Never-absent professor is CMC teacher of year |

Never-absent professor is CMC teacher of year

Eben Harrell
Tom Buesch is Colorado Mountain College's teacher of the year at its Aspen campus.

A local humanities professor who hasn’t missed a class in 13 years has been honored as Colorado Mountain College’s teacher of the year for the Aspen campus.

Tom Buesch has been teaching classes in the humanities since 1991. He’s been a full-time professor at CMC since 1996, teaching courses year-round. In that time, he’s never been absent.”Since I started, I’ve broken my leg, gone through a divorce and got prostate cancer,” Buesch said. “So it hasn’t been easy.”CMC is a network of campuses on the Western Slope that offers two-year associate of arts degrees. Buesch teaches at the Aspen campus.Buesch’s classes range from mythology to music appreciation. With a doctorate in the German language and literature, Buesch said he’s had to go through an education himself.

“Every class is a new challenge,” Buesch said. “I teach the core classes in the humanities, so in any given term I can go between philosophy and literature and Western history. That’s why I have such leeway in what I teach.”Buesch’s strength as a teacher doesn’t just lie in his reliability, according to one former student. Mary Hirsch, who lived in Aspen for 16 years, took every class Buesch offered. She recently moved to Nevada to pursue a doctorate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.”I’ve taken everything he has to offer,” Hirsch said. “From literature to mythology to music. Every class was an amazing experience. I left Aspen because I ran out of classes I could take from him. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.”CMC provides higher education to a wide range of students – from young college dropouts looking for a second try to elder Aspenites with advanced degrees. Such a mix can make teaching a real challenge, Buesch said.

“A lot of our students hold higher degrees themselves,” he said. “And they seem to know everything. So I’m always having to stay ahead of the game and overprepare.”Buesch, who first came to Aspen in 1949, said he has no plans to break his attendance streak. He said the goal is to spread the word about academic offerings at the community college.”CMC has this reputation that you can take pottery or dance or exercise, which are great offerings,” he said. “But we really have a strength in core academic classes, too.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is


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