Polis signs bill to let CMC expand degree programs | VailDaily.com

Polis signs bill to let CMC expand degree programs

Staff Report
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently signed into law HB19-1153, which authorizes Colorado Mountain College to expand the number of bachelor’s degree it offers. Witnesses to the signing were, from left, CMC Trustees Patty Theobald and Pat Chlouber, bill co-sponsors Rep. Jim Wilson and Rep. Julie McCluskie, Summit County residents Flor Valdez Cuz (an alumna) and Stephanie Beste (a current student), and bill co-sponsor Sen. Kerry Donovan. (Not shown is the bill’s fourth co-sponsor, Sen. Bob Rankin.)

Gov. Jared Polis last Friday signed a bill authorizing Colorado Mountain College to offer more than five bachelor’s degree programs.

The bill cleared both chambers of the Colorado Legislature unanimously, co-sponsored by a bipartisan team of Rep. Julie McCluskie and Sen. Kerry Donovan, both Democrats, and Rep. Jim Wilson and Sen. Bob Rankin, both Republicans.

Current CMC student Stephanie Beste testified during House and Senate Education committee hearings that offering more degrees at CMC will allow people to stay and invest in rural mountain communities rather than move to larger cities.

“I ask you to think about [people living in] our rural communities. Help them stay without the complete relocation of their families. Keep them here to receive their bachelor’s. Help us grow the people around us,” Beste said.

Beste, a nontraditional student and financial aid advisor at CMC, is seeking a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

CMC first started offering bachelor’s degree programs in 2010, and at that time was limited to only five programs. Under the updated law the college’s board will be able to set a new limit on the number of degrees offered.

“Based on the lessons we learned in offering those first five degrees, we are being asked again by local residents, employers and taxpayers to broaden our degree offerings to meet workforce demands,” CMC President Carrie Hauser said in a statement. “Doing so will also contribute to Colorado’s higher education master plan and help to sustain the state’s dynamic and rapidly changing economy.”

CMC’s current five bachelor’s degree programs are in nursing, elementary education, business administration, sustainability studies, and leadership and management.

With the expanded authorization in place, CMC plans to be selective and thoughtful about offering new degree programs. College leaders are considering degrees that would support employers in high-growth health care fields, local government and secondary (middle and high school) education, according to a press release.