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Transforming the Residential Experience: Commitment to a 21st Century Campus

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By Stephanie Wurtz

You will find open spaces, natural light, and modernized furniture pieces in housing options across the Colorado College campus. But these elements are not just for looks and comfort. They’re part of a broader, strategic vision for a 21st century campus, where the residential experience takes advantage of CC’s location and the variety of building architecture. It is a philosophy meant to enhance the student experience by exploring how the environment impacts learning, relationships, and community.

CC is one of three institutions across the country recognized for its successes in the 21st Century Project, a program facilitated by the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. Community, flexibility, technology, sustainability, and innovation are the five tenets on which the 21st Century Project is built, and participating college communities are developing creative solutions to address each of those issues, while meeting the unique needs of their own student residents.

As a participant, CC applies the guidelines of the 21st Century Project to actively involve those who will live in campus housing and who support the students in their whole experience at CC. The program helps facilitate focus groups of students who are able to react and respond to the project throughout this process. Students and employees share input on various concepts, sharing what they feel is working, what is not, and what they might envision for a specific space or community. That information is shared with institutions nationwide looking to emulate CC’s successes. “These students are having an opportunity to influence a much wider audience than even just CC students,” said John Lauer, senior associate dean of students and director of residential life, of participants. “They’re contributing to a much broader conversation.”

It is a conversation that guided several campus projects over the past several years, the most significant being the extensive renovation of Slocum Hall. It’s one of the reason CC leaders opted to renovate the residence hall, instead of tearing it down. CC’s commitment to the 21st Century Project guides the philosophy to reuse and repurposes resources, while incorporating substantial enhancements, including all new windows and individual temperature controls for each room, for sustainability and efficiency. The hall was transformed into a unique space meant to foster community with adaptable, technology-supported spaces for students to gather and collaborate.

Additionally, the Mathias Hall renovation project focused on creating common areas, pulling people out of their personal space into community space, so residents are interacting with one another and the environment around them. McGregor Hall’s renovation transformed the space while appreciating the historic nature of the building. By creating spaces that have a perceived identity, like a library, dining room and living room, an inviting atmosphere helps residents feel at home.

CC was selected for the program from a national applicant pool. It’s a unique and distinctive designation for the college. “There are only three campuses in the country where you can so actively participate in a project like this,” said Lauer. “The college is doing what we expect our students to do: if you want to be a part of something that’s unique, here’s another part of that story.”

Participation in the project and the commitment to advancing campus housing began on the CC campus in 2008 with a summit of 20 students, faculty, staff, and administrators who established a long-range initiative to apply the project’s tenets to meet the specific residential needs at CC. “This vision around the 21st century housing project tells the story of our strategic plan by extending the reach of CC’s voice in higher education; we’re not only transforming our student housing, but we’re an example for others to look at and learn from,” said Lauer.

CC is learning, too, as a 21st Century Project participant, implementing features and functions in living spaces and establishing what component aids in creating community, retaining what works and applying those things to future projects. “It’s not necessary to rebuild your entire inventory to student apartments,” said Lauer. “We’ve been over capacity for several years, but we don’t just want to have enough student beds for the demand, we want to continue to develop an inventory that is diverse, not homogenized student housing.”

At CC, those housing options include apartments, small houses, and more traditional residence halls. Growing a 21st century campus helps CC continue learning about how physical construction of student residences extends learning, creating access to relationships and innovative thinking by building around the project’s five tenets. Features like chalkboard walls and whiteboard tables, as well as fireplaces and sitting areas throughout the buildings, offer collaborative, shared spaces for students.

Addressing the unique needs of the CC campus means encompassing the renovation of historic and traditional residence halls along with new construction, and ultimately, transforming the entire residential experience at the college. Dramatic, open floor plans, with common kitchen areas and an outdoor fire pit and sand volleyball court, along with flexible room assignments that include first- and second-year students, help stress the concepts of integration between students, creating situations where they’re supported in their college experience by others.

The 21st Century Project is not an initiative with a clear completion date, but instead, is an ongoing process. Work continues in the construction and renovation phases now.  Next, the evaluative phase will build on the successes of these completed projects, presenting an opportunity to look at evidence and data, continuing the learning process for continued success of CC’s residential campus far into the 21st century.

Jean Gumpper, Mellon Artist-in-Residence, Creates Interdisciplinary Opportunities for Students

By Erin Ravin ’08

ChemistryThroughout the spring semester, Colorado College students participated in a variety of interdisciplinary workshops with the Art Department’s Mellon Artist-in-Residence Jean Gumpper. Gumpper’s goal is to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversation through visual art, as evidenced by her work with Assistant Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Andy Wowor’s General Chemistry class; Associate Art Professor Tamara Bentley’s Print Culture & International Contact class, and English Professor Jane Hilberry’s Beginning Poetry Writing.

Gumpper’s collaboration began in Block 5 with an art and chemistry workshop in the Art Department’s print shop.  During this workshop, Gumpper, with the help of several senior art studio majors and art department staff members Erin Ravin ’08, Heather Oelklaus, and Eleanor Anderson, demonstrated several printmaking processes.  Wowor then continued this exploration with an in-depth description of what specifically happens at the molecular level during each step of the printmaking process.  Students saw examples of etching, lithography, photopolymer plates, and cyanotypes.  Once the chemistry students understood the chemistry and the process, they each created small etchings that fit together into a large image of a protein dimer. Said one chemistry student, “The workshop increased my understanding of chemistry applications because it allowed me to see that the material we learned in class can be used in a wide variety of ways, such as to produce artwork, and that chemistry branches out to other subjects rather than just being contained to performing reactions in a lab.”

Chemistry 2Also in Block 5 Gumpper worked collaboratively with a variety of people, including Bentley, Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson, Laurence Kominz , a visiting professor with the Theatre and Drama Department and a specialist in Japanese theatre, IDEA Space Curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen, Assistant to the IDEA Space Curator Briget Hiedmous, and Art Department Paraprofessional Ravin.  They planned a small exhibition and brochure of Japanese actor woodcuts from the Colorado College print collection, which was open during theatre performances by students in Kominz’s Japanese Studies: Performing Kabuki in English course.  Students from Bentley’s Print Culture and International Contact course also met with Gumpper to discuss the woodcut prints.  Gumpper demonstrated the woodblock printing techniques, Bentley discussed historical and cultural aspects of the prints, and both joined the students in studying the original woodcut prints and discussing their connections with Kabuki theatre.

During Block 6, Hilberry and Gumpper combined their Beginning Poetry Writing and Introduction to Drawing classes in a collaborative writing and drawing project. Students began by individually researching for texts—visual or written—that showed how artists and poets depict water. They took written and visual notes on how a variety of artists and poets approach the problem of depicting or employing this symbolically loaded element.  Individually and together they created both visual and written studies within specific parameters. Then, based on the preparatory work they had done, each small group curated an exhibit, book and/or performance that synthesized and showcased their work for the class. “Having other people from a different discipline [poetry] to bounce ideas off of was beneficial and enlightening-their perspective added richness and depth to the artist’s work and vice versa,” said one student participant.

In Block 7, Jean Gumpper presented a lecture that was free and open to the public titled “Cross Currents,” describing her own artwork and these cross-disciplinary undertakings.
Chemistry 1

From Pro Hockey to Fundraising at CC, Preston Briggs Keeps His Perspective

Preston Briggs ATBBy Stephanie Wurtz

Congratulations to Preston Briggs, who was recently selected as major gift officer for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. He currently serves as leadership giving officer in the advancement division and started at CC in April 2013.

Briggs said characteristics he developed as a professional hockey player, most recently with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, enhance his work in both his current and new role in advancement.

“In professional sports, every day could be your last day, and that’s still a good perspective to have; it taught me to celebrate the highs and acknowledge the lows, but to keep an even keel and focus.”

Briggs was traded four times in his first two years playing professional hockey, then had hip surgery after his second season and spent the off-season in intensive rehabilitation to be ready to play. It’s that persistence and work ethic he said carried into his career after hockey.

“It’s about building the relationship between the donor and the college and finding where they want to make their impact, then connecting with those opportunities.”

Born in Colorado Springs, Briggs said he was inspired by CC hockey, attending every home game.

“I don’t think I would’ve ever played hockey at all, let alone professionally, had I not been growing up here watching the CC Tigers play every season.”

As a Colorado Springs native, Briggs said he feels personally invested in the city. He wants to see the community grow and thrive, and sees potential in CC collaborations with the greater community. “We have a lot here [in Colorado Springs] to offer, if we use it. CC is one of those things. Not many 500,000 cities can boast one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.”

His new position focuses on major gifts to support scholarships, research opportunities, internships, specific departments, and other areas.

“What’s really exciting is I’ll be in a place to talk with our alumni, parents, and friends about what they dream Colorado College could be, asking the question,  ‘What does the best CC look like?’ ”

Briggs will officially move into his new role this spring. He will finish out the year by retaining his focus on leadership in annual giving. A search for his replacement will begin soon.

“Preston is a polished and articulate representative of the college. He was selected among a pool of very strong candidates to take the role vacated by Ron Rubin last year,” said Mark Hille, associate vice president for development.

Briggs and his wife, Amanda, met in college and now have a 13-month-old son, Davis.

CC Races for the Cure

CC had a large turnout for the 2013 Race for the Cure.

CC had a large turnout for the 2013 Race for the Cure. Click on photo to enlarge.

Colorado College had a great turnout from students, staff, friends, and family for this year’s Race for the Cure, held on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Garden of the Gods.

Members of 2013 Tigers for Tatas team are, from left to right: Back Row, Standing:  Karen Britton (Registrar’s Office), Spencer Britton, Ellie Swanson(S), Sarah Geisse ’13, Natalie Nicholls ’13, Dana Cronin(S), Livia Abuls(S), Madison Cahill-Sanidas, Sophie Ramirez(S), Spencer Spotts(S). Front Row: Linda Johnson, Sandra Nicholls, Jill Miller (Advancement), Alison Santa Maria, Susan Hall, Lisa Brommer (Human Resources), Candace Santa Maria (Registrar’s Office), Lyrae Williams (President’s Office and Komen Board Member), Pam Leutz (Dean’s Office), and Dianne Bertrand (Children’s Center). Not pictured: Liz Scherkenbach (Systems Programmer), Garret Scherkenbach, Donna Engle (Registrar’s Office), Re Evitt (Associate Dean), and Jacey LaManna(S),

Geology 101 in Garden of the Gods

Garden of the GodsGeology Professor Jeff Noblett led a group of approximately 15 Colorado College faculty and staff on a late-afternoon field trip through Garden of the Gods on Aug. 15. The group hiked about two miles, winding through the geological formations, as Noblett pointed out various features.

Colorado Springs is geologically unique in that it has one of the most complete and complex exposure of earth history anywhere in the country, he said. The city also is unique in that rocks from every geological period, except the Silurian, are exposed within the city limits.

Participants learned about various types of rocks, faults and fault interpretation, angular unconformities, and graded beds, in addition to viewing some spectacular scenery with a new appreciation and understanding.

Much of the information Noblett presented is in his book, “A Guide to the Geological History of the Pikes Peak Region,” available in the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. In addition to the geology of the Garden of the Gods, the book includes information on a variety of geological features within easy driving distance – Wilkerson Pass, Manitou Springs, Highway 24, Pulpit Rock, Palmer Park, Section 16, etc.

The book includes photos by Steve Weaver, technical director of geology, and was copy-edited by Cathe Bailie, music events coordinator. The event was sponsored by the CC Wellness Champions, co-chaired by Ryan Hammes and Lisa Brommer.

A quote at the end of the book puts the magnitude of the region’s geology in perspective: “If we were to scale earth history on a one-year calendar, with the earth forming on January 1 and today being midnight December 31, the oldest rocks we find in Colorado would not appear until the beginning of August. The detailed sedimentary record of the seas begins about Thanksgiving, and humans reach Colorado only in the final hour. It would be worth the time to sit in a high place above town and briefly review the geological history of the region.”

CC Group Summits Pikes Peak

Triumphant After Picture 2A group of 10 from Colorado College hiked 12.6 miles to summit Pikes Peak on Saturday, June 8. The hike up the 14,110-foot mountain was coordinated by Ryan Hammes, outdoor education director, and Lisa Brommer, associate director of human resources, co-chairs of CC’s Wellness Champions.

The group started up Barr Trail at 5:15 a.m. and reached summit about 4:30 p.m., with a few group members reaching the peak closer to 3:30 p.m. It was the first time many had climbed the mountain, a designated National Historic landmark which rises 8,400 feet above Colorado Springs and one of the 54 “Fourteeners” in Colorado.

In addition to Hammes and Brommer, the group included Pat Cunningham, Caitlin Apigian, Jeff Apigian, Mike Applegate, Kat Hodges, Inger Bull, Anthony Bull, and Heather Browne.

“It was an incredible experience and a great way to create relationships that go beyond the work place,” Brommer said.

The group descended the mountain via a CC van driven by Glen Powers from the transportation department, and celebrated with dinner at Amanda’s Fonda.

Stay tuned for additional wellness activities for staff and faculty!

Open House Celebrates New Children’s Center

An open house celebrating the new Cheryl Schlessman Bennett Children’s Center was held Friday, Sept. 28, with three generations of family members in attendance. Colorado College’s new children’s center is named in memory of Cheryl Schlessman Bennett ’77, an education major who was passionate about children’s welfare and taught elementary school in Colorado.

Assistant Soccer Coach James Wagenschutz reads to his son at the Children's Center.

Construction of the new $2 million children’s center was made possible by a gift from the Schlessman family. Schlessman family and friends in attendance at the event were Lee Schlessman ’50 (Cheryl’s father), Susan Schlessman Duncan ’52 and Jim Duncan (Cheryl’s aunt and uncle), Bill Bennett (Cheryl’s husband), Eric Bennett (Cheryl’s son), Sandy Garnett ’75 (Cheryl’s sister), Mick Fredericks ’76 (Cheryl’s cousin), Deb Angell ’74 (Cheryl’s cousin), and Peggy Christie ’77 (Cheryl’s college roommate) and Alex Christie.

The new 9,000-plus square-foot center will accommodate 64 children, from infants to preschoolers, nearly doubling the number that the former children’s center could hold.

Beth Dovenspike, director of Cheryl’s Center, and Sandra Wong, dean of the college and dean of the faculty, both spoke at the open house. “At Colorado College, we often talk about enabling our students to become life-long learners. As we think about our own childhoods, many of us realize how much our earliest social and learning experiences mattered,” Wong said.

She added that the center, which provides child care for Colorado College’s faculty and staff, offers an opportunity for learning to begin in a rich and healthy environment. “The center creates the kind of community we value. It attracts faculty and staff to CC, and builds connections as children grow up together and share friendships,” she said.

CC’s Race for the Cure Team Raises $800

CC's Race for the Cure team includes, standing, left to right, Lyrae Williams (president’s office), Jennifer Supinski (registrar’s office), Stan Supinski, Linda LaBue (physics), Enedina Andrews, Karen Britton (registrar’s office), Tom Skipworth, Terri Skipworth (registrar’s office), Audrey Burns, and seated on rock, Candace Santa Maria (registrar’s office), Amy Ingalsbe (business office), and Jordan Ingalsbe. Teammates not pictured are Veronica Paulsen, Liz Scherkenbach (information management), Garrett Scherkenbach, Piper Scherkenbach and Garret Scherkenbach.

Karen Britton in the registrar’s office recently organized a CC team to run in the Race for the Cure. The CC team ran to celebrate Candace Santa Maria, office supervisor in the registrar’s office, being a 15-year cancer survivor.

The race was held on Sunday, Sept. 9, and the CC team raised more than $800 in donations. All CC team members who participated were given a team T-shirt that said “Tatas and Tigertails.” The group hopes to make this an annual event that will grow every year. 

Rockin' the Tiger socks: From left to right, Terri Skipworth, Tom Skipworth and Karen Britton.

Tom Cronin publishes new book on leadership

Tom Cronin, the McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership at Colorado College, has published a new book, “Leadership Matters: Unleashing the Power of Paradox.” The book offers a different view of leadership and does not emphasize specific rules for or characteristics of effective leaders. Instead, Cronin and co-author Michael Genovese, of Loyola Marymount University, see leadership as more nuanced and filled with paradox –for example, they point out that Americans want leaders who are like themselves yet better than themselves. Americans yearn for leaders to serve the common good – yet simultaneously serve particular interests. Leadership, they says, is a realm in which rules only occasionally apply and how-to prescriptions obscure more than they enlighten.

“Ideal leaders help create options and opportunities – help clarify problems and choices, build morale and coalitions, inspire others, and provide a vision of the possibilities and promise of a better organization, community, or world,” states the book. “Asking whether leadership can be taught is the wrong question. Can leadership be learned? is the better question.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian, calls the book “an absolute tour-de-force – one of the most wide-ranging, fascinating, intricate studies of leadership I have ever read.”

Kappa Sigma pledges volunteer at local organic farm

By Alexander Harleen ’13
Pledge Class President

 Lifelong improvement is a central tenet of Kappa Sigma, and community service is a key part of that growth. Every member of the fraternity participates in volunteer activities, and no less is expected of the incoming pledges, who are tested by their dedication to both the fraternity and the community. As the latest Kappa Sigma pledge class, we chose to explore the world of organic farming by spending a day helping farmer Doug Wiley at the Larga Vista Ranch.

From left to right working on the ranch are Alex Summerfelt, Jake Sullivan, Doug Wiley, and Alex Harleen. Skyler Trieu also was part of the project.

For most of us, it was the furthest we had been from CC for reasons other than skiing, backpacking, or climbing. Located about 30 minutes east of Pueblo, the Larga Vista Ranch has been family owned and operated since 1917. After making our way down a country road, we found the ranch, and Doug stood waiting with a couple of shovels. Doug’s handshake spoke to the difficulty of his labor; his thickly calloused hand felt like the gnarled branches of an oak.

Our task for the day was simple: build about 15 rows of seedbeds for the Wiley family’s personal garden. But what seemed simple in theory took a day’s worth of effort under the Colorado sun. Each bed was built to a specific width and height, depending on the type of crop that Doug wanted to plant there. Shoveling dirt proved a lot hard than it looks, and by the end of the day each of us had a new appreciation for the work it takes to get food to our table. While I’m sure Doug could have dug the same number of beds in half the time, he really appreciated our help and sent us off with several frozen bratwursts as a thank-you gift. It wasn’t quite “Dirty Jobs,” but we headed back to the car covered in a layer of sweat and dirt.

While I can’t speak for the rest of my pledge brothers, I never expected a commitment to service to be such a large part of the pledge process. Now, as a member of Kappa Sigma, I’m incredibly proud of the community service work of the Beta Omega chapter of Kappa Sigma here at Colorado College. All it took was a day of our time, but by getting off campus and doing some manual labor, we learned a lot about each other and got to help a local organic farmer. And nothing feels better than crawling into bed after a day of hard work.