Posts in: General News
Montana Bass ’19
Senior Dan Levitt and Clay Haskell, assistant professor of film and media studies, are in the midst of pulling together the finished product after a moving independent study experience. They spent Block 2 filming a documentary focused on former Syrian wrestling star Mohammed al Krad in Za’atari, a Syrian refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan.
Levitt became interested in filmmaking the summer after his sophomore year, when he took a class with Haskell. “I realized this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Levitt said. When his close family friend Linda Mason wrote an article on al Krad and the wrestling program he had built in Za’atari for The Huffington Post, Levitt was inspired and immediately saw the possibility the story held for film.
He reached out Haskell to see if he would collaborate on the project. “It was an easy choice for me,” Haskell said of working with Levitt. “He is really top quality.” To which Levitt added, “I felt an immense honor to be working with a master of the medium.”
As the retired chairwoman of Mercy Corps Leadership Council, one of the organizations providing aid for refugees in Za’atari, Mason was able to help orchestrate time for Levitt and Haskell in Za’atari. Levitt started fundraising for the trip at the beginning of this academic year. Eventually, he raised enough money to cover all costs with a combination of grants from the CC Political Science Department, the President’s Fund, a Venture Grant matched by Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, and his own Kickstarter campaign.
Conditions in Za’atari saddened both Haskell and Levitt. “We were astounded by the destitution of the situation,” said Levitt. “There’s a feeling of deep sadness because people are without the means to advance their lives. Here at CC, we have so many opportunities to pursue our passions. They’ve had everything taken from them. A lot of these people were educated professionals in Syria.”
“The border situation is a mess,” added Haskell. “People are stuck because they don’t have the financial resources to get out. Many escape across the nearest border they can find. They’re trying to get to Germany or they’re drowning in Greece. This is probably the biggest humanitarian crisis of our age.”
Amid this destitution, Mohammed al Krad stands as a symbol of community and hope. After he escaped Syria and the government’s attempts to use his celebrity to influence Syrian youth on their behalf, al Krad found himself in Za’atari and, with the help of Mercy Corps, started a wrestling program to give the boys of the camp a positive focus. “To say he was only a coach would be reductive. He was really a therapist and a community builder,” explained Levitt. “He knew the ins and outs of all their lives and was there for them, and that was reflected in their love for him.”
Now, Levitt is in the process of editing his film, which he plans to finish in about a month. Along with bringing awareness to the situation, Levitt hopes the finished product will carry the message that “even in the darkest of times, life goes on,” as he said. “People were getting married, having kids, life goes on.”
“It was an extraordinary experience all around,” said Haskell of their project. Both Levitt and Haskell express thanks for the support they received from Colorado College and Mercy Corps, which made their endeavor possible. The CC community should keep an eye out for Levitt’s documentary screening, which will probably take place later during Block 4.
Montana Bass ’18
Emilio Rodríguez Cáceres ’17 knows how to explore the mountains and back county via the outdoor opportunities at CC; this past block break he ventured out on a backpacking trip around the Venable Lakes-Comanche area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado.
This block break was actually Cáceres’s ninth trip with the CC Outdoor Recreation Committee. His trips have included other backpacking expeditions and cross country ski trips. Through these opportunities, he has traveled throughout Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Cáceres says the outdoor expeditions available through the ORC were a large contributor to his interest in CC. “Back in New Mexico, in my high school I got to do a lot of these things for the first time. Where I’m from, Paraguay, there isn’t a culture of going outside. I wanted to keep doing these things and ORC trips are the perfect way of doing that,” he explained.
Andrew Allison-Godfrey ’18 and Jack Buettner ’18 headed the Venable Lakes trip. It spanned four days during the block break between Blocks 2 and 3 and took participants on a 13-mile loop through the Venable Lakes-Comanche area. They started hiking Thursday morning and, after four miles, reached camp in a picturesque valley. On Friday, they hiked out of the valley, stopped at the Venable Lakes, and continued hiking up a ridge. “From the ridge, we hiked to the top of Comanche Peak at about 13,000 feet where we had an incredible view of the lakes, other peaks, and even Pikes Peak on the distant horizon,” Cáceres said. “That night we had a bonfire and sang under the stars.”
Cáceres stresses how accessible these trips are for all students; this one required no previous backpacking experience to participate. Additionally, ORC trips are meant to be an affordable option for students looking to venture outdoors. “There’s no better option for being outside, meeting new people, and spending little money while doing so than ORC trips,” Cáceres said.
The next time you attend a program or performance at Shove Chapel, go ahead and sit in the back. What ITS experts call “revolutionary technology” is now in place,offering a greatly enhanced sound system for the historic building. “The sound quality is awesome,” said Jera Wooden, “We had no idea how clear and crisp everything would sound.”
ITS began working on the project about a year ago, recognizing the need for an upgrade to the sound system while also identifying very specific aesthetic and acoustic needs within the space. The Tectonic speakers are “cutting edge” said Randy Babb and Sean Roberts, members of the ITS Smart Spaces team who led the installation process. While traditional speakers distribute sound directionally, similar to the way light is distributed by a spot light, the new speakers use a flat surface to distribute the sound cleanly and clearly, with less echoing. Shove Chapel is one of the first buildings in the country to install this new speaker technology.
Visually, the flat speakers are unobtrusive in the historic space. They’re only 2.5 inches thick and five new speakers replace the 20 small speakers used in the old system. They were powder coated with a custom color to match the chapel’s stone walls and the extensive wiring (they’re wired speakers, but you wouldn’t easily notice) required a month of drilling, boring, and cosmetic work.
The new system launched with the 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony and has been used at weddings and other services throughout the summer. Now, controls are mobile, accessed via a handheld iPad, or iPads in two different stationary locations within the chapel, improving the ease of use, formerly done in one tiny control room, up a steep flight of stairs. “Weddings are so much easier, not constantly running up the stairs, and we have wireless microphones; it’s great,” Wooden said.
This $76,000 project was funded through an endowment used for regular maintenance of the facility. Take a listen here, and a look at photos, from installation through the final product, below.
The CC Community Kitchen has changed and is now working with the community as The Soup Project at the Community Kitchen Club. The Soup Project offers students and guests a shared space to practice food justice and arts for social change each week. However, the change is not just in name.
Guests will be welcomed into Shove Memorial Chapel for a meal on the CC campus this Sunday, as they have each Sunday for more than 22 years. But the support CC provides for those in need now includes more educational programming, focus on nutrition, and structure.
An initial action plan had a Nov. 16 target date to move the kitchen out of the space at Shove Chapel. But through a collaborative effort, The Soup Project took shape and will now work to address the root causes of poverty, hunger, and homelessness through education, awareness, and advocacy.
A registration process for all participants, or members, of the Community Kitchen Club – all volunteers, students, and guests – began in mid-November. This provides accountability and empowers all to take ownership in solving these issues in the community. The format of the program has also changed; the focus now is on community learning, providing educational programming around art for social change, accompanying a nutritious meal. All participants will have to abide by a code of conduct; a community safety plan and training for all participants are also new components of The Soup Project.
The Soup Project mission involves much more than providing a meal to those in need. It is a place where neighbors can come together to create a better community. Dave Harker, newly appointed director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement, said issues of security, integrity of the building, and the nature of the Community Kitchen are now being addressed. Meals are continuing for those who choose to participate in the programming component and dialogue is now underway to determine a new location for the future. Guests are already recognizing the change, and those who choose not to participate in the programming will receive a boxed lunch to take with them on Sundays in December, providing a meal to aid in this transition for the community.
The Soup Project is a collaboration between CC’s Food Coalition and Arts for Social Change Coalition, which is housed within CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement. If you would like to learn more, contact Adison Petti: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New and potential partnerships in the community will be identified so students may continue to work on these issues and engage in purposeful ways with those who are homeless, hungry, and impoverished. In partnership with CC’s Innovation Institute, the Collaborative is encouraging students to have a larger and more lasting impact through The Soup Project Challenge. This challenge will offer $20,000 in award money to fund student-designed social innovation projects to address homelessness and hunger in Colorado Springs. Details about the criteria, application process, and deadlines are coming soon. The Soup Project Challenge kick off and information session will be held Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. in the Morreale Carriage House.
Seventy-five students gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, enjoyed football games on the big screen, talked about the myths and traditions around the holiday, and took in some arts and crafts fun making hand turkeys. The annual Thanksgiving meal is an opportunity for any students on campus during the Thanksgiving break to spend time together and savor a holiday meal. A team helped put on the feast, with Bon Appetit preparing the meal, representatives from Campus Safety carving the turkeys, and Residential Life coordinators assisting with activities. Residential Life and Housing, Campus Safety, and The Butler Center provided funding.
More than 100 students traveled across the country and around the globe, from the Uganda Village Project to Venetucci Farm, gaining real-world experience, knowledge, and inspiration for the impact they’ll have now, and after leaving CC.
Megan Gillespie ’16, sociology major, spent her summer at an unpaid internship in Denver with the Lutheran Family Services refugee program. She spent more than an hour at the CC Internship Experience Forum explaining her work to fellow students and other members of the CC community, before rotating out and allowing other students their opportunity to share. The organization Gillespie worked with assists families and individuals fleeing the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and many other countries, arriving in the United States without access to resources, embarking on a very uncertain journey. Gillespie helped pair families with cultural mentors, connected them with social services, and assisted them in developing job skills. She said the internship is also relevant to her thesis work on refugees and the implications and concept of residential segregation, which is relocating families from the same cultural backgrounds in the same neighborhoods. “Throughout the summer, I was asking the question, ‘are we perpetuating the issue, and is it necessary?’” she said of placing refugee families in the United States. Gillespie continues the work on campus, leading the Refugee Assistance Program service group at CC.
Funding provided by the college enabled students to accept internships, regardless of any financial barriers or impacts. “The CC community at large contributed resources to help fill students’ financial gaps, allowing them the opportunity to participate in unpaid or underpaid internship opportunities over the summer,” said Megan Nicklaus, director of the Career Center. The CC Internship Experience Forum provided an opportunity for those students to share their experiences with the campus community.
The Human Resources department is inviting all Colorado College staff – regardless of how long you have been at CC – to sign up for CCNEW or CC CONNECT (or both!) to experience the enhanced onboarding process developed for new CC employees. Both programs are part of Thrive@CC.
“Any employee can join the onboarding program at any time it’s offered,” said Lisa Brommer, senior associate director of human resources.
CCNEW is offered every month and focuses on the processes and procedures at CC, helping new employees navigate the technicalities: compensation, key policies, the strategic plan, and benefits. CC CONNECT, which is offered quarterly, is more relational, Brommer said. Its goal is to connect new employees with campus leaders and provide them with the opportunity to meet faculty, other staff, and students. Various campus resources, such as Staff Council, the Employee Assistance Program, and SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator) also are highlighted in the CC CONNECT sessions.
The next CC NEW session will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3 in the WES Room on the lower level of the Worner Center. Upcoming future sessions will be held Dec.1, Jan. 6, Feb. 2, March 2, April 1, May 1, June 1, and July 1.
The next CC CONNECT session will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Spencer Board Room, located on the first floor of the newly renovated Spencer Center, with breakfast and lunch provided. Future sessions will be held Feb. 25, April 28, and June 23.
Human Resources also will launch a CC ambassador program in January, in which newly hired staff members will be paired with a person who has been at CC for a while and can serve as a campus reserouce. The expanded programs are related to the workplace excellence initiative in CC’s Strategic Plan.
“Re-energize yourself,” Brommer said. “Be a new employee again.”
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.
By Erin Ravin ’08
Throughout 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.”
Also 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.
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.