Colorado Mountain College approves new bachelor’s degree as Aspen trustee honored

The college will begin enrolling students for its ecosystems science and stewardship program in fall 2022

Staff reports

The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees approved Tuesday a new Bachelor of Science in Ecosystems Science and Stewardship, and once approved by the state, the program will bring the total number of bachelor’s degrees offered at the college to six.

Students in the ecosystems science and stewardship program will focus on science coursework including ecology, biology and watershed science.

“This degree will lead to careers in conservation biology, forestry, environmental science and more,” CMC Associate Professor Dr. Nathan Stewart said. “There are many public and private sector employers in our mountain communities that are hiring for these high paying jobs and we’re excited to offer this degree to our students.”

An internal program development team, in collaboration with 25 external partners, has worked over the past two years to consider adding the ecosystems science and stewardship program, school officials said. The process took into consideration community need, the college’s current academic competencies and the potential for critical local and regional industry partnerships.

The Bachelor of Science in Ecosystems Science and Stewardship builds on the strengths of the college’s sustainability, biology, natural resource and geographic information systems faculty and programming. The curriculum will prepares students with the skills necessary to engage in careers that tackle solutions to the ever-growing climate change crisis, CMC officials said.

The new degree will be available for the fall 2022 semester, pending approval by the state and the Higher Learning Commission. The college currently offers bachelor’s degrees in business administration, education, leadership and management, nursing, and sustainability studies.

Honoring Trustee Cunniffe

The board honored term-limited member Charles Cunniffe, as Tuesday’s meeting was his last ahead of the November elections. He has been on the college’s board of trustees representing Pitkin County since 2013.

The board and senior staff recognized Cunniffe with a commemorative resolution: a Colorado flag flown over the Colorado State Capitol in Cunniffe’s honor and sentiments of appreciation.

He has been an active college supporter for many years, including as a member of the CMC Foundation Board. He is the principal of Charles Cunniffe Architects and has worked as an architect in Aspen since 1979.

“We thank Trustee Cunniffe for his many years of service to the board,” CMC President Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser said. “His forward-thinking leadership style and passion for putting students first will be greatly missed at the college.”

Cunniffe’s District 1 seat will be filled by former town of Snowmass Village Mayor Markey Butler, who faced no opposition when she filed a petition for the position. She will be sworn in at the December board meeting.

New mountain bike trails

The college’s Board of Trustees also approved the hiring of a general contractor to build a new section of mountain bike trails at the Spring Valley campus. Director of Facilities Sean Nesbitt said work will begin in early October on three miles of new mountain bike trails on campus.

These trails will be available to CMC students and the community and are designed to eventually host high school races. The Spring Valley campus already has nearly four miles of existing trails that have been built by students, staff and local volunteers.

Also at the meeting, trustees unanimously approved modifications to board policies 1.2 and 1.4. The trustees also gave final approval for two utility easements granted to Holy Cross Energy for the CMC Spring Valley solar project. Lastly, the board approved a resolution in support of the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Grant.


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