Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., has lured away Shoreline Community College’s president, Lee Lambert, effective July 1, both colleges announced Friday.
Pima is much larger than Shoreline, with six campuses serving 85,000 credit and non-credit students, Lambert said. He will be paid $290,000 a year in Arizona, compared with around $187,000 at Shoreline.
Lambert said his main motivation for the job change is “having a larger platform to drive the things I care about,” such as raising low math levels, and closing the “achievement gap” for lower-income or limited-English speaking students. Also, Lambert said he would help Pima develop its relatively new programs dealing with climate change, including solar and renewable power technologies.
Lambert also criticized the low level of state support and rising tuition in Washington, saying this state is reducing access to some would-be community college students. “They [Pima] have resources to do things, that we don’t have here in Washington,” he said.
Lambert, a 1992 Seattle University law graduate, was among four finalists to become chancellor in Arizona. Shoreline’s trustees had tried to keep him home. Pima is currently on two-year probation, from an accreditation board, for lapses in board oversight and financial management, as well as sexual harassment claims against a former chancellor. Lambert, 50, said he’s not fazed by that. “I love challenge. When you have an opportunity to go to the eighth-largest community college district in the country, challenges don’t get any larger than that.”