Temporary CMC Rifle leadership change | PostIndependent.com

Temporary CMC Rifle leadership change

Ryan Hoffman
Rachel Pokrandt
Staff Photo |

Rachel Pokrandt, dean at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus, will spend the 2016-17 academic year at the helm of the Leadville and Chaffee County campuses, the college announced Friday.

During her year away from the Rifle Campus, Richard Maestas, the current western regional vice president for CMC, will lead the college’s campus in western Garfield County on an interim basis.

Pokrandt said her intention is to help the Leadville and Chaffee campuses through the academic year and then return to the Rifle campus.

“I love the Rifle campus, and I have it in my contract that I get to come back to my position [in Rifle],” she said, adding that she is excited about the upcoming year in Leadville.

“I’ve worked with Richard [Maestas] for a year, and he will bring a wonderful level of stability to the campus while I’m gone.”

Both moves are effective Aug. 1 to allow for a transition period, the college stated. Pokrandt and Carrie Besnette Hauser, CMC president and CEO, will be working part time in Leadville up until the official start in August. Maestas — no stranger to campus leadership — will spend the summer continuing in his current role, while meeting with Pokrandt to learn the ins and outs of the Rifle campus.

The temporary changes come following the departure of James Y. Taylor, the previous campus vice president in Lake and Chaffee counties, at the end of May. Taylor accepted a position with Utah State University.

Pokrandt will oversee CMC’s residential campus in Leadville, its commuter location in Buena Vista and the courses offered in Salida at a non-CMC building.

“By temporarily moving these two experienced, respected managers into interim roles, we give several ad-hoc committees the ability to continue their work to refine our academic structure collegewide and to define what is needed to give the best possible support for our locations in transition,” Hauser said in a media release Friday. “Once we have clarity on those fronts, I can make a more informed and thoughtful decision about the future leadership of our campuses in Leadville and Chaffee County.”

Pokrandt, who was hired in the fall of 2014, has pushed several innovative additions at the Rifle campus, including enhanced concurrent enrollment options for area high school students.

Those efforts helped 65 high school students earn certificates this year, during which the campus saw record-breaking graduation numbers, according to CMC.

The college opened its downtown Rifle Academic Center in fall 2015. The addition directly led to a growing number of people seeking their GED, with nearly 80 students enrolled for the upcoming school year as of the beginning of April.

Aside from the benefits to area students, who may have a difficult time reaching Rifle’s main campus out by the Rifle Garfield County Airport, the downtown location helps provide foot traffic to the city’s central retail core, said Michael Langhorne with the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp.

Langhorne described Pokrandt, who serves on the RREDC board of directors, as being great to work with.

Maestas will serve on the RREDC board, as well as the Garfield Clean Energy board and the team with the Colorado Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, during Pokrandt’s absence.

Maestas, who was named to his current position in the summer of 2015, voiced excitement for what he sees as an opportunity to learn more about what western Garfield County values with regards to continued education.

Prior to joining CMC, Maestas served as vice president for administration and chief financial officer at the Community College of Aurora. In his current role, he is working with the college deans in the region, which stretches from Aspen to Rifle, to build a more regional approach to serving the community.

Given the interim status, Maestas views his role as continuing forward with the projects Pokrandt has in place.

“I’m just looking forward to a successful year,” Maestas said.

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