College looks to expand Vail Valley campus |

College looks to expand Vail Valley campus

VAIL VALLEY, – Colorado Mountain College finished its new Vail Valley campus at Edwards just a few years ago, and it’s already too small.

College administrators are already planning to expand the building, but just what those plans will look like aren’t yet set. The local representative on the college’s board and the campus director Monday sat down to talk about the school’s future with Eagle County Commissioners Sara Fisher and Jon Stavney. The school has property available at Edwards on land owned by the county, which is why the commissioners received an update about what college officials are thinking.

Campus CEO Peggy Curry said steady annual growth in student numbers and faculty has already forced college administrators to shuffle around office and classroom space. But the slumping economy has the school ready to grow in a couple of giant leaps.

The school’s enrollment in July of this year is 50 percent greater than it was in July of 2008, and Curry said she expects fall enrollment to grow further still. People out of work are looking to either add to their job skills or pick up new ones, and people drawing unemployment benefits can have them extended if they’re enrolled in job training classes.

So college officials are trying to see what the next several years might hold.

Both Curry and board member Doris Dewton said classroom space is the first priority. Beyond that, though, the conversations are far less certain.

There’s a need for all kinds of classrooms, Curry said, from 20-seat rooms to, perhaps, fairly large lecture halls. But there’s also a need for rooms for Web-based seminars and classes. Just what that mix needs to be is part of the planning process.

The college’s culinary program uses European-style apprenticeship for students, who can work while receiving college credit. The problem now, though, is that many restaurants participating in the program are giving their regular employees hours usually given to students.

That program may need to be reorganized, Curry said, in order to accommodate more people in a less restrictive format.

The school is also looking to expand its medical technology programs.

Fisher said she liked the ideas Curry and Dewton brought to the meeting Monday. The college, she said, looks like it’s working to “educate our own,” so at least some local youngsters may be encouraged to pursue careers in the valley instead of elsewhere.

In fields like auto repair, “We’re losing people to WyoTech,” Fisher said. “It’s likely they’ll live and work somewhere else if they leave because of the high cost of living here.”

Curry said college officials could have preliminary plans for the campus expansion by September or October. Any expansion would likely be paid for out of the college’s existing funds.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or at

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