CMC trustees OK domestic-partner benefits

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Colorado Mountain College has extended health-insurance and tuition-discount benefits to “domestic partners,” in keeping with the state of Colorado’s recent adoption of civil unions for same-sex couples.

The new policy, which was proposed last November by staff members at the college, was adopted unanimously by the college’s board of trustees on Wednesday in Glenwood Springs.

Specifically, the new policy permits the listing of domestic partners, meaning same-sex partners or opposite-sex partners, as dependents eligible for the college’s Tuition Grant Program.

That program allows employees, their spouses and dependents to take up to 12 credit hours for classes toward an associates’ (two-year) degree, or up to six credit hours for classes toward a bachelor’s (four-year) degree, with a maximum of 12 credit hours overall per family, per academic year.

The policy also makes domestic partners eligible for the college’s medical benefits, which include reduced costs for various types of medical and prescription coverage.

The policy has been discussed for months, and Wednesday’s approval passed essentially without comment or debate.

Jan Aspelund, the college vice president for human resources, pointed out that, in the existing tuition grant program, a total of 612 people used the benefit in the 2011-2012 school year, at a cost of $148,851.

In the 2012-2013 school year, she said, 478 people used the benefit, at a cost of $144,552.

No figures for use of the health-care benefit were offered at the meeting.

Aspelund also said the Colorado Employer Benefit Trust, which manages the CMC employee benefits program, also has approved the addition of domestic partners to the tuition grant and health care programs.

She said that, to be eligible, domestic partners must submit to the college their civil-union certificate, which is issued by the state.

She said the certificates actually will not be available until next January, at the latest, and recommended that in the meantime “we just trust the employees” to be truthful about their status.

She pointed out that, while the college is legally required to have this extension in place and operating by July 1, the state has until Jan. 1 to have the certificates available.

In other action, the trustees laid out a schedule for the process of searching for a new president to replace former President Stanley Jensen, who resigned at the end of 2012 and took with him a controversial $500,000 severance check.

Under the tentative schedule, a consulting firm will conduct surveys and meetings in April to gather input from employees and the general community about what type of president is desired.

At the board’s May meeting, the trustees will then finalize a “presidential profile” to guide the search firm, select a search firm from two applicants, and appoint a screening committee to narrow the expected initial rush of applicants down to about 10.

Applications will be due on July 1, and the trustees are hoping to conduct interviews with finalists in September.