Staying Focused

This week, I’ll continue the conversation on the importance and urgency to act on our three strategic directions to meet Arizona’s ever growing and changing economic and social needs – especially as we move through and beyond the pandemic.

Strategic Direction #1 – Ensure high levels of student success with equity and an excellent experience.

This week, Dr. Felicia Ramirez shared with me a blog post from Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that explored employers’ perceptions of AAC&U’s essential learning outcomes (ELOs) as viewed by CEOs and frontline managers. Dr. Ramirez concluded “The findings suggest an urgent need to help college students further develop critical thinking and written communication skills.” As we continue to strive towards ensuring high levels of student success and active learning, I encourage you to engage in the PVCC Critical Thinking Academy thus further embedding critical thinking as a powerful learning tool. As I share regularly, the single most important predictor of students’ success is the degree to which they are involved as active and engaged learners.

Strategic Direction #2 – Strengthen our local economic and positive social change impact.

Todd Sanders, CEO of Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in a recent blog post commented on the tremendous growth in the semiconductor industry and supporting businesses. As many of you know, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is constructing a multi-billion dollar manufacturing plant in north Phoenix. In addition to this new advanced manufacturing sector, the insurance and business services coordinator along the I-17 continues to expand. PVCC will need to continue to broaden and develop our workforce development programs to serve these emerging  industries. I am pleased that we are moving forward with hiring a permanently funded Dean of Career and Technical Education and am expecting this role to provide leadership as we expand on this front.

Strategic Direction #3 – Build a great place to work through organizational and operational effectiveness.

Building on the culture of a learning-centered college, we have further defined and developed our shared expectations and organizational understanding by centering our personal and professional “whys” as illustrated by Simon Sinek. Additionally, through a collaborative process, we’ve adopted the Puma Commitment to more explicitly communicate to each other, students, and community members our promise of engagement, support, care and challenge. As we prepare to expand our in-person learning and working, it is now more important than ever to ground our work around the Puma Commitment.

Take care and stay safe.


What’s on My Mind – Post Traumatic Growth

Recently I read an insightful blog post from Craig Silliman, Verizon’s Chief Legal Officer. In his post he commented on response approaches as we transition through the pandemic sharing insights on the concepts of negativity bias and post-traumatic growth. He explained  “negativity bias is the tendency of people to dwell on the most negative aspects of a given situation, so they struggle to escape mentally from challenges and adversity. Post-traumatic growth, in turn, involves looking back on challenges and adversity in the past as a time of personal growth, often in ways that are deeply meaningful.”

His “post-traumatic growth” comments resonated deeply with me on both a personal and professional basis and I immediately connected with a like statement made by professor Jeff Lace, Biological Sciences department chair, when he shared at a recent college meeting that he was leveraging the pandemic to “get better and improve elements/aspects of his life.” I also was once again drawn back to the work of Futures and TACT and the respective calls to make PVCC a more accessible, relevant and thriving college. 

Another “bringing learning alive” concrete example happening right now at PVCC that further exemplifies this growth mindset is the Verizon Innovative Learning grant-funded summer STEM camp for middle school girls and boys where approximately fifty youth are learning and creating technology, robotic and AI projects. This week, I had the pleasure of greeting the future Puma summer campers and my kudos go out to Mr. Randy Babick, and Dr. Sandra Hinski for their drive and extraordinary efforts to make this camp a success. 

Now that we are seven weeks away from the start of fall semester with substantial openings of in-person academic and student support services already occurring on July 6 and the full opening of all campus services and programs on August 9, I ask all of you to think and act in context of this positive growth mindset. As Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College shared at a recent national conference “You can’t be legendary from a place of comfort” – together we will make PVCC a “first-in-class” place to learn and work.