Ritter requests student input from Mesa State

Keep class sizes small and support programs designed to aid students in more than just financial matters, a handful of Mesa State College students told Gov. Bill Ritter and First Lady Jeannie Ritter on Friday.

In a two-day trip to the Western Slope, the chief executive couple stopped at the campus to meet with student leaders to get their ideas on how Colorado can improve higher education.

The students said Mesa State’s smaller class sizes ensure that individual students don’t get lost in the crowd.

They said the school has a culture that is designed to help other students not only choose the school to earn their college degrees, but actually stay until graduation.

“I’ve never had a bad teacher here,” Colorado Springs native Ben Johnson told the Ritters. “Here, you’re not a number. You’re your own person. Our enrollment is up 40 percent in the last five years.”

Ryan Hendershot, a former student trustee on the Mesa State Board of Trustees, said there is no reason some of Mesa State’s student counseling and mentoring programs can’t be replicated elsewhere.

The governor said he routinely stops by the state’s colleges to get students’ thoughts about how Colorado can improve its colleges, in part, because the state has a low percentage of high school students who continue their education. He said that even many of those who do, end up dropping out for various reasons.

Mesa State president Tim Foster praised Ritter for holding the meeting, specifically, and for his support of higher education in general.

“I’ve said this for years: He’s been the best governor for higher education in our lifetime,” Foster said. “At a time of incredible economic difficulty, he has hung in there. While we’ve taken some budget cuts, he’s tried to protect us. As he says, this is the proverbial seed corn. You’ve got to invest in higher education, or else we lose our competitiveness as a state and as a country.”


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