Colorado Mountain College close to four-year degrees |

Colorado Mountain College close to four-year degrees

Caitlin Row
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

BRECKENRIDGE – With Gov. Bill Ritter’s signature on Colorado Mountain College’s four-year degree bill, the school is in its final push to offer bachelor’s degrees in the High Country. The college’s goal is to have up to five new four-year degree programs in place by fall 2011.

The college bill was signed Thursday in the Breckenridge Campus auditorium before a full house, along with other bills supported by state Sen. Dan Gibbs, state Rep. Christine Scanlan (who represents Eagle County), and state Sen. Chris Romer. Ritter signed: a bill to study “zipper lanes” on I-70 as a means of easing congestion; the “Colorado Kids Outdoors” bill to offer youth opportunities to study environmental science education; and another I-70 bill aimed at keeping slow-moving vehicles out of the left lane.

Currently, the community college, with a campus in Edwards and several others throughout western Colorado, offers only two-year associate’s degrees. With the bill signed, college officials will seek accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the blessing of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. To get necessary approvals, the community college must be able to demonstrate its need for new degree programs, as well as its ability to administer and fund them.

“Today, we can now begin to give (four-year degree) access to our community members who live in our 12,000-square-mile district,” said Lin Stickler, the college’s executive vice president. “They now have the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degrees. And we believe that we have a large number of citizens who would not otherwise go on to complete their degrees without this access.”

Stickler also said staff and faculty will be working “really hard” to get everything set.

“We will be launching top-quality programs,” she said, predicting that new four-year degrees to be offered will include teaching certifications, business (with different focuses) and environmental science.

Scanlan, the former president of the Summit County School District Board of Education, noted the bill’s likely effect on the High Country.

“Currently, mountain communities are exporting their residents because they can’t get four-year degrees in their towns,” she said. “This new law will stimulate our local economies by home-growing our own college grads who may become teachers or business owners in our communities. And we’ll increase rural accessibility. This will expand economic development in the mountain areas.”

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