GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Colorado Mountain College's board of trustees on Monday unanimously agreed to direct college leaders to pursue final accreditation to offer bachelor's degrees in business administration and sustainability.
The move to seek the necessary approvals from the Higher Learning Commission and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education is the next step in CMC's effort to begin a limited number of bachelor's degrees starting in fall 2011.
In May, the six-county community college district received the OK from the Colorado Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter to offer up to five bachelor's degrees. But that was just the first of several complex steps required before CMC can begin offering the new programs to students.
"It started with the legislation, but since then we've had 15 different teams looking into the various aspects of the accreditation process," Dr. Stan Jensen, president of CMC, said after Monday's board meeting in Glenwood Springs.
"We're also sending in a large change request to the state and the Higher Learning Commission that will change our mission, to not only continue to be a community college but to add these two baccalaureate degrees," Jensen said.
That process is expected to take until sometime next spring, he said.
"By April we should know for sure, and be able to advertise and market these programs for next fall," he said.
CMC is proposing to offer five different majors in business administration and three major areas involving sustainability, such as green building practices and design and renewable energy.
The college is also eventually looking at implementing bachelor's degree programs in teaching certification and health care, including nursing. However, the accreditation process for those programs will take longer, Jensen said.
Student and community surveys done at the time CMC began working toward offering bachelor's degrees indicated that business administration had the most interest, he said.
"It was all based on data-driven decision-making," he said of the decision to seek the business and sustainability degree programs first.
The college has already begun seeking national accreditation for a four-year nursing program, but that process could be as long as two or three years, Jensen said.
Teacher certification also involved a year-long accreditation process. CMC is hoping to begin offering four-year teaching degrees by the fall of 2012, and nursing degrees as soon as fall of 2013, he said.
A fifth bachelor's degree program for which CMC was authorized to pursue has not yet been determined.
In the Roaring Fork Valley, CMC has campuses in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.