PVCC’s Dr. Paul Dale Virtually Welcomes to the Fall 2020 Semester and Shares His Thoughts on Today’s State of Educating and Learning
Leading through the COVID-19 pandemic has been tricky and at times unpredictable, as community colleges strive to maneuver through new variables. However, Dr. Paul Dale has remained steadfast in his number one priority - protecting the welfare and safety of PVCC’s students while maintaining the continuity and quality of teaching, learning and student support the college is known to provide.
Related to this primary challenge is the fact that the pandemic has impacted Black and Hispanic communities at higher rates, thus further impacting higher education equity gaps. Dr. Dale believes PVCC will emerge from the pandemic as a more accessible, relevant, responsive and thriving college.
Inspired by many historical figures including explorers Lewis and Clark, author Eckhart Tolle, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and World War II veteran and member of the Gila River Pima Indian Tribe,Ira Hayes, Dr. Dale said he also feels fortunate to have mentors who pulled him aside and challenged him to work harder, accept the unexpected, take on new leadership opportunities, and advocate for others.
This is why he is wholeheartedly committed to supporting student success experiences leading to student degree and certificate completion, job placement in high wage jobs, and university transfers. Embedded in this goal is the urgency to close education attainment gaps for first generation and historically underrepresented students.
We recently sat down with Dr. Dale and asked him about his accomplishments, the challenges facing us in today’s environment, as well as his future goals for the college. Here’s what he had to say:
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments since taking on the role of president?
In general, we’ve made good strides in leading the college forward to become more comprehensive. This includes: adding new academic programs including nursing (during my first tenure as interim president);expanding our first responder programs; opening the Black Mountain campus to serve northern Maricopa County; opening a number of new campus facilities (Health Sciences, Life Sciences, Q Building, and the KSC expansion), and bringing diversity, inclusion and equity forward as a primary college initiative. Additionally, PVCC has been a system leader in innovation (three Innovation of Year the Awards) and nationally recognized by the Aspen Institute as “a top 150” community college in the nation.
What advice do you have for students who will be taking their first online courses at PVCC this Fall?
I would encourage students to become comfortable with the technology that supports online learning (Canvas, video conferencing tools, Google docs, etc.) and utilize good time management skills. Stay ahead of the assignments, and communicate and engage with your professor and students in the course. I am confident in the high quality of online learning at PVCC.
What makes PVCC unique?
We know the single biggest predictor of student persistence and completion is the degree to which they are an active and engaged learner. We also believe that learning is a means to greater ends including economic and social mobility. Secondly, our vision speaks to the notion of positive social change - the belief that students will leave PVCC with the skills, values and desire to help make our community a better place and to engage in solving some of the most difficult social problems such as racism, illiteracy, food insecurities and homelessness.
What is PVCC doing to value and support diversity and inclusion?
For many years, PVCC has had college-wide diversity, inclusion and equity goals. These goals reflect action around embedding diversity and inclusion into the curriculum, engaging in social justice, and increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff. Currently, efforts are underway led by Dr. Versha Anderson and Dr. Norma Chandler for our overall efforts around Diversity and Inclusion. Additionally, Dr. Stephanie Bjork and Professor Leila Palis are leading our work to close attainment equity gaps in the classroom. It’s an exciting time to be at PVCC and see how this work is impacting a larger group of people in many positive ways.
What do you enjoy most about being president of PVCC?
I most enjoy seeing learning “come alive” as passionate and committed faculty and staff engage with students with both high levels of support and academic rigor. I am very proud of our All Points Leadership approach that yields sustainable innovation, creating the most optimal learning experiences for students. I start and end my day being thankful that my life’s work leads to students becoming lifelong learners - critical, creative and entrepreneurial thinkers. I also appreciate the connections with the community and our partnerships that demonstrates the college’s contribution to the greater public good.
What has been the most difficult part about being president? How have you overcome it?
Ensuring that the college has the financial resources to fund programs and services is always tough. We do our best to provide the needed support structures that allow faculty and staff to be successful, engaged and valued. We overcome this through the dedicated and creative approaches of the college leadership team who tirelessly work to support teaching, learning and student success.
What would you like people to know about PVCC’s faculty and staff?
The faculty and staff of PVCC care deeply about learning, students and student success. They work incredibly hard and are tireless in pursuit of excellence. Our college has a culture built on relationships and I am excited about the launching of the Puma Commitment that defines relationships based on caring, engagement, challenge, and support.
When you aren’t working, how have you been keeping busy during the pandemic?
I’m an early riser at 5:30 a.m., and take daily brisk walks along the wash near my home. I’ve also been catching up on the tall stack of books on my nightstand, and, on occasion, escape on the weekends to Flagstaff to hike and unplug from the daily digital world.
What is your favorite “quarantine food?”
Cheddar flavored popcorn, quesadillas made with any leftovers in the refrigerator, and fresh fruit.
What is something you are deeply appreciative of right now?
The good health and safety of my family and those whom I work with at PVCC.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Dale’s background and experience.