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Block Break 7 - President Tiefenthaler's E-Newsletter

April 18, 2014


Dear Alumni and Parents,

There are many joys of being president at Colorado College; however, this last month brought some of the most difficult moments I have encountered during my time at the college, as we lost dear members of our CC community. 

The community of Colorado College is a resilient one. While we’ve endured a tough month with the deaths of Assistant Professor of English Laura Padilla, CC junior Emily Spiegel, and former Athletics Director and Coach Jerry Carle, we’ve come together to support and care for each other. Although my heart is heavy with the losses we have suffered, I’ve been inspired and comforted by the response of community members on and off campus. Over the last month, I’ve seen countless examples of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and trustees reaching out to help those who are grieving right now. We have persevered through this time of sadness and we’ve shown the strength and resolve of the Colorado College community. 

On tough days, it is always heartening for me to look up and be inspired by our students. It is that time when we enjoy their projects, presentations, and programs — the culmination of a year (or for our seniors, four years) of exploration, hard work, and intellectual passion. I am always amazed by their independence, depth, and creativity. Here are some examples:

In her own words, senior Erin Conner’s thesis explores the idea that, through the lens of disability theory, “Jane Eyre can be understood as both a normative and disabled woman within the context of a 19th century courtship plot.” art student

For his senior thesis, Gavin Nachbar ran an economics experiment called the “Centipede Game,” a “famous paradox of rationality in the field of economics and game theory.” To gather data for his project, Gavin applied for a grant and then had groups of students play the Centipede Game for actual dollars. One student even earned $265 playing the game!  

A new student activity space at 802 N. Nevada opened in November 2013, and the building now hosts many art shows, including Lela Wulsin’s senior art project. Lela’s project, a series of photographs titled “Overlooked,” sprung from her idea to “photograph the things that are often overlooked in society, either because they are uncomfortable and unpleasant or because we are so used to them.”

We also recently held our second annual Big Idea Competition, a pitch competition to help nurture the spirit of innovation at Colorado College. This year, the entries featured groups including Wadi Climbing, a student-run startup working to establish Palestine’s first rock climbing facility in the hopes of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle to big ideathe community in Palestine. The pitch also featured Koldsnapp, a C-Corp that helps small businesses avoid freezer and refrigeration disasters and meltdowns in the food business through a fully automated sensor and cloud software intelligent monitoring system. The innovative thinking of our students and alumni never ceases to impress me. 

Last week, we held our first Innovation Showcase. Over three days, we celebrated the power of the Venture Grant, the impact of the State of the Rockies Project, and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives the Big Idea. We also recognized how the Public Interest Fellowship Program promotes active social change in Colorado, and applauded the interdisciplinary thinking fueled by the I.D.E.A. Space. The showcase featured two keynote speakers: Dan Palotta, who shared his experiences as a social innovator who has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charities over the past decade, and Michael Soule, who explored the paradigms of large landscape conservation in the Rocky Mountain West. 

These amazing students and guests buoy us and inspire us when we need it most. 

It is hard to believe that we are reaching the end of another academic year at Colorado College. Before we know it, we will be sending off our seniors at Commencement on May 19 while the rest of our students disperse in pursuit of summer adventures. It is always a bittersweet time: the excitement and joy of graduates and students embarking on new journeys and the realization that the faces, sounds, energy, and rhythm of campus will change once again. And perhaps it is more bittersweet this year, because we are already changed. 

Whether in the most challenging of times or the most exuberant, I am honored and grateful to be part of this wonderful college and to draw from the inherent strength and encouragement of the CC community. 

Warm regards,
Jill Tiefenthaler