WCCC tuition reduced by nearly 40% with the help of Tillie and Pat Bishop’s generous bequest

F or nearly three decades, Western Colorado Community College has provided diverse pathways for students. WCCC continually adds and adjusts programs like Early Childhood Education, Nurse Aide, Welding and Veterinary Technology to address workforce needs within our community. A priority for the university is also making higher education more accessible through affordability. More than ever before, the flat tuition rate between CMU and WCCC has become a financial barrier for students, and their families, pursuing career and technical certificates and associate degrees, but that has changed.

On May 20, 2022, President John Marshall along with the CMU Board of Trustees announced that the university, through the generosity of Tilman “Tillie” and Pat Bishop, significantly reduced tuition for WCCC’s career and technical education programs.

The Bishops spent their lives in service to the community and state. One of their final acts of philanthropy included a bequest of $3.9 million to CMU that will positively impact students and the western slope community for generations to come.

Governor Jared Polis, Marshall, CMU Board of Trustee Chair Alison Griffin, students, faculty, staff and several friends of the Bishop family came together to celebrate this gift, which resulted in the Learn for Less affordability initiative. Learn for Less lowers WCCC’s tuition and fees per credit hour from $321.45 to $197. This initiative is saving students and their families nearly 40% starting this Fall 2022 semester.

“We are so fortunate to have innovative forward-looking institutions like CMU and WCCC that are leading the way and really setting a great example of bold innovation for others to follow,” Polis said.

In this first semester alone, this reduction will benefit approximately 1,300 students, many of whom never would have started college due to the financial barrier.

“We are all incredibly humbled by the generous support of a former CMU Trustee, Tillie Bishop, that made today’s announcement possible. I was actually appointed by Governor Polis to fill Tillie Bishop’s seat when he passed away,” said Griffin. “And so today it is quite bittersweet for me to be standing here acknowledging the generosity and commitment of Tillie and Pat Bishop which seems to have no end. Their lasting impact on this community will inspire us all.”

A long-time family friend of the Bishops and fellow community leader, Terry Farina, said that for some reason, he thought of a specific line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when Marshall told him about the Learn for Less affordability initiative.

“The line where the bard muses about what endures when people die, the line that goes ‘the good is often interred with their bones.’” Farina said, “It just struck me how Tillie and Pat had turned that line on its ear. What they have done with that bequest and what CMU is doing with that bequest here at WCCC — that will endure. We all know education has a kind of multiplier to it, an exponential factor. It touches people who touch other people and it goes on and on in many ways that we cannot predict. But all for the good! And so, if Tillie and Pat are listening — you’ve done good! And just as importantly that goodwill lives on for generations!”