Colorado Mesa University’s Energy Management/Landman program was accredited by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) and makes CMU the second school in Colorado, next to Western State Colorado University, to have the AAPL-accredited program. In total, only 12 universities in the United States and Canada offer the accredited program.

The concentration falls under CMU’s business program and offers students a chance to work in professional business services for natural resource companies. The skills they acquire in the program include research for the legal and technical aspects of energy production, as well as the negotiation between landowners, government agencies and other companies involved in the business.

Program Director Steven Soychak says the program is now in its tenth year and the process for accreditation began in October 2016.

This involved meeting with energy industry partners, several alumni that are working in the energy industry throughout Colorado, interviewing current students, meeting with faculty/administration of the program, attending energy management classes, meeting with the president and touring the CMU campus,” Soychak said. “They were very impressed with our faculty, administration, students, alumni, industry and community support.”

The accreditation will improve the program for current students while attracting more potential students to CMU.

“There are several reasons accreditation is important besides insurance of quality and adherence to academic standards. Accreditation determines a school’s eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs. Proper accreditation is also important for the acceptance and transfer of college credit, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs,” Soychak said.

The program trains students to work with natural resources such as natural gas, oil shale, coal and uranium through courses designed to encompass a wide range of practices and fundamentals.

“When you combine all this resource potential, Western Colorado has some of the largest energy resources in the world,” Soychak said, “We are starting to see a resurgence in energy demand and prices so we anticipate growing the program at CMU.”

In addition to classes, the program incorporates hands-on interaction in the industry to help students gain real-world experience before graduation.

Each semester, we take our students out to the large natural gas producing fields in Western Colorado and this not only provides practical knowledge of how energy is produced but also how it relates to business strategy and energy fundamentals theory,” Soychak said.

The program, which currently sits at approximately 45 students and a faculty consisting of experts in the field, is a four-year, 120-credit degree. Most graduates find employment in the land field while others work in other segments of the energy industry.

“Many of them work on the western and eastern slopes of Colorado for energy companies. We have graduates as far north as Montana to as far south as Austin, Texas. The majority find work in the Rockies,” Soychak said.

The accreditation brings more educational opportunities to Colorado Mesa University and affirms the program’s effectiveness in sending well-trained graduates into the workforce.

“We are very pleased to have the American Association of Professional Landmen confirm that we are teaching our students what they need to know to succeed in this industry,” Soychak said, “We actually knew that already based on the industry demand for our graduates and the feedback we get from the companies that employ our students but it’s great that the AAPL agrees.”

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Mckenzie Moore is a junior mass communication major at Colorado Mesa University. She began as a staff writer for The Criterion in Fall 2017 and became the social media editor in 2018. She has previous experience writing for the CHS Bruin Tracks and the CSU Collegian, and is an independently-published novelist and a contributing writer for the Delta County Independent and Halftime Magazine.

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