David Delaplane, who helped found Colorado Mountain College, poses for a picture in Denver, Colorado. (Jason Gonzales/Chalkbeat)

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David Delaplane pondered a crucial question in his tiny Glenwood Springs cabin.

How could the local chamber of commerce that he managed improve education in the area? His answer was to start a college — an ambitious goal for a chamber that hadn’t recorded any education work.

Delaplane said he contacted the chamber’s education committee and “they said, ‘Well, yeah, let’s go for it.’” 

Today, Delaplane’s idea lives on as Colorado Mountain College and has shaped the lives of over 25,000 graduates since the school was founded in 1965. 

Delaplane, 94, never imagined his creation would expand across the Western Slope and eventually offer bachelor’s degrees. He sees it as one of the great college success stories, growing from two campuses to 11, covering over 12,000 square miles.

Delaplane recently reflected on getting students in rural mountain areas access to college

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