Jensen wants college to be ‘first choice’ in learning, partnerships, leadership

Doris Dewton, president of the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, explains the symbolism of the medallion presented to college President Dr. Stan Jensen during formal inauguration ceremonies recently. It is common for such ceremonies to be held a year or more after a new president is installed, said CMC administrators, to give the new leader time to study the institution and introduce his or her plans for its future. Jensen formally unveiled his new vision and mission to college employees at the event, which was underwritten by private donors. Photo by Ed Kosmicki

Doris Dewton, president of the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, explains the symbolism of the medallion presented to college President Dr. Stan Jensen during formal inauguration ceremonies recently. Photo by Ed Kosmicki

BRECKENRIDGE – Colorado Mountain College President Dr. Stan Jensen formally unveiled to college employees and supporters his new three-year strategic plan during a presidential inaugural ceremony in Breckenridge Sept. 25.

A presidential inauguration is a tradition at both two- and four-year colleges, said Ann Harris, the college’s vice president of academic affairs, who helped to plan the event. The 42-year-old community college, with 17 locations across its 12,000-square-mile service area, has not previously had traditions such as inaugurals, she added.

But as college employees put into effect Jensen’s new strategic plan, anchored in his vision – to be first choice in learning, partnerships and leadership – starting this new tradition underscores the start of a new era for the comprehensive community college, Jensen said. Before he started with CMC in July 2008, for two decades he had been a nationally recognized consultant in leadership development, team building and strategic planning for colleges and businesses.

College inaugurals often held year or more after president starts

Harris said college administrators started talking about an inaugural shortly after Jensen began his duties about one year ago, but determined it would be best to wait.

It is common for college presidential inaugurations to be held anywhere from nine to 18 months after a president joins an institution, Jensen said. The time allows them to understand the culture and history of the college before they introduce their own plan of action, he explained.

“This time spent together today is vital to building the mutual trust and mutual commitment to one another that will be needed to win the battles and challenges that are just ahead,” Jensen told the college’s employees and supporters assembled at the inauguration.

In employee meetings at each campus over the next several months, Jensen will discuss in depth his new vision, mission and strategic plan. The plan will also be shared with each campus’s community advisory groups, and the plan’s broad outline will be spread to students, community partners and community members at large.

The plan challenges Colorado Mountain College to reach a higher level of service to its communities, through Jensen’s vision of the college and his new mission to create a better future.

“CMC is creating a better future for our communities by returning to our communities over six dollars for every one dollar of tax money invested,” Jensen said in his speech Friday night. “I take that very seriously. And that’s why I never say we spend tax money, we invest it.”

Jensen’s strategic plan is based on the vision and mission, which are further clarified by a half-dozen, three- to five-year objectives. Each of these objectives will be achieved through goals and stretch goals.

Among those stretch goals are: identifying and developing a curriculum for 21st century skills for students, and focusing on partnerships with local businesses to serve as a catalyst for economic recovery. With this year’s introduction of a medical assistant program, as well as courses and certificate programs in solar and sustainable technology, the college is already making headway on those goals, said Jensen.

Donors underwrite cost of ceremony

“We are grateful that so many community partners chose to add to their existing support of our students by underwriting the inaugural, to formally engage our employees in our new strategic plan,” said Jensen. College donors and supporters paid for the full cost of the inauguration, which was the first time Jensen has called together the entire college.

Last spring, instead of a usual end-of-year gathering to debrief staff and faculty from all campuses, college leadership agreed to hold simultaneous, campus-based gatherings. Potluck meals were encouraged, and Jensen spoke to all employees via the college’s interactive video system. The move saved approximately $15,000, which college leaders voted to go toward scholarships for students.

Also on Sept. 25, Jensen signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, joining 653 other college presidents who have pledged to create a plan and measure progress in making their colleges sustainable and green.

View the slideshow of Colorado Mountain College’s first presidential inauguration on Flickr.