Colorado Mountain College Ins­tructional Chair Sam Rush advises Steamboat Springs High School senior Coleman Boren on Wednesday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Colorado Mountain College Ins­tructional Chair Sam Rush advises Steamboat Springs High School senior Coleman Boren on Wednesday.

CMC trustees OK 4-year degrees

College must get state legislature approval to offer 4-year programs

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Cunningham appointed as CMC trustee

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham was appointed Monday to a four-year term on Colorado Mountain College’s Board of Trustees.

Cunningham was appointed in August to fill the remainder of longtime CMC supporter Benita Bristol’s term. Bristol stepped down for health reasons and died shortly after.

The board seat representing parts of Routt County, including Steamboat, was up for election in November, but no candidate filed to run. So Cunningham accepted the nomination and was sworn in at last week’s meeting.

“I am very much looking forward to it,” she said. “We are all working hard to have a K-14 relationship in the community. I think that could enhance that.”

The Board of Trustees has seven at-large seats representing counties including Eagle, Lake, Pitkin, Routt and Summit. The board also includes a representative from East Garfield and West Garfield County.

— Colorado Mountain College is pursuing its ability to offer four-year degrees in some programs.

The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees last week approved the school’s plan to take the next step to offer bachelor’s degrees in select programs.

Nancy Genova, CMC’s executive vice president, said the college felt that it needed to provide more opportunities for community members to pursue or complete four-year degree programs at home instead of traveling to the Front Range.

“We really felt that this continued to meet the mission we have, which is continuing to offer education to our learners,” she said.

Degree programs could include teacher education, nursing, health services administration, business, hospitality management, resort management and environmental studies.

Peter Perhac, CEO of the Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs, said the four-year degree programs that might work best in Steamboat are resort management, business and teacher education. But he said the college hasn’t determined what programs will be offered where.

Perhac said getting a four-year degree on the Western Slope before was “almost impossible.”

Not only would residents be able to complete degrees or pursue a bachelor’s degree to switch careers, but Steamboat Springs High School students also would be able to stay home for college, he said.

Perhac said the four-year degree programs at the Alpine Campus would continue to work with the concurrent enrollment program at the high school. The program allows high school seniors to take general education college classes at the college or to begin coursework for a degree they’ll pursue. He said the four-year degree program might expand concurrent enrollment to all high school grades if students know what degree they want to earn.

There’s another benefit for Steamboat, Perhac said.

“It’s also an economic driver for the town,” he said and added that more students who stay longer could increase revenue generated locally. “And they could possibly pursue careers in Steamboat.”

Genova said the college’s hope is that high school students attend CMC campuses for associate’s degrees and are enticed to complete bachelor’s degrees. Or that service would be available for students not in a position financially to transfer to another four-year school, she said.

The college still will maintain its partnerships with other four-year institutions that would allow students to transfer after completing their associate’s degrees, Genova said. She said the college also would continue to offer its distance learning, or online, courses.

The college also will try to maintain its cost per credit hour with the four-year programs, Genova said. Currently, the in-district students cost is $45 per credit hour, and the cost for students from out of the district is $75 per credit hour.

“At CMC, our tuition cost is one of the lowest in the state,” she said. “I would imagine the same thing would happen with bachelor’s degree programs. We really want to make it affordable to community members.”

Genova added that she thought the college would be able to accommodate the four-year degree programs without having to immediately hire new faculty or build additional facilities.

Next steps include getting approval from the state legislature to offer selected bachelor’s degrees with the college’s existing names and governance structure.

The legislature reconvenes in January.

The college hopes it will eventually be able to expand what bachelor’s degree programs it could offer, but Genova said that is likely further in the future.

“This is just a really exciting opportunity for CMC,” she said. “It opens more doors for our learners. We’ve heard for many, many years of the desire for this from our communities.”

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