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CMC receives $17,000 in science equipment from ex-residents

Krysta Pelchar, a Colorado Mountain College student, looks through the lens of a new microscope

Krysta Pelchar, a Colorado Mountain College student, looks through the lens of a new microscope, one of several pieces of donated science laboratory equipment at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Former residents Dick and Sandy Toye gave over $17,000 of new equipment to the college to help teach science students. Photo Jim Lamb

[BRECKENRIDGE] – One day, perhaps some renowned scientific genius will look back and give thanks to two former Breckenridge residents for a gift which launched that scientist’s career.

That may be the case, after Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge recently received a generous donation of new scientific laboratory equipment, valued at $17,000, from Sandy and Dick Toye, who lived in Breckenridge from 1995 to 2006. The couple wanted to purchase something meaningful to elevate the college’s teaching capabilities.

“We had always found CMC to be a very valued part of the Summit community,” Dick Toye said. “It always had a real warm spot in our hearts, so when they opened the new building (in 2009), we took a tour.” The Toyes were impressed with the new laboratory but noted that it could be made even better with the addition of some critical pieces of equipment.

Former college trustee Dick Bateman started working with the Toyes last fall on the donation.

“I knew about their science backgrounds, and from my time on the board, I knew we needed to upgrade the lab equipment,” Bateman said.

Dick Toye, a retired Air Force officer, company vice president and lawyer, has always loved science and is an amateur astronomer. Sandy Toye was an executive with the National Science Foundation.

“They asked for a list of equipment we thought we needed, and I was astonished when they stepped forward to say they’d donate $17,000 worth of new equipment,” Bateman said. “I was just delighted and I know they were glad to help.”

The donation consisted of three stereo, or dissecting, microscopes used in the dissection of small insects, and two Spec 20s, or visible spectrophotometers, used to scan for plant pigments, said science instructor Bill Painter.

Science instructor Bill Painter, left, and student T.J. Hartridge

Science instructor Bill Painter, left, and student T.J. Hartridge look over the specifications of some donated science laboratory equipment at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Former residents Dick and Sandy Toye gave over $17,000 of equipment to the college to help teach science students. Photo Jim Lamb

Also included was a $10,000 infrared spectrometer, mainly used to look at the interactions and relationships between atoms in molecules.

“The more equipment like this we have in our labs, the more likely students interested in chemistry are to enroll,” Painter said.

Enrollment in the campus’s science classes has grown markedly in the 11 years Painter has taught at the college, he said. This spring, for example, Painter taught 13 students in his Chemistry II class, the most he has had in this class.

Painter said he planned to use the equipment in his advanced science classes, along with new classes.

“I’ve had students always asking for an organic chemistry class, so I’m hoping we can get that one going,” he said.

“Our only reward is to hopefully see people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get into science get that chance,” Dick Toye said. “We wanted to celebrate the college and the new building and someday we hope we can celebrate with some graduates who were able to become what they wanted, in part because of this equipment.”