CNCC president discusses updated strategic plan, community perceptions, college’s focus with local officials
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the president of Colorado Northwestern Community College addressed Craig City Council, speaking about the college’s 2023-2028 strategic plan while getting feedback from local officials.
Starting off, CNCC President Lisa Jones acknowledged efforts by the Moffat County Junior Affiliated College District Board to explore joining the Colorado Mountain College system, which was announced a few weeks ago.
The local taxing district took the first steps to perform a feasibility study regarding joining the Colorado Mountain College system in October, and Jones acknowledged that she is aware of these efforts.
“I’ve been in higher education for 33 years, and I’ve worked in a variety of cities and I’ve worked for eight institutions,” Jones said. “One thing that I value is a democratic process.”
Jones said that she felt the taxing board and local elected officials are doing their job to look at all of the options, and she added that it’s CMC’s job to listen if community members come to who CMC asking for options.
With the feasibility study process estimated to take two years, Jones said that CNCC isn’t going to sit idly by and plans to continue serving the community and students, as well as develop a plan and continue working toward the institution’s goals.
A primary goal of the updated strategic plan will be to better communicate CNCC’s mission — which is shared between the Craig and Rangely campuses — and how the college is working to meet its goals.
“One of the critical parts of this is going to be addressing the perception here in Craig that the college is not focused on Craig,” council member Sean Hovorka said. “That perception exists that the focus is more down on the Rangely campus. And right, wrong or indifferent, perception is reality. So it’s going to be critical that you meet that head-on.”
Jones said that when she came on board, she knew there was unrest and different expectations between the CNCC communities, and she added that the only way to bridge the gap was to come together as one institution, under one budget, to make unified decisions.
Craig Mayor Ryan Hess questioned how the community is represented on the college’s leadership board because none of the college’s cabinet members live or work in Craig.
Jones said that is only a problem if the expectation is for Craig to be a second Rangely campus, but if people look at the college as one campus, she added, then the lack of Craig’s representation shouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue.
“I think if the expectation is that this location was supposed to be a second Rangely, that might be where we are struggling,” Jones said. “What we’re talking about doing is being the best of what we can be here for what we need here.”
According to Jones, it’s not about keeping everything even, but rather it’s about looking at what each community needs and where students are going to gravitate.
Hess pressed further, saying he feels it is problematic that when he attended the college from 2002-04 at the former Bell Tower location and the college was always full, but now when he goes to the new campus that the community has invested $3 million in, it doesn’t appear as busy.
Jones replied by saying the Bell Tower looked busier because it is a smaller building. She added that with the new building, class times are more spread out throughout the day and more classes are being offered online. According to Jones, online student enrollment has almost tripled.
“You will not see the same kind of activity, and at Rangely, you won’t see that kind of activity,” Jones said, adding that she understands the perception, but based on the numbers, enrollment has gone up.
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