Dan Johnson, CC associate professor of economics, is making waves in the media world with his Olympic medals predictions. Television stations, newspapers, and blogs around the world are picking up his predictions, which were released January 18. Within 36 hours, he was featured in Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/19/olympic-medal-predictions-business-sports-medals.html; on Canadian television: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/ID=1390655465;
in the Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/sports/vancouver2010/news/2010/01/19/12531926.html; on a Reuters blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport/2010/01/22/economic-model-sees-winter-olympics-gold-for-canada/; in an Italian newspaper (link not available); and cited in an on-air report by Bloomberg.
Johnson uses only non-athletic data to make his forecasts. He considers per capita income, population, climate, and political structure of the nations competing, along with the obvious advantage of hosting the Games. This last factor works heavily in Canada’s favor this year, putting them one medal ahead of the United States and Norway in the model’s predictions.
As a Canadian-born economist, that prediction warms Johnson’s heart, but he insists that the results are pure statistics.
Johnson first constructed the model with a colleague before the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the model has proven itself over five consecutive Olympics, averaging a correlation of 94 percent with actual medal counts, and 87 percent for gold medals specifically.
The big story this year, from Johnson’s perspective is that Canada should win three more medals than it won in Torino in 2006, due primarily to its home-field advantage. Canada is predicted to narrowly edge out the U.S., Norway, Austria, Sweden, Russia, and Germany for the title. However, Russia is predicted to win the race for gold medals, edging out Germany and winning three more than Canada or the U.S.
Why does he do it? Johnson says that he treats the model’s predictions as ‘benchmarks’ to help set national expectations at realistic levels. “We all subconsciously know,” he says, “that small, poor, warm nations are at a disadvantage when it comes to the Winter Games. Our model quantifies those effects, so that each nation can celebrate victory if they exceed the model’s predictions. For a small nation, winning three medals is an amazing accomplishment. For the U.S. or Germany or Russia, it’s appropriate to expect a lot more.”
This year, Johnson decided to publicly report only the predictions for nations that are expected to win 10 or more medals. “We can all celebrate with the nations not on the list, every time that they win a medal,” he says.
Accuracy rate of Johnson’s predictions for total medals won by a country:
• 2008 Beijing Summer Games: 93 percent
• 2006 Torino Winter Games: 93 percent
• 2004 Athens Summer Games: 94 percent
• 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games: 94 percent
• 2000 Sydney Summer Games: 95 percent
Accuracy rate of Johnson’s predictions for gold medals won by a country:
• 2008 Beijing Summer Games: 92 percent
• 2006 Torino Winter Games: 89 percent
• 2004 Athens Summer Games: 86 percent
• 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games: 85 percent
• 2000 Sydney Summer Games: 84 percent
A complete news release with Johnson’s predictions can be seen at: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/news_events/releases/2010/Jan.%2010/Olympic%20predictions.asp
When people ask what sustainability measures Colorado College has initiated, do you point with pride to pervious paving? Compliment the composting program? Praise The Preserve? Expound enthusiastically on the environmental mobile lab and energy audits?
Colorado College has a variety of sustainability initiatives in place, and to help increase awareness of them, the Campus Sustainability Council has launched the Campus Sustainability Virtual Tour: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/welcome/tour/sustainability/. Links to the site are posted on CC’s internal and external home pages, as well as the sustainability page.
The online tour is the brainchild of George Eckhardt in facilities services, and Mark Lee and Jen Kulier in the office of communications. All three are members of the Campus Sustainability Council.
“We wanted to promote awareness to the campus community and the larger outside community as to what the various efforts are at CC with regards to sustainability,” Lee said.
“So many things are happening on campus, and we wanted to locate all initiatives in one place,” said Kulier. “Hopefully, the more people learn about it, the more they will get involved.”
The tour, which includes text, photos, video, and maps, has 16 major points of interest, as well as one called “More Sustainability Initiatives.” Among the initiatives featured on the tour are the CC Student Garden, the solar panels on the Edith Gaylord Apartments, the car-sharing program, and water-saving landscaping. The online tour also includes an option for a printable version for those who want one.
The online sustainability tour, which took about three months to create, develop, and post, is aimed at multiple audiences: the campus community, alumni, prospective students, and community members.
“This sustainability tour will be invaluable in communicating to everyone on how the broader college community is contributing to campus sustainability. I learned a lot from going through the tour myself,” Eckhardt said.
The format is similar to the CC historic walking tour (http://www.coloradocollege.edu/welcome/walkingtour/) which was launched in 2008.
Check out the Super Bowl Doritos commercial competition. CC alum and English film track major Char Lee was casting director for a commercial that has made it into the top six of 4,000 entries. Three of the finalists will air during the Super Bowl. If you’re interested in watching her commercial (and voting for the top three), Google “Crash the Superbowl” or go to the following online link: http://www.crashthesuperbowl.com/. Char’s commercial is “CASKET.” Unfortunately, she won’t know if her commercial has been selected until it airs during the game.
Colorado College senior Kay Sherwood has been awarded a Stenner Scholarship from USA Cycling. Sherwood, an senior environmental policy major, received the scholarship for her academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, and service to the community with an emphasis on collegiate team involvement and leadership.
Sherwood maintains a 3.4 grade point average while competing both on the road and in mountain biking for the CC’s cycling team. After being introduced to cycling as a first-year student, Sherwood was quick to enter her first bike race and went on to qualify for road nationals that year. The Tiger squad then introduced her to mountain biking where she went on to take the Division II short track national title as a sophomore. The Ipswich, Mass. native has since collected four USA Cycling Collegiate National Championship medals on both the road and the mountain bike while working tirelessly to introduce more women to the sport and her Tiger team.
A photograph taken by Steve Weaver, Colorado College’s technical director of geology, placed 12th out of more than 16,000 entries in a contest sponsored by Audubon magazine. The photo of two sandhill cranes, which appears in the January-February issue of the magazine, was taken at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, and earned Weaver an honorable mention. Weaver, whose photos have appeared on CC’s State of the Rockies Report Card and posters, says the photo, which was taken about on a cold January morning last year, captures what he calls the yin/yang of the crane’s flight patterns. His award-winning photo may be viewed here: http://audubonmagazine.org/features1001/bigpicture.html and his State of the Rockies photos here: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/
A new website optimized for mobile browsers will be launched shortly after winter break. The site is intended to make information easier to access when you’re away from your computer. It’s not meant to be a replacement for the main website.
For a sneak preview, point your iPhone, Blackberry, Android or other smartphone to m.coloradocollege.edu. Comments are welcome.
After a year of staff reductions and $8 million in budget cuts, “the broad outlook for CC is stable,” President Richard Celeste told attendees of an Open Budget Forum on Dec. 17. While cautioning that the college’s financial condition is subject to economic changes, Celeste said he sees no reason for further reductions in staff. “We are better positioned than many institutions,” he said.
Since last fiscal year, when an ad hoc budget planning committee tackled major cuts, the college has adopted new budget planning practices. The budget-committee approach was formalized, the budget approval time has moved earlier in the year, and more time will be devoted to budget development. The new permanent Budget Committee is made up of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and a trustee. Next year’s budget will go before the Board of Trustees for approval in February, rather than May. And work on the following fiscal year’s budget will begin much earlier than in the past.
Indications that the economic picture nationally is stabilizing, plus signs of improvement on campus, led Celeste to express cautious optimism. The college’s endowment, which fell from its brief high point of $522.7 million to a low of $401.7 million during the stock market turmoil, has since recovered substantially to a level of $446 million. There are signs that the campus community is spending carefully: The percentage of operating budget expended as of Nov. 30 is 40.5 percent, compared to 44.5 percent at the same time last year, and 44 percent at the same time in 2007.
“That suggests a recognition that in order to do right, we all have to pay close attention to our expenditures,” Celeste said. “There will continue to be places where we have to make careful choices. We have to continue to operate in a frugal fashion. I am grateful for the hard work done by all of you.”
Dean of the College/Dean of the Faculty Susan Ashley, who chairs the Budget Committee, explained the background of the budget adjustments, starting with the Working Group on Stewardship and Cost Containment, which cut the budget on the administrative side by 5 percent in fall 2008, before the economic slide. Then, in December, when the recession had dramatically cut the value of the endowment, the Board of Trustees determined that the college needed to reduce staff positions and find $8 million in savings. Celeste created an ad hoc budget planning committee to recommend ways to balance the budget, and initiated a voluntary staff separation program. The ad hoc committee asked administrative departments to identify at least another 5 percent in economies, and academic departments to aim for 10 percent or more in reductions. In February, the trustees directed the college to identify up to $12 million in savings or enhanced revenues, and mandated a full review of programs.
Reducing positions and cutting $8 million in expenses resulted in a balanced budget for fiscal years 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012. The admissions office met enrollment targets and yielded a highly qualified first-year class. In May, trustees approved the projected budget and the ad hoc budget planning committee’s recommendations for a new budget process and a set of basic operating principles for budget making.
The permanent Budget Committee’s goals are:
- Maintain the quality of Colorado College’s educational program
- Hold undergraduate enrollment target at 1,975
- Keep increase in cost of attendance as low as possible
- Provide enough financial aid to support current students and recruit an incoming class at least as talented and diverse as the present first-year class
- Retire all college debt as quickly as possible and in a time frame no longer than 15 years
- Provide compensation increases understanding that total compensation cannot increase faster than the increase in the rate of tuition because tuition pays approximately 3/4 of the cost of increases
- Provide the increases necessary to cover the continued decline in payouts from endowments due to the practice of 12-quarter averaging
Ashley said last year’s hard work and tough decisions have paid off. “We choked down the bitter pill, and as a result we have much more flexibility as to how we use our resources,” she said. She pointed out that other colleges instituted furloughs, did not hire new faculty, and overextended their financial aid resources to yield their incoming classes — at a level they won’t be able to sustain. None of those things happened at CC.
“We need to be grateful for our relatively strong resource base,” she said.
Be sure to check out the one-man show featuring collages by Dave Armstrong, CC’s director of information technology services, at The Bridge Gallery in the Depot Arts District, 218 West Colorado Ave. The show runs through Sunday, Dec. 20, and gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Working Group on Staff Compensation and Classification, a group formed this year, presented a concept for one part of staff compensation in a Staff Council Hot Topics open session on Dec. 16. The group is seeking staff input on the concept, which would apply a fixed cost of basic goods and services — rather than a percentage – as part of staff salary increases. Working group presenter Chad Schonewill said the concept is aimed at reducing a widening gap between lowest and highest salaries, improving fairness, aligning with the college’s compensation philosophy and core values, and achieving sustainability.
View the PowerPoint presentation, video of the session and Staff Council minutes here. Staff Council is surveying session attendees to see if there is enough interest in the concept. If there is, the working group will pursue it further, Schonewill said.