CMU asks Western State to return favor of name change consultation

Colorado Mesa University trustees asked Western State College President Jay Helman to keep both schools’ interests in mind as the college considers a name change.

Helman said during a visit to a trustee meeting Wednesday his school is ready for a new name after raising $40 million for scholarships, endowments and buildings and gathering another $170 million for construction and renovation projects in the last nine years.

“I think 10 years ago we were kind of a quiet, sleepy college waiting to do some big things. Well we’ve done those big things in the last 10 years. I believe and our campus believes now we are ready to take on this moniker of university,” Helman said.

What other words may go into the potential new name have yet to be decided. But Helman has said previously “Western” and “Colorado” should be part of a new title for the Gunnison school.

Colorado Mesa Trustee Chairman Doug Price reminded Helman that University of Western Colorado was near the top of a list of potential names for the institution that became Colorado Mesa University in August. After Western State expressed concern the name may cause confusion between the two Western Slope schools, Price said, then-Mesa State College kept Western’s trustees informed as the name change proceeded. Price said he would appreciate it if Helman and his trustees returned the favor and share any possible name lists the college may generate.

“We wish you luck. There may be areas of tension. If we stay outside those areas of tension, I think we could be constructive,” Price said.

Helman said keeping lines of communication open between the two schools would be “critical” throughout the name exploration process.

Helman’s visit came near the end of a daylong trustee meeting at the university. Earlier in the meeting, trustees were presented with the idea of increasing the university’s admission standards, which they may consider at their next meeting.

Most entering Colorado Mesa students must have a combination of high school grade point average, class rank and ACT or SAT score that results in an admissions index score of 85 or above. Three Colorado public colleges have a lower index standard and Colorado School of Mines has the highest, 110.

Colorado Mesa Vice President of Academic Affairs Carol Futhey said a group of 16 Colorado Mesa faculty and staff who studied the academic success and retention of students earlier this year recommend increasing the admissions index standard to 92. Futhey said data tracking Colorado Mesa students for two years indicates students with an index score of 92 or higher are more likely to stay in school.

“We’re not saying they won’t drop out, but the likelihood they’ll drop out is much less,” she said.

Ninety-nine percent of students met the current index standard when they enrolled at Colorado Mesa this summer and fall. Eighty-one percent had an index score of 92 or above. If the change is made, students with an index score of 80 to 91 (compared with 75 to 84 now) may still gain provisional admission into the university, and students with a lower index could enroll at Western Colorado Community College.

Trustees closed Wednesday’s meeting by adopting a resolution to endorse Referred Measure 3B, a mill levy override for School District 51 on this November’s ballot.

The board did not take a position on Proposition 103, a statewide measure that would increase income and sales taxes to benefit K–12 and higher education in Colorado. Price said the group of trustees that recommended adoption of a resolution in support of 3B decided to focus on a local issue instead of taking a position on a statewide issue.


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