CMC 4-year degree programs moving ahead

College in Steamboat needs final OK to offer bachelor’s

— Colorado Mountain College got a boost Friday in its bid to offer four-year degrees.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved CMC’s request to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees contingent on approval from the Federal Higher Learning Commission.

CMC President Stan Jensen said Sunday that an exit interview less than two weeks ago from the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Committee, which is reviewing the college’s proposal to offer four-year degrees, was “very strong, very positive.”

“We’re just very excited about the steps being taken the last couple of weeks,” Jensen said about the actions of the state Commission on Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission. “Those are really historic steps for us as a college. We had pretty strong recommendations from both. We’re thankful for that.”

Jensen said he hopes to get approval to offer four-year degrees from the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Committee at its meeting this month or next. If approved, he said, consideration would be a consent agenda item at the subsequent Higher Learning Commission meeting.

If that happens, Jensen said, he hopes CMC can start advertising its Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Studies and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration programs, advising students and enrolling them in classes for next fall before the college’s graduation in May.

CMC’s pursuit of offering four-year degrees began in November 2009 when the college system’s Board of Trustees gave Jensen the go-ahead to approach state lawmakers, who approved new legislation allowing the degrees the following spring. Former Gov. Bill Ritter later signed the legislation into law, which allows the college to offer five four-year degrees.

Jensen said the remaining three programs would be determined based on need at CMC’s 11 campus locations in northcentral Colorado, including the Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.

The college system’s faculty, staff and administrators have worked to create curriculums and financing plans for the degree programs, two requirements of the Higher Learning Commission, since last summer.

Jensen said Friday’s action by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education was a testament to the work already completed by the college’s faculty and staff to offer four-year degrees.

“I think there’s a lot of ownership of it throughout the communities and college,” he said. “It was very affirming.”

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

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