As the cost of higher education continues to increase, families are growing more concerned about the return on their investment. That’s why Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College are committed to developing curricula that not only cater to students’ interests but also meet their career goals and help them effectively compete in the marketplace.
“One of the reasons I was attracted to the university is we have what I consider to be a profession-based curriculum in that it's a very practical and pragmatic curriculum,” says Dr. Timothy Mottet, who joined Colorado State University-Pueblo as president in July, 2017. “We offer degrees that map directly to workforce development needs in the areas of education, business, engineering, nursing and automotive industry management.”
To help meet those workforce needs, CSU-Pueblo expanded its nursing program, developed a new degree program in wildlife and natural resources and even became the country’s first university to establish a cannabis research center. The university also works closely with the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation to ensure the programs offered keep pace with the skills required by area businesses.
“Pueblo is a community that has a long history in the steel mills. Since the economies have changed, and we've moved into the Information Age, the service economy and in many ways the creative economy, the university is needed to help continue the transition in economies that are a part of Pueblo right now. The Pueblo community has made it very clear that the institution is critical to the success of Pueblo. And likewise the city’s success is important to the sustainability of the university,” Mottet says.
He says another example of the university’s community engagement is in the area of arts and culture. CSU-Pueblo is home to the Pueblo Symphony and Ballet Folklorico, and the university hosts several musical and theatrical performances as well as festivals that are open to the public.
Like CSU-Pueblo, Pueblo Community College is committed to equipping students with the skills and training needed to begin or advance their careers. The college’s president, Dr. Patty Erjavec, says the results contribute to the quality of life and economic vitality of the entire community.
“Our mission is to respond to the skills necessary in order for our community to be globally competitive and to provide the access and affordability for our citizens to be able to attain those skills so that they can find employment that pays a livable wage and successfully contribute to the community,” Erjavec says. “By doing that, then we also improve the quality of life for the community. There's less crime; health-care costs are more affordable; the cost of living comes down because there's not so much need for government assistance.”
Also like CSU-Pueblo, PCC serves a diverse population of students. The college partners with organizations to provide students not only with academic services but also any social services needed to help students succeed.
“We have a significant number of student support resources available to make sure that our students are as successful as they can possibly be,” Erjavec says. “We have a very beautiful learning center where students can go for tutoring and mentoring. Our library resources are more technology-driven, so students don't necessarily need to come to campus if they want to do research. We have a food pantry, and we are very sensitive to the food desert that we have in our surrounding area. We understand that if students don't have food, or transportation, or housing, or daycare, then they're not going to be successful.”
Pueblo Community College also forges close partnerships with area schools to help create college and career pathways for students. PCC offers concurrent credit to high school students through its Early College program, and a summer bridge program allows middle school students to learn about technical careers and get hands-on learning on campus. Each summer, PCC hosts a Kids College, during which students in grades 1-12 take courses in subjects such as welding and photography, coding and car maintenance.
“We want these students to see that going to college isn't so scary. It's a two-way street. We're providing support for our current students, and we're engaging the community so that they can see what the opportunities might be by furthering their education,” Erjavec says.