New Chancellor for Maricopa Community Colleges

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We’ll talk to Dr. Maria-Harper Marinick, the new chancellor for Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC) about her vision and issues facing MCC.

Jose Cardenas: Good evening and welcome to "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas. You'll hear from the head of the one of the nation's largest community college systems. Plus learn about on organization with tools to develop a business plan.

Jose Cardenas: And learn about a digital project sharing Latinos and Latinas experiences in the Pacific region.

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: The Maricopa County Community College district, ONE of the nation's largest community college systems has a new leader, Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick was officially appointed as the district's chancellor. Since March she has been serving as interim chancellor. Joining ME TO talk about her new position is Dr. Harper-Marinick. First of all, congratulations.

Maria Harper: Thank you very much.

Jose Cardenas: And I know you've been with the district for some time. Let's start with your background, just a thumbnail sketch of your person history and then your work with the district.

Maria Harper: First of all, thank you for having me on the show you what's been marked as it's always a pleasure. I am from the Dominican Republic and came to Phoenix in 198282 as a Fulbright scholar to Arizona state University. Having grown up in a place where there was a dictatorship and a lot of censorship and not enough freedom once I came to the United States I was not going back.

Maria Harper: I had the taste of freedom of speech and freedom to be whoever I chose to be. Here we are 34 years later.

Jose Cardenas: Talk about the various positions you've held in the district before your most recent appointment.

Maria Harper: I've been with Maricopa almost 25 years. I started in 1991 as an instructional designer with my doctorate. Doing a lot of work with faculty, faculty development, training, assessment, curriculum development. I did that for a few years. Then when my first child was born I actually decided to be a full-time mom. So I left Maricopa and then came bab in 1988. Since then I've gotten a few promotions, director of academic programs. Vice chance thrower academic affairs, vice chancellor for student affairs, then executive vice chancellor and provost until 2000 ten. Then I game the interim chancellor March of this year.

Jose Cardenas: We always describe as one of the largest community college district systems in the country. 100,000 students we're talking about?

Maria Harper: We are. We have several colleges people recognize, South Mountain, Rio Salado Community College, mesa, Chandlers, Gilbert collectively serving close to 240,000 students each year.

Jose Cardenas: And is it Dade, Florida, that would have the next largest? I think you go back and forth.

Maria Harper: Yeah, we do. I think one technical difference for us is that Miami-Dade is a college with multiple campuses and Maricopa system is a system with multiple colleges, each college accredited individually. Then collectively we serve the county. Miami-Dade is usually the one that comes up.

Jose Cardenas: And each of those colleges in your system have their own Presidents?

Maria Harper: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: So what's the role of the chancellor?

Maria Harper: Each college has a President. And the President and vice chancellor report to the chancellor. The job of the chancellor is to make sure we have the right policies in place, represent the system nationally and locally with the business and education community. And make sure that the resources are used judiciously. It's a very large budget, because it's a very large system. So basically running the system and working closely with the college President to make sure that the needs of the local communities are met as intended by the colleges.

Jose Cardenas: So we do want to talk about your vision and some of the challenges facing the district. But before we do that, we have talked about the size of the district. What else would you say, if you were giving your elevator speech describing the system you're now head of?

Maria Harper: It's always been a very elevated center for higher education. We are known for what we do in workforce development, entrepreneurial activities. We have Steph entrepreneurial study. The colleges hold the small business development centers and have responsibility for the whole state of Arizona. So we have a mission of providing the opportunity for people to either develop skills or a great career or get a better job. We also have a very strong nationally recognized transfer partnership with Arizona state and the other public Universities.

Jose Cardenas: As you've indicated the system provides a lot of services to the state of Arizona.

One of the challenges is the fact that the state of Arizona keeps cutting the funding it's a now almost nothing, right?

Maria Harper: Well, it is nothing. It's actually zero beginning this fiscal year. Well, we have the ability to increase tuition, our board. And the board also lass has the ability to increase property taxes. So that's where the large percentage of the resources come from. So what we are going to have to do now is we can't increase tuition every year, we can't increase taxes every year. We don't want to price colleges at a point where the people for whom we exist wouldn't be able to afford it. We're going have to look at things and be more efficient and see how we can find resources and reallocate so the services and the access to programs and courses not impacted negatively. That's why we exist.

Jose Cardenas: As you have indicated the district has been recognized in many ways nationally for its programs and services. What would the district look like five years from now under your leadership?

Maria Harper: What I would love to see is that we have developed the ability to generate resources in an innovative way. That we have new programs and an ability to meet the needs of the business community. We have regions, sectors in the state that we know generate jobs in the future, energy is Jose Cardenas: one of them and high tech manufacturing, technology and so on. So what I would love to see is that the district becomes to much mind for the business community. That when there is a new company coming in, they know the collegeS cAN provide the training that we need. When a company wants to help an employee's career they think first of the Maricopa colleges. That it is the place to go for the business community in our state to receive all of the services required to help employees develop professionally one of the issues you've had to do with is double-teamers. We've talked about tuition for Dreamers.

Maria Harper: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: I know there's litigation till ongoing but what do you hope to see happen with the Dreamers?

Maria Harper: We've always been welcoming of all people in our state, including Dreamers. And we've actually provided tuition for Dreamers in 2012, Dreamers with DAS documentation. One of the difficulties -- and by the way, some of the top students, we have honor students who are Dreamers, we have students who do extremely well. One of the difficulties is generating enough resources to provide scholarships. And scholarships at the colleges and then scholarships for those who want to transfer to the Universities. So if I had something on my wish list, it's that we would have access for individuals and entities and nonprofit organizations that would be willing to support the students financially.

Jose Cardenas: Even though they are now eligible for in-state tuition, financial issues still proliferate.

Maria Harper: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: How many kids are we talking about?

Maria Harper: I don't know the recent count but it's thousands of people. It's a very large system, obviously.

Jose Cardenas: And a very large Latino population.

Maria Harper: It's been the population has been increasing for the system every year. As an example last year by the end of the academic year we have served 47,000 Latino students. It's also the population that has increased performance in all of the measures that we track, include how they do in courses and completion and how many certificates they are getting. It's very satisfying to see. It's not by accident. We have very intentional initiatives in place to support our Latino students and we are beginning to see the results of that.

Jose Cardenas: We want to put a few pictures up on the screen towards the end of the interview here. This first one actually ties in with what we're talking about.

Maria Harper: This is the Hispanic convocation. That happened just Saturday. And it is -- we had record attendance, over 400 students. We had over 1200 family and friends in attendance. You know how we are, when we graduate we bring the whole family. It's a good thing, it was a huge celebration. But I was just very excited and thrilled to see that we had over 400 students that came to the convocation.

Jose Cardenas: And your own life story is inspiring for these students, I know. The next picture there's one write think you were the keynote speaker and that was the subject of your presentation.

Maria Harper: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: You were talking about your life story. Tell us about that.

Maria Harper: Yes. South Mountain Community College during women's month, that was in March. And they had asked me to come and be the keynote speaker for the students for the lunch. And that they wanted to hear my life story and how I came to be where I am and to do the kinds of things that I do. I usually tell students when they ask, I say yes. If I have to clear my calendar I will. I get a lot of my energy from see students that we serve.

Jose Cardenas: Speaking of students, the last two pictures are of two student groups. One of them are award recipients, I think it's the medallion --

Maria Harper: The chancellors -- yes. The chancellor's medallion for civic engagement. Those are student who submit an application explaining the work they do out in the community and how they volunteer and where they volunteer and why they do that. They go through a selection process. Then we have a nice lunch and invite them and they receive the med canyon and a certificate from the chancellor. That was just last week. It's very exciting to see that.

Jose Cardenas: And this last picture, you had to convince them that you were the right person for the job, right?

Maria Harper: I did, I did. During the process for the chancellor, I had to participate in Eight interviews and public forums. And the one picture is the public forum with the students who plant the [indiscernible] and asked all the questions. I had no idea of questions were coming or how many people were coming. I called it an open mic. They had very insightful experience. I promised them if I became the chancellor I would hold listening sessions like that at least twice a year.

Jose Cardenas: Obviously they liked what they heard, you were selected and our congratulations.

Maria Harper: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

Maria Harper: Always a pleasure.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you. ¶¶ ¶¶ ¶¶

Jose Cardenas: The DAS Foundation gives local entrepreneurs financial support and the tools to develop a business plan to start or grow their own business. Here to talk about the Foundation is Regina Duran, founder of the DAS Foundation. Welcome to "Horizonte." The name of your foundation is actually taken from the Spanish verb dar, to give. Tell us how you came to choose that name.

Regina Duran: Of course, and thank you for inviting me. If you think about it if we start giving to other ones, to help someone else, if someone helps us we can help a lot more people. So talking about a little bit of help to put the name into that, if we are trying to help Hispanics, the Spanish is dar, das, you will give someone, you will give opportunity to that person to achieve something.

Jose Cardenas: You yourself are a successful businesswoman transplanted from Mexico City. What made you think you need to do do in addition to all the other time you spent on your own business?

Regina Duran: Probably because I always think about this as a pay it forward. When I arrived in this country almost 17 years ago someone helped me. I had a mentor, I had someone that says you have to finish the study, you have to go to school, finish your master's, continue education. Then after that I was able to have my own business, I said I need to pay what I have received, you know, to something to, do something that I can probably help or improve the life of someone else. So that was the idea of doing this foundation and to try to give something of what we have.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand the Foundation itself is only a couple years old but you've been doing this for, what, the last five, seven years?

Regina Duran: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: And what are the kind of services that you offer to other Hispanic entrepreneurs?

Regina Duran: Well, there's something that probably triggers all this. Even something that my dad always told me about. It is that he says, if you teach how to fish, people would eat every day. But if you just give them the fish they will just eat one day. So with that in mind I said, if I teach them what I know, if I encourage them to know or to have their own business, then they will have a way to survive and to grow, and to be successful, and to pay taxes and do all the things that we want or we hope for the Latinos. So when you teach them you are giving them the tools. So I start giving basic business classes in different community centers. You know, Universities, for adults.

Jose Cardenas: And you're back, you're an accountant by training?

Regina Duran: I'm an accountant, I have a master's in business.

Jose Cardenas: Do you return into Hispanic businesspeople who have trouble getting started?

Regina Duran: Almost all of my clients at the time were empirical. They will do their business the way they know how to do it, instead of the correct way to do it, you know, that will improve, a better success for them. So when they have that knowledge, they became better entrepreneurs. So my clients were in the need of knowledge. They wanted to know how to manage a restaurant or how to have another one.

Jose Cardenas: One of the things you do to impart this knowledge, you have a program, a big event. We have pictures from the first one, we're going put on the screen. It actually reflects the financial part of this. You assist companies with an award.

Regina Duran: That's the idea. And hopefully we will be able to do that every year, not only one, three or five awards. That's just like the push, the financial push that you need to have or to open that business that you have a dream for.

Jose Cardenas: And the award recipients, it's based on a business plan?

Regina Duran: They have to prepare a business plan. Like I said to the people, at least you will win no, matter if you receive the money or not, you are going to win because you are going plan, prepare yourself for the dream that you have. And that way with or website the money you have a beginning.

Jose Cardenas: And the next picture we have it gives you a sense for the event itself, a big room a lot of people. What are they doing?

Regina Duran: Well, we have that day two events. In the morning was the breakfast for the awards ceremony. And we were giving that day the first award for the entrepreneur, Hispanic entrepreneur of the year. After we had more than 500 people that were in a kind of workshop that was everything about financial, you know, it's to transform your life.

Jose Cardenas: And was this your guest speaker for the workshop?

Regina Duran: Yes. His name is Andres Gutierrez, he's from Texas but he's all around the United States. A lot of people came to this event from California and from Texas, because they, you know, like the way he teaches. So we were able to make it possible for him to come here.

Jose Cardenas: Looks like it was very successful event and we're looking forward to hearing more about it as you go on. Thank you for joining "Horizonte" to talk about it.

Regina Duran: Thank you, thank you for the invitation.

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Jose Cardenas: The Latino Pacific archive is an interactive digital archive letting people know about the historical contributions of Latinos and Latinas in the Asian Pacific defect. With us is professor Rudy Guevarra of the Asian Pacific-American Studies School of Transformation.

Rudy Guevarra: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: You've got some fascinating things to share in places we didn't expect to find them.

Jose Cardenas: Particularly in Hawaii.

Rudy Guevarra: It wasn't until I was actually there and seeing more and more Spanish being spoken around me and watching and just interacting and seeing people I would assume were Latinos. I would have the conversations and I would learn about their stories and why they came.

Jose Cardenas: It's not a recent development in Hawaii, anyway. Tell us about the history of Mexicans in Hawaii.

Rudy Guevarra: The first recorded presence of Mexicans in Hawaii was in 1832, when king kamaHAMEA, II asked people from Mexico to come and show Hawaiians how to control the cattle populations. Out of that sort of cultural exchange came a cultural interaction between Mexicans and Hawaiians.

Jose Cardenas: This has been an area of study in your own field for some time.

Rudy Guevarra: Yes, I've been working on this project pretty much after my first book. While I was working on my first book i figured this would be the next project. Nobody had really done anything very constantly on the presence of Latinos as a collective group in Hawaii.

Jose Cardenas: That's the other interesting tidbit -- Well, it's all interesting -- how did that happen?

Rudy Guevarra: When I was doing the groundwork for my book on Latinos in Hawaii, one of my colleagues teaching in New Zealand said there's Latinos out here, too, you should check it out. I got a grant and went out and started to meet the Latino community out there and having conversations, just being part of the community events. With all of this information that I was getting, all these photographs and community archives being shared with me, I worked with my partners, one from the polytechnic institute and one from the University of Hawaii, and we decided to build a interdisciplinary collaborative website that would allow students, educators and the general public to have access to these archives.

Jose Cardenas: Andths a work in progress?

Rudy Guevarra: Yes, that's a work in progress.

Jose Cardenas: I want to make sure we get it on the screen before our interview ends. The first is not unusual in the sense of people that are shown here, these are agricultural workers but they are in Hawaii.

Rudy Guevarra: Yes, these are a group of Latinos, some Mexican and some Central American pineapple workers on the island of Maui.

Jose Cardenas: And we've got another pineapple worker, I guess it's a scene inside one of the sorting areas?

Rudy Guevarra: Yes. One of the individuals I interviewed, I think this particular -- I wasn't sure if it was Maui or Oahu because he worked on a custom of different islands. He started as a pineapple workers but then traveled around doing different kind of agricultural work.

Jose Cardenas: They come from California and other parts of the continental United States in Latin America or are they there year-round?

Rudy Guevarra: Some were being recruited to work for a specific time and then go back to the continental United States, or to their home countries in Latin America.

Jose Cardenas: We're almost out of time. You can't have Latinos without soccer but this is also in Hawaii, is that right?

Rudy Guevarra: Yes. I believe also on Maui. A lot of pineapple workers come for recreation.

Jose Cardenas: And this shows the impact of the Latino culture in Hawaii.

Rudy Guevarra: This is a somos amigos festival occurring in early 2000 also on the island of Maui.

Jose Cardenas: And Mexican food of course in Hawaii.

Rudy Guevarra: Here's Martha and her son Reynaldo. He's Mexican and Korean.

Jose Cardenas: And we're just about out of time. One last thing, you are self-described as mex-pino.

Rudy Guevarra: Yes, Mexican Filipino.

Rudy Guevarra: Yes, particularly in California and other parts of the Pacific, there's been many generations.

Jose Cardenas: We've got get you back to talk about this, there's so much to talk about.

Rudy Guevarra: Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas: That is our show for tonight, thanks for watching. From all of us here at "Horizonte" and all of us here at Arizona PBS, thank you for watching, I'm Jose Cardenas.

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you. Captioning Performed By LNS Captioning www.LNScaptioning.com

Dr. Maria-Harper Marinick: Chancellor for Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC)

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