DENVER, Colorado - The Colorado Senate Education Committee voted 7-1 Wednesday in support of SB 101, which would allow Colorado Mountain College to offer a limited number of four-year bachelor's degrees.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) and Dan Gibbs (D-Summit County), now moves on to the full Senate. A hearing date has not been set.
"We are pleased with the overwhelming support we received from the committee, and believe we will have similar support in the full Senate," CMC President Dr. Stan Jensen said after Wednesday's committee hearing. "I'm thankful and excited for their support of expanded rural access to higher education."
If the bill passes the Senate, a similar bill would go through the same steps in the state House of Representatives. The bill's primary House sponsor is Rep. Christine Scanlan (D-Summit County).
Jensen was on hand to testify Wednesday along with six other CMC representatives who spoke in support of the proposal. Only one person testified against the bill, Colorado Department of Higher Education Executive Director D. Rico Munn.
Although not opposed to CMC's bid, the CDHE prefers that the request be postponed until a new statewide higher education strategic plan is developed later this year.
If passed, SB 101 would allow CMC to offer a limited number of four-year degrees, in addition to its two-year associate degree and business training programs. The special junior college district has seven campuses with 11 physical locations throughout north-central Colorado, including Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Rifle and Aspen.
Bachelor's degree programs could include nursing, teaching, business, resort management and environmental studies - although specific programs have not yet been identified.
The lone vote of dissent on the Senate Education Committee Wednesday came from Sen. Keith King (R-Colorado Springs).
"I encourage people within our service area to continue contacting their representatives and senators, and the governor, to express their opinions on this bill," Jensen said. "Regardless of whether we are granted permission to offer these limited bachelor's degrees, we are committed to the community college mission of providing access."
Jensen said that the college will continue growing new, and servicing existing, partnerships with other colleges and universities in the state, in addition to continuing to meet community needs for career and technical training, adult basic education, customized business training and lifelong learning.