GUNNISON, Colo., Jan. 26, 2014 — Supporters of environmentally sustainable practices and learning in the Gunnison Valley and at Western State Colorado University gathered at the university’s Taylor Hall Welcome Center to celebrate a series of successes that will launch a new master’s program, a new, sustainable community and the people who made these advances possible.
“It all came together at this moment,” explains Dr. John Hausdoerffer, who will direct Western’s new Master’s in Environmental Management, beginning this summer.
The Environment & Sustainability (formerly Environmental Studies) program at Western celebrated 20 years of empowering both students and sustainability partners in the Gunnison Valley. At the same time, Ralph “Butch” Clark received a stunning “Angel-Investor” statuette to honor his contribution of $100,000, through the Western State Foundation, to fund five graduate fellowships in the new MEM program. Clark’s gift will sustain the fellowships for four years, after which the fledgling program will continue to fund the Clark Fellowships in Environmental Management.
Hausdoerffer reports 32 students have accepted admission to the program, which will get underway in August and produce its first graduates by Spring 2016. He says five new faculty members will also join Western’s Environment & Sustainability program this summer.
As a bluegrass band set folks to dancing during the reception, the community also celebrated a gift of $150,000 from the Gunnison Valley Housing Foundation. It will fund a Western faculty member to lead the new Coldharbour Sustainable Living Center, some 8 miles east of Gunnison.
Thomas Burggraf, executive director of the Western State Foundation, noted the importance of both contributions to Western and the Gunnison Valley.
“It is such an honor to present Butch with our Angel-Investor award,” he said. “His venture-philanthropy to MEM, together with that of the Gunnison Valley Housing Foundation, will be multiplied many times over in the gifts they will inspire.
“We are very grateful.”
Hausdoerffer says the event was a unique convergence, celebrating 20 years of cutting-edge environmental education at Western, gifts that will help the MEM program launch the next 20 years and the fruition of Western’s partnership with the Gunnison community to make the Coldharbour community a reality.
“The right people noticed the right solutions at the right time,” he explains. “Mr. Clark, the Gunnison Valley Housing Foundation, Western Environment & Sustainability and Coldharbour all came together to make these great things happen.”