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Jane Cauvel: CC’s New Ombuds

Jane Cauvel with her dogs, Willow, age 2 on the left, and Luke, 4, on the right

The ombuds office is located on the second floor of Tutt Library, Room 212. Cauvel is experimenting with hours in order to be available when convenient for the most number of people. During August and September, her office hours are 11 a.m.  to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, and by appointment. She also is willing to meet people off campus. Cauvel can be reached at 648-7470 and at ombuds@coloradocollege.edu

The following is a full-length version of the interview that was featured in the August Bulletin.

The ombudsman office provides an informal, confidential, independent, neutral, off-the-record alternate channel of communication for faculty and staff to resolve workplace and learning environment issues.  It works to ensure that all members of the community are treated equitably and fairly.  The ombudsperson is neutral and does not advocate for a visitor or the institution, but rather for fair treatment for all members of the community. A visitor can discuss issues or concerns confidentially without further disclosure or formal action.  To the extent possible, the ombudsperson attempts to identify and discuss with the appropriate officers of the college changes that may prevent workplace issues from becoming significant or recurring.  Q.  Why do you think CC needs an ombudsman?
Cauvel: The CC Board of Trustees has asked the college to develop an ombuds office. It approved our plans for an ombuds office and for me to function as ombudsperson for the coming year.  Hence, I report directly to the audit committee of the Board of Trustees on positive or negative trends as I see them. The ombuds office will be a pilot venture for one year.
Before considering the position, I asked if there were major problems which led to the desire for such an office. I was told there were none, but it seems there is a need for more open lines of communication and more understanding of processes among individuals and departments.  The office aims to alleviate conflict before it escalates.

Q.  What did you see as the pros and cons when you considered taking this position?
Cauvel:  The cons were that I have been retired from the college for about 10 years and have been enjoying a very good life.  I enjoyed teaching the students, serving on committees, and working as faculty assistant to President Kathryn Mohrman. Eventually, I decided it was time for me to retire and pursue other interests.
The pros were that I had been away long enough so I didn’t know all the inner-workings of the college and wouldn’t come with a lot of baggage. While talking with staff and faculty about the role of the ombudsperson, I discovered how much I enjoyed the community and the stimulation of being on campus again. After a short time I became aware of some of the conflicts that I thought could be alleviated.

Q.  Is that why you accepted the position?
Cauvel:  Yes. I also think it is for my own benefit. It will be a challenge to take on new tasks and work part-time in an intellectually active environment – and if I can assist in the alleviation of some conflicts, all the better. I am a temporary employee, working 20 hours a week. Since we are not adding positions, this is a trial to see if it is beneficial. It will be up to the staff, faculty, and Board of Trustees to see if this role will be continued. My purpose is to get the office started and to explore the methods and activities that work best for CC. I’ll study the examples of other colleges with ombudsmen offices and strictly follow the code of ethics and standards of practice of the International Ombudsman Association.

Q.  What have you been doing since you left the college?
Cauvel:  I finished a book with Zehou Li, a Chinese professor, entitled “Four Essays on Aesthetics: Toward a Global View.” (Published by Roman and Littlefield; 2006.) I’ve been on the board of the Grand Circle Field School, an environmental program in northern Arizona, and am on the Internal Review Board of the Memorial Health System. I’ve written some articles, been to China a couple of times, and did reading that I didn’t have time to do before. It’s been a very lively intellectual time. 

Q.  What skills/knowledge do you have that would make you good in this position?
Cauvel: I just completed a workshop with the International Ombudsman Association at Pepperdine University. We discussed the meanings and implications of the four basic criteria for an ombuds office: confidentiality, informality, independence, and neutrality. We examined case studies which challenged us to consider options for alleviating conflicts while maintaining the basic criteria.  Along with the other three pillars, we emphasized that neutrality meant we neither advocate for the visitor nor for the college but rather for fairness. The ombudsperson does not give answers but rather assists the visitor in seeking options. The visitor makes the decisions, the ombudsperson does not.
I don’t know that I will be good in the position but basically I like people; and I always enjoy talking with members of the Colorado College community; and I am committed to fair treatment for all persons. I have had lots of positive interaction with staff and faculty. The Faculty Executive Committee suggested me for the role, which was very flattering, and I’ll do my best to maintain their trust and that of others.

Q.  People have been calling this position ombudsman, ombudsperson, ombudswoman. What would you call it?
Cauvel: I like to call it the ombuds office.  Over time, the person in the office will change but the basic values and purposes of the office will remain. The ombuds office will be on the second floor of Tutt Library, Room 212.  The office will be open August 1 and in addition, I will have a secure telephone so people can call me. If someone is uncomfortable meeting on campus, we’ll meet off campus. I am guessing I will spend about a third of my time in the office, a third on the phone and a third walking around campus. I hope to meet with every staff division and faculty department. Unrealistic?  Maybe, but I look forward to many productive conversations.

Q.  So this office is for faculty and staff only?
Cauvel: Yes. Of course I have access to all administrators. As I perceive patterns or trends, both positive and negative, I will suggest them to the appropriate official. However maintaining confidentiality is critical and I must be very careful that visitors to my office are not identified. In a small organization this can be difficult, and I will just have to use my best judgment.

Q.  Do you wish there had been an ombuds office when you were working here? Or do you think there might not have been a need?
Cauvel: The ombudsman practice came to the U.S. from Sweden during the 1960s. Now it is common practice within major corporations, government agencies, universities and colleges, in the U.S. and abroad. Organizations, even small colleges, have become larger, and have developed more complex structures and more diverse populations. Most of these changes are positive but as expectations change, so must ways of navigating them. When I began teaching here, I would have welcomed an ombudsperson with whom to discuss perceived discrimination concerning women faculty and staff, and other minority groups. Relationships were more casual because the population was more homogeneous. I think the role of an ombudsperson will expand as institutions grow in complexity and diversity.  Many of my conversations will have to do with telling people where they can get information; where I can get information for them; and with them, seek options for resolving their concerns. I do not solve problems but help visitors find ways to make their work life and their relationships more satisfying.  

Q.  Do you think the creation of the ombudsman office will improve moral at CC?
Cauvel: That’s a big question. It’s a pilot program for one year. We will all have to work to see if it is beneficial.

Q.  Will there be a reassessment?
Cauvel: Yes, we’ll be reassessing throughout the year and more comprehensively at the end of the year.

Q.  Who will be doing the reassessing?
Cauvel: There will be a survey of some sort, certainly of the people who use the office, and of its perception by non-users, and the board of trustees. Because it’s a pilot program, we must all be involved in determining usefulness. I imagine the activities of the office will evolve and change as needs arise.

Q.  What do you think most of the questions or problems people will come to you will be in regard to?
Cauvel: I think questions appropriate to the office will be along the lines of:

  • How did this rule or regulation come into being, and how is it being applied?
  • I have been concerned about a particular problem in my department. What is the appropriate office or service to take this problem? Can you help me clarify the issues and consider options?
  • Chain of command questions.
  • What can I do about a conflict with my supervisor (or peer)? What are my options?
  • Can we discuss my problem confidentially, outside the usual channels?

However, there are things I cannot do:

  • Make decisions or mandate changes to policies and procedures.
  • Make decisions for individuals.
  • “Take sides” in a dispute.
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Discuss visitors concerns with anyone without the visitor’s permission.

Q.  I understand you were invited many years ago for an interview to work in U.N. Why was that important to you?Cauvel: I admire Eleanor Roosevelt’s role in establishing the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights, and her other efforts at conflict management. I’ve been impressed with the successes of conflict management at the local, national and international levels. Since it aims to resolve issues in the earliest stages and to prevent harmful escalation, we often don’t hear of the successes.  I enthusiastically look forward to the challenges of the Colorado College ombuds office.

Q.  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cauvel: I enjoy skiing, hiking, and  fly fishing.

CC well-represented in Teach for America

Colorado College has nine recent graduates participating in Teach For America, placing it among comparably sized liberal arts schools with the highest number of participants.

Career Center Director Geoff Falen says that Colorado College has a long, strong tradition of service, and Teach For America provides an opportunity for CC graduates to contribute their skills, energy and idealism in a challenging environment that needs their services.

“Our students’ long and strong interest in Teach For America often stems from their positive experiences in CC classrooms. They understand the strong and positive effect good teachers have on students. That belief, combined with a commitment to using their own educations to generate change, makes Teach For America a compelling option for them,” says Susan Ashley, dean of the college and the faculty.

Falen says that CC students, over half of whom are interested in non-profit and education work after graduation, are especially attracted to a two-year commitment that enables them to make a significant contribution while figuring out their next career or graduate school steps. “Given those parameters, TFA is often seen as a domestic adventure with real substance, a perfect fit for many CC graduates,” he said.

Teach for America is a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity. During the 2009-10 academic year, Teach For America received a record 46,000 applications from graduating seniors, graduate students and professionals. This fall, more than 4,500 new corps members will start teaching in schools across the country. They represent more than 630 colleges and universities.

Udis-Kessler Blogs on LGBT Spirituality for Tikkun Daily

Amanda Udis-Kessler

Amanda Udis-Kessler

Amanda Udis-Kessler, CC’s director of institutional research, has become a regular LGBT spirituality blogger for the interfaith Tikkun Daily, which aims to provide “a spiritual progressive perspective on politics, art, religion, and activism.” Tikkun Daily is the multimedia blog site of Tikkun, the bimonthly Jewish and interfaith magazine associated with the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

Udis-Kessler’s first blog post was on the spirituality of same-sex marriage. More recently, she wrote about Colorado Springs’ 20th annual LGBT PrideFest and Pride Parade.

She and her partner, Associate Professor of Biology Phoebe Lostroh, co-wrote a piece, “The Hands of the Holy: Re-Envisioning LGBT Welcome in Faith Communities,” in the July-August issue of Tikkun Magazine.

Udis-Kessler has published widely on issues of sexuality, religion and social justice, including her 2008 book, “Queer Inclusion in the United Methodist Church.” At CC, she chairs the Institutional Review Board, recently co-chaired the Diversity Task Force, and serves on a number of other committees.

Extension Of Coverage For Dependent Children Up To Age 26

Colorado College will voluntarily implement the dependent children provision of federal health care reform, which states that employers must allow the coverage of child dependents, regardless of marital status, up to the age of 26. Coverage for these dependents must begin no later than the college’s next plan year, beginning July 1, 2011. However, with the cooperation of Great West Health Care, Delta Dental of Colorado, Eye Med Vision, and The Standard, we will offer the extension of the benefit starting September 1, 2010.

A month-long open enrollment period from August 1-31, 2010 will be solely for allowing plan enrollment for any child dependent(s) whose coverage ended, who were denied coverage, or who were not eligible for coverage at the initial date of enrollment because they did not meet the eligibility requirements at the time.

Coverage will be extended for dependent children up to age 26, regardless of tax dependency or student status. However, child dependents who are eligible for other employer-sponsored group coverage will be excluded from this open enrollment period. 

Please watch the staff and faculty digests in August for more information or visit the benefits website: www.employeebenefitswebsite.com/coloradocollege,
id: coloradocollege, password: benefits. If you have questions, please contact Shaleen Prehm, human resources manager and benefits administrator, at 389-6422.

Summer Reading List Dwindling? Check Out Class of 2014 Assignments

What are college students reading this summer?  In preparation for New Student Orientation, CC’s  Class of 2014 is reading “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World ” by Tracy Kidder.

Popular themes at other colleges  include the Middle East, climate change, social justice, race in America, world politics, and the classics. Here’s a peek at what other colleges have assigned their incoming freshmen. Who knows, you might want to add one or two to your own summer reading list.

  • The College of Wooster: “Children of Dust” by Ali Eteraz. This memoir is about his coming of age in Islam as a resident of rural Pakistan, the American Bible Belt, and the modern Middle East.
  • Saint Michael’s College: “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” by Elizabeth Kolbert. The subtitle of this 2006 book tells more about its focus: “Man, Nature, and Climate Change.”
  • University of Dayton: “When the Emperor was Divine” by Julie Otsuka. The book details the lives of Japanese-American family members who were interned during World War II.
  • Lehigh University: “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. The book details how the author came to build schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County: “The Translator” by Daoud Hari. The memoir reads like a novel and speaks about the horrors of the conflict in Darfur.
  • Bentley University: “A Hope in the Unseen” by Ron Suskind. The book describes the journey of Cedric Jennings, a young African American male, from the classrooms of an inner city Washington, D.C., high school into the world of higher education at Brown University.
  • St. John’s College: “Iliad,” attributed to Homer.  Set in the Trojan War, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

David Weddle Publishes Book on Miracles in World Religions

Weddle bookProfessor of Religion David Weddle has recently published a book on miracles in world religions. The book, “Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions,” examines the stories of miracles among the gurus, rebbes, bodhisattvas, saints, and imams of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam through the centuries. Finding a common ground in the definition that “a miracle is an event of transcendent power that arouses wonder and carries religious significance for those who witness it or hear or read about it,” he examines each tradition through the same lens. Weddle explores the mysterious healings in the waters at Lourdes, and those affected by evangelists, and explains why Sunnis, Shiites, and Sufis disagree about the nature of miracles in Islam.

Prof. David Mason named Colorado’s poet laureate

PoetLaureate Ritter Crow MasonProf. David Mason will become Colorado's poet laureate.

Top, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, former Colorado Poet Laureate Mary Crow, and new Colorado Poet Laureate Mason. Mason is also a graduate of Colorado College. (Lower photo by Anne Lennox)

Colorado College Professor of English David Mason is Colorado’s new poet laureate, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced at the state capitol on July 1. Mason co-directs CC’s creative writing program. His poetry books include “The Buried Houses,” winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize; “The Country I Remember,” winner of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award; and “Arrivals.” Mason’s verse novel, “Ludlow,” won the Colorado Book Award and was featured on the PBS News Hour. The Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum named “Ludlow” the best poetry book of 2007. Author of a collection of essays, “The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry,” Mason has also co-edited several textbooks and anthologies, including “Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry”; “Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism”; “Twentieth Century American Poetry”; and “Twentieth Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry.” His next collection of essays, “Two Minds of a Western Poet,” will be published in 2011. Mason will serve as an advocate for poetry, literacy and literature at 10-12 events each year, including presenting the opening poem for the legislative session, visiting local schools, participating in Arts & Humanities Month, and reading at literary festivals. Colorado was the second state in the nation to appoint a poet laureate. Alice Polk Hill was appointed in 1919 and served until she died in 1921. Nellie Burget Miller served 1923-1952; Margaret Clyde Robertson served 1952-1954; Milford E. Shields served 1954-1975; and Thomas Hornsby Ferril served 1979-1988. Mary Crow has served 14 years, from 1996-2010.

Update 7/2/10:

Hear Mason’s reading of his poem “The Picket Wire” at Gov. Bill Ritter’s ceremony announcing the new Colorado Poet Laureate.

Update 7/6/10:

Listen to a Colorado Public Radio interview with David Mason.

Jay Engeln Named Director of CC Alumni and Parent Relations

By Steve Elder, Vice President for Advancement
I am very pleased to let you know that Jay Engeln ’74, P’03 will serve as the next director of alumni and parent relations for Colorado College. Jay will begin July 1.

 Since graduating from CC as a biology major, Jay has brought energetic and wise leadership to a broad career as an educator, coach, and community builder. His passion for and commitment to Colorado College and the Colorado Springs community have remained strong since his graduation.

During the 1990s, Jay served as the principal of Colorado Springs’ Palmer High School, where he was widely recognized as having a transformational impact. In the early 2000s he served as the founding principal of Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch. Since 2002, he has been in demand internationally as a speaker and educational consultant on school/business partnerships and school reform issues.

Jay currently serves on CC’s Alumni Association Board. Jay and his wife Priscilla ’73 are members of CC’s 1874 Society. Their daughter, Anna Engeln, graduated from CC in 2003.  In 2000, CC awarded Jay an honorary doctorate, and in 2006 the college inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jay has served in board leadership positions in a number of organizations in the Colorado Springs community, including Colorado Springs Downtown, El Pomar Youth Sports Park, and The Resource Exchange (building independence for people with developmental disabilities). He is also an instructor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. 

As a senior member of CC’s advancement division , Jay adds to an already strong management team, which includes Diane Benninghoff ’68 (assistant vice president for advancement); Jay Maloney ’75 (chief development officer); Lisa Ellis ’82 (senior advancement officer and director of annual giving); Cathey Barbee (director of advancement services); and Nicole Rivet (director of foundation and agency relations, who chaired the search committee so successfully).

‘Passion for Learning,’ ‘Freshness of Mind’ Sought in New CC Admission Policy

Colorado College will adopt an alternate testing policy beginning with the Class of 2015 (fall first-year class entering August 2011) and transfer students entering in January 2011.

The current policy for Colorado College states that all applicants are required to submit one of the following:

  • The SAT Reasoning Test; OR
  • The American College Testing assessment test (ACT)

The new policy will add a third option for all applicants:

  • Three exams of the applicant’s choice chosen from a list of acceptable SAT or ACT sub scores, SAT II Subject tests, AP or IB exams, or the TOEFL test for international students. Students choosing this new option must include at least one quantitative test and one verbal or writing test. 

The new testing policy will allow students greater flexibility in demonstrating their unique strengths and mastery of subjects, while allowing the Admission Committee to remain committed to focusing on both objective and subjective criteria.

More students in the United States and across the world have access to AP and IB classes, and a growing number of students are choosing to take these tests. This group also includes many underrepresented students – including first-generation to college students and American ethnic minorities.

“While we recognize that standardized test scores have a place in our evaluation of applicants, we are most interested in making sure that we continue to have a diverse range of students who bring with them diverse perspectives on the liberal arts and sciences along with that all-important excitement for learning and an appetite for engagement,” says Michael Grace, chair of the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid. “This new policy encourages applications from a wider range of high-school students. We hope this will aid our Admissions staff in finding and enrolling the best possible student body for CC.”

“This is an exciting step for Colorado College,” says Mark Hatch, vice president for enrollment.  “The college carefully assesses the strengths of each applicant using a detailed evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative measures.  Beyond traditional numbers such as grades, class rank and test scores, the Admission Committee values the sometimes more elusive qualities of passion for learning, freshness of mind and intellectual curiosity. It is these attributes that often transfer to success in our innovative Block Plan curriculum.”

Colorado College, founded two years before Colorado became a state, has a pioneering history of innovation exhibited by its unique Block Plan, wherein students take, and professors teach, one course at a time. 

After three years of conversation and an extensive review of internal and external reports and data on alternate and optional testing policies and the role of standardized tests in college admission, members of the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid at Colorado College decided to adopt the new policy. For more information, go to: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/admission/firstyear/testingFAQ.asp

Mathias Hall Gets a Facelift

By John Lauer, Director of Residential Life and Housing

Mathias Hall, one of Colorado College’s largest residence halls, is undergoing a long-anticipated and much-needed renovation during the summer break. The improvements will enhance the quality of life for all Mathias Hall residents. The renovation will increase the flexibility of common spaces; enhance community with more inviting gathering spots; demonstrate a commitment to sustainability by utilizing low-flow water fixtures, recycled content materials, Energy Star appliances, and energy efficient lighting; and integrate technology upgrades to improve opportunities for students to collaborate on projects and assignments. Specific improvements include: replacement of the fire sprinkler system, new flooring for common areas and bathrooms, the creation of private dressing spaces in the shower areas, the creation of open lounges that bring natural light into the building’s core, and upgraded lighting fixtures for all residence hall rooms and corridors.

An exciting aspect of the project is the expansion of the college’s Living Learning Communities (LLCs) from one to four. The program is a collaboration between multiple offices within both student life and academics.  The purpose of an LLC is to provide an intentional housing community, including a dedicated kitchen and lounge area, for a group of students who would like to develop their knowledge around a shared interest. Although each community must abide by Colorado College guidelines and policies, each community also develops its own standards of living and program plans with the assistance of a staff advisor. Students who applied to participate in next year’s communities had the option of choosing among four different themes: Grassroots Organizing, The Spirit of Non-Violence, Gender and Sexuality, and Global. 

Planning and design for the renovations began in October, and construction commenced on May 14. The project is scheduled to be completed no later than August 16, as residence halls open on August 28 for the 2010-11 academic year.