Colorado Mountain College in Aspen and Carbondale will soon have a new leader: the City of Aspen’s long-serving mayor,
Skadron completes his third and final term on June 10 and is scheduled to begin as CMC vice president and campus dean for Aspen and Carbondale Aug. 1.
Skadron became an ideal choice to lead the campuses because CMC often recruits innovative and creative leaders with diverse backgrounds to advance its multi-campus system. Those same qualities are hallmarks of his policy work, most notably around environmental stewardship, economic diversification and mobility.
He is also a long-time valley resident familiar with both the Carbondale and Aspen communities. Prior to his public service, he worked at the college as an instructor and marketing consultant.
“I am so pleased that Steve Skadron has found his way back to CMC, after his many years in public service,” said Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. “Aspen and Carbondale are special communities that exemplify modern mountain towns with their progressive embrace of the arts, innovative economies and dynamic social consciousness. Steve, whom REI called ‘one of the five coolest mountain-town mayors in America,’ knows this region well.”
As to the selection of Skadron to lead the Aspen and Carbondale campuses, Hauser said, “CMC shares many synergies with the efforts he championed as mayor, including the outdoor industry economy, sustainability, and thoughtful approaches to transit and infrastructure. In light of the transformative opportunities that lie ahead for CMC, Steve is the right person, at the right time, to take on this exciting role.”
Last month the current campus dean and vice president, Dr. Linda Crockett, announced that she was returning to teaching full-time in the fall (see sidebar). A few weeks later, CMC’s elected board of trustees voted unanimously to commit to major facility and programmatic improvements at the college’s Aspen campus.
Given the very significant projects underway at CMC across the Roaring Fork Valley, college leadership was then positioned with recruiting a new campus leader who could step right in; relates to and respects the unique communities of Carbondale and Aspen; moves easily among the public and nonprofit sectors, industry, and community partners; and understands the college’s mission, vision and direction. With Skadron’s tenure in Aspen city government ending in June, and his close knowledge of the entire mountain region, the stars lined up.
Skadron is a former adjunct faculty member in CMC’s Isaacson School of Communication, Arts and Media, and his appointment was lauded by the school’s namesake and past CEO of the Aspen Institute. Offered Walter Isaacson, “It has been my strong position for years that Colorado Mountain College is a unique gem in higher education and we are lucky to have this valuable asset in Colorado’s mountain region. The future will be even brighter with Steve Skadron at the helm of CMC’s Aspen and Carbondale campuses.
“His experience and visionary style will connect many dots and elevate CMC’s role in workforce training, collaborative partnerships, and making this high-cost region inclusive and accessible to a younger and more diverse generation who will compose the civic fabric of the community for decades to come,” said Isaacson.
Skadron also provided 12 years’ service to the community as a member of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Board of Directors. Dan Blankenship, RFTA’s chief executive officer, said, “Whenever a persuasive board advocate for RFTA was needed to meet with our congressional delegation, Steve volunteered to make the whirlwind visits to Washington, D.C. Most notably in 2011, he helped garner a $25 million grant for the VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit project. Steve is never shy about asking hard questions or making difficult decisions.”
Charles Cunniffe, CMC trustee for Pitkin County, said, “I am so pleased that Mayor Skadron has agreed to lead our Aspen and Carbondale campuses. He understands our college, as well as the needs and potential of these unique communities. Steve is a visionary thinker with a track record of working with various stakeholders to address challenges and forge solutions. Dr. Crockett’s steady leadership has positioned the campus perfectly and I wish her the best as she joins the CMC faculty. What a win-win for CMC.”
“Steve’s wit and good humor are going to be greatly missed by RFTA’s board and staff,” Blankenship said. “We wish him tremendous success in his new role with CMC.”
Current Aspen/Carbondale dean and vp to teach full-time starting in August
Dr. Linda Crockett has climbed hundreds of mountains, but is still getting used to her latest achievement: holder of a doctorate in psychology.
She had started a Ph.D. in biology 20 years ago but, she said recently, “As for many of our students at Colorado Mountain College, life got challenging, and I could not get it completed.”
She built a career in wellness and education, all the while wondering when she would ever complete that degree. A professor’s advice that she switch from studying biology to psychology kept nagging at her, as well.
Her path finally brought her to Colorado Mountain College in 2006. She held positions in the college’s public information office and as an assistant dean of instruction, as well as an adjunct faculty teaching psychology, biology and related sciences.
“Everything I’ve done in my career has had some educational component, and has involved writing,” she said.
Since 2014 that role has involved overseeing the Aspen and, added in 2016, Carbondale campuses of the college. As she completed her doctorate in 2018, she realized she had gone four years without teaching. Being a student herself again reminded her that she really missed that daily contact with students. So when she heard this spring of an opportunity to teach full-time at the college, starting in the fall semester, she applied.
She said she looks forward to having more time to pursue her other great love: mountaineering. Crockett just visited the 47th of the 49 state highpoints on her list. (She’s skipping Alaska: “Denali is too cold!”) She has also climbed all of Colorado’s fourteeners, and has summited 450 of the state’s 584 peaks over 13,000 feet. Logically, she has served on the board of another CMC – the Colorado Mountain Club – since 2018.
“Linda Crockett is the epitome of the kind of lifelong learner we see in our employees and students,” said Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of the college. “At a time when others are dreaming of early retirement, she went back to school to complete her doctorate, and rediscovered her love for teaching. Our students will have so much to gain from Linda as she returns to the classroom as a full-time faculty member.”