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Ron Rubin Wins Inaugural Pie-Off

The gauntlet has been thrown down by pie-maker extraordinaire Ron Rubin, development officer for major gifts.

Rubin’s Brown Bottom Rum Pecan Pie was the grand prize winner in Colorado College’s inaugural Pie-Off.  The event, which drew 16 entries, was held Dec. 14 in Armstrong Hall as a benefit for CC’s Community Kitchen. CC community members literally put their money where their mouth was as they voted for their favorite pie with pocket change, dollar bills, and in some cases, five-dollar bills, and in the process raised a total of $175 for the Community Kitchen.

The event, organized by the athletic department and business office, featured three categories. In addition to be the overall winner, Rubin’s pie also took first place in the holiday category. Carolyn Madsen, office coordinator for the president’s office, took first place in the cream pie category, with her Black Bottom Pie.  Rubin’s Raspbarb Pie was the top winner in the fruit pie category. A very close contender in the cream pie category was the Buttermilk Pie, an anonymous submission, which lost by 39 cents.

Rubin entered four pies in the competition. He baked two fruit pies (bluebarb and raspbarb) on Tuesday night, then went to the grocery store at 5 a.m. Wednesday, returned home, and baked two more pies (the grand prize winner and a peppermint eggnog pie) by 7:30 a.m. Although he often bakes pies for friends and family, Rubin said it was the first time he has baked four pies in 24 hours – and vows to enter five pies next year. “Next year is really going to be a doozie!” he said. “I’m bringing my special, famous pie recipes. No one will be able to touch them. Next year will be twice as big with much more money raised, I’m confident.”

Prizes were provided by the athletic department, with the winner of each category receiving a CC shirt and the grand prize winner receiving four tickets to a CC hockey game.

The pies and participants in the competition included:
Jack Daniels Peach – Carolyn Madsen
Raspbarb – Ron Rubin
Bluebarb – Ron Rubin
Apple – Cheri Gamble
Apple Cranberry Current with French Topping – Jim and Jannette Swanson
Black Bottom – Carolyn Madsen
Buttermilk – Anonymous
Mile-High Coconut Cream –Angela Hines
Coconut Cream  – Camilla Vogt ’13
Peanut Butter Honeycomb – Melissa Beyers
Nesselrode – Carolyn Madsen
Mincemeat – Joan Taylor
Georgia Pumpkin – Joan Taylor
Brown Bottom Run Pecan – Ron Rubin
Peppermint Eggnog Cheesecake – Ron Rubin
Chocolate Pecan – Leslie Weddell

Here is Ron’s recipe:

Rum Pecan Pie with a Chocolate Bottom

2 heaping cups of pecans that have been toasted 5 to 10 minutes at 300 to become fragrant, then cooled. Do not allow them to burn. You have to watch the pecans closely so they don’t overcook.
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed and pressed)
3/4 cup light or dark Karo syrup (I use dark)
3 large eggs plus 2 yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (I use Myers’s dark Jamaican rum. Cap’t Morgan would also be good, I bet!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make filling:
Heat brown sugar and Karo syrup in a heavy medium size saucepan at low/medium heat, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula. When sugar is dissolved into the syrup, set aside.
In another medium size saucepan, whisk eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rum, and salt together. Slowly whisk warm (not hot) sugar mixture into egg mixture. Return saucepan to stove on low and mix with rubber spatula.
Whisk in melted butter slowly.

Meanwhile, after pie crust is pressed into pie plate, put into 300 degree oven for 3 or 4 minutes for crust to get flaky. While in the oven, during the last minute, pour in the 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Leave in oven until starting to melt. Remove crust and chocolate and spread the chocolate around the crust bottom to form a nice layer of chocolate. Let cool before adding pecans and other ingredients so chocolate doesn’t melt when adding pecan mixture.

In a small pan over low heat, stir together cornstarch and water until pasty thick. Whisk into sugar mixture. Heat in sugar mixture saucepan on medium, stirring frequently about 3 minutes so it is warm to hot.

Sprinkle pecans into chocolate pie shell, then pour filling mixture on top of pecans.

Place pie plate with ingredients in 300 to 325 degree oven (depending on oven accuracy) on cookie sheet to prevent spillage from dripping onto oven, if it should bubble over. Bake until pie puffs and the mixture is a little bubbly and firm  throughout – about 35 to 40 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to be runny when taking it out of the oven. You can “shake” it a little to be sure it is firm in the middle. If need be, cook a little longer if not firm.

Place on rack and let cool for 45 minutes. Serve either warm or cool. Will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.

Grant Promotes Programs Between CC, Air Force Academy

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.

CC Physics Professor Searched for Supernovae with Nobel Winner

The physics department presented Shane Burns with a cake decorated with one of the equations from the Supernova Cosmology Project at their annual fall picnic Wednesday.

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.

Economics Professor Larry Stimpert Publishes New Book on Strategic Thinking

Colorado College Professor of Economics and Business Larry Stimpert has published a new book, “Strategic Thinking: Today’s Business Imperative.” The book provides a realistic picture of the dynamic and complex process of strategic management in organizations. Written from the perspective of a manager, the book builds on theories of managerial and organizational knowledge that have had a powerful influence on many business fields over the last two decades.  However, “Strategic Thinking” also focuses on how managers understand their business environments, assess and marshal their firms’ resources, and strive for advantage in the competitive marketplace by examining economic, structural, and managerial explanations for firm performance.

Stimpert has taught at the Korean University Business School and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Prior to entering the academic field, he worked in the railroad industry and in a variety of marketing, forecasting, and economic analysis positions.
The book, published by Routledge, is co-authored by Julie Chesley, formerly of the CC economics department and now assistant professor of organization theory and applied behavioral science at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, and Irene Duhaime, senior associate dean and professor at Georgia State University.

Faculty-Student Collaboration Produces Paper on Nanotechnology Effects

Improved treatments for cancer, better window coatings, and effective sunscreens are among the many outcomes of nanotechnology, the study of structures so small they are measured in the same way that one measures light. The field is growing rapidly, and a wide variety of nanomaterials are flowing into consumer goods and waste streams.
But we don’t know much about the long-term effects of these new materials, according to associate professor of chemistry Murphy Brasuel and student Kelsey Wise ’12, whose peer-reviewed article on the subject was published last month in the journal “Nanotechnogy, Science and Applications.”
Their article, “The current state of engineered nanomaterials in consumer goods and waste streams: the need to develop nanoproperty-quantifiable sensors for monitoring engineered nanomaterials,” is a review of current applications of certain nanoparticles, methods used to characterize and quantify them, their presence in the environment, and what research has been done into their toxicity.
Brasuel, whose graduate work was on the development of nanoparticle sensors to monitor communication between cells, notes that nanoparticles have different properties than the same substance in larger form – one reason that so little is known about the effects of nanomaterials . A nanoparticle of titanium oxide, for example, a key ingredient in some mineral-based sunscreens, is different than a “bulk” version of the same material.
The nano version of titanium oxide is valued for its ability to be spread transparently over the skin as it absorbs UV light. It’s used as a pigment in toothpaste and some foods, has potential in solar and fuel cells and hydrogen production, and it’s used in self-cleaning windows because it’s good at creating reactive species that break down organic materials.
Besides titanium oxide, the article discussed four other nanomaterials that are in demand or will be soon be available to consumers. These are carbon nanotubes (used in cosmetics, paints, filters, and reinforced plastics), semiconductor quantum dots (poised to be used in targeted drug delivery, cancer detection, and image-guided surgery), and gold and silver (used widely in consumer products). The article notes that the properties that make these nanomaterials so useful could also make them toxic.
“But we don’t know,” said Brasuel, who called for more work on possible effects.
“Nanotechnology is growing very rapidly on the development side but not so much on the regulation of exposure side,” Brasuel said. “How do we monitor these materials in the environment?”
Brasuel and Wise discovered that relatively little has been done to study possible effects of exposure. “It’s hard to talk about this without fearmongering,” said Brasuel, who notes that some consumer groups fear the worse and are against nanotechnology, while industry groups tend to emphasize their view that nanoparticles are absolutely safe.
“The truth is probably in between,” Brasuel said. “It’s not going to be completely benign, but not so harmful, either.”
Brasuel, who is incoming chair of the chemistry department, and Wise, who is also a captain of the college’s women’s soccer team, worked most of the summer of 2010 and the spring semester of 2011 on the article.
“I learned something completely new and fascinating,” said Wise of her work on the article. She spent this summer in a pre-med program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she worked with a psychologist doing research on tumors in children.
Her work on nanotechnology contributed to her thinking about technology and society and long-term effects as she studied this summer, she said, noting that nanoparticles are used in some cancer treatment, though not in the work she did at Baylor.
“It’s so new. There’s a lot to be done,” Wise said. She returns to Colorado College in August for soccer practice – she plays center midfield – and for her senior year as a chemistry major. She plans to apply to medical school. She’s from Fairview, Texas, and went to high school nearby in Allen, Texas.
The Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Colorado College Venture Grant Fund supported Brasuel and Wise’s research.

CC Faculty and Staff Up for Arts Awards

Five members of the Colorado College faculty and staff — four of whom are also CC alumni — have been nominated for 2011 Pikes Peak Arts Council awards. They are:
Dance: Patrizia Herminjard ’96, dance instructor, for ”The 12 Steps of Physical Intimacy”
Poetry, Literary Excellence: David Mason ’78, professor of English (and Colorado Poet Laureate)
Theater, Outstanding Performance by an Actress: Amy Brooks ’82, Tutt Library special collections coordinator
Artist of the Year: Scott Johnson, assistant professor of art
Excellence in Curatorship: Jessica Hunter Larsen ’90, I.D.E.A. Space curator
The date of the awards ceremony has not been announced yet. See story in The Gazette for a complete listing of nominees.


 

President Tiefenthaler Begins ‘Year of Listening’

As a first step in becoming part of the Colorado College community, President Jill Tiefenthaler is working with a small group representing trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni  to help her transition into her new role. The Temporary Transition Advisory Committee will serve through the summer. Tiefenthaler’s presidency began on July 1.

“My most important goal in the first year is to understand the college and really listen to a lot of different people,” Tiefenthaler said.

The committee will provide initial input on key stakeholders, individuals, and groups that the new president should meet, and events she should attend in her first year at Colorado College to ensure that she connects with the college and its community broadly and in meaningful ways.

“Every culture is so different,” Tiefenthaler said. “A year of listening is critical, to understand our greatest strengths, our blemishes, and our opportunities for the future.”

The transition committee members are:

Jonathan Lee, Faculty Executive Committee chair
Esther Redmount, former Faculty Executive Committee chair
Jane Murphy, assistant professor of history
Brian Linkhart, associate professor of biology
Ken Ralph, director of athletics
Randy Nehls, Staff Council co-chair
Isabel Werner ’08, young alumni trustee
Heather Carroll ’89 Alumni Association Board
Emily Fukunaga ’12, student
Logan Dahl ’12, student, CC Student Government Association
Suzanne Woolsey (ex officio), Board of Trustees chair
Working Group: Beth Brooks, director of the president’s office; Jermyn Davis, chief of staff, president’s office; Steve Elder, vice president for advancement; and Jane Turnis, director of communications

 

Board of Trustees Meeting Action

The Board of Trustees voted on May 20, 2011, in favor of amending the college bylaws, effective as of July 1, 2011, to add “gender identity, gender expression” as an additional category for protection in Article IX “Equal Opportunity Statement” of the bylaws and in the college’s anti-discrimination policy. The bylaws state that any such vote is not effective until expiration of a 30-day advance notice requirement of the resolution amending the bylaws. The draft resolution for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment was provided to the trustees at the May 21, 2011 plenary session. The 30-day advance notice requirement for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment has now passed. The Bylaws Amendment will now be effective on July 1, 2011.

Henry Fricke’s Research Helps Determine Dinosaur Body Temperatures

Researchers have developed a new way of determining the body temperatures of dinosaurs, providing new insights into whether dinosaurs were cold-or warm-blooded.

A paper co-written by  Associate Geology Professor Henry Fricke discusses the techniques used to determine the body temperature of animals that have been extinct for 150 million years.

By analyzing the teeth of sauropods — long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals ever to have lived — the scientists found that these dinosaurs were nearly as warm as most modern mammals. The paper can be viewed at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/06/22/science.1206196

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s division of earth sciences

Anne Hyde’s New Book Reassesses Critical Period of Western History

Anne Hyde, professor of history and Southwest studies, recently published “Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860,” part of a five-volume series that reassesses the entire field of Western history.

The book, published by the University of Nebraska Press, makes clear that the Louisiana Purchase did not involve virgin wilderness discovered by virtuous Anglo entrepreneurs. Rather, the United States was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires.

The period covered in Hyde’s book, 1800-1860, spans the fur trade, Mexican War, gold rushes, and the Overland Trail, usually very male-dominated fields of study. Hyde took a different approach, and, using letters and business records, documented the broad family associations that crossed national and ethnic boundaries. “These folks turned out to be almost entirely people of great wealth and status who loved and married across racial and cultural lines. It turns out that the West of that period is really a mixed race world that made perfect cultural and economic sense until national ideas made that cultural choice impossible in the 1850s,” Hyde said.

“Empires, Nations, and Families” reveals how, in the 1850s, immigrants to the newest region of the United States violently wrested control from Native and other powers, and how conquest and competing demands for land and resources brought about a volatile frontier culture—not at all the peace and prosperity that the new power had promised.