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She admits that learning Arabic may appear to be daunting, but says that by the end of two blocks, most students will be able to conduct a 10-minute presentation in Arabic.
El-Sherif, the newest member of CC’s Francophone and Mediterranean Studies department, says teaching Arabic, her native language, is challenging, but rewarding. “You can see the rewards – they are immediately visible. In class, you can see the difference between yesterday and today. It gives me happiness to know I am sharing my knowledge,” she says.
Born in Cairo but raised in Alexandria, Egypt, she grew up speaking an Egyptian dialect of Arabic. Here she will teach modern, standard Arabic, the form of Arabic that is used by media throughout the Near East and for all intellectual debate. Various countries throughout the region, from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, have their own Arabic dialects, which have varying degrees of dissimilarity among them.
El-Sherif knows what it is like to learn a new language. A native Arabic speaker, she learned English starting at age 4 when she entered a British school. She began learning French when she was 9, and later added Farsi. In California, where she earned her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, she realized she would need to add Spanish as well.
CC’s nascent Francophone and Mediterranean Studies program drew El-Sherif, the daughter of a lawyer and an accountant, to the college. “I’m very excited about the Mediterranean component, and how it looks at geography and its influence on culture. It’s a good fit with my research,” she says. Other programs she looked at were focused exclusively on Near Eastern studies or on the language component. “What CC is trying to establish is very unique. I feel I can contribute ideas here.”
El-Sherif took the long route to Colorado College. After graduating with a B.A. in English and American literatures from Alexandria University, she went on to earn an M.A. in Islamic, Jewish, and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley.
How did she get from Alexandria, Egypt, to St. Louis, Missouri? “A lot of people ask me that,” she says. She was friends with several British students at Alexandria University, and with their mentor, who had done his Ph.D. at Washington University. He recommended Washington University’s program, and she applied, only to find herself presented with an acceptance letter. She took the opportunity, which culminated with her getting her Ph.D. from Berkeley.
In addition to beginning and intermediate Arabic, El-Sherif also will teach Arabic literature, and culture. “Artistic Expressions of the Experience of Modernity in Various Arabic Cities,” which she will teach in Block 8, focuses on representations of urban modernity in different Arab cities.
El-Sherif believes it is important for everyone to learn more about the Arab world. “It takes a bit of effort on the part of students and educated people,” she says, noting that it especially takes effort for Americans, who are so far removed geographically from Arabic-speaking countries. “Here you are across the Atlantic – it’s not like in Europe,” she says. “You don’t get a rounded picture of what the Arab world is like. But it is huge, and very diverse and economically developing. There are so many reasons why people might want to learn about it.”
When El-Sherif is not teaching Arab language, culture, and literature look for her out running – jogging and athletic conditioning are some of her favorite pastimes.
In November 2007 Jason Newton pulled three college girls from a burning car in Sherwood, Ore., after a drunk driver, going 65 mph down the wrong side of the street, crashed head-on into their vehicle. Arriving at the scene as the students were trapped in the car by flames, Newton yelled to them to get down, then struck the left rear window until it shattered. He broke out the glass pieces, told the closest woman to wrap her arms around him, and dragged her out.
The flames grew so hot Newton and another officer could approach the car for only a few seconds at a time. The tires popped from the heat and the seams on Newton’s trousers melted. Three of the George Fox University students were saved. It was later learned that the fourth student, whom the officers were unable to rescue, had been killed on impact.
Newton, CC’s new campus resource officer, sat through an hour-long interview for an Around the Block profile and never mentioned the incident – or the fact that he and another officer were named as national Hero Cops in 2008 for their actions.
“I’m not big into awards, but I have passion for what I do,” he said later.
Newton is a Colorado Springs police officer who is serving as a liaison between the college and the police department. He’s been with the CSPD for three years, where he has focused on narcotic investigations; prior to that he served as a cop for four years in Oregon. A native of Wisconsin, he is a 2003 graduate of Western Oregon University, where he studied criminal justice, minored in psychology, and ran track.
Newton will be patrolling CC and the neighborhood by foot, bike, and car. His goal is to build trust and relationships on the college campus and nearby neighborhoods.
“This is an experimental position for the fall semester,” says Ron Smith, director of campus safety, noting there is no cost to the college for the pilot program. Newton is the CSPD’s officer dedicated to CC, and serves as a liaison between the college, the surrounding neighborhood, and the police department. “This provides supplemental campus patrol and more coverage in the neighborhoods. It’s helping the city by reducing calls for service from this area,” Smith says.
Newton and John Lauer, director of residential life and housing, currently are visiting with representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where a similar program is in place. UW-Madison has a community police officer assigned to the campus, as well as a campus security staff. Newton and Lauer are learning how the relationships work between residential life, campus security, and the community police officer. UW-Madison has been fine-tuning their program for 12 years, and their experience should prove instructive for CC, Lauer says.
“This goes back to the community policing model,” Newton says. “I hope to serve as a resource for students, faculty, and staff, as well as the CC neighbors. I want to build trust and communication, and have people feel free to come to me.
“I want them to be able to ask me about anything – if they have a problem at home, or questions about the community. I want to be a mentor and a friend,” he says.
Newton is no stranger to the CC: His fiancée, Andrea Weatherford, is a 2002 Colorado College graduate who introduced him to CC hockey, and he’s been a dedicated fan ever since. (They plan to get married in mid-September.) He’s also familiar with the college – and its neighbors. During the last several years Student Life and Residential Life have asked the CSPD to send an officer meet with students and discuss such things as the importance of being good neighbors on- and off-campus, how to host safe parties, and personal safety.
“Whenever they needed a volunteer to talk at CC, I would jump on it. I’d go whenever there was an opportunity to talk with the students,” Newton says. The collaborative effort between CC and the local police department paid off: Last year a student who felt comfortable with Newton called him saying “We need help with this party – it’s gotten out of control.” Later, when an irate neighbor also called Newton, he was able to say, “Yes, we know about the party – the students have already called and asked for our assistance.” The neighbor, says Newton, was very surprised.
“When this job came up, I saw it as a tremendous opportunity. I’m really excited about it and I want to put myself in the community. I want to be a part of as many things as I can,” Newton says.
Apparently that won’t be a problem. Newton went to each of the first-year residence halls during orientation, introducing himself and getting to know the students. He happened to visit Slocum Hall when some students were baking banana bread, and was promptly invited to have some. He ended up spending about 30 minutes in the kitchenette there, surrounded by students. “It was great,” he says. “And the banana bread was great, too.”
Eckler was the print shop technician for CC’s art department from 2006-08, where she managed studio space for classes and open work sessions, provided technical assistance to students, and helped to develop workshops for visiting and resident artists.
She later volunteered as an installer for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and worked as an art handler for special collections for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she created unique housing for hundreds of drawings and prints for the Whitney’s Works on Paper Collection.
Now Eckler, who holds a degree in painting and printmaking from San Francisco State University, is combining her skills and interests in curatorial work. “There is a thin line between creating art and curating,” she says. “Curating is its own art form.”
Eckler is excited about the ways in which the I.D.E.A. Space and Curator Jessica Hunter Larsen use the community at large as a medium. “It’s an open-door art center, and I like that,” Eckler says. As an example, she cites an upcoming multidisciplinary event titled “Hair-esies” that explores the connection between hair, personal and cultural identity, and feminism. “It’s a fascinating event that draws together a visiting established artist, faculty members, and a local artist,” she says. “Hair-esies,” which takes place on Sept. 14, was inspired by an I.D.E.A. Space exhibition that runs from Sept. 7 to Oct. 26 and features May Stevens, who was involved in benchmark social justice movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. “It all ties in so well together,” Eckler says. “While art centers are trying to figure out how to stay open and be resourceful, it happens naturally here.”
Eckler, an artist interested in bookbinding, painting, and drawing, has a studio in downtown Colorado Springs. She describes her paintings as “landscapes of my own imagination. They combine mountains and cities and impossible horizons, and are loosely based on folk art.”
Other interests include gardening, although she calls herself a failed gardener, and baking, especially cakes and French pastry. “This can be an all-day or all-weekend project for me. It’s what I turn to. I’m always thinking ‘What should be baked for this occasion?’ ”
Eckler also has strong ties to KRCC: She has been a volunteer DJ at the station for many years, and was the inaugural DJ for the Monday night radio show “Brick House,” a dance/soul/electronic music show still in production but with different DJs. Eckler, who still fills in as a guest DJ for “Brick House” and other shows, is married to Noel Black, producer of KRCC’s “The Big Something,” and they have a 9-year-old son, Ursen.
He received a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2002, and an MFA in printmaking from Arizona State University in 2007. For the past few years he has worked as a commercial letterpress printer in San Francisco and taught at the San Francisco Center for the Book.
Cohick, a native of Pennsylvania, says he has always had a dual interest in writing and the visual arts, but never knew how to put them together until he took a bookbinding class. “We worked with type-setting, binding, letter press printing, and screen printing, and I realized that was it – that was what I wanted to do,” he says.
Cohick hopes to make the experience, knowledge, and equipment at The Press at CC more broadly accessible to students. “I’d like them to discover The Press early on, and not just their senior year,” he says. “A year is not enough time to learn this.” He also hopes to increase the number of publications produced by The Press, and to increase its visibility, both nationally and internationally.
Cohick enjoys the slow, repetitive, careful – almost meditative – process of printmaking. “All aspects of it are very appealing,” he says.
Cohick takes over from Colin Frazer ’02, who ran The Press from 2006 until his departure this summer for the Rhode Island School of Design, where he will pursue an MFA in design. Frazer, a physics major, became interested in The Press during his senior year when he took a printmaking class with Professor Kate Leonard.
Founded in 1977, Colorado College’s fine letterpress has produced many superb works of art that are now features in collections at Yale University, Harvard University, Chicago’s Newberry Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Rijksmuseum, to name a few.
The Press at Colorado College, now housed in Taylor Hall, got its start when Jim Trissel, a former CC professor of studio art and art history, was enlisted to help transport an old press to the campus in the mid-1970s. Trissel, whose father and grandfather had both worked as printers, took a sabbatical from 1977-78 to learn the technology, design, and history of printmaking, and later began to collect classic typefaces.
Over the years, The Press at Colorado College has published notable books including a book produced on commission from the Arts for Nature Trust of England as a 75th birthday gift for Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh; several books collected by the Newberry Library in Chicago; and three publications included in the New York Public Library exhibits “Seventy from the Seventies,” “Eighty from the Eighties,” and “Ninety from the Nineties.”
Walk into the dean’s office, and you’ll immediately recognize Pamela Leutz’s desk: It’s the one with the miniature bookbinding press and plough. Leutz, who relocated to Colorado Springs from Dallas almost three years ago, started as the staff assistant in the CC sociology department in 2008, and became assistant to the dean of the college and faculty in June 2009.
Following college, Leutz found her passion for bookbinding when she moved to Dallas in 1977 and for more than 30 years, she has studied, taught, and trained under experts throughout the world.
Living in Dallas and raising a family, Leutz’s passion for bookbinding began with a class at the Craft Guild of Dallas in 1979. She later served as chairman and co-chairman of the bookbinding department and then as an instructor for many years. Leutz has studied with master bookbinders in Switzerland and the Czech Republic. She studied bookbinding techniques such as design bindings, decorative paper making, box binding and conservation, and continued teaching the craft to others.
In 1985, Leutz embraced her craft and began binding books for friends and clients. In 1990, she became inspired by other talented artists upon joining the Guild of Book Workers. For the past 18 years, Leutz taught bookbinding classes at places such as The Craft Guild of Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Art, Imagination Celebration, Southern Methodist University’s informal courses, The Press of Colorado College, and her own private studio.
Leutz’s passion for the craft grew into the love of the artisans who keep bookbinding alive. She recently published a book, “The Thread that Binds: Interviews with Private Practice Bookbinders,” a result of interviews she conducted between 2004-08 with bookbinders across the country, as well as overseas. In the book, 21 independent bookbinders tell their stories. “I believe stories to be more valuable than any material possession. It is my passion to preserve them in well-crafted, hand-bound books that last through generations,” Leutz says.
Bookbinders and book artists will use unbound editions of her book, “The Thread That Binds,” and bind them into innovative and stunning one-of-a-kind bindings for two upcoming exhibitions. The first, an online exhibit in the fall of 2010, is “The Bindorama,” available through the Books Arts web site: http://www.philobiblon.com/gallery.shtml. The second, sponsored by the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, opens in Dallas in the spring of 2011. In addition, Leutz has her own bookbinding business, also called The Thread That Binds (formerly called The Gilded Edge in Dallas).
A native of Chicago, Leutz was born in Oak Park, Ill., and grew up in Barrington, Ill., where she lived for more than 14 years. She attended Denison University and Northern Illinois University, where she graduated with a teaching degree. When she is not bookbinding, she enjoys long walks with her yellow lab, Sadie, and spending time with family and friends. She is most proud of her three grown children, JoAnn, Julie, and Jack.