Get to Know: Chris Coulter
Coulter comes to CC from Academy School District 20, where he served as the former executive director for construction management and sustainability. On Coulter’s first day at the D-20 job, architect Antoine Predock was selected to design one of the district’s premiere schools, the Discovery Canyon Campus. Predock is the same architect who designed CC’s Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center. “It’s ironic that I should work at the two places in town that have Predock buildings,” Coulter says.
One of the first things Coulter plans to do at CC is both very easy and very difficult. He plans to do a lot of listening. “I want to hear what is being said. And I want to be sure that what I’m hearing is being integrated into what we are doing.
“I want to get to know people, the facilities staff, and the culture of the campus,” he said.
Working together is a theme that comes up often when talking with Coulter. He’s eager to work with the various departments on campus involved in CC’s sustainability initiatives. He also is eager to get started on the new Worner Center renovation, which begins the day students leave campus in May, and must be completed before their return in August.
During Coulter’s seven and a half year tenure at D-20, he oversaw construction management and sustainability at the district’s 19 elementary schools, six middle schools, and six high schools. While there, he supervised the completion of a $163 million bond issue and a construction program that finished early and $10 million under budget. In addition, Coulter led the on-time and under-budget completion of The Classical Academy’s (TCA) new 80,000-square-foot-campus. The project, which was completed a year and a half ago at a cost of $120 per square foot, features a full-size soccer and football competitive synthetic turf playing field, parking lot, elementary school for nearly 650 children, space for a home-school program, and 10 classrooms for their on-site partner Pikes Peak Community College. The campus is the first of its kind in the state and currently is viewed as a model for how partnerships can benefit all participants.
While Coulter may be new to CC, he is not new to Colorado Springs. His father currently is a District 20 Board of Education member and spent the majority of his Air Force career as a biology instructor at the Air Force Academy. Coulter is a graduate of Rampart High School and played on the school’s 1987 undefeated basketball state champion team. While in college, Coulter was an ROTC cadet and commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force in May 1993. He earned a B.A. in pre-engineering from DePauw University and a B.S. in engineering from Purdue University, and went on to earn a master’s in civil engineering from the University of Colorado—Boulder while in the Air Force.
He spent eight years in the Air Force as a civil engineering officer in places such as Florida, Nevada, Korea, and Central America. The Air Force was great training, as “you had to be the engineer, tradesman, equipment agent, everything. We were self-sustained, and you had to figure it out.” That training, he says, serves him well in his current position.
He admits, however, that he is poor at home construction projects. “I have to make 12-14 trips to Home Depot,” he says. “But I’ll do it as many times as I have to in order to get it right.” He admires his staff; in fact, he says he “is humbled” by their skills. “They get it right, quickly, and on budget.”
Coulter is the father of an 11-year-old son, J.C., and an 8-year-old daughter, Peyton. His wife, Sandi, is a second-grade teacher at Antelope Trails Elementary School in District 20. Coulter enjoys coaching youth sports, especially football and basketball, and has been coaching the same group of fifth-graders since they were in preschool.
He also is very active in the Knights of Heroes Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to sons who have lost their fathers in combat. The organization runs a summer camp just outside of Ward, Colo. Coulter, who recently was named chief operating officer of the foundation, plans all the camp activities and, for the last five years, has served as a mentor to two boys.
Additionally, for the past two years, Coulter has run (and finished) the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., a fundraiser for the camp. Both times, the boys he mentors and their mothers were at the finish line, cheering him on.