Pima Community College has created a new executive position at the top and has chosen a highly-regarded figure to fill it.

Zelema Harris, a retired chancellor of St. Louis Community College who was PCC's interim chancellor earlier this year, is returning to Tucson to serve alongside the Chancellor Lee Lambert.

In an email to employees this morning, Lambert said Harris will serve as his top advisor and will be responsible for several key aspects of college operations as the school works to get off probation imposed by its accreditor earlier this year.

As Executive Vice Chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness, she will oversee PCC's efforts in strategic planning, institutional research, public information, state and federal government relations and several other areas. She also will be in charge of running the college when Lambert is away on business.

Harris starts work Monday at an annual salary of just under $194,000. At this point the job is being described as an interim post with an initial contract that runs until next June. But Mark Ziska, PCC's new interim human resources director, said it's possible Harris may stay on past then depending on the college's needs.

Harris has decades of experience running large colleges and turning around troubled schools such as PCC which is on probation due to widespread problems in its governance and administration.

During her three-month stint as a contract chancellor before Lambert was hired, Harris' performance won wide praise from taxpayer groups, business leaders and PCC faculty and staff.

Read more in tomorrow's Arizona Daily Star