Two individuals, Christine Whittington and Bob Hartzell, are running to represent the Leadville campus on the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees. Following are their responses to questions posed by the Herald Democrat.
How specifically will you represent the Leadville CMC campus on the Board of Trustees? (300 words or fewer)
Hartzell: When Climax shut down in the early 1980s, Colorado Mountain College took a big hit! About half of our classes were mining-related classes that came to an abrupt halt. Lake County’s assessed valuation went from $250 million to $45 million by the end of the decade of the 1980s. Class credits and revenues were down resulting in the Lake County CMC campus contributing much less to the Colorado Mountain College District in general. We were starting to be viewed as the CMC stepchild who was not carrying its weight. We lost numerous degree programs to other campuses and there was talk of shutting down the Leadville campus.
Timberline Campus is now a healthy and thriving campus. We operate in the black and our dorms are as full as they have ever been. Not everyone is happy with the way we have made it to where we are, but the fact remains, the future looks bright for the Leadville Campus. We are now considered as an equal partner throughout all of the CMC District.
As a Colorado Mountain College Trustee, I will monitor the health of the Timberline Campus and continually relay that information to the college as a whole. Over the next four years, I will strive to keep the entire CMC District informed as to the viability of our campus and all the positive vibes we continue to make throughout the Colorado High Country.
Whittington: My vision for the CMC Leadville campus is that it retain and enhance its reputation as the intellectual center and source of lifelong learning in Lake County. The campus must attract and retain the best faculty and staff possible and ensure that they have the agency and support to do the work they love and know how to do best. A diverse, energetic complement of faculty and staff who are themselves eager to learn will enhance the campus. As a trustee, I will ensure that CMC policies and procedures support faculty and staff excellence, morale, and retention.
This oversight is also true of ensuring excellence for concurrent enrollment programs. Collaboration with the LCSD is essential. Students in concurrent enrollment programs are still college students and we must ensure that their CMC education is consistent with best practices. As library director at CMC Leadville, I loved working with students in concurrent enrollment programs, in Upward Bound programs, and as a mentor at the high school. The excitement and eagerness to learn among these students is contagious and benefits the entire campus.
Communication is essential. I have been away from CMC Leadville for only a year and half, but change can happen rapidly. I will need to become embedded in the concerns, issues, and practices of the campus. The same is true of the community. What does Lake County want from and expect of its college campus? Are taxpayers happy with their opportunities interact with the campus?
Board of Trustees’ decisions and actions must be viewed through the lens of what is good for the Leadville campus and community as well for CMC overall. As a longtime academic librarian, I am a meticulous and exhaustive researcher. I am inquisitive and think critically. I ask questions and exercise my independent voice.
How will you communicate with the people in the CMC district that you represent?
Hartzell: I am not a big Facebook fan, as you can see by the “Hartzell for CMC” Facebook page. I promise to get better with up-to-date posts and prompt responses to a reasonable number of inquiries. I am not a Twitter, Tweet, or Instagram kind of guy but am willing to adapt if they turn out to be efficient means of communication. I get way too many emails and would set up a different email address to compartmentalize CMC Trustee communications apart from my personal email address. My phone number is in the book and, if you are willing to leave a message, I will get back with the callers as quickly as I can. I currently do not answer the phone every time it rings with all the robo and marketing calls that we all receive. Then there is the Herald Democrat! I would be happy to write an occasional column, with the Herald editor’s permission, sharing new and interesting CMC information with the Herald readers. I will continue to be involved with Community Coffee and that is a wonderful place to get new information not only about the college, but about the rest of the community as well.
Whittington: When I became library director at Colorado Mountain College Leadville Campus, I continued the practice I had followed for decades at three other academic institutions. I met individually with as many constituents as possible, discussing what they did, what they loved (and did not) about their positions, and how I could help them do the work they loved. At CMC Leadville, I attended as many faculty meetings as possible and listened to the concerns of my colleagues. I showed up. I attended college and community events and made myself into a sponge—learning as much as I could wherever I went. I do not want to find myself at a meeting with students, faculty, or staff at CMC Leadville and have them wonder, “Who is she and why is she here?”
Communication works both ways. It is important to provide feedback and information to constituents. I am not yet sure what form that would have, but please be assured that it will exist in a robust manner.
Do you support adding the Salida school district to the Leadville Campus of CMC? If this election is successful, what changes would you anticipate for the Leadville Campus?
Hartzell: Yes, I support annexation of the City of Salida and the Town of Poncha Springs. They are currently served by CMC Timberline as a “service area” and have been since as long as I can remember. Formalizing that relationship not only with Leadville but with the entire CMC district as a whole would be a real boon to Salida and their wish for affordable and nearby higher education.
Like Leadville, Salida continues to grow … actually at a much faster pace than Leadville! The impact for a Salida college-bound student would be the difference of $170 cost per credit hour now charged to communities outside the CMC district to $80 per credit hour for in-district students. Yes, property owners have a property-tax assessment but students, who could be taxpayers or children of taxpayers, reap the savings by being part of the CMC District.
The Leadville Campus of CMC is currently involved with the Salida service area on a fairly active basis. If Salida becomes part of the CMC District, the initial involvement by the Leadville Campus would be much greater than it has been. As Salida gets off the ground as a district campus, Leadville’s involvement would be less and less as the Salida campus grows with more staff and more students.
If Buena Vista also decides to come on board, the Arkansas Valley could become a very desirable academic venue for higher education. The beauty of the mountains replete with a multitude of 14,000-foot peaks would create an academic synergy that could very well benefit all three sites.
Whittington: I support annexation of Salida as a CMC district and hope the Salida School District voters will also see the myriad benefits of annexation, including lower tuition for both credit and community education courses.
As a board member of the Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, which offers lectures in Salida, Buena Vista, and Leadville, I have noted the desire for intellectual and educational opportunities in Salida and the enthusiasm of the highly-educated retiree population who could teach as adjuncts and share ideas and talents. Voters should read the Salida Annexation Feasibility Study (available on CMC’s website), which outlines the advantages of annexation for Salida.
The next step would be to ensure that Salida voters are always pleased that they voted for annexation. CMC has determined that the Salida’s annexation is feasible and promising. We now need to determine how that annexation will look and behave. We need to have focus groups with all categories of constituents, from degree-seeking students to residents with an interest in continuing education to those who would like to share their own knowledge. CMC should have a responsive and supportive presence and the best faculty and staff that can be hired.
I would expect that the Salida and Leadville campuses would have close communication and collaboration. Library and information services for Salida students and courses would be essential. I foresee having some sort of transportation system linking the two campuses that would making commuting easier.
Do you believe CMC should look for more opportunities to provide four-year degrees, more opportunities to provide schooling in technical skills or both? How should these decisions be made?
Hartzell: Both! The decisions should be made based upon what we are currently doing and what the student market demands! We need to continually scan the horizon to determine what our population wants and needs and strive to fulfill those needs. Having the synergy of two, and ultimately three, campuses in the Arkansas Valley, we could work together to determine who best can provide the coursework and programs that best suits our population.
The Class of 2019 at Colorado Mountain College was 215 graduates strong! One graduate received a Bachelor of Arts degree. The four-year degree programs will definitely grow as they are essentially brand new and, after all, it takes at least four years to achieve a four-year degree! That is unless you graduated from Colorado Mountain College around the same time you graduated from Lake County High School. Then your four-year degree can be achieved in two years following graduation from high school.
Eighty-two students received their Associates Degrees and 132 students received certificates in the following studies: culinary, welding, EMT and nurse’s aide, fire ski-related, avalanche, GIS, and GED.
Colorado Mountain College has demonstrated that they have been able to meet the needs of a great variety of students, and I would see this trend continuing. These decisions were made entirely upon the need and demand for these types of programs. There may come a time when the demand may place a strain on the infrastructure and that can be addressed through working with our Arkansas Valley partner(s), be it Salida only or Salida and Buena Vista.
Whittington: It is not as though any of the CMC campuses can just decide to offer a four-year degree and go ahead and create it. Creation of baccalaureate-degree programs at CMC are addressed by the Colorado Revised Statutes (Title 23, Sec. 23-71-133). Requirements include workforce and student demand for the programs, accreditation potential, and cost-effectiveness. These are important — and legal — factors for adding degree programs. Practically, employers, including nonprofits, find it difficult to attract employees to CMCs districts because of rising housing costs. Working with businesses to provide an appropriately educated workforce helps everyone win. I would add that the ability to attract and keep excellent faculty to engage and inspire students is critical. We must be aware of requirements for accreditation that we need to meet or exceed.
Every potential four-year degree program must be exhaustively researched, from the marketability of the degree to the college’s ability to attract and retain the best instructors, to the ability to meet accreditation criteria. The need for four-year degrees can sometimes be a moving target and we need to consider the flexibility of such programs once the need has been fulfilled. Will graduates of the program meet credentialing requirements inside and outside of Lake County? How can we make sure that our graduates can take the next step, whether it is further education or a career?
Technical certificate programs also need to be subjected to similar scrutiny but must also be more flexible and responsive to fluctuating community and state needs and technological developments. Needs for positions can change over time. The avalanche science, welding, and culinary programs are example of how to do everything right with a certificate program. Associate degrees are also valuable because they allow students to get a head start on a four-year degree with minimal debt.