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RANGELY — ‘Tis the season of giving. At least it is at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
CNCC President John Boyd officially announced the kickoff of an $8.3 million major gift campaign Monday at a press conference at the Weiss Center on the Rangely campus.
“What we’re doing here is not just trying to raise money,” Boyd said. “It’s adding value to our community. The community is saying this is where we want training. This is what we want the college to be.
“This is not a college-based campaign,” Boyd said. “It’s a community-based campaign.”
The good news is the college is already well on its way toward reaching its goal.
“We’re at 60 percent of that goal right now, between contributions and grants,” Boyd said.
With a big chunk of that amount coming from Larry “Bud” Striegel, owner of W.C. Striegel, who donated $1 million and serves as one of the campaign’s honorary co-chairs.
Boyd said Striegel’s donation spoke volumes about not only his support of the college, but the community.
“A million dollar contribution from a local businessman, who wants to see our children in Rangely have a better opportunity, a better quality of life,” Boyd said. “(For them) to learn this technical training in engineering, and then stay here to work in the the local industry.”
The Striegel donation is going toward renovation of what is now called the W.C. Striegel Engineering Center on the Rangely campus.
Despite the nation’s economic woes, where every day seems to bring news of another government bailout or financial failure, the CNCC president said the college’s mission takes on an even more important role in tough times.
“It’s even more important now that we go forward,” Boyd said. “Typically, in a downturn economy, that results in higher unemployment and more people needing to be trained for the local workforce.
“Business can go up and down,” Boyd said. “But the college provides that platform of stability that, in Rangely, drilling for oil doesn’t do, because prices vary and activity varies.”
Ken Parsons, a member of the CNCC Board of Trustees and Rio Blanco County commissioner, agrees.
“This is a very important time in the college’s history,” Parsons said Monday. “It’s a really significant opportunity. This is a good time for CNCC to be going forward with this kind of campaign. I very much appreciate (Boyd’s) leadership on this.”
Northwest Colorado, especially with its oil and gas development and the demands for trained workers, is uniquely situated to weather the economic storm, Boyd said.
“We are in a unique situation in that all of those people that are being unemployed somewhere else, we need those people here,” the college president said. “We need those people to come here and be trained.”
That’s where CNCC’s mission comes in.
“We need to be able to teach the technology that students are going to face in the workplace,” Boyd said. “That means we have to have cutting-edge technology. We have to be at least as good as the workforce, if not better.”
Energy companies play a role as well, as they partner with the college in developing and funding programs that provide technical training for future workers to fill the job demands of the industry.
“We see them as being very good partners with us,” Boyd said. “A lot of what we do strategically and tactically flow with the direction they going. We already have some great partnerships, with Shell Oil, for example.”
Shell donated $600,000 in 2006 for energy program development.
Like many people, the oil and gas industry is what brought Jane Miller, CNCC trustee, and her husband to town.
“We moved here with the oil company, Chevron,” she said. “So we’ve seen a lot of different places. This town, honestly, is one of the best places I’ve ever been. How the town cares about itself and its people, and the college is part of that. I’ve seen the college grow, since we’ve been here in ’90, and it’s amazing.”
Putting its money where its mouth is, CNCC faculty and staff are doing their part as well.
“As we do the internal campaign first, we had 99 percent of faculty and staff committing to this campaign,” Boyd said. “That’s huge. With just faculty and staff, we’ve raised over $50,000.
“That is our faculty and staff saying we are committed to this campaign and we want to take a leadership role,” Boyd said. “I think that makes a bold statement.”
Absent from Monday’s public kickoff of the major gifts campaign was Peggy Rector, CNCC Foundation Board president and campaign co-chair.
“Normally, she would be here, but she is recovering from knee surgery in Denver,” said Steve Shrock, CNCC Foundation director. “She’s sorry she can’t be here. She sends her regrets as well as her support.”
“She’s been a stalwart for the college,” Boyd said of Rector.
The biggest-ticket item for the campaign, far and away, is construction of a new campus in Craig. State funds will pay for $23.3 million of the project, which has a price tag of $32.6 million, including $25.5 million for a new academic building.
On the Rangely campus, funding from the campaign will go toward construction of a new wellness center ($2.3 million) as well as renovations to the Rector Science and Math Center ($2 million) and the Striegel Engineering Center ($1.4 million).
“We have already hired architects,” Boyd said. “We have approved the basic layouts of the buildings. Now it goes into actual blueprint design.
“We anticipate we will be bidding out the Striegel building in January for renovations,” Boyd said. “The Rector bidding will be bid out when we know we are close to having the finances to finish it out.”
The fund-raising campaign also includes $2 million for program expansion at both the Rangely and Craig campuses, as well as $300,000 for service center support at the Meeker, Hayden and Routt County satellite schools.
“Those are extremely valuable to the college,” Boyd said of the satellites.
Enrollment is up this fall, which is always a good sign, the CNCC president said.
“We’re up about 7 percent compared to last year,” Boyd said. “And we grew last year.”
Student enrollment, CNCC’s fund-raising campaign and the college’s ability to meet the community’s workforce needs are all related, Boyd said.
“What it does is allow the college to attract and retain good students,” Boyd said. “Students who will, hopefully, learn to love the community as much as we all love it and will stay in the community and provide support in that local and regional workforce.
“Whether that community is Rangely or Meeker,” he said, “it’s bringing people in and keeping good qualified graduates to meet the workforce needs.”