Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends,
While this time of year is usually marked by celebration as our seniors prepare for Commencement, the past few months have been filled with anxiety and disappointment as the Coronavirus has taken hold in our communities. Colleges have suspended face-to-face instruction and emptied campuses to slow the virus’ spread and organizations are taking necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable populations. At this time, we are continuing to deliver the academic program via distance learning and serving the students who must remain on campus. Our hearts go out to those who have been directly affected by the virus. I am grateful for the opportunity to thank you, our alumni, parents, and friends, for all you have done to strengthen our community during this difficult time, and for your continued support.
On a completely different note, I announced in January that I will be departing CC in August to take a new position as chief executive officer of the National Geographic Society. It has been a joy to be a part of our students’ journeys, to witness their accomplishments during their time at CC, and celebrate the leaders they are becoming. Our students’ curiosity and passion inspire me! A highlight for me has been experiencing the Block Plan firsthand by co-teaching the Economics of Higher Education each year with my husband Kevin Rask. My classroom experience affirmed my love of teaching and commitment to the liberal arts, and educated me on the Block Plan’s incredible pedagogical advantages.
I believe in Colorado College’s commitment to holistic, residential education and am grateful for the engagement from faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends of the college. From the Dynamic Half Block to the Wellness Resource Center to the Butler Center to the Student Activities and Advising Hub, I am proud of new campus initiatives that strengthen our living learning community. You have helped make our dreams a reality, whether visiting to teach a Half-Block course, joining us for Homecoming, welcoming our students on Tiger Trek visits, or donating to the college.
Throughout my nine years as president of CC, we have celebrated many impressive milestones. We have seen improvements to our campus thanks to the generosity of donors, from the addition of the Adam F. Press Fitness Center and renovation of El Pomar Sports Center, to the renovation and expansion of Tutt Library, to the alliance with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In February we broke ground on the new Ed Robson Arena, scheduled to open in Fall 2021, which will enable us to host home hockey games on campus for the first time in the program’s more than 80-year history. Both the FAC alliance and Ed Robson Arena and its City for Champions funding help us to connect with the wider Colorado Springs community in new and exciting ways.
Just as importantly, we have come together to address important challenges. Students have called for change, asking us to create a more inclusive and equitable community that enables all students to thrive. Our antiracism initiative builds on the many contributions of marginalized CC students, faculty, and staff since CC’s founding, and this work continues. Our efforts for equity are supported by CC’s new access initiatives, including the Colorado Pledge and Stroud Scholars. Prior to my tenure, students pushed for a response to the climate crisis, setting the ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2020. Thanks to the efforts put in place by my predecessor President Dick Celeste and to the dedicated efforts of many students, staff, and faculty, CC reached our goal of carbon neutrality in January 2020, becoming the eighth institution in North America, and the first in the Rocky Mountain region, to achieve this goal.
None of these initiatives would have been possible without the success of the $435 million Building on Originality campaign. With more than $405 million raised to date, we are closing in on the end of our campaign. As we wrap up in 2021, fundraising for scholarships remains a top priority as we focus on reaching our 50% alumni participation goal. Building our endowment is critical for the long-term sustainability of Colorado College, and will ensure stability as we weather future challenges. Thank you to all who have contributed — through your volunteerism, monetary donations, and leadership — to our campaign goals and our many community-building efforts.
While the pandemic, continued disruption in higher education, and changes in leadership result in feelings of uncertainty, I have no doubt that Colorado College will continue to thrive in the years to come. I am grateful to Provost Alan Townsend, who will serve as interim president during the search for CC’s next president. Dean of the Faculty Claire Oberon Garcia, who has been on the faculty since 1990, has further strengthened our incredible leadership team this year and will serve as interim provost during the search. The Board of Trustees has been supportive as we have made difficult decisions in the wake of the Coronavirus, and their continued leadership, along with the efforts of our dedicated and talented faculty and staff, will keep CC strong in the years to come.
It has been an honor to serve as your president for the past nine years, and I look forward to my continued engagement in this wonderful community as a CC parent.
President Jill Tiefenthaler P’21, P’24