CMC business programs pay off

Students in demand command quality salaries after graduating

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— When business students at the Alpine Campus of Colorado Mountain College go back to school Aug. 28, they'll have something to aim for particularly those students in the ski and snowboard business program.

Professor Chuck Hull said one of his former students is now the CEO of a Canadian firm and is knocking down an annual salary of almost $250,000. Hull wouldn't name the former student, who graduated about five years ago, but said the alumnus has become a valuable connection for the ski and snowboard business program at CMC, hosting about 12 internships annually.

The ski and snowboard business program at CMC is entering its 16th year, and has grown to about 50 students. But there is much more to the business program at the local campus.

Larry Lucas, assistant campus dean, said this week it's no coincidence that there is a rich variety of business courses available at the Alpine Campus. While the Spring Valley Campus in Glenwood Springs specializes in veterinary technology and photography, and the Leadville campus specializes in ski area operations, the Alpine Campus is dedicated to its strength in business courses.

"About half of our student body enrolls in at least one business course and half of our faculty members have business backgrounds," Lucas said.

In addition to core business courses, there are departments like computer science and accounting and resort management that broaden the width and depth of course offerings, Lucas said.

Students can study in-depth courses like the legal environment of business taught by Professor Roger Segler, or principles of management taught by David Moss, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology, an MBA in business management to go with it, and is a retired Army colonel, as is Segler.

"We have a great number of adjunct faculty with strong business backgrounds," Lucas said. "Moss is one of our renaissance men."

CMC will offer two evening seminars this fall that should prove fascinating to a broad audience of people. A non-credit course will involve students in playing the stock market game in September and October. The course will be led by a veteran stock broker, Mike Trinen of A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., of Fort Collins. And on Aug. 29, consultant Jeff Meyer will teach a three-hour course designed to set students on a course toward debt-free living.

Students who take the 11 core business courses can easily transfer those credits to four-year institutions, Lucas said. And many students follow that track before completing their two-year degree in Steamboat.

Lucas said the accounting program, although not very large, is an important part of the curriculum both here in Steamboat and at other campuses in the CMC system.

"Pat Turner leads the accounting program," Lucas said. "She is a CPA with a master's degree and she's very focused on her program.

Students at CMC can earn a two-year associate's degree in accounting. Turner reaches out to students on other campuses through CMC's interactive video system.

"One of our goals is to allow a student to complete a degree from a distance," Lucas said. "About two-thirds of Pat's teaching load is over the interactive video system. If there are one or two students at each site who need a specific class, we can reach them this way."

Another program that adds depth to the business offerings is represented by four courses in business communication offered by adjunct faculty member Patti Asbury. She has a master's degree in communication and teaches workshops throughout the state. Students who complete her series of half-credit courses in listening, professional and business speaking, nonverbal communication and interpersonal business communication can earn a special certificate from CMC.

Professor Terry Hunter oversees the resort management program at CMC and, like Hull, he said the demand for his graduates is very strong.

"We can't graduate students fast enough. If you have the skills and motivation, the world is your oyster right now," Hunter said. "It's almost limitless what you can do and how quickly you can move up. My two-year associate degree graduates would typically begin as entry level supervisors. But within 12 to 24 months they are general and regional managers."

The 50 students in the resort management program can go into property management, restaurant management or sales. At CMC, about 98 percent of his students are working full time, getting experience in their chosen field, Hunter said. Two-year grads who land an entry level job at a chain restaurant on Colorado's Front Range can expect a salary of about $32,000 plus benefits to begin.

"They're going to earn their money, but at last the money is good," Hunter said.

Hull said the ski and snowboard program reaches out to an international group of students.

"We're one of the few programs that is really this specific." Hull said. "We have had students from Japan, Finland, Norway and Bulgaria."

A quick glance at the course schedule for ski and snowboard business could be misleading; it's heavy in courses dealing with specific skills like boot fitting and ski tuning.

Hull said his students also must complete a range of challenging courses in statistics, accounting, retailing and advertising.

CMC doesn't have a career placement office, but Hull said his 30 years of experience in the ski and snowboard business have generated the kinds of contacts that can place his graduates in their first job.

CMC graduates like Ayako Sumida, with Burton Snowboards in Japan, and Marty Carrigan, an executive with Palmer Snowboards, are among high-achieving CMC alumnae.

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