Presidential Prospectus

The Board of Trustees of Western State Colorado University invites nominations, inquiries and applications for the Presidency of Western State Colorado University. The President of Western State Colorado University reports to the Board of Trustees and is responsible for executive management of the Western campus and its full range of academic and non-academic programs and initiatives. The incoming President will possess the requisite professional qualifications, leadership traits and values-driven attributes to lead Western as it continues a century-long tradition of excellence in instruction and service as a student-centered university.

Western State Colorado University

Established in 1901, the Colorado State Normal School was the first college on Colorado’s Western Slope and the fourth oldest public college in the state. Opened in 1911 as the Colorado State Normal School, the College’s role changed in 1923 when it became Western State College of Colorado. For many years, Western was known for its graduates who became teachers; however, it was the first Colorado college designated to teach a primarily liberal arts and sciences curriculum, which remains the core of its academic life. In 2011, Western celebrated its 100th anniversary of classes.  In 2012 Western adopted a new name, Western State Colorado University.

Western helps its students to develop the skills and commitments needed to continue learning and taking risks for the rest of their lives, striving to elucidate the connections unifying academic domains which have traditionally existed separately: the sciences, the liberal arts, and professional programs. The University’s programs encourage a breadth and depth of knowledge, which serve as a foundation for a professional career or graduate study, and foster an appreciation of values appropriate to a liberally educated individual. Western’s distinctive character emerges from its unity among academic and professional disciplines, its high standards of scholarship, and its unique environment in the mountains of western Colorado.

Western State Colorado University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools to award Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Western offers a private university education at a public university value, deep in the heart of the Rockies. Small classes, highly qualified faculty, and millions of acres of wilderness characterize the Western student experience. Western currently features more than 2,300 students from undergraduate, graduate and concurrent enrollment programs. Approximately 96 percent of Western's classes are taught by full-time faculty; more than 90 percent of Western's faculty hold the highest degrees in their field and 91 percent of classes have fewer than 35 students.

The University offers 23 majors with opportunities for academic emphasis that expand the number of academic specialties to more than 60. The most popular disciplines include business, biology, psychology, and recreation & outdoor education.  Western also has unique studies that take advantage of this one-of-a kind institution (its geography, emphasis on the environment, and recreational options, for example.) The privately funded Honors Program provides enhanced and challenging academic programming to accomplished students from all disciplines. Western State Colorado University is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, the Western Regional Honors Council and the Rocky Mountain Honors Council. There are also two master's degree programs, with a third in the offering in the fall of 2014.

In addition to exceptional experiential learning, outstanding faculty, and providing the tools students need to be successful after graduation, Western’s vibrant campus life offers more than 50 clubs, sports, and learning communities -- not to mention abundant recreational activities suited to the campus’s ideal location. The Western Mountaineers field competitive athletic teams in cross country, football, men’s basketball, track and field, volleyball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling. Due to a deeply integrated relationship between the Gunnison Valley and the campus, students utilize the Gunnison Valley to explore the process of becoming active and engaged participants in a local and global democratic community.

As partners, both the University and its private nonprofit Foundation have invested $127 million since 2009 in Western’s physical plant. This includes the new Borick Business Building, the University Center, along with recent renovations in Kelly and Taylor Halls, most of which are LEED certified.  The University Center houses café-inspired dining, a 3-D movie theater and bridges the spacious interior to the great outdoors with a fire pit, skate park and more. Scheduled to open in Winter 2013 is the new 120,000 square-foot state-of-the-art Athletics Fieldhouse.

Position Overview

The President is responsible for providing transformative leadership, focus, and strategic vision to lead Western State Colorado University to new levels of achievement in academics, the sciences, the liberal arts, professional programs and service to the community. The Board seeks a dynamic leader with impeccable integrity and a successful executive leadership record within an academic setting and/or corporate/business/industry environments. The President will be charged with orchestrating well-planned growth with strong fiscal responsibility, demonstrating a collaborative leadership style, and possessing a deep commitment to teaching excellence within a student-centered university environment.

The successful candidate must:

  • Possess genuine interpersonal and communications skills, be committed to the support of a world-class faculty and staff, and readily inspire broad trust and respect across the footprint of the institution
  • Show dedication to students and commitment to student success
  • Possess the ability to attract and retain exceptional faculty and students
  • Bring a record of building strong external relationships and support
  • Be attentive to alumni and a variety of stakeholders, including the Western State Colorado Foundation.
  • Demonstrate success in articulating and advancing a strategic vision resulting in institutional elevation and advancement
  • Present a commitment to diversity

The Community

The chosen President will discover an environment in the Gunnison Valley where professional satisfaction and achievement are paired with optimal quality of life.  Home to top notch public education and cultural amenities that come with a major university city, family members of all ages will enjoy a safe and active lifestyle in a picturesque locale surrounded by mountain vistas with a climate that encourages year-round outdoor recreation. Eighty-five percent of Gunnison County is public land, and the campus is within a short driving distance to mountain resorts, ski slopes and the Blue Mesa Reservoir - the largest body of water in Colorado. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers diverse recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, rock climbing and kayaking. It's all here for the proven leader professionally prepared to grasp this superb opportunity.

Presidential Specifications

Specific background/experiences and skills/accomplishments that appear to be the most important for success in the position.

  • OVERALL: Western State Colorado University seeks an individual with high energy and demonstrated leadership and administrative abilities. The Board of Trustees seeks a leader who can shape, articulate, lead and implement the dynamic mission of Western. The ideal candidate will possess sufficient successful senior level administrative experience within academic and/or business environments to document that the candidate has the ability to successfully serve as president of an evolving, advancing university.
  • STUDENTS: The President will demonstrate evidence of commitment to the concept of a student-centered university, possessing a strong student orientation and a commitment to preparing students for success in a global environment.
  • FACULTY: The President will understand the importance of faculty to a university’s current and future success, with skill to mobilize faculty toward a common purpose, develop an atmosphere of academic teaching excellence, encourage scholarly achievement, enhance faculty opportunities to become recognized leaders, and position Western to continue its successes in academic program development.
  • BUSINESS & FINANCE: The President will be business-minded, with entrepreneurial skill to manage a financially complex institution, continuing well-planned growth with a strong approach to fiscal responsibility and possessing a proven record to instill an institution-wide sense of advancement, direction, momentum and vitality.
  • BUSINESS & FINANCE: The President will have a demonstrated history of developing financial and other resources in support of an advancing institution or business enterprise. Experience in university development, advancement, alumni giving, capital campaigns, public-private partnerships or other strategies related to developing and obtaining diverse sources of external funding (grants, joint ventures, contracts, sponsored research, fundraising) is desired. This may have been expressed within the context of either a business environment or an academic institution.
  • STRATEGY: The President will be skilled in integrating all aspects of a University or enterprise toward shared vision and success, bringing an ability to align the strategic vision, the institutional mission, and the university community. The President will bring an open and collaborative leadership style, engendering broad-based respect to inspire institutional accountability, efficiency, and the ethical and effective performance of all leaders and divisions in the University.
  • STRATEGY: The President will have the skills to think strategically in regard to student enrollment and retention, engaging all campus units in a collaborative effort toward growth in applications, matriculation, elevation of the academic profile of incoming students, and growth in student retention rates.
  • STRATEGY: The President will possess an outstanding reputation for executive-level management and academic administration with documented ability to hold a clear vision, develop sound strategic plans, and lead a team through to plan execution and to wisely empower the considerable talent resident within the university to champion the institution’s strategies.
  • STRATEGY: The President will have the proven ability to lead in the development and implementation of sound institutional strategic plans, to include ongoing self-examination and goal setting to ensure continuing standards of performance in teaching and service across the footprint of the University.
  • COMMUNICATION: The President will possess excellent presentation, negotiation, verbal and written communication skills, with proven capacity to clearly and succinctly articulate the University’s mission and vision to internal and external constituencies.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: The President will have a proven ability to develop, advance and fortify alliances between an academic institution and its community, particularly with business, industry, government, academia and community groups.  The President will possess the skill to leverage these relationships to provide opportunities for faculty collaboration, student research, internships and career opportunities. The successful candidate will have documented success in building positive community relations and working successfully with the media to enhance the positive image of the University.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: The President will show commitment and respect for a diverse faculty, staff, and student population, and encourage cultural diversity throughout the University and the community
  • RELATIONSHIPS: The President will present a record of positively and engaging university alumni and acting as an ambassador on behalf of the Western State Colorado University Foundation.
  • CREDENTIALS: An earned terminal degree from an accredited institution is preferred but not required.

Presidential Attributes

Those human traits and abilities, which appear to be most important for the success of this position, include the following:

  • VISION & CHARISMA: An inspiring leader and influencer with vision, initiative, confidence and charisma to lead, encourage and empower. The professional preparation, leadership courage, and decisiveness to assume a highly visible leadership role.
  • TEAM BUILDING: A consensus builder and team leader who seeks collective wisdom and input, empowers leaders, celebrates successes, credits success to co-workers, and takes responsibility for less-than-positive outcomes. A facilitator with outstanding diplomacy and mentoring abilities.
  • TEAM BUILDING: Possesses macro management techniques assuring procedural transparency and accountability in operations.
  • TEAM BUILDING: The instinct to be politically astute, yet not political, with skill in working successfully with policymakers at the local, state and national levels.
  • DECISION MAKING: Ability to make tough decisions yet thoughtful in reaching them by gaining broad input, listening to others and earnestly taking into consideration other views in the process.
  • DECISION MAKING: Successful experience in managing and resolving conflict by acting in the best interest of the University versus personal gain.
  • DECISION MAKING: Proven experience in making sound judgments in a complex environment. Skilled in identifying, addressing and bringing solution sets to problems and opportunities.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: Approachable and accessible. Open, forthright, genuine and warm. Communicates being personally invested in knowing students, staff and faculty.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: A genuine communicator with responsive listening skills and active interest in the highest good. Engenders a sense of being a colleague among the faculty and staff.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: Ability to sell a point in a non‑polarizing manner. Effective social skills. Trustworthy, with the ability to readily engender confidence and trust.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: The talent to influence positively, be a catalyst for progress, and make a decisive positive impact in the university community, the state, the region, and beyond. The capacity to initiate and foster collaborative partnerships and to interact with consistency.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: Transparent management style and philosophy predicated on active listening, enabling, leading and inspiring rather than on hierarchy and directives.
  • PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS: Humility and a servant heart. Demonstrates value, appreciation and respect for all members of the university community. Proven to be discreet with confidential information.
  • PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS: A strong moral compass, integrity, and high professional standards.

Key Attractors to This Opportunity

Key points the Board believes will be strong attractors to top candidates.

  • Career advancing opportunity to provide chief executive leadership for an established, storied academic institution with 100 years of service to students and the community, building upon the University’s commitment to academic teaching while advancing and elevating Western to its next levels of achievement.
  • Visible leadership role in a key executive position where pivotal decisions will create a legacy.
  • The key, strategic leader of Western with a documented commitment to excellence in education, involvement and integration into the community, and an ongoing commitment to having superior facilities, technology, and material resources.
  • Geography, climate, demographics, and ambiance combine to offer a superb quality of life in a highly desirable locale where family members will discover a warm, open, sophisticated community that offers an outstanding array of activities, amenities, services and opportunities. Western State Colorado University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution and employer.
  • A private 501C3 Foundation that is based upon a transforming vision and agenda embracing and engaging both public and private partnerships with patrons, donors, alumni, friends, families, benefactors, etc. with the purpose of privately endowing the University.  Steering this relationship will provide hundreds of scholarships surpassing half a million dollars annually all the while enhancing the unique learning environment and experience for students. A recent, prime example of this endeavor is the fully-endowed Professional Land and Resource Management program which to date has also matched 70% of its graduates with high-paying employment.