Colorado College Conference Services has received the 2013 Outstanding Institutional Achievement Award for the campus-wide effort in responding to the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer. Part of the criteria for the award, presented by the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I), is that “the achievement must demonstrate a complete campus and/or community-wide effort; i.e. number of people involved in the effort, number of departments, etc.”
The award lists the following actions taken by CC:
- Housed evacuated employees, students, and contractors and their families, totaling 100 unexpected guests that stayed up to one month
- Custodial facilities turned vacated rooms immediately to maintain available inventory
- Updated website with news and air quality readings
- Provided constant communications and updates with future conferences
- Kept precise records of conference guests and summer session students’ locations and contact information
- Held daily emergency meetings with the Emergency Planning Team and president; provided daily number of guests and contact information
- Shared information with FEMA
- Provided and tracked meal cards distributed to evacuees
- Moved outdoor sports camps to indoor locations due to poor air quality
ACCED-I also mentions that two weeks after the fire was contained, Colorado College received four days notice to make arrangements for President Obama’s visit on campus.
Brenda Soto, assistant director for operations/conferences, notes that CC won the award because of campus-wide support and cooperation from various departments at the college. “Hard work and perseverance among all the staff got us through a tough summer,” she said.
CC has a thriving summer conference program that hosts numerous programs and brings thousands of guests to campus each summer. During its busiest months – which coincided with the fire – CC’s Conference Services rose to the multitude of challenges presented by the fire.
The Outstanding Institutional Achievement Award also was presented to Colorado State University, which was in a similar situation last summer due to the High Park Fire, immediately west of Fort Collins. ACCED-I noted that both institutions “stepped up to the unknown and excelled even in adverse and unimaginable conditions. While these conditions persisted, staff in both operations remained professional, focused, and continued giving full attention to their clients and guests. They revealed true creativity in rapidly developing partnership and collaboration with both campus departments and community agencies.” CC and CSU were among nine nominated colleges and universities.