CMC’s Commitment: Community First
By Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, President of Colorado Mountain College
Each June, when most of our mountain resort communities are gearing up to welcome summer visitors and host signature festivals and events, the team at Colorado Mountain College has its first opportunity to exhale and prepare for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1. This year is no different, although conditions in 2019 have added new challenges and opportunities for your local college.
Most of the mountain region is doing well economically. Unemployment rates remain at historic lows, and local sales appear to have rebounded above pre-recession levels. Home prices continue to climb as do the local resident populations. Restaurants are full and crowds are ever-present – as are help wanted signs.
Though its campuses are generally smaller and highly tailored to the specific communities each serves, as a whole, CMC is one of the larger employers on the Western Slope. Consequently, the trends we see at the college usually reveal realities observed in the broader mountain economy.
The extremely low unemployment rate combined with ever-escalating costs of living in our mountain towns means that all employers are competing for a diminishing number of qualified employees. While this has always been true in remote resort towns, the intensity of the current marketplace is forcing employers to rethink strategies for recruiting and retaining the best employees. CMC is no different.
Historically, colleges like CMC could conduct regional and national searches and expect robust pools of applicants and many highly viable applicants. Over the past year or two, this has changed, especially for executive-level positions. Despite conducting vigorous searches, expending thousands of dollars and devoting hundreds of hours of staff and faculty time, CMC has seen several major national searches fail. Finalist candidates collide with reality when considering a move to our high-cost region. Their current employers counter CMC’s offer to prevent a highly talented professional from leaving. These results are costly for the college, frustrating for those who participate on the search committees, and a waste of time and talent that could have been applied to CMC’s core role and mission: serving our local communities and feeding the workforce with exceptionally trained nurses, teachers, police and other first responders, firefighters, entrepreneurs and outdoor industry professionals, to name a few.
Certainly, CMC could compromise its principles and just hire “adequate” employees. But, why settle for anything less than excellence? My principal responsibility in leading a dynamic college means building the best team possible and promising every member of our team that their work matters — and that they matter. For this reason, CMC will not compromise its quality due to an extremely tight labor market. Instead, we will invest in talented professionals right in our backyard and who are already committed to the region we love.
This strategy is paying off. Over the past year or so, I have authorized a number of “interim” positions, approved several internal promotions and made one external executive appointment to maintain continuity, grow our own talent, and position the college for continued and uninterrupted success. We have focused on increasing our employees’ skills by providing several internal leadership programs to support them in their own professional development. This year, more students graduated from CMC than at any other time in the college’s history and the college’s operations remain at or below inflation while we make the investments necessary to keep college facilities and technologies up to date.
The current economic circumstances will undoubtedly evolve as the economy matures through its current bull market cycle. A more “normal” cycle of employment will likely return. CMC will not, however, become complacent or lower its standards.
We have had to rethink the ways to ensure the college has the human capital it needs to achieve the very ambitious goals it set for itself, but we will never compromise our vision and aspirations. Our world-class communities deserve world-class campuses with world-class leaders. The current employment market won’t trip us up or force us to shift these priorities. This is our commitment to you.
Carrie Besnette Hauser is president & CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @CMCPresident.
Season Opener Aug. 31 in Leadville
After a year of planning and recruitment, Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is launching its first National Junior College Athletic Association cross-country running team. CMC Leadville is hosting the team’s season opener next Friday, Aug. 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The meet is in conjunction with Lake County High School’s home cross-country meet.
Darren Brungardt is the running coach and an assistant professor of mathematics at CMC Leadville. With CMC’s new team, he has elevated the college’s running program from a club to a team by securing an NJCAA designation for CMC’s runners.
“They are fast,” Coach Brungardt said confidently and has the recruitment chops to back it up including six recent Colorado high school graduates and one runner from Kansas.
“They are really neat guys,” said Brungardt. “They are fast. This will be one of the fastest cross-country teams I have ever coached, and it is only our first year!”
Because it’s possible for team members to compete on the team while attending any one of CMC’s campuses, two team members – Jason Macaluso and Connor McDermott – will be training remotely, then competing with the team at meets. Macaluso is attending CMC Vail Valley at Edwards, and McDermott is attending CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs. The rest are student athletes attending classes at CMC Leadville.
“They train when we train, and are part of the team online and at meets,” Brungardt said.
The college’s cross-country running team members are all 2019 high school graduates, and all are new students at Colorado Mountain College, except for Chris Rohlf who’s been taking concurrent education classes while in high school.
Team members are: Tyrone Chavez, Valley High School; Jason Macaluso, Battle Mountain High School; Connor McDermott, Elizabeth High School; Caleb Neel, Green Mountain High School; Chris Rohlf, Summit High School; and Jack Setser, Wichita North High School.
CMC Glenwood Dedicates New Facilities
All are welcome to attend the Aug. 28 dedication ceremony for two new buildings in Glenwood Springs at the Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Campus: the Ascent Center and the Outdoor Leadership Center & Field House. Following the 8:30-9:30 a.m. program and light refreshments will be tours of the buildings.
The Ascent Center will include 16,000 square feet of welcome-center area, lounges, classrooms and administrative offices. It contains a new bookstore and coffee shop, as well as versatile classrooms and meeting spaces – including a gathering space featuring a fireplace.
The Outdoor Leadership Center & Field House, which is having final touches put in place, will be available for a guided tour at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 28. The building features a double-court basketball and volleyball gymnasium that can be configured to have a seating capacity of 990 – with the best view of Mount Sopris in the valley. In addition to sharing that view, the indoor track and cardio fitness mezzanine overlook the campus’s extensive soccer fields. Other fitness spaces in the field house include a weight room, dance room, multipurpose space for such things as indoor cycling, and climbing walls for both bouldering and roped climbing. Under a 39-foot ceiling, the climbing wall is one of the tallest in western Colorado.
A new concessions stand and restroom facilities will be available to support daily recreation and special events use, and storage for outdoor equipment will have its own corner of the building. The Outdoor Leadership Center & Field House will open for public use later this year, with a soft opening this fall for CMC students.
Participants wanting to attend the dedication are asked to RSVP to Linda Froning at email@example.com.