Chancellor’s Letter To The Community: The New Normal

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With its Centers of Excellence, Pima is building pathways to meaningful, well-paying careers

As has been true every January for the past 50-plus years, students will return this month to Pima Community College to start or continue their college education. The spring 2021 semester is different, of course, as was the fall 2020 semester. Most of our students are studying online to stay safe and healthy during a pandemic whose endpoint is unknown.

ChancellorLetter2_960You likely are familiar with a now well-worn phrase, The New Normal. I am often asked when the College, and society, will return to The Old Normal. “If and when the pandemic dissipates, when will we return to pre-COVID times?” My answer: “Why would we want to?”

The past nine months have revealed broad economic inequality nationally and locally. In Tucson, 49% of workers are classified by the Brookings Institution as “low wage”; 55% of these workers are employed full time, earning about

$24,000 a year (and research repeatedly has shown that communities of color are disproportionately represented among low-wage workers). Too many people in Pima County live at or near the poverty line.

ChancellorLetter3_960Pima is undertaking initiatives to help all people of Pima County complete an education that leads to good jobs. As the nature of work changes rapidly, Pima is the only organization in the region that can quickly retool and scale education to provide the skills needed for meaningful employment. For an individual, a good job means a better life for themselves and their families. Collectively, good jobs mean a revitalized, thriving regional economy.

This issue of Career Focus hones in on a key way we are reimagining education: Centers of Excellence. These are cutting-edge learning spaces on our campuses, where students and the community will learn the skills that employers want. Throughout this issue, you can learn more about Pima’s Centers of Excellence. On pages 6-8, you can read about the Center of Excellence in Information Technology and Cybersecurity, where students learn how to defend data. Those who “hack to protect” are patriots – and are in high demand across all industries.

Pima’s goal is a New Normal in which everyone thrives.

 

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