Stan Orr: A community college’s mission
October 19, 2011
Editor’s note: Stan Orr is running against Kathy Goudy for the District 2 slot on Colorado Mountain College’s board of trustees.
I've been asked a lot recently why I chose to run for a volunteer elected position. For me, it wasn't so much a decision to run for a second term as a desire to continue giving something back to community colleges and my community. I earned an associate degree at a community college.
A community college was the impetus for completing my bachelor's degree in education. It provided me, along with many other Americans, something that might otherwise have never occurred: opportunity.
I began my career as a classroom teacher. I have been involved in learning ever since, seven years as a teacher, then as a chief executive officer of organizations whose focus was adult learning. For the past 16 years I have owned a small business, NonProfit Resources. NPR manages and consults to national and international trade, professional, and philanthropic organizations. Along with my years as CEO of other associations, I have 27 years of experience managing and consulting to volunteer boards. I understand the challenges and opportunities volunteer boards like CMC's face and how best to meet them with success.
The past four years have been exciting times at CMC. We've expanded and improved our infrastructure, including soon-to-be new, state-of-the-art green facilities in Steamboat. As board president, I was honored to preside over the decision to begin offering bachelor's degrees. CMC is providing a tremendous educational product to the community. For me, the "aha moment" came when I learned so many residents in the district want to attain degrees but are unable to because of cost and inaccessibility.
In order to attend a four-year school, most of us would have to forgo trying to provide for our family and simply move to the Front Range. If we do try to continue to live in the mountains and commute, the cost of time and travel required to earn a degree, coupled with much higher tuition costs, is insurmountable.
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We have stayed true to the community college mission while establishing CMC as a nimble institution ready to meet the demands of the future. We have an excellent infrastructure in place and a top-notch faculty.
CMC's challenge in the coming years will be to maintain our edge as an affordable and attainable college for district residents. CMC's board and staff must continue to make informed, transparent business decisions, and be held accountable for them. We are the most affordable and attainable college in Colorado for a reason: We have a faculty and staff that is visionary and prudent with resources. Finally, I think as a community college we will continue to succeed if we stay true to the community college's role in American society: cost-effective, high-quality education that prepares students for 21st-century careers.