A lifelong commitment to inclusion and equality is Faculty Emeritus Leland (Lee) Scott’s enduring legacy at the institution he helped create—Pima Community College.
A Methodist minister, Scott came to Tucson in 1958 to lead the Wesley Foundation at First United Methodist Church on the University of Arizona campus. He earned a Ph.D. from Yale in Religion, but chose ministerial life over academic life initially.
“He really was all about community and caring,” noted his daughter, Nancy Scott, who is a special education tutor in Seattle.
“He struggled as a Campus Minister, because he wanted so much to be out in the community working with the disenfranchised and meld that with his love for academics.”
A decade later, he got his wish. Scott was asked to move to the campus ministry at Arizona State University, but declined for personal reasons. A son, David, was born with spina bifida, and his wife, Kaysie, had rheumatoid arthritis, which caused chronic pain and impaired her mobility.
In 1969, Scott was hired as a founding faculty member at Pima. He was an academic counselor/advisor and taught humanities classes until his retirement in 1990. He was named Faculty Emeritus, one of the first to receive that honorary title from Pima.
Scott helped establish the college’s Faculty Council and the Phi Theta Kappa student scholar organization, which he felt was an important measure of achievement and academic excellence.
“Finding Pima Community College, especially at the beginning, absolutely was a godsend,” said Nancy Scott. “He just absolutely loved working there.”
“He loved the casual, egalitarian atmosphere at Pima,” added daughter Sue Scott, who is a regular on the long-running public radio program A Prairie Home Companion.
More important, “he believed that everyone should have a chance for an education, regardless of disability, financial status, race, creed, or sexual orientation. No issue—even GPA (grade point average) —should keep people from being included” in higher education,” she said.
One of Scott’s proudest achievements at Pima was seeing his son graduate in 1979 and continue his studies at the University of Arizona.
“David and my Dad were very close. He was his aide, his caregiver, and his number one buddy,” said Sue Scott. “And David was pleased that he could attend ‘Dad’s school.’”
David died in 1981, at which time the family created a scholarship in his memory in the PCC Foundation, primarily for students with physical disabilities. In the intervening years, Scott recommended others who faced financial challenges as scholarship recipients.
After their father’s death in October 2013, Sue Scott and Nancy Scott decided to rename the scholarship in his memory.
Now the David and Lee Scott Memorial Scholarship benefits full- or part-time students in any field of study who demonstrate financial need and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Applicants who have a disability have priority consideration.
“He would have liked to know that the scholarship is still vibrant and useable for students,” said Nancy Scott.