PCC interim chancellor

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Suzanne Miles, whose job performance at Pima Community College has come under scrutiny from the school's accreditor, is stepping down as interim chancellor.

Miles made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in an email to PCC employees.

"After much thought and prayer I have decided to leave the Interim Chancellor's position earlier than originally anticipated," she wrote.

"Pima Community College is a wonderful, vibrant institution that will surely overcome our present difficulties. However, it has now become clear that my continued service as Interim Chancellor could be viewed as an obstacle to moving forward."

Miles said she will stay on at PCC in a lesser role as president of the college's community campus.

It wasn't clear if Miles decided to leave the top job on her own or was asked to step down. Brenda Even, chairwoman of PCC's Governing Board, did not respond to three requests for comment Tuesday.

Miles was appointed interim leader last year on the heels of former Chancellor Roy Flores, who left the college under a cloud of sexual-harassment allegations.

Her decision to relinquish the role comes a few days after PCC's accreditor found pervasive problems with the school's top administrators and its Governing Board -troubles that began under Flores and continued under Miles, who was Flores' second-in-command during his nine years at PCC.

The report by the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission was based on the results of a investigation the accreditor conducted at the college in January.

The probe was ordered after taxpayers and college insiders complained to the accreditor, some of them in response to Arizona Daily Star investigations into college practices.

The accreditor identified a litany of shortcomings, including corrupt hiring and contracting practices, a "culture of fear and retribution" created by abusive administrators, and a "dysfunctional" Board of Governors that shirked its oversight duties and dismissed its critics.

Investigators said it was "highly unlikely" that Miles didn't know about Flores' misconduct with female employees or about his harsh management style, which included angry outbursts laced with profanity.

The report said Flores, the Governing Board and current top administrators all committed "serious breaches" of ethical standards.

Miles' contract as interim chancellor runs until June 30. Instead, she will leave the post on April 12.

She's staying on until then to give the board time to find another interim chancellor, her email said.

It wasn't immediately clear if Miles' early departure from the post would affect PCC's ongoing search for a permanent leader.

Another interim would be on the job for only a few months if the college sticks to its plan to have a new chancellor in place by July.

The accreditor is poised to put PCC on probation until the college corrects its problems. If it doesn't, the school could lose accreditation, making its degrees virtually worthless and its students ineligible for federal aid.

Last week, Miles was named one of three finalists for the president's job at Mount Hood Community College near Portland, Ore.

The search committee at that school later learned of Miles' problems at PCC but has not yet made a decision on whether she should remain a finalist, said Dave Shields, the Mount Hood board chairman.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.