Summer 2021 Updates

As we move through our summer sessions and with the fourth of July holiday on the near horizon – as always, despite our summer perpetual heat waves – fall semester will be upon us sooner than expected. With that stated, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a number of updates.

PVCC celebrates Pride Month – please take this opportunity to reflect on the many contributions from the LGBTQIA+ community. I am proud that PVCC continues to demonstrate cultural leadership on this front as evidenced by the long-standing and successful Desperado film festival and support of our students through the PRIDE scholarship. In this context, recently I read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. I encourage you to expand your reading this summer to include LGBTQ+ writers.

Leadership Updates – based upon a  number of recommendations from the Futures work, prior approved budget recommendations, and input from several stakeholder groups, I am pleased to share the following leadership updates.

  • Effective July 6, Loretta Mondragon will be joining the administrative services division. As many of you are aware, her leadership and project management work crosses all four of the college divisions including new construction, renovations, budget coordination, and facilities planning.

  • As we renew our efforts in program development for the Black Mountain site, I am pleased to share that effective June 1, Michelle Carter and Brenna Stein have assumed the role of co-leads of Black Mountain with Michelle focusing on the academic side (continuing in her faculty role) and Brenna coordinating the operational side. Dr. Sandra Hinski is also contributing leadership support and strategic direction.

  • In order to expand and strengthen the Institutional Effectiveness Research and Planning function, I am also pleased to share that Dr. Carolyn Miller has joined this unit. Her responsibilities also include a substantial role with accreditation. My thanks to Sara Michalski and Dr. Sherri Ondrus for their continued support and leadership in this area.

  • Ms. Lori Espinoza will continue in her role as project manager on behalf of the Office of the President. A sample of her work includes: College Leadership Forum, HLC Assurance Report Recommendations, and Futures.

  • With deep appreciation, please join me in recognizing Dr. Keith Kelly, Ms. Ellen Hedlund and Ms. Lori Espinoza for their tireless and visionary leadership of the Futures work. We are in the process of institutionalizing the completed and pending recommendations. I am currently working with them to further embed innovation into the college culture – watch for more details soon.

  • We are in the process of filling two academic dean roles – Dean for Career and Technical Education (permanent) and an academic Dean for Liberal Arts and Sciences (one-year-only). The two dean model was recommended to me several years ago and I am pleased that both of these roles are now fully funded.

Fall 2021 Enrollment – I had the pleasure of meeting with the Tactical Strategic Enrollment Management (TSEM) team on Monday and learned of the specific and focused recruitment and outreach efforts/targets underway including: prospective students in the admissions process “pipeline,” formerly enrolled students, adults with some college and no-degree, and perhaps the most challenging target – students who simply disengaged from higher education during the pandemic. Additional funds to support marketing have also been committed. As mentioned in prior updates, the Fall Schedule of Classes continues to be updated and adjusted to meet student needs as well.

DEIE Work – Under the leadership of Dr. Versha Anderson, approximately twenty faculty and staff are engaged in summer work to move forward the ongoing actions from TACT.

Fall Convocation – please place on your calendars, Tuesday, August 17, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. for Convocation as we will: build community, create positive energy for teaching and learning, and celebrate and reconnect with each other. This will be a live event with options to engage virtually.

Return to In-Person Learning and Working – as you are aware, Governor Ducey signed an executive order that impacts our in-person experience. Watch for more details as MCCCD revises our current guidelines. PVCC’s detailed Re-Imagining the Workplace Plan will be available on June 24. Additionally, college leadership has engaged with representatives from the employee senate to develop shared interests related to the implementation of the proposed Remote Work Policy. I am excited that PVCC will be fully operational on August 9 to meet student needs on-campus and in-person.

I trust all of you will find time to disengage from all of the virtual links that keep you connected to work. As always, I am grateful for all you do individually and collectively to further an exemplary student learning and success experience.

PVCC Future: Re-imagining the Learning Experience – Returning to In-Person Working and Learning

Throughout the summer, I will continue to provide updates and insights as Paradise Valley Community College transitions back to an in-person learning and working environment – more importantly, as we envisioned through the work of the Futures, emerging as a more accessible, relevant and thriving college. You may recall, I shared this direction with you during my April 14th Leadership Update.

As we transition through the pandemic and as students reacclimate to in-person, on-campus learning, it is critically important that we get the class schedule and the delivery of support services right!  As we thoughtfully and with intentionality move to a  re-imagined Blended Model of teaching, learning and support services that mixes in-person, with live on-line, hybrid (virtual and in-person) and asynchronous delivery models, it is imperative that we meet student needs.

To ensure safety, we will continue to monitor CDC Guidelines and the current state of COVID-19 in Maricopa County. If you have not already done so, I highly encourage you to get vaccinated. The national goal is to have seventy percent of the population vaccinated by July 4 and Maricopa County is currently lagging in achieving this goal.  

As you are aware, the Welcome and Fitness Centers and the Black Mountain site are already open for in-person services and with the beginning of Summer School, we are seeing a steady increase in the numbers of students seeking in-person services.

To address a number of specific questions:

Why is in-person learning critically important as a learning-centered college?

Under the leadership of Dr. Doug Berry, Dr. Chris Scinto and Professor Sean Petty, I continue to request that the division chair leadership update and adjust our fall schedule of classes to ensure that there are sufficient in-person learning opportunities for students seeking both full and part time class schedules in order to complete the AGEC-A, B and S pathways. The successful achievement of our fall enrollment target of 7,200 students is contingent upon having these in-person options. More importantly, this is an issue of student access and equity.

Equity and Access. A significant number of studies are surfacing that support the importance of student access to in-person learning as critical as it relates to our commitment to equity. For your convenience, here are several examples: Distant Equity from ACE; Supporting Vulnerable Students from Fortune magazine; and Reopening with Equity from the Education Trust.  

When will I be asked to return to in-person work?

We will continue to operate under the MCCCD COVID-19 working policy, however at this time all employees are welcomed and invited to return to work on campus. Shortly, an updated PVCC Reimagined Work Plan will be made available – watch for details.

What safety measures will be in place?

As Maricopa County continues to see very positive signs of increased vaccination rates and lower rates of infections and hospitalizations, I am confident that current restrictions will be modified – until then, we are currently following the MCCCD practices that when interacting with the public and colleagues indoors, masks are required with recommended social distancing of three feet. However, face coverings are no longer required when an individual is alone in a closed office space or when outside.

What is the status of the MCCCD Remote Working Policy for Classified Staff?

The Governing Board has reviewed the policy as an agenda “first read” during their May Board meeting with a final review on June 22. Pending passage of the policy, District HR will be providing implementation protocol and training for supervisors. Currently, college leadership is reviewing a specific implementation plan for PVCC including input from employee senate representatives. If the policy is approved, PVCC will begin implementation after the training protocol is completed and approval processes are finalized. 

What are the key dates I should be aware of?

Beginning on Tuesday, July 6, all student and academic support services, in addition to virtual options, will be open for in-person delivery of services. Drs. Berry and Schwartz will be working with their respective teams to identify specific offices.

On July 6, the college will reinstate facilities use agreements for greater public access including the opening of the track and tennis courts.

On Monday, August 9, all outwardly and student facing offices will be open for in-person services. Shortly, college leadership will begin working with respective directors, division chairs, and supervisors to prepare for this opening.

Your continued support of student success as we continue to transition through the pandemic is greatly appreciated.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Paul