Colorado College received an anonymous $8.5 million commitment that will provide support for the further development of its innovation program. The commitment includes $6 million toward a $15 million building for innovation and $2.5 million to permanently endow a professorship in innovation. The commitment, one of the largest gifts in CC’s history, comes after Forbes listed CC as the third “Most Entrepreneurial College in America” and U.S. News & World Report ranked it first for innovation among national liberal arts colleges.
“Colorado College is becoming a nationally recognized leader in innovation. So this commitment is not only extraordinarily generous, but also, its timing could not be better,” says President Jill Tiefenthaler.
The anonymous donor cited CC’s unique approach to innovation, noting that the college weaves innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the liberal arts. “My goal in making this gift is to obliterate silos and ensure that Colorado College students from all academic backgrounds are equipped and given the opportunity to realize their dreams while changing the world in significant, positive ways,” the donor says.
Current plans for an innovation facility include a product development laboratory, recording studio, and food ecology laboratory. CC plans to raise another $6 million before breaking ground. The building is part of an overall $40 million campaign fundraising goal for innovation.
New Innovation Program Director
Dez Stone Menendez ’02 started as director of Innovation at CC in September of 2016. She began working as an entrepreneur at age 23 and the orienting principle of her work is to empower people to lead larger and more creative lives. She is the founder and owner of the Possibility Room, which began as a startup incubator in Seattle focused on executing new businesses and expanding existing businesses.
Menendez graduated from CC with a self-designed major in poetry and visual art titled A New Language: The Architecture of Word and Image. She has started several other businesses and served as a consultant focused on fostering growth in artisan and trade-based businesses, developing systems for new and established businesses to enhance efficiency, workspace organization, and project management.