Vail Daily column: Right concept, right time |

Vail Daily column: Right concept, right time

Ross Iverson
Valley Voices

I am excited to announce the launch of Vail Centre, a learning organization that combines leading-edge education with an international destination.

Vail Centre will establish an intellectual community in Vail to serve local and destination learners, and as well as all of Colorado. It is a place where people can come to advance their career, expand their credentials or just explore lifelong learning opportunities. It’s a place where they can establish meaningful connections and life-long friendships.

Vail Centre has evolved out of countless conversations with local and state leaders, and a growing list of nonprofit and educational partners ready to engage in the educational movement that favors a destination over a desktop; forward thinkers ready to enrich Vail’s cultural and economic potential.

An Emerging Educational Paradigm

As degrees become more expensive and time-consuming, Vail Centre provides an exciting alternative where people can enroll in short courses or earn certificates for subjects that help them advance their careers more efficiently.

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Already, top schools in the country are planning to make Vail Centre a satellite location where they can offer courses in an inspirational setting and better yet, create hands-on experiences unique to our natural surroundings.

We also have a long list of accomplished senior executives who call the Vail Valley home, and are willing to contribute as faculty in a way that goes well beyond the classroom. Imagine the chance to take a hike with a former Fortune 500 CEO.

All of our learning experiences are being designed to get people out from behind a screen and into a dynamic exchange about academic ideas and real world challenges. We are focused on delivering transformative, action-oriented experiences where people leave us with a newfound energy to make a difference in their families, their organizations and their communities.

Vail Centre houses four distinct but interconnected learning centers — entrepreneurship, leadership, sustainability and longevity. Offering programs through each provides a continuum of perspectives and creates a synergistic approach to solving the complex problems of our world.

The five-Year Vision

As we ramp up our organization, we have our sights set on delivering exceptional higher learning experiences for anyone who is curious and wants to learn: All levels of professionals, lifelong learners and academic explorers. Within a five-year time frame, we plan to offer:

• Twenty University certificate courses each year.

• Twenty fellowship programs (one- to two-year programs) focused on supporting key goals of the state of Colorado.

• Interactive intellectual events for locals, tourists and second-home owners.

• Twelve destination industry summits each year.

• Three international learning events including Mexico’s most coveted business forum.

• The annual Torch Awards ceremony to recognize advances in learning in the state of Colorado and the Vail Valley.

• Two hundred custom learning experiences designed for organizational teams.

It’s an ambitious agenda, but moving quickly and through partnerships will help us establish the center as a premier education destination.

Our own team brings a mix of backgrounds in corporate learning, business consulting and education. Plus we have a very strong leadership advisory council and board that has been responsible for growing the Whistler Resort from the ground up and helping Robert Redford launch the organization behind Sundance.

Imagine, Impact

Vail Centre represents a collaborative convergence of groups and ideas.

• The Vail Leadership Institute — a leadership development nonprofit with a 20-year history — is being rolled into the Vail Centre for Leadership.

• We are actively collaborating with the Colorado governor’s office, aligning our programs with state initiatives.

• The Vail Mexico Forum is already slated for March of 2016, our first international destination forum.

• Enrollment for a University of Colorado Entrepreneurship Bootcamp certificate will open in January.

• The town of Vail and Commission on Special Events are looking for ways to support our efforts and future campus needs.

• Local groups such as Walking Mountains and Colorado Mountain College are working with us to cross-market educational programming through the center.

• We’ve had many more conversations that will continue to add names to this list.

What is most exciting to me about all of this is the community we are building around the concept of higher learning in Vail. By offering people an inspirational place to convene and ideas to explore, we are creating a network of thought leaders inspired to act.

Complex challenges can be solved through human connection and collaboration. We believe Vail Centre is what the Vail Valley, our state and the world need now.

Ross Iverson is the president and CEO at the Vail Leadership Institute. Reach him at

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