Dean of CMC Summit County campus to retire
BRECKENRIDGE – Tim Hoopingarner, dean of Summit County’s Colorado Mountain College (CMC), announced Thursday his plan to retire after almost 18 years in the position.
Hoopingarner will retire Aug. 15 – unless his replacement has not yet been hired by that time – ending 20 years of employment with CMC. He began his career with CMC, in August 1983, as director of student services at the Leadville campus.
“It was the worst economic time since the mines were closed, but I loved living there,” he said.
Four years later, Hoopingarner was promoted to community education director at the Breckenridge campus.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I would be in Breckenridge too long,” he said. He expected to remain in the position for only a few years, as he had in his previous jobs.
At the time Hoopingarner moved to the Breckenridge school, it did not offer degree or certification programs. The three CMC residential campuses – Spring Valley, Leadville and Steamboat Springs – were the only ones that did.
“What changed during my tenure is that we formed our offerings into coherent degree programs and certificate programs,” he said. “My predecessors had laid the groundwork for a successful community education program in Summit County. We’ve built on that to create a bona fide college campus.”
As the school grew into a full-service campus, Hoopingarner’s position evolved to campus dean.
Over the past 17 years, the Breckenridge campus has expanded into the Summit County campus, with a second site in Dillon that opened about two and a half years ago. The school also offers courses off-campus. There was a previous satellite center in Silverthorne.
The campus’ student enrollment has grown in that time. Today, the campus serves about 3,500 full- and part-time students. The average age for students has decreased over the years, as an increasing number of younger students enrolled.
“We’ve always catered to the adult students,” Hoopingarner said. “We’re seeing more and more young people coming to us, especially from Summit High School.”
Since arriving at the Breckenridge campus, Hoopingarner has worked to ensure the college was closely involved with the Summit School District, which he credits with the college’s high percent of local high school graduates.
“We now enroll more Summit High grads than any other college, and, in addition, enroll over 100 juniors and seniors each year in our Supergrad program,” he said.
The Supergrad program allows students to earn college credits while in high school.
Two of the campus’ more successful programs are the culinary arts and the micro-computer specialist program – both experiential, Hoopingarner said. The culinary arts program was offered after the director of human resources at Keystone Resort asked for a program to train chefs.
“It’s been very successful,” Hoopingarner said. “Our strength still remains in being responsive to community needs. We listen to what the community wants and then provide either individual courses or degrees and certificates to meet local needs.”
Hoopingarner and the local CMC campus also were involved in the collaborative effort that ultimately became the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), which provide resources and translation for people of other cultures who move to Summit County.
“The college has a role to play in educating the community in regard to multiculturalism,” Hoopingarner said.
The campus’ close relationship with FIRC is one of the aspects of the job Hoopingarner will miss the most after he retires.
“I have a really profound sense of having provided support for people throughout our community,” he said. “The most important thing for me is the ability to be of service to people in our community.”
At 50 years of age, Hoopingarner is retiring earlier than most and has been preparing to do so for some time now, he said. As a member of the Public Employees Retirement Association, Hoopingarner was able to purchase years of service toward retirement.
Though he is retiring, Hoopingarner doesn’t plan to stop working. He’s planning for active retirement, he said, and will work with his wife, Sandy Blaha, and her consulting business. Additionally, Hoopingarner plans to teach business courses through the workforce development program at CMC.
As Blaha’s business is primarily in the Denver area, the couple will likely split time between the Front Range and Breckenridge.
“It’s been a great place to raise the kids,” Hoopingarner said of Summit County. “We’re very attached to our community.”
The couple has two daughters; Allegra, a college sophomore in Illinois and Hanna, in sixth grade.
CMC will begin work shortly to find Hoopingarner’s replacement. Several committees will be involved with interviews and will make recommendations to Dr. Bob Spuhler, acting president of CMC. Spuhler will make the final decision on who will succeed Hoopingarner.
The Summit Daily News was unable to reach Spuhler for comment.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or
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