The Alumni Association Awards
One of the most important functions of the Board is to recognize the contributions of distinguished alumni, faculty members, and members of the CC community to the betterment of society and to the enhancement of the college and its mission. The Alumni Association Board acknowledges these alumni and staff members through four awards given at Homecoming.
The Louis T. Benezet Award recognizes outstanding achievement in one's chosen field, excellence through unusual success or contribution, innovation or research that has advanced a profession or a cause, and/or extraordinary contributions and achievements that have improved people's lives and exemplify the values of a liberal arts education. These attributes characterized the important contributions of Louis T. Benezet, president of Colorado College, 1955-1963.
This year’s Benezet award recipient is Henry Ansbacher ’92, a film
maker dedicated to making movies that make a difference.
Henry Ansbacher says Colorado College’s innovative Block Plan was a deciding factor when he was choosing a college. It’s probably no surprise: the academic set-up is appealing to creative minds like Henry’s, offering students a chance to immerse themselves in one class at a time, changing and learning as they make their way through college.
After graduating in 1992, Henry continued to change and learn – first by working with now-Governor John Hickenlooper redeveloping historic landmarks through the state, then returning to school for a degree in counseling psychology and working as a hospice counselor, and finally returning to his true passion – filmmaking.
Henry founded Just Media in 2000, dedicating his nonprofit group to making movies that make a difference. He has produced 27 films on a wide variety of subjects: “Chiefs,” the story of an American Indian basketball team; and “Iron Ladies of Liberia,” that followed the first freely elected female head of state in Liberia; to “They Killed Sister Dorothy,” about the murder of an environmental activist in the rainforest of Brazil, and “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner,” an exploration of physician-assisted suicide. (Fellow CC grad Daniel Junge was the director for many of Henry’s films.)
Henry is currently working on a film he calls a hybrid documentary about American mustangs. “We shot in Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Colorado, and California,” he says. “I’ve immersed myself in horse culture and have learned much about the complex nature of wild horses as well as 3-D production methods.”
Henry says both fields are more complicated than they appear. “The project really represents an exciting expansion/shift of tone and subject matter for me.”
He says this film is another step in his goal to develop projects that have more mainstream and popular appeal to a general audience.
Henry and his wife Karma and their three children, Max, Alexa and Ella, live in Denver, and travel wherever his films take them. They enjoy exploring the mountains together.
The Lloyd E. Worner Award recognizes outstanding loyalty, service and generosity to the college as evidenced by continuing concern and support for students and the quality of teaching and learning, as well as the general well-being and future excellence of the institution. These attributes characterized the many years of service and effective contributions of Lloyd E. Worner, Class of 1942, who served as a faculty member, dean and ultimately president of Colorado College (1964-1981).
Robin Dunn ’06, Barbara J. Keener ’67, Ari Stiller-Shulman ’06 will receive the 2012 Worner Award.
Robin Hall Dunn ’06
When Robin Dunn was a student at Colorado College, he co-founded a group called the Renaissance Team. Its purpose: to actively encourage its members to develop interests, knowledge and skills in a wide variety of fields.
Robin obviously took that directive to heart. After graduating from CC, he held a variety of jobs, from fundraising for nonprofits to construction, tutoring, and coaching a swimming team.
He has spent his time during and after college exploring the world and taking on a variety of diverse jobs and projects. He was a playroom volunteer with children ages 2-18 at the Denver Catholic Charities’ Samaritan House, a homeless shelter. He worked with indigent patients at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in Denver, scheduling colonoscopies, helping patients navigate the system, and filing records.
His major at CC was religion, with an emphasis in South Asian and East Asian religions. In pursuit of that degree, he studied religious traditions in Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China; the Ecumenical Resource Center in Chiang Mia, Thailand; the United Theological College in Bangalore, India; and in Rome, Italy, focusing on the ways in which each religion functioned in a cultural context. He worked at a Denver youth clinic which provided medical care and preventive dental services for medically underserved children and adolescents.
In his quest for knowledge, he realized he wanted a career in medicine and he was accepted at the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He’ll graduate in 2015.
And Robin already has plans for life after medical school. “After I graduate, I plan to become a pediatrician and return to Colorado to practice medicine,” he says.
Barbara J. Keener ’67
Barbara Keener grew up in Springfield, Missouri knowing that her journey after high school would include studying at a liberal arts college. “My father was on the board of trustees at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri,” she said. “It was understood during my life that I would go to college for sure, and that college would probably be a small, private liberal arts school.”
After graduation, she was awarded scholarships to the University of Missouri in debate and journalism, but she recalls, “I wasn’t even tempted.” Barbara had already visited Colorado College with her father, and realized “that was where I wanted to go.”
Debate was Barbara’s passion, and she remembers being paired with a member of the CC debate team during her visit. “He became kind of an ambassador for me, and kept in touch with me throughout the summer.”
That individual attention and the beauty of the campus brought Barbara to CC. The talented faculty kept her here. “Glenn Brooks was my advisor, and he and other members of the political science department made politics and governmental relations come alive for me.”
Barbara was on the pre-law track, and she stayed involved in debate throughout her time at CC, thinking she would someday be a lawyer. “But the same day I got an acceptance letter from William & Mary, I got a letter offering me a job as an assistant debate coach in Wyoming.”
She chose the latter, which guided her down a slightly different career path. “Working as a debate coach, I was drawn to the whole idea of being in higher education as a profession,” she says.
After working in Wyoming, she went to the University of Miami in Ohio, where she got her second master’s degree in higher education, and taught at Rawlins College; later landing at the University of Florida, where she got her doctorate. Today, she teaches and designs curriculum at Capella University.
Throughout her career in higher education, Barbara has never forgotten her experience at CC. “It teaches its students and treats its students with respect.”
In the 1960s, when she was a CC undergraduate, Barbara remembers “there were very few female instructors or role models, but I always felt like we were treated as equals in the classroom.”
Barbara has stayed connected with CC and in the 1980s, her involvement increased. She was planning reunion events, and was involved in other alumni committees, eventually serving as a trustee. “That tends to accelerate the magnetism of involvement,” she says. “When you become a trustee, you are making a firm commitment to serve and understand the college.”
Ari Stiller-Shulman ’06
Work in public policy was the tipping point for Ari Stiller-Shulman. Between his junior and senior year at Colorado College, Ari was awarded a fellowship through CC’s Public Interest Fellowship Program to work for a summer at the Bell Policy Center, a public interest research group in Denver.
That fellowship was life-changing for Ari, offering him his first exposure to public policy, in which groups and individuals work to shape policy through education, advocacy or mobilization of interest groups. So Ari decided to pursue a law degree at the University of Colorado, where he is in his third and final year.
Since graduating from CC, Ari has volunteered his time as an interviewer to select current CC students for that same fellowship.
Ari has stayed committed to CC in other ways as well. He served on the Alumni Association Board for nearly four years. He led several fundraising initiatives, including a competition between CC alumni in Denver and Colorado Springs. He was also involved in awarding the Student Leadership Scholarship, which he received as a CC student.
Ari calls his time at CC “inspirational, in large part because of how intensely the students there loved learning. I felt somehow happier about the state of the world to be among what felt like an entire student body that craved intellectual growth and a deep understanding of different fiends
And, a student body that enjoyed itself. “I took a class called Poetics with Dave Mason in the fall
of my senior year,” Ari remembers. “One day right after we showed up for class, a student remarked to Dave that it was a pity that so many leaves had fallen and nobody was out there jumping in them.”
With class about to start, Dave led the class out to the Armstrong Quad for leaf piling and jumping; finally retreating to the classroom for poetry.
Between his graduation from CC and his studies at the University of Colorado, Ari has worked as a law clerk most recently, and was public policy and communications manager for Colorado Ski Country USA, fundraising director for 21st Century Colorado in Denver, where he developed and implemented a multi-million dollar fundraising strategy for the Colorado State Senate Democrats, and a legislative aide to Senator Chris Romer in Denver.
The Gresham Riley Award recognizes faculty and staff who have made a significant difference to the Colorado College community through outstanding service, commitment and accomplishment. The continuing concern for and support of students and alumni demonstrated by such individuals ensure the general well-being and future excellence of the college. These accomplishments exemplify the important contributions made by Gresham Riley, the tenth president of Colorado College, 1981-1992.
The Alumni Association will present the Riley Award to Ron Smith, now retired director of campus safety.
Ron Smith came to Colorado College with a long career history in law enforcement. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1971 and was trained as a law enforcement specialist, retiring in 1993.
During his career, he was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota; Sonderstrom Air Force Base in Greenland; Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan; Hahn Air Base in Germany, and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
He and his wife, Lynda, were married in 1972, and their daughter, Michelle, was born in 1974.
Ron started at CC on the swing shift campus patrol, and was promoted to chief of security in 1993, then director of campus safety in 2006.
Along the way, Ron was a Special Olympics coach and established and organized two Law Enforcement Explorer Posts.
Since retiring this summer, Ron has moved to a lake-front home in the small town of Cannon Falls, Minn. Instead of patrolling the grounds of Colorado College, Ron plans on restoring a 1968 Ford Torino, riding motorcycles, doing some woodworking and remodeling his new home.
The Spirit of Adventure Award recognizes an alumnus/a, who exemplifies the unique CC experience through a life of intellectual, social or physical adventure. These attributes are characterized by Robert M. Ormes ’26, English Professor, Colorado College, 1952-1973 who was the inaugural award recipient. He was an adventurer of the mind, body and the spirit which exemplifies much of what is special about Colorado College.
In its third year, the Spirit of Adventure Award will be presented to Sylvie Fadrhonc ’07. This award is intended to acknowledge those alumni whose lives are examples of the great adventurous spirit unique to Colorado College.
Sylvie Fadrhonc knows a little about irony. She had always considered a career in medicine, but when she applied to physician assistant school she was told she may need more patient contact experience to strengthen her application.
Then, she was involved in a car accident that left her with a spinal cord injury. She says that traumatic event “gave me intimate experience being a patient myself and learning about health care from the inside out.”
Sylvie was injured in September 2007, and spent much of the next near in physical therapy. By July 2008, she was heavily involved in sports again, working with spinal cord injury patients and founding the Overcome Foundation, to promote recreation and wellness for people with injuries like hers.
Since that time, Sylvie hasn’t stopped. She worked at the Telluride Adaptive Sports program, teaching disability awareness. She taught adaptive skiing to children and adults with disabilities. She began ski-racing and competed throughout North America. And she continued to take courses in preparation for school that would lead to her dream job as a physician assistant.
Unexpected medical bills were a temporary roadblock to her education plan, but Sylvie persevered, returning to the Telluride program to work as its education and development program manager.
She started physician assistant school in 2011, at the same time she learned she had been named the L.L. Bean Outdoor Hero of the Year.
Sylvie believes her love of learning and her adaptability came from her years here. “CC taught me to live in the moment,” she says. “CC taught me to be grateful when things are tough.”
She describes the twists and turns of her life “as a crazy, winding path that has led me to a very cool, interesting life today. I have had the chance to pursue different priorities ultimately centered on common interests of sports, adventure, and medicine.”