CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia responds to CNCC questions | CraigDailyPress.com

CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia responds to CNCC questions

Lauren Dodd/For Craig Press

Following Memorial Regional Health CEO Andy Daniels’ call for Craig residents and leaders to challenge the Colorado Northwestern Community College and the Colorado Community College System to do more to drive the local economy, CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia responded to the call to action. 

On June 20, Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Holloway emailed Garcia with a plea to be a part of the local solution. 

“It is my intention to help CNCC and the community rebuild trust and understanding,” Holloway wrote. “I have been a supporter of CNCC for over 25 years, and I have a proven record of going above and beyond for CNCC. That loyalty runs deep and why I now plead with you to let me be part of the solution.”

Holloway included a resolution passed unanimously by the Chamber of Commerce board “as a sign of community solidarity on the importance of CNCC and higher education in our community.” 

Two hours after Holloway’s initial email, Garcia responded with a letter meant for all Craig residents.

“I appreciate the level of concern in Moffat County about the current and future economic challenges facing the community, and I agree that CNCC must be a key participant in creating a plan for the community — not just the college — in the pursuit of overall educational, business, and cultural progress,” Garcia wrote. “However, that is not a job only for the college but for all engaged citizens and businesses who share our commitment to the future of Moffat County.”

CNCC leadership, he said, is expected to be an active participant in the community plan development process along with CCCS. 

The CCCS board is the only entity with governing authority over the college, he said, and has a “fiduciary responsibility to the residents” of Colorado to insure that all 13 colleges in its purview operate efficiently, provide students with high quality programs, meet state fiscal requirements, maintain healthy reserve levels and meet community workforce needs. 

Smaller colleges such as CNCC, he said, receive “significantly” more per student funding from the state than larger colleges in the system “in an effort to provide greater financial stability for low enrollment, low tuition revenue colleges.”

“Our goal is to provide the highest level of service available to all of our students, wherever they are located and whichever college in our system they choose to attend,” Garcia wrote.

Within the next 90 days, Garcia said he will work with the CCCS Board and CNCC leadership “to identify ways we can support the economic development efforts of Moffat County, working in partnership with all interested parties.”

Garcia pushed back on Daniels’ mandate that CCNC and CCCS must lead the economic development in the community.

“CNCC is, however, first and foremost an educational institution,” he wrote. “It is not an industry or primarily an employer. It can support economic development and it can and should provide educational opportunities to help build a competitive and vibrant workforce but it cannot be ‘required to initiate immediate proactive measures to lead the development of the CNCC-Craig Campus with economic development as the CNCC Senior Leadership Team’s priority goal and mandate of CCCS.'”

Over the next few weeks, Garcia said he will reach out to community and college stakeholders to arrange a public forum in Craig where he and CNCC leadership can present a plan to the community. 

“I share your interest in building a vibrant and resilient community that can weather the economic disruptions that can so quickly impact our lives, and I believe that higher education institutions are a critical part of building such communities,” Garcia wrote. “CNCC and the leadership at CCCS are committed to that effort. I look forward to further discussions with you and your colleagues. Together, I believe we can build a stronger College and a stronger community.”

Cori Streetman, a representative for CCCS, said more information about the upcoming community conversations will be released by mid-August.