E-Newsletter – Block Break 5
A cold, busy Block 5 came and went faster than I had hoped, as I had the opportunity to return to my roots as a professor while teaching a course titled “The Economics of Higher Education.”
For the third year in a row, I collaborated with my husband, Economics Professor Kevin Rask, to teach students about the economics principles guiding the world of higher education. Diving deep into all facets of higher education, we went on field trips in Colorado Springs and Denver while also utilizing the expertise of the college’s senior leadership team. To explore the differences between public and private higher education, we sat down with University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak. We also learned about the issues facing community colleges from President Lance Bolton at Pikes Peak Community College and visited President Tim Grambling of Colorado Technical University to delve into the heavily scrutinized world of for-profit universities.
Perhaps the most notable experience for our students was being hosted at the State Capitol by Colorado Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia, who is also the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. This was an intense day! We began by sitting in on a legislative session for the College Affordability Act, a proposal that would cap the annual increase in the rate of undergraduate resident tuition at state-supported higher education institutions and appropriate $100 million to the Colorado Department of Education. Showing the intellectual acuity and poised spontaneity of our CC students, Matt Nadel ’15, unrehearsed, volunteered to testify in a room full of state legislators, lobbyists, and their staff! Following the session, the class engaged in presentations from the lieutenant governor and other senior officials at the CDHE on the general state of higher education in Colorado and various policies and proposed initiatives. Needless to say, this was quite a trip!
While returning to the classroom has been a definite highlight of the new year, I am also thrilled with the progress the college has made on several initiatives, particularly the success of the reformatted Half Block. More than 240 students enrolled in the mostly free, non-academic-credit offerings that focused on career and skill development opportunities. Among the courses offered were: Princeton Review prep classes for students who plan to take the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT; courses in skill building and personal branding (with social media); career choices in the health professions; outdoor education; and courses aimed at helping students understand the world of finance. One of the more interesting offerings was a workshop taught by Mellon Fellow in the Arts Idris Goodwin titled “The Vocab: Critical Approaches to Spoken Word Writing and Performance.”
The Half Block was also successful because it brings new avenues for taking advantage of the resources we have in our talented alumni and parents. For example, Rick O’Donnell ’92, chief revenue officer for The Fullbridge Program — an organization that offers professional development skills and knowledge — collaborated with Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds to plan an immersive course in finance for students interested in financial services careers. Alumni also participated in the final activity of this year’s Half Block: an etiquette dinner with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.
In the same spirit as the revamped Half Block, I’m also excited about the additions we are making to the Summer Session program at Colorado College. As I have mentioned before, this summer, students will be able to take one of three new linked thematic blocks that will bridge the liberal arts and the professions. The new linked blocks, which are in addition to the regular summer courses offered at CC, are the Colorado Documentary Film Institute, the Outdoor Leadership Institute, and the Student Journalism Institute. I hope you will encourage students to participate in these sessions this summer!
After a refreshing break and a wonderful start in Block 5, I could not be more energized for the rest of the academic year on campus at Colorado College.