically reducing the cost of text and course material to low and no cost and increasing student engagement. 

Probationary Faculty Peer Review Process –  where measures of active learning and the importance of assessing student learning are embedded throughout.

Guided Pathways Implementation – getting and keeping students on the right academic path.

Student Success Coaches – support staff coming alongside students when they need support.

Cohorted CTE Programs – our amazing success rates in all of our career programs (faculty creating guided pathways way ahead of the national best practice)

Athletics Academic Success Rates – commitment by our coaches, athletic leadership and faculty to put the student experience first for student-athletes.

Honors Programming – high levels of student active and engaged participation of our students.

CARE Team – the overwhelming and immersive outreach and support for our students.

It is not by chance that Paradise Valley Community College has been recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the Top 150 community colleges in the nation during each of the biennial awards since 2013. And, this year, we were the only community college in Arizona to receive such distinction. Excellence at this level does not occur inadvertently. It is through the dedication of and hard work of all of you that has led to this consistent high level of quality. 

Please enjoy your time over the winter break with family and friends. Take the time to exercise, get outdoors, and catch up on your pleasure reading. 

Stay safe and be well.

Reflections of Thanks

PVCC  Colleagues,

As we move into the seasons of giving thanks, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all of you for your relentless and tireless work to ensure that our students are learning and being supported to achieve their dreams and aspirations. I’d also like to take this opportunity to share a reflection on the power of thankfulness and, in some cases, how our defined roles blind us to opportunities to further spread the requisite human thanks. 

Recently while traveling and waiting for a curbside pickup at San Francisco International Airport, I observed an elderly gentleman navigating with a cane and pulling his roller carry-on suitcase to a position perched close to the edge of the curb. As his ride inched closer to picking him up, the driver was unceremoniously directed by traffic enforcement to move along. Simultaneously, a young woman (skateboard and backpack in hand)  witnessed this social interplay and jumped into the mix alerting the traffic cop and gently assisting the elder to his car. To his credit, the traffic cop acknowledged his overly officiousness and with graceful empathy also assisted the venerable traveler. 

I share this story as a reflection that in many cases our predefined, ascribed, and socially defined roles create human barriers that ultimately limit opportunities for human kindness and thanks. In this brief social encounter (likely not observed by anyone else but me) both the traffic cop (directed by a no-stopping rule) and the anonymous traveler (it is socially acceptable to not get involved) could have stayed in their respective role definitions and not intervened leaving an elder man in need. 

All of us as actors in higher education play roles – both predefined and ascribed. In some cases administrators do X  because a policy or procedure demands such behavior. In other situations, teachers do X because that is what the syllabus requires. These roles are impermanent  and time bound to the life clock that monitors our careers. The same is true in life, the role of a partner (or spouse), child, sibling, niece or nephew have both real time role expectations  and timed-out expectations driven by mortality. In both journeys, we have choices to act solely in a predefined manner or act out of role addressing presenting variables that transcend a moment in time.  

So during this season of giving thanks, I am grateful for all of you who in both your work and personal lives step out of prescribed roles governed by safe and oftentimes narrow social assumptions and demonstrate compassion and solicitude driven by broad human expectancies. I am thankful, given the high stakes of achieving student success tempered by life challenges facing our learners, for your collective care.

Please find time to relax and enjoy during the holiday break.