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Building on the Block: Special Block Breaks for Alumni and Parents

The Charge: Develop new opportunities for alumni and parents to engage in lifelong learning and be intellectually engaged with the college and each other.

What's Happening: Eleven alumni, ranging from the classes of 1977 to 2011, gathered on campus this summer with Associate Professor of English Steven Hayward and Patrick Bultema, executive director of the innovation institute, for the first alumni quarter-block class, The Art of the Pitch.

Hayward said though he and Bultema had taught this topic many times with undergraduates, it was their first of this format with alumni, and so they weren't sure how it would go or what the response would be. Ultimately, he was impressed.

"It was interesting to be in the classroom and in that context, talking with more mature students. Some of them were looking at who they are now, and ways of reconfiguring themselves or exploring these ideas," Hayward said. "To their credit, they were really not just receptive to what we had to say, but receptive to what each other had to say. I think you see that often in different educational situations when people come back to school. They've been away from the learning environment for a while; they come back and they love it. They realize how much they miss it. I thought that was one of the real treats of it."

James Eichner '11 was one of those students. He signed up for two reasons. The first, he explained, was practical. He's heading back to business school this fall, and the topic was directly related to his planned focus of entrepreneurship. Second, he'd been noticing that the CC alumni program had been "beefing up all of its offers," and he kept reading about more and more things to do. "This one seemed to work out with my schedule. It was super affordable. And Steven Hayward was a big draw because he was one of my favorite professors when I was an undergrad there."

Eichner's take after the fact? "I thought it was fantastic. Initially I understood how the class could involve a creative side like Steve and then the more business side like Patrick, but I was really curious to see how the two sides would intermingle. I thought they did an excellent job collaborating, an excellent job teaching the class, and overall I just had a blast."

As did classmate Rebecca Grainger '01, MAT'03. A former teacher who now works for the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Learning, Grainger chose to take this class in order to learn to better communicate her ideas around K-through-12 education to researchers.

"This is probably obvious since I got two degrees here, but I just love CC. I think it's such a unique group of people and a unique way of learning. And that in itself has been kind of life changing for me, experiencing the different ways you can learn things. Coming back, being around CC people - and learning again - it was refreshing."

Hayward expressed his excitement about the group's cohesion. When you teach at Colorado College, he explained, it's very intense and you develop real bonds with undergraduates. Turns out that the same thing happens with alumni. "We were together for a very short period of time, but we did manage to bring out, within that week, some real intensity, some real camaraderie, some real connections between the students and with ourselves."

"It would be great if they would continue doing this," Grainger said, for the same connections Hayward noted and for another reason as well. "I think it's good to make people step outside of their lives for a couple days and be a learner again. I think sometimes we forget to be constant learners."

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/16/2020