Press Release

Local Opinion: Keep the community in Pima Community College

By Matej Boguszak Special to the Arizona Daily Star | Sep 29, 2020 Updated Oct 1, 2020

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

Pima Community College is at a critical juncture. Despite real progress made to improve academic offerings and re-engage with neglected community and business partners, enrollment has been declining precipitously for years. PCC faces great external pressure from anti-education state policy (zero funding, expenditure limits) and low-quality, for-profit colleges seeking students in Southern Arizona.

The faculty have proudly supported college efforts to correct previous accreditation problems while charting a new course that truly meets the needs of our community. We have been actively engaged in the work to enhance both classroom and online education, strengthen industry and university partnerships, and better align our curriculum pathways for students. As faculty, we love the college and believe passionately in its mission. That is why we are deeply concerned about serious problems that remain.

College leadership has failed to address plummeting enrollment and historically low morale. In a survey of 149 full-time faculty last December, 63% rated their morale as unsatisfactory and only 20% as satisfactory. Sixty-four percent said they were considering leaving the college, the majority of them to teach elsewhere. Notably, 70% were not satisfied with having meaningful input into college decisions affecting our students and work.

Shared governance is a hallmark of higher education, because it supports informed decision-making for the good of the institution. As the college shifts toward a more corporate model of organization, it will come at the expense of its greatest assets: its community roots, its focus on local residents, and its employees who work closely with students and know them best.

The chancellor has entered into partnerships, such as Unmudl (, without any prior discussion with the faculty or governing board. While such initiatives can have merit, far too often there is no inclusive process of discernment, even though they represent a fundamental shift in focus away from Pima County.

Given the vital importance of PCC to our region’s economic future and the well-being of its people, the stakes are towering. The answer is not voting against Proposition 481, which does not raise taxes but would allow the college to expend funds it already has to make sorely needed investments in our programs, services, and workforce to remain competitive. Instead, we need our board members to take an involved approach and keep the college focused on the community’s needs, not chasing the latest national trends.

That is why the Pima Community College Education Association proudly endorses Catherine “Cat” Ripley for the PCC Governing Board, District 1. Cat is an educator, serving as an Adjunct Faculty member at Pima for several years and having previously taught at Harvard, M.I.T., Boston University, Tufts, and Northeastern. Cat is also a seasoned leader and problem-solver, having served as a Naval Officer as well as a U.S. Diplomat, with roles as a Naval Attaché and Chief of Defense Cooperation at U.S. Embassies.

Pima needs a smart, independent thinker who recognizes board members can simultaneously be champions of the college while also engaging in a careful, critical assessment of its actions. We need a courageous leader who can help the college build upon its successes while respecting the professional expertise and collective wisdom of its workforce. And we need a dedicated public servant who can provide diligent oversight and understands that transparency and commitment to our local community must be our highest ideals. That thinker, that leader, and that public servant is Cat Ripley. If you want to ensure that Pima remains a true, comprehensive community college focused on students, equity, and providing an affordable quality education, then we urge you to vote for Cat on Nov. 3.

Matej Boguszak

Matej Boguszak has been a mathematics faculty member at Pima for over 11 years. He currently serves as President of PCCEA, the College’s Faculty association.


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