Vail Daily letter: An amazing community asset
Colorado Mountain College has proven to be an amazing community asset in all nine counties in its service area covering some 12,000 square miles. As I step down after 15 continuous years of volunteer service to the college (because of term limits), it’s time for me to reflect upon the contribution CMC has made to our students, to our taxpayers and to our local economies — and to express my confidence in the leadership of President Carrie Besnette Hauser and her leadership team.
During eight years of service on the elected Board of Trustees (six as president) and a subsequent seven years on the CMC Foundation Board, I have witnessed the development of an educational powerhouse devoted to the success of its students. This devotion has many facets: introduction of five new bachelor’s degree programs to meet both student interests and local job needs; updated associate’s degree and certificate programs reflective of the needs in each community we serve; student success in completion of their AA degree with guaranteed transfer credits to Colorado’s four-year institutions; very low tuition rates, particularly for our in-district students; more scholarship dollars from generous donors awarded to more students with financial needs; growth in concurrent-enrollment offerings with more high school students taking college-level classes for credit; continuous retooling of curriculum in conjunction with local employers needing a skilled workforce; a very talented and dedicated faculty and administrative staff who constantly strive to do their best; and steady replacement of outdated buildings with new facilities.
CMC has proven its capacity to weather economic challenges while still providing a high-quality education to its students, even when the 2008 recession led to nearly eight years of depressed home values and sharply reduced income from the 3.997 mill levy from our taxpayers that provides nearly three quarters of the college’s income annually. It’s quite a challenging process to successfully manage the operation of some 11 separate educational sites in nine counties separated by many miles and sometimes difficult travel conditions. The leadership of Colorado Mountain College, both at Central Services in Glenwood Springs and with the campus vice-presidents in each of its seven districts, continues to make amazing strides in serving the higher education needs of the 20,000 students who come to CMC each year. The CMC Foundation has granted more than $26 million to CMC’s students and programs since 2006 and nearly $40 million since its inception in 1985. Everyone associated with CMC who devotes their time, talent and treasure (thank you, taxpayers and donors) to helping our students succeed deserves our heartfelt thanks.
As the college celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, I am certain that the incredible progress that I have witnessed during the last 15 years sets a good path for the next half century. The challenge for our community college is to remain nimble to meet the rapidly changing demands for new and high-level skills for those living in our mountain region, so they can thrive.