Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus business major Eric Beardslee works on calculus homework Tuesday in the college’s library. CMC will begin offering four-year-degree programs in business and sustainability in fall.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus business major Eric Beardslee works on calculus homework Tuesday in the college’s library. CMC will begin offering four-year-degree programs in business and sustainability in fall.

Colorado Mountain College bachelor's degree program approved

College will offer classes for four-year degrees in business, sustainability

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— Colorado Mountain College cleared its final hurdle to offer classes for two, four-year-degree programs in fall.

The federal Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Committee accredited the Bachelor of Arts in sustainability studies and Bachelor of Science in business administration programs Monday night.

“This is a whole different historic day for Colorado Mountain College,” President Stan Jensen said Tuesday. “We’ll continue to be a community college, but we’ll be able to offer baccalaureate degrees. We’re a dual-purpose college now.”

The 300- and 400-level classes will be offered at the college’s 11 campus locations, including the Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.

With Monday’s action, Jensen said, CMC can start advertising the programs, accepting applications from students and hiring faculty. He said the college plans to hire three full-time faculty members, one to teach sustainability courses and two to teach business, including one based at the Alpine Campus.

Jensen said the three new staff members will travel to other campuses, and existing faculty also will teach classes for the four-year-degree programs.

Jensen said the ultimate goal was to attract more students to CMC with the offering of bachelor’s degrees, but he didn’t know whether that would happen right away. He said 25,182 students took classes at the college last year.

Jensen said the college will work to attract new students from out of district and out of state while holding onto existing students for four years. But he said its primary focus will be keeping students who already live within CMC’s district boundaries close to home.

CMC’s Board of Trustees approved tuition rates for the 300- and 400-level classes last week. They set rates at $95 per credit hour for in-district students, $200 per credit hour for in-state but out-of-district students and $405 per credit hour for out-of-state students.

According to the college, in-district students who start as freshmen and complete their bachelor’s degrees at CMC would pay $8,793 in tuition and fees, based on existing rates, during the four years.

Jensen praised the more than 150 faculty and staff members and administrators for their work as well as the board of trustees’ vision to create the programs. In November 2009, trustees gave Jensen the go-ahead to approach state lawmakers, who approved legislation in spring 2010. Former Gov. Bill Ritter later signed the legislation into law, which allows the college to offer five, four-year degrees.

Those other programs, which could include teaching and nursing, are further away. But Jensen said he was excited about getting the college’s first four-year-degree programs up and running.

“There’s a lot of work to do yet, but I’m confident this will be a great service to our students and our communities,” he said.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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