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Decorative lights spelling "WCU" outside the 2023 annual Mountaineer Gala

Western to Host Fourth Annual Mountaineer Gala

Western is excited to announce the Fourth Annual Mountaineer Gala will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village. Presented by the Western Colorado University Foundation, the gala serves to support scholarship funding for students, as well as honor Mountaineer Hall of Fame athlete and influential community member Dick Bratton.

Dick, a 1954 WCU graduate, not only served as Student Body President but also excelled as a three-sport athlete. Following his graduation from CU Law School in 1957, he received CU Law’s prestigious Lee Knous Award. Returning to Gunnison in 1958, Dick began his legal practice and played a pivotal role on the Board of Trustees of State Colleges from 1963 to 1975, serving as Chairman during 1974-75. He was instrumental in establishing the Western Colorado University Foundation in 1975 which continues to significantly sustain the University and support its scholarship programs. Through the Foundation’s support, numerous students have accessed higher education, and key campus projects like the Borick Business Building and the University Center have been realized. Notably, Dick spearheaded the creation of the Outdoor Recreation program and secured the land for the Rady building, preventing less desirable commercial developments.

Decorations on a table at the 2023 annual Mountaineer Gala

Dick served as attorney for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District for over four decades.  In that role he played a pivotal role in securing a contract ensuring Taylor Park Reservoir releases which resulted in a 90% increase in the Brown trout population, creating a Gold Medal fishery and providing predictable flows for boating.  He also played a significant role in successfully opposing the Union Park Project which, if successful, would have diverted to the Colorado Front Range nearly half of the annual flows of both Taylor and East Rivers.  This would have been a major blow to Gunnison water interests, dramatically diminishing the benefits of the Taylor Park Reservoir releases mentioned previously and removing much of the water needed for irrigation in the entire Upper Gunnison River.

Dick recognizes the needs many Western students have for financial assistance to attend college, and this event provides an opportunity to support scholarships for more students.

Individual tickets, and table sponsorships, and underwriting opportunities can be viewed and purchased online before April 5, 2024. Contact Alicia Economos, Major Gifts Officer, 303.596.0634 for more information.