Wes Duran: 4-year programs are our priority
October 19, 2011
Editor’s note: Wes Duran is running against Patricia Chlouber for the District 6 slot on Colorado Mountain College’s board of trustees.
I have served as District 6 trustee for Colorado Mountain College since November 2007, and I have been college treasurer for the past two years. I am a second-generation property owner in Twin Lakes, which lies slightly southwest of Leadville.
CMC has eight principal campuses (including our virtual one), and we work relentlessly to ensure that educational opportunities are equally available to everyone within our vast 12,500-square-mile area of the Colorado Rockies.
This area is bigger than Maryland yet had zero four-year colleges until we went to the Colorado General Assembly and had the law changed so that we could offer baccalaureate degrees. We were immediately successful and got the votes of 90 percent of Colorado's legislators.
I am proud to state that I am a founding trustee of CMC's four-year degree programs. When our president, Dr. Stan Jensen, brought this concept before the board of trustees, we embraced it with unanimous enthusiasm.
Because I am comfortably retired and there are relatively few demands upon my time, I never missed any opportunity to go to Denver, where I testified before the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and attended legislative committee meetings and sessions. I was there at every step of the process, from bill introduction to testimony to enactment to the historic signing of Senate Bill 101 by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
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I am pleased to report that our first two four-year programs — a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in sustainability studies — already are up and running with over 150 students enrolled and many more to follow. Existing law authorizes CMC to offer three more four-year degree programs (after which, in my opinion, we should just go back and ask for more).
The next one planned is a bachelor's degree in education so that we can grow our own schoolteachers from the population that already is established here in our mountain communities.
I am working to make the second program nursing, but that will be a difficult challenge because of the five-year accreditation cycle and the high cost of hiring instructors with master's and doctoral degrees.
Still, I expect it to happen, and I will work toward that goal aggressively and to the very best of my ability.
I have voted consistently not to increase CMC's modest mill levy, and I also strongly supported the establishment of healthy financial reserves of between 22 and 25 percent.
These available funds have facilitated new construction at affordable rates, have provided local jobs, and have assured that our mountain communities will have modern, sustainable, state-of-the-art facilities far into the future.
I respectfully request that the voters re-elect me for a second and final term of office.