Colorado College freshman Bailey Page from Oklahoma is ready for her first year of college.

“I vacationed in Colorado Springs when I was 12, and I told my mom I wanted to live here,” she said while waiting for class to start. “I already have a lot of work — 150 pages of reading in my class, according to the syllabus.”

The official start of Colorado College’s 145th year on Monday began much like the end of the 144th year in May: with plenty of pomp and circumstance.

The opening convocation featured, as is tradition, a processional into Shove Chapel of administrators and faculty dressed in academic regalia.

EllaMaria Ray, a 1985 graduate, received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree before taking the podium to deliver the keynote address.

Ray, an anthropologist and visual artist who teaches in the department of Africana studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said on her first day at CC 33 years ago, she had to let go of her preconceived image of what college would be like.

She realized that after her professor walked in wearing Ragg wool socks, Birkenstock sandals he had resoled himself and a Hawaiian shirt. She had dressed in her Sunday best.

“I’d worked so hard to get here. I wanted to represent,” she said. “I had to remind myself I was not getting my degree for just myself. I was not getting my degree for just my family. I was not getting my degree for just my community. But to make some kind of contribution to humanity.

“I had to learn to claim Colorado College on my own terms and take the clay body represented in the courses offered here to shape an experience to transform me from the inside out.”

She encouraged the 548 freshmen who attended the opening ceremonies to do likewise.

Student Government Association President Zac Schulman, who will graduate in May, said many of the strides the school has taken “came in the face of adversity.”

He mentioned an initiative that arose among black students and others on campus to eliminate a course requirement that many felt emphasized Western culture and civilization to the exclusion of others.

Faculty voted overwhelmingly in April to remove the 13-year-old requisite.

“It’s important our old traditions are replaced by new ones,” Schulman said. “We have to reflect on what we want to carry forward this academic year and what to leave behind.”

The private liberal arts college received a record 8,552 applicants for the freshman class, according to spokeswoman Leslie Weddell. About 15 percent were admitted.

The campus has about 2,100 undergraduate students and a master of arts in teaching degree program.

Pikes Peak Community College also started classes Monday, with 13,300 students studying for two-year degrees, along with certificates programs, said spokeswoman Karen Kovaly. Enrollment is growing for the second fall in a row, after three years of decline, she said.

Retention also is up, for the seventh consecutive year, and is now 54.5 percent, Kovaly said. That means PPCC has climbed from lowest retention in the Colorado Community College System to the highest, she said.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit is running a new express route every 30 minutes along Voyager Parkway to the school’s Rampart campus. Student fees and the Colorado Springs Health Foundation provided funding for the public transportation.

PPCC also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for the launch of its first bachelor of applied science degree in emergency service administration. The degree “teaches emergency service professionals how to lead and manage the wide range of emergency response agencies and to better understand how local, state, tribal and federal agencies are organized and equipped to deal with crises.”

About 12,600 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students started classes Aug. 20, according to spokesman Jared Verner. Enrollment is expected to increase by up to 2 percent over last fall.

The first cohort of the RN-to-BSN program in partnership with UCHealth Memorial Health is kicking off this semester.

The “pilot phase” of a new satellite campus, UCCS Downtown, will get underway next month with noncredit classes and programs for this school year. For 2019-20, UCCS plans to implement for-credit certificate and degree programs at the site, 102 S. Tejon St.

A Sept. 5 ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate the completion of the first on-campus practice and competition facility for the UCCS track and field program.

The new fieldhouse, at 760 N. Campus Heights Drive, is the first dedicated facility for the track and field teams since the programs were established in 1998. Other UCCS athletic programs will use the fieldhouse for conditioning and workouts in bad weather.

Groundbreaking for the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center is expected to be held in October.

“The plan is to have 1,000 exercise science and 500 human anatomy/physiology students ready to move in when the building opens in 2020,” Verner said.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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