Pima College tarnished, but still valued, survey finds

2014-06-09T00:00:00Z 2014-06-16T16:01:46Z Pima College tarnished, but still valued, survey findsBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima Community College’s reputation has been tainted by the problems that put it on probation, a new public opinion survey suggests.

Lingering concern about the competence of administrators and Governing Board members was the top problem area cited by county residents in an April phone survey.

Even so, most rated the school highly for overall value and convenience.

Many said PCC has great classes and programs but a shabby image due to shortcomings of those in charge.

The public’s top concerns “revolve around the administration, board and management of the college, as well as recent negative image problems associated with the administration,” the results said.

About seven percent of those who said changes were needed mentioned leadership as a problem area, it said.

This the second survey to reflect such concerns. An internal survey of employees last fall found PCC’s workforce “almost equally split” over the competence of board members and senior management.

PCC was placed on probation by its accreditor last year for problems including mismanagement and sexual harassment. The school’s Governing Board was faulted as “dysfunctional” and inattentive.

The school now has a new chancellor who’s making improvements, but the four board members who presided over past problems have remained in office, refusing calls to resign. They chose to stay on and take training to improve.

None of the four — Scott Stewart, David Longoria, Brenda Even and Marty Cortez—responded Friday to emails seeking comment on the latest survey results.

Lee Lambert, the school’s new chancellor, said he’s not surprised by continued concern about the board and administration, but said he’s heartened by the many positive responses from the public.

“I feel good that people still believe in their college. That’s what I’m taking from it,” he said of the new survey.

PCC ordered the survey as part of an effort to find new ways to attract future students. The school has seen steep declines in enrollment during the last few years of controversy.

The survey showed county residents rate the University of Arizona much more highly than PCC when it comes to a student’s employment prospects.

Fifty percent said UA is the top local school for jobs and career advancement, while 19 percent said that about PCC.

Factors in PCC’s favor included lower cost, smaller class sizes, and convenience of multiple campus locations.

The school’s accreditor will decide early next year whether to lift the probation sanction.

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

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