What is a Block Project?
Block Projects are commissioned by the president and are designed to bring a new level of recognition, support, and structure to collaborative work. As we work to advance our strategic plan, Block Projects support our strategic initiative of Workplace Excellence, fostering an organization that is as innovative and dynamic as the CC academic experience through vibrant collaboration. These projects, which give intense focus over a short period of time to accomplish a specific mission, have set beginnings and ends to their work.
“We get exciting moments of innovation, and then we’re done. You’re putting the right people together in a system that works in our mindset. One block. It’s perfect.” — Gail Murphy-Geiss, associate professor of sociology and Title IX coordinator, who has served on two Block Project teams (read more about the Block Project experience)
How can I submit an idea for a Block Project or offer my input?
In addition to reaching out to the members of the president's cabinet, ideas can also be submitted through the form on this webpage. Proposals received through the website will be collected by Lyrae Williams and submitted to the president.
What is the process for an idea to become a Block Project?
1. After project proposals are submitted, they are then vetted by first the president and then the president’s cabinet. If the proposal is approved, the president will work with the individual(s) who submitted the proposal to appoint a leader for the Block Project, and assemble a team of faculty, staff, and/or students as deemed appropriate.
2. Proposals and ideas submitted as Block Projects will be listed on this website’s front page. Updates on progress and resolution will also be posted.
Block B Project: Student Financial Resources Research
Recommendation 1 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building on the block through providing access to all programs for all students regardless of family income. In order to pursue eliminating all program fees, the college needs to know where all of the current financial resources lie that students can access, and the process by which the funds are dispersed. This block project will research all of the existing financial resources (i.e. budgets) that exist in administrative offices that students can request or get granted to them. The research will include the 2015-16 projected budget for each resource, the funding source of the budget (tuition, endowment, etc.), three to five years of historical use and the documented process by which students obtain the funds for each budget/source. At the conclusion of the project, the team will submit a report with its findings.
Caitlin Apigian, Chair, Special Assistant to the Board of Trustees
Drew Cavin, Director of the Office of Field Study
Emily Chan, Associate Dean of Academic Programs & Strategic Initiatives
Andrea Culp, Career Coach
John Lauer, Senior Associate Dean of Student Life
Dottie Rue, Finance Manager
Block A 2015 Project: Winter Graduation Celebration
Recommendation 1 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes that the success of the Block Plan depends on a talented and diverse student body. Honoring the diversity at which our students design and pursue their academic experience is part of that success, which means the college needs to honor and celebrate those students who graduate in December.
The work of the block project team is to generate ideas and doable options for celebrating our students and their families during winter graduation. Through research of other institutions that hold a winter graduation and internal brainstorming or focus groups, the block project team will identify options to honor and celebrate our students and their families during winter graduation. These recommendations will need to take into account the college's winter break schedule and other internal and external annual events, holidays, etc.
Debra Zarecky, Chair, Parent & Family Relations Director
Kate Holbrook, Chaplain
Michael Grace, Professor of Music
Candace Santa Maria, Assistant Director of Registrar Office
Heidi Knous, Assistant Director Student & Young Alumni Programs
Rochelle Mason, Associate Dean of Students/Campus
Block A 2015 Project: Utilizing Volunteers: Retirees and Alumni
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes the importance of attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff and administration and fosters an inclusive campus culture that truly values different backgrounds, experiences, ideas and opinions. That goal easy translates to the idea that our retirees and alumni can provide valuable input and guidance through volunteering and other engagement avenues that are both impactful and meaningful to the college, the retirees and the alumni; thereby retaining their talents and knowledge for the good of the college.
The work of the block project team is to generate ideas for how the college might utilize the talents and knowledge of our retirees and alumni; through events, student and junior faculty mentoring, half block, etc. In addition to ideas, the team is asked to draft the processes by which retirees and alumni can engage with the college about these volunteer opportunities, as well as how the college can invite participation from these two groups and maintain their interest in the program(s).
Nancy Baxter, Director of Planned Giving, project chair
Barbara (Barb) Keener, alumnus
Les Goss, Alumni Association Board
Diane Benninghoff, retiree
Carlos Jimenez, Director of Admissions
Gretchen Wardell, Career Coach
Kristie Damgaard, Assistant Director Alumni Relations (on-campus)
Stella Mainar, Assistant Director Alumni Relations (off-campus)
Bethany Grubbs, Senior Student Life Specialist
Block 7 2015 Project: Student Fees Review
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work. Part of being an excellent workplace means to be efficient and effective in our daily operations. This block project will review the current student fee structure and discuss the most efficient way to standardize fees from an operational and procedural standpoint. The fees to be reviewed are those not counted in course fees and/or program fees. The major purpose for the review includes: Title IV funds (federal financial aid) per federal regulations cannot pay miscellaneous fees only institutional costs, accuracy needed in reporting fees on the 1098T tax forms, improve customer service and communication with our students and parents by reporting our fees upfront and decrease the volume of uncollectable accounts, which should improve students and parents overall experience at Colorado College. At the conclusion of the project, the team will submit a report with its findings and recommendations, including timing of any changes.
Block 5 2015 Project: Banner Finance Enhanced Fund and Org Transaction Security
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work. Part of being an excellent workplace means to be efficient and effective in our daily operations. This block project will focus on finding new ways of creating efficiencies within our financial transaction posting process by exploring how the college might improve the processes and/or use of the Banner Finance module to ensure that financial transactions initiated by a user are posted only after verifying the fund and/or org codes being charged as well as ensuring that the charges are authorized by the appropriate fund managers. The team exploring this efficiency opportunity should feel free to examine workflow processes, Banner Finance module use and functionality, as well as post-transactional review options to reach the ultimate goal of having financial transactions recorded properly with appropriate approval for the fund code and/or org code.
Block 5 2015 Project: Employee/Employer Commitment
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work.
The work of the block project team is to generate a philosophy of shared responsibility and partnership between the college, staff, and faculty in our continued quest to workplace excellence and being recognized as a great place to work. Through examination of existing documents such as the staff and faculty handbooks, leadership philosophy statement, anti-discrimination and harassment policies, and other documents, the block project team will identify opportunities to strengthen the college community’s understanding and appreciation of the college’s commitment to ensuring a workplace that is grounded in respect, integrity and to reaffirm the belief that all members of our community are to be afforded opportunities to achieve the highest level of success possible.
Block 1 2014 Project: Calendar Solutions Team
The Block Project will develop appropriate procedures and policies to accompany the newly acquired campus events, calendars, and room reservation management system to ensure effective implementation college wide.
Block B 2014 Project: Academic Staff – Performance Excellence
The goal of the performance excellence process at CC is to ensure that supervisors and staff understand and communicate openly about performance expectations and goals and that staff have opportunities to develop the skills and abilities needed to successfully contribute to the college’s mission. Since the implementation of the new performance excellence process two years ago, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of centralizing the evaluation for academic office staff with just the department chair and methods used to ensure there is consistency and understanding on the use of the performance rankings for core academic office staff functions. The Block Project will review the performance excellence process for academic office staff to ensure it is administered effectively and to recommend alternatives for gathering and assessing performance behaviors and outcomes, and to develop consistent performance-ranked ratings.
Block 8 2014 Project: Staff Taking Half Block and/or Summer Courses
Fulfilling our mission to provide the finest liberal arts education in the country requires a campus culture that supports a first-rate staff in connecting to our mission and developing enthusiasm for lifelong learning, flexibility, open-mindedness, and other 21st century skills acquired by CC students. More importantly, because lifelong learning is critical for individuals to reach their potential in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing world, using CC’s Half Block and linked thematic summer courses, Colorado College should provide access to educational opportunities that further intellectual inquiry and familiarize staff with the unique curriculum structure. The Block Project will recommend guidelines for staff who wish to take Half Block or summer courses (existing summer blocks or special summer courses to be developed specifically for staff).
Block 5 2014 Project: EEO Voluntary Applicant Data
Colorado College is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and administration and fostering an inclusive campus culture that truly values different backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and opinions. One step in attaining these goals is to make sure that our employment communications attract excellent and diverse pools for all of our positions. To assess our efforts, the college collects demographic data (voluntarily and confidentially) as part of our employment application process. The voluntary demographic data is kept confidential and is not used to identify any specific individual. The Block Project will ensure that the college is making the best use of this opportunity to attract diverse pools, promote the college's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and capture valuable data about the diversity of our applicant pools.