Our View: A special graduation for CMC | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: A special graduation for CMC

College officials will tell you that all commencements are special, but there's no denying that Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus' spring 2013 commencement ceremony is of particular significance.

On May 4, more than 20 students will walk to the stage to collect diplomas as part of CMC's inaugural class of bachelor's degree recipients. About half of the petitioning graduates will earn Bachelor of Science degrees in business administration; the other half will earn Bachelor of Arts degrees in sustainability studies.

It's a significant milestone not only for Steamboat's Alpine Campus, but for the entire CMC system. Systemwide, about 60 CMC students have petitioned to graduate with bachelor's degrees during spring commencement ceremonies.

It's been three years since then-Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law legislation allowing CMC to offer limited four-year degree programs, and it's been two years since the federal Higher Learning Commission cleared CMC's final hurdle by approving accreditation for bachelor's degree programs in business administration and sustainability studies. We heralded the plan at the time for its potential to offer a lower-cost alternative to higher education than attending many of the state's traditional four-year institutions.

We feel the same today as we did then. By expanding the opportunities for students, CMC has helped to reduce the economic and geographic hurdles of attaining advanced college degrees for students in Northwest Colorado. Coupled with the Alpine Campus' beautiful new academic and administrative building, the bachelor's degree programs have pushed the college to unprecedented heights.

There are other benefits to the college's growth, including that the Alpine Campus' expanded facility and academic offerings foster economic growth within our community and make it a more attractive destination for new and location-neutral businesses.

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While we hope to see additional degree options in the coming years, we're pleased that next month's commencement ceremonies will bring some deserved pomp and circumstance to an important new chapter for Colorado Mountain College and the communities, like Steamboat Springs, it serves.