Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

CC President Jill Tiefenthaler vision: More community engagement

By Carol McGraw Updated: December 9, 2013 at 9:10 am 0

Colorado College has a seven-to-10-year strategic plan, which will forge closer relations with the Colorado Springs community, President Jill Tiefenthaler explained Friday during a breakfast presentation at Cornerstone Arts Center.

Scores of community members from businesses, nonprofits and education heard about a plan that will focus not only on the classroom, but on how students and the community can collaborate.

During strategic planning meetings, students have expressed interest in how they can develop their liberal arts education to be ready for the workplace, she noted. Locally, this will be accomplished by expanding and creating a variety of programs that will foster more internships, volunteerism, capital venture projects and entrepreneurial relationships.

College officials spent a year meeting with students, alumni and local organizations who shared their vision and ideas for the school founded in 1874 - two years before Colorado became a state. Tiefenthaler has been traveling the country since fall, describing the Colorado College story and its plans.

Many small private colleges are struggling, but the early applications to CC, which has an enrollment of 2,000, are up 50 percent, she noted.

Many are attracted to the block system that the college embraces. Under the system, students study one subject intensely for three and a half weeks, then move on to another subject. With the block plan as the staging point, the strategic plan will focus on what is being called an Innovation Institute and an expansion of the Tutt Library.

A library in the digital age? "Students today don't sit in their rooms to study. The library is the most happening place. This is the Starbucks generation."

The Innovation Institute will provide resources and structure for students and faculty including emphasis on research in a cross-disciplinary way.

Tiefenthaler said the college aims to emphasize more diversity and inclusiveness; will provide more support for faculty research and scholarship; increase financial aid (40 percent of students already receive aid now, on average $30,000 through endowments); and delete program fees.

And the college plans to expand the block plan year-round.

"We want to build the best summer school in the country," she said.

This summer there will be block classes on filmmaking and journalism. In the film block, students will become filmmakers and their projects will be shown at a film festival at the end of summer. An environmental block will pair the college with Outward Bound to provide outdoor leadership experience.

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Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371.

Twitter @mcgrawatgazette

Facebook: Carol McGraw

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