Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PCC Has a New Interim Chancellor: Zelema Harris

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 6:14 PM

If a profile on Zelema Harris published in a 2010 issue of The St. Louis American rings true, perhaps the Pima Community College's governing board has chosen itself the right person for the job and hopefully Harris is prepared to pick up the pieces of a college now possibly close to being put on probation by its accreditor and a college community still recovering from a troubled administration led by former Chancellor Roy Flores.

Here's a snippet from that profile:

Then she learned that the majority of African-American, Latino and American-Indian students take their first steps into higher education at community colleges. Yet getting a teaching position at the nearby community college did not come easy.

Possibly anyone else who received 14 rejection letters from the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City would have taken that as a definitive answer. But not Harris.

After receiving her 14th rejection letter, she called the college’s human resources director, who told her that her application did not show any community college experience, only university experience. They needed to know that she could relate to the college’s students, she was told.

So the next time she applied, Harris made sure to mention that she had designed a supportive educational services program, which still at exists at University of Kansas, to help less-advantaged students.

“I was involved in integrating the college and doing what I could to ensure that minority students were treated fairly and they had the support they needed,” she said.

Here's the PCC press release on tonight's choice:

Veteran Educator Chosen as PCC’s New Interim Chancellor

Dr. Zelema Harris has more than 30 years’ experience at community colleges

Tucson, AZ — Dr. Zelema Harris will serve as the next Interim Chancellor of Pima Community College.

Dr. Harris is expected to start work on April 15 and remain in the post until a permanent Chancellor is chosen.

A native of East Texas, Dr. Harris has been passionate about community colleges since her first job in Kansas City in 1976.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to get people into the door but not only that, to ensure that they have the opportunity to be successful,” she has said.

From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Harris served as Chancellor of St. Louis Community College, Missouri’s largest community college system.

She also served as President of Parkland College in Champaign, Ill. and President of Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Harris’s contract was unanimously approved Tuesday night by PCC’s Governing Board. She was among five candidates interviewed last week by the Board and representatives of College employee groups.

Board Chair Dr. Brenda Even said Dr. Harris was a “superb fit” for PCC and has the experience and qualifications to lead the College into the future. “We look forward to having Dr. Harris with us as we all pull together,” Dr. Even said.

Dr. Harris’s biography and résumé can be viewed on the College website. PCC will post Dr. Harris’ contract when it is complete.

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