Board of Trustees: Thank you Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser for five great years at Colorado Mountain College (column)
As the Board of Trustees of Colorado Mountain College, we have a solemn duty to advance the mission of the college and, in doing so, serve the dozens of communities that make up CMC’s vast geographic service area. Our most important job, however, is selecting a president to lead the institution.
Five years ago this month, Colorado Mountain College was emerging from a trying time in the college’s otherwise exemplary history. In spite of the slate of challenges facing a new leader, Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser accepted the board’s invitation to guide the college forward. With extensive experience in higher education, private foundations and government — not to mention a deep love for the outdoors, mountaineering, rivers and other passions ideally aligned with CMC’s character and region — Hauser accepted the board’s invitation in October 2013 to lead our treasured institution.
Since the time Hauser joined CMC, the college has performed exceedingly well. Here are a few highlights:
• The college’s operating budget has grown, on average, less than inflation in every year that she has been president. Moody’s recently gave the college a financial rating of AA3, equal to the highest such rating in all higher education in Colorado, in part due to the college’s highly effective financial management and decision-making.
• Internal improvements in budgeting and organizational policies have ensured that funds are well managed, accountable and transparent. CMC allocates funds equitably to all students and campuses, and the college is always under budget at the end of the fiscal year.
• Enrollments of local students — those residing in CMC’s service area — have reached historic highs, including a near 50 percent increase in local high school students receiving free college level education through concurrent enrollment.
• Five new bachelor’s degree programs were launched — business administration, sustainability studies, nursing, elementary education and applied science. Each received approval from national accreditors and state authorizers. Students in these programs hail mostly from our local communities.
• Graduation and completion rates are up significantly and exceed the statewide performance benchmarks in all categories. The college is highly effective in preparing employees in critical fields in our rural mountain communities. Of note, Latino enrollments are up 47 percent and the graduation rate among Latino students is higher than any other population at the college.
During the past year, CMC proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary, paying tribute to its early founders and land donors, engaging thousands of alumni, employees and students and thanking voters for creating a special local taxing district to support the college by a measure of 2-to-1. As trustees, we believe the college is enjoying the best years in its history, and its future is very bright indeed.
Highly effective college and university leaders are in high demand nationally and are often in scant supply. Thus, competition for great college presidents can be fierce. As one would expect, search firms routinely approach Hauser to consider other executive positions across the country. This is why we are especially pleased to report that she recently accepted a new four-year contract with CMC, thus ensuring that the transformative progress she has led will continue into the foreseeable future.
The higher education landscape is changing dramatically, and many colleges throughout the country are struggling to adapt. Not CMC. Resulting from Hauser’s inspired and creative leadership, our institution is modernizing its policies, changing its approaches and adjusting its modes of delivery to ensure Colorado Mountain College remains highly relevant to our local communities and state, financially solvent and focused on the needs of its students, its communities and its future.
The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees are Patty Theobald, District 4, Summit County Trustee, Board President; Ken Brenner, District 5, Routt County Trustee; Pat Chlouber, District 6, Lake County Trustee; Charles Cunniffe, District 1, Pitkin County Trustee; Doris Dewton (outgoing)/Chris Romer (incoming), District 7, Eagle County Trustee; and Peg Portscheller, District 3, West Garfield County Trustee.