It's official -- Aug. 9 marks the date the name change for Delta-Montrose Technical College takes effect. The college will now be known as the Technical College of the Rockies.
The name change was approved during the most recent legislative session and became official when Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law during a stop in Delta May 20.
In addition to a new name, the tech college also has a new director. Former director John Jones retired at the end of the school year and has been replaced by Michael Klouser, who comes to Delta from Pickens Technical College in Denver.
Klouser began his professional career in real estate development on the Front Range. With a degree in electrical engineering, he switched to teaching electronics and math at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. He initially joined Pickens in 2002. There, his role transitioned into administration and for three years, he served as assistant director. When he began looking for other opportunities in administration, his search took him across the Midwest, the southern U.S. and eventually to Delta County. "My wife Kimberly and I fell in love with the community and with the people," he said.
Although he did not begin his new role until July 1, he spent several months prior to his official start date getting to know the communities and the students served by the tech college. As he's listened to the needs of the community, he's developed a vision for the future and is working with the staff to energize career and technical education programs across TCR's service area.
"Everybody wants this school to be the best it can," he said of the support he's seen from the school district, the community and staff.
Assistant director Tony Bowling furnishes the institutional knowledge Klouser is lacking, and Angela Valentine continues her role as student services coordinator.
Together they have reached out to Telluride to support early childhood education and possibly hospitality. They're working to solidify relationships with Gunnison School District for cosmetology and computer aided drafting. They are instituting courses at the new PIC Place in Montrose. A course in clinical medical assistance will be started this fall, and the classroom may also be used for CNA and dental assisting programs.
In addition, Klouser said the tech college is collaborating with Western Colorado Community College to create a pipeline for TRC students to continue their educations and obtain associate applied science degrees.
For existing programs that have been compartmentalized, Klouser sees opportunities to integrate coursework. The business department is moving from office-type programs to entrepreneurship, and Klouser is exploring the possibility of incorporating business and technology into high school ag programs. The ENGAGE center, to be located in the old Chaco building in downtown Delta, will provide additional opportunities to integrate all types of industries in a nurturing environment.
The biggest challenge, Klouser said, is making career and technical education accessible across TRC's extensive service area -- Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray -- while ensuring programs are affordable. There is a demand for skilled workers, and TRC is committed to providing the tools current and future employees need to succeed.