Welcome to the University
Colorado Mesa University has been the official name of the institution of higher education in Grand Junction since Aug. 10, but new students who began attending classes on Monday are putting flesh and bone on the notion that the West Slope can support a full-grown university.
Actually, that’s not exactly a secret. The fact is that Colorado Mesa University now, as was the case with Mesa State College before, is charged with boosting the educational achievement of the residents of northwest Colorado.
It’s not been the case that residents of this corner of the state had little interest in higher education. More to the point, such advanced opportunities were far away and expensive.
People in northwest Colorado had something of a chicken-and-egg problem. They hoped to advance their children’s opportunities with college educations, but to do so was expensive and difficult.
Now, the children of those families have the opportunity to earn a university diploma, maybe even obtain an advanced degree, without having to cross a state line or even the Continental Divide.
That is absolutely a good thing and the benefits don’t stop there.
We expect that Grand Junction and Mesa County will reap measurable benefits from a larger student body and an enhanced status as the hub of higher education on the West Slope.
That’s the kind of thing that will help ranchers in Moffat County, those who work in the energy industry in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, the farmers in Delta County and the growing middle-class residents of Montrose County.
The full extent of the change that took shape on Monday won’t be known for years, but it seems reasonable to expect that companies looking for a well-educated work force will turn their eyes more toward Grand Junction and the rest of western Colorado than they might have before.
All of that is a bit speculative, but on Monday, reality began to take shape in the form of a new freshman class, the first that will study all four years at Colorado Mesa University.
To those new students, we welcome you to the state’s newest university and to the region that has long needed it — and you.
You have much to learn and much to accomplish.
We’re glad that Colorado Mesa University is here to meet your needs and those of many more in northwest Colorado and beyond in the coming years.