RANGELY — The need for community colleges has never been greater; so rest assured, Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) will do everything it can to address critical workforce training, economic development, and quality of life issues in our communities.
Nonetheless, there has been much discussion and debate about the funding for Colorado’s higher education. I am confident that the legislature will do the very best they can in this difficult economic environment. At this point, we will not worry about the economic and legislative factors that we cannot control, but rather our focus will center on those factors we can influence such as enrollment, marketing, grant writing and private sector fundraising.
Whatever the magnitude of the final budget cuts, as president of Colorado Northwestern, I can say with confidence that we will not succumb to apathy or self-sympathy. Recessions have and will continue to come and go; CNCC has and will continue to provide northwestern Colorado with quality education opportunities. We will be prudent with our finances, yet we must also seek strategic partnerships and additional financial support for the work we do.
Our vision for growth is designed to make CNCC a major economic engine for our communities, both in helping to create a diverse economy and to assist in the economic development. With the help of our local district boards, aggressive grant writing, state controlled maintenance, and the generosity of our citizens, we have made significant investments in our infrastructure and taken bold action to address community needs.
Our decision to move forward with the major gifts campaign is anchored upon needs identified in our strategic plan, a feasibility study and numerous business and industry forums. Unfortunately, state funding will continue to create limitations on our college, but the mill levy enables us to offer a higher quality of service, while the major gifts campaign is designed to provide a margin of excellence pursuant to our expanding mission, intermediate goals, and vision for the future.
To date, the Community Partners Building Futures Major Gifts Campaign has raised more than $6.6 million toward our $8.3 million goal. Right now, the Craig campus infrastructure build-out is nearing completion (Phase I). Moreover, the campaign provided the leverage we needed to get the $21.3 million early on from the state for the academic building, in part, because the college was able to commit $2.2 million in matching funds. With ongoing community support, this long-awaited and necessary project will be ready to bid in November 2009.
In addition, we have raised more than $2 million so far toward the Craig Career and Technical Center with less than $1 million yet to raise. I am confident that the Craig community, and others who care about these plans, will invest their time and dollars, so this facility can be ready to bid this summer.
As for Rangely, we have now accepted bids for the W.C. Striegel Engineering Center, and work will start shortly on this $1.2 million renovation project. In addition, we are over halfway toward our $2 million fundraising goal for the Wellness Center.
Along with the Community Partners Building Futures Major Gifts Campaign projects in Rangely, the college is involved in a massive and necessary $6.5 million energy upgrade to provide our students a more comfortable academic and living environment. We have also made significant progress raising funds for program and scholarship support in Rangely and Craig and for necessary service center support in Hayden, Meeker and South Routt.
CNCC is and will be here for you and will continue to offer one of our greatest resources: Hope. Hope for the high school student taking classes to transfer or to learn a job skill. Hope for the person who is starting out in life and needs job skills that will allow them to reach their goals. Hope for the person who wants to improve their life and needs to learn new skills so they can get that promotion or new job. Hope for the person who needs retraining because their old job has been eliminated. Hope for a regional company that needs a trained and quality workforce. Hope for the person who yearns to continue their lifelong learning but cannot stop life to go off somewhere to school.
Now is not the time to pull back. Community colleges are needed more than ever. The nation will eventually emerge from this economic maelstrom. I am confident that we will emerge stronger than ever and that we can accomplish our vision of growth together.
By John Boyd, CNCC president