Standing in front of Shove Memorial Chapel, President Jill Tiefenthaler warmly welcomed a sea of new faces, initiating Colorado College’s 145th academic year. CC Opening Convocation was held on first Monday, Aug. 27. It is a time-honored tradition that welcomes new students to campus and commends outstanding alumni. Though a formal event, the chapel had an excited energy as the new students sat at the edge of their pews, anticipating the start of the official first day of their CC experience.
“You are joining a community that encourages you to think deeply and differently, to go beyond your initial thoughts and assertions, and to blaze a trail that questions conventional ideas,” President Tiefenthaler said.
The President of Colorado College Student Government Association, Zac Schulman ‘19, addressed the crowd after President Teifenthaler. Schulman emphasized how we, as students, are the ones to carry on the traditions and customs set forth by past students, faculty, and staff, and how it is also upon us to bring change to CC. Schulman cited the decision to eliminate the West in Time requirement as an example of positive student led change. Though applauding the elimination of the West in Time requirement as an example of progress, Schulman did not skirt around the challenges CC has faced in the past and may face again.
“Many of the greatest strides this school has taken came in the face of adversity,” Schulman said. “There will most likely be a moment this coming year, maybe even many moments, when we as a community are threatened by conflict. These moments may be traumatic, they may be grossly embarrassing, they may fill you with rage. Instead, let us be bold in our actions and remember that each and every one us not only has a place here, but also a place in defining what it means to be here.”
Three alumni, Jena Hausmann ‘93 and Richard Koo 82’ and Ella Maria Ray ‘85, received an honorary degree from Colorado College. Hausmann earned a B.A. in political science from Colorado College and is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she oversees the Children’s Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical campus and the Children’s Hospital Colorado network of care in 17 locations in the metropolitan Denver area. Koo earned a B.A. in mathematics at CC. After graduation, Koo pursued a graduate degree in computer science at Cornell University and is the first Colorado College graduate to receive a Ph.D. in that field.
Finally, the keynote Speaker, EllaMaria Ray, a member of the class of ‘85 and the goddaughter of Jean Jackson Emery, one of the descendants of the founders of Colorado College, spoke. Ray encouraged the new students to begin to sculpt their own experience at CC. Recalling her time at CC, Ray stated that she “stands on the shoulders,” of those who contributed to her college experience. Ray also acknowledged the work that Colorado College must do to make sure students of color feel safe and welcome on this campus. When Ray attended CC there were 25 black students at the beginning of her freshman year, but only two left when she graduated.
All three speakers remembered those who stood here before us. They reminded us not to forget the past and to acknowledge the sacrifices and hardships that the Colorado College faculty, students, and staff all went through to make this institution what it is today. Schulman and Ray also reminded us on the role that every student has in crafting their own Colorado College experience and the importance of leaving an impact on this community during these four years.