Staff & Faculty Feature:
James Taylor, Timberline Campus, Vice President
James Taylor came to the Colorado Mountain College Leadville campus from Ameritech College in Salt Lake City, bringing with him experience in higher education as well as experience with K-12, certification as an emergency medical technician, and years of studying biology and wilderness in Yellowstone National Park. His well-rounded background and passion for education as well as the outdoors indicated he would be an excellent fit as the Timberline Campus VP.
It has been about 12 months since James joined the Timberline Campus team, and students staff and faculty could not be happier. We recently asked him a few questions about his Leadville experience so far.
What has been the most rewarding experience during your first year in Leadville?
“Since my arrival in Leadville and at Timberline Campus I have been awed by the very genuine and authentic nature of the town and the campus. People are real and what you see is what you get. In contrast to other mountain towns and campuses where I have lived and worked it has been refreshing and rewarding to work with people who are connected to each other, to the past, and maintaining a quality of life and lifestyle that I enjoy. “
What do you love about Leadville? What Makes Leadville different from your previous education experience?
“Leadville and Timberline Campus are beautiful. I have never had an office with a view like I have of Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive. I must say that when I was in Montana and Wyoming (Bozeman and Jackson) I loved the mountains and the towns, but there is a difference. We live in the mountains here, not in the valley. I love the fresh air, the sunny days, and the chance to walk in the woods at any given moment. When I know a phone call or conference call is going to be long I often take the call on my cell and walk in our woods. I have never been on a campus that borders the forest. From a family standpoint we bought our house on the east side of Leadville so we could access the trail system from our home. I have a nice 3 mile loop that my wife and I ski that takes us from our home, to the Mineral Belt Trail, and then a short walk back home from the trailhead near the animal shelter. Where else can someone have access to good skiing right from work and home?”
What do you see for the future of Leadville and more specifically, CMC Leadville?
“CMC and Timberline Campus are very unique when it comes to colleges in America. I have worked and led a number of schools and each one is different. However, CMC and Timberline Campus are distinctly unique – just like the communities in which we are located. CMC will continue to be an educational leader for decades to come. Timberline Campus will continue to be one of the main campus location for the college but early indications already point to the fact that we will be much bigger and will need to adapt to a more diverse student body. I am sure that our population will become more diverse over the next decade and we will begin to mirror the and serve the local population more as well as continue to serve the nationwide interest in our academic and outdoor programs.”
Any advice for current or future college students?
“The most important thing I would tell students is to see school as an opportunity to explore and discover your talents and develop attitudes about service, community, and life. Student life is a great opportunity to get involved and figure out what it is that you want to give back. Too often students and society see school as a chance to learn a skill or trait and make money. Career planning is important, but school is much broader than just money and career. Take the time to develop of sense of place and accept responsibility for making a difference.”
Can you talk about an experience from the past year where you knew this campus was special?
“Shortly after arriving last spring I noticed something on the sidewalk that made me realize this campus was unique and tied to the natural world in which we are found. I was walking from my car to my office and found a pile of what I thought was human waste on the sidewalk. Upon closer examination, and from my years working as a biologist, I noticed that it was not human at all but bear. I took the photo and shared it on Facebook to let my family and friends know that this campus was very much in the middle of the natural world.”