Colorado Mountain College Day Proclamation
State of Colorado Proclamation
WHEREAS, Colorado Mountain College was founded on November 2, 1965 and classes began on October 2, 1967 after local visionaries and voters of six counties approved the creation of a local college district-by a two-to-one margin-because they so deeply valued the contributions that postsecondary options would have for their beloved mountain communities; and
WHEREAS, founders of the College worked tirelessly to establish a taxing district across five initial counties, including persuading local companies, civic organizations, chambers of commerce, and residents of the importance of offering higher education to remote mountain locations in our state; and
WHEREAS, the two original campuses were built simultaneously in Leadville and Glenwood Springs with modular buildings transported from Denver. Colorado Mountain College today serves students and communities in 11 locations in nine counties spanning 12, 000 square miles; and
WHEREAS, degree and program offerings have grown significantly from 22 associates and certificates in the early years to current offerings which include over 120 degrees and certificates, including five bachelor degree programs; and
WHEREAS, over the past 50 years, the College has served an estimated 500,000 students through its degree programs, community instruction, corporate training, and high school options; and
WHEREAS, partnering with local school districts through concurrent enrollment and the Mountain Futures Fund leverages public and private funding to ensure that every local high school student has the opportunity for a college education, including a scholarship to the college; and
WHEREAS, the College serves as a regional economic driver with $65.4 million in economic output and $46.2 million in earnings created by 1,178 fulltime equivalent jobs in the nine county region; and
WHEREAS, college graduates include firefighters, police officers, first responders, Fulbright Scholars, teachers, NASA researchers, nurses, Pulitzer Prize winners, welders, Olympic medalists, graphic designers, and countless other leaders in our community;
Therefore, I, John W Hickenlooper, Governor of the entire State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim, forever after, October 2, 2017, as
COLORADO MOUNTAIN COLLEGE DAY
In the State of Colorado.
GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this twenty-third day of March, 2017
John W. Hickenlooper
I was one of Christine’s outdoor leaders on the Mountain O trip. She had just moved out from Connecticut to begin college at CMC. I am from the Roaring Fork Valley and was a “multi-year” student at CMC when we met. We both felt a friendship connection on that trip as we did with most of our trip members. It was a few months into the school year that our friendship began to deepen.
In addition to her other studies, Christine also became an outdoor leader. For the next two years, CMC became the foundation to not only our relationship but it fostered our love and understanding of our natural and wild places.
Bob Kelley, Gary Zabel, Jay Zarr, and Len Trusedale were all incredibly influential and highly talented teachers and mentors to both of us. These staff members showed they were at CMC because they LOVED what they taught and it showed in their classes and actions. It is because of these individuals, educational stewards, that Christine and myself developed such an intrinsic passion for science and wild places.
We finish our studies at CMC and both enrolled and began classes at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Christine began her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, and I embarked on a path that would lead to a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science with an emphasis on sports medicine.
During the summer break, Christine became involved with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and she landed a summer internship with the Ranger Naturalists of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana. This became a regular summer gig for her except it mutated into a paid seasonal position with the National Park Service as a Ranger Naturalist.
I remained in Fort Collins for the most part, except for the occasional 2,000 mile round trip to visit her in Glacier! But during one of my summertime rambles around Fort Collins, I came upon a home brew supply store and wandered in. The home brewing bug bit me, hard! Soon I was home brewing almost every weekend. In Christine’s words “stinking up the entire apartment!”
I was fortunate enough to land a job at a small microbrewery in Fort Collins, the H.C. Berger Brewing Company. I started as the weekend keg washer and, a few years later, left as their gold-medal winning head brewer. Christine, all the while was continuing her career with the Park Service at Glacier National Park as well as being a Ranger Naturalist in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
We married in 1996, moved to Windsor, Colorado, and had our first daughter. I was taking a break from the brewing world and working with an old brewing buddy at his residential and commercial remodeling company while Christine was a stay-at-home mom. The remodeling work was financially rewarding, but we both began to feel more and more like strangers in a flat land. We knew we had to get back into the mountains.
An opportunity dropped from the skies in the form of a job offer to brew for a small brewpub in Telluride, Colorado. We jumped at the chance and, a handful of weeks later, we had our town home on the market, moving van loaded up and we headed to our new home, Norwood, west of Telluride.
The three of us settled into a happy life in our 110-year-old miner’s house above 7,000 feet, feeling very much like the characters from the novel “Tom Boy Bride”. I was brewing away and Christine was working as an executive assistant to a high-end property developer. We both, however, continued to feel the pull northward from Montana.
Years before, during one of those road trips to Glacier when I would drive Christine up for the summer, I experienced an epiphany in broad daylight between Rock Springs and Pinedale, Wyoming. “The Glacier Brewing Company”.
In a flash, I knew the brewery’s look, the beer names, location, everything! I filed this away until one fateful day in Telluride when Christine and I were having lunch with her brother Bob. Bob was stopping by on his way out of Colorado to move to Flathead Lake, Montana. He knew about the “Glacier Brewing Idea” from previous discussions and we began to talk about it again at this lunch. One of us finally said “We should either build this brewery or never speak about it again!”. A hush fell over our table; we all knew we were going to build this brewery.
That was in 2002. Since, we have had a second daughter and have moved to Polson, Montana, on the southern shores of Flathead Lake. It was also in late 2002 that we did, in fact, open the Glacier Brewing Company.
Christine has become a well-respected, much-loved, fourth-grade teacher at our local elementary school. I am currently guiding our brewing company through its 15th year in operation. Our oldest daughter is heading off to Washington State University in the fall (we pushed HARD for CMC with her!) and our youngest will be rocking her high school as a sophomore.
From our formative years at CMC to the present, the two of us had sought out the wild lands to explore and have raised our daughters to recognize and appreciate the beauty and importance of these places. The four of us roaming over, around, and through enchanted places like Zion, Arches, Hunter/Fryingpan Wilderness, Glacier National Park, Arcadia National Park, and hundreds and hundreds of similar places. Including just last week when the four of us awoke at 12:30am to climb the glacial moraine behind our house so we could watch the Aurora Borealis dance across Flathead Lake!
It truly has been our experiences at CMC that have shaped our life decisions and directions as well as forged us into the people we are today. Our love for the wild places, our respect for our natural world, and our commitment to one another all began with our lives at Colorado Mountain College.
“I moved to Breckenridge where my brother and his friends were working as carpenters,” recalls Sue. “And I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
But when she saw a newspaper ad for a director of continuing education at CMC, she jumped at the chance. Well, more like she ran to the nearest payphone.
“I found a payphone and called and arranged an interview and, actually, I got the job because I was the only person that had any experience in Continuing Education,” says Sue, who retired in 2015 after 42 years with CMC as a full-time staff member, contractor, and finally regional development officer in west Garfield County for the CMC Foundation.
Through the years, as the college’s footprint continued to grow in the High Country it only brought the community closer together. Continuing education had caught on in a big way and Sue looked to find a permanent home for CMC in Breckenridge.
She set her sights on an old brick building built at the turn of the century that had served as the public high school, the fire station, and most recently, the town hall.
Money was tight, so she called on community members, who volunteered their time to work on the building and who also donated furniture.
“It was just a high energy, fun, great way to put a college together,” notes Sue.
“And the cool thing about it was the community was so invested, not only from teaching there, helping, or whatever; but physically washing windows and laying carpet.”
People would bring things by and “leave them on the doorsteps,” she said. Sue managed the remodeling work with the contractors and even varnished the gym floor herself.
“Everything that we could do anything with, we either turned into cash or we put it in the new center,” she says.
But the strangest request came from Copper Mountain when they ask Sue if the college wanted a cement mixer.
“So I thought, ‘well, we could certainly maybe use it to mix clay,’” recalls Sue. “We had a big ceramics program.”
Come to find out, it was a 1949 Autocar cement mixer truck with a big, tumbling cement mixer on the back of it.
And it didn’t run.
“But we did advertise it, and we were able to sell it,” Sue says. “I can’t remember how much money we got for it, but that went into the pot.”
The building was finished in 1977 and named for then CMC President Elbie Gann. The CMC center boasted dance, ceramics and photography studios, an art department, classrooms and the Breckenridge Branch of the Summit County Library.
Sue retired from CMC in June 1982, and went on to publish Summit Magazine and form an advertising agency, Cope, Daley, McCrea, that marketed Breckenridge. She later moved to a ranch near Silt and worked for the CMC Foundation, where she was instrumental in securing several million dollars in gifts to support students and a new facility in Rifle.
In 1979, working as a janitor after graduating from high school in Denver, I had an epiphany one day while eating lunch in my janitor’s closet: “I need college!” Having been a thoroughly disengaged student to that point, I hoped to find a school that could inspire, guide, and help me find my passions (as well as accept my poor high school transcripts). CMC to my rescue!
I loved the mountains and skiing so enrolled in a ski conditioning class.
Day One: Instructor Roger Paris (pronounced Rogeé Pareé) rides up on his ten-speed bike, sporting a Speedo and running shoes, to the waiting 15 or 20 students. “Dis is zee ski condition class and we get in shape for zee ski— follow me.” We ran five miles, off-trail, in the hills surrounding campus.
Day 2: Six or seven students wait for Mr Paris. “Okay, we have weed out zee slow one, today we really go- follow me.” At mile ten, struggling to keep up with the French Apparition, I knew I had found my inspiration. The next two years were filled with chasing Roger, deciphering algebra, acting in theater productions, and learning to love to learn. Graduating from the then two-year junior college program, I went on to Fort Lewis College, in Durango, to complete a Business Administration Bachelor’s Degree with a finance minor, graduating cum laude.
Thirty-seven years later, with many years of US Kayak Team memberships, three National Champ titles, and several sales and marketing jobs in my wake, I find myself as an entrepreneur with several successful businesses, living in a great community, with a wonderful wife and family, and friendships that extend back decades. Most importantly, I’m still inspired. Inspiration that was sparked in those first days at Colorado Mountain College. CMC not only changed my life, it made my life. Thanks CMC!
Listen to the Radio CMC interview with Andy’s mentor/tormentor Roger Paris and current Outdoor Education Faculty Johann Aberger:
I attended CMC in the 80’s. I am so grateful for the opportunities this education provided for my family and me.
Olive Morton, Bud Romberg and Dan Schaffrick are the people I remember most. Olive was always so encouraging as I pursued my education while waitressing and becoming a new mom.
Bud Romberg was my organic and inorganic chemistry teacher. I initially had taken chemistry at CU Boulder along with over 300 other students in Chem 140. One did not ask questions in this large of a class. At CMC, there were six people in my chemistry classes. Mr. Romberg was patient and could tell if someone needed additional help. I was able to obtain all my pre-requisites at CMC to apply to nursing school at CU.
Dan Schaffrick encouraged and showed me how a college education might be attainable through financial aid. I had thought I could never afford college with three young children at home. He not only showed me how this was possible, but also helped my ex-husband obtain financial aid for CMC.
We both transferred after CMC, I obtained my BSN in Nursing in 1989 from CU and then my master’s in Nurse Midwifery in 1995. I’ve worked in Denver as a Nurse Midwife for more than 20 years both in private practice and was employed by Swedish Medical Center from 2000-2016. I currently am employed by Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver with the Midwifery Group.
My ex-husband attended CSU and graduated with his BS in construction management in 1990 and then his master’s in construction management in 1992. He currently works for a home builder in North Carolina. In 2010, he helped with the reconstruction of transitional shelters in Haiti for Catholic Relief Services and remained in Haiti sporadically through 2015.
I am so grateful for the excellent start to my career CMC afforded me. I have always loved my chosen career path and know I would not have been able to attain this without the personal encouragement, smaller classes and education I received at CMC.
The 2016 graduate says the program help him build a career in digital sports production by not only teaching him video production and graphics work, but because of hands-on experiences such as working at the Winter X-Games in Aspen.
These real-world experiences allowed Aaron to network with other professionals, and helped him land a job working as an LED engineer during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Networking got me to the Olympics and it will continue to bring me to more great places,” he explains.
Aaron’s venue at Rio was the Sambodromo, which held Archery and the finish line for the Marathon. He called working the Olympics “a dream come true.”
“Honestly, I never thought of it being a possibility,” he says. “Being able to pick the brains of people in higher positions and vast backgrounds is an awesome feeling.”
In Rio, Aaron worked alongside directors, producers, switchers, playback operators, camera operators, and production assistants.
“Overall, couldn’t have asked for a better gig. Best experience of my life thus far by a long shot, will remember this moment forever,” he says. “And it all came from attending CMC and the Isaacson School, thank you.”
After a particularly large and somewhat dangerous fire at the Vail maintenance building in the late 70’s, those of us volunteering for the fire department thought we might need more training. Steadfast in our conviction, we went to the CMC A-frame by Gore Creek between Vail and Lionshead and worked together to start a fire science degree program.
It seemed like a good idea at the time as we had enough advanced degrees in our ranks that we could teach classes as well as attend others. Collectively we could learn to be better firefighters and get an associate degree in the process. Pretty straightforward from our point of view, after all – we were firefighters and we had a training room in the firehouse. Administratively however, it was a laborious process of applications, paperwork, credentialing and more paperwork.
Ironically, most of the early fire science archives were lost to water damage. Remember, the CMC A-Frame building was next to the creek, a creek prone to spring runoff. Early on, the joke was that it took 4 years for a BA and 11 years for an AAS from CMC, especially if your records were “displaced”.
To everyone’s credit – literally, and in CMC’s tradition of truly helping students, firefighters who had lost their paperwork were allowed to test out of most courses they had previously taken in route to their degree.
What we learned in the college-level fire science program was invaluable. Everyone associated with its initial inception benefited from what is today an important program to firefighters and their communities throughout the region and beyond. What is true for the fire service, as in most disciplines – education is critical to advancing endeavor.
From those early days at the A-frame, CMC has always supported the first responder with a commitment to education. And now even more with the advent of the Starting Hearts First Responder Scholarship Program – “first on scene and first in our hearts.”
It was 1978. I was coming over the top of the hill and seeing the Spring Valley campus for the first time. I was a bit nervous coming from a high school graduating class of 750 and now a college with about half that! Yikes!
But it couldn’t have been a better fit! Great people came into my life both in faculty and students. Ted Magnuson (1st year photo professor) was real good about sharing real life examples.
A bunch of us would sit on the cafeteria tables outside the darkrooms and talk about everything, including photography. We sat on the front lawns a lot to soak in the beauty of the surroundings with fantastic people, what amazing times.
I graduated as part of the Class of 1980 and went right to work for a few large studios and labs in the Denver area. I started my own studio in 1982. Still going and love sharing the craft I learned at CMC.
I toured the campus just a month ago and was blown away at the wonderful growth and all that is available at the school now, especially in the photography arena! Congratulations on turning 50, CMC.
Leadville native Kristen Wells misses her hometown and the Rocky Mountains. The Lake County High School graduate and former CMC student is now pursuing her Ph.D. in genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Though she yearns for views of the Collegiate Range, the allure of being on the cutting edge of medical research is more compelling.
“The coolest thing about Stanford is that all the top research is happening right here,” Kristen said. “We’re the first to implement many of the latest innovations in the science world, then a year later everyone hears about it and is talking about it in the public sector. It’s really fun to be a part of that.” For example, Kristen is using CRISPR, the revolutionary new gene editing technology, in her daily work. Her thesis, in layman’s terms, is about looking at gene expression that’s involved in preventing autoimmune disorders. Using CRISPR “really speeds up the research because we can manipulate an individual gene and see what it does,” she explained. The research may eventually lead to improved treatments for devastating autoimmune diseases like MS and lupus.
Wells credits her experience at Colorado Mountain College Leadville with setting her up for success in college. By the time she was a high school junior, she had maxed out on all the science and English courses available at her school. A counselor suggested that she take some college-level courses “up the hill” at CMC. So she did, taking Spanish with former Professor Mary Ebuna, and English with Associate Professor Jeff Runyon. “CMC was an incredible experience for me, especially Mr. Runyon who made English really fun. He pushed me, and made English exciting.” She learned early the rigors of college-level study, including increased homework and higher expectations from her instructors. “It made the transition to college much easier for me.”
Upon graduation from high school, Wells won a Boettcher scholarship and a full ride to Colorado College where she earned her bachelor’s in biology. She then was accepted into the doctoral program at Stanford where her education is completely paid for by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. “I use the writing skills I learned at CMC in my work now”, she said. “There’s a lot more creativity in science than you would expect, as writing and communication are a big part of the process. We write and publish papers, and orally present our work to our peers.”
For now, Kristen’s return to her home state will have to wait. She estimates it will take 4 more years of study to complete her doctorate. After that, she would like to continue advancing the study of genetics, wherever that pursuit takes her.