Colorado Mountain College gets closer to offering four-year degrees |

Colorado Mountain College gets closer to offering four-year degrees

Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

Colorado Mountain College is making progress in its quest to offer bachelor’s degrees. Late last week, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education gave CMC preliminary authorization to offer two degrees: a bachelor of science in business administration and a bachelor of arts in sustainability studies. The college is awaiting approval from the Higher Learning Commission before the degrees can be made official.

Dr. Stan Jensen, CMC president, said the idea to offer four-year degrees started about a year-and-a-half ago. Administrators at the college started talking to the community to see what the interest was, and then called on the college board to vote on the idea. In November of last year, the board decided to pursue them. Since then, the college has also gained approval from the Colorado Legislature and former Gov. Bill Ritter.

Jensen said exit reviews were very positive from the Higher Learning Commission, which makes its decision at a March 21 meeting. The commission’s verdict is the final step of approval before CMC can start enrolling students in the programs. If approved, the college plans on offering the new degrees next fall.

Jensen said he was prompted to pursue the baccalaureates after interest was expressed by students and the community.

“It came out of community need and interest,” he said. “We’re very excited about serving our community with these baccalaureate degrees.”

The two degrees being pursued were chosen through student surveys. Business administration was the highest area of interest, Jensen said.

Sustainability studies was fourth on the list. The two studies that came in at two and three – teacher certification for K-12, and a bachelor’s in nursing – involve longer processes of approval before the college can offer them. Jensen said CMC is working internally on the logistics of getting the two programs up-and-running, but haven’t yet petitioned the state or Higher Learning Commission. He said the college – which already offers a two-year RN program – has met with and received a glowing report from the National League for Nursing regarding accreditation for a four-year degree. Administrators also have teams working on the teacher certification program.

“We hope that will be the next one,” Jensen said. “Perhaps a year from this fall.”

Currently, the college has legislative authority to add five baccalaureate degrees to its roster. If a teaching program is approved, it will not count as one of the five since it is a certificate – not a degree. Jensen said administrators haven’t determined what the other two will be yet, but will probably look to add more after they reach five.

“We will probably go back to the Legislature and see if we can do more,” he said. “That’s quite a few years in the future.”

Jensen said the college will continue to offer its two-year degrees.

“We’re just very excited about the community, student and state support for the two baccalaureate degrees,” he said. “We’ve had a great number of faculty, staff and leaders involved in getting these ready. I deeply appreciate all of that internal and external support.”

Currently, CMC has residential facilities at its Spring Valley, Leadville and Steamboat Springs campuses. Jensen said administrators are studying the possibilities of dorms at the Breckenridge, Edwards and Rifle campuses. He said a decision on that matter will be made relatively soon.

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