Tutt Library Team Supports Campus Community and One Another

“We work hard to protect both staff and students in the library,” says Jenn Sides, Tutt Library operations manager and co-chair of the Tutt Library Safety and Health Committee. That’s true every year, but of course the campus and Tutt Library have new challenges and many changes to services and policies during the pandemic. Rather than have all the building safety concerns fall to Sides, Interim Library Director Steve Lawson convened a committee in the summer as the library was making plans to re-open and increase access. “No one really wants to be on yet another committee,” Lawson says, “but we knew that our response to COVID-19 would affect all the people who work in and use the building, so I wanted to be sure we were hearing from a larger group. I also wanted staff to feel like they could go to a committee and not only their supervisor if they had safety concerns.” 

Sides and Patti Spoelman, library administrative assistant, co-chair the committee, which also includes Lawson, LeDreka Davis, circulation operations coordinator, Tia Phillip, night circulation coordinator, Pam Willock, periodicals coordinator, Charissa Brammer, systems librarian, Janet Martino, ITS: user support specialist and Solutions Center team lead, and Daryll Stevens, music librarian at Seay Library. 

The committee members have been very busy with making changes to the physical building to promote social distancing, technological changes to allow seat reservation and computer reservation, and recently spoke with CC’s Community Standards and Conduct Specialist Josh Isringhausen about how best to encourage student compliance with college safety policies on COIVD-19. As Sides says, “we are trying to make sure that students, faculty, and staff still have access to the items they need and a safe, but welcoming environment to study.” Submit your suggestions of members of our CC community to Lyrae Williams to be highlighted in a future week.

CC Welcomes First Bronfman Creativity & Innovation Scholar-in-Residence

By Sarah Senese ’23

Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College welcomes Felicia Rose Chavez as their first Bronfman Creativity & Innovation Scholar-in-Residence. Chavez, award-winning educator with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, is the author of “The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom,” and co-editor of “The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT,” as well as having taught courses at CC in English and Film and Media Studies from 2012-2018. 

This three-year residency will allow Creativity & Innovation to become more integrated in the everyday lives of CC students, helping them connect with the program directly and also through specific C&I classes. Chavez herself will teach selected creativity-related blocks, including some revived from her past time teaching at CC. Some courses include: Podcasting; The Inspiration Lab; Audio Essay; and Creative Nonfiction Writing. An award-winning teacher, Chavez possesses a special gift for helping students to connect with each other, with the community, and to their own internal creative capacities.

Dez Stone Menendez, director of Creativity & Innovation, adds that “Felicia embodies the program’s goals to nurture students’ creative capacities and to support the college’s ongoing antiracist work. In this new role, Felicia’s work has the potential to benefit our entire CC community.” Chavez will work in collaboration with CC faculty members from all disciplines to develop and implement the curricular programs that will help build students’ creative capacities. There will be the potential for faculty workshops focusing on anti-racist pedagogy and the practice of creativity, and to engage audiences beyond the Colorado College community to invite for even more collaboration. 

Chavez will also continue developing and sharing scholarly research, including the work accomplished in her book “The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom.” She will implement her own work in the classroom, supporting and platforming students of color, which Chavez describes as, “allowing a platform for them to exercise voice as well as correcting our canon, platforming the voices of writers of color.” For Chavez, “it’s more urgent than ever that we consciously work against traditions of dominance in the classroom.”

Felicia Chavez will be teaching classes and workshops this coming school year. Menendez, Chavez, and the whole Creativity & Innovation team would like to thank Kelly and Sam Bronfman for their support of the residency as well as their ongoing support of the entire program.

How Does Contact Tracing Work?

Contact tracing is vital to preventing the spread of COVID-19 within communities. It allows people who have been exposed to someone who was symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19 to be quickly identified, notified of exposure, and quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus. Contact tracing is confidential, and information gathered in the process is not shared or connected to the student-conduct process. Contact tracers try to quickly build a positive, trusting relationship with the person who tested positive or who is symptomatic for COVID-19 and their associated contacts (the people who have been exposed). You should feel comfortable sharing the names of people who you have had exposure to and identifying locations where these exposures have occurred, in a timely and efficient manner. Not only do contact tracers have to quickly build positive rapport, the tracer must also be knowledgeable about the virus and associated protocols, and communicate in a concise, clear manner, while remaining empathetic and supportive to the unique needs of each person interviewed. The contact tracer must adhere to all legal guidelines associated with HIPPA (medical privacy) requirements, while maintaining confidentiality about specific details of an interview that might reveal the identity of any of the individuals involved. Once an individual has been identified as someone who will need to isolate or quarantine, the contact tracer will have daily interactions with the individual throughout their isolation/quarantine timeframe, to ensure that academic, mental health, spiritual, and other support services are provided, by the appropriate resources, in a timely manner. Have additional questions about contact tracing or want to be trained as a CC contact tracer? Contact Connie Brachtenbach: cbrachtenbach@coloradocollege.edu.

Celebrating Our Community: Faculty Volunteers

For months, CC faculty members have shown their commitment to our students and their educational experience. Exceptional teaching has continued even as classes shifted between in-person, flex, hybrid, and distanced. As remarkable as all of CC’s faculty have been in the classroom, 30 faculty have also volunteered in other ways to support the CC community. From building face shields to serving as contact tracers to delivering food and mail to students in quarantine, our faculty continue to demonstrate their commitment to the college and the well-being of our community. They have also been serving on critical committees such as the Scientific Advisory Group, COVID Advisory Leadership Team, and the Faculty Advisory Committee to the co-presidents and provost.  We are all in this together, and our faculty are showing us the way. Thank you faculty!

Faculty member Oguzhan Batmaz volunteers to deliver items to students.

In no particular order, here are the names of faculty known to have volunteered – Ryan Bañagale, Sofia Fenner, Rachel Paupeck, Emma Powell, Andrea Bruder, Emily Chan, Lori DrisOguzhan Batmazcoll, Kate Leonard, Pedro de Araujo, Shawn Womack, Jane Murphy, Iddo Aharony, Amanda Minervini, Esther Redmount, Oguzhan Batmaz, Alexei Pavlenko, John Gould, Richard Buxton, Jamal Ratchford, Gypsy Ames, Christina Rader, David Brown, Olivia Hatton, Vanessa Muñoz, Miro Kummel, William Davis, Kathy Giuffre, Neena Grover, Heidi Lewis, and Karen Roybal. If your name was left off, please forgive us and share your story with Lyrae Williams.  Each week, we will share stories of how our community is coming together during this time. Submit ideas to Lyrae Williams to be highlighted in a future week.

Faculty members John Gould and Shawn Womack volunteering.

Getting to Know Edwin Hamada: Assistant Vice President for the Residential Experience

By Shannon Zander

Note: The majority of this interview conducted in early July 2020 with the exception of the two questions on COVID-19 which were added in early September.

 Welcome to Edwin Hamada, who joined Colorado College as our new assistant vice president for the Residential Experience as of September 1. For the month of September, Hamada will be working alongside John Lauer, associate vice president for Student Life, until Lauer’s retirement on October 1. This interview provides a chance to learn about Hamada — from how he sees COVID shaping the residential experience to why he’d choose spaghetti squash if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life.

What is the main way your position will impact students at Colorado College?
As we all know, the majority of students live on campus or in college-owned property.  The on-campus residential experience is a key component of the life of a Colorado College student.  The teams in Campus Safety/Emergency Management, Residential Experience (formerly Residential Life), Housing Operations, Conferences, and Student Life Maintenance and Project Management are a solid group as I discovered during the interview process.  My job is to support the team in continuing their good work and see where I can contribute.  I have a lot of experience and have a few ideas formulated but learning the culture at CC and then building collaborative relationships will my initial focus.

What is your professional and educational background before CC?

  • I have worked in housing at the following schools: University of San Francisco, University of California – Los Angeles, Western Illinois University, San Jose State University, University of California-Irvine, University of Washington, and Washington State University.
  • I received my BA in Psychology at USF, my MS in College Student Personnel at WIU (taking classes from Nancy Evans and Dea Forney for Student Development theory fans), and my PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington.

Why do you think you are a good fit for the job?
This might sound silly but there was a scene in an older movie called “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling) where the main character is getting a style makeover and discovers he is buying shirts that are too big for him.  When I think of my start at a small liberal arts school and how I love getting to know students and faculty/staff, my professional journey at larger public schools made it more difficult to get to know people.  CC’s culture of student engagement and collaboration fits my leadership style and feels like a good fit!

What influenced you to get into this field and profession?
As with many seasoned student affairs professionals, you sort of fall into the profession.  As a resident assistant and assistant hall director at USF, I loved working with students and was told I could get my master’s degree while continuing to work in the halls.  That was the start of a magical journey! While there have been challenges along the way, I have benefited from the support of many and look for opportunities to do the same for others as that is what makes being a student affairs professional worth the time and effort – investing in others.

What challenges does COVID pose to the usual” residential experience?
The concept of how we develop community and interact and get to know each other requires a major paradigm shift.  For first-year students, how they envisioned life at CC when they submitted their admission application changed significantly during their senior year.  Likewise, returning students need to alter their habits from prior years. The residential experience at CC is a multiyear commitment so we need to think about community development as an ongoing process that occurs over the arch of the student’s tenure. Students will find ways to safely interact, form strong bonds with their peers, and adapt their behavior when needed. We are all committed to providing a meaningful residential experience and have planned for months how to safely deliver that experience.

What can be done to mitigate these challenges?
An open mind and thinking creatively are characteristics of CC students.  Following the enhanced social distancing protocols adds a little challenge to community development and getting to know your peers but does not prevent it.  You just need to rethink your strategy.

I have led numerous team-building activities where a set of rules are outlined and a bag of random items are placed in front of the group, which is told it must be incorporated in the end product.  Maybe it is a “design your ideal residence hall” or “come up with a skit that highlights your floor community using these random items.”  Each group is able to successfully reach the goal and their end product varies, despite being given the same items and guidelines.  COVID and the enhanced social distancing guidelines necessitates a different way of thinking about achieving the goal of community and getting to know your peers. And it will look different for each person but is achievable as we are all committed to this goal.

What do you like about CC so far?
The people are what makes any situation special.  The students, faculty, and staff I have met during the interview did an excellent job of articulating how special Colorado College is for everyone. It was easy to see myself as part of the CC community. While I have yet to physically visit the campus and community, the virtual tour and pictures reinforce the natural beauty everyone was talking about during the interview.  I am excited to move to a location with so many wonderful places to explore the outdoors.

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

  • Walking the dogs with my wife. We have a 14-year-old Chihuahua and a 10-year-old Husky/Lab mix.
  • Working on cars…I’m a gearhead and have two older sports cars that require a lot of maintenance.

What’s an accomplishment you’re particularly proud of?
I have worked with some excellent teams in my career.  Being the competitive person I am, my goal is to be the best supervisor or leader and set the bar high for any supervisors my team will have in the future or experienced in the past.  It always makes me proud when individuals on my teams tell me I was their best supervisor or leader.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
Individualization and Context are my top two StrengthFinder themes. I find the unique qualities in each person and want to know their background (for context).  This makes me a good listener.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
As a kid, I must have been grumping at my mom about a task she asked me to do.  She essentially told me, “You can do it with a smile on your face or with an unhappy face but you will have to do it, so you might as well be happy.” That is probably the reason I am an optimist even under the direst of circumstances.

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
Speaking all the languages of the world…but I’d settle for expert welder.

What book are you reading now? “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah.

Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?
I find myself making up songs and singing it to my dogs.  I’d like to think of myself as the Snoop Dogg to dogs.

What is one interesting fact that people might not know about you?
I’m an ordained minister of the Tenrikyo religion and have performed four wedding ceremonies.

If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rice would be the easy answer but I’d have to go with spaghetti squash.  It is definitely the most underappreciated squash and so versatile. Although, I am not sure I’d want it for breakfast.  

Quad Continues to Build Community Partnerships Amid Pandemic

By Valerie Hanna’18

For student analysts at the Quad Innovation Partnership, the Coronavirus pandemic brought new urgency to community projects. Quad is a joint initiative that provides consulting services to local for-profit, nonprofit, and municipal partners. Teams are comprised of students and faculty advisors from Colorado College, University of Colorado College at Colorado Springs, the United States Air Force Academy, and Pikes Peak Community College. Student analysts are paid for their work, and partners receive quality, interdisciplinary consulting from students who are connected to the local community. Currently in its fifth year, Quad has received local and statewide recognition and now sustains paid research and work opportunities for more than 100 students each year.

Throughout the 2020 Spring Semester, Quad teams worked for five clients in Colorado Springs. Of these, two projects were extended from previous assignments that clients chose to pursue further. “Quad provides invaluable experience for students in a professional workplace setting where their work leads to real results you can see in the community,” shares Executive Director Jake Eichengreen. “It’s been equally rewarding to see how these students have built real relationships with the community, and we’re seeing this through contracts with repeat clients.”

In 2019, a team of Quad students working with Innovations in Aging developed recommendations for how developers can build affordable, community-minded housing for seniors. That research informed the development of a new, 280-unit affordable housing complex near downtown. This spring, the developer re-hired Quad to come up with specific recommendations for how the development can offer the best quality of life for its residents. Colorado Springs Utilities continued its partnership with Quad, working with student analysts to strategize avenues to increase engagement with Colorado Springs youth, who are future rate-payers. The City of Colorado Springs is also a repeat client, and rehired Quad to consult on how Colorado Springs can maximize partnerships between institutions of higher learning and the private sector around smart technology development, both to improve services and to build the local and regional economy.

Colorado College is a first-time client, and partnered with the Quad during the Spring 2020 semester to develop a peer mentorship program for female-identifying staff. Finally, two Quad teams worked with Partners for Children’s Mental Health, an organization of Children’s Hospital, Colorado, to research best practices for schoolwide suicide prevention education and personal student safety plans, respectively. Results from the research Quad collected informed staff hires, and will be published with the behavioral health strategic plan to better guide suicide prevention and mental health efforts across Colorado.

In March, Quad teams shifted to remote consulting to mitigate the Coronavirus’ spread. Project groups, which usually met twice a week at a local coffee shop, switched to virtual check-ins.

“While virtual meetings were new to us, remote work is consistent with a traditional consulting model,” Eichengreen says, adding that larger films rely heavily on teleconferencing, serving clients across the nation and the globe. “Student analysts working at Quad are likely going to have to work remotely at some point in their career, regardless of the field they choose,” says Eichengreen.

All Quad projects continued via teleconferencing and phone calls, and teams successfully wrapped up their projects on schedule in mid-May. But for the two teams working with Partners for Children’s Mental Health, the pandemic’s challenges were more than just communication logistics. Colorado has one of the 10 highest rates of youth suicide nationwide, and El Paso County has the highest rate in the state. Quad’s focus group, middle- and high-school students, is a particularly vulnerable age group. Young people rely on strong social networks and face-to-face contact, and with schools closed, physical distancing can feel even more isolating. Quad analysts had been working in the schools, consulting with administrators and school counselors across districts in the region to better understand community needs and develop a strategy to implement best practices, so with the schools closed, communication became difficult.

Quad was working on developing a peer-to-peer mentorship model wherein participants write letters to one another to combat feelings of isolation. These efforts have been particularly effective in veteran communities, and Quad proposed implementing a similar model in middle- and high-school school settings, in addition to in-person student support groups. In consideration of the possibility of long-term social distancing, the students also developed recommendations for texting services similar to a 24/7 crisis hotline, and other virtual support structures to serve at-risk students.

“This pandemic has made it very clear that mental health access is essential,” says Settie Harrison ’20, who worked with Partners for Children’s Mental Health alongside Caroline James ’20, Andre Dufresne ’21, and several other students from CC, UCCS, USAFA, and PPCC. “But we need to be proactive, not just reactive in our approach. This project aims to do just that; we provided a scalable program to Children’s Hospital, which they will then be able to help local schools implement.”

Quad analysts felt the emotional challenges of physical distancing themselves, both in their professional and personal lives. Quad shifted to remote consulting around the same time that Colorado College switched to remote learning, and “all of a sudden I was cooking in the same space where I was sleeping, where I was studying, where I was consulting,” says Dufresne. “It was tough, but also good to be able to call friends, to know we were in this together.”

In-person meetings provided a welcome opportunity to share and learn with students from different backgrounds. “I joined Quad because I wanted to give back to the Colorado Springs community and work with new people. Almost all of my peers at CC came from high school, or maybe a gap year program. Working with other college students from across Colorado Springs was an important space for me to connect and collaborate outside the CC bubble,” adds Dufresne.

Several graduating seniors have moved on from Quad, but they left with valuable hard and soft skills. “Quad taught me to work as part of a team to meet tight deadlines. Consulting was a lot like working on the Block Plan: small project teams, highly collaborative, and really interdisciplinary.”

Harrison shares that while her educational path was somewhat circuitous, Quad gave her direction and opened up new options she didn’t know existed. “My experience working with the Children’s Hospital showed me how expansive the medical field is,” she says. “Now I’m planning to pursue a master’s in public health, because of Quad.”

Over the summer, Quad analysts shifted their focus to two community-scale research projects. These assignments are intended for a broad audience to support intentional, informed and data-driven community decision-making in the wake of COVID-19. One study is exploring public trust and public safety in today’s Colorado Springs. The second project is an examination of organizational resilience, exploring how to position nonprofits and small businesses to be able to respond to changing circumstances effectively and rapidly, especially in these uncertain times.

Welcome New Associate Vice President of Facilities Services

Please help to welcome Amber Brannigan, who recently accepted the associate vice president, Facilities Services position! She will join the college in early August. Brannigan brings a wealth of leadership and facilities management experience having served as the building division administrator for the State of Nebraska, where she oversaw most state-owned buildings on all aspects of facilities operations, planning, and construction. Brannigan says one of her greatest accomplishments was her oversight and publication of the state’s first campus facilities strategic master plan.

Prior to joining the state, she worked for six years at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in progressively senior roles that included working with facilities services and staff, and overseeing procurement and sourcing. She has experience building strong community partnerships, and brings leadership and collaborative skills to this new role with CC.

Brannigan has a master’s of arts in management with an emphasis in international business, and two bachelors of arts degrees — economics and sociology, and in theatre and public speaking.

Commemorating Juneteenth

By Shannon Zander

A Brief History of Juneteenth

 Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” is today! Juneteenth

commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. Although President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two and a half years prior, there was no one to ensure that the proclamation was known and upheld in the absence of federal troops.

Manya Whitaker, associate professor of education and interim director of the Butler Center, likened Juneteenth to the Fourth of July: “for many Black descendants of enslaved people, Juneteenth — or Jubilee — is our independence day. Just as July 4th is celebrated in memory of the colonies gaining independence from England, Juneteenth is when the last enslaved people, 2 ½ years after slavery was supposed to have ended, were finally set free in Texas.”

Whitaker noted that the marginalization and oppression of Black individuals certainly did not cease on June 19, 1865, as many of the previous enslaved individuals “had no choice but to remain on the plantation where they’d lived their entire lives and continue working as they’d always worked as ‘paid’ labor, never earning enough to be able to leave.”

“Nevertheless, this day is historic and is celebrated in Black communities nationwide as a moment to remind ourselves that we’ve overcome the unimaginable and we will continue to fight for our humanity.”

Why Awareness of Juneteenth Has Been On the Rise:
Awareness of Juneteenth is on the rise in the United States. In June 2018, the number of Google searches for the term “Juneteenth” nearly tripled. Currently, the interest in Juneteenth is the highest Google Trends has ever recorded.

Whitaker attributes the increased interest in Juneteenth to two reasons: “the Black community is re-grounding itself in its roots” and “we are telling our history beyond the borders of our own homes.” She notes that oral tradition has been a core way that Black individuals have passed stories and history down through generations, “but in recent years with the support of social media and technology we have many more options for documenting our stories and Juneteenth is one story that clearly needs to be told. That people are googling it tells me that at least some people want to listen.”

Here’s how you can commemorate Juneteenth
While many in-person, local events to celebrate Juneteenth have been canceled, you can still participate from anywhere in the world through these virtual events:

View more events and read more about the history of Juneteenth here.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Inaugural Esports Awards

By Shannon Zander

The inaugural esports awards — the Alaska award and the MysticMonk3y award — were given to Caroline Li ’20 and Andrew Choy ’23, respectively. These two awards, with a prize of $500 each, were generously created by an anonymous donor in the summer of 2019. The donor established the criteria for each award, and the Colorado College esports team chose to name the awards after influential CC students who helped to grow the esports community. Candidates were nominated by their peers and the final selection was made by a judge outside of the program selected by the anonymous donor.

The first ever Alaska award, named after Lilly Chen’s ’19 gamer tag, “Alaska,” was awarded to Li. A criterion of winning this award is that the recipient must be “a member of the esports community who significantly contributes to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment,” according to the nomination form. Li, who has been a member of the esports community since her junior year, won the award due to her “immense passion for esports” and commitment “to growing the esports community in a meaningful and diverse way.” Li’s nominator also mentioned that she especially embodies the qualities of this award “in her extended commitment to Fem Friday, a program that works to grow the esports community in a meaningful and diverse way.”

The MysticMonk3y award, named after Henry Hinds’ ’19 gamer tag, emphasizes passion and leadership in esports while maintaining academic excellence. The recipient must be a player on the roster of an esports team, maintain a minimum of a 3.5 GPA, and demonstrate good sportsmanship, teamwork, professional behavior, and a passion for esports. Andrew Choy ’23, a first-year student, is this year’s recipient. Choy was commended in his nomination form for his efforts in welcoming others into the esports community, his dedication to helping with esports events, and his desire to see esports thrive at Colorado College. He even started a new unofficial team, all while striving for and maintaining academic excellence.

Congratulations to both Caroline Li and Andrew Choy!

“Thorne Miniatures” Thesis Piano Composition Dedicated to Two Music Faculty

By Grace Hale ’20

“Thorne Miniatures” is a collection of six miniature piano compositions each inspired by one of Narcissa Thorne’s miniature rooms found in the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thorne’s miniature rooms are best described as model rooms of mostly European and American interiors built during the 1930s and 1940s. One of the most peculiar characteristics of Thorne’s miniature rooms is the absence of any human figures. Instead, she hints at human existence with small inanimate objects like a soccer ball or books. This is the role of the “Thorne Miniatures” to supply the musical scenes in such a way that fills this lifeless void. The “Thorne Miniatures” is an ode to childhood and imagination as explored in the museum collection.

During my four years at Colorado College, I had the privilege of studying composition very closely under Professor Ofer Ben-Amots and piano performance under Sue Grace. It was only appropriate that I would construct my thesis as a culmination of the two disciplines and the time spent with these mentors. I thank them both for giving me a new love of music and a drive to always create more. It is to them that I dedicate my “Thorne Miniatures.”

When CC moved to digital learning for the rest of the 2020 Spring Semester, I found myself in need of a piano for practice. With the help of Ofer and Sue, I was connected with a man named Phil Erklen who offered his studio as a place for me to practice near where I was living this spring. Little did I know that much more would come of this connection. In my time there, I signed a contract with Phil to publish my “Thorne Miniatures”through the CCC Music Company. With the publication, we created this video as a reference tool for those who purchase the music.