Pima Community College is hiring a new provost with no experience in that role as it heads into the home stretch of its efforts to get off probation.

Meanwhile, a key figure helping PCC fix its problems has declined an offer to stay on and will leave several months before the school’s fate is decided.

Erica C. Holmes, now a vice president at a college in Chicago, starts work July 1 as PCC’s provost and executive vice chancellor for academic and student services, the Tucson school announced Tuesday.

Holmes was one of six candidates interviewed for the position, which will pay her about $176,400 a year.

“Erica has the combination of skills and talents Pima needs at this pivotal moment,” Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a news release .

In an interview, Lambert said Holmes may have “a period of growth pains” at first, but has shown a knack for leadership in past jobs.

Holmes has worked for her current employer, Kennedy-King College in Chicago, for about a year as vice president of academic and student affairs.

Before that, she spent four years as vice president of academic affairs at a small rural school in North Carolina, and five years as a business dean at a college in Richmond, Va.

Zelema Harris, nationally renowned for her decades of experience in righting troubled schools, has been serving as PCC’s interim provost since December, shortly after she was hired there for a different executive role.

Harris told the Arizona Daily Star she’s leaving PCC on June 30 when her contract expires, despite being asked not to go.

“I asked her to stay. I would love for her to stay on,” Lambert said.

Harris has far more executive experience than anyone else at PCC, especially with the Higher Learning Commission, the accrediting body that put the college on probation last year for failures in administration and governance. Harris is a former member of the commission.

In an interview, Harris said new administrators coming on board “should have the opportunity to lead” without her.

PCC must submit a final report to the accreditor by July 31 spelling out how it has fixed its problems.

An accreditation team will visit the college in September to assess the extent of improvements. A final decision on whether to lift the sanction is expected early next year.

“I wish the college well and will be cheering for their success,” Harris said.

Contact the reporter at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.