Western Graduates Make Historic Donation

Two graduates of Western State Colorado University are giving back to the school they love, donating a significant tract of land adjacent to the university to the Western State Colorado University Foundation. The donation marks the largest land gift to the university community in history.

“Since leaving Gunnison, we shared a common goal, and that was to find ways to give back for the unique education and experiences we received from graduating at Western,” says Steve Reynolds, 1978 Western graduate. Reynolds is a member of the Western State Foundation Board of Directors, and along with classmate and former Foundation Board member Steve Trippe, came up with the funds to purchase the land and make the donation. L. Richard Dick Bratton, a 1954 Western graduate who founded the Western State Colorado University Foundation, made it known that the parcel was available.

The18.71 acres are valued at $775,000 and sit directly east of the Gunnison campus. Although Western State Colorado University has no immediate plans to develop the land, the so-called East Campus Expansion encompasses valuable property along Highway 50 east of Western’s Aspinall-Wilson Center.

“That piece of adjoining property just needed to belong to Western,” donor Steve Trippe says. Trippe and his wife, Sarah, both graduated from Western in 1977. “We sincerely hope this gift can act as an avenue to growth and be a part of giving future Western generations, and the Gunnison community as a whole, a greater university.”

Western State Colorado University President Dr. Jay Helman says, “This is a historic gift for Western State Colorado University and it highlights the incredible passion and commitment our graduates have for this institution. Gifts like this are a tribute to our rich Western heritage, and this gift in particular sets the stage for Western to thrive well into its second century.”

Both Trippe and Reynolds have been active with the Western State Colorado University Foundation, serve on the Professional Land & Resource Management Advisory Board, and played a major role in past donations, including the construction of the Borick Business Building, Colorado’s first major public university building funded entirely by private donations, and the University Center.

“Both of us have had successful careers in the same industry, occasionally joining together in what have been successful ventures,” Reynolds says. “For us, these successes would not have happened without that Western experience.”

Western State Foundation Executive Director Thomas Burggraf says, “Other universities spend their budgets buying land to expand, or urbanizing their campuses with overdevelopment. Thanks to visionary and generous alumni and friends like Steve and Sarah Trippe, and Steve and Paula Reynolds, Western has to do neither. Western can grow while preserving the gorgeous quality of our campus, and use public funds for educating our students. Future generations of Western students will be indebted to these two great families.”

The Western State Colorado University Foundation raised more than $6 million last year, and distributes more than $2 million annually to the university, with nearly $600,000 of that designated for scholarships. Every department on campus benefits from foundation support. Funds maintained by the foundation number 375, with 159 endowed perpetually. In addition to funding the Borick Business Building, gifts from donors have helped to construct the University Center, the Studio Theater Lobby in Taylor Hall, to renovate Kelley Hall,  to establish the Professional Land & Resource Management and Petroleum Geology programs, and much more.

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 10:45am