For Colorado Mountain College, life begins at 40
Forty is a magic number. When we work hard and deserve a nap, we want 40 winks to refresh our energy and brain power. Legends tell of a time when it rained a cleansing deluge for 40 days and 40 nights. And we all know the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years in search of the Promised Land.As innovative leaders in higher education in Colorado, some of my peers at Colorado Mountain College may have identified with those 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, as over four decades we faced challenges and suffered uncertainty. The best reason to celebrate today is that those 40 years are behind us – the growing pains and the uphill struggles. Nearly every workday now, each of us gets glimpses of the Promised Land.When students become confident of their scholastic ability, and move on to build lives full of purpose and service to others, that’s the Promised Land. When faculty work together to ensure that our courses are as good as the best schools in the nation, I get another peek at the Promised Land. What has not changed at CMC, and what keeps getting better, are the progressive and inspirational values that were laid out four decades ago: affordable tuition for all students desiring post-secondary instruction; comprehensive education that prepares students to enter the workforce with appropriate skills; and adult education and education for life.CMC has become a stable and vital presence in the communities we serve. Thanks to the foresight of the founders, who structured a two-year college partly funded by property taxes, we enjoy campuses at 11 sites. Our students use state-of-the-art equipment to train for their chosen careers. Our school has talented leaders who watch the big picture and chart a course for the changing future. Increased full-time faculty give our students the individual attention and expert guidance college students deserve. Once upon a time, I dreamed that little CMC would become one of the best schools in the state, or in any state. We had small class sizes, where students could interact and perform their new skills and knowledge, so why couldn’t we aspire to new levels of academic excellence? We had energetic teachers passionate about their special areas. We had a savvy administration. So what could stop us? Forty years on, CMC has attained many of the goals I envisioned. And I was not the only one dreaming of what we could become. In fact, as long ago as 1839, a great American writer had a dream similar to ours. Henry David Thoreau, admiring the Berkshire Mountain setting of Williams College, decided that “it would be no small advantage if every college were thus located at the base of a mountain.” Wouldn’t he be surprised and pleased to learn about us?I am confident that CMC will continue to change, and at the same time maintain the traditions that have been established in our first four decades. We have transformed ourselves, the places where we live and the thousands of people who have looked to CMC for knowledge, training and new horizons. With all of this in mind, I can understand the wise old saying: Life begins at 40. Joyce Mosher is assistant professor of English and communications at CMC’s Summit Campus, where she has taught for 32 years. This column is based on a speech she gave to celebrate the college’s 40th birthday. For the full text, go to enews.coloradomtn.edu.
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