Meet the CMC Board of Trustees District 6 candidates

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Christine Whittington

Five of the seven seats on the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees are up for election Nov. 5, though just two of them are contested.

Voters in the six-county special college district will be deciding those seats, along with a ballot question (7A) asking whether the Salida area should be annexed into the CMC district. Ballots were mailed to registered voters in the district Friday.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent is profiling the candidates running for the District 2 (Roaring Fork School District boundaries) and District 6 (Lake County School District) seats on the CMC board in a Q&A format.

Running to replace outgoing District 2 Trustee Kathy Goudy are former CMC professor Mary Nelle Axelson, and Marianne Virgili, the longtime former director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

And running to replace District 6 outgoing Trustee Pat Chlouber are former CMC Timberline Campus professor and campus dean Bob Hartzell, and Christine Whittington, a former CMC Leadville library director.

Running unopposed for reelection in the other trustee districts are Patricia Theobald (District 4-Summit County); Bob Kuusinen (District 5-Steamboat Springs); and Chris Romer (District 7-Eagle County).

Q&As with District 2 candidates Axelson and Virgili were published Friday. Following are responses from District 6 candidates Hartzell and Whittington.

Profession, how long have you lived in the Colorado Mountain College District, and any relevant family or personal information you would like to share?

Bob Hartzell: I moved to Leadville in 1970 and have lived in the CMC District for 49 years. I married Kay Schneiter, a Leadville local since 1963, and we have three children all born, raised and graduated (high school) in Leadville. I taught in the local high school, worked in the ski industry, spent 25 years with the CMC Timberline Campus, and ran the National Mining Museum for five-and-a half years.-

Christine Whittington: After long careers in academe, my husband, Stephen Whittington, and I moved to Leadville in 2014 when Steve became executive director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. A few months later, I became library director at CMC Leadville. Steve grew up in Denver and, since the beginning of our careers, we hoped to eventually land in Colorado. We are thrilled to be here. We have two adult children, son Daniel and daughter Quinn, plus two dogs and two cats, all rescues, and seven tarantulas, one a rescue.

Why are you running for the CMC Board of Trustees?

CH: I was so impressed by the CMC faculty, staff, students and the support of community members that I would joke that I would pay to work at CMC! I worked on CMC’s 50th anniversary celebration and was inspired by the history of the college and campuses. I retired in January 2018. When Pat Chlouber’s last term was ending, friends from CMC and Lake County encouraged me to run. I considered it, and when a student encouraged me to run, I decided to take the plunge.

BH: I spent over 25 wonderful years working for and serving CMC. They provided me the opportunity to grow as a teacher and a leader in the process. Good things are happening at CMC and I want to be a part of the process of keeping Colorado Mountain College a community college leader in the United States.

What qualifications do you bring to the table, and how do you believe that will benefit the organization?

BH: In the ski biz: Director of Lift Ops at Copper and chairman of the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board. Locally: City councilman and mayor pro tem, president and executive director of the National Mining Museum, and professor and campus dean on our CMC campus. I currently serve as the VP of Leadville Boom Days Inc. and vice chair of the Lake County Airport Board of Advisers. My goal is to get involved to make positive contributions and I would continue in that vein as a Colorado Mountain College Trustee.

CW: I had a 40-career in academe: librarian at Penn State and University of Maine, and library director at Greensboro College and CMC Leadville. I taught credit courses, including congressional and legal information sources to pre-law and journalism students. I directed the first-year seminar program and study abroad at Greensboro College. After retiring, I was a librarian for the Ask Academic online chat reference service. I keep up with best practices related to teaching and learning. I ask questions. I have an inquiring mind and an independent voice.

What do you see as CMC’s most significant contribution to the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County in particular?

CW: The most significant contribution has been bringing degree and certificate programs to residents who might not have been able to obtain degrees otherwise and serving as models for CMC in providing degrees that fit the location, e.g. hospital management in Aspen/Basalt, elementary education in Glenwood Springs and applied engineering at Rifle. The graphic design program at the Isaacson School is stellar. One of the most important contributions is attracting and retaining excellent faculty and staff.

BH: The obvious is economic with campus and office sites at five locations from Aspen to Carbondale to Glenwood Springs. Beyond that, contributions at all campus sites include training citizens for an ever-changing job market, offering higher education opportunities to all citizens, and community enrichment activities promoting a greater awareness of cultural, intellectual and artistic happenings.

Do you support the annexation of the Salida area into the CMC District boundaries; why/why not?

BH: I support the possible annexation of the Salida area into the CMC District boundaries. Salida has been part of the CMC service area for as long as I can remember. Now is as good a time as any for Salida to be part of the CMC District. With their climate, access to recreation and Certified Creative District designation, their population continues to grow. Many of their community leaders favor annexation and that support is important to the success of any CMC campus.

CW: I support annexation of Salida as a CMC district and hope that voters will also see the myriad benefits, including lower tuition. As a board member of the Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, which offers lectures in Salida and the Upper Arkansas area, I have noted the desire for intellectual and educational opportunities in Salida and the enthusiasm of the highly educated retiree population who could teach as adjuncts and share ideas. The Salida Annexation Feasibility Study outlines the advantages of including Salida in the CMC fold.

Would you like to see CMC’s four-year degree programs expanded? If so, into what areas?

CW: Creation of baccalaureate degree programs at CMC is addressed by the Colorado Revised Statutes (Title 23, Sec. 23-71-133). Requirements include workforce and student demand for the programs, accreditation potential, and cost-effectiveness. These are important — and legal — factors for adding degree programs. Employers, including nonprofits, find it difficult to attract employees to CMC’s district due to housing costs. Working with businesses to provide an appropriately educated workforce helps everyone win. I would add that the ability to attract and keep excellent instructors to engage and inspire students is critical.

BH: The access to four-year degrees in the high country is an exciting development. Nursing, business, education, leadership & management, and sustainability constitutes a great start! CMC has done a wonderful job of offering AAS degrees in ski area operations, resort management, ski business and the like. Articulation of these degrees with four-year colleges has been good, yet we might want to consider expanding into four-year degrees in areas such as these.

Do you support CMC’s income-share agreement loan program for immigrant students who don’t qualify for traditional loans? Elaborate.

BH: The key is, as stated, do they have financial need, do they have no access to federal financial assistance, do they qualify as in-state or in-district students and do they have U.S. work authorization? If we are truly a community college providing educational opportunities to our local residents and others, yes, I support the income-share agreement loan program. No money comes out of CMC’s pockets and repayment of the funds provides continuing opportunities for others who do not personally have the funds to attend college.

CW: ISAs are controversial. Some critics label them “indentured servitude” that hurts students, including immigrants, who do not qualify for government loans. Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent letters about the dangers of ISAs to colleges considering them, including CMC. She underestimates colleges’ abilities to create sensible guidelines. My alma mater, Purdue University, offers ISAs through their Back a Boiler program. We must not allow Sen. Warren and other critics to insult our intelligence and that of our students. We should offer immigrants (and other debt-averse students) creative options for paying for college.

In tight financial times, do you prefer to look to taxpayers or student tuition to balance the budget? Explain.

CW: Tuition for in-district students must not be raised. Families living in CMC districts are already paying taxes to support CMC. I am also opposed to raising taxes. We should instead be working to make CMC the best possible steward of district resources. CMC should also not cut or reduce salaries or benefits for faculty, who are vitally important for student success and engagement and must be encouraged to stay. Instead, CMC should scrutinize expenditures to ensure that everything we pay for is supporting our mission, including services for our communities.

BH: Colorado Mountain College is already a low-cost alternative bringing benefits to the student as well as to each community. I would look first towards raising tuition to weather tight financial times. The taxpayer has not seen an appreciable rise in the mill levy for quite some time. A property tax increase is also a viable alternative as the entire amount raised would not come directly from community residents but would include second homeowners as well.