Colorado University president, regents visit Monte Vista

Photo by Marie Mccolm Leaders from the University of Colorado — including President Todd Saliman and Board of Regents members Sue Sharkey, Ilana Dubin Spiegel and Ken Montera — tour the new Outcalt Event and Conference at SLV Ski Hi Complex, led by City Manager GiGi Dennis, in Monte Vista on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The CU representatives are spending three days in the San Luis Valley, meeting with local education, health care and community leaders.

MONTE VISTA — Leaders from Colorado University visited Monte Vista on Tuesday, Sept. 20. President Todd Saliman, along with members of the Board of Regents including, ILana Spiegel, Sue Sharkey, and Ken Montera, and the Director for Outreach Programs with CU Boulder, Valeria Morales, spent three days in the San Luis Valley.

The leaders toured the Grower Shipper Potato Farm, and the Outcalt Event and Conference at SLV Ski Hi Complex on Tuesday. 

“What the Regents and I are doing here is we are very committed to connecting with Colorado,” Saliman said during a break Tuesday afternoon at the Ski Hi Complex. “We love to listen to people throughout the state, and what they need from us. This is an opportunity for us to also share, and let people know what we think we can do for the communities in Colorado.  This is really about connecting to Colorado. Part of us connecting is bringing campus experts with us to really talk about the specific programs we are working on in individual communities.” 

Saliman introduced Morales, who shared some of what she does for CU.

“I do pre-college outreach for different areas of the state,” Morales said. “We started a precollegiate program in the San Luis Valley here about 5 years ago. Our precollegiate programs are set to help first-generation families really explore and prepare for the college process. We are looking to help students, understand all the options that they have, whether it’s going for certificates programs or a 2-year program. We want the students to see the promise in themselves.”

The way the precollegiate program works is the students come to CU over the summer. They have the capacity for about 40 students from the San Luis Valley to come the dorms for about two weeks over the summer. The students live in the dorms, and they eat there, and take classes to experience college life. They get to meet other students from other states.

“We also help them prepare for scholarships, writing essays, and testing, and admittance applications,” Morales said. “All our students also get to apply for CU Boulder as well. This program is really helpful to help prepare students and parents for college entry.”

There are four University of Colorado campuses — Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora — with a combined enrollment of over 67,000 in 2021. The University of Colorado Boulder is the flagship of the University of Colorado System. The UC System is governed by the nine-member board of regents.

Saliman said one of their goals on the visit to the Valley was to promote the University of Colorado, but more importantly they came to listen.

“We want to talk about what is going on with all our campuses,” Saliman said. “Our main objective though, is to listen to what folks in the community are thinking and hearing and wanting from CU. On this trip, we spent some time with Sen. Cleve Simpson. We talked about water and farm life. We also learned about the potato industry and potato processing. We have done this type of touring and these outreach trips all over the state. We are trying to really cover all the diversity in the state.” 

Regent Ken Montera said reaching out to different communities was important.

“So that we can gain a better relationship with people,” Montera said. “I think sometimes we are told that some of our campuses are a little elite, and people don’t feel like they are welcome there. I grew up in Pueblo, came from a blue-collar family and I had the opportunity to attend CU and it really changed my life. I think it’s important for us to reach out and provide these opportunities to other young people that feel that they might want to do this, too.”

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