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Colorado Mountain College’s trustees receive the 2023 John W. Nason Award

When the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees meets next week in Edwards, it will celebrate its selection as the best public college governing board in the country.

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) selected CMC’s Board of Trustees as one of five boards – one public college, two private universities, and two public college or university foundations – nationally to receive its John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership. AGB and presenting sponsor TIAA, partner to present the Nason Award, established in 1992, to higher education governing boards across the country that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative.

“The nation is home to some 4,000 colleges and universities and nearly as many governing boards, and yet, there are few boards that deserve special recognition more for their courage, wisdom and foresight,” said CMC president and CEO Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser. “CMC is more relevant to and celebrated by its communities than ever before, in large part because of the courageous and thoughtful individuals that comprise its elected governing board.”

This year’s honorees were chosen from a diverse array of nominations illustrating the essential work of boards from public and private colleges and universities and institutionally related foundations. Each recipient was recognized for its justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion-related programs and initiatives as well as its efforts to enhance student success.

According to its nomination materials, the publicly elected CMC Board of Trustees received the award because of its significant commitment to actively addressing the needs of students and the region the college serves through multiple institutional initiatives. These include investing $45 million for affordable housing and leveraging this funding to expand four critical projects in high-cost mountain towns; expanding academic programming and technology for high-demand fields like nursing, and growing concurrent enrollment opportunities for high school students throughout CMC’s region.

Their focus on board advocacy for critical public policy changes – including modifications to the state’s constitution – has strengthened CMC’s financial health and its support for underserved students. These targeted approaches bolster student outcomes as well as the state’s economic health.

The CMC Board of Trustees is one of five boards receiving this year’s Nason Award. Other recipients include the Holyoke (Massachusetts) Community College Foundation Board of Directors, the Texas Christian University Board of Trustees, the Utah State University Foundation Board of Directors and the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees.

“Strategic governing boards play a vital role in assuring the value and vitality of higher education,” said AGB president and CEO Henry Stoever. “We are grateful for these boards’ contributions to creating a more just, equitable, and inclusive environment for all students, and we hope that their efforts will inspire more boards to hone their strategic thought partnership with chief executives and leadership teams. I am impressed by the achievements of our honorees, and I look forward to their future strides in promoting student success – for all students.”

The Nason Award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as the chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped nearly 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. AGB is the premier organization advocating strategic board governance in higher education. TIAA is a Fortune 100 financial services organization dedicated to helping its clients pursue financial well-being. There are 40,000 AGB members from more than 2,000 institutions and foundations, who navigate complex issues, implement leading practices, streamline operations, and govern with confidence.

Colorado Mountain College is a public, dual-mission institution with 11 campus locations in the heart of Colorado’s mountain region. CMC offers a blend of seven bachelor’s degrees, 54 associate degrees and 77 certificates as well as diplomas in high school equivalency and general education development. Notable academic programs include avalanche science, culinary arts and fire science; bachelor’s programs include business, education, ecosystem science and stewardship, human services, nursing, and sustainability studies. Approximately 15,000 students attend CMC annually.

In 2021, the college was identified as one of an estimated 400 institutions – most of them in rural parts of the country – as a dual mission college; offering an intentional blend of liberal arts programs and hands-on career skills training under one roof as well as a mix of undergraduate programs and specialized certificates. Just as important, CMC is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution. CMC’s Latino and Hispanic student enrollment is 29 percent.

Featured image: The CMC Board of Trustees has been named one of five higher education boards nationally to receive the Nason Award. Trustees are, from left, Chris Romer (Eagle County), Patty Theobald (Summit County), Peg Portscheller (West Garfield County), Marianne Virgili (East Garfield County), Bob Hartzell (Lake County), Marky Butler (Pitkin County), Bob Kuusinen (Routt County) and  David Armstrong (Salida liaison).