Brain drain: CMC facing losses due to retirements

Special to the Post Independent

Colorado Mountain College’s most senior employee, Bob McGill, former Professional Photography professor and assistant dean of distance learning, retired in March. While he’s diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, photographing fall leaves in New England, volunteering for Youth Zone and doing “all of the things I wanted to do but couldn’t because I had to work,” he is also becoming a symbol of a problem facing not only Colorado Mountain College, but community colleges all over North America. Their most experienced employees are retiring in the largest numbers in history.

The first community college, Joliet Junior College in Illinois, was established in 1901, but the real growth period for these two-year schools was in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when a new community college opened on an average of every six days. CMC was one of them. It began educating students in 1967 – just two years before Bob McGill began his CMC career.

After 34 years, he felt it was time to retire and he’s not alone.

“We’re talking 15 percent to as much as 20 percent of our faculty and staff during the next four years, and that’s just the people who’ve told us,” said CMC Interim President Dr. Bob Spuhler.

“When you lose a senior faculty member, you lose somebody who has the history of the college who can pass on the traditions.

“Our challenge will be doing a good job of selecting new people.”

The biggest competition for good professors and administrators to CMC and other community colleges may come from public school systems that are facing a similar crisis of retiring baby-boomers.

CMC may be in a more fortunate position than many colleges in attracting those new people, says CMC human resources director Kelly Johnson. “We’re not overly concerned that we’re not going to be able to attract the best of the best. Based upon our great communities, our students and the CMC environment, we don’t have a problem doing that.”

Johnson adds that CMC will be a rewarding place to work for the newest members of the faculty and administration because of the caring and hard work of the people who are leaving.

“The people that are retiring have been such an important part of Colorado Mountain College and who we are; the foundation they have helped establish will always remain.”

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