‘The Best’ of Shane and Stormy’s Stockholm Trip

By Stormy Burns, music department office coordinator

Shane and Stormy Burns at the Nobel Committee reception.

As many of you know, in December Shane and I attended an exciting celebration. The Berkeley astrophysics group that Shane helped establish was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. I’d like to share some “bests” of our trip to Stockholm.  

Best big event: The Royal Ball after the ceremony and banquet.
Best little event: The Christmas markets we found in the squares around Stockholm.
Best walk: Strolling in the cold and looking at the department store windows at night.
Best ride: The taxi ride from the hotel to the Town Hall to join our spouses for the banquet. (Five women in ball gowns and wraps can really fill a vehicle!)

Best big meal:
The royal banquet, complete with fireworks as dessert was served.
Best small meal: Lunch in a diner in old town Stockholm. (No burgers, however.)
Best drink: All that French champagne!
Best conversation: Overhearing why there is no Nobel prize in mathematics.

Best gifts:
Little wooden Swedish horses; tiny wooden star ornaments and candle holders.
Best tacky gift: Replica dynamite sticks made of black licorice and wrapped in paper.
Best group gathering: The Swedish lunch on the island of Fjaderholmarnas, in Stockholm’s archipelago, with the physics team.
Most fun in a museum: Watching the Nobel Laureates and other Ph.D.s romp on the play structures in the Pippi Longstocking Museum lobby.
Best hair: Judy Goldhaber’s electric shade of orange that she chose for the celebration week.
Best tiara and gown: The Crown Princess of Sweden’s blue gown and headpiece.
Best trumpet fanfare: At the beginning of the royal promenade to the banquet hall.
Best tourist event: The bus tour of the city with the Nobel laureates and their families.

I wrote and posted pictures to a blog I called “Stormy Adventures”:  http://stormybburns.blogspot.com/ There are lots of photos of each day of our adventures and some video clips of the trumpet fanfare and banquet.  At this time, the blog has had almost 4,000 hits – it must be people looking for Saul and Shane in their white tie and tails!

The link to the official Nobel website is www.nobelprize.org

Stormy and Shane celebrate with a champagne toast.

First Block Class Launches The Ninth Block

It’s not often that a class assignment becomes a tangible enterprise, but CC’s new on-campus bar is the direct result of an economics course. A first block economics course, “Entrepreneurship,” was instrumental in launching The Ninth Block, the on-campus bar.

The Ninth Block founders, from left to right, are Lee Carter, Ryan Patterson, Luke Urban and Bryce Daniels. Not shown is Tyler Thorne.

At the start of the school year, seniors Lee Carter, Ryan Patterson, and Luke Urban, and juniors Bryce Daniels and Tyler Thorne took Economics and Business Professor Larry Stimpert’s class in which the assignment was to write a business plan. Their first idea was a combination barbershop and bar, but they quickly dropped the barbershop side of the business and focused instead on creating a social space on campus in which students could gather and talk over a drink.

The result is The Ninth Block, currently located in La’au’s Taco Shop behind the Spencer Building. Daniels, a golfer, came up with the name, which is derived from the 19th hole in golf, commonly meaning the bar or clubhouse. CC’s Block Plan originally had nine blocks, and Patterson liked the historical significance and double connotation of the name.

“I strongly believe in the importance of students having a place to meet and socialize that doesn’t require an invitation. This gives students an option who might like to have a drink with a friend or group,” said CC President Jill Tiefenthaler.

Students under 21 can enter the bar but are not served alcohol. Entrants’ IDs are checked, and different wrist bands are worn by students over and under 21 years of age.

“We wanted a constructive place where kids could gather. There was a lot of support from the administration and the students,” said Urban. “What we were hoping to do was create an alternative to the house party scene.”

The group was encouraged by Stimpert, who liked the plan but kept challenging the students to make it better. ”He not only pushed our group, he pushed the whole class. He challenged everyone to do cool things with their project. He expected a lot out of everyone,” Urban said. “If it wasn’t for Larry, none of this would have happened.”

The on-campus bar, which serves CC students of age, faculty, and staff, is a pilot program, but Patterson said the goal is to find it a permanent, on-campus location. Colorado College previously had a campus bar, Benjamin’s Basement (also known as Benny’s) in the Rastall Center, which opened in 1975 and served 3.2 beer, soft drinks, and snacks. It ceased to exist when the building was enlarged, remodeled, and renamed the Worner Campus Center in 1987.

The students’ project fits in with an administrative goal to provide a location on or near campus where students 21 years can meet, socialize, and drink responsibly. Once the idea began to take shape, the students got in touch with Mike Edmonds, dean of students, and President Tiefenthaler, to discuss the possibilities of operating an on-campus bar. Both were open to the proposal, and Edmonds put the group in touch with Joseph Coleman, a local businessman who owns several restaurants. The students formed a partnership (PDUCT Management, derived from the initials of the five students’ last names) with Coleman, and Coleman agreed to house The Ninth Block in La’au’s, where it operates after the restaurant closes.

“It is an exciting opportunity, particularly for the students who came up with the idea,” said John Lauer, senior associate dean of students and director of residential life. 

The bar, which is open from 9:15 p.m. to 1:45 a.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, serves nachos, chips and salsa, six different beers, and has a “limited but adequate” bar; it does not, however, serve shots. The students said that was a deliberate decision, designed to help promote responsible drinking and to distance the bar from the house party atmosphere. “It should be a place where a professor and student would be comfortable going after dinner at the professor’s house to talk about the issues of the day,” Carter said.

An on-campus bar helps minimize the risks of drinking, Patterson said. “This pilot program gives kids the opportunity to show they can be responsible. No one wants to mess it up.”

“The Ninth Block presents so many possibilities for learning,” Lauer said. “It is truly a unique pilot that offers hands-on business experience, another gathering place for the campus community, and a chance for the administration to see how all involved respond to the project.”

Although the entrepreneurship class was only a block long (and all five got an A in the class), they continued to work on the project the entire semester, even spending their winter break getting their bartender certifications. The group would spend long hours discussing, developing, and discarding plans. They would take over a classroom, writing ideas on the chalkboard and fine-tuning them. Stimpert can vouch for that: “They developed a high level of commitment to their idea, and long after Block One was over, I’d see them meeting together in a Palmer classroom late in the afternoon or at night hashing out details,” he said.

The students found they were constantly thinking about the challenges of getting the bar up and running– and knew the others in the group were too, based on the flurry of late-night texts and emails.  “It was the perfect opportunity to learn what it is like to be a business owner and to operate a business on a small scale, said Carter. “It was a great experience.”

 The bar’s founders said that the Block Plan definitely contributed to their commitment to the project, and that it would have been challenging to maintain their momentum under a semester plan. “It definitely was one of the top five educational experiences of my life,” Daniels said.

“The entrepreneurship course represents the best aspects of teaching and learning in Colorado College’s Block Plan,” said Stimpert. “The students immersed themselves in the creative task of developing a complete business plan in three and one-half weeks.  They benefitted from the opportunity to work with nine successful entrepreneurs – most of them Colorado College alumni – who participated in the course. But most of the credit for the launch of The Ninth Block must go to these students. Their individual personalities quickly jelled into a hardworking and effective group.”

Student reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. “People are telling us that it’s fantastic, that it’s just what the campus needs,” said Urban. “Even people we don’t know are coming up and saying they were sick of the party scene, and it’s so great to be able to go someplace close by and have a real conversation. It makes all the work worthwhile.”

Patterson said the endeavor has been the defining project of his senior year; a “capstone experience.”

“I think it will be very rewarding in the end. We want to show everyone that this is a viable, sustainable concept,” Patterson said. “It definitely improves campus life.”

Andrew Manley: Words and Phrases coined by Shakespeare

By Sylvie Scowcroft ’14

Upon entering the Cornerstone Arts Center, one is confronted with a nearly 20-foot high chalkboard wall filled words and phrases commonly used today. The hand-written chalk installation features many of the more than 1,700 words and phrases coined by Shakespeare. Many of the words on the board were already in existence; Shakespeare just used them in a new way. CC Associate Drama Professor Andrew Manley, who is responsible for this installation, has a theory that since Shakespeare wrote purely in iambic pentameter, he often had to get creative with his phrasing.

Manley has filled smaller chalkboards with Shakespeare before and was looking for an opportunity to do it again because in his eyes the words of Shakespeare are the perfect thing to fill the space. “It is a big board and therefore needs something big to fill it. The sheer size of the chalkboards reflects Shakespeare’s monumental contribution to the English language. His words are such a strong foundation to drama and language that it seems only fitting to place them in the front of our performing arts center,” Manley said.

Cornerstone is largely a drama building, so Manley likes the image of Shakespeare’s words going right up the core into the building. Toward the end of last year there seemed to be a lull in the use of the boards, so he decided the time was ripe. One side of the wall features words; the other side features phrases.

The process of installing this project was a pleasant one for Manley. The most difficult part of using the chalkboards is always cleaning off whatever was there beforehand. It him took a good deal of time and at least two washes to completely erase any trace of previous chalk. Once that was completed he got up on his big orange scissor lift and just started writing. It took three hours, but once he got going he entered into a meditative state. According to Manley, there was a peacefulness and state of Zen that came from all of that writing. It “took [him] into a world of words,” which he rather enjoyed.

Before starting the actual writing process, Manley did very little prep work. He found a list of words and phrases on the Internet and edited out the more obscure, less interesting ones. He didn’t do anything special to ensure that the lines were straight or count how many words/phrases were going to fit on the wall. As soon as the wall was ready, he just stared writing. Luckily, he got all the way through the alphabet by the end.

Manley loves what this project does for the people entering the building. Whether they see it everyday or just once, there is always some sort of reaction. For those who come in everyday, they often like to look for a new word or phrase. There is no way to grasp the entire wall without standing still and meticulously reading
. This is a perfect exhibit for a variety of people engaging the building in a variety of ways.  

Mike Edmonds Cited as Major Force in Forensics

Colorado College Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life Mike Edmonds has been elected by the KEY Society, one of the nation’s most prestigious forensics educators honor societies, as an honorary KEY coach. Edmonds accepted the honor at Emory University, where the society is housed, on Jan. 27.

Edmonds was cited as a major force in forensics when selected for the recognition. Said Melissa Maxcy Wade, executive of director of forensics at Emory University, “Mike is, simply, one of the nation’s forensics treasures.”

Forensics helps people think critically, speak publically, and persuade others, Edmonds said. “You have to weigh the material, analyze it, and articulate a point of view. Sometimes the analysis shows you that there are multiple truths; that everything isn’t always a solvable problem with a single answer. If there are multiple approaches, you find what the best approach is at a given time.

“Isn’t it better,” the dean of students and vice president for student life adds, “to have something settled after being questioned from all points of view? To solve differences with the spoken word and have real resolution?”

Edmonds began his forensics career as a seventh-grader in Clarksville, Tenn., and majored in theater and speech at the University of Mississippi. He says he joined the debate team while in junior high school for a variety of reasons: it allowed him to banter in a constructive manner, enabled him to travel, was an activity applicable to life – and because he had friends on the team. He has maintained his love of the discipline ever since, and the skills he began cultivating as a teenager have stood him in good stead throughout his career.

Qualities such as tolerance, patience, openness, and critical thinking are central to good debaters, and they also help facilitate dialogue and discussion in a classroom – and in life, Edmonds said.

Having good debating skills “gives you the opportunity to be comfortable having discussions in which you are passionate, but also willing to listen to opposing views. Good debaters are only credible if they know how to give the opposing view a credible and graceful exit strategy,” he said.

Edmonds is especially humbled by this award as he has not been an active coach since the early 1990s. However, he judges at least three high school tournaments a year, one of which is always the national high school tournament. Edmonds was selected for the award by his peers, and the fact that the award is peer-chosen means a lot to him. “These people are my friends and mentors, and I respect them so much,” he said.

The role of a good coach, Edmonds said, is to develop talent. “You need to know how to spot potential and understand how to use it.” A good coach knows a debater’s style, knows what topics work, what piece of literature to use to back up an argument, and what chemistry works best on a team. “A good coach brings out the best in both the individual and the team,” he said.

“I fundamentally believe that the sustainability and evolution of forensics is inherent to constructive dialogue,” Edmonds said. “It’s not one’s win/loss record, it’s the ability to solve differences and see another’s point of view.”

Rebecca Tucker Cited for Exemplifying the ‘Art of Teaching’

Rebecca Tucker, associate professor of art at Colorado College, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ray O. Werner Award for Exemplary Teaching in the Liberal Arts.

Tucker earns the respect of students and colleagues for her impressive scholarship, her infectious enthusiasm for teaching, and her patience and ability to challenge students. Her engaging approach to teaching distinguishes Tucker as an exemplary professor, and her efforts are central to sustaining a rich and innovating intellectual climate at Colorado College.

In the years following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College in 1988, Tucker pursued a M.A. in the history of art from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, beginning what has proven to be a highly productive scholarly career. She concluded her education by receiving a Ph.D. in art history, also from NYU, and quickly pursued teaching.

Tucker was an instructor at both Skidmore College and the University of Denver before ultimately joining the Colorado College art department as an assistant professor in 2006.

Within art history, Tucker specializes in Renaissance and Baroque art of Northern Europe. Tucker has excelled as a professor who provides a stimulating academic environment for students.  Students praise Tucker’s deep knowledge of art and her passion for the subject, which permeate each lecture. In an effort to enliven her classes, Tucker emphasizes student collaboration and discussion. Integrating new technology, group learning, and problem-based methods in her lessons are only a few examples of the ways in which Tucker continually engages students. Described as a “consistently innovative” professor, she experiments with fresh approaches and types of projects that students find instructional, challenging, and enjoyable. For Tucker’s students, research assignments have been known to range from straightforward essays, to art exhibition construction and explanations, to writing theses or mock textbook chapters.

As an advisor, Tucker devotes ample time to developing students’ interests in art, their academic work, and their lives. Students enthusiastically respond as she makes herself an easily accessible resource.

Though Tucker sees teaching as the core of her career, her personal scholarship is notable. She has produced valuable research in art history and has filled a void in her field by primarily focusing on courtly environments of the 17th century in Northern Europe. She often explores the “whys” of art history by examining the commissioning and ownership of art, and how it is displayed and arranged, to reveal social and ideological agendas. As her CV indicates, she has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews, and a book titled “Secrets and Symbols: Decoding the Great Masters.” Tucker recently completed a sabbatical, which she spent largely in Amsterdam conducting research to revise and polish a book manuscript on courtly patronage of Dutch art that is currently under consideration at Penn State Press.

 Tucker also has been a powerful force in a variety of programs at the college. Her work on the Cornerstone Arts Committee, and in particular, on the IDEA Space, draws uniform praise. Since 2006, she has had ongoing involvement with the Children’s Center Committee, and currently sits on the Center’s Building Committee. She also has been instrumental to the art department, facilitating its use of technology and developing new courses. Tucker is both dependable and thorough in her departmental service, and as a result, colleagues often want to collaborate with her on reports, committees, and teaching courses.

In the words of the former art department chair, “Tucker’s excellence as a teacher and scholar, as well as her initiative, competence, and community spirit are exemplary.” She is a professor who strives to maintain the type of learning environment to which Professor Werner was committed. Her talents echo Professor Werner’s ability to inspire students, collaborate with colleagues, continue research, and maintain an involved presence in the wider community.

Tucker is the third recipient of the award, joining Associate Political Science Professor John Gould, and Associate Biology Professor Brian Linkhart. The award is named after Ray O. Werner, an economics professor from 1948 to 1987 who  lived his conviction that teaching in the liberal arts should focus on the whole person, and that a liberal arts education should yield a refined, broadly educated human being. Tucker was selected because she vividly exemplifies the art of teaching.

Employee Recognition Program ‘Rocks’ On

There’s a growing rock pile at Colorado College, and it’s not on any quad, field, or building site.

Part of the ‘rock pile’ outside HR on the third floor of Spencer.

The pile of rocks is mounting outside the Human Resources office, and HR anticipates it will continue to grow. The rocks are part of a new program called “You Rock!”, an initiative launched in late fall as a way for employees to show appreciation for one another.

HR staff members quietly kicked off the program by distributing a total of 11 small rocks with the words “You Rock” to CC employees HR wanted to recognize. The rocks didn’t necessarily go to people visible to everyone on campus. Often it is the quiet people working in their offices who get the work done and made a positive difference and contribution to the college. 

'You Rock' recipient Cheri Gamble.

The “You Rock” program is aimed at boosting employee morale and demonstrates just one way to show appreciation for others.  It’s a way of telling people, “I’ve noticed the good job you’re doing, and what you’ve done for CC.”

“You Rock!” is designed to be a peer-to-peer recognition program, one that takes place at the grassroots level and proceeds at its own pace.

Recipients of the rock are given instructions: They become the “Keeper of the Rock” for two weeks and are encouraged to display the rock on their desk, bookshelf, or other work visible places where colleagues will notice. After two weeks, they are to pass the “You Rock!” rock on to someone else, and to either write a note or tell the recipient why he or she is being recognized.

When HR is notified that the rock has been passed on, the new recipient’s name is added to the “You Rock” wall of fame featuring a photo display of rock recipients outside the human resource office on the third floor of the Spencer Building.

To date, “You Rock” recipients are:
Merriam Spurgeon
Diane Cobbett
Margi Vermillion
Dan Johnson
Christin Deville
Jessica Raab
Will Wise
Roger Smith
Donna Sison
Marita Beckert
Nancy Heinecke
David White
Karen Ferguson
Stacy Davidson
Matt Bonser
Mark Saviano
Gretchen Wardell
Beth Kancilia
Delaine Winkelblech
Mandy Sulfrian
Jonathan Driscoll
Donna Engle
Gina Arms
Pam Leutz
Cathey Barbee
Cheri Gamble
Sarai Ornelas

Get to know: Joycelin Randle

Joycelin Randle, Colorado College’s new associate director of employer relations, doesn’t get jobs for CC students. Instead, she cultivates relationships with alumni, parents, and employers regarding internships and entry-level positions, passes information along to students, and helps position them as front-runners for potential employment. Randle searches out job prospects, but when opportunity knocks, it’s the students who get up and open the door.

The career center position was revamped when the former associate director of the career center retired last summer. Randle, who started in August 2011, says the job is less that of a counselor; indeed, the position’s new name reflects the emphasis on building employer relations, with a large part of the job being outreach and networking in order to better assist CC students in identifying and securing jobs and internships. Randle is developing relationships through email, telephone calls, and in-person visits, working closely with the development office and the office of alumni and parent relations.

She also accompanied President Jill Tiefenthaler on several trips to visit alumni and parents as part of the new president’s “year of listening” tour. Recently, Randle traveled to the Bay Area where she met with alumni in diverse fields – marketing/advertising, health care, and financial investing – to explore internships and employment opportunities for CC students. She also encourages parents, alumni, and employers to visit campus for job fairs and recruiting lunches. “My job is to meet people and talk to them, and get them excited about CC and CC students,” Randle said. “It’s great.”

Originally from North Little Rock, Ark., Randle comes to Colorado College by way of Vanderbilt University’s law school – where she was both a student and an employee. She graduated cum laude from Arkansas State University with a major in speech communication and a minor in political science. During her sophomore year in college, she decided she wanted to go to law school, so she printed a list of the top 20 law schools in the country and stuck it above her bed. “I told myself, ‘this is what I’m going to do’,” she said.

At Vanderbilt Law School she received several awards, including being honored as Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student. During the summer of 2005 she interned at Fredrikson and Byron, a law firm in Minneapolis that specializes in civil and commercial real estate litigation. Upon graduation the following year, she went to work for them as an associate.

However, she soon discovered that working in a high-powered law firm was not what she wanted. “It was eye-opening,” she said. “It was not what I expected.” She left the law firm after two years, and went to clerk for a judge in Hennepin County, Minn. “There I was in the courtroom every day,” she said.

In the meantime, her mentor at the law firm continued to work with her, pointing out that Randle was outgoing and good with people, and Randle eventually realized that she wanted to be in higher education. She had stayed in touch with friends and administrators at Vanderbilt, and knowing the importance of networking, she put the word out that she was eager to get into career services. It wasn’t long before Vanderbilt called, offering her a position as a career advisor at the law school.

 “It was the perfect job,” Randle said. She developed relationships between Vanderbilt and state courts, contacted judges throughout the U.S. about job opportunities for students, and built awareness of state court clerkship positions. There was only one drawback: Her husband, Casell, who she met in Minneapolis 48 hours before she started her job at the law firm, worked for Cargill. He and Randle, who were married in March 2010, hoped he would be transferred to Nashville; instead, Casell was transferred to Colorado.

“I’m living proof that informational interviews and networking pay off,” Randle says. She networked purposefully, seeking to get a position in Colorado. Randle was primarily interested in the University of Denver and spoke with potential employers at both the graduate school and law school. However, nothing happened for months, and in the meantime, she interviewed at Colorado College. Randle eventually was interviewed by DU, but it was too late: CC offered her the job the day after her DU interview.

 Randle’s educational experience has been at universities, not a small liberal arts college. “I’m having fun learning the many areas students can go into,” she says. “I enjoy meeting alumni who have done so many things with their education – first they study English, then they travel, then they start a business, for example. It says a lot about the flexibility of a liberal arts education.” She also touts the Block Plan to potential employers, telling them if they want a task completed well and quickly, to hire students who have studied on the Block Plan. “These students know how to get it done,” she said.

Randle has put her time as an attorney to good use. She just completed the first draft of a book titled “What You Should Know Before You go to Law School” and is getting ready to send it to her twin sister, a Ph.D. candidate in urban education policy at Rutgers University, for a first reading. She also has a younger sister, who is studying to be a nurse in Arkansas.

While living in Minnesota, Randle was active with Hands on Twin Cities, a nonprofit that promotes volunteerism in a wide variety of areas, and with Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, designed to increase diversity in the legal community. Both she and her husband also were active with Big Brothers, Big Sisters (Randle started with the organization while still in law school), and they hope to continue volunteering with the organization in Colorado Springs.

Ron Rubin Wins Inaugural Pie-Off

The gauntlet has been thrown down by pie-maker extraordinaire Ron Rubin, development officer for major gifts.

Rubin’s Brown Bottom Rum Pecan Pie was the grand prize winner in Colorado College’s inaugural Pie-Off.  The event, which drew 16 entries, was held Dec. 14 in Armstrong Hall as a benefit for CC’s Community Kitchen. CC community members literally put their money where their mouth was as they voted for their favorite pie with pocket change, dollar bills, and in some cases, five-dollar bills, and in the process raised a total of $175 for the Community Kitchen.

The event, organized by the athletic department and business office, featured three categories. In addition to be the overall winner, Rubin’s pie also took first place in the holiday category. Carolyn Madsen, office coordinator for the president’s office, took first place in the cream pie category, with her Black Bottom Pie.  Rubin’s Raspbarb Pie was the top winner in the fruit pie category. A very close contender in the cream pie category was the Buttermilk Pie, an anonymous submission, which lost by 39 cents.

Rubin entered four pies in the competition. He baked two fruit pies (bluebarb and raspbarb) on Tuesday night, then went to the grocery store at 5 a.m. Wednesday, returned home, and baked two more pies (the grand prize winner and a peppermint eggnog pie) by 7:30 a.m. Although he often bakes pies for friends and family, Rubin said it was the first time he has baked four pies in 24 hours – and vows to enter five pies next year. “Next year is really going to be a doozie!” he said. “I’m bringing my special, famous pie recipes. No one will be able to touch them. Next year will be twice as big with much more money raised, I’m confident.”

Prizes were provided by the athletic department, with the winner of each category receiving a CC shirt and the grand prize winner receiving four tickets to a CC hockey game.

The pies and participants in the competition included:
Jack Daniels Peach – Carolyn Madsen
Raspbarb – Ron Rubin
Bluebarb – Ron Rubin
Apple – Cheri Gamble
Apple Cranberry Current with French Topping – Jim and Jannette Swanson
Black Bottom – Carolyn Madsen
Buttermilk – Anonymous
Mile-High Coconut Cream –Angela Hines
Coconut Cream  – Camilla Vogt ’13
Peanut Butter Honeycomb – Melissa Beyers
Nesselrode – Carolyn Madsen
Mincemeat – Joan Taylor
Georgia Pumpkin – Joan Taylor
Brown Bottom Run Pecan – Ron Rubin
Peppermint Eggnog Cheesecake – Ron Rubin
Chocolate Pecan – Leslie Weddell

Here is Ron’s recipe:

Rum Pecan Pie with a Chocolate Bottom

2 heaping cups of pecans that have been toasted 5 to 10 minutes at 300 to become fragrant, then cooled. Do not allow them to burn. You have to watch the pecans closely so they don’t overcook.
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed and pressed)
3/4 cup light or dark Karo syrup (I use dark)
3 large eggs plus 2 yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (I use Myers’s dark Jamaican rum. Cap’t Morgan would also be good, I bet!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make filling:
Heat brown sugar and Karo syrup in a heavy medium size saucepan at low/medium heat, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula. When sugar is dissolved into the syrup, set aside.
In another medium size saucepan, whisk eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rum, and salt together. Slowly whisk warm (not hot) sugar mixture into egg mixture. Return saucepan to stove on low and mix with rubber spatula.
Whisk in melted butter slowly.

Meanwhile, after pie crust is pressed into pie plate, put into 300 degree oven for 3 or 4 minutes for crust to get flaky. While in the oven, during the last minute, pour in the 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Leave in oven until starting to melt. Remove crust and chocolate and spread the chocolate around the crust bottom to form a nice layer of chocolate. Let cool before adding pecans and other ingredients so chocolate doesn’t melt when adding pecan mixture.

In a small pan over low heat, stir together cornstarch and water until pasty thick. Whisk into sugar mixture. Heat in sugar mixture saucepan on medium, stirring frequently about 3 minutes so it is warm to hot.

Sprinkle pecans into chocolate pie shell, then pour filling mixture on top of pecans.

Place pie plate with ingredients in 300 to 325 degree oven (depending on oven accuracy) on cookie sheet to prevent spillage from dripping onto oven, if it should bubble over. Bake until pie puffs and the mixture is a little bubbly and firm  throughout – about 35 to 40 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to be runny when taking it out of the oven. You can “shake” it a little to be sure it is firm in the middle. If need be, cook a little longer if not firm.

Place on rack and let cool for 45 minutes. Serve either warm or cool. Will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.

Get to know: Kevin Rask

Kevin Rask was probably destined to be an economist: His father, two sisters, and his wife, CC President Jill Tiefenthaler, all are economists. If that’s not enough, he was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a country of vast economic opportunity, where his father was working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) while completing his dissertation in economics.

The Rask family later moved to Columbus, Ohio, where his father taught agricultural economics at Ohio State University and his mother was a special education teacher in the Columbus public schools.

Rask received a B.A. in economics from Haverford College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Duke University. After considering and then discarding two or three dissertation topics, he wrote his dissertation on “The Social Costs of Production and the Structure of Technology in the Brazilian Ethanol Industry: A Cost-Benefit Analysis and an Infant Industry Evaluation, 1978-1987.” Rask has taught at Colgate University and Wake Forest University.

The first decade of Rask’s research centered on renewal fuels; primarily ethanol development, production, markets, and policy in the United States and Brazil. He also looked at the impact of ethanol on the U.S. highway trust funds and emission characteristics of ethanol. Over time, with the system so entrenched with political and agricultural interests, Rask moved on to an area that had always been a student-research focus of his: higher education.

“Since the late 90s, my primary area has been higher ed,” he said. “I’ve always found it the best way to teach econometrics and statistics.” He teaches econometrics, defined as “the application of mathematics and statistical methods to economic data,” by using higher ed models as examples. “College students understand the econometric concepts and methodology more clearly when you use examples such as college choice and major choice,” he said. “Difficult analytical concepts are easier to grasp when the context is something the student has experienced first-hand.” In fact, a major focus of his research is the modeling of choice. It’s an area that fascinates him: why people do what they do in different environments or facing different constraints.

Some of Rask’s more recent research in the field of higher education has focused on issues such as the role of grade sensitivity in explaining the gender imbalance in undergraduate economics, the SAT as a predictor of success at a liberal arts college, and the influence of various components of U.S. News & World Report’s ranking categories on a school’s final score.  The last issue is gaining increased attention, as many schools, Colorado College included, no longer tout U.S. News & World Report rankings in publications or on their websites. Rask said the formula and weight given to various components of the USNWR rankings are not independent, but rather, are linked.  As an example, he cites the component identifying how many students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Although that component has a predetermined weight, if a school changes its top 10 percent profile it will also change other components, such as average SAT scores and projected graduation rates.  Therefore, Rask says, the effective influence of some components is greater than their published weights.

Rask also is interested in the long-term returns to a selective liberal arts education, not only as a way of justifying the sticker shock of the cost, but also its lasting benefits. “Most economists tend to focus on earnings,” he said. “But research also shows that college graduates tend to vote at a higher rate, divorce at a lower rate, are healthier, and are more civically engaged. Graduates also are more flexible in their careers and have a greater ability to be productive in the workforce.  New research is beginning to find differences between types of institutions and certain outcomes, and the contributions of liberal arts colleges are a primary interest of mine,” he said.

Rask taught Econometrics in Block 2 and will co-teach, with Tiefenthaler, Economics of Higher Education in Block 5. As part of that course the class will look at various educational models and institutions, including planned visits to Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Regis University, and the Air Force Academy.

In addition to teaching, Rask oversees five senior thesis projects and has a part-time appointment conducting institutional research at CC. That position is still evolving, but in the past Rask developed models of alumni giving and participation for Colgate University, and models of admission yields and financial aid for Colgate, Wake Forest University, many undergraduate institutions, and several law schools.

Rask is impressed by the CC students’ level of engagement in their classes, noting that, “As a group, they are far more engaged than other students I have taught.” He also finds there are fewer barriers between students and professors at Colorado College than at other institutions and wonders whether that is attributable to the type of students attracted to CC, the type of faculty the college attracts, or if it’s part of the culture of the Block Plan.

As much as he enjoys research, Rask really enjoys teaching. “My research isn’t going to change the world in a huge way,” he said. “But with teaching, you can have a lasting influence.” His goal? “To turn out majors who are capable of good, independent reasoning. They should have the intellectual confidence and skills to come up with their own answers to inquiries and projects.”

 Part of his dedication to teaching is evident in his left knee, which remains swollen despite surgery in the middle of Block 2. Rask, an avid basketball fan, tore his ACL playing a pick-up basketball game in late September. Feeling better after the surgery, he spent too much time on his feet in class and his knee subsequently swelled up.  An infection followed, and after a second surgery he is back on his feet without crutches (or an ACL) and looking forward to getting the knee done again after teaching Block 5. Despite his love for sports, Rask says it will be a while before he plays as hard as he used to.

Annual Chili Cook-Off Draws Large Crowd

Approximately 75 people attended facilities services annual chili cook-off, held on Friday, Dec. 2. There were a total of 18 entries: eight in the green chili division, seven in the red chili division, and three vegetarian entries.

Aaron Strong, a landscape contractor who works with CC, won in the red chili category; Darrold Hughes, athletic field specialist with facilities services won in the green chili division, and Jeff Carlson, lead painter in facilities services, took the prize for the vegetarian chili.

A taster at the chili cook-off. Photo by Cecelia Gonzales.

The winners in each category receive a handcrafted trophy spoon made by carpenters Karl Greis and Ken Wilson.