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Colleges of Distinction recognizes CMU in multiple categories

CMU President reinforces the importance of supporting students and the university's mission

Already known as one of the nation’s fastest growing universities, CMU was also recognized by Colleges of Distinction as one of Colorado’s best in 2019. 

A national resource for school selection and quality assessment, Colleges of Distinction provided accolades to CMU in a variety of categories through the organization’s unique approach to assessing university quality. Colleges of Distinction assesses support of students in all aspects of their lives — an approach valued by CMU President Tim Foster. 

Among the distinctions received by CMU was the accolade of “Great Teaching.” With a student-to-faculty ration of 21:1 the distinction underscores that such a ratio contributes to classes that are taught by professors with faculty available to mentor students while fostering relationships necessary to support CMU’s student diversity. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Kurt Haas, PhD, expressed no surprise by receiving the distinction. 

“In Academic Affairs we don’t focus on rankings we focus on meeting the needs of our students and faculty and ensuring academic quality — a criteria in which student-to-faculty ratios are one important measure out of many,” said Haas. “When we hire faculty we seek those who are among the best and brightest in their disciplines, who also want to teach and live in one of nicest landscapes in the United States. The outcome is quality of faculty and people taking notice of quality teaching and small class sizes.” 

Beyond “Great Teaching,” CMU’s recognition by Colleges of Distinction included distinctions in "Engaged Students", "Vibrant Community" and "Successful Outcomes." 

CMU Vice President of Student Services John Marshall believes first-and-foremost credit for having a vibrant campus community at CMU belongs to students, but that CMU staff also work to provide as many engagement opportunities as possible to set students up for success. 

“The list that Colleges of Distinction highlights in their report regarding student life is as enriching and substantive as it is long,” said Marshall. “The report provides a long list of clubs, organizations and amenities available to CMU students, which result in a highly vibrant campus community.” 

Belief that CMU is deserving of the commendation extends beyond the administration and includes alumni. 

“The opportunities CMU provides extends well outside the classroom. Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction serve as a great testing ground for students to gain valuable firsthand experience and begin the process of building a resume. I can certainly point to a number internships and experiences in the region as a large contributor to my career development,” said alumnus Nick Lopez, '11. 

President Foster reflected on the overall reception of distinction with the perspective that CMU’s study body adds emphasis for the need to assess universities through a more nuanced lens. 

“Nearly half of CMU students are first generation or those who don’t fit into the traditional boxes that many ranking businesses rely on,” said Foster. “The new campus at CMU combined with unique services for students provides a remarkable learning environment. When combined with CMU’s location, and the tireless innovation around supporting students, I’m pleased but not surprised others are appreciating what we are accomplish at CMU.”

Foster also believes CMU’s distinctions are obvious beyond formal recognitions. 

“In a challenging environment for higher education, CMU has countered negative national trends for the better part of a decade in terms of enrollment and physical growth of the campus, but also in relation to academic quality and expansion of offerings." 

CMU’s Foundation also shared in appreciation of the distinction but was quick to point out that a growing and increasingly active base of university alumni, donors and partners also contribute to all four categories in ways that may not be fully measured. 

“Our alumni and donors teach, volunteer, create endowments and support CMU students and events,” said CMU Foundation CEO Liz Meyer. “The Foundation and its partners and donors surely add up and contribute when we look at the success of CMU.” 

Meyer also said that CMU enjoys unique support from the local governments of western Colorado. She believes such support also contributes value to the categories of distinction where CMU scored well. 

“The cities of Grand Junction and Montrose and Mesa County are examples of unique financial and in-kind organizations that support CMU, but that don’t fit into any kind of ranking assessment because of the unique nature of the partnerships,” she said. 

CMU was also afforded distinction in two additional categories including “Engaged Students” and “Successful Outcomes.” 

“When it comes to ratings, agencies will come and go and rankings will ebb and flow," said Foster. “I communicate to the CMU community that we should enjoy it when our work is noticed by others, but not to focus on rakings and ratings and instead focus on a tireless effort to serve students through the mission of CMU.” 

“If we do that, success will take care of itself,” he said.

Form more information visit the CMU profile on Colleges of Distinction.



Written by David Ludlam