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Pima Community College hopes to boost enrollment

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pima Community College is making a new effort to reverse a steady drop in enrollment that also has University of Arizona officials concerned.

The Arizona Daily Star reports Pima Community College officials have set up a task force to figure out why the number of new students has dropped by double digits recently.

The college says the task force will gather data on potential target markets and will also hire a consultant.

"The people here who are working to address this are so committed it's unbelievable," said Zelema Harris, interim provost at PCC.

According to campus data, PCC saw full-time enrollment go down by 10 percent college-wide and as high as 14 percent at some campuses during the spring semester. The decline comes on the heels of a 9 percent and 11 percent decrease college-wide in fall 2013 and fall 2012, respectively.

UA officials are monitoring the efforts since the university typically gains most of its transfer students from the college.

"We're really rooting for them because we're both critical to the future of Tucson and the state," UA Vice President Melissa Vito said. "Right now, they are our largest feeder school."

According to Kasey Urquidez, UA's dean of admissions, 1,200 of the 40,000 students to register last fall came from Pima. So far, that number has stayed consistent, she added. The university needs to enroll at least 1,000 transfer students over the next five years to meet goals set by the campus' governing board.

Pima Community College has been dealing with several problems in recent months. The school recently lost its accredited status because of administrative failures. A former chancellor was accused of sexual harassment. The school also allegedly mistreated student veterans and allowed unauthorized changes to admission standards.

Harris, however, attributes the enrollment slide to the economy. Enrollment tends to go down when the economy is in recovery, she said. With the task force, Harris is hopeful the school is on track to tackle the problem.

"This isn't just about bringing in more students and doing the same things we've been doing," she said. "It's about evaluating everything we do to make sure that once students get here they can be successful."

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