Duane Vandenbusche

Duane Vandenbusche

Professor of History; State Historian‘s Council, History Colorado


B.A., Northern Michigan University, 1959, M.A., Oklahoma State University, 1960, Ed.D., Oklahoma State University, 1964


How did you discover Western?

By accident, heard about it from a fellow graduate student at Oklahoma State who was offered a job but did not take it because Western would not also offer his wife a job on the staff.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Author of 11 books, including: “The Gunnison Country,” “Around Monarch Pass,” “Lake City” (in progress, April 2019), “A Land Alone: Colorado’s Western Slope,” “The Black Canyon of the Gunnison” (with Grant Houston), “Marble, Colorado: City of Stone” (with Rex Myers), “Western State College: Mountain Mecca,” “Crested Butte,” “Early Days in the Gunnison Country,” “Around the Gunnison Country,” “Lake City Branch of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad” (with Walt Borneman).

Coached track & field and cross country for 37 years at Western from 1971-2007. Won 12 national cross country chapionships—eight for men and four for women. Turned out four Olympic runners: Elva Dryer, Zuzana Sarikova, Michael Aish and Bobby Gaseitswe. Seven-time National Coach of the Year and member of Western, Upper Michigan and NCAA halls of fame.

What most excites you about your field?

The constant learning about how history seems to come near repeating itself and how much one can learn from the past. I am always infatuated with two quotes. 1) Immanuel Kant: “There are truths of the heart that are greater than the truths of the mind.” 2) Issac Newton: “I see myself as a little boy walking along a beach now and then picking up a pretty stone while the vast ocean of unexplored knowledge lies in front of me.”

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

The mountains, the elevation, the clear blue skies, the great history of the past, and living in one of the great outdoor areas in the world, complete with great skiing, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, hunting and fishing.