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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 »

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.

UPDATE: 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."