Steamboat Springs Colorado Mountain College has taken the final steps to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in business and sustainability next fall.
The college has requested accreditation to offer the four-year degrees from the federal Higher Learning Commission and approval from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. CMC’s Alpine Campus is in Steamboat Springs.
If the agencies approve, CMC President Stan Jensen said the college would begin offering the degree programs in fall 2011 at its 11 campus locations in northcentral Colorado.
“The major motivation is to serve our communities more and to provide even more value to our students and communities,” he said.
Jensen said CMC would be the only college offering two- and four-year degrees in the college’s 12,000-square-mile district, allowing place-bound students additional opportunities closer to home. He added that the availability of four-year degree programs could also be an economic engine for CMC’s communities.
The pursuit of the four-year degrees started more than a year ago when the college’s Board of Trustees gave Jensen the go-ahead to approach state lawmakers, who approved new legislation allowing them in spring. Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 101 into law in May.
Surveys of CMC communities indicated high interest in the business and sustainability degrees. The college has indicated its desire to make more four-year degrees available in the future.
Jensen said CMC’s faculty, staff and administrators have worked to create curriculums and financing plans for the degree programs, two requirements of the Higher Learning Commission, during summer and fall.
Because the new legislation doesn’t allow the college to request additional funding for the four-year degrees, Jensen said tuition for higher-level courses would increase.
Jensen said he hopes to have accreditation in place by spring, at which point the college would begin to advertise the four-year degree programs.
“It’s very rigorous,” he said about the programs. “We’ve done benchmarking against other colleges and universities in Colorado. We often meet and/or exceed the requirements other colleges have already set up.”
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman said not only would CMC’s four-year degree offerings benefit students, they also would be advantageous for adults who might need training in a new field as a result of the economy.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody in the community to get an affordable education right here in Steamboat,” he said. “It’s good for students. It’s good for adults. It’s good for everybody.”