Alumni Gift Launches New Center for Intercultural Leadership

By Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, interim director of the office of minority and international students
The office of minority and international students is pleased to share some wonderful news! Construction will begin this summer on the Ellis U. Butler Jr. Center for Intercultural Leadership (the current working title), which will be located in the ground level of the Lennox/Glass House.
Butler was an African American student who graduated from Colorado College in 1940. This past year, he passed away, leaving $150,000 to Colorado College. In 1982, when Butler’s wife, Ora Brandon Butler, died, he began giving an annual gift to the college in her name. With that gift, he wrote a moving letter highlighting “certain unpleasant experiences I went through as a negro student” while at CC; but he went on to say that he not only survived, but thrived. It was through his reflective comparisons of his “unpleasant experiences” at Colorado College with the “soul-killing racial discrimination” his wife experienced in her native state of Louisiana, that he seemed able to reconcile his own experiences, cast them in a new light and see his circumstances as challenging, but not nearly as challenging as what his wife had endured.  In a very real sense, Ellis Butler and his relationship with CC moved to a place of gratitude and forgiveness. His generous gifts throughout the years were certainly indicative of the high esteem in which he still held his alma mater.
Construction is scheduled to begin July 1 and will hopefully be completed in September. The current Student Cultural Center, which has served the needs of students over the years, will be re-designated back to the college in the interests of overall space considerations; its specific use is yet to be determined. While the current structure has served an important role over the past several years, it is currently not the most optimal space in which to host cultural programming for large groups, support student technology needs, or serve as an academic/classroom space. The newly constructed facility will accomplish this, and much more, as it offers:

  • A larger, more expansive area to hold greater numbers of people for large meetings and events but also can be divided when necessary for smaller meeting spaces.
  • Ideal study spaces—small, intimate corners for individuals or groups of students.
  • Creation of a “smart” classroom that automatically increases the usage of the building.
  • A kitchen that is twice the size of the current Student Cultural Center kitchen, providing increased counter space and a dining room table for meetings.
  • A “bar” area that will be converted into student computing portals.
  • Several unused corners and spaces for additional storage, allowing greater management of and access to student organization supplies and materials.
  • ADA accessibility through the construction of an architecturally non-invasive lift, thus ensuring complete accessibility for all students and campus members.
  • Access to the center through a separate entrance on the north side, eliminating safety issues for residents and designating the center as a public campus space. 

Naming this space after Ellis Butler, in a very appropriate way, honors the presence and experience of all minority students—past, present, and future—at Colorado College. We are excited to bring you this wonderful news and hope that you will visit the new center once it is completed. During Homecoming Weekend, we hope to host a large celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony for current students and alumni, so please watch for details.

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