Photo Courtesy of Paradise Valley Community College

Recently, Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) honored its founding president, Dr. John Cordova, by dedicating a new Cordova Plaza at the heart of its main campus. Those in attendance at the dedication ceremony included Dr. Cordova’s friends and family, current and former staff and faculty, and previous colleagues. Dr. Cordova served the college from 1983 to 1992.

The new plaza contains a sculpture with an inscription to its namesake and highlights Dr. Cordova’s extraordinary commitment to student development and visionary leadership.

The ceremony was opened with Demetria Sheperd, a member of the Navajo Nation and PVCC recruitment specialist, who provided the acknowledgment that PVCC is located on the traditional lands of the Akimel O’odham, Pima, and Hohokam peoples.

From there, PVCC President Dr. Paul Dale welcomed the attendees by offering tribute to Dr. Cordova’s dream to establish the college from a temporary business office offering testing, advisement, and college referrals for 365 students (known as the Northeast Valley Education Center) to what would later become the Paradise Valley Community College Center campus.

“Approximately 35 years ago, John wrote that ‘colleges are not simply bricks and mortar, they are reflections of what individuals believe about students, and how those students learn,’” says Dale. “So, it’s fitting that we identify this plaza to recognize him and this public space where people come together to make connections, learn and become an integral part of the college.”

Maricopa Community College Governing Board Member and President Emeritus of Rio Salado College, Dr. Linda Thor, concurs. “As the founding president of Paradise Valley Community College, he was placed ahead of his time in his belief that every employee had the opportunity to help students learn and grow,” she says. “Years later, as the learning-centered concept swept the nation, proposing that colleges involve students as partners in the learning process, Paradise Valley Community College was already engaged in this transformation. For this culture John built, we owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Upon accepting the award, Dr. Cordova addressed the crowd by recognizing those in the audience who were instrumental in helping to build the foundation of student success on which PVCC now stands.

“In building this college, we wanted everyone to be on board with the philosophy, dreams, and aspirations that we had for our young scholars,” Cordova says. “Because we were rooted in this, when students came to us, we would greet them at the door, at the level in which they came, and we would help them transform to the level they aspired to, not our levels.”