Dan Schaffrick has seen a lot of changes at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus since he was hired as its first counselor in 1982.
It was the most recent change that caught him by surprise.
Schaffrick was the guest of honor Friday in a brief ceremony at Willett Hall, where the student lounge now bears his name. Schaffrick, who is retiring in June after 23 years at the college, wasn't made aware of the honor until he was presented with a plaque officially naming the area the Dan Schaffrick Student Lounge.
"I should be pleased by this because they were threatening to name a Dumpster after me," Schaffrick said jokingly. "I don't know what to say."
His colleagues, on the other hand, had no problem coming up with things to say about the veteran counselor, student adviser and teacher.
"There are a lot of people who say, 'We're here for the students,'" Alpine Campus Dean Dr. Robert Ritschel said. "I think he epitomizes that concern perhaps more than anybody."
Like any good counselor, Schaffrick takes time to engage himself with anyone who walks through his office door, Ritschel said.
"We're not looking for a replacement because that will be too hard to find," he said. "We're just looking for another counselor. We'll have to move on."
Faculty member Carolyn Pet--ers echoed Ritschel's sentiment.
"I don't know what we're going to do without him," Peters told the crowd of about three dozen CMC students, staff and faculty members. "He's going to be very missed."
Schaffrick became Alpine Campus' first counselor despite having no formal training or education in counseling. A quintessential Steamboat Springs ski bum, Schaffrick had juggled jobs here before a friend showed him an ad for the counseling position. He was hired shortly after applying.
"I kind of made my job up as we went along," Schaffrick said. "As the college grew, I would think of what needed to be done, and I'd do it."
During his tenure, Schaffrick has played the role of traditional student counselor and adviser, taught a variety of classes and advised student groups, in addition to the innumerable other odd jobs and duties he took on. He was instrumental in establishing the school's Phi Theta Kappa chapter, and in 1999, he received a national award from the organization.
He even met his wife, Cat, at CMC when she came to his office for career counseling. The couple has a 10-year-old daughter, Madeline.
It's his love of students and helping them through a challenging period of their lives that kept him at the college for so many years, Schaffrick said.
"Our mission up here is helping people reach their dreams," he said. "It's real rewarding. You obviously don't do it to get rich. There are other rewards in life."
With no job to report to next fall, Schaffrick hopes to keep himself free of commitments and not miss any powder days next season ---- not that he's complaining about missing powder days during the past 23 years.
"I'm very grateful I've been able to have a professional career living someplace that I love," he said.