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.
1.) This is a new position at CC. What will the job entail?
The focus on developing an intentional internal communications position is a key element of our strategic plan. The goal of this position is to strengthen our culture and improve workplace excellence, build strong internal communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency. We all want CC to be the best place in the world to work, and strategic internal communications will advance that priority and make us a more effective organization. This will involve working across all divisions, bringing together varying perspectives, and facilitating meaningful dialogue. First off, I’m taking an inventory of all our internal communications efforts to establish where we are, assess what is working, what is not and why, and then develop a plan to get us where we want to go. I’m excited to dive right in and start getting to know our outstanding faculty, staff, and students; the most important part of my job is building those relationships.
2.) What qualities do you bring to Colorado College?
That quality of connecting with people is something I hope to bring to CC. We all have stories and experiences – the things that make us unique and the things that unify us as the CC community. Being able to look at those things in a strategic way, to find effective, intentional ways to grow our internal community, will be part of what my experience adds to our team. I’ll also bring my enthusiasm and drive to be continually learning and growing, both personally and professionally.
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
We have great potential to strengthen our culture and facilitate collaboration and transparency throughout CC. Many individuals I have talked with already have expressed a similar sentiment: They’re craving some kind of consistency in connecting with one another, receiving information, and having dialogue internally. We can build and support meaningful, cross-organization relationships, which will improve our effectiveness and strengthen the CC community. This impacts our entire organization and ripples out to the broader community.
4.) Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Prior to starting at Colorado College, I served as the public information officer for Falcon School District 49, one of the fastest growing K-12 public school districts in the state. I managed the organization’s communications program, including media relations, marketing, internal communications, strategic planning, and crisis response, among many other roles throughout my four and a half years in that position. I began in District 49 after five years as a news reporter, working for the ABC affiliate in Colorado Springs and Pueblo and CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kan.
5.) Tell us about being a news reporter.
My days started at 4 a.m. as a morning show reporter, covering everything from blizzards and floods to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and state politics. The best part of being a news reporter is the people you meet. As a journalist, you have the opportunity to tell a person’s story and give them a voice. You get to really get to know an area, its people, and its culture. Every day brings a new day with a new story and new adventure. Those stories were fueled by the individuals I was able to interview and talk with about their experiences.
6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I am a runner. I’ll be out running, in all weather, typically training for one race or another and often volunteer in the running community. My interests are varied, so I’m always looking for new ways to connect with our community: I co-direct a trail race in the fall at Venetucci Farm and recently I enrolled in a painting class. Over the past several years, mountain biking has become another challenge. It is a perfect way to get out and explore and experience the natural beauty we have here in Colorado, and across the globe. I also enjoy traveling, reading (send me your book recommendations!), and picking up cooking tips from my fiancé (we’re planning a small June wedding in the mountains).
7.) What’s next on your race calendar?
The Catalina Marathon is coming up in March. That’s a beautiful and agonizingly hilly trail race, 26.2 miles across Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. I ran it last year and wild bison were actually out on the course with us – a great motivator to pick up the pace. Also, I’ve started training for my first Ironman triathlon, so that will be a significant training challenge. I’ve never done a triathlon, but I thought I’d jump right in with a big one. I have until Aug. 3 to get ready for that.
8.) What is your most memorable run?
It’s tough to come up with one; there have been so many amazing runs! Running is truly the most ideal way to explore a new city or locale. I’d have to say the Rim to Rim to Rim run across the Grand Canyon. 44 miles in one day from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, to the north rim and back again. We started well before sunrise, found snow on the north side, and ran through 105+ degree temperatures in the bottom of the canyon. The views were phenomenal!
9.) Tell us about your background.
I am originally from Kansas, in a suburb southwest of Kansas City. It was a wonderful place to establish roots and values as an individual. I received my Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Strategic Communications degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia and actually began my career as a reporter there in college. In my experience, Midwesterners are people who value hard work and support one another. As I’ve lived and traveled to other parts of the country, I realize those people are actually everywhere! (though more often than not, they’re actually Midwestern transplants.)
10.) Wild card: What’s your indulgence/guilty pleasure?
Relaxation can feel like a guilty pleasure to me, with a glass of good red wine and a good book out on our front deck (after a long trail run or bike ride). Or, reading through an issue of Bon Appetit or Runner’s World cover to cover (I initially planned to become a magazine writer before catching the television bug). I sometimes feel like it’s indulgent to sit down and just unwind, but it helps me recharge. I also teach yoga, so squeezing in some time to take a class also is a bonus!
The Board of Trustees was on campus Feb. 20-22 for its annual February meeting. There was much enthusiasm about the progress we are making as a college community. The board approved several items including:
- The 2014-15 budget, setting tuition and fees at $46,410. For students living on the campus, the comprehensive fee will be $57,162, with a standard double room rate of $6,176 and the meal plan C rate of $4,576.
- Tenure and promotion for four faculty members. Congratulations!
- Pedro de Araujo, assistant professor of economics and business
- Peggy Daugherty, assistant professor of chemistry
- Stefan Erickson, assistant professor of mathematics
- Peter Wright, assistant professor of religion
- Tenure for one faculty member: Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Shawn Womack. Congratulations Shawn!
- Emeritus status for retired Professor of Political Science Curtis Cook.
- The installation of solar panels on top of Cornerstone and El Pomar Sports Center.
In addition to the work done on the four standing committees of Audit; Governance; Investment; and Budget, Buildings and Grounds, the trustees worked with campus leaders on strategic projects. As a reminder, this year’s strategic project teams are Campaign Planning; Library Renovation; Campus Master Plan/Communication Plan; and Environmental Stewardship and Innovation.
The board heard presentations on campus safety, our newly-revised Half Block, and faculty-student research collaboration and enjoyed dinner with members of the Faculty Executive Committee. Thanks to all who helped make the board meeting a success.
Steve Getty, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center, part of the Colket Center for Academic Excellence, has been named an award recipient by NARST, an international organization that improves science teaching and learning through research.
Getty was part of a team that authored a research paper titled “Conducting Causal Effects Studies in Science Education: Considering Methodological Trade-Offs in the Contexts of Policies Affecting Research in Schools.” The paper was selected for the 2014 Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award, as the most significant research article published in the journal in 2013.
“Our team is honored,” Getty said. “Often there’s a tension between education policies and the need for educational research. From a large trial we’ve just completed, we compiled data on how that policy-research tension leads to trade-offs and compromises that have very real impacts on research methods. Our hope is that this compilation is a useful resource for other education researchers.”
Getty, who worked as a visiting assistant professor in the Geology Department from 1999-2002, returned to Colorado College in August 2014, as director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center (QRC). His position at the QRC involves academic support across math and the sciences, education research, and collaborative work with college faculty in support of quantitative reasoning in the CC curriculum.
Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Before I came on board at CC, I was knee deep in a freelance photography career. I produced a lot of work for the Independent, The Denver Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and several other local and national publications and agencies. Before I entered the world of freelance I was a staff photographer at The Gazette for several years.
Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?
There have been too many for me to count! I was entrusted to cover Hurricane Katrina, the devastating floods and forest fires in Colorado, the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and several presidential visits. It’s been quite a ride. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Honestly, one of my favorite assignments as a newspaper photojournalist was covering CC’s Frozen Four run in 2005. I was given the task of following the team around the country when they made that incredible run. It was tough to watch the Tigers lose to DU in Columbus, Ohio, but what a season that was! It culminated with Marty Sertich winning the Hobey Baker Award the next day. I was right there in the front row when he held up the trophy and looked right into his mother’s eyes. That was an incredible moment to witness and capture with the camera. My proudest achievement in the last year was seeing some of my photographs being picked up by The New York Times and Time magazine. That was a huge honor for me.
What do you bring to this job?
I bring passion. Lots of passion. You’re only as good as your last photograph and there is always room to improve. That’s something someone told me a long time ago and it has stuck with me throughout my career. Every time I snap a photograph I imagine I am trying to catch a big fish. I truly love taking photographs as much as a fisherman loves catching the big one.
Who/what was the biggest influence on your career?
Without a doubt, CC alum Dave Burnett. I saw his work for the first time in my high school photography class and was instantly hooked. At The Gazette I was able to call Bob Jackson a co-worker. Bob took the photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Many consider that image to be the most important photograph of the 20th century. And I got to work every day with Bob! His presence in our photography department was a huge influence on my career.
What have you noticed about CC?
Everyone seems happy and I see so many smiling faces every day. And you cannot help but notice how hard the students, staff, and faculty work. This has already been reflected in the work I have produced so far.
Tell us a little about your background.
I’m an Air Force brat. My father met my mother here in Colorado Springs in 1966. We trotted around the country and parts of the world throughout my youth. We moved to Colorado Springs in 1982 and my parents swore they would never move again. I went to high school here and then went on to college at CU-Boulder. I met my wife, classically, in the newsroom. We have two kids, a boy and girl. Colorado Springs is my home. We have family roots in Colorado and parts of Northern New Mexico that can be traced back to the original Spanish colonists and Native American tribes. So it’s safe to say I’m rooted here.
What do you like to do when not photographing?
I hardly ever go anywhere without a camera. But naturally, I like to get into the mountains as much as possible. We’re always trying to figure out our next trip to Taos.
Do you have a favorite photo or photographer?
If I had to name a favorite photograph, it would be the image I took after my daughter was born and my wife and son are lying in the bed at the hospital. My son is seen in the photo holding his baby sister for the first time. That image tugs at my heart every time I look at it.
What is your passion?
I am passionate about my family and my children. But when it comes to photography, I am passionate about how powerful a medium it really is. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else other than working with a camera. It’s a major part of my life.
How do you think your photography will benefit CC?
CC now has a staff photographer. This means many, many opportunities to capture the uniqueness of the campus, the students, faculty, and staff, and the overall vibe that makes CC such an amazing place. Everyday something historic to the college takes place. And I have a chance to be right there to document things as they happen. It is such an honor to be a part of it! Colorado College is amazing and there is something beautiful happening every day. I am looking forward to capturing as much of it as I can with my camera and all the passion I bring to the craft.
Wildcard question: Tell us a little about the photo of you above.
I’m in Haiti standing in front of the UN headquarters building, now a pile of rubble after the earthquake. It’s a newsworthy photo because I was following Bill Hybl around Port-Au-Prince when he was there as a diplomat trying to help establish
election systems following the Aristide coup. So it’s got a nice CC tie. And it was a very dangerous time over there. We were always under threat.
An interdepartmental Colorado College annual giving campaign featuring CC students and faculty has received the Gold level award for fundraising programs from the CASE District VI. And that, as the college community would say, “Is so CC.”
In fact, “Giving Back:That’s so CC,” was the title of the campaign, which consisted of print materials, videos, and emails.
Created between the summer and fall of 2012 by Naomi Trujillo, advancement design manager; Arielle Mari ’12, video and digital media specialist; Andrea Pacheco, former director of annual giving; and Ash Mercer ’08, former associate director of annual giving; the campaign was aimed at developing a culture of philanthropy. The four-part series consisted of:
- Service: That’s so CC, featuring drama major Kasi Carter ’11
- Student Support: That’s so CC, featuring French and Francophone Studies major Johnny Reed ’13
- Interdisciplinarity: That’s so CC, featuring psychology major Nora Alami ’13
- Study Abroad: That’s so CC, featuring English Professor Barry Sarchett, Adjunct Associate Comparative Literature Professor Lisa B. Hughes, and economics major Jesse Marble ’08
What made the project particularly fun to work on was the fact that there was so much collaboration, Trujillo said. “I loved the way the pieces came together – the print, emails, and video. Each told a great story and there was awesome video to support the project. I loved seeing the faces of the people we featured, and the video really captured their character, who they are,” she said.
The video was provided by Mari, who said she enjoyed working on the fairly long-term project. “It gives you time to develop a look, a feel. There is a sense of continuity about it. I imagined the people receiving the materials, and I felt I could establish a rapport with them. The project builds on itself and offers a new sense of unity,” she said.
Working with students was a highlight for Trujillo. “It reminded me what I’m at CC for. It’s an amazing place with amazing people,” she said.
Andy Tirado, the 3D arts supervisor for the Colorado College art department, has sculptured a series of massive hands using a very appropriate CC material – reclaimed redwood from the deck outside the studios at Packard Hall, which houses the art department.
Tirado provides tech support for the art department, supervises the sculpture shop, and teaches a spring woodworking adjunct class. He also will be teaching sculpture at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass this summer.
The four sculptures, all of which depict right hands (Tirado is left-handed; he uses his right hand as a model) are enormous – one is 13 feet long and weighs more than 300 pounds – and take up nearly all the space in Coburn Gallery, where they have been on exhibit. However, the huge hands, constructed from redwood, alder, and steel, all materials Tirado scrounged for, will soon be moved to make way for a new exhibit.
A Palmer High School graduate and an art major at University of Colorado—Colorado Springs, he started out building wood strip canoes. Later, he designed and built custom marketing-related props for clients such as Burton and Frito-Lay, before joining Colorado College in October 2005. The move allowed him to transition from building custom pieces and to enjoying the freedom that comes with making one’s own art. Taking the job at CC, he says, “was like walking into the perfect position. Like it was handcrafted – no pun intended.”
When Tirado embarked on the first piece in the hand series two years ago, he envisioned a large hand contoured as a chair. However, it evolved into something else entirely. “It’s fun not knowing where it will end up. With client work, you know exactly how it will end up. There’s not the same creativity and sense of freedom I have now,” he says.
Sections of the hands are little paintings and abstractions in themselves, coming together to form the much bigger piece. Each finger is individually carved from a larger piece of wood with various sizes of forstner bits, he says. One satisfying element of his work: “Responding to how the work is responding to your touch,” he says. Occasionally a piece will fall or a part will break off. “I don’t try to put it back; I leave some clues rather than hide all the evidence of a break – I think it’s important to allow the work to talk back to you rather than be dictated to.”
His two-car garage has been turned into a studio, and is where he will store the hands for the time being, while also working on another series of hands crafted from steel bands. See more photos of Tirado’s work.
The award is presented every year to a housing professional who currently is working in an associate director, assistant director, area manager/coordinator, or equivalent level at an AIMHO-member school. The award recognizes outstanding efforts and work taking place between the organization’s annually scheduled conferences. Weis was presented the award earlier this month at the annual AIMHO conference in Las Vegas.
The nomination on behalf of Weis notes that his job during the last year entailed a variety of additional duties, such as:
- Being the key point person for the $14 million Slocum Hall renovation project
- Providing leadership for revamping the off-campus application and education process
- Supporting on-campus housing efforts for those affected by the area wildfires
- Helping to manage residential facilities during highly unusual levels of flooding in the region
- Providing guidance to fraternities
- Opening a second Synergy sustainability living house
- Completing renovations of several student apartments
Weis’s regular workload did not diminish while he took on the other responsibilities. The nomination notes that he continues to be second in charge for his department, working with residential life, conferences, operations, room assignments, and facilities. In submitting his nomination, the residential life staff wrote that “Justin works hard to make sure our department functions at a high level and is innovative year round. We are lucky and thankful to have him as part of our team. He is genuine, seeks to help people, and sees the important role that facilities and relationships play in the learning for students.” This year marks Weis’s 10th year at Colorado College.
Chris Coulter, director of facilities services, recently was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame. Just over a quarter of a century ago, Coulter played on the 1986-87 State Champion Rampart High School basketball team that went undefeated, 24-0, to win the state title.
The team achieved the impossible: perfection. The Rampart boy’s team chalked up a remarkable 24-0 record, beating Thompson Valley, 42-38 in the state 3A championship game. The Rampart team won their games by an average of 17 points and earned a team grade point average of 3.14, showing their prowess on and off the court. In Coulter’s two years playing with the state champion team, the team posted a 46-2 record.
Coulter is currently a varsity coach in the Pine Creek High School boy’s football program. They have a 10-2 record and are playing in the 4A state semifinals against Monarch High School this weekend.
Coulter enjoys coaching youth sports, especially football and basketball, and has been coaching the same group of eighth-graders since they were in the third grade.
Versen, who started at CC on Oct. 1, 2012, will receive the award at the CASE conference in Kansas City. He was nominated by his former supervisor at Dickinson State University, in Dickinson, N.D., where Versen worked prior to coming to Colorado College.
A native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Versen graduated from Dickinson State University in 2009 with a BS in business administration and a minor in marketing. He received his AS degree at McCook Community College in 2007 and played collegiate basketball at both MCC and DSU, where he was named team captain three of the four years. Upon graduating, he worked for Dickinson State University’s Entrepreneurial Center, and in 2010 he joined the Dickinson State University Alumni and Foundation where he spent two and a half years as the assistant director of alumni and donor relations.
The Rising Star Award recognizes individuals working in the advancement fields of alumni relations, communications and marketing, and philanthropy. Individuals nominated must have been in the advancement profession for three to seven years and have served as a volunteer for CASE for a minimum of two years. Additionally, the nominee must have demonstrated a consistently high level of professional achievement and strong leadership qualities.
The nominee also should be actively involved in the advancement of CASE, offering new ideas which can make a positive impact, and demonstrating a commitment to participate in areas of responsibility with CASE in the future.