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Letters to the Editor

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Let us know what you’ve been up to since you graduated. We might even publish your letter in the next online or print edition. Complete the form at the bottom of this page to submit your own letter to the editor.

  • Philanthropy is More Than Giving

    As a member of the WCU Foundation Board, I have had the privilege to see how philanthropy can create a transformational impact on Western’s faculty, staff, and students. What is incredible, though, is the effect giving can have on the giver, as much as on the places to which we give. 

    Philanthropy’s impact goes deeper than just a dollar amount. I have seen alumni invest their time, meeting with faculty and staff to understand the needs and aspirations of academic departments. I have seen and heard of Western alumni investing their talents – speaking to classes and mentoring students. Through their treasures, they have given funds to establish endowed scholarships that will benefit generations of Mountaineers.

    In all of these interactions, I’ve seen alumni, parents, and friends develop deeper relationships within our Western community that have enriched their lives and experiences while creating meaningful opportunities and building Western’s capacity for research and innovation.

    The Elevate Western Campaign is an exciting opportunity for our Western Family to come together in support of WCU’s ambitious goals to strengthen the University and grow the academic enterprise to better meet the needs and ambitions of our students. Our $80 million goal is bold, and it is amazing to see that more than 6,000 people have given to support this exciting campaign so far.

    We will only reach this goal if everyone gives, as they can. These gifts join together and create incredible impact, and they will serve to knit us together, creating a stronger community that is invested in WCU’s success. That’s truly a brighter future for our Mountaineers, and I am excited to see what goals we will meet – and surpass—as we come together.

    Ryan Liles

  • My Western Story

    In the summer of 1970, I enrolled at Western State College after the prodding of a high school buddy.  Western was well known to be a teacher’s college and I wanted to become a teacher and coach.  September rolled in and six of my classmates and I formed a convoy of four cars heading north out of Durango to Gunnison.  

    I checked into Chipeta  Hall for my freshman year. Of course I was nervous about the rigors of college academia. As I began to settle into the classes and daily routine; I reached out with a visit to Dr. Ernie Deguitus’, the track and cross-country coach.  After our visit, I felt that I could make a contribution to the track program. I trained with the ski team that fall and joined the track team in January. The upper classmen were receptive to another runner joining the small tightknit group. 

    My sophomore year I continued to run on the track team and work at Escalante Cafeteria to supplement my savings. With my savings exhausted, I needed to find a way to pay for my education. Numerous Veterans were attending Western due to the Vietnam War. I would talk with them; they were leading a comfortable life using their G.I. Bill to complete their studies. Although the war continued to drag on, I felt the risk of military service with the benefits of the G.I. Bill were worth the pause in my education.    

    To beat the military draft; I enlisted in the Army in August 1972. After my enlistment, I returned to Western State College in the fall of 1976. I was now one of those Veterans that had swagger and worldly experiences to back it up, with my G.I. benefits secured to help me reach my goal.   

     My junior year I ran for Coach Vandenbusche and continued to pursue my education. I jumped right back into the college atmosphere at Western. Some professors remembered me from my earlier semesters. 

    When I completed my degree, I had the confidence and education to propel me into a bright future. Thank you Western for admitting me, my transcript from high school was not the greatest. 

    Western was the right place for me!  

    Bruce Heller (’78) 
    Industrial Arts  –  B.A. 

  • Music’s Bright Future

    I have lived in Gunnison for over 30 years as a Western supporter and have now spent my first full year on campus as Director of Development for Western Music Partners, the fundraising platform for the Music Program. I am very encouraged as to the direction of the University. There is a steady hum of enthusiasm and positive vibes throughout the campus. The Department of Music is on a steep growth and retention pattern and I believe the professors, and student musicians are as good as we have ever had. We finished the year with our graduation ceremony on the Taylor lawn with our historical buildings and trees framing the graduation exercise, and in which a memorable Gunnison day with cool temperatures, sunshine and passing clouds provided an enchanting day. We finished the school year strong and it seems we have strong momentum going in to next year. It’s a great time to be a Mountaineer. 

    Perry Anderson 
    Director of Development, Western Music Partners

  • 50 Years Later

    In 1953, my father was hired as an education professor at Western. I grew up in Gunnison and went to Western and learned under great professors as a history major and had great football coaches. 

    My senior football season, our team faced Adams State in Alamosa. The game determined the RMAC Championship; Western hadn’t won in Alamosa since 1965. Adams was a bitter rival, so the game had great importance to the football team, Western and Gunnison. 

    To show support, Dr. Harold Parker, a WSC history professor, proposed and organized a project in which a football would be carried from the gates of Mountaineer Bowl to Adams State’s Rex Field. The Friday evening before the game, a group of Mountaineers ran a football from Gunnison to Saguache. The following morning, Dr. Parker, a group of students, and faculty completed the journey just as we entered the stadium for pregame warmups. The run covered 122 miles, including the 10,067’ Cochetopa Pass. 

    Our football team rewarded the runners in fine fashion by thumping the Green Weenies 34-6. The 1973 RMAC championship started a string of seven straight Western RMAC football championships through the rest of the 1970s. 

    Fifty years ago! Hard to believe, but a great memory! 

    John Randall (’74) 

  • Students and Superblooms

    As I walked out of the 2023 Alumni Awards for Excellence gathering on the eve of graduation, I was brimming with optimism for the future. Nine outstanding graduates and their mentors had just been recognized for their contributions to the community and exemplifying what it means to be a Mountaineer. Every one of them was remarkable in their own right.

    Each honoree had crafted their own compelling narrative and a litany of achievements that transcended personal goals. As Dean of Students and emcee Gary Pierson shared their stories, I found myself in awe of these students, and grateful that they are the changemakers who will shape the future of Western and the world.

    As a Western alum, I speak often of the University’s impact on my life. As Gary mentioned often during the event, it is the people who make this place. And that’s really saying something, given Western’s home in a stunning environment like the Gunnison Valley.

    As summer sets in and a rare wildflower superbloom blankets the Valley, one can’t help but think that the future is bright for this year’s graduating class and those to follow. Congratulations to our new alumni, and the 2023 AAE honorees.

    Mike Horn, (’04)
    Member of the Alumni Advisory Council