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Yesenia Arreola was one of six people who testified in support of the bill.Bill now moves forward to full House of Representatives

Following a unanimous vote, the education committee of Colorado’s House of Representatives voted today (March 18, 2010) in support of SB 101, which would allow Colorado Mountain College to offer up to five bachelor’s degrees.

The next step is for the bill to continue on for consideration in the full House. If successful there, the bill would go on to the governor for his signature. A date has not yet been set for introduction of the bill into the full House.

The bill has already been passed by the Senate on a vote of 33-1-1.

Testifying before the education committee Thursday afternoon, Colorado Mountain College President Dr. Stan Jensen told members that their support would mean they would be increasing rural accessibility to higher education, resulting in greater numbers of college graduates. CMC administrators have said they especially want to reach community members who are place-bound, who would otherwise not go on to complete a four-year degree.

“Many have told me, and our surveys indicate, they will complete their bachelor’s degree if we provide it in their own hometown,” Jensen told the committee.

Should SB 101 receive full legislative approval, the college would need to secure approval from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the college’s accrediting body, the North Central Association of the Higher Learning Commission. Jensen told education committee members that the college has received preliminary approval from its accrediting body, and is working steadily toward meeting any necessary requirements.

Following consultations with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the final wording on the bill as passed by the Senate earlier this month had been adjusted slightly. The bill clarifies that the college needs to have individual degrees approved by the CCHE, as is currently the case with associate degrees CMC offers. The bill also includes a list of standards the college must meet for CCHE approval, and a requirement that the college appeal to the legislature for permission to offer more than five degrees.

If all approvals are received, the college hopes to offer up to five upper-division classes in the fall of 2010, and to begin offering bachelor’s programs the following summer. Based on preliminary results from surveys of students, business owners and community members within the college’s district, the greatest demand is for business degrees related to the resort and hospitality businesses prevalent in the region, as well as teacher education.