Pima Community College East Campus

Pima Community College has been on an upward trajectory for nearly the past eight years since Chancellor Lee Lambert took the reins. 

You may recall the institution of higher learning had its fair share of accreditation issues and other troubles leaning up to Lambert’s hiring. Not only was the incoming chancellor up for the challenge of turning Pima around, he wanted the college to set the standard for what student learning could be, he said. 

“I think one big part is the mindset shift that’s happened at the college, what we’re doing is really showing what innovation and a focus on students and the community can do,” Lambert said. “A lot of colleges are looking to Pima right now to create a more systematic approach assessment of student learning. We created a master plan that gave rise to our centers of excellence. We’re seeing that vision come to life right now.”

Lambert said the biggest exclamation point to Pima’s progress was county voters’ recent approval of Prop 481, which raises the college’s base expenditure limit by more than $11 million. 

“I think that says a lot right there. We’ve turned how people look at us and now they’re valuing what we do for this community,” Lambert said. 

The chancellor said much of the work Pima’s staff was doing to offer more online learning options pre-COVID has put the college in a great position as the pandemic continues. He estimates about 30% of the school’s classes are online, while the other 70% are still based around in-class learning. 

“All the pandemic did is accelerate us into this model more fully and our faculty was able to adapt in a short period of time by moving thousands of courses to a virtual space,” Lambert said. “Financially, we were healthy going into the pandemic which has allowed us to not lay off any of our staff. The work we’re doing before that is now paying off because people are seeing it.”