Retired CMC president was wind beneath college’s wings | SummitDaily.com

Retired CMC president was wind beneath college’s wings

Doug Stewart, CMC, Glenwood Springs

Everyone in the nine counties and 12,000-square-mile area served by Colorado Mountain College is invited to a reception and open house to honor recently retired Colorado Mountain College (CMC) President Dr. Cynthia Heelan.

The reception and open house are set for Friday Dec. 6, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. at Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs.

Through her efforts to advance CMC, Dr. Heelan has touched the lives of countless students and community members throughout western Colorado over the course of her last nine years as president.

Dr. Heelan came to a college that had tremendous potential but serious challenges to overcome. We had outgrown buildings and desperately needed new ones. Some of our dorms couldn’t even pass fire code. We had no unifying vision, resulting in fragmentation and contention over resources.

But Cynthia had the vision. Cynthia had the resolve. Cynthia had the heart and soul to push us on to places we hadn’t even dreamed were possible. Now, nine years later, Colorado Mountain College is known throughout the country for excellence and innovation.

Our students connect across the mountains via one of the nation’s largest interactive video networks. Numerous new initiatives give our communities better access to education, from English as a Second Language to the arts.

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Most significantly, we are collaborating across diverse campus boundaries, sharing ideas and resources, moving in the same direction.

Only Cynthia knows what that took. Only she knows how many late-night, icy drives she had to white-knuckle it back home after community or campus meetings.

She is the only one who could count the nearly countless evening and weekend hours she spent building public and financial support for Colorado Mountain College.

But keeping such totals would not be Cynthia’s style. When she unpacked her bags from Minnesota, she kept her mud boots on and, shovel in hand, waded right into our challenges. Now we stand on much higher ground. And it is fitting for us all to take a few moments to marvel at the mountain of success built during the Heelan era and to give thanks for the woman who showed us it was possible.

Cynthia, you were the wind beneath our wings.