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President Jill Tiefenthaler's Blog

Frykholm ’16 Wins NCAA Scholarship

Spring is the season of awards at Colorado College and over the next several weeks, news will come in as our students and young alums win national and international awards and fellowships.

This week, we heard wonderful news about Soren Frykholm ’16, who was awarded the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. This recent graduate was a standout on the soccer field and in the classroom during his entire CC career.

Congratulations to Soren and best wishes to our five Fulbright semi-finalists and all our students still preparing applications and awaiting news!  You can find all the news on CC’s student and alumni awards page.

Mock Trial Teams Compete Nationally

CC’s Mock Trial teams are getting ready to head to Geneva, Illinois to compete in the Opening Round Championship Series in hopes of qualifying for the national championships.

Formed in 2013, CC’s teams are coached by alumna and 4th Judicial District Court Judge Regina Walter ’80, who led a CC team to the national championship that very first year. The Mock Trial world noticed! And CC has sent a team to the national qualifying round every year since. This year, we’ll be sending two teams to the national qualifying round for the first time.

Graduates of the program have benefitted from learning how to think critically on their feet and remaining unflappable in any circumstance. They’ve taken these skills on to graduate schools, like Taylor Kelson ‘14, now at Columbia Law School, and Aish Raja ‘15, at U Penn studying environmental policy, or as they start their careers, like Political Science department paraprofessional Ansel Carpenter ’16. Ansel is the teams’ Assistant Coach this year, organizing the regional Mock Trial competition here at CC last month.

Best wishes to our Mock Trial Teams as they head to Illinois!

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FAC’s Coen Exhibit on NBC Today Show

Exciting news from the FAC! NBC’s Today Show will feature a story on artist Don Coen and his current exhibition at the Fine Arts Center. His large-scale portraits of migrant farm workers are a beautiful tribute to those who contribute so much yet are rarely recognized.

I’m thrilled that the exhibit of Coen’s work, and the people who inspired him, are getting national coverage.  Watch this Sunday, March 12 (in the 8 am hour, MST).

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Design Week Features Successful Alumni

What does a career in design look like?  CC’s Design Week, organized by the student-led Integrative Design Group and Art Professor Kate Leonard, helped students to answer this question.

Yesterday afternoon a panel of CC alums, each at various stages of their design careers, shared their stories – from Elena Foraker ’15, artist and designer at, who will enroll in graduate school in design next fall, to Logan Roberts ‘10, whose New Orleans-based company, InkMule, is setting new standards for the screen printing industry.

The panel also included Michelle Yates ’12 who is beginning her career as an architect at Bassetti Architects in Seattle designing K-12 schools, as well as recent CC grad, Julia Belamarich ‘14, co-owner of a collaborative art/design studio in Denver, Extra Vitamins, and CC’s 2017 Design Fellow.

This followed Monday’s keynote with Susan Hoff ’06 who shared her journey from CC art major to high-end retailer in San Francisco. Her senior thesis featured canopies of sail cloth in Packard Hall, and she has just opened a retail shop featuring her high-end bags made from sailcloth and horse tack.

The rest of the week promises to be equally exciting. Thanks to the Art Department Design Fund for making the entire event possible!

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Commencement and Baccalaureate Speakers and Honorary Degrees

I am pleased to announce that journalist and New York Times-bestselling author Hampton Sides, acclaimed for his many works of nonfiction adventure, will give this year’s Commencement address. Mr. Sides’ widely admired works include five books, two of which have been made into films. His 2015 book, “Kingdom of Ice” has been heralded as a “best book of the year” by a number of publications. In addition, Mr. Sides serves as an editor-at-large for Outside magazine, and is a frequent contributor to publications that includeNational GeographicThe New York TimesNewsweek, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, and Men’s Journal. He has been Journalist-in-Residence at CC since 2014, teaching several blocks.

I am also pleased that Assistant Professor of Education Manya Whitaker has agreed to give the Baccalaureate address. Professor Whitaker attended Dartmouth College, where she received her bachelor of arts in psychology before attending Vanderbilt University, where she earned her MS and PhD in developmental psychology. In addition to several articles and book chapters, she is the author of the recent book “Learning from the Inside-Out: Child Development and School Choice.” In nominations, students noted Professor Whitaker’s “thoughtful and potent ways of communicating with faculty, staff, and students” and “her dedication to CC.”

In addition, on the recommendation of the Academic Events Committee and with the approval of the Board of Trustees, the college will award honorary degrees to Mr. Sides and the following individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their fields:

  • Brenda Bass ’77, distinguished professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine, has been a pioneer in the field of RNA research, particularly editing processes.  She was elected a fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, is a 2015 inductee to the National Academy of Sciences, and has won extended “Pioneer” grant support from NIH and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Professor Bass has made several game-changing discoveries throughout her distinguished career.
  • Ellen Bryant Voigt, a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, is a well-known and highly regarded teacher of poets, and a distinguished poet. She invented a model low-residency MFA program while teaching at Goddard College, and has also taught at Iowa Wesleyan College and MIT. Professor Voigt served as poet laureate of Vermont for four years, and has received grants from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her most recent collections include “Headwaters,” “Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006,” and “Shadow of Heaven.”
  • David “Van” van Diest Skilling ’55, is an accomplished businessman, having been a pivotal leader at two different Fortune 500 companies. Currently, he is CEO of Skilling Enterprises and retired chairman and CEO of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Skilling had a 26-year career at TRW Information Systems and Services. Throughout his life, Mr. Skilling has been a loyal alumnus of the college. He began visiting CC classes in 1989 as an executive-in-residence and has co-taught many blocks over the years. In 1994, Mr. Skilling was elected a trustee, and he served in this capacity until 2016, when he was named a life trustee. He served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 2002-08. Mr. Skilling is a noted philanthropist to education and other causes, and is a member of CC’s William Jackson Palmer Founders Society.

I look forward to honoring these individuals, along with our graduating seniors, at this year’s Commencement on Monday, May 22.