Colorado Mountain College board releases former president’s separation agreement
February 16, 2013
Steamboat Springs — The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees last week released documentation that indicates former President Stan Jensen and the college are not supposed to speak publicly about why Jensen was paid $500,000 to part ways with the college.
The document was released after pressure from the Glenwood Springs Post Independent newspaper, which threatened to sue the college because the newspaper felt the document was subject to the Open Records Act.
Steamboat Springs resident Ken Brenner, a CMC trustee, said Saturday that he encouraged the board to release the "separation agreement and general release of claims" document because he thought it was important to be transparent. Brenner said the release of the document was delayed because the college and Jensen had to agree to release it.
The Post Independent reported that after weeks of negotiations, Jensen offered his resignation to the board during a Dec. 27 conference call.
Brenner said the board was advised by CMC legal counsel not to discuss what led to Jensen's resignation.
Jensen became president of CMC in March 2008 and was paid about $200,000 each year. The college has 11 locations and is subsidized by taxpayers in the five-county district.
During his tenure, CMC gained accreditation to offer four-year degree programs in business administration and sustainability. Jensen said the programs allowed CMC to serve dual roles as a community college and a college that was able to offer baccalaureate degrees. Tuition rates for the 300- and 400-level classes were set at $95 per credit hour for in-district students.
Jensen also was at the helm as the Steamboat campus moved forward with plans to build a new 60,000-square-foot academic center.
"It was felt that this space would bring all the modern infrastructure you need for technology and classrooms that were much more functional," Brenner said.
Brenner said Jensen played a major role in fundraising efforts for the $18 million project. By the time the building opened in August, $2 million of the $2.7 million goal had been raised.
Although it is unclear why Jensen left, the Post Independent reported CMC officials maintain it was not related to a controversy that started in May with SourceGas Spring Valley, a company that wanted to build a compression station at a natural gas line on college property. The issue is in litigation.
The release of Jensen's separation agreement did not reveal much information, but according to the Post Independent, an attorney representing the newspaper said the release of the document was important because it indicated CMC recognized its obligation under state law.
"The disclosure of the separation agreement fulfills the purpose of the Open Records Act: to allow citizens to monitor and assess the official conduct of governmental actors," the newspaper reported attorney Steven D. Zansberg said. "This is especially true whenever the expenditure of public funds is involved; the public is entitled to know not only the amount of public funds expended, but also the reasons why those funds were expended.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com