Last week the Pima Community College Board of Governors voted to appoint Lee D. Lambert, president of Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Wash., chancellor of Pima College.
The Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Tucson Metro Chamber, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, the Pima Community College Faculty Senate, the Pima Community College Education Association, the Save Pima Pride Coalition, C-FAIRR (Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect & Responsibility) and a growing list of concerned community partners and elected officials welcome Lambert and pledge to provide any help we can to ensure that his leadership of PCC is successful.
Lambert will be taking over at perhaps the most critical and dark time in PCC's history. On April 6, the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditation body for PCC, placed the college on probation. The probationary period will last until at least early in 2015. To ensure that the commission will not revoke PCC's accreditation, a number of critical steps must be taken by the PCC board and its administration, including documenting that it has corrected the failures that caused the probation.
Significantly, in its report that led to probation, the commission detailed multiple instances in which the top administration and the board had failed to act with integrity. In detailing the failures of governance by the PCC board, the report described the governing board as "dysfunctional."
While the selection of a new chancellor is a significant step, it falls short of the governance failures outlined in the HLC report. Now, the necessary next step is for the members of the PCC board to give Lambert and the college the opportunity for a fresh start, unencumbered by the lamentable baggage that accompanies the board because of its failures.
Some board members, no matter their intentions, have failed the college and the community by ignoring the problems that led to the probation. Their failures were so serious that they put the college, its students and its staff in jeopardy.
PCC board members serving during the time of the failures should take the opportunity to demonstrate integrity and dedication to PCC by submitting their resignations. Resignation is the high-integrity path that will speak to the character of that board member. It is the one and only way that those members can fulfill their obligation to Pima Community College, putting the needs of the institution above any personal agendas or aspirations.
Addressing the issues that led to the probation requires new leadership on the governing board. We need new leadership that can re-establish trust within the college and restore the faith of our community in the institution, as well as put in place new policies and procedures to remedy the deficiencies in the HLC report.
We pledge to Lambert and to the faculty, staff and students that our community stands united in its goal to restore Pima Community College to greatness as a well-governed institution, capable of sustained success for the future of Southern Arizona.
Larry Aldrich and Steve Lynn are board members of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.