Posts from October, 2011
Colorado Springs hosts two nationally-ranked undergraduate institutions, Colorado College and the Air Force Academy— separated from one another by a short 15-minute drive and wide cultural, scheduling and administrative differences.
However, a recently awarded $6,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation will allow the schools to break down barriers to cooperation through a series of monthly forums that can range from dinners to receptions before or after an event to interdepartmental research seminars. Colorado College and the Air Force Academy have since further expanded the program to include University of Colorado-Colorado Springs students and faculty in program activities, said John Gould, associate professor of political science and lead CC contact for the grant.
The initial efforts will focus on building communication and collaboration in three areas: social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, with each division receiving $2,000 for inter-institutional community building. Although the political science departments of CC and USAFA have a long history of informal collaboration due to their mutual interest in global studies and international relations, their interaction has been irregular due to a lack of resources. Within the humanities and natural sciences, the USAFA and CC faculty have had less contact. The grant money is aimed at creating new opportunities for network development in all three divisions.
Although the program was approved only a month ago, the institutions already have made arrangements for a number of collaborative programs. These include:
- A USAFA/CC student discussion group that will attend major speakers events this year at the two colleges
- A joint student outing of biology students to local fossil beds, with a common reading and group discussion relating to evolutionary biology
- A joint dinner of the political science faculties before a lecture from military analyst Andrew Bacevich
- A possible “Super Tuesday” primary event for students and faculty
- Group student/faculty trips to the theater
- A group discussion of Machiavelli’s “Prince”
- A program of activities relating to the theme of “freedom riding and writing”
It is hoped that as the year progresses, the newly found inter-institutional community will develop a forum in which members share information about research interests, areas of potential collaboration, visiting speakers, talented one-year visiting faculty members and academic resources and strategies. The goal is to create a communal identity—rather than an institutional one; an identity that will produce leaders willing to work on behalf of a community that extends beyond departments and institutions.
The Mellon grant provides an unprecedented opportunity to overcome the initial costs and barriers to community building and realize inter-institutional opportunities.
When the Nobel Prize in physics was announced Tuesday, Shane Burns, Colorado College physics professor, shared the special elation of knowing a great deal about the work that went into the award.
Burns is one of a small group of people, including Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter, who began the work that resulted in the 1998 discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. Burns has continued to work with the group, now known as the Supernova Cosmology Project, since its inception in 1989.
Burns and Perlmutter searched for supernovae, which are massive exploding stars, when they were graduate students in the 1980s at the University of California at Berkeley. Burns fell in love with teaching and eventually came to Colorado College, while Perlmutter remained at Berkeley, where he is a professor of physics.
With Perlmutter the “undisputed leader” of the group that became the Supernova Cosmology Project, Burns worked with as many as 30 other scientists to observe supernovae. He is a co-author of the team’s most recent paper, published in June 2010 in the Astrophysical Journal. They were in intense competition with another supernova research team, whose two leaders shared the Nobel with Perlmutter.
Using time on the Hubble space telescope, Burns worked on the project by studying the infrared brightness of supernovae during the summers and blocks off from Colorado College. Some of his calculations were done on a high-powered Mac workstation on his office desk in Barnes Science Center, in contrast to his work two decades earlier on the largest computer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the PDP1144, a behemoth the size of a washer-dryer combination with a fraction of the capacity of his current desktop computer.
One summer in Berkeley, Burns brought in a Colorado College physics student, Katy-Robin Garton ‘01, who did measurements for the project. Garton and Burns are co-authors, with several others in the Supernova Cosmology Project, of a 2003 paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. Garton lives in Missoula, Montana, and is a documentary filmmaker.
“It was beautiful science,” said Garton, who remembers the project for its elegance and accessibility.
Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess, leader of a competing supernova research team, shared the Nobel Prize with Perlmutter.
The Colorado House of Representatives recently awarded Burns a commendation for his part in the Nobel Prize.
Burns lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Stormy, an office coordinator in the music department. They have two children.
Colorado College’s Community Kitchen, one of the oldest student-run community kitchens in the nation, will have additional volunteers when it serves its weekly meal on Sunday, Oct. 9. Joining the regular volunteers will be CC alumni living in Colorado Springs and members of the Student Alumni Association.
The Community Kitchen, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in April, provides a hot meal to the city’s hungry and homeless every Sunday afternoon at Shove Memorial Chapel. It averages about 200 guests each Sunday, said Colin McCarey ’12, one of the three kitchen managers. The kitchen also will host an Open House from 3-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15 during Homecoming and Parents Weekend to show off its many renovations.
This year the kitchen was selected by The Independent newspaper as a recipient of its Indy GIVE! campaign, which guarantees the kitchen at least $2,500. The goal of the campaign is teach organizations how to become self-sufficient fundraisers and how to best deliver their message to the public. There are several requirements involved with being a recipient, and it is suggested that the organization host an event that engages the community. To that end, those involved with the Community Kitchen plan to construct a “tent city” on campus on Nov. 13 to raise awareness surrounding the issues of hunger and homelessness. In keeping with the situation, the construction material will be cardboard, which participants will assemble into shelters.
McCarey, an anthropology major from Oak Park, Ill., said there has been a consistent rise in the number of guests since he started working at the Community Kitchen, where he became a kitchen manager his sophomore year. “Since 2008, there have definitely been more families and more children coming in for meals,” McCarey said.
The Community Kitchen began on Easter Sunday in 1992, when a group of concerned students began serving a free weekly meal to the hungry and homeless of Colorado Springs. The students recognized a need for a hot meal on Sunday afternoons, when the Marian House was closed. The community greeted the new meal with enthusiasm, and what began as a small operation dependent upon donations from the college’s cafeteria excesses grew into a community-supported organization that this summer served an all-time high of 300 meals.
The kitchen runs on donations: Bon Appétit, the food-management company at Colorado College, Whole Foods, La Baguette and, in the summer, Miller Farms, are the primary food donors. Once a week, volunteers pick up donations from several locations around the city with which to create a meal on Sunday. Because donations fluctuate week to week, the kitchen does purchase some staples from Care and Share. Meat, rice, beans, butter, cleaning supplies, spices, and maintenance fees make for an annual operating cost of approximately $8,000. The Colorado College Student Government Association gives the kitchen an annual allotment (this year, $3,000), and last year the Empty Bowls benefit raised $3,500. Private donations help, but student managers and their staff supervisor are responsible for raising the balance every year.
Last year’s renovations to the Community Kitchen were a huge improvement, McCarey said, highlighting how apparently minor changes can make a major difference. Just ask him about the new potato slicer: “That is the coolest thing for me. What used to take us two hours, we can now do in 20 minutes.” And a mop: “That was an astronomical leap forward from using rags on the floor.” And don’t get him started on the new steel pots, which replaced some of the aluminum ones: “We can cook things three to four times as fast. Before, we could boil potatoes from 10 a.m. to 2, and they still wouldn’t be done. They were rock hard, and it was a struggle to mash them.”
Another major improvement was establishing a back storage room for the Community Kitchen to use.”This allows for a much higher level of organization,” McCarey said. “We can have long-term organization and be much more efficient.”
Since its beginning, the CC Community Kitchen has fostered a welcoming atmosphere for its guests. The kitchen managers, all students, have emphasized a unique element at the CC Community Kitchen: They insist those served are treated as guests, not clients. The kitchen strives to eliminate boundaries and stigmas that commonly alienate the homeless. Although the meal is served at 1:30 p.m., all guests are welcome for coffee and pastries beginning at 9 a.m. Many of the volunteers eat with the guests, and many of the guests volunteer with food preparation, serving, and clean-up.
The staff currently searching for a consistent source of meat donations. The kitchen always is in need of candles, matches, socks, shoes, boots, toiletry and sanitary items, clothing (especially warm coats), sleeping bags and other items to distribute to homeless guests. Also needed are donations of canned and dry goods, paper products, desserts and salad greens, plastic ware, and containers to fill with food and send home with guests. Also needed are other non-food donations that support operations such as aprons, cleaning cloths, and cutting boards. The kitchen could benefit from more storage space, an additional oven, and a new warming oven.
On Saturday, Oct. 8 a group of Colorado College students laden with free CFL light bulbs and information about weatherization services, rebates and tax credits, will participate in an energy education outreach effort called “Take Charge.”
Callie Puntenney ’14, Mallory LeeWong ’12, and Hannah Wear ’13, co-chairs of EnAct, CC’s environmental action organization, are spearheading the effort on campus. The community outreach is a collaborative effort between several groups, including Colorado Springs Utilities, Groundwork Colorado, Meadows Park Community Center, and Colorado College.
The CC volunteers will team up with area high school students and fan out across the Stratmoor area, meeting residents, offering to switch out incandescent porch bulbs with CFLs for free, connecting income-qualifying households with free weatherization services, and providing information to all residents about energy-reducing programs, rebates, and practices. Each two- to three-person team is assigned a route, and there are about 40 houses per route.
EnAct’s goal is to educate the campus about sustainability issues and opportunities for improvement, Puntenney said, and the organizers are hoping to get as many students as possible involved in Saturday’s outreach event. “EnAct is excited about interacting with the local community through this collaboration effort. It’s important for CC students to give back to the community and get to know CC’s neighbors,” she said.
“As soon as school started we began reaching out to student groups and other members of the CC community. We teamed with the Center for Service and Learning to maximize our outreach efforts. We hope that this will be a successful event and that students will be inspired to continue to give back,” Puntenney said.
The “Take Charge” program has several goals. The college students can mentor those in high school, serving as role models and answering questions about the path to college and college life. The program also helps educate students about energy efficiency and renewable energy, and introduces them to “green” job resources. “There is a new energy economy, and the labor industry is changing,” says Stephanie Fry, program manager with Groundwork Colorado. “This can help excite students about green jobs and educate them about the industry. It helps them realize there are costs, benefits, and consequences of exploration, development, and consumption of renewable and nonrenewable resources,” she said.
Usually Groundwork Colorado organizes the volunteer day, however, Fry said that the EnAct organizers have taken a “strong leadership position” and this is the first time that students have run the event. “It’s great to see,” she said.