The institute delivers a full liberal arts curriculum and career preparation to 2,900 intellectually adventurous students, deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains
With more than 100 years of glorious past, Western Colorado University blends the age-old educational values with modern day educational developments with utmost ease and perfection.
Western Colorado University is a public liberal arts college offering more than 90 areas of study, including programs in Biology, Environment & Sustainability and Recreation & Outdoor Education, along with several graduate programs including a Master in Environmental Management. Located in the magnificent Gunnison Valley, the University uses its natural surroundings as a unique learning laboratory. With an average class size of just 18 students, professors know their students by name and often involve them in research opportunities that are usually not seen until graduate school.
Pursuit of Sustainability
Western Colorado University is continuously in pursuit of solutions to complex sustainability issues. They have even committed to making campus zero waste. Students are a significant force in this pursuit. Multiple departments and student-centric organizations have been put on the university campus to make this feasible. Sustainability Coordinators, Sustainability Coalition, Organics Guild, are to name a few.
Sustainability Coordinators are the work-study positions in which students increase sustainability awareness and inspire behavior change through leadership, education, and action. On the similar lines, the Sustainability Coalition is a student-led group that promotes sustainability on campus by providing others with direction and resources and educating the community. Adding on to that, the Organics Guild is a student-run organization that maintains Chipeta Garden and Pinnacles Greenhouse on campus.
The University has 4 Gold and 3 Silver LEED-certified buildings on campus. Advancements have been made for the installation of a “Rocket Composter” outside the University Center is estimated to divert up to 95 percent of food waste from the dining halls.
Conviction to make Change
Western’s Sustainability Fund Committee supports each of the student projects that support the use of more sustainable and renewable energy; reduce unnecessary consumption of goods; increase reuse of usable goods and recycling of materials; and promote the ethical stewardship of all resources and land on Western’s campus.
Their School of Environment & Sustainability and Sustainable Western programs have created a productive environment for sustainability ideas, initiatives, and activities. Whether it be RecycleMania, the Headwaters Conference, Colorado Water Workshop or dropping by High Country News’ satellite office in Kelly Hall, students have opportunities aplenty to get involved and make a difference at local, national and even international levels.
An Impeccable Leadership
A leader with long-term vision is always the most vital constituent of any organization’s success. In the past four years, President Greg Salsbury, Ph.D., has led Western Colorado University to an enrolment increase of 20.5 percent—more than any other public four-year school in the state. Western has also shown a massive increase in retention rates, graduation rates, average GPA, and diversity. Moreover, all of this was done with lower student debt than the national average and a student loan default rate some 50 percent lower than the national average.
Under the leadership of President Greg Salsbury, the institute not only focuses on the quality of education but it also prides itself on the availability of financial aid for its students. One-hundred percent of students are considered for merit aid, and 80 percent of student receives aid, whether be it through scholarships, grants or tuition discount programs. It is also teeming with opportunities for students to land work-study positions—whether be it in admissions, financial aid, an academic department or the library.
A Door to Endless – Opportunities
The processes and activities inculcated at Western Colorado University are worth much appreciation because these are well supplemented with high-flying career option for its students.
The Office of Career Services supports students in the pursuit of meaningful careers and graduate studies through individual and group advising; campus programming; and engagement among students, employers, and alumni. In doing so, Career Services fosters a campus culture around preparing for life after college.
Career Services also brings companies to campus for workshops, recruiting events and information sessions—providing students with opportunities to expand their professional connections and network with potential employers.
Resources offered by Career Services include career and internship fairs, career and internship support, mock interviews, professional development programming, resume and cover letter reviews.
Moreover, the Office of Career Services also acts as a source of guidance for the novices ready to explore the world of opportunities.
Western’s alumni go on to be leaders in sustainability. The budding Master in Environmental Management (MEM) program has already seen tremendous success with its graduates. For example, Ayodeji Oluwalana ‘17, who emigrated with his family from Nigeria to study in the program, is now the Recycling and Special Events Coordinator at Iowa State University and Cassidy Tawse-Garcia ’16 is the Southwest Organizer for the National Young Farmer’s Coalition.
The education inculcated in the young minds of students has lasting effects on their lives. Western Colorado University has attained landmark achievement in this perspective.
Words of Trust
“I am working on campus sustainability initiatives and creating real change in resource-use issues. It is great that Western is a ‘living laboratory’ for this type of work.”
– Cara Leaply | Major: Environment & Sustainability (Student Sustainability Coordinator and Freecycle Manager)
“I am involved in tons of group activities. My days are full of opportunities to grow and gain skills for my career.”
– Christopher Gooderham | Major: Biology (Student Sustainability Coordinator and active Gunnison Sage-Grouse researcher)