The contest began with a bracket that included 32 colleges across the West. After several rounds of voting for different pairs of schools that included the University of Colorado Boulder, Fort Lewis College and Colorado College, the final contest came down to Western vs. the University of Utah.
Western President Dr. Greg Salsbury says the Top Adventure College ranking is a testament to how Western's one-of-a-kind location enhances the educational experience for Mountaineers.
"Western students have a spectacular backyard laboratory right out their door, and that's what makes the Western experience an educational adventure," Salsbury says. "Whether you're strapping on waders to study stream ecology, building a business plan for a local company or studying petroleum geology, you get an education here that you won't find anywhere else."
The Elevation Outdoors article about Western noted, "The real thing that sets Western apart, however, is the staff." In particular, it pointed to Dr. Duane Vandenbusche, a famed ski historian, and Dr. John Hausdoerffer, a Western grad himself, who serves as executive director of Western's Environment & Sustainability Institute, as well as director of the Master in Environmental Management program.
The article also quoted alumnus Adam Howard, now publisher of Alpinist and Backcountry magazines, who said, "If you’re seeking a small town and open space, Western is untouchable. If this kind of place isn’t where adventure begins, I don’t know what is."
Western is well known for academic programs and student experiences that benefit from its 7,700-foot elevation in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Some of the university's best-known programs include the school's:
- Environment & Sustainability department.
- Western Mountain Rescue team.
- Mountain Sports program.
- Petroleum Geology program.
- Professional Land & Resource Management emphasis.
- Resort Management emphasis.
- Recreation & Outdoor Education.
- Wildlife Biology emphasis.
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