Alpine Campus staffed; other CMCs struggling

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— Although Colorado Mountain College campuses statewide are experiencing teacher shortages oftentimes due to the high cost of living in mountain towns the Steamboat campus started this month with a full staff.
"A lot depends on the type of program and specific nature of the person the campus is trying to hire," CMC Alpine Campus Dean Robert Ritschel said, explaining why the local campus has a full staff. "Vacancies aren't always in the liberal arts areas. Sometimes you're looking for a specific type of person for vet medicine or technology. With those types of programs, it's very difficult to attract teachers for higher education, because particularly at this level, salaries aren't too competitive when compared to private sectors."
Roaring Fork Campus Dean Nancy Genova agreed with Ritschel. According to Genova, the college's salaries are competitive with other two-year colleges, but the money doesn't go as far when high housing costs are averaged in.
The Roaring Fork campus has three full-time vacancies in its 27-teacher staff, doubling work loads for existing professors. Even though the Steamboat campus is not in the same situation, each campus has its turn with difficulty recruiting.
"Given the high cost of housing and living, it's especially difficult to get people to come here from out of state, because moving into the area is so expensive," Ritschel said. "We don't have a particular problem finding qualified adjunct teachers, we've had tremendous luck in that area."
While adjunct professors are hard to come by on the Roaring Fork campus, there is usually a large pool of adjunct applicants who apply for open full-time positions in Steamboat.
Adjunct professors, who typically teach only one class, are paid about $23.50 an hour at the CMC schools. Those people can usually earn between $50 to $100 an hour in the private sector. The average salary for a first-year professor with a bachelor's degree is about $32,000. Those who do agree to work for a lesser wage at a school such as CMC are usually using the job as a stepping stone to higher-paying jobs, Genova said.
Nonetheless, the local campus does not have a high turnover rate, Ritschel added.
"All of our people have been here for several years," Ritschel said. "They're a very capable and dedicated staff."
Three new full-time instructors were hired for this year in Steamboat.
Bruce Beckum is a Craig resident who commutes to Steamboat for the communications and humanities position. Jennie LeRoux is a local who had been teaching as an adjunct professor before she was hired for adult basic education and development studies. John Saunders, a recent doctoral student, moved to Steamboat to teach wilderness studies.
Ritschel maintains that while a high cost of living keeps some teachers at bay, hiring professors for the CMC campuses is usually a question of timing.

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4204 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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