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Mar 30, 2013 1:54 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Pima Community College faculty demands new leadership

TUCSON - Pima Community College's faculty is demanding a change in leadership.

This comes after a scathing report to the college from the Higher Learning Commission, which threatens the school with probation and even a loss of accreditation.

The report lobbed charges of sexual harassment, unethical hiring practices, questionable admissions standards and a "culture of fear" in the work environment.

The college's five page response acknowledges serious breaches in integrity and promises to make the changes necessary to avoid probation.

Both PCC's faculty and staff made a bold statement Friday as they overwhelmingly passed a vote of "no confidence" in four of the five sitting board members. They argue the board members have contributed to the turmoil surrounding the school, some of which is detailed in the fact-finding report issued by the HLC.

Carolina Luque is a PCC Alum -- now with a graduate degree -- she started out in remedial classes at Pima.

"Pima has let the community down," Luque told News 4 Tucson.

Back in 2011, the college made a controversial move, removing classes from counting toward a degree if the student didn't place at least in the 7th grade level in key areas.

"We want to be involved in the process, it's our community, it's our education," Luque said.

The lack of community input on the decision drew fire from the HLC. Today the board suspended the policy for at least one year as a possible remedy to avoid probation.

Those efforts were largely overshadowed as the faculty publicly lost all hope in four of the board members, which include: Marty Cortez, Brenda Even, David Longoria and Scott Stewart.

The resolution the faculty approved claimed that the board members were partly to blame because they were part of the previous troubled administration.

"Instead of stepping up, we feel that they've stonewalled and been defensive," said PCC Faculty Senate President Joe Labuda.

The move pitted the very faculty of the college against its own board.

"I think there are a lot of things that occurred that aren't defendable. I think institutions make mistakes but at a point you have to step back and start correcting and own up to the community," Labuda said.

As for the board members, they had little to say about the vote of "no confidence" as they headed into executive session.

"It's disappointing but everybody's allowed their opinion," Board Member David Longoria told News 4 Tucson.

There's one thing that most can agree on -- that the college will face an uphill battle regaining the trust of the community.

"It's disappointing to see this institution that has so much potential going down the route that it is," Luque said.

You can find all the related documents, reports, and responses between PCC and the Higher Learning Commission here.

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