Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in Glenwood Springs Wednesday to kick off summit at CMC

Representatives of colleges from around the nation that define themselves as “dual mission” institutions will converge on Glenwood Springs this week for the annual Dual Mission Summit, including a visit from Gov. Jared Polis.

Polis is scheduled to help kick off the event during a dinner event at the Hotel Colorado on Wednesday evening. After dinner, the governor is to be joined by Colorado Mountain College President and CEO Carrie Hauser and American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell to talk about the post-pandemic future of postsecondary education and the nation’s college classification system, which has begun to recognize dual mission institutions.

Dual mission schools, such as CMC, not only offer certificates and associate’s degrees, but also a range of four-year bachelor’s degrees and various forms of continuing education under one roof in a community-based setting.

CMC has taken a lead role in the movement to redefine how such colleges are classified by the Carnegie Classification System, Hauser said.

For now, dual mission colleges have aligned as kind of a “loose federation” of institutions with a similar mission, she said.

“We are starting to become more organized, and out of this conference we are hoping to better define this group of institutions,” Hauser said.

The National Dual Mission Summit has taken place in Utah in recent years, except for a virtual summit during the pandemic. After attending her first summit three years ago, Hauser said it was good to learn about other institutions that operate similarly to CMC.

Hauser said that she had just spoke to a group of students who indicated that, were it not for having CMC in their own community, they would not likely have pursued their current courses of study.

“We are kind of the one-stop shop for people of all ages and backgrounds who come to us in different ways, whether it’s right out of high school or students who come to us later in life,” Hauser said. “We have a lot of people who come to us with bachelor’s degrees in hand, but who need to fill a specific skillset for a job in our area.”

Colorado statutes now recognize dual mission postsecondary institutions, but CMC is still unique among the college offerings in the state, she said.

“Especially coming out of the pandemic, institutions like ours have become more relevant, because we’re adaptable, affordable, open-access institutions that can respond to the local marketplace,” she said.

More than a hundred representatives from other such institutions located in Utah, North Dakota, Georgia, Florida and other states are expected to attend.

The summit continues Thursday and Friday at CMC-Spring Valley, with sessions and panel discussions focused on the national college classification system, new models in postsecondary learning, public policy considerations, student perspectives, and best practices for dual mission institutions.

Post Independent Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at or 970-384-9160.

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