Q. & A. with Jon Warnick, Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, District 2 director candidate
Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, District 2
Q. Colorado Mountain College covers 12,000 square miles of service area in Northwest Colorado. What unique niche does the Alpine campus in Steamboat Springs fill as part of Colorado Mountain College? Is there an opportunity to improve the Alpine campus?
A. The unique beauty of the new and refurbished CMC Alpine campus makes it the cornerstone of the CMC family of campuses. The residential campus shares the mountain lifestyle of Steamboat Springs, which makes it unparalleled when compared with any other college campus in the nation. Sustainability and the environment has become a major focus across the nation, and the CMC Alpine campus is a leader in bringing an educational focus to this key area. The CMC sustainability learning community integrates CMC students, faculty and staff into a environment combining both classroom and outdoor education. The CMC Alpine campus ski and snowboard business program is another of the many unique offerings at the Alpine campus. The Alpine campus is also the home of CMC’s Ski Team, the only competitive athletic team at CMC. Other CMC Alpine campus programs that are uniquely designed to support the Steamboat Springs community include both hotel and resort management as well as restaurant and culinary arts management.
Q. What vision do you have for Colorado Mountain College for the next four years, both schoolwide and specific to the Alpine campus in Steamboat Springs?
A. CMC is a recognized national leader in Community Colleges (CMC ranked 17th of over 800 community colleges in the U.S. based on graduation and transfer rates). The addition of five new bachelor’s degrees represents a bold opportunity for CMC to move to an even higher level of educational achievement and satisfy the needs of the communities CMC serves. With its new leadership, I see an opportunity to integrate the CMC Alpine campus more closely with the Steamboat community. It’s a time for bold, new thinking with an expanded partnership focus. One example would be to link CMC more closely with the new leadership at the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. As a new member of the board of trustees, I will be anxious to help Kathy Kiser-Miller, her team and the students at the Alpine campus strive for new levels of achievement and partnership with the Steamboat community over the next four years.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing Colorado Mountain College and how would you propose dealing with that challenge?
A. By 2020, it is projected that over 70 percent of all newly created jobs will require some education above the high school level. This represents a major challenge for both CMC and the communities we serve. CMC must partner with out local school districts to ensure that students and their families understand the changing workforce requirements. In addition, the students need to be prepared for college-level classes from the day they arrive at college. Today, half of students entering CMC require developmental or remedial instruction. Through partnering with our local school districts, all high school graduates in the CMC service area should be able complete these developmental courses while still in the 12th grade, saving time and money for both CMC and the students. Another challenge is to increase the number of students enrolled in concurrent education so that they arrive at college with some of the basic college courses and credits already completed. Again, this involves CMC partnering with with the local high schools. A major benefit of concurrent education is that is should reduce the time required for a student to graduate from college as well as reducing the costs involved in getting a college education. CMC has already started this partnering effort through the Mountain Futures Initiative. As a trustee, I endorse and strongly support this effort. Success can be accomplished by further integrating CMC with the local high schools and continuing to build upon the partnerships already created.
Q. What strategies would you support to continue to grow enrollment at Colorado Mountain College campuses?
A. CMC has a college-wide student-faculty ratio of 12 to one and the lowest tuition rate in Colorado. In order to increase enrollment, maintain this very favorable ratio and remain cost efficient, one key strategy is to make better utilization of existing campus facilities. Most of our campuses have open time periods such as nights and weekends (and even weekdays on some campuses). By implementing a strategy to increase facility usage, CMC will be able to grow enrollment while minimizing or even eliminating the cost of adding new buildings. Another strategy to address growing enrollment is to increase technology usage in the classroom so that our students get the benefit of the best CMC professors and instructors yet get the personalized educational attention of a 12 to one faculty-to-student ratio. Distance learning is a way to grow enrollment without adding new buildings and facilities. After spending 30 years with IBM, I understand both how to maximize facility utilization and use technology to help CMC expand enrollment while maintaining student-faculty ratio and managing costs so that CMC maintains the lowest tuition rates in Colorado.
Q. What uniquely qualifies you to serve on the CMC board of trustees?
A. I have always had a passion for education and have been directly involved with CMC over the last 15 years. This includes serving seven years on the CMC Foundation Board where I headed the finance committee, served as treasurer and was the board chairman for four years. Being term-limited on the Foundation Board, I became a member of the CMC board of overseers, an advisory board to Dr. Carrie Hauser, president and CEO of CMC. In addition, I have taken 34 courses at CMC over the past 15 years and generally try to take one course each semester. With an MBA degree and 30 years of business experience focusing on strategic planning and long-term budgeting, I am uniquely qualified to help Dr. Hauser and the CMC executive team implement their strategic vision to become the most innovative, inclusive, student-centered college in the nation.
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After several Steamboat Springs Transit drivers caught COVID-19 recently, the operation had to adjust its routes around New Year’s celebrations and The MusicFest at Steamboat, two of the city’s busiest weeks of the year.