1.) Your position as director of parent and family relations is new to CC. What does the job entail?
This new role is designed to provide a central point of contact at the college who will enhance communication, facilitate a sense of connection, and develop and maintain positive relationships with the parents and families of current, new, and prospective CC students. Research shows that appropriate parent involvement in student learning is positively related to achievement; this involvement continues to be important during the college years. As an institution, we can make parents and families our allies in augmenting student success if we treat them as partners in their students’ education and provide them with the resources and information they need to help their students flourish. One of my primary objectives is to work collaboratively with staff and faculty across campus to gather timely information about services, programs, and opportunities and then communicate that to parents and families so that they are able to support their students throughout their college experience.
2.) When and how did you arrive at CC?
My family moved to Colorado Springs from Pittsburgh in 2005 when my husband accepted a job transfer. Although I had various part-time jobs while my kids were small, I was looking to get back into full-time work outside the home. I started at CC in September 2005 and worked in the Student Life office for 7 years as the office coordinator until I became the office’s communication and enrollment coordinator. Subsequently, I moved over to Shove Chapel, where I served as the chaplain’s office manager before taking this position.
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
As a small liberal arts college, our close-knit campus community is one of our greatest assets. I hope that this role will enhance and expand that aspect of CC so that parents and families will feel as engaged with and connected to our community as their students do.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I am a graduate of a liberal arts college, Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where I completed an English major and music/theatre double minor. I loved the wide-ranging education I received and the nurturing environment of the community. So when I moved here and saw the CC campus, I was reminded of my college experience and thought immediately “that would be a great place to work…”
After receiving my undergraduate degree at Allegheny, I went on to receive my MAT in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh. Since then, I’ve had various job experiences, including running my own desktop publishing company for a while and teaching in the HeadStart program in Pittsburgh, a federally funded program for at-risk preschool children.
5.) Tell us about your experience teaching in the HeadStart program.
At that time, the program was structured so that each area that was served had a preschool center with two dedicated teachers, usually located in a church or other community building, that the children would attend on a regular basis during the week. In addition, each area was assigned a “home-based visitor,” who visited the children and parents weekly in their homes to provide developmentally appropriate activities that the children and parents could do together outside the classroom. I was a home-based visitor. Having grown up in a relatively privileged environment, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
6.) What do you like to do with your personal time?
Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and two daughters and our furry family, including our rambunctious Bassett hound and our chirpy Chihuahua. I like to read, memoirs and fiction mostly. I also enjoy going to the movies and attending musical and cultural events around the region, especially productions of old Broadway shows.
7.) What are your goals in your career?
I love working in higher education, especially at CC. I have a unique opportunity to develop our parent and family relations program into a stellar example for other liberal arts colleges, so my immediate goal is to do the best I can with that.
8.) Who/what would you consider to be your biggest influence in life?
My paternal grandfather, who lived a full and vigorous life well into his 90s, was always an inspiration to me. “Keep the mind active” was his mantra. Good advice for those of us working in education, right?
9.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I have a daughter who is starting her sophomore year in college. Considering this, I have some understanding of the excitement and challenge experienced by parents and families of college students. I also have a fairly comprehensive perspective on various student experiences at CC from my previous roles here. I think that I can help parents access the resources that will assist them in guiding their students if and when they run into challenges.
10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Brussels sprouts are my least favorite vegetable.
1.) Congratulations on becoming the new director of the State of the Rockies Project. What attracted you to this position?
The founder and former director of the Rockies Project, Walt Hecox, had approached me about four years ago. At the time, I was on sabbatical and obsessed with water in New Mexico (which hasn’t changed) and was not in the right frame of mind to take it on. But the more I mulled it over, I couldn’t help but think what a great opportunity it is to provide our students with ways that merge a summer collaborative research opportunity with some dimensions of what a regional think-tank does: connect students to outside opportunities and experts. Plus, I was simply flattered when Jill Tiefenthaler later asked me to assume the mantle.
2.) You’re a human-environment geographer and political ecologist, and hold a joint appointment in both the Environmental and the Southwest Studies programs at CC. How do these elements coalesce?
I’m in year nine, and I think in some ways I’m still figuring that out. I was extremely fortunate to have gracious, patient, and agnostic colleagues about what a geographer does, but I do think the spatial skill-sets and the broad education of a geographer provide a larger view of what interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs can do for students—and for faculty development. As a political ecologist, I view my job as challenging the notion that Southwest Studies is simply “regional studies” and, on the other hand, that “environments” exist without preconceived political goals imposed by humans. It’s been great fun.
3.) As the new State of the Rockies director, what is your vision for the program?
First, coming onboard in the spring of 2014, my goal was to “do no harm” to what works in the Rockies. That said, we will be bolstering the academic content and links of the Rockies Project in a way that feeds back into the curriculum, such as getting the Rockies summer students into other CC classrooms to share and learn. We also will continue to provide our researchers with connections to the outside world through fieldwork, meeting experts and residents of the West, and (I hope) further professional development pathways after life at Colorado College.
4.) What is the largest challenge you face?
I think it is this: How can we increase participation without completely depending on further college monies? Imagine a theme like “Water in the West” where, say, an artist, a scientist, and a sociologist collaborate with their own groups of students. This could further both faculty development and provide for a larger circle of opportunity for students. The possibilities for collaborating with foundations, public and private, are exciting.
5.) Why is the State of the Rockies Project important?
The Rockies project has succeeded in producing dozens of focused graduates who are now dedicated to conservation, natural resource, and sustainable development questions throughout the country. We also offer a different kind of summer research focus, one that balances on-campus work that focuses on expert literature on state-of-the-art conservation problems with on-the-ground interviews with experts and Westerners affected by natural resource challenges. It certainly has given the college greater visibility at the regional and occasionally national level, too. The Rockies Project does what we already do well here at CC: It focuses on undergraduate research development and long-term outcomes.
6.) How does the State of the Rockies Project align with your research interests?
Remarkably well, and it took a few years to realize this. Right now, I am haunted by water issues in New Mexico and the western United States in general, and it is both daunting and exciting to think of ways the project can connect to this general concern about water shortages, drought, and climate change in our region. I hope to grow into the position over the next year or two, as we may turn our attention to these water challenges.
7.) Tell us more about your interest in water issues.
Since arriving at CC in 2005, I have become enthralled by New Mexico’s approach to water rights, resources, and management. My current book project, “Unruly Waters,” focuses on how the shift in water resources in that state has much to say about how we will all cope as Westerners, as humans, with water demands and increased scarcity. Most of the work in New Mexico is based on a spatial ethnographic approach; it pays attention to place and space, but also to what people think about how the state is handling water resources. At this point, I’ve spoken to more than 240 people about the issues, and simply cannot wait to put it into clear prose.
8.) Tell us a little about your background.
I am a public liberal arts college product, from Mary Washington College (’92), and all my degrees have been in geography but with later focus on biophysical aspects of geography. It’s odd; I was in Virginia with no family connections to the Southwest or even previous exposure to the Southwest. Yet, for some reason, I read a few pieces about Latino cultural diversity in New Mexico in my junior and senior years, and I was hooked. Only later did I visit that state and get truly hooked on the intersection of land, water, and human livelihoods. What sealed it was my Masters at Louisiana State University on Zuni Pueblo and their efforts to revitalize traditional agriculture. Moving to Colorado simply makes it easier, now, to do my work in the Southwest.
9.) What do you do in your personal time?
I will reluctantly admit that I hack at a guitar and occasionally croon to myself, poorly. My wife and I like to get outdoors whenever we can, for hiking or snowshoeing. I also have an interest in oenology, viticulture, and “all things wine,” since it brings together all my interests. Plus in some way, vineyard landscapes make me a little nostalgic about the French side of my upbringing, as we continue to visit my father’s side of the family in the eastern Pyrenees when we can.
10.) Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you?
OK, maybe that I can dance decently? Not ballroom dancing, mind you, but I’m not averse to looking like a fool on the dance floor.
1.) This is a new position at CC. What does the job entail?
Engaging parents in the life of the college is a top priority. Their support is critical to ensure that students enjoy the world-class educational and immersive learning opportunities that make Colorado College a one-of-a-kind academic experience. In collaboration with parents, we can bolster innovative educational programs, deepen our scholarship, expand our reach, and cultivate the minds of our students.
2.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I’ve had the privilege of working in 20 countries and all of those experiences have been mind-expanding, transformative, and fascinating. Encounters that stand out include doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany and corporate community impact initiatives through build-a-bike programs targeting inner-city youth. Within higher education, I’ve had rich and varying experiences which have given me a holistic perspective. In my first post in higher education, I served as the director of leadership gifts and later transitioned to the role of corporate and community relations director (fundraising).
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
Being able to help parents and family members optimize their philanthropy to Colorado College to support their sons and daughters’ transformative Colorado College experience is rewarding. Gifts made to the Parents’ Fund support every part of the CC experience, including financial aid, faculty and academic programming, athletics, experiential career placement, independent research, outdoor education programs, global study, and our beautiful campus.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I completed my undergraduate degree and M.B.A. from private liberal arts institutions in Wisconsin. I arrived to Colorado College during the summer of 2008 and absolutely love it. I grew up in Saint Albert, Alberta, Canada. After working for a global non-profit based out of Denver, I fell in love with the region and wanted to come back. Raising kids out West was a priority. I saw a position for Colorado College posted online via Higher Ed Jobs.com. It was the first and only position I applied for, and three months later I was here.
5.) Tell us a little more about your experience doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany.
The prison outreach was a component of a broader dialogue program about personal responsibility, intersecting identities, social justice, and multiculturalism, stimulated by frequent, intense interactions among peers and people with vastly different backgrounds and world views — it was life-changing.
6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I have three incredible kids ages 9, 6, and 4; we go hiking in the mountains with our Golden Retriever “Buddy” every weekend. Colorado is an incredible place for adventures and establishing memories that my kids will have for a lifetime.
7.) Do you have a favorite place to hike with your kids?
My favorite place to hike with the kids is Section 16, the Crags, Barr Trail, and Helen Hunt Falls.
8.) What’s your most memorable hike?
My most memorable hike with the kids was up to the Continental Divide — not too far from Breckenridge. Hiking with kids invigorates the joy of discovering things in nature that we take for granted.
9.) What is your passion?
I’m passionate about being a father and traveling to new places. I find that traveling, both domestically and internationally, expands my mind. Not necessarily because of what I’m experiencing with the senses, but what I experience first-hand by encountering new cultures and lifestyles that nuances my perspective and understanding of the world around me.
10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that might be surprising?
Like a true liberal arts person, I have eclectic passions and interests. I graduated from a musical theatre high school and was involved with an acting agency for about 10 years. I never made it big; however, I met lots of fascinating people and grew a lot as a person. Growing up I ran track and cross-country and played soccer, basketball, and football. I also was involved in dance, jazz choir, and the creative process of short scene production. However, what I enjoyed the most was playing amateur football in the Canadian Junior Football League as a running back and kick-returner (and running for my life!)
Baby wipes, canned fruit, Skittles, beef jerky, tuna, pistachios: It’s not the usual Worner Desk collection of items. However, those on the collecting end – employees at the desk – were glad to gather them, and those on the receiving end – a platoon in Afghanistan – will be glad to get them.
Linking the two is Willma Fields ’01. Lynnette DiRaddo, now manager of the Worner Information Desk, and Fields had known each other years before, when they worked together in Campus Activities. Fields, a religion major, was a student intern and then paraprofessional in Campus Activities. They reconnected when Willma’s husband, Sgt 1st Class James Fields, was reassigned to Fort Carson last summer before deploying to Afghanistan in February. He is scheduled to return in late November.
To occupy the time, Willma began filling in at Worner Desk last fall and was hired fulltime in May. Soon she was chatting with DiRaddo about her children, ages 5 and 8, and her husband, who heads a platoon in rural Afghanistan, where they remove improvised explosive devices from civilian areas and assist with the transition from NATO-supported to Afghani-supported operations.
Fort Carson had always been in the background for DiRaddo, but never had any direct impact on her. That changed when Willma started working at the desk. “I started witnessing first-hand the effects of deployment and what it is like to be in the military,” DiRaddo said. “Willma would talk about sending her husband care packages, and I said, ‘I want to do that, too.’ I wanted to do something to help this family.” Being of Italian descent, DiRaddo did what comes naturally: “When you don’t know what else to do, feed them.”
With support from Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, DiRaddo and Career Connections Advisor Gretchen Wardell contacted various departments in Student Life, asking if people, either personally or through a departmental budget code, wished to donate to a care package for James Fields’ platoon.
The response was immediate, and Operation Worner Desk was underway. Departmental sponsorship came from the VP of Student Life, Worner Campus Center, Career Center, Campus Activities, Arts & Crafts, and Accessibility Resources (formerly Disability Services). Personal donations came from Wardell, Jason Owens, Tara Misra, Sara Rotunno, Bethany Grubbs, and Andrea Culp, with more $500 being collected.
With the platoon’s wish list in hand, DiRaddo and Wardell launched into action, shopping for the items and filling two carts – and then going back for more when they realized they still had money to spend. In addition to snack foods, they also purchased practical items: small ice packs for the soldiers to tuck into their uniforms to help abate the 112-degree temperatures in Afghanistan, powdered flavorings for drinks, to make the perpetually lukewarm canteen water more palatable, and baby wipes, used to cool down and wipe off dust in an area with little running water.
Worner Desk student staff members Sydney Minchin ’15, Ginni Hill ’15, Sam Zuke ’15, Helen Kissel ’16, and Antonio Soto helped unload the goods from the car and transport them to DiRaddo’s office, where they were packed into boxes for shipment to Afghanistan.
“I’m amazed at how much people care,” Fields said, as she surveyed the mounds of supplies. “The war has been going on so long, and people still care. This is my CC family; this is my home base.”
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.
The Gazette has picked Heather Browne, coordinator of off-campus study at Colorado College, as “Best Music Mover and Shaker” in their annual “Best of the Springs” survey. More than 15,000 voters and eight staff members weighed in.
“Not only does Heather have excellent taste in music, but she has a knack for finding the rising stars of the music scene, and the drive to bring them successfully to our city,” said Jennifer Mulson, Gazette arts and entertainment reporter. “Her touch seems to be golden. More than several bands she has brought to town have gone on to find big success in the business.”
By day, Browne coordinates off-campus study for CC’s International Programs, a job she has held since 2008. However, on nights and weekends she promotes and books concerts at Ivywild School, the new community marketplace and gathering spot a few miles south of campus. When the renovation of Ivywild School was nearly completed, the opportunity arose for Browne and her music-booking partner and friend Marc Benning (formerly of the Denver band 34 Satellite, and a local musician and record producer himself) to book music in the Ivywild gym, a job she started earlier this academic year.
“It’s been fun to use my connections and relationships with folks across the country to bring so many of my favorite musicians to my town, and share the goodness here at home,” Browne said. “We are excited to continue to bring bothup-and-coming as well as established and respected artists for special nights of music at the Ivywild. The kind of music I like being around and championing is music that is connective and vibrant, and I have been fortunate that it all is finally starting to succeed here, and bring joy to people in the Springs community.”
Browne has been running her own independent music blog Fuel/Friends (www.fuelfriendsblog.com) since moving to Colorado from California in 2005. “Over the course of the last eight years writing my blog, I have felt really fortunate to make musical connections all over the world, with bands and record labels and promotions folks and booking agents and other music writers,” she said. “That’s all coming to fruition at the Ivywild.”
From that website and her connections formed with musicians because of it, Browne began organizing Colorado Springs house concerts in her downtown cohousing community near Dogtooth Coffee. “I realized that the kind of venue I really wanted to see shows at, and the sorts of musicians I loved, weren’t really being courted to come to the Springs, so I just kind of decided to do it myself,” she said.
Working with local audio producer friends from the Blank Tape Records label, she also began recording folk & indie musicians performing private concerts in Shove Chapel, and releasing those audio recordings for free download as The Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions. The sessions have hosted musicians such as The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Glen Phillips (from Toad The Wet Sprocket), Dawes, Tyler Ramsey (of Band of Horses), Typhoon, Pickwick, David Wax Museum, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
“I didn’t grow up playing music, other than singing all sorts of lame five-part harmonies with my hippie family on car trips in our Volkswagen bus,” Browne says. “But I’ve always loved both writing about how music feels and sounds to me, as well as connecting other people with music that I feel passionately about.” She doesn’t write music, but likes to sing and “play the drum set in my basement poorly, but for fun.”
Browne studied communication and art history at Santa Clara University in California, and currently is pursuing her master’s degree in intercultural relations from University of the Pacific. “I studied abroad in Italy, which helped spark my career in international education for the last 12 years,” she said. “My whole post-college career has been in international education. I love it. I am also so appreciative of rich music parts of my life as a parallel, rewarding endeavor that I pursue for the love of it. I get great delight out of both.
“A few years ago I got to interview Jovanotti, a very well-known Italian rapper who is a bit like the Bono of Italy, for my blog. I had first attended a concert of his when I was studying abroad in Florence in 1999. That was such a surreal day for me, to see how sometimes life all comes full-circle, wonderfully.”
So one can understand why Mulson, of the Gazette, says, “She’s on my Christmas card list for bringing the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, You Me and Apollo, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones to Ivywild School.”
1. What does your job entail?
I oversee the safety and security of the Colorado College campus community and its guests. I started here as associate director of campus safety on Jan. 6 of this year, and took over as director of campus security in mid-March, when Pat Cunningham left to return to Tennessee. I guess you could say I hit the ground running. I’d never been to Colorado, other than the Denver airport, before.
2. What qualities do you bring to this job, and what are some of your goals?
I bring more than 35 years of law enforcement experience at the federal, state, municipal, and higher education level. I started in law enforcement in 1976, and my dad was a police commander as well. Among my goals at CC are increasing student involvement in the Tiger Patrol, and we’ve already had great success with that. We’ve gone from seven to 33 students on the Tiger Patrol, and I’m very proud of that.
3. Tell us a little about your career path.
My last position was the District Director of Campus Safety for the City Colleges of Chicago, overseeing eight campus locations, 120,000 students, and 6,000 faculty and staff, which included 580 campus safety officers. I started as a police officer in Calumet City (of “The Blues Brothers” fame), outside Chicago, and worked there for two years.
The bulk of my career has been in narcotics and gang intelligence. From 1978 to 1998 I was director of the Illinois State Police North Central Narcotics Task Force/ DeKalb Office, where I was responsible for the coordination of a multi-jurisdictional Narcotic Enforcement Task Force in DeKalb County. I led the investigation into the first “GHB/Date Rape” drug case, which resulted in the interruption of a drug distribution network from California to Illinois and three arrests. I also was responsible for the initiation of the “Campus Date Rape” conference hosted by the Attorney General Jim Ryan. In September 1997 I testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice, hosted by Chairman J. Dennis Hastert. I also did gang intelligence in Elgin, Ill., from 1990-1993, where I was responsible for gathering gang and narcotics intelligence information and overseeing prevention programs throughout the state. I was assigned to the Governors Gang Task Force to assess gang awareness programs and provide intelligence information.
I retired from the State Police in 1998 to become Chief of Police in Sycamore, Ill., where I was chief for five years. Later I became the higher education police liaison for the state of Illinois under Gov. Rod Blagojevich enforcing the Campus Safety Enhancement Act for emergency preparedness that mirrored the federal law. I monitored all colleges and universities in Illinois to make sure they were in compliance.
I have been blessed with a distinguished career in law enforcement and hold the honor of the being one of most decorated officers of the Illinois State Police.
4. Tell us a little more about your experience doing undercover drug work.
I trained in extensive intelligence gathering as a Special Agent Inspector (1980-1990) and was assigned to covert narcotic investigations. I conducted high-level narcotic conspiracy investigations, and was assigned to the DEA interdiction unit at O’Hare Airport for six months, with the result being I was later assigned to train state agents in interdiction techniques.
A major multi-jurisdictional task force I led involved the initiation and investigation of a case against a key Mexican narcotics organization, which resulted in the arrest of 87 people and the seizure of $10 million in assets. Later I was awarded the 1987 International Association of Chiefs of Police Award, and received the award in Toronto. Unfortunately, my father could not accompany me to that.
5. Who/what was the biggest influence on you? My family, in particular my son, who is my inspiration. Also my father. When I received the International Association of Chiefs of Police Award, I felt like I had been to the top of the mountain, and talked to the burning bush. And that burning bush was my father.
6. What have you noticed about CC?
All the wonderful people here, especially the students of the Tiger Patrol. Everyone has been so friendly and willing to help out, and so many people have gone out of their way to help me. I tend to butcher names, and people have been great about that as well!
7. Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Chicago; I grew up on the south side of the city, as we call it, in a very diverse neighborhood with many cultures. It was like being in the U.N. I love the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox.
8. What do you like to do when not working?
Since I arrived here at CC I enjoy looking at the mountains and enjoying the weather. I played softball from the time I was 16, and retired from playing at 55. I used to play with a traveling state police team. I love a sense of humor and comedy. I also enjoy golf and plan on buying a new set of clubs to play in the CC tournament.
9. What is your passion?
My son, Anthony. He’s 25, and went to Westminster College in Utah and graduated with a degree in environmental science. He works for an environmental firm that restores land to its natural state. He’s also a great snowboarder.
10. Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you? I was bullied as a child because I wore large black glasses and had a large head. I looked like a bobble-head doll!
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.
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!