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Summit County: Bachelor’s degrees allow students to stay local

Kathryn Corazzelli
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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With most Colorado Mountain College fall semester classes start the week of Aug. 29, both faculty and students are gearing up to learn. The week marks the implementation of CMC’s two new baccalaureate degrees: a bachelor of science in business administration and a bachelor of arts in sustainability studies.

“I was about to move to the Front Range and apply at Colorado State because there were no B.A. programs offered here,” said Thad Childs, who is enrolled in the business program. When he heard about the new degrees this spring, he immediately contacted the college. “I didn’t want to move. I didn’t move here to live in Boulder or Fort Collins.”

Childs works in the banquets department at Copper Mountain Resort and already has a two-year degree from a community college in Washington. A Navy veteran, he is going back to school on the GI Bill. He hopes to put his bachelor’s to use at a ski resort.

“It will be interesting to see how it’s all laid out, being the first class,” he said.

“They’re timely, they’re meaningful for people who want something like this here. I think it’s a really good move and it’s real exciting,” said Joyce Mosher, full-time associate professor of English communication. “They’re well designed, considering the state said start out with two.”

Mosher will teach a new course for the sustainability bachelor’s degree entitled Literature for Change. The class explores environmental writing from Thoreau to the present, and discusses environment, economy and social equality. She has been teaching at CMC since 1975. For her, the upper-level class will be a nice addition to her current roster.

“The junior college mission is not going to go away, and it doesn’t have any less of an emphasis than it’s ever had for me because that’s offering a firm foundation in all educational disciplines,” she said. “The big difference here for the classroom is now, as a four-year program starting at the beginning, these students are committed to four years of a specific training, a specific discipline.”

Mosher said from what she’s heard, many of the enrolled students are already working in their desired fields. “They want this because they know something about it,” she said.

Silverthorne resident Erick Becerril, 22, already has his associate in construction management and owns a local compost, recycling and waste pickup business – Faction and Company. He is enrolled in the new bachelor’s sustainability studies program, a degree he’s been wanting to obtain for awhile. He was about to apply to Colorado State University.

Becerril started his company about five months ago, but business has really picked up for him in the past month.

“That’s why I need to catch up and be the source of knowledge for all of our customers and all of the residents that call us and ask questions,” he said.

Besides being able to earn the degree, having the program in the area is useful to Becerril because he’ll be able to hire others with the same knowledge. He wants to encourage individuals to work with him while they’re earning their degree.

“That’s something I’m really passionate about – continuing education even with a job,” he said.

Al Bacher, part-time business faculty member, will be teaching a new 300-level marketing course and a 300-level sales class for the business bachelor’s degree. He has already had a “half-dozen businesses, fairly large employers,” contact him, enthusiastic about the degrees. He said they want to work closer with CMC in terms of providing educational opportunities for their employees.

“More than anything else, a lot of frustrations owners had is someone would be here a year or two, and then they’d go away to continue their degree,” he said. “Now they can earn a living up here, and increase their value to the company itself.”

Bacher, who has taught higher-level courses elsewhere, said junior and senior level courses tend to attract a more serious student; lower level students are sometimes just trying out classes to see if they like the subject.

“As we go up the higher education ladder, we start getting a more concentrated student, one who’s really dedicated to developing their credentials to become more employable,” he said. “For an employer, that’s a very important attribute.”

Mosher said the new degrees require a bigger commitment on everybody’s part.

“It’s bringing the faculty together in new ways; they’ve upped our game,” she said. “The state wants this, people here want it, and it’s got to be good.”


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