The new chancellor of Pima Community College walked into the job as the college faced probation from its accrediting agency, criticism from the community and angry staff.

Lee Lambert said he understood the challenge he took on at the time.

"The core of what I walked into was lack of trust between and among individuals," Lambert said.

That was in July 2013, and after six months on the job, he said that was the right strategy.

"My whole approach was to walk in and say let me get to know people," Lambert said in a Wednesday interview.

The college has been following a schedule to respond to the reasons the Higher Learning Commission put it on probation. Lambert said he approached the people who were already working on committees to evaluate various areas of the college for flaws, successes and places where the institution could improve.

"That work was already underway as I was starting to become familiar with the institution," he said. "As I was offered the job I started to interact with some of the key members."

Since then, several PCC administrators have departed, which Lambert said has given him the chance to make changes.

"I see those as opportunities to bring in folks that reflect my values," he said. He also created a new administrative position, the executive vice chancellor of institutional effectiveness.

He filled the job with a former interim PCC chancellor, Zelema Harris. She has worked with the Higher Learning Commission in the past, Lambert said, as have a number of other people he hired this year.

That will help the college prepare to take the steps necessary to get off of probationary status, Lambert said.