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As we work together to advance our strategic plan, it’s exciting to share progress as we turn our ideas into action. Track our ongoing efforts at Building On the Block: Our Progress. In the first of four updates throughout the academic year, we share details on components of our strategic plan, work that supports our mission to provide the best liberal arts education in the country. Thanks for the work you do to support our goals!

More details on implementation »

Faculty Scholarship

The Charge: Building a faculty of dedicated teachers who are also committed scholars engaged in their disciplines has been and will be critical to providing the finest liberal arts education to generations of CC students and fulfilling the college’s mission. To continue to attract, develop, and retain an engaged faculty equal to the challenge of teaching on the block, the college must enhance resources and flexibility to support faculty scholarship and creativity across the disciplines and activities that make up the learning experience.

What’s Happening: In order to provide faculty members more time to devote to scholarly research, six development blocks will be awarded for the 2015-16 academic year. These blocks will enable faculty to complete critical stages of research or creative projects, produce research results for publication, or initiate study in new fields of interest. Thus far, the Dean’s Office has awarded two of the blocks to Devaka Premawardhana, assistant professor of religion, and David Hendrickson, professor of political science.

Early in the fall, CC implemented the first of the Faculty Scholarship Action Team’s ten recommendations, allocating $50,000 to a new form of internal support. Funding in this “SEGway” program (Spurring/Supporting External Grants) is designed to position faculty to be more competitive for external funding; to assist faculty who have been awarded external grants, often through required or voluntary matching grants; and to invest in the college’s research environment.

Because each faculty member has individual needs, seed funding could be used for a variety of purposes, including travel support to meet with potential collaborators, stipend support to serve as a first-time grant reviewer for a major funder, or stipend support for a CC colleague with experience in winning external research funding to serve as a formal mentor in the process. Currently, more than 20 CC faculty with experience in winning external funding have expressed interest in serving as a mentor.

In December, three faculty members were awarded the first SEGway grants. Becca Barnes, an assistant professor in her first year in the environmental program, received support to launch her local research program on the role of fire in forested ecosystem carbon stocks. Kevin Holmes, an assistant professor in his first year in psychology, received support to develop a “proof of concept” in a new vein of his research on the structure of human thought. Holmes also received a stipend to serve as a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation’s “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program. Darrell Killian, an assistant professor of molecular biology in his fourth year at CC, received support to pursue new research questions that have arisen during his current grant from the National Science Foundation on how genes regulate the nervous system. All three recipients plan to apply for substantial external research support in 2016, a condition of accepting their SEGway seed funding award.

2015 Dynamic Half Block

The Charge: Develop new Half Block programming that will enhance the existing “for-credit” programs, yet be focused on helping students explore interests, develop new skills, and enhance existing skills.

What’s Happening: “It’s a much slower pace than we’re used to at CC, it allows for a slower digestion of it, and that’s really required for understanding the foundation so you can build on it,” said Qiu Wu of her Half Block course on the foundations of organic chemistry. “It helped me a lot to overcome the fear of organic chemistry. Taking this course is just my first step to what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Participation in both the for- and non-credit Half Block courses provided students with new and expanded opportunities to take advantage of the two weeks prior to Block 5. In all, 413 students participated in 27 for-credit courses, ranging from ecology to topics in literature to gender and sexuality in hip-hop. 171 students and 10 alumni participated in 20 non-credit Half Block offerings focused on professional development and skill-building. 24 alumni served as panelists during the non-credit courses, and 12 students traveled to Florence for a Half Block Away in the Creativity: Arts and Artisans offering.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in that educational setting as the person who’s actually giving my story, my information, and my knowledge,” said Alex Fitzgerald ’14, who presented to a 2015 Half Block class about his experience with his start up, Get Outfitted. “It was great, really exciting and satisfying.”

Qui Wu '18, student experience in for-credit Half Block

Alex Fitzgerald ‘14 , alumni presenter in non-credit Half 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: Thirty CC alumni, friends, and family spent an “extended block break — 12 days during Winter Break — exploring Antarctica aboard the Corinthian. Accompanied by lectures on the volcanic-glacier landscape and active tectonic plate movement beneath the sea, the group stopped off at Palmer Station, and experienced the best wildlife viewing Christine Siddoway, geology professor, says she’s ever had on an Antarctica voyage.

“A great reward comes from being able to translate the dynamic we experience at CC — the questioning, inquiring, and discovering — to take that essence that we so enjoy in a classroom and extend the CC experience out to family and friends and our alumni,” said Siddoway, who gave educational lectures throughout the trip. Travelers immersed themselves in the history, ecology, and majestic landscape of this unique, remote locale. “I could see them looking for the features that had been described in the lectures when we were exploring the area on land,” Siddoway said of the group. “Their minds were on fire, asking really probing questions.”

The Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching

The Charge: The Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching will be a dynamic place, a centerpiece, where students, faculty, staff, and alumni come together and where resources are available to discover and share best practices and support new ideas.

What's Happening: Students shared the result of months of collaborative research at CC's Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. The symposium brought students and faculty together for a series of short presentations, poster sessions, and community discussions across a variety of academic disciplines. Topics covered an array of subject matter, including anaerobic capacity testing, African sleeping sickness, and research into George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." The summer student and faculty collaborative research projects were funded by the Faculty Student Collaborative Grant and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant. The Mellon Foundation, through its $800,000 grant to the college, provides for 10 stipends to students for summer undergraduate research fellowships in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Hear from students and faculty about the symposium, which was funded by the President's Office and the Dean's Office. See the symposium program and research abstracts.

Diverse and Inclusive Campus

The Charge: Each student's educational experience is richer when they are surrounded by talented and curious students from different backgrounds, cultures, and places. To recruit the best and brightest students, especially those who would benefit most from a CC education, we will build additional resources for financial aid; and enhance programming to promote a more inclusive and diverse campus.

What's Happening: Campus Activities, along with the Sociology Department and The Butler Center, is leading the effort to provide additional resources for all CC students, by developing free block break programming. The programming provides opportunities for students to participate in a variety of free activities around the region, meeting a need for students who cannot, or do not want to, take a four-day vacation each month at the end of the block. There are many reasons why students choose to stay close to campus on block breaks; students shared that financial limitations and interests other than the outdoors and skiing often left them without many options. "The program allowed me to meet a lot of different students and we went together; I didn't have to go by myself," said Wynter Scott '18, who participated in the programming this year. Learn more about how these block break programs are enhancing students' experiences at CC.

Enhance Our Distinctive Place of Learning

The Charge: In the coming decade, we will ensure that the college is recognized as a model of environmental stewardship and innovation by advancing both the study and the practice of sustainability.

What's Happening: This year, CC published its first State of Sustainability report, which benchmarks the campus's performance across broad sustainability metrics and provides a road map for future improvements and priorities. The full State of Sustainability report and additional resources are available at the CC Office of Sustainability website. One highlight: CC's integration of sustainability concepts into curriculum across disciplines. The renovation of the Spencer Center made it the most energy efficient building on campus, with LED sensor lighting, added insulation, new roof and windows, and a high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system drastically reducing the building's energy usage. Completed solar arrays on Worner Campus Center, El Pomar Sports Center, the Dean of Students' home, and Cornerstone Arts Center also contribute to CC's goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2020.

Workplace Excellence

The Charge: Create a campus culture that is truly creative and innovative by attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and administration and fostering an inclusive campus culture that values different backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and opinions. To strengthen our culture and improve workplace excellence, build strong internal communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency as strategic assets.

What's Happening: Following the great work in 2013-14 from the faculty and staff diversity action team and the diverse and inclusive campus action team, a leadership group consisting of Sandi Wong, dean of the college, Paul Buckley, assistant vice president and director of The Butler Center, and Barbara Wilson, director of Human Resources, developed the college's statement on diversity. The statement which outlines Colorado College's commitment on diversity is the foundation for fostering an inclusive campus culture.

In our efforts to improve organizational transparency, this fall the college launched the Shared Governance at CC and the CC Facts webpages. As a community that embraces transparency and accountability, it is in our best interest to be clear about who is responsible for what decisions and to make that information available to the community. "Shared Governance at CC" is a resource that provides information on the groups who are consulted with and who ultimately makes a decision. CC Facts provides commonly requested data on the institution from broad areas like admission, enrollment, undergraduate graduation and retention, financial aid, instructional faculty, staff, athletics, and finance.

Vibrant collaboration is another characteristic of a great place to work. Building on the success of cross-functional collaborative teams during the strategic planning process, the president has begun commissioning Block Projects that are designed to bring a new level of recognition, support, and structure to collaborative work. These projects, which give intense focus over a short period of time to accomplish a specific mission, bring a small group of people from across the campus together to work on a solution or improvement to an assigned topic.

The Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching

The Charge: Set in motion specific pilot projects to demonstrate how the Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching will contribute to the mission of the college.

What's Happening: As part of our Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching, we completed our thesis writing adjunct pilot project, to rave reviews from participants. Molly Gross, formerly the associate director of the Writing Center, and who worked intimately with this project, said the interdisciplinary nature of the pilot created a sense of community that provided a safe space for student writers to collaborate and challenge one another. "The thesis is where they transition from being students to being professionals, and that skin can be uncomfortable. This is their opportunity to confront that, to make a stand and be clear about where they live in that conversation. For them to practice that in the thesis process is so valuable." Mollie Hayden '14, participated in the pilot and said she found the greatest value in developing confidence in herself as a writer. "Prior to the adjunct, I was very insecure and unsure of my ability to write, but with support, I learned to let go of my apprehensions and trust myself."

The success of this pilot has spurred an initiative to hire a part time undergraduate thesis writing specialist to expand the pilot into yearlong programming that will include offering thesis courses throughout the academic year, and coordinating workshops and writing retreats during block breaks, Half Block, and Summer Session. The position will be funded for two years by the Mellon Grant the college received last fall, helping support the vision of the Center.

Drew Cavin Additionally, Mellon Grant dollars supported the opportunity to bring Drew Cavin on board at CC as its first director of the Office of Field Study. As we support our faculty and students to experience the full potential of the Block Plan, this position will work directly with faculty to design and implement local and regional field excursions to enhance the learning of our students. The office will also work with faculty to enhance existing programs, and support those interested in incorporating field-based learning into their coursework. "I think that the Block Plan allows for so many very special and unique educational opportunities, as well as opportunities for students to grow as people and experience the world," said Cavin, who earned his Ph.D. in recreation, park, and tourism sciences from Texas A&M University. "My new position gives me the opportunity to help faculty take full advantage and create exceptional educational experiences for our students."

Premier Summer Learning Experience

The Charge: Create summer programs consisting of linked thematic blocks.

Djake Carroll '16 talks about the Summer Institute in Documentary Filmmaking

What's Happening: CC embraced intensive, hands-on learning in our 2014 Summer Institutes through thematically linked courses that integrated intellectual, academic, practical, and professional experience. Advancing our strategic initiative to build programs to support a new generation of learners, the Summer Film Institute: 2014 Documentary Project focused on documentary filmmaking in Colorado and provided students with the opportunity to develop filming, interviewing, and researching skills in creating their own documentary. "It was eye-opening when I got to go deeper with my work," said Djake Carroll '16, of participating this summer. "The only reason the film I made ended up being something watchable was because I had the time to try a couple of things that failed and I wouldn't have had time if it were during the year."

Library Renovation and Programming

The Charge: The renovated library will provide the physical home for the new Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching, and serve as the intellectual hub of the campus.

What's Happening: Last spring, phase one of the library renovation project took place. The college engaged in a contract with MASS Design Group for programming and concept design services. The work was completed and presented to the college and Board of Trustees in June 2014. In July and August, the college began preparation for the next phase in the project, which will entail selecting a firm for design architect services. Design architect services include floor-by-floor schematic design, as well as proposed use of materials on the exterior and interior of the building. In late August the college invited 18 architectural firms to participate in a request for qualifications for design architect services. The 18 firms included those who participated in the first phase, as well as recommendations from the Library Action Team and campus leadership. The college received 13 proposals. September 18, the college selected four firms to participate in a request for proposals and to present proposals on campus during interviews October 27 and 28. The four firms selected included Michael Graves & Associates, Pfeiffer Partners, Sasaki Associates, and Will Bruder Architects, and the goal is to announce the firm selected as design architect by the end of November. Additionally, a recent $5 million gift propels this work forward.

Program Fees

The Charge: CC's full academic experience available to all students regardless of income and to free the imagination to do even more with the block, we will eliminate all program fees.

Tinka Avramov '16 talks about her experience in HY200 – Art in Context: Art History and Cultural History in 19th Century Paris

What’s Happening: In order to establish a financially sustainable solution that will allow the college to remove all program fees, CC took the first steps toward the goal by awarding additional financial aid to students participating in a block course that included a program fee. In the 2013-2014 academic year, $203,450 was awarded to 78 students who participated in a "block away" course. On average, these awards covered nearly 80 percent of the program fee for the students, who participated in one of 16 programs varying from study in Serbia to Germany to Paris to Chile. The program with the highest participation was in Lyon, France, where 12 students attended a class on contemporary French society taught by Gail Murphy-Geiss, associate professor of sociology. This program funding will continue in 2014-2015.

Innovation Showcase

The Charge: Host an event to showcase Colorado College's innovators and innovations, and to further the discussion about innovation at CC.

What’s Happening: Led by leaders from six of CC's co-curricular programs, the college held its first Innovation Showcase April 7-9. More than 400 students, faculty, staff, and community members 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. The showcase also recognized how the Public Interest Fellowship Program promotes active social change in Colorado, applauded the interdisciplinary thinking fueled by the I.D.E.A. Space, and investigated the change-making practices of the Global Sustainability Internship program. Two keynote speakers addressed the campus: Dan Pallotta shared his experiences as a social innovator, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for charities over the past decade, and Michael Soulé explored the paradigms of large landscape conservation in the Rocky Mountain West. One student participant said, "Dan Pallotta looked me in the eye and told me that the world doesn't need more practical people, it needs more dreamers; he made me believe that I truly can make a change in this world if I remember that an expert is simply someone who will tell you exactly why something cannot be done; he openly assured me that love is the greatest motivator of all."

PIFP: "A Different Kind of Payday"

The Big Idea

Leadership Philosophy

The Charge: Develop a shared leadership philosophy and set of competencies, and create programs for staff and faculty to build those identified skills.

What’s Happening: Our Leadership Philosophy Action Team finalized an aspirational vision of what leadership should be at Colorado College. This leadership philosophy was shared with all faculty and staff members via email and at the all-campus lunch April 7. This philosophy will now guide the formation of the college's professional development program in our pursuit of workplace excellence. The vision of leadership at Colorado College is that it is the privilege of every member of our community to lead in each role and position. Leadership means pursuing opportunities and assuming responsibility to advance the college's mission. View the full CC Leadership Philosophy.

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: "One has to admire the human spirit's will to survive and to do what one needs to do to create a life. Cubans love their country; they just want their lives to be better than the previous generation and their children to have better lives than theirs," said Anita Pariseau, director of alumni relations, of her experience immersed in Cuban culture during CC's first special block break. On March 30, 32 alumni and friends accompanied Pariseau and Sean Pieri, VP for advancement, on the sold-out trip to Cuba led by Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Popkin. Participants traveled for nine days, soaking in history, culture, and Cuban perspective, and navigated historical context from a social and economic perspective with Popkin's guidance. Interest in the program was so strong that the college will consider repeating it in 2015. Pariseau and Pieri are exploring adding 6-12 other new programs in 2015.

CC alumni and friends in Cuba, Spring 2014.

2014 Dynamic Half Block

The Charge: Develop new Half Block programming that will enhance the existing “for-credit” programs, yet be focused on helping students explore interests, develop new skills, and enhance existing skills.

What’s Happening: The group led by VP of Student Life Mike Edmonds organized 21 new courses and outdoor education programs ranging from graduate test preparation, IT skill building, public speaking, leadership, careers in healthcare, and craft production. Three hundred ninety-eight students participated in the new courses, which culminated in a dinner class on etiquette. One participant in the new Half Block had this to say: “I thought it was fantastic, and love that they offered career oriented classes, especially because I would be disinclined to think about career stuff during a class, especially a hard one. It was a lull on campus and a great time to think about how to advance career/internship searches during the block.”

Kendall Bentsen talks about her half block GMAT course

CC's Mellon Fellow in the Arts Idris Goodwin talks about his new half block course on spoken word called "The Vocab: Critical Approaches to Spoken Word Writing and Performance."