Southern Colorado colleges work together for regional gain in economy and education

The leaders of 10 southern Colorado colleges and universities will cooperate to improve local economies and individual futures, according to a statement signed by educational leaders on June 2.

Meeting on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo, leaders of southern Colorado colleges and universities signed a statement recognizing the importance of working cooperatively to achieve their shared goals of improving individual educational achievement and community economic success in the region.

Calling their working group the Southern Colorado Education Collaboratory, the leaders of 10 regional colleges identified as goals building a culture that encourages southern Colorado residents to pursue associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate degrees , enhancing cooperation between two- and four-year schools to increase student transfer, establishing a collective voice for higher education in the region, and improving K-12 partnerships, teacher training, workforce training, research opportunities and financial support for higher education.

Signing the statement of intent were Adams State College President David Svaldi, Colorado State University- Pueblo President Joseph Garcia, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Fort Lewis College President Brad Bartel, Lamar Community College President President John Marrin, Otero Junior College President James Rizzuto, Pikes Peak Community College President Anthony Kinkel, Pueblo Community College President John Garvin, Trinidad State Junior College Interim President Felix Lopez and Western State College President Jay Helman.

“We recognize that southern Colorado faces great challenges in employment, education, income levels and overall quality of life,” UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said. “We intend to work together to achieve a common purpose of building the future of this region.”

CSU-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia said: “The disparity in higher education degree attainment between southern Colorado and the rest of the state cannot be adequately addressed without every institution working together. I’m pleased that we’ve made a public commitment to this important goal.”

OJC President Rizzuto said: “I feel this collaborative effort will be a positive step in ensuring the seamless transfer of students between our southern Colorado institutions. I also believe it is important to address workforce development needs as a region rather than individually.”

At the meeting, the college leaders identified several initiatives on which they intend to begin work immediately. Those initiatives include designing strategies to increase higher education access in the region and improving articulation and transfer agreements among them particularly in the areas of science, engineering, technology, mathematics, education, business and health care.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.