Perhac takes the reins at CMC |

Perhac takes the reins at CMC

Zach Fridell
Peter Perhac, Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus' new chief executive officer, previously worked at Chapman University College's Fairfield Campus in California.
John F. Russell

Contact information

To contact Peter Perhac, chief executive officer at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus, e-mail pperhac@coloradom...

— One of Peter Perhac’s first decisions on his first day of work as chief executive officer of Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus was to open up his e-mail account to anyone who wants to contact him.

As a part of maintaining a student-centric approach, Perhac said he welcomes e-mails from students and community members, and he aims to have an open appointment calendar. His approach also means paying attention to individual students.

“For me, it means meeting the needs of every single student who is here. Not treating them like a number, and more of a customer,” he said.

To understand students’ needs, Perhac said he will make an effort to gather input from them.

“You lead by example, so it is important for me to be accessible and out in the dining halls, which I plan to do on an occasional basis,” he said.

On his fist day of work Monday, Perhac ate lunch at the dining hall and discussed snowboarding and the cafeteria food with students.

Stan Jensen, president of the CMC system, said Perhac’s leadership style of using teamwork to accomplish goals was one of the major reasons he was hired.

“I think Peter is an excellent team builder, and that’s one of the characteristics we’re looking for at that campus,” Jensen said. “I think he also has a great ability to take us further in that location : into shared leadership and participatory leadership role so more and more people have a say in how we make decisions.”

Perhac moved to Steamboat Springs from Fairfield, Calif., where he was campus executive officer at Chapman University College’s Fairfield Campus.

The difference between the two schools is something Perhac said stays at the forefront of his mind as he begins work at CMC. Although Chapman is a four-year university, CMC primarily offers two-year programs, putting Perhac “under a timeline,” he said.

“I know I only have two years with these students to help them. I want to pack as much as we can in two years to give them what is needed,” he said.

Perhac holds a Doctor of Education degree in educational administration from the University of San Francisco, as well as a Master of Arts in counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He also has conducted postdoctoral studies in a management development program at Harvard University, according to CMC spokeswoman Debra Crawford.

New programs

Jensen said his goals for Perhac as CEO include raising the profile of CMC for education and community partnerships.

“There are two things that we’ve been stressing that he will be working on a lot: one is to create a process and a culture that will become first choice as far as learning in that area and also first choice as far as partnerships,” Jensen said.

The college is beginning two new programs in the coming semester: elementary education and historic preservation. Perhac said his experience setting up an early childhood education program at Chapman will prove helpful to the new course.

Under an agreement with Mesa State College, the college is preparing educational programs to allow students to earn degrees in education, with the first two years enrolled at CMC and the final two at Mesa State.

Jensen said the program is intended to fill the need for teachers who come from the area.

“It’s hard to bring in people from the outside,” he said. “If we can grow more of that talent and those skill levels in the community, that provides a great advantage.”

Jensen said he has been in contact with Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham, and the educational program likely will include student teachers in the schools in the future.

Students also can telecommute and take some Mesa State courses through an interactive video classroom at CMC.

The second program is a historic preservation program similar to the program operating at CMC’s Timberline Campus in Leadville.

“The training could apply to everybody from the personal homeowner who’s fixing up their personal home or business to contractors to make sure they do it in compliance with local and state guidelines,” Perhac said.

The CEO position was vacated in June when Kerry Hart took a job as president of Morgan Community College in Fort Morgan. The title of the position was changed from dean to CEO, but the duties remain the same.

Former CMC Dean John Vickery returned from retirement to lead the campus in an interim capacity during the search process, and he said he will return to retirement.

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