Vail Valley: Colorado Mountain College one step closer to four-year programs
Vail, CO, Colorado
DENVER – A bill allowing Colorado Mountain College’s campuses to offer four-year degrees passed out of the Senate education committee Wednesday.
As of now, CMC only provides two-year associate degrees. CMC’s board of trustees already OK’d making four-year degrees a reality, but the measure must first be passed by the state Legislature.
State Sen. Dan Gibbs introduced the bill. He said the committee passed it 7-1, and the next step is to bring it to the full Senate floor.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve crossed this first threshold, and we have a lot of work to do,” said Colorado Mountain College spokeswoman Debra Crawford.
Gibbs said Colorado’s mountain communities are underserved regarding higher education – CMC’s service spans a 12,000-square-mile radius with seven campuses throughout the region, including facilities Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.
CMC President Dr. Stan Jensen said college officials were “very excited” about the Senate education committee’s support for the bill. He said it would improve education accessibility in rural Colorado, and impact the entire state.
“This is the first step forward in achieving the goal of allowing CMC to provide bachelor’s degrees,” Gibbs said. “This could potentially be the one bright spot in higher education for the state this year.”
Colorado’s Department of Higher Education still has its reservations about the bill, however, and Gibbs said its executive director, Ricco Munn, spoke against the bill Wednesday.
The department has been opposed to the mountain college bill because it wants to give its strategic planning committee a chance to make its own goals and recommendations on the future of Colorado’s higher education. It’s not the essence of the bill that the department is opposed to, but the timing of it.
The bill could be taken to the floor as soon as Friday, but Gibbs said it will likely be reviewed in the next few weeks. If it’s approved by the state Senate, it will then be introduced to the state House of Representatives.
“The bill could potentially be signed by the end of March if it moves through with no opposition,” Gibbs said.
Crawford said CMC is currently surveying its students and host communities about what types of degrees they’d like to see offered.
“We’d love to be able to offer degrees in the fall if everything comes together,” she said. “But if it takes longer, that’s OK, too.”
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