Puma Press

Cigan retires after 26 years of service to PVCC


laurie cigan
Photo by Shelley Handley
Paradise Valley Community College's dean of student affairs, Shirley Green, and President Paul Dale presented Laurie Cigan, Assessment and Testing coordinator, with a plaque celebrating her outstanding service to PVCC for 26 years on Feb. 28, 2014.
On Friday, Feb. 28, from noon to 1:30 p.m., Paradise Valley Community College staff, faculty and administrators gathered in the Kranitz Student Center’s Hohokam Room for a retirement celebration for Laurie Cigan, Assessment and Testing Center coordinator.
Attendees reminisced about PVCC’s founding years and shared comments about Cigan’s 26 years of employment at PVCC.
Cigan has seen many changes occur at PVCC.  She knows firsthand of PVCC’s growth and development .
Shortly after PVCC opened its doors, Cigan began working as a testing clerk. Looking back, she recalls finding a snake in the E-Building.
“There were no classes that summer; we were testing and enrolling for f all of ‘87, so the library, Computer Commons and LRC (Learning Resource Center) were all closed until the semester started,” said Cigan. “One day, I went out into the hall to go to the ladies room, and there was a huge rattlesnake coiled up and rattling at me! I screamed like a little girl and ran to call maintenance .”

Cigan ended the story, sharing how unnerving it was to work for several weeks until the clever creature was finally apprehended and relocated to a more suitable place in the desert.

In 1987, many of the current surrounding homes and buildings did not exist. The desert landscape covered much of the campus as well as the community. From her office, Cigan recalls watching prairie dogs, jackrabbits and quail.

Almost 30 years ago, before 1987, computer-based testing was beginning to redefine college assessment practices and procedures. Cigan began training for her career with a two-year Work-Study position at Glendale Community College. Experience, coupled with a degree in computer technology qualified her for a full-time testing position at PVCC.

Moreover, to acquire more professional opportunities and development, she did an internship for a few years with GCC as it developed its computer-based testing system; she also went to Gateway Community College as a computer operator and helped to set up their Helpdesk system. After a few years, Cigan returned to PVCC as office coordinator ; and after several more years, her role evolved into the position of Assessment and Testing coordinator.
“I’ve always looked for opportunities to use my technical skills to expand my horizons, and I have been fortunate to work with people such as Dr. Shirley Green who have allowed me to do things that weren’t technically part of my job,” said Cigan.
At Cigan’s retirement celebration, Green, PVCC dean of student affairs, shared a list of Cigan’s contributions to PVCC and other colleges within the Maricopa County Community College District where she did the following:

  • Served as MTS chair twice (currently co-chair),
  • Worked on original test score upload for ASSET to the old SIS,
  • Developed Test Tracking System now used at several other colleges,
  • Piloted COMPASS computer-based placement for the District,
  • Implemented Perception computer-based test system,
  • Helped plan the first National College Testing Association conference in Arizona,
  • Helped plan first District-wide testing retreat,
  • Helped form AZACTA (Arizona Association of College Test Administrators),
  • Presented at National College Testing Association National Conference,
  • Completed application process for NCTA Accreditation for PVCC,
  • Wrote numerous software programs.

Green also commented on how she especially benefitted from Cigan’s work when she was director of Admissions.
“Because of Laurie’s computer skills in creating programs, I was able to track students’ progress and communicate with students on probation to identify their needs sooner…and I was able to welcome new students with personal letters,” said Green.
PVCC President Dr. Paul Dale presented Cigan with a plaque of appreciation for 26 years of service. “ She gets it…she understands that it is not about the technical implementation of programs but the relationships that need to happen in an office ; a school for student success….,” he said.
Cigan is retiring because she has met The Arizona State Retirement System’s criteria for retirement.
“I cannot imagine my life without PV(CC), but I am going to try,” said Cigan.
Cigan said that she will miss students and the people she works with at PVCC, and she will miss seeking out innovative programs and learning new technology in regard to her work. However, she will not miss the boring routine of compiling numbers and completing reports.
In retirement, Cigan plans to enjoy having more time to care for her family; she has been married for nearly 30 years . She has four children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild with another on the way. She intends to travel a bit and also work on her family’s genealogy with her aunt.
“I’m sure I’ll stay busy,” she said.
Cheryl Caraway, PVCC Testing technician who has worked with Cigan for over 14 years, says that the whole department will miss Cigan.
“The PVCC testing center has been Laurie's baby,” said Caraway. “She developed the center with input from those she has worked with, allowed for feedback, and asked us what worked and what didn't work. She's been our techno guru. She has found ways to make the work flow easier and more efficiently .”
Yolanda Reynoso, Student Development office coordinator, also commented that Cigan will be missed.
“She truly cares about students, and she is always more than willing to do extra work to make their lives better here at PVCC,” said Reynoso.
A purple-trimmed white cake and light refreshments were served at Cigan’s retirement party while people casually socialized, wrote her fun bucket list suggestions on handcrafted multicolor flower cards and wrote personalized comments in a formal black covered keepsake book.

Here are some words of encouragment from staff at PVCC regarding Laurie Cigan's retirement:

Dr. Paul Dale Yolanda Reynoso alison livingston Dr. Cheryl Green Cheryl Caraway
Dr. Paul Dale - PVCC President:

"Laurie was literary a part of the working relationships that founded the college; her wisdom, knowledge and skills will be greatly missed...we might as well close the darn office down when she leaves."

Yolanda Reynoso - Student Development Office Coordinator:

"She truly cares about students and the people she works with; we will miss her."

Alison Livingston - Learning Support Center Front Desk Coordinator:

"Thank you Laurie for always being so helpful and kind.
Laurie I wish you nothing but the very best."

Dr. Shirley Green - Dean of Student Affairs:

"Laurie is my friend.  She is a wonderful woman.  She is strong, she is courageous and I have appreciated knowing and working with her."

Cheryl Caraway - Testing Center Technician:

"Laurie has been so easy to work with, and our office staff will miss her."