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Mesa State unveils sign of support for nursing programs

Phil Castle
Business Times

Tim Foster, left, president of Mesa State College, and Steve ErkenBrack, president of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, talk during a ceremony unveiling a plaque in the Maverick Center on the Grand Junction campus. The plaque designates the new Rocky Mountain Health Plan Lecture Hall, a classroom used by nursing students. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle).

One of the busiest lecture halls for nursing students at Mesa State College now bears the name of a Grand Junction-based organization that long has supported the college and its nursing programs.

A new plaque designates the large classroom in the Maverick Center as the Rocky Mountain Health Plans Lecture Hall.

Mesa State President Tim Foster said the plaque constitutes “a small acknowledgement of support — past, present and future.”

The plaque also acknowledges an important partnership between the college and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Foster said. “The story is really about two great organizations.”

Rocky Mountain Health Plans contributed to the fund-raising campaign that helped pay for the expansion and renovation project at what is now the Maverick Center. The center houses the health sciences program, including a human performance laboratory.

Other donations from Rocky Mountain Health Plans served as matching funding that enabled Mesa State to apply for grants. Rocky Mountain Health Plans also has supported nursing degree programs at the college, including a master of science degree in nursing and a doctoral program for nurses who want to become family nurse practitioners. Rocky Mountain Health Plans also has provided funding for scholarships for nursing students.

Over the past five years, Rocky Mountain Health Plans has donated $400,000 to support and expand nursing programs and another $10,000 for a scholarship fund named after Bill Wilson, a former chief financial officer with the organization.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans also has provided guest speakers and faculty. Pat Duncan, the current CFO, and John Hopkins, the former president, also serve on an advisory committee.

Kristy Reuss, director of the health sciences program at Mesa State, said the support has enabled the college to expand its programs and the number of students enrolled in those programs. What’s more, Rocky Mountain Health Plans hires graduates, Reuss said.

Steve ErkenBrack, president of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, said the nursing programs at Mesa State meet an important community need in training health care providers. The ultimate result, ErkenBrack said, is better care for patients.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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