Our View: CMC elevates Steamboat’s educational offerings
March 4, 2014
Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus, which sits high above the western edge of downtown offering spectacular views of Mount Werner and Howelsen Hill, serves as a brick and mortar reminder of the visionary work undertaken by a group of committed community leaders who realized the value of keeping a college in Steamboat Springs and fought hard to save it more than 30 years ago.
The dramatic $20 million campus addition, built in 2011, pays tribute to that effort and has become one of Steamboat's most iconic landmarks. The architecturally impressive building also is a symbol of the community's generosity and the willingness of school district voters to tax themselves to support the local college. Lucile Bogue, founder of the original Yampa Valley College that eventually became CMC, described the effort to establish and maintain a college in Steamboat as "A 20th century miracle that happened in a beautiful green valley high in the Colorado Rockies."
Last week, CMC's newest leader, president Carrie Hauser, visited the Alpine Campus in Steamboat. She attended two local Rotary Club meetings, visited with various community and business leaders and took time to ski with members of the CMC ski team, which is based in Steamboat. Hauser took her turns on the slopes wearing a pair of Meier skis that were designed by a team of students enrolled in the Alpine Campus' innovative project design class.
The time Hauser spent in Steamboat served to draw attention to the local campus and the important role CMC plays in the educational, economic and cultural health of the Steamboat Springs community.
While here, Hauser introduced CMC's new vision statement and spoke about the framework for implementing a new strategic plan for the college's 11 locations that are spread out over the 12,000-square-mile Rocky Mountain Western Slope region. She also made references to an expansion of the four-year degree programs that CMC will be able to offer students in the near future.
Currently, students enrolled in classes at the Alpine campus can choose from a wide array of associate degree programs, including resort management, ski and snowboard business, outdoor recreation and culinary arts. Students also can graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in sustainability studies or a bachelor of science degree in business administration. Last May marked the graduation of Steamboat's first class of bachelor degree recipients.
Of three new bachelor's programs that are planned at CMC, a bachelor's degree of applied science will be added at the Steamboat campus next. A bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in teacher education and a bachelor of science in nursing also are currently in the approval process for the CMC system.
The Steamboat Springs campus boasts the highest bachelor's enrollment of any of CMC's campuses, which indicates the opportunity for future expansion of these four-year programs.
Currently, the Alpine Campus has an enrollment of about 1,626 students — a number that is growing annually. In addition to offering accredited college courses, CMC provides non-credit continuing education courses for local residents, including yoga, cooking, digital photography, business planning and art classes. The main campus building also is home to a cafe and coffee shop as well as a 250-seat auditorium that is available for public and private functions.
Hauser's visit to Steamboat and her insights into CMC's plans for future growth made it clear the local college is on track for continued advancement. The fact that students can pursue a college degree right here in Steamboat is vitally important to the future of the community, giving the area's younger generation an opportunity to pursue their educational dreams close to home and providing increased opportunities for them to become young professionals in the communities where they grew up.
In the broader picture, CMC offers viable educational options for families struggling with the rising cost of a college education. Access to affordable college credit programs can mean the difference between sending a kid to college or not, and CMC definitely puts higher education within reach of families from all economic backgrounds.
As Steamboat looks to the future, the growth and continued success of the CMC Alpine campus must be an important part of any discussion. And according to the college's new mission statement, which reads — "Our vision is to be the most inclusive and innovative student-centered college in the country, thereby elevating the economic, social, cultural and environmental vitality of the beautiful Rocky Mountain communities we serve." — CMC's blueprint for the future falls right in line with values cherished by the Steamboat community at large.