“We get exciting moments of innovation, and then we’re done. You’re putting the right people together in a system that works in our mindset. One block. It’s perfect.”
— Gail Murphy-Geiss, associate professor of sociology and Title IX coordinator, who has served on two Block Project teams
(read more about the Block Project experience)
What is a Block Project?
Block Projects are commissioned by the president and are designed to bring a new level of recognition, support, and structure to collaborative work. As we work to advance our strategic plan, Block Projects support our strategic initiative of Workplace Excellence, fostering an organization that is as innovative and dynamic as the CC academic experience through vibrant collaboration. These projects, which give intense focus over a short period of time to accomplish a specific mission, have set beginnings and ends to their work.
How can I submit an idea for a Block Project or offer my input?
In addition to reaching out to the members of the president's cabinet, ideas can also be submitted through the form on this webpage. Proposals received through the website will be collected by Lyrae Williams and submitted to the president.
What is the process for an idea to become a Block Project?
1. After project proposals are submitted, they are then vetted by first the president and then the president’s cabinet. If the proposal is approved, the president will work with the individual(s) who submitted the proposal to appoint a leader for the Block Project, and assemble a team of faculty, staff, and/or students as deemed appropriate.
2. Proposals and ideas submitted as Block Projects will be listed on this web page. Updates on progress and resolution will also be posted.
Submit your block project idea
2019 Block 3-5 Project: Building Traditions at Colorado College
As outlined in the original strategic plan as well as in the 2018 addendum, the college aims to draw on the expertise of alumni, parents, and supporters to offer new forms of mentoring for students--find new ways to bring alumni and parents to campus and send students out into the world with new connections and skills. By having an engaged alumni and parent base, CC can provide opportunities to students to learn from outside experts and build a post-CC network. In order to move this vision forward, the college needs to build a more engaged alumni network. That engaged alumni network begins the first day a CC student steps on the campus, and builds day after day, year after year until the students graduate and become alumni.
The charge of the block project team is to explore opportunities to augment existing traditions and create new traditions authentic to CC. The intention in creating traditions, in which students, faculty, staff, and parents can participate, is to provide opportunities to build and maintain community. By offering unique to CC traditions, from Welcome Parties to Commencement, the intended outcome of this group’s work is an engaged alumni population who have an affinity for the institution. The team will be asked to inventory and evaluate current college-centered engagement activities and programs that build CC spirit and affinity to the school. The block project team will be encouraged to research high impact practices at other colleges and universities that have successfully developed affinity programs/traditions for future alumni. The team might also be asked to consider surveying recent alumni and or to meet with local alumni to learn firsthand what builds affinity at CC. At the conclusion of their work, the team will be asked to prepare recommendations on new and enhanced programming with a primary purpose to build school spirit year after year that will lead to not only engaged alumni, but also students and families who have an allegiance to the institution.
Half Block 2020 Project: Design Thinking
Woven through the college’s strategic plan and part of our overall mission of providing the finest liberal education in the country, requires a culture of continuous improvement, and an innovative, creative workforce that seeks to provide a student environment for optimal success. With the limited time that the Block Plan provides students to navigate the administrative systems of the college, there is an opportunity to examine our administrative student-services delivery model and see if there is different way to meet the needs of our students.
With a global design thinking expert (CC parent) being on campus over Half Block, the college has an opportunity to bring a group of staff together to wrestle with the notion of our administrative student-services delivery model, while also learning a vital professional skill in design thinking that the team members will be able to apply in their areas and on future teams.
The administrative student services that will be focused on include Student Accounts, Financial Aid, Parking, Gold Card, Registrar, and Student Employment. Over the course of the two-day, intensive workshop, the team will be guided by the following question, and conclude with a proposed prototype and next steps for piloting a new model.
How might we better understand and connect with our students and administrative professionals so that we can design a user-centered, administrative student-services model?
Block 8-Summer 2019 Project: Co-Curricular Resources for Faculty
In the 2018 addendum to the strategic plan, the college added a new recommendation – Connect the CC Experience. One of the initiatives in the new recommendation is to “think outside of the block by fusing curricular and co-curricular experiences”. One idea under that initiative, is to leverage the Fine Arts Center, Outdoor Education, Arts and Crafts, Wellness, and Innovation to encourage students in building creativity, taking risks, and recovering from failure. In addition to those co-curricular programs, others like the Collaborative for Community Engagement, The Butler Center, and Career Center could also be included in the overall vision of the initiative.
The charge of the block project team is gather information on all of the co-curricular programs which could be fused with the curriculum, and develop a single website gateway that faculty can use to learn about all of the opportunities available to them for co-curricular fusion and how to tap into the programs. In addition to the website, team is asked to develop a communication plan that may include additional communication pieces (print and otherwise) that could be used by the Crown Faculty Center, New Faculty Orientation, and for recruitment of faculty through search committees and the Dean of Faculty. See the Funding Opportunities for Student gateway site as an example.
Desired Outcome is to have the website and other communications pieces completed and ready for deployment by Block 1.
Block 8-A 2019 Project: Van Briggle Pottery Exploratory Committee
Building on the initial ideas from the Bemis School of Art Implementation Committee, the Van Briggle Pottery Intellectual Property Exploratory Committee is asked to explore how the college can utilize the intellectual property in a manner that honors the pottery’s history, our sense of place and the overall mission and core values of the college. As the intellectual property could have many implications throughout the campus and within the Colorado Springs community, many voices will need to be heard by the committee before any final recommendations are submitted. The following questions will guide the work of the committee.
- In what ways can the history of the Van Briggle pottery and the current intellectual property rights be honored and used while serving the mission and core values of the college?
- How might (new) programming using the intellectual property be aligned with the implementation recommendations of the Bemis School of Art and the Fine Arts Center strategic plan?
- What structures would need to be put in place to support the ideas generated by this committee?
Block 1-2 2018 Project: Employee Events: are there new ways to build community?
One of the five key recommendations of the college’s strategic plan focuses on Workplace Excellence. Retention of our top notch employees is key to achieving this goal. One retention strategy is providing meaningful opportunities to recognize employees and show appreciation for service and contributions to the college’s mission Building on the work of a previous block project team that looked at employee recognition, this block project team will focus on employee appreciation. A workplace culture that acknowledges its people advances our goal of making CC one of the best places to work in the nation.
The charge of the block project team is to evaluate the college’s current employee appreciation events (the Year-end picnic, Sky Sox baseball, CC at the Zoo, Staff Council sponsored events and events for retiring employees). The team is asked to identify opportunities for improvement under the program mission of ‘employee appreciation’. This may include adding new events, and or modifying or eliminating existing ones. The evaluation may also include examining the budget for these events and how the budget might be better utilized to show appreciation to all employees plus bringing equity to events for individuals (retirees and departing employees). The team may also want to review the most recent climate survey data for appreciation indicators. The block project team is encouraged to research high impact practices at other organizations within and outside of higher education. The team is also encouraged to seek input from all employees across campus.
Block 7-8 2018 Project: Data Governance and GDPR
Data are everywhere and higher education has more than its fair share. From student data to business data to alumni data, there are no shortages of data in higher education. Being able to use data in decision making requires that the institution has confidence in the data that is being reported and that there is ease of retrieving, interpreting and reporting on data in a timely and appropriate manner. Institutions that instill the notion of “data governance” into the fabric of its operations, when done well, improve their ability to be effective and efficient. Data Governance can be defined as the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of data used in an organization. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of policies and procedures, along with identified data stewards with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. A data governance program can also include plans for communications, compliance and risk management. At present, a group of staff representing various offices across campus are working on the details of campus data needs, data resources and gaps. This group known at the Data Integration and Reporting Team (DIRT) is working on recommendations to meet data needs across campus, but by design is not looking at the bigger picture of Data Governance.
The purpose of commissioning a separate group on Data Governance is to complement the work being done by DIRT. The Data Governance group will be asked to explore what Data Governance would mean at CC; what the role of a Data Governance Council might play and who (which offices) would serve on the council. Finally in the wake of the new GDPR (general data protection regulation) which takes effect in May 2018, the Data Governance group will develop recommendations for how CC will prepare for the new regulation. The Data Governance project team will complete its work and prepare recommendations for the President and the Cabinet by June 8, 2018. Those recommendations will entail (a) defining Data Governance at CC and whether the college should create a Data Governance Council, and (c) a proposed plan for responding to the GDPR.
Block 6 2018 Project: Banner-based Graduate Student system
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building and sustaining workplace excellence though strong communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency as strategic assets. To create an excellent workplace, we must be in a continuous improvement mode, seeking the most effective and efficient ways to do the business of the college. One current process that is ready to be improved is process by which Graduate Students are registered, billed and awarded financial aid.
This block project will implement a Banner-based system for registering, billing and awarding financial aid to graduate students in the 500 level courses, tied to the graduate tuition rate of $3,600/block for all terms: summer, fall, and spring. Ideally, the work will be concluded in time for pre-registration in Block 7.
Block 1 2017 Project: Strategic Planning for Summer Academic Programs
Colorado is a beautiful place to learn and live in the summer and provides a plethora of opportunities for outdoor adventure. As laid out in the strategic plan, CC will take full advantage of the Block Plan and our unique location to create one of the premier summer learning experiences in the U.S. Summer at CC includes more than just the classes offered to our undergraduate and graduate students, both on and off campus, it also includes faculty and student collaborative research, Bridge and Global Scholars programs, Summer Institutes, Sports Camps, Pre-College Programs, FAC summer programs and the Summer Music Festival.
Colorado College is unique among its liberal arts peers. Most residential liberal arts campuses wind down in the summer and offer minimal campus programming, usually limited to conferences, and academic programming off campus. Because we seek to maximize summer opportunities and leverage our beautiful setting in the Rocky Mountain West, and be nationally recognize for our summer programs, the college must think and plan holistically to strategically utilize summer – prioritizing our academic programs.
This group is being asked to develop a holistic strategic plan for summer programs at CC. By exploring the following guiding questions, through extensive outreach across campus and research on best and common practices, develop recommendations and initiatives for a summer strategic plan for Colorado College. The target for developing the draft plan is October 16, 2017.
Block 5 2017 Project: Staff Service Awards: how to meaningfully recognize staff for their years of service and contributions to the college.
One of the five key recommendations of the college’s strategic plan focuses on Workplace Excellence. Retention of our top notch staff is key to achieving this goal. One retention strategy is providing meaningful recognition and reward for staff members’ service and contributions to the college’s mission. A workplace culture that acknowledges its people advances our goal of making CC one of the best places to work in the nation.
The charge of the block project team is to evaluate the college’s current recognition program for service awards and identify opportunities for improvement. This may include suggesting new ways to recognize staff for their years of service at the college. In addition, the team should identify other ideas to meaningfully recognize staff contributions to the college. The block project team is encouraged to research high impact practices at other organizations within and outside of higher education. The team is also encouraged to seek input from staff across campus.
Block 8-A 2016 Project: Banner Student Module Improvements
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building and sustaining workplace excellence though strong communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency as strategic assets. To create an excellent workplace, we must be in a continuous improvement mode, seeking the most effective and efficient ways to do the business of the college. One current area that is primed for such review is the Banner Student module and how academic units interact with the module and provide and receive information from the Registrar’s Office.
This block project will explore academic department needs for enhancements and efficiencies as it relates to the Banner Student module. The team will reach out to all academic departments (faculty and staff) and create a list of enhancements and improvements that departments would like to see. After gathering the information, the block project team will develop recommendations, in priority order, along with the initial technical requirements and other resources that would be needed for each recommendation.
At conclusion of the project, the team will submit a report with its findings, recommendations, and priorities for the President and Cabinet to consider in the coming years.
Block 3-4 2015 Project: Campus Transition-Cultivating community resilience in the face of disruption
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, which is flexible, helpful and open-minded. An excellent workplace exhibits helpful internal communication and transparency, active collaboration and cross-functional work, in an environment that is both effective and efficient; while also nimble to react to the unexpected. While not unexpected, the upcoming renovation and expansion of Tutt Library, and simultaneous construction of a new East Campus residence hall, will require the campus community to be flexible, helpful and patient. During these 15 months of construction, we will need to pull together to support the students, faculty and staff who are most disrupted by these projects. While another group is working on the physical transition planning, this block project will develop ideas and recommendations for how the campus community can be supportive, flexible and agents of good internal communications during this disruptive time.
The team is being asked to develop ideas for how we can be helpful to and supportive of our colleagues and our students during these construction projects. The team is also asked to develop ideas for how the college might effectively communicate about the project progress and disruptions. Beyond being supportive and good communicators, how could the college hold special events or programs to ease the burden and stress that will undoubtedly occur during the 15 months of construction?
Block 1 2015 Project: Leadership Philosophy Recognition
We emphasize in our strategic plan that lifelong learning is critical in today’s dynamic world, and therefore, we have begun the work to create a top-notch professional development program that supports our staff and faculty in adapting to the changing environment. As part of this program, the college has already developed a shared leadership philosophy and set of leadership characteristics. 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. For us, leadership means pursuing opportunities and assuming responsibility to advance the college’s mission. Our philosophy of collaboration, respect, openness, and solutions-focus, guides and directs each of us in our daily interactions and reminds us of the impact we have on our campus community.
The work of the block project team is to take the leadership philosophy and develop recommendations for criteria, and a process to recognize faculty and staff leaders. Using the leadership philosophy as a guide, the team will examine existing recognition programs at Colorado College and at other institutions/organizations to generate ideas on how to recognize and reward leadership at the college.
Block B Project: Student Financial Resources Research
Recommendation 1 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building on the block through providing access to all programs for all students regardless of family income. In order to pursue eliminating all program fees, the college needs to know where all of the current financial resources lie that students can access, and the process by which the funds are dispersed. This block project will research all of the existing financial resources (i.e. budgets) that exist in administrative offices that students can request or get granted to them. The research will include the 2015-16 projected budget for each resource, the funding source of the budget (tuition, endowment, etc.), three to five years of historical use and the documented process by which students obtain the funds for each budget/source. At the conclusion of the project, the team will submit a report with its findings.
Block A 2015 Project: Utilizing Volunteers: Retirees and Alumni
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes the importance of attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff and administration and fosters an inclusive campus culture that truly values different backgrounds, experiences, ideas and opinions. That goal easy translates to the idea that our retirees and alumni can provide valuable input and guidance through volunteering and other engagement avenues that are both impactful and meaningful to the college, the retirees and the alumni; thereby retaining their talents and knowledge for the good of the college.
The work of the block project team is to generate ideas for how the college might utilize the talents and knowledge of our retirees and alumni; through events, student and junior faculty mentoring, half block, etc. In addition to ideas, the team is asked to draft the processes by which retirees and alumni can engage with the college about these volunteer opportunities, as well as how the college can invite participation from these two groups and maintain their interest in the program(s).
Block A 2015 Project: Winter Graduation Celebration
Recommendation 1 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes that the success of the Block Plan depends on a talented and diverse student body. Honoring the diversity at which our students design and pursue their academic experience is part of that success, which means the college needs to honor and celebrate those students who graduate in December.
The work of the block project team is to generate ideas and doable options for celebrating our students and their families during winter graduation. Through research of other institutions that hold a winter graduation and internal brainstorming or focus groups, the block project team will identify options to honor and celebrate our students and their families during winter graduation. These recommendations will need to take into account the college's winter break schedule and other internal and external annual events, holidays, etc.
Block 7 2015 Project: Student Fees Review
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work. Part of being an excellent workplace means to be efficient and effective in our daily operations. This block project will review the current student fee structure and discuss the most efficient way to standardize fees from an operational and procedural standpoint. The fees to be reviewed are those not counted in course fees and/or program fees. The major purpose for the review includes: Title IV funds (federal financial aid) per federal regulations cannot pay miscellaneous fees only institutional costs, accuracy needed in reporting fees on the 1098T tax forms, improve customer service and communication with our students and parents by reporting our fees upfront and decrease the volume of uncollectable accounts, which should improve students and parents overall experience at Colorado College. At the conclusion of the project, the team will submit a report with its findings and recommendations, including timing of any changes.
Block 5 2015 Project: Banner Finance Enhanced Fund and Org Transaction Security
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work. Part of being an excellent workplace means to be efficient and effective in our daily operations. This block project will focus on finding new ways of creating efficiencies within our financial transaction posting process by exploring how the college might improve the processes and/or use of the Banner Finance module to ensure that financial transactions initiated by a user are posted only after verifying the fund and/or org codes being charged as well as ensuring that the charges are authorized by the appropriate fund managers. The team exploring this efficiency opportunity should feel free to examine workflow processes, Banner Finance module use and functionality, as well as post-transactional review options to reach the ultimate goal of having financial transactions recorded properly with appropriate approval for the fund code and/or org code.
Block 5 2015 Project: Employee/Employer Commitment
Recommendation 5 of the college’s Strategic Plan emphasizes building an inclusive community, helping each person develop as a professional and sustaining workplace excellence that will advance our goals while also making CC one of the best places in the nation to work.
The work of the block project team is to generate a philosophy of shared responsibility and partnership between the college, staff, and faculty in our continued quest to workplace excellence and being recognized as a great place to work. Through examination of existing documents such as the staff and faculty handbooks, leadership philosophy statement, anti-discrimination and harassment policies, and other documents, the block project team will identify opportunities to strengthen the college community’s understanding and appreciation of the college’s commitment to ensuring a workplace that is grounded in respect, integrity and to reaffirm the belief that all members of our community are to be afforded opportunities to achieve the highest level of success possible.
Block 1 2014 Project: Calendar Solutions Team
The Block Project will develop appropriate procedures and policies to accompany the newly acquired campus events, calendars, and room reservation management system to ensure effective implementation college wide.
Block B 2014 Project: Academic Staff – Performance Excellence
The goal of the performance excellence process at CC is to ensure that supervisors and staff understand and communicate openly about performance expectations and goals and that staff have opportunities to develop the skills and abilities needed to successfully contribute to the college’s mission. Since the implementation of the new performance excellence process two years ago, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of centralizing the evaluation for academic office staff with just the department chair and methods used to ensure there is consistency and understanding on the use of the performance rankings for core academic office staff functions. The Block Project will review the performance excellence process for academic office staff to ensure it is administered effectively and to recommend alternatives for gathering and assessing performance behaviors and outcomes, and to develop consistent performance-ranked ratings.
Block 8 2014 Project: Staff Taking Half Block and/or Summer Courses
Fulfilling our mission to provide the finest liberal arts education in the country requires a campus culture that supports a first-rate staff in connecting to our mission and developing enthusiasm for lifelong learning, flexibility, open-mindedness, and other 21st century skills acquired by CC students. More importantly, because lifelong learning is critical for individuals to reach their potential in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing world, using CC’s Half Block and linked thematic summer courses, Colorado College should provide access to educational opportunities that further intellectual inquiry and familiarize staff with the unique curriculum structure. The Block Project will recommend guidelines for staff who wish to take Half Block or summer courses (existing summer blocks or special summer courses to be developed specifically for staff).
Block 5 2014 Project: EEO Voluntary Applicant Data
Colorado College is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and administration and fostering an inclusive campus culture that truly values different backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and opinions. One step in attaining these goals is to make sure that our employment communications attract excellent and diverse pools for all of our positions. To assess our efforts, the college collects demographic data (voluntarily and confidentially) as part of our employment application process. The voluntary demographic data is kept confidential and is not used to identify any specific individual. The Block Project will ensure that the college is making the best use of this opportunity to attract diverse pools, promote the college's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and capture valuable data about the diversity of our applicant pools.
Contact Lyrae Williams in the President's Office:
14 E. Cache La Poudre St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903