General Information 2010-2011

Institutional Mission

Western State College of Colorado fulfills its statutory mission by promoting intellectual maturity and personal growth in its students and graduates citizens prepared to assume constructive roles in local, national, and global communities. Western helps its students to develop the skills and commitments needed to continue learning for the rest of their lives and strives to elucidate the connections unifying academic domains which have traditionally existed separately: the sciences, the liberal arts, and professional programs. The College provides students with a solid foundation of skills in written and spoken communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Our programs encourage a breadth and depth of knowledge, which will serve as a foundation for a professional career or graduate study, and 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.


The purpose of graduate studies at Western State College of Colorado is to extend to post-graduate learning the high-quality education consistent with the College’s role and mission. Graduate study at Western builds on the existing mission of encouraging a breadth and depth of knowledge while promoting scholarly and creative learning. The faculty who are responsible for graduate education at Western are themselves scholars whose responsibilities include guiding graduate students to become experts in their fields of study.


Western State College of Colorado offers graduate-level coursework for continuing education and professional development and degree programs at the master’s level as approved by faculty and the Trustees of Western State College of Colorado. Such programs are an extension of the College’s undergraduate programs and allow Western to better fulfill its important role as a regional education provider.


Indicators of the status of a college are the agencies from which it has sought and gained recognition. Western State College of Colorado is accredited by the following agencies:

  • The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)
  • Colorado State Board of Accountancy
  • National Association of Schools of Music

Institutional accreditation may be reviewed in the office of the vice president for academic affairs.


The Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) is a nine-member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Colorado State Senate that acts as a policy and coordinating board for all public institutions of higher education in Colorado.

Colorado Commission on Higher Education
1560 Broadway, Suite 1600
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 866-2723

Western is governed by the Western State College of Colorado Board of Trustees, a nine-member lay board. The trustees are appointed by the Governor to four-year terms. One faculty trustee and one student trustee are elected by their constituents and serve one-year terms.

History of the College

Western was established in 1901. It was the first college on Colorado’s Western Slope and is the fourth-oldest public college in the state.

The College actually opened for classes in 1911 as the Colorado State Normal School. Originally a preparatory college for teachers, Western’s role changed when it became Western State College of Colorado in 1923. Though for many years Western was known for its graduates who became teachers, it was, in fact, the first Colorado college designed to teach a primarily liberal arts curriculum, and the liberal arts have remained at the core of Western’s academic life ever since.

Some of Western’s most cherished buildings–hallmarks of the lasting durability of the College–were constructed during the lean years of the Depression. Savage Library, the President’s House, and Ute Hall are architecturally striking and add character to the campus.

During the post-war years of the 1940s, Western’s enrollment soared as veterans took advantage of the GI Bill and new programs were added.

By the 1970s, enrollment was exceeding 3,000, crowding the College so much that new freshmen often slept in the halls of their dorms for the first few days until rooms became available. During the 1980s, Western began to focus on undergraduate education in three core areas: the liberal arts, teacher education, and professional programs.

The academic year is full of opportunities for students to learn from and become acquainted with outstanding scholars, great thinkers, fine performers, and others from throughout the world. Just as importantly, summer in Gunnison is full of educational opportunities, such as the Summer Teacher Institute.

Western offers a broad range of courses of study in a beautiful mountain setting. Many degree programs take advantage of this environment, which has been called “one of the world’s greatest natural laboratories.” Western offers students opportunities to study in a wide range of fields, such as business, computer information science, communications, the social and behavioral sciences, outdoor leadership, the arts, the sciences, and teacher

Western’s excellence has also been felt in other arenas. Western hosts the only nationally certified college mountain rescue team, and a wilderness pursuits program offers students ample opportunities to explore themselves and the mountains, rivers, and forests which surround the College. The College’s vibrant theatre and fine arts departments provide a cultural center for the entire Gunnison Valley.

In athletics, Western traditionally has one of the country’s finest small-college athletic programs. Western’s teams are consistently ranked among the top in the NCAA Division II.

Throughout its history, Western has been a source of innovation and excellence, which is reflected in the quality of its programs and in the success and achievements of its graduates. Now in its second century, Western continues to build on its long tradition of excellence.

Leslie J. Savage Library

The staff of the Leslie J. Savage Library provides information, resources, and services designed to advance the intellectual and personal development of members of the College community. When classes are in session, the Library’s services are available seven days a week.

Students find the majority of information they seek for course assignments in the Library collection. In addition to over 444,000 volumes and 2,500 films on video and DVD, the collection includes 186 journals, magazines, and newspapers in print, and access to over 28,000 titles through electronic database subscriptions. Special collections include federal and state government documents, books in the Western Colorado History Collection, and the College archives.

The Library makes extensive use of electronic databases to facilitate identifying and locating desired materials. The Library online catalog is connected to the campus network. Using Western’s catalog, the search for information can be extended to libraries and databases throughout the United States. Through the interlibrary loan service, students can borrow materials from other libraries.

The Library staff gives students the opportunity to become skilled at using the full range of information resources and services. In addition to helping individuals identify and locate desired information, librarians offer group instruction to students as they start to research topics for course assignments. Savage Library provides a welcoming environment for study and research.