This article first appeared in the Steamboat Today. By Scott Franz
Steamboat Springs — As she looked up and admired the atrium of the new academic center at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus on Thursday night, Bonnie Bogue was thinking about her mom.
“In my heart, I know she would have loved this building,” Bogue said about her mother, Lucile, who in 1962 founded Yampa Valley College, which eventually grew into the Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.
Lucile Bogue, who was an educator and an award-winning author, died in 2005.
“She had such a dream for this college,” Bonnie Bogue said. “I think this is the kind of building she had in mind to put here someday.”
Nearly 50 years after Lucile Bogue planted the seeds of the Alpine Campus, the college on Thursday night celebrated the grand opening of its 60,000-square-foot academic hub in Steamboat.
The building features a 290-seat auditorium, a fitness center, a business enterprise center and a dining hall with panoramic views of Mount Werner, Emerald Mountain and downtown Steamboat.
In the early days of Lucile Bogue’s Yampa Valley College, there was no central academic hub or state-of-the-art classrooms.
Its first students attended classes in churches and basements, and a few of its oldest alumni said some parents even drove through the cow-town of Steamboat and, when they couldn’t spot a campus, decided not to drop off their kids.
But the college has evolved since then.
On Thursday night, more than 500 people packed into CMC’s new building to celebrate the start of a new chapter for the college.
The three-story, $18 million structure was called a crown jewel, an impressive piece of architecture and a bridge between the college and the community.
“I guess all I can say is, ‘Wow,’” Steamboat resident Jayne Hill said inside the new dining hall. “This makes it a real college now.”
Evan Osburn, of Columbus, Ohio, will start environmental science classes at the college next week. He said he didn’t know the campus was adding the new building when he enrolled.
“It was a very big surprise,” he said. “I really think this new building will be a better learning environment for me.”
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony downstairs, guests moved up to the auditorium, where they were updated on the capital fundraising campaign for the building.
CMC Foundation President Matt Spencer said the college’s fundraising arm has raised $2 million of its planned $2.7 million contribution to the building.
He added that 20 spaces inside the center have been named for philanthropists who donated $15,000 to $500,000 to the campaign.
“It’s exciting, and it’s humbling,” Spencer said about the completion of the building. “The ripple effect from this grand opening will positively affect all of Colorado Mountain College’s campuses.”
Also at the celebration were some of the college’s first alumni.
“As much as (the college) has changed, much has stayed the same,” Class of 1968 alumnus Charlie Eckstrom said.
Bonnie Bouge said Thursday that she wished her mother could have attended the grand opening.
“This is a special, beautiful building,” Bonnie said. “It’s really sad she couldn’t be here to see it.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com