Dear, Alumni, Parents, and Friends,
As we prepare for a new academic year, I am grateful to the many students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and friends who are dedicated to moving Colorado College forward. Our bold commitment to become an antiracist institution took precedence this past academic year, and it will continue to be a top priority in coming years. These efforts are essential to ensuring a promising future for CC.
Critical self-reflection, dialogue, and a commitment to lifelong learning are foundational in the liberal arts tradition. Conversations around diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism are occurring nationally, because racism permeates our culture. Colorado College is no different. We must accept that racism exists on our campus, engage in conversation about it, and find ways to achieve equity and inclusion so that all feel welcome and appreciated at CC.
In approaching these issues, we draw inspiration from community members who have engaged in antiracism efforts since the college’s founding. The Untold Stories project celebrates and honors marginalized CC community members. Among these individuals is Ellis Ulysses Butler Jr. ’40, after whom our Butler Center was named. Even after experiencing racism while a student at CC, Butler went on to become a lifelong donor to the college. Another featured alumna, Sonlatsa Sunshine Jim-Martin ’94, P’19, participated in indigenous activism while a CC student and has continued her service as a member of our antiracism steering committee alongside her work as a health care advocate. Other individuals from the Untold Stories project include siblings Effie Stroud Frazier ’31 and Kelly Dolphus Stroud ’31 and former Associate Dean Victor Nelson- Cisneros. Many current faculty and staff have been working to build an inclusive CC throughout their careers. During Block 8, we honored faculty and staff of color who have served at CC for 25 years or more at the Butler Center Awards Banquet, including Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life Mike Edmonds, Senior Associate Dean of Students Rochelle Dickey-Mason ’83, Dean of the Faculty Claire Garcia, and Professor of Anthropology Mario Montaño, among others.
These campus leaders, both past and present, inspire current students to continue to work toward equity and inclusion. Our students exhibit openness and dedication to antiracism work alongside the demands of their studies, co-curricular commitments, and employment obligations. For example, members of CC’s Native American Student Union were instrumental in advocating for a smudging policy at CC and in the naming of Tava Quad.
The impact of this work touches lives beyond campus as our alumni continue to pursue justice after they leave CC. For example, Nancy Hernandez ’96 works as an equity specialist coordinator at the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center in Denver, served on the Steering Committee for the External Review on Racism, and helped to found our alumni of color group. Mohammad Mia ’16 is applying his talent for photography to his commitment to social justice as he pursues his Master of Divinity degree in Islam and Interreligious Engagement at Union Theological Seminary. In a recent project, “Queer Faith,” he compiled photos and quotes to empower others to tell their stories and find healing. Another great example is our new president of the Alumni Association Council Kyle Samuel ’92, president of M&T Insurance Agency and a senior vice president at M&T Bank. A recipient of the T. Roosevelt Collins Memorial Scholarship while at CC, Samuel recognizes the power of financial aid. He recently established the Kyle Samuel ’92 Endowed Scholarship to provide access to a CC education for future students. I encourage you to read the Q&A with Alumni and Family Relations Director Tiffany Kelly and Samuel.
This past year, we welcomed innovators, authors, and activists whose pursuits for justice motivate our own, from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Roxane Gay to Oprah Winfrey. Designer and letterpress printer Ben Blount taught Book and Book Structure during Block 6. In an interview with Laurie Laker ’12, Blount underscores how difficult it can be to talk about racism, and offers visual art as a way to enrich understanding. I look forward to a year of continued learning, creativity, and inspiration as we build a stronger CC together.