CMU enrollment grows by nearly 2.5 percent

The quad on the Colorado Mesa University campus fills with students walking to class.

Colorado Mesa University leaders will pursue adding a master's of social work program amid some concerns about instability in the bachelor's degree program.

CMU's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to begin the process of adding a master's of social work program, which would be the fourth MSW program in Colorado and the only one based on the Western Slope.

Once accredited, the master's program will offer a direct line of career advancement for undergraduate students, said department director Jessica Herrick.

"I think the two programs will enhance each other," she said. "I think we'll get more BSW students because they can go on to get the MSW. It's an excellent idea, and the community loves the BSW program because students do 1,000-hour internships in the community, and a lot of those turn into jobs." Before trustees voted on pursuing the program, student trustee Amara Hobbs said she's experienced a lot of turnover in the undergraduate program.

"We've had three directors in three years, this incoming class is the lowest class we've ever had, and I'm applying for grad schools and I can't ask the program director to write me a letter of recommendation because I've never met this person before," Hobbs said. "I want this university to grow and I think this is a wonderful program, but I think the basis is the BSW first and it needs to be stable first."

Hobbs, who represents student interests on the board but does not vote, said she supports adding the master's program as well as bringing stability to the undergraduate program.

Herrick said she does not see the turnover as "particularly unusual" and that two new faculty members have strong academic backgrounds.

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