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Western’s Top 10 Reasons Why #IChoseWestern 

Aerial shot of Taylor Hall on a fall day.

The love held for Western Colorado University by alums, students, staff, and faculty is deep and true. For decades, Mountaineers have gone to great lengths to celebrate our cherished institution, from visiting for homecoming to donating hard-earned cash. To put this love into words, we sent out a survey asking the students, faculty, and staff why they chose Western, narrowed down responses to the top ten, and held a campus-wide celebration to honor our beloved school!   

10. A Location like No Other 

Need we say more? Probably not, but we will anyway. Western’s location in the Gunnison Valley situates the school for incredible adventures. With access to more than 2 million acres of public land, 750+ miles of singletrack trails, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort just up the road, Western is an outdoor getaway and educational institution wrapped into one. We chose Western because the location is unmatched.  

9. Our Close-knit Community  

From Mountaineers to ranchers to our service workers and even the ski bums, we’re thankful for this eclectic group that makes the Valley home. The community members found huddled in bunches to stay warm in the town square during the annual Night of Lights are the same ones we work with, go to concerts with, and show up for the Western Theatre Company’s plays. The bleachers in Paul Wright Gym are packed full of Mountaineer fans, ready to cheer on our teams. It’s easy to choose Western for the community that comes with the school.  

8. No Name Tag Needed  

Coming to Western means forming real connections with our professors inside and outside the classroom. Whether it’s riding lifts or summer concerts, working on research projects, or even running into them at the grocery store. Western professors are not just the old guys in the lecture hall. They are our friends, and they know us by name.  

7. Small Classes, Big Opportunities  

Since Western has an average of 17 students in a class, we get to define our own personalized educational experience. If we want to create an art piece or shoot a short film for our final project instead of writing a research paper, we get to! Applying for internships and fellowships is also a breeze here at Western. Since there are fewer of us here, there are more opportunities to go around.  

6. Exponential Belonging 

With Western’s student-created clubs, organizations, and teams, there is a place for all of us to find our sense of belonging. The Multicultural Center gives us a place to learn and express our cultures, while Wilderness Pursuits allows us to join other Mountaineers on grand adventures. The list  of campus opportunities is never-ending, and every person who comes to Western finds a niche to thrive in.  

5. Education that Leads to Passion 

Western offers abundant, well-rounded pathways to success for all students. Here, a business major can also study music, and an art major can be found at archaeological digs on Tenderfoot Mountain. We get to plan our outdoor activities around our class schedule and apply for internships that feed our ambitions. No matter what we decide to study at Western, we’re allowed to explore and pursue all of our passions.  

4. Sustainable Mindset  

Since we live, play, and learn on the land in the Gunnison Valley, we strive to protect it. Our sustainable mindset has created multiple on-campus, student-run gardens. We’ve used grant funds to purchase The Rocket composter, which diverts 95 percent of the University Center’s food waste from the landfill, and we’ve even mounted solar panels on the parking garage at the Gunnison Regional Airport to provide green energy to the community. At Western, we care about our impact, and we want that impact to be a positive one.   

3. Experiential Learning 

At Western, we look to the 2 million acres of public land in our backyard for creative inspiration and hands-on learning. Fieldwork is a common practice in our classrooms. Biology students conduct labs in Tomichi Creek, and exercise and sports science majors do research in our High Altitude Performance Lab. Western prepares us with an education through experience that’s woven into our degrees before we ever enter the workforce.  

2. The Mountaineer Spirit 

As Mountaineers, we are adventurers and risk-takers. We are caring and resilient, from our faculty and staff to our students and alums. The Mountaineer Spirit gives us the strength to endure harsh winters and support each other when needed. As Western Mountaineers, we venture from our comfort zones in and out of the classroom and take on challenges to grow in our communities.  

1. Gary Pierson – Dean of Stoke 

He’s always there to answer our phone calls, pump us up on the mountain, and is overall the Dean of Stoke! 

Artistic rendition of Gary Pierson riding a bike during the Homecoming Parade

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