SCCPCCD Jan meeting

Education consultant Homero Lopez presents a proposed transition plan to the college district governing board.

The Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College District is preparing to create its own scholarship-granting foundation, roll out new branding and improve its infrastructure.

These changes, announced at last Thursday’s governing board meeting, come as the district transitions to a new partnership with Pima Community College and seeks more independence in preparation for eventual accreditation.

The district initiated discussions with Pima officials on Dec. 9 after learning in late November that Cochise College will not renew its contract when it expires on June 30. Stella Perez, CEO of the college district, said Thursday that talks with Pima are “going very well. We’re in strong discussions.”

During the meeting, board president Liz Collier said she received a letter from the Mexican Consulate in Nogales expressing concern about the $32,000 in scholarship money recently presented to Cochise College-Santa Cruz Center by IME-BECAS, a scholarship program offered by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.

“The IME-BECAS funds are exclusively for the community of Santa Cruz County, the students of Santa Cruz County, so we want to be sure that it remains in the area,” Deputy Consul Alejandro Martinez said at the meeting.

Collier agreed with Martinez and said she hopes that by the end of the semester, the district will have its own foundation managed by a local board.

“There’s no reason for us to be transferring (scholarship funds) from one parter college to another,” she added.

Also during the meeting, Perez announced the formation of an advisory group that will develop a new website for the district, the first step in a new branding, promotion and marketing campaign.

“This is a very exciting endeavor. It’s our own first launch into our marketing and our namesake,” she said.

The campaign is headed by Paula Schaper, CEO of the Patagonia-based branding agency WestWordVision. The advisory group includes SCCPCCD board members, Santa Cruz Student Coalition leaders and community members.

A major concern expressed at Thursday’s meeting was improving internet access at the Santa Cruz Center. Board members complained that the internet slows down when it’s in high demand and that certain areas of the building are internet dead zones.

“The most important infrastructure education’s going to have in the future is access to the world wide web and the ability to do online learning and research and data and moving stuff around,” board member Nils Urman said. “So it’s as critical an item as it is for us to have a building.”

The board agreed with Perez’s suggestion to evaluate new internet options and ultimately buy its own products or enter into a new contract rather than using its new host college as an intermediary. The board members debated whether the building’s internet problems stem from physical infrastructure, their internet provider or both, with no clear consensus reached.

Thursday’s meeting also included discussions on soundproofing the building and completing the process of registering the district in Arizona’s retirement system. The board re-elected Collier as its president and elected Urman as the new vice president and secretary.

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