Innovation of the Year: Past Winners

Dr. Paul M. Pair Award

This Districtwide Innovation of the Year Award is named in memory and in honor of Dr. Paul M. Pair, long-time member and former president of the Maricopa Colleges Foundation board. 

About Dr. Paul M. Pair


Dr. Paul M. Pair embodies the saying, "The only constant today is change." An educator, innovator, lecturer, and member of several computer and education associations, Paul earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from McPherson College in 1922. He soon earned his Masters in Education from the University of Washington and commenced his life of education-related travels. Over the years, he has served as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, director of several prominent business schools, and eventually co-founder and director with his wife, Pauline, of the Pair School of Business in Chicago.

Feeling strongly that education is a lifelong experience and that persons must not be afraid to train and retrain and even change careers several times, Paul and his son Reese continued as pioneers in the field of data processing education and co-founded The Automation Institution of Chicago. Paul and Pauline have been responsible for the creation of scholarships at McPherson College, Control Data Corporation, Tarleton State University, and Arizona State University. Four perpetual scholarships have been created in Paul Pair's honor.

Dr. Pair likes to quote Longfellow in summarizing his life-long dedication to education: "Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time!"  

Adapted from Glendale Community College archives

Award Winners


Estrella Mountain Community College

Estrella First-Generation of Many Student Conference, Celebrating and Building Community

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) serves approximately 67% of students who identify as first-generation (FG) college students.  To further EMCC’s mission that learning happens anytime, anyway, any place, the First Generation of Many Student Conference (FGM) supports student development. It allows EMCC students to learn new skills that will help them succeed while enrolled at EMCC and provide them the social capital to be successful beyond our campus.  FGM took place virtually on November 13, 2020, and offered participants the chance to hear from a keynote speaker and attend breakout sessions.  Based on theory and research, breakout session topics were carefully selected to build community and garner success: imposter syndrome, financial literacy, wellness, writing, family support, and more. By hosting FGM virtually, it has allowed the planning committee to create a program that can be accessed at any time, to even more students, and be replicated for future semesters.


Rio Salado College

Full Cart

According to a survey done in 2019 by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, more than 60 percent of students had experienced food insecurity within the past 30 days or housing insecurity within the past year. A majority of Rio Salado College students are taking courses online and therefore may not travel to our Rio Salado sites during the course of a semester. For this reason and to assist our students who are faced with financial challenges and as a result not being able to buy food, Rio initiated a partnership with‚ Full Cart‚ to provide food packages to Rio Salado students regardless of their place of residence. The Rio Salado College Family has embraced this partnership and we are on track to assist literally hundreds of students from across the country. The innovative partnership has had a positive impact on student success and retention. Nearly 70% of students who received emergency food assistance have remained enrolled and successfully completed. This project has provided equitable access to food for our students and ensured that students do not go hungry. 


Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Chandler-Gilbert Community College's Food and Green Waste Recycling Program: An Ongoing Collaborative Project Model for Sustaining Student Learning, Success, and Creativity, through Experiential Learning

The Food and Green Waste Recycling Program established a receptacle system that facilitates the separation of food waste generated on campus and the design of a digester machine that recycles food and green waste into liquid fertilizer. Students play an integral role in this program giving them cross-disciplinary, experiential learning opportunities.


GateWay Community College

N.O.W. – No Opportunity Wasted (a Collaborative Retention Program)

The N.O.W. (No Opportunity Wasted) program is designed to help students be successful and regain their federal financial aid when they have become ineligible due to bad Student Academic Progress. Students complete a self-assessment (GRIT scale), create an individual educational plan, meet with a counselor throughout the semester and continue their educational journey.


Phoenix College

The Phoenix College Syllabus Project

Syllabi meeting MCCCD guidelines help students understand important information for their success in a course and college. The Phoenix College Syllabus Project is our campus-wide process for the management of all course syllabi. The project helps ensure faculty are aware of and provides guidance and tools to more easily meet MCCCD syllabus requirements.


Glendale Community College

Partners in the Teaching Profession

In order to meet the urgent needs of schools and the challenges of 21st century classrooms, GCC Teacher Education Program (TEP) has partnered with local K8 schools to create diverse opportunities for future teachers to connect education theory with its practical application while under the expert guidance of mentor teachers. Not only do GCC students benefit, but K8 students are introduced to “real live” college students who serve as role models for college and career readiness.


Phoenix College

MyPC Mobile Application for Students

The Phoenix College Information Technology team developed an innovative, free, easy-to-use mobile application to provide students with personalized class schedules, a list of required books, interactive campus maps, and printing balances to promote student success. In the spirit of One Maricopa, this successful application has been shared across the district.


Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Environmental Technology Center

The Environmental Technology Center (ETC) is a two-acre outdoor learning laboratory that gives students experiential learning opportunities to explore the importance of carrying capacities in relation to human population. 


Mesa Community College

Fast Tracking the Dream to College Completion

Fast Tracking the Dream to College Completion is an innovative community partnership that minimizes financial barriers to earning a college education. Since 2008-09, 413 low to moderate income students developed financial literacy skills and leveraged personal savings of $261,309.00 with matching funds totaling more than $783,926.00 to finance their education.


Phoenix College

Arizona State University/Phoenix College Partnership Program for Medical Laboratory Science

Phoenix College and Arizona State University implemented a 90:30 agreement for a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Science in Fall 2010 to meet the demand for Laboratory professionals. Students can essentially earn a bachelor’s degree on the Phoenix College campus. Hybrid delivery and videoconferencing technology expand the program statewide. 


Paradise Valley Community College

Puma Athletic Web System

Puma Athletic Web System (PAWS) is a web-based application designed, developed, and built in-house by a cross-functional collaborative team. It was designed primarily to monitor student-athlete academic progress with an early alert system. It also features student-athlete eligibility and degree progress to assist student-athletes with successful course and degree completion.


Phoenix College

Schedule e-Zine - Digital Interactive Class Schedule and Supplemental Information

During the spring of 2009, Phoenix College stopped printing the schedule and went completely online. To compliment the Maricopa Community Colleges online schedule, Phoenix College created an interactive digital magazine, the Schedule e-Zine–giving students an enhanced search feature and the ability to leisurely flip through a full listing of classes offered.


Paradise Valley Community College

Web-Based Class Schedule

The web-based class schedule is designed as a dynamic environment to assist students in managing their time and resources through a class schedule-building tool accompanied by full course information and requirements. Enhanced functionality within the class schedule engages students in crafting an appropriate semester timeline that contributes towards their success.


Rio Salado College

Textbook Savings Program

The Textbook Savings Program, which reduces Rio Salado’s textbook prices by an average of 51% while improving learning efficiency, is a unique model that successfully addresses this national concern. It combines the college-wide adoption of customized textbooks from a single publisher and the alignment of textbook content with course competencies.


Chandler-Gilbert Community College

myCGC Portal

myCGC Portal is a one-stop-shop entryway to the web for CGCC students, faculty and staff, which allows them to access a multitude of resources online, including academic check sheets, teacher evaluations, electronic portfolios, class rosters, class schedules, athletic grade checks, academic and career planning tools, a calendar of events, and much more. This tool has created an interactive network where students, faculty and staff can work together to plan for students’ persistence and success.


Mesa Community College 

Enfermeras En Escalera (E3) Program (Nurses on a Ladder)

The Enfermas en Escalera (E3) Program at Mesa Community College is a fast-track for internationally-educated nurses, with United States residency, to obtain licensure as registered nurses (RN) in Arizona. The Program’s purpose is to improve their English skills, their cultural competency, and prepare them to succeed in passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The E3 Program curriculum consists of 14 courses covering fundamentals in health care delivery, medical terminology, and nursing assisting principles. Students are concurrently enrolled in English as a Second Language to improve their English proficiency. The first cohort represented students from Cuba, France, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Vietnam. 


South Mountain Community College 

SMCC/AAEC Collaborative (SABiSCo)

The South Mountain Community College and the Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center Bioscience Collaborative (SABiSCo) developed a comprehensive biotechnology curriculum with research quality facilities creating a charter high school, MI/HSI community college, and university pathway. Students learn science concepts as they conduct original research in association with four residential Ph.D. faculty, the United States Department of Agriculture, and U.C. San Diego’s Supercomputer Human Genome Project. Students may present their scientific findings at national symposia and apply for bio-industry and federal government internships. Enrollment was 36 in spring 2003, 115 in fall 2004, and is projected to be 230 in 2005.