CSU plans south metro area classes

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Colorado State University announced on Sept. 5 that it is moving ahead with plans to launch a “significant presence” in the south metro Denver area early next year.

“The CSU South Metro Denver presence is one of the last essential elements for us to prosper economically in this global environment,” John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. “We are deeply appreciative of CSU for its desire to leverage the strength of our businesses community, specifically in relationship to STEM disciplines, and for considering the possibilities of cooperative education in direct partnership with major employers.”

The first classes will begin in January 2014 and are part of a systems-engineering master’s degree program. No specific location has been announced. CSU spokesman Kyle Henley said university officials are working with a number of local tech companies in hopes of utilizing their training facilities for those classes.

Ronald M. Sega, CSU’s vice president and enterprise executive for energy and the environment, will serve as a liaison to the business community and as the lead academic adviser. Sega is a former NASA astronaut and retired major general in the U.S. Air Force.

“One of the real opportunities of the CSU-South Metro project is to provide key graduate-level programs that clearly fill strategic needs for the region’s business community,” Sega said. “I’m looking forward to meeting with our corporate partners in the coming weeks and months to discuss how we can serve them and support the region’s strong track record of economic growth.”

In fall of 2014, CSU will add four-year degrees in business and nursing, and more as demand is realized. But Henley said the intent is not to compete with local community colleges, and that CSU has in fact been working closely with Arapahoe Community College in Littleton and other higher-education institutions in the area.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with ACC and continue to work closely with them,” said Henley. “We see a lot of very promising relationships, and we’re going to continue to talk with them.”

CSU System Chancellor Mike Martin said partnering with community colleges means graduates don’t have to leave Denver or commute to continue their college education. In addition, it will help keep CSU’s start-up costs low, eliminate overlap and help guide two-year graduates toward a bachelor’s degree. CSU hopes to build a permanent facility in the region in the next three to five years, though Henley said a location has not yet been chosen.

“This is one of the last highly populated regions in Colorado that is not being served in a meaningful way by a public four-year institution of higher education, and we believe that through collaboration and partnerships, the CSU System can help build a new model to deliver local, high-quality degree programs that meet the needs of the south-metro region’s students and businesses,” said Martin.

Brackney applauds that approach.

“Business leaders have been advocating a four-year public institute of higher education in south-metro Denver for decades, and now, thanks to CSU, that vision is coming to reality soon,” he said.