Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UPDATE: UCCS will host Milo Yiannopoulos — but only because it must

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Since posting, we heard back from UCCS spokesperson Tom Hutton on a few questions we posed. So, in case you were wondering whether the university will pay for additional security, should it be necessary for the event, the answer is "no."

Per Hutton: "the event sponsors are responsible for any additional security as determined by the UCCS Chief of Police." And about the university's preparations for protestors, Hutton says that "the university is anticipating the possibility of demonstrations. If demonstrations occur, there will be an area that is designated to ensure the safety of all participants."

——- Original post, JAN. 18, 1:57 P.M. ——-

Troll incoming! Today, a press release from the
University of Colorado in Colorado Springs announced that right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is officially scheduled to speak on campus. Two student groups — chapters of the College Republicans and Turning Point USA — invited the guy and will pick up the tab. To repeat: No university dollars will be spent on the affair.

The university does not endorse this speaker’s views (which, as we previously reported, are pretty repugnant), but because the university’s public, cannot turn him away for it. Yiannopoulos — who has been scorned by some in the so-called alt-right movement he purportedly speaks for because of his identity as a gay jew — will also speak at CU-Boulder on the 25th. Students there organized an event featuring Laverne Cox, a black trans actress, to speak at the exact same time, hoping to draw attention away from the smug, transphobic misogynist.

Yiannopoulos lives to insult. - WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikipedia Commons
  • Yiannopoulos lives to insult.

UCCS’s release also highlighted another event going on at the exact same time that was planned months ago. The “university appreciation event,” the release says, will “include comments by [Chancellor Pam] Shockley-Zalabak, music by members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, who will perform works by composer Leonard Bernstein, and a brief video presentation with campus community members stating support for the university's core values.”

Shockley-Zalabak penned a letter on the matter, found below:

A response to elected officials concern over the rhetoric Milo Yiannopoulos

I absolutely reject this type of rhetoric.

The statements that Mr. Yiannopoulos has made at other campuses are clearly in opposition to the values of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its commitment to creating an inclusive community that welcomes all.

Moreover, his tactics of personal denigration, as well as racist and misogynist comments, are both personally reprehensible and contrary to the university's values of civil, respectful discussion of difference and difficult topics. We ascribe to The Board of Regents' Guiding Principle that the University of Colorado shall always strive to be "provide an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching, and working environment."

At the same time, the University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment. Under well-established constitutional principles, when a student group invites a speaker, the University of Colorado does not censor the speaker because it disagrees with his viewpoints.

In doing so, we draw guidance from, and I quote the words of, the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters are within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is on a matter of public concern, even though it it racist or sexist, it "cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt" and we "must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate 'breathing space' to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Mr. Yiannopoulos's attacks on others constitute "vehement, caustic, and unpleasant expressions" that "can stir people to action" and "inflict great pain." We can, and do, condemn his words, but, as a nation, "we have chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate." As a public university, we know of no legal grounds to prevent Mr. Yiannopoulos from coming to our campus based on his comments elsewhere.

UCCS will, however, require the organizations that invited him to campus, the College Republicans and Turning Point USA, to be responsible for all costs, including security. Additionally, the university will handle all ticketing to ensure that fire codes and other legal requirements are met. I will continue to emphasize that while Mr. Yiannopoulos may be speaking at UCCS, he in no way represents us as a campus community or our values.


Pam Shockley-Zalabak


Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists are still planning to protest the event. “We’re planning a direct action as well as a more general nice picket thing for those that are less militant,” says a representative of the group, who would direct anyone who’s interested in participating to keep an eye on the event page for an upcoming planning meeting.

Plans to get the biracial, progressive comedian Trevor Noah to speak on campus concurrently appear to not have materialized.

Find tickets and other time/place details about the Yiannopoulos event here.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Learn about the future of education with the Women’s Resource Agency

Posted By on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM

The Women’s Resource Agency, an Indy Give! nonprofit, works with women in the Pikes Peak Region to empower them for success. For some, that means providing interview and employment clothing or training in necessary job skills. But the process can also start much earlier than that.
  • Shutterstock
WRA also provides school-based programs, saying on their website, “Encouraging teen girls to complete high school is important because dropouts earn lower wages than graduates, which can become a barrier to long-term self-sufficiency. We value girls and seek to build a community that values girls as full participants.”

Since WRA has a vested interest in education, they’re hosting a film screening tonight, which relates to the education of students of all backgrounds. This collection of media resources from NOVA’s School of the Future examines the science of learning and how technological advancements in education are changing the landscape.

School of the Future seeks to answer the question, “how can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?” which is a relevant topic for parents, students, educators and community members who value educational advancement.

The event is donation-based and includes pizza and a cash bar. All donations will benefit WRA’s Give! campaign. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the film and discussion starting at 5:30 p.m. in the MacKenzie Place Theater, 1605 Elm Creek View.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New ice arena planned by Colorado College

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 3:35 PM

A rendering of the new arena.
  • A rendering of the new arena.
Honnen Ice Arena will be history after a new rink is built with an $8 million gift announced Wednesday by Colorado College.

The announcement came in a news release, pick up next week's issue of the Independent for more:
Colorado College alumnus Edward J. Robson has given the college $8 million to build a new on-campus hockey arena. The facility, which will be located on the west side of Nevada Avenue between Dale and Cache La Poudre streets, is part of a campus master plan the college’s Board of Trustees approved in 2015. CC’s Division I hockey team will practice in the new facility and continue to play its games in the Broadmoor World Arena.
“Ed Robson is an extraordinarily successful and generous Colorado College alumnus and former CC hockey player,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “He has previously served on our Board of Trustees, established endowed scholarships for CC students and been one of the strongest advocates for the college, its mission and our Division I hockey program.”
The new facility, which will be named the Edward J. Robson Arena, is a $10 million project that the college will break ground on during the 2018-19 academic year. It will replace the Honnen Ice Arena, the college’s current on-campus facility, and include about 900 seats. In addition to the varsity team, the new arena will serve intramurals, the college’s club teams, student life activities and community hockey leagues.
“Athletics matter, and academics are even more important,” said Robson, a developer of communities for active adults and Arizona business leader. “There’s nothing like a Colorado College education. This new arena will give CC hockey players a high-quality ice rink, while keeping them on campus and part of the student body. Doing so will help uphold the college’s commitment to rigorous academics for athletes.”
News of Robson’s gift was met with enthusiasm by the college’s Athletics Department.
“I believe this gift and the arena it will support will be game-changing for our entire program,” said CC
Head Hockey Coach Mike Haviland. “This is a great day for Colorado College and our hockey program.”
Robson, who graduated from CC in 1954 and received an honorary degree from the college in 2014, credits former CC hockey coach Cheddy Thompson for the program’s success, calling him the “father of
CC hockey.” Thompson guided the college’s hockey team to the program’s first NCAA championship in 1950 and the team went 149-72-6 with six NCAA bids during his 10-year career as head coach at the college.
“We are thrilled that Ed Robson has chosen to invest in the hockey program at CC,” said Ken Ralph, director of athletics for Colorado College. “The construction of Robson Arena highlights the college’s continued support for its hockey program at the highest levels. This facility will allow our coaching staff to best prepare our players while providing them the very best collegiate experience both on and off the ice. This facility also will benefit the entire campus and the Colorado Springs community.”
Robson Arena will be constructed using sustainable building practices and materials, building on the college’s commitment to sustainability. Currently the Honnen Ice Arena is the least energy-efficient building on the Colorado College campus. In 2015, CC received a gold-star rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), improving on a silver designation awarded the previous year.
About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its approximately 2,000 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week segments. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Get tickets to see Newt Gingrich on Friday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 11:03 AM

  • Courtesy Colorado College
  • Newt Gingrich
After watching the Presidential Town Hall Debate, Americans are itching for more political events.

Errr, OK, so maybe that's not exactly true. But surely there are some folks in Colorado Springs who wouldn't mind seeing former Speaker of the House and Republican Party legend Newt Gingrich speak. While Gingrich doesn't wield the influence he once did, he's still in the game. Most recently, he warned his fellow Republicans to think twice about abandoning Donald Trump

Anyway, Gingrich will be speaking at Colorado College on Nov. 2. While the tickets are free, you do need tickets, and they're likely to go quickly. You can get your tickets starting Friday. Here are the details per CC:

Congressman Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is on campus next month as part of the Sondermann Presidential Symposium. Tickets are free but required, and will be available beginning Friday, Oct. 14, at 8 a.m. at the Worner Desk in the Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for the event which will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre. One ticket per person please.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trump event at UCCS stirs controversy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 2:14 PM

click image GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will speak at 2 p.m. Friday at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Gallogly Event Center.

Not everyone is happy about it.

In a letter released to the public, Chancellor Pam Shockley- Zalaback noted that, "Many faculty, staff, and students have expressed disappointment and anger at Mr. Trump's appearance on our campus." 

 It should be noted that UCCS, as a public university, cannot refuse to host a political event on the basis of preference for (or distaste for) a candidate. But many faculty at the university have signed on to a protest letter in advance of Trump's event. Both the faculty protest letter and a letter from the Chancellor explaining the decision to host the event are posted below after the jump:

Continue reading »

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

He's baa-aack! Mike Miles appointed to charter school board.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Mike Miles - FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Miles
Back in 2010, Mike Miles was the superintendent of the economically-challenged school district on the city's southeast side, Harrison District 2. If one thing could be said definitively about his leadership style, it was this: He tended to inspire strong feelings. Really strong feelings.

Miles saw himself as a reformer, and he was a favorite of the Gazette's news and editorial staff, which lavished praise on him. Many of the teachers and other staff in the district, however, were less thrilled. For a breakdown of the situation, check out this article I wrote at the time.

In 2012, Miles left Harrison to become the superintendent for the public school system in Dallas, Texas. In 2015, he resigned the position, with two years remaining on his contract. That may not have been surprising to many in Dallas, as Miles was, to say the least, a highly controversial figure. 

At the time of his departure, the Dallas Morning News wrote:

Miles’ entire tenure has been marked by controversy and ambitious initiatives. He designed and implemented new evaluations for teachers and principals, which he called the most rigorous in the country. Despite his reform efforts, student scores on state STAAR exams have stayed flat or decreased during his time.

But he continually clashed with employees and several school board members over his management style. He survived several attempts by a few board members to fire him. Most recently, he quarreled with some school board members over his decision to fire three principals despite the board’s vote to keep them.
After leaving Dallas, Miles came back to the Springs, where his wife and child were already living without him. He began work as an education consultant, and appears to be getting back into the swing of things. Recently, the Colorado League of Charter Schools appointed him to their board of directors. Here's what they have to say about the move:

DENVER – The Colorado League of Charter Schools has appointed Mike Miles to serve on its board of directors.

Miles is a leader in education reform and the former superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District and the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs. Miles returned to Colorado Springs last summer and started an educational consulting company, Third Future. He was recently tapped to lead the transformation of the Pikes Peak Prep charter school in Colorado Springs and is also starting a charter public school in Aurora, the Academy of Advanced Learning, which is set to open in the fall of 2017.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the Colorado League of Charter Schools to expand choice options for students and to improve educational outcomes for all students,” said Miles. “I hope my experience in school districts and the education reform space will allow me to contribute to the important discussions and reform efforts Colorado will have in the next several years.”

A graduate of West Point, Mike Miles has also served as an officer in the Army’s elite Ranger Battalion. He later served in the U.S. State Department as a Diplomat to Poland and Russia. Miles holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University.

“We are thrilled to have Mike Miles join the League’s board of directors,” said Nora E. Flood, President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. “Mike’s commitment to ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality public school option directly aligns with our organization’s vision. His background and expertise will be an invaluable asset to our board.”

Other members of the League’s board include: Jay Cerny, Principal/CEO, Cherry Creek Academy; The Honorable Nancy Spence, Former Colorado State Senator; Sam Todd, Executive Director of Operations, Peak to Peak Charter School; Eric Duran, Managing Director and Public Finance Banker, D.A. Davidson & Co.; Andy Franko, iConnect Zone Superintendent, Falcon 49 School District; The Honorable Peter Groff, Former President, Colorado State Senate; Arkan Haile, Corporate Counsel, TransMontaigne; Erin Kane, Executive Director of Schools, American Academy; Carol Meininger, Chief Financial Officer, The Pinnacle Charter School; The Honorable Bob Schaffer, Principal, Liberty Common High School, and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Joyce Schuck, Co-Founder, Parents Challenge; and Todd Ziebarth, Sr. Vice President, State Advocacy and Support, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The Colorado League of Charter Schools is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to supporting the charter public schools in the state. The League is committed to helping these schools reach higher levels of student performance and overall success by providing information and resources, including technical support, advocacy, and public relations assistance.

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that have the flexibility to be innovative, entrepreneurial, self-governing, and yet are held accountable for student and operational performance.

In the 2016-17 school year, there are 226 charter public schools in Colorado serving more than 108,000 students, representing over 12 percent of public school enrollment in the state. If Colorado charter public schools were combined into one school district, it would be the largest school district in the state.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Graduation ceremony honors kids who beat the odds

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 1:53 PM

click image H. MICHAEL MILEY
  • H. Michael Miley
In Colorado Springs, the Air Force Academy graduation tends to overshadow other graduation ceremonies.

That's especially true this year, since the event featured a speech by President Barack Obama and a performance by the Thunderbirds followed by a crash (the pilot is OK). While it's not likely to garner nearly the attention of that event, a graduation ceremony taking place in Denver is worth mentioning. 

Later today (Wednesday), the Colorado Department of Human Services and other organizations are hosting a ceremony to honor over 100 students who graduated high school, got a GED or received a college degree despite overwhelming odds. These are young people who have been in the foster system or youth corrections. To put their achievement in context, in 2013, just 27.5 percent of public school kids in foster care graduated high school on time. 

So congratulations, graduates, on your monumental achievement. 
Graduation Ceremony Honors Students Beating the Odds

WHAT: The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is partnering with multiple organizations and community partners to honor more than 100 students involved in the foster care or youth corrections systems who graduated from high school, received a GED, or obtained a college degree this year at the 18th Annual Celebration of Educational Excellence.

These students are beating the odds. The majority of Colorado’s students in foster care aren’t graduating from high school. Just 27.5 percent of public school students in foster care in the class of 2013 graduated on time, compared with 77 percent of all students. A new report from the University of Northern Colorado finds educational stability is likely to improve the odds of students in foster care graduating from high school. Colorado students in foster care typically change schools three times during high school.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Resource Fair for Students 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm, Program begins at 6:00 p.m.
Regis University, Claver Hall, Mountain-View Room, 3333 Regis Blvd, Denver, CO 80221

WHAT ELSE: This annual event brings together young people from all over the state to congratulate them on their achievements and encourage their continued educational success. Students will hear from several speakers who share similar adverse childhood experiences speak about their journeys towards achieving their educational goals.

Each student will receive a special certificate honoring their achievement, along with a laptop to support their educational success in the future.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 22, 2016

UPDATE: Academy "partners" with religion, drawing criticism

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Note the academy band offered the concert "in partnership" with New Life Church.
  • Note the academy band offered the concert "in partnership" with New Life Church.
Here's the Air Force Academy's response to questions about selection of New Life Church for an academy band concert:

The United States Air Force Academy Band performed its Spring Concert on Thursday, April 21, 7pm, at New Life Church. The show was open and free to the entire regional community and those visiting the area.
It's important to note that the Academy Band maintains a rigorous performance schedule in support of Cadet and Air Force troop morale, recruiting and community outreach, and it makes every effort to provide free public concerts as part of their community relations mission. The focus of venue selection is finding the ideal location for the community. Oftentimes a larger venue best supports the needs of that area; however, the band utilizes a variety of venues across Colorado Springs and the nation to provide the public with innovative musical programs.
Department of Defense and Air Force regulations allow concerts to be performed in churches as long as the concert is not part of a service and benefits the community at large; the primary regulation is DoD 5410.18. The band's methodical planning efforts to meet the demands of its rigorous schedule, under the aforementioned regulations, ensure it is never associated with a worship service, that each concert is free and open to the public and of general interest to the community, and that there is no fundraising of any kind associated with the performance.
The USAFA Band presents an average of 500 performances a year; in the last 15-16 months 14 community concerts have been held in church venues: 3.2% of its total performances.
"Since Jan. 1, 2015, that 3.2% of performances were held at: Trinity High School (Catholic) Dickinson, N.D.; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Missoula, Montana; Zion Lutheran Church, Montrose, Colo.; Chamber Recital Series, St. James Presbyterian Church, Littleton, Colo; St Michaels (Catholic) High School, Santa Fe, N.M.; New Life Church, Colo Spgs; Grace & St Stephen's Episcopal Church, Colo Spgs; Littleton United Methodist Church, Littleton, Colo; Strickland Chapel, Nazarene Bible College, Colo Spgs; Grace Lutheran Church, Osage City, Kan.; Benet Hill Monastery, Colo Spgs; United Methodist Church, Brookings, S.D.; Pauline Chapel, Colo Spgs; and First Presbyterian Church, Great Falls, Montana.
We appreciate the continued support of our community and are proud to continue the strong relationship with our neighbors.

Also, our source for this is DODI 5410.18,, states, "Church as a site for a public concert, speech, or display, when the activity is not part of a religious service."  

The U.S. Air Force Academy Band played some crowd favorites at New Life Church last night, such as Gershwin's "Strike up the Band," and the age-old hymn, "Amazing Grace."

But the band also apparently crossed the line, because it violated its policy by associating with a religious entity, and Mikey Weinstein calls that an "unconstitutional disgrace."

Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, heard about the event from numerous "clients" of MRFF who work or are schooled at the academy.

Here's commentary from one of them:
I've long suspected that there exists a de facto partnership between USAFA and one or more of the large evangelical mega-churches in Colorado Springs, evidenced by the buses and carpools available to take cadets to attend services there as well as outside church involvement in Monday night on-campus religious study programs, etc. No church is more linked to USAFA and Cadet Wing, though, than the New Life Church, clearly visible to the east from many a USAFA dorm room window and the Falcon Stadium Press Box VIP Suites. I was surprised, though, to hear that the Academy and NLC held a joint event—a concert by the USAFA Band—within the 2000+ seat "sanctuary" of the New Life Church's main location last night. The program from the event itself states that the concert was "Presented In Partnership with New Life Church."
... It's particularly troubling because of NLC's history of intolerance against those that don't share their views on LGB rights. An organization that has actively moved against one of its most heroic members stating she was no longer welcome because of her sexuality, seems an unlikely partner for a government organization that by law and public statement prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.That the Academy has had a troubled history in this area is clear to everyone. That they could be so sloppy as to include the NLC emblem on their newspaper ads for the concert is surprising. That they would use the word "partnership" on the program itself is worrying to say the least.
Here's the policy regarding what the band can and can't do:
The United States Air Force Academy Band may perform for public and civic events if the event is of general interest or benefit to a local, state or national community. However, the band may not participate in events that are commercially sponsored; are designed to increase business traffic or raise charitable donations; or are associated with a religious or ideological movement, such as a Christmas parade...."
Weinstein says he'll be filing a Freedom of Information request to try to find out "how all of the particulars of this unconstitutional disgrace came about."

Meantime, he adds via email, MRFF demands the Pentagon Inspector General's Office investigate the matter. More from Weinstein:
The United States Air Force Academy yet once AGAIN blatantly violates not only the United States Constitution’s No Establishment Clause and various DoD Joint Ethics Regulations regarding the provision of endorsements and selective benefits but, this time, it’s very own internal regulations. How you may ask; by incestuously ‘partnering’ with the infamously and notoriously homophobic, evangelical New Life Church in an Air Force Academy band concert reminiscent of a Las Vegas Strip production. 

He likened the academy to a "burned-out, drug addict zombie, saying the school "just canNOT get enough of that fundamentalist Christian narco-putrescence."

We've asked for a comment from the academy and will update when we hear back.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How much does the AFA spend on spin? We don't know.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Air Force Academy slogan over the terrazzo. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Air Force Academy slogan over the terrazzo.
As the Independent went to press this week with a story about the Air Force Academy's hiring of a crisis communications expert, we heard from the academy about how many public affairs personnel work there. We raised the question in light of our story in Wednesday's edition about Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson hiring a consultant to promote the academy's image.

The consultant is Larry Holdren, owner of Holdren Strategic Communications LLC. Another firm with which Holdren was affiliated, Pure Brand Communications, conducted some kind of audit of the academy's communications department in 2014. We asked for that audit, but haven't received it yet.

We also asked how many people work in the academy's Public Affairs office, which which the academy replied in an email with this:
The United States Air Force Academy has 10 Public Affairs specialists currently assigned (active duty officers, active duty enlisted, and DOD civilians). The Public Affairs operating budget is approximately $30 thousand annually. 
We asked the academy to clarify the dollar figure, because "$30 thousand" is only $30,000, and we seriously doubt you could hire 10 people with that measly amount.

Upon questioning, the academy responded with this: "Of course, that doesn't include salaries, which are paid out of other funds."

So we're left not knowing how much the academy actually pays for its public affairs staff, nor what Larry Holdren is being paid for filling in the gaps or whatever it is he does.

Like nailing Jello to the wall, eh?

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

AFA chief hires PR helper

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 4:44 PM

Johnson: Getting help with the academy's image.
  • Johnson: Getting help with the academy's image.
Running a prominent university can be a pretty tough job. Just ask Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, where sexual assault reports, for example, were way up last year over the previous year, according to a recent Defense Department analysis.

Add to that the desire to put a shine on the service academy, and the job is so daunting that Johnson has enlisted a crisis communications expert to help her.

Larry Holdren, owner of Holdren Strategic Communications LLC of Highlands Ranch, has been working for an undisclosed amount to help her under a "Gratuitous Service Agreement" that began in January 2015. That's one year after Holdren started his company.

The agreement, says AFA spokesman Meade Warthen via email, was approved by the Air Force General Counsel and says Holdren is "to volunteer his services to the Air Force Academy with no expectation of compensation by the Air Force."

What a business model!

But Holdren isn't going away empty-handed. According to Warthen, "He is compensated by the U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment, which is a private organization, not a governmental one." That means the Academy Endowment doesn't have to disclose how much Holdren is being paid.

The endowment is very well endowed, having raised $100 million, much of which supports the academy with construction projects including the Center for Character and Leadership Development building.

The rationale for Holdren's hiring is to put a good face on the academy for recruitment purposes, Warthen says. "As a leading public university," he writes, "it is critical that we work to enhance our reputation nationally in order to continue to attract and retain the most talented prospective cadets, faculty and staff, and Mr. Holdren is providing a critical role in helping us do that."

Holdren accompanied Lt. Gen. Johnson on three trips in 2015 as part of her "ongoing national outreach activities." These included stops at the National Press Club, Fox News,, Huffington Post and New York Times, among others. Johnson spent $3,159 on these trips — to New York (twice) and Washington, D.C.

The trips were funded by discretionary gift funds in support of the superintendent's outreach efforts, Warthen says.

As for the question, "Why Holdren?", we can't answer that. But Holdren's website has this description of what he does:
Simply, if you need help solving a complex communications challenge, we're your firm. If you find yourself stuck and need experienced strategic thinkers to help you get unstuck, we're your firm. If you're in an industry that faces opposition, we're your firm.
According to his bio included on his website, Holdren says he played "senior roles" several places, including Centura Health. So we checked on that one and were told that he worked at Centura from July 17, 1997, to Feb. 12, 1999, as a "public relations specialist." We'll leave it to the reader to decide if PR specialist is considered a senior role.

We asked him a few questions via email, BTW, but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we hear something.

Regardless, Holdren made a big score for Johnson last spring by persuading CNN reporter Richard Quest to come to the academy during graduation week, when he took a ride with the Thunderbirds. Quest was in the news himself in 2008 for a rather unsavory incident.

We asked last year why the superintendent chose to give Quest such insider access, considering the 2008 arrest, and Warthen replied in an email then, saying:
Mr. Richard Quest is a distinguished journalist with CNN, who is internationally renowned for his coverage of people and places throughout the world. We feel that Mr. Quest's stellar professional credentials and ringing endorsement by CNN made him the right person to draw positive national attention to the U.S. Air Force Academy during graduation week with an interview with Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, our Superintendent. Furthermore, his videotaped Thunderbird orientation ride helped publicize the fact that America's Air Force, and the air power it epitomizes, is second to none in the world. With 35 million viewers worldwide tuning in, Mr. Quest and his CNN team provided a rare look at some of our fine Airmen, their capabilities, and America's newest crop of leaders, the commissioned officers of the Class of 2015.
Anyhow, Johnson's normal three-year stint at the academy is nearing an end, unless President Obama decides to leave her there for a fourth year as was done with her predecessor, former superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould.

Otherwise, she'll be moving on or retiring, which has been the tradition for academy superintendents. It's usually their last hurrah before exiting the military. But word has it Johnson, still in her mid-50s, is seeking another assignment before retirement.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

UPDATE: Colorado College named one of 10 worst colleges for free speech

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 12:56 PM

We did hear back from Colorado College spokesperson Leslie Weddell, but she didn't have a lot to say about the issue.

"Students’ disciplinary records are protected by federal privacy laws," she wrote in an email to the Indy. "Therefore, the college cannot discuss specifics about particular cases. I can tell you that Colorado College followed its disciplinary procedures in this case."

——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 12:56 P.M. ——-

click image Colorado College - MARK LEE
  • Mark Lee
  • Colorado College

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to preserving individual rights on college and university campuses, has named Colorado College one of 2016's 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech.

The unenviable distinction is a result of a suspension the college made in response to concerns over race relations. The Independent has emailed CC's spokesperson seeking comment on the issue, but has not heard back yet. If and when we hear back from the college, we will update this blog.

According to its website, "FIRE was founded in 1999 by University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors and Boston civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate after the overwhelming response to their 1998 book "The Shadow University: The Betrayal Of Liberty On America’s Campuses."

Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO of FIRE, wrote in depth about each of the Top Ten for the Huffington Post. Here's what he had to say about Colorado College's placement (read the full article here):
At Colorado College, a student responded anonymously to a post on the social media application Yik Yak that read "#blackwomenmatter" with the joke "They matter, they're just not hot." After administrators learned that student Thaddeus Pryor may have been responsible for the joke, they summoned him to a meeting at which he admitted to writing it. Colorado College responded by imposing a 21-month suspension, during which Pryor was forbidden from taking courses for academic credit at any other institution. Following Pryor's appeal and a letter from FIRE reminding Colorado College that its actions violated the freedom of expression that the college promises to its students, Pryor's suspension was reduced to six months.
And here's the full release from FIRE:

Colorado College Named One of 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016

PHILADELPHIA, February 17, 2016—Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards. But every year the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at the past year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights.

This year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech—published with detailed descriptions at The Huffington Post—includes many public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. Some of them, on the other hand, like Colorado College, are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty rights, nonetheless promise to do so. In addition to Colorado College, this year’s list features:

Northwestern University
Louisiana State University
University of California, San Diego
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
University of Oklahoma
Marquette University
University of Tulsa
Mount St. Mary’s University
Wesleyan University

Colorado College appears on FIRE’s annual “worst of the worst” list for suspending a student for making a six-word joke on social media.

Among the other institutions on FIRE’s list are a university that fired two faculty members for criticizing the university president’s plan to oust low-performing freshmen and another university that punished a student for something someone else said—and then went after the student newspaper for reporting on the story.

“This past year, free speech on campus took center stage and became international news,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “For those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines, the threat to free speech on campus isn’t a new story. Too often students find their voices silenced, and increasingly their professors are finding themselves in the same boat. If this year’s ‘worst’ list proves anything, it’s that even tenured faculty members aren’t safe from the censor’s muzzle.”

FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Doctor who inspired "Concussion" to speak at UCCS

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is the inspiration behind the movie Concussion,  will speak at The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on April 19 as a part of the university's Significant Speaker series.

While the event is still a ways off, those who are interested in attending may want to pick up their tickets early, while they're still $2-$5. 

In case you're unfamiliar, Omalu is the scientist who researched chronic brain injuries in football players.

Scientist who inspired “Concussion” movie to speak at UCCS

COLORADO SPRINGS — Dr. Bennet Omalu, a renowned physician whose research on 
Dr. Bennet Omalu
  • Dr. Bennet Omalu
chronic brain injuries in football players inspired the 2015 movie “Concussion,” will speak April 19 at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Omalu is the headliner for this year’s annual Significant Speaker series. Tickets are on sale at the University Center information desk, $2 for UCCS students, faculty and staff and military with ID. Tickets are $5 for general admission. Ticket prices will increase closer to the event. Omalu will speak at 7 p.m. at Gallogly Events Center on the UCCS campus.

Omalu is credited with discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in deceased NFL players in 2002. He was the first to diagnose and publish peer-reviewed research about CTE, findings that were initially discredited by the NFL. In “Concussion,” Omalu is played by actor Will Smith.

“We’re very excited,” about Omalu’s appearance, said Stephen Cucchiara, assistant director, Office of Student Activities, which sponsors the series with Residence Life and Housing. “I think there’s a good buzz about it on campus.”

A student group last summer came up with a list of dozens of speakers they would like to see visit campus. Their list included Will Smith, as well as Lisa Ling of CNN and author Jose Antonio Vargas. From there, a planning group narrowed the group of possible speakers and swapped Omalu for Smith, who wasn’t available, and polled the student body. Omalu came out on top.

It was a happy coincidence that by that time, interest in “Concussion,” as well as Omalu’s research, had picked up. Meanwhile, football fever is high after the Denver Broncos Superbowl 50 win, Cucchiara said.

Before his speech, Omalu will take part in a dinner that recognizes UCCS students who live on campus and earned a 3.2 or better grade point average for the fall semester. Those students will receive dinner and a ticket to his speech.

Previous Significant Speakers include Jerry Greenfield, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Randi Zuckerberg and LeVar Burton.

For more information on the event, call 255-3470. To learn more about Omalu, visit

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in Colorado. The university offers 39 bachelor’s degrees, 20 master’s and five doctoral degrees. UCCS enrolls about 11,300 students on campus annually and another 2,000 in online programs. For more information, visit

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cybersecurity sets up camp in COS

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 3:58 PM

Cyber is the new hot thing. - EGUIDRY
  • eGuidry
  • Cyber is the new hot thing.
It's unclear exactly what this means, but Gov. John Hickenlooper announced during his state of the state address today that Colorado Springs will host the National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center.

A news release issued by the city follows, but it doesn't really explain what this center is, and whether it's sanctioned by anyone other than locals who are cooking up a label to hype to business and academic interests.

We also don't know if it's tied to the Pentagon, National Security Agency, CIA and FBI, or if it's only ginned up by local folks with hopes of achieving national prominence.

Nor does the news release say anything about the number of jobs the center will bring and where, exactly, it will be located, though it seems apparent it will be housed by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs will be the home of a National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center, a planned national resource which will be “the country’s foremost authority on cybersecurity research and development, training and education,” Governor Hickenlooper announced today. The vision for the Center will be advanced through collaboration between federal, state and city government, the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and the regional technology community.

Under the proposal, the Center would be housed in Colorado Springs, on UCCS property. The city was chosen as the location because of its “impressive concentration of assets, private sector interest and connection to the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs’ cybersecurity program,” said Hickenlooper, who also recognized the region’s “highly qualified workforce already plugged into this burgeoning industry.”

Hickenlooper recognized both Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak for their collaboration in advancing plans for the Center.

“I have said often that Colorado Springs has what it takes to become the cybersecurity capital of the nation,” said Suthers. “With our concentration of technological experts, both military and civilian, our outstanding educational institutions in UCCS and the Air Force Academy and our available workforce, we are ready to embrace this opportunity and look forward to the positive impact that such a designation will have on our City’s economic vitality.”

“I am proud of UCCS cybersecurity programs and the university’s outstanding faculty. UCCS students are excellent and will build the workforce of the future,” said Shockley-Zalabak. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Mayor Suthers and other public officials as we advance this exciting initiative.”

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Local teacher wins national fellowship

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 4:45 PM

David Eick: A national honor.
  • David Eick: A national honor.
It's not every day that a local teacher is the only one in the state of Colorado to be honored for their work. So we're happy to share an announcement by Northrop Grumman Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association that David Eick has been selected to participate as a teacher fellow in the 2015-16 Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy.

Eick, a teacher at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School here, is one of 25 educators who will participate in a year-long immersion in a host of activities.

The rest of the news release: 
“We welcome our first class of distinguished educators selected to participate in the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman vice president, Global Corporate Responsibility and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “They play a critical role in the development of young minds and it is our goal that this program will give them additional tools and resources to be even more impactful in their classrooms.”

“Each of the Teacher Fellows are determined individuals who are committed to further developing their skills as teachers and are dedicated to making science, technology, and engineering more relevant to their students,” said NSTA Executive Director Dr. David Evans. “Through participation in the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy, these educators will have a unique opportunity to connect their curriculum to real-world applications, which will enrich science, technology, engineering, and math teaching and learning for their students and help to ignite interest and inspire more careers in STEM.”

The Teacher Fellows were selected on the basis of several criteria, including displaying a strong desire to advance STEM education and apply real-world applications in the classroom. During their fellowship, recipients will:
• Participate in a five-day workshop at a Northrop Grumman facility during the summer of 2016, where they will discuss teaching strategies for integrating effective and authentic engineering design practices in their classroom;
• Attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Nashville, March 31-April 3, where they will engage in the latest instructional practices related to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS);
• Participate in a two-week summer externship at a Northrop Grumman facility, where they will be paired with an engineer/technologist to observe daily activities and learn the foundational and industry-specific skills required for success in the field; and
• Develop a lesson plan, strategy, or activity linked to the thematic area of their externship experience that they will implement as part of their classroom curriculum the following school year.

The Teacher Fellows will also receive a comprehensive NSTA membership package and an opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional learning activities, including a specially designated online learning community.

Launched earlier this fall, the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy was created to help enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence in science, technology, and engineering, while increasing teacher understanding about the skills needed for a scientifically literate workforce.

For a complete list of the 2015-2016 Teacher Fellows or to learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy, visit

About Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation
Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to expanding and enhancing the pipeline of diverse, talented STEM students globally. They provide funding to sustainable STEM programs that span from preschool to high school and through collegiate levels, with a major emphasis on middle school students and teachers. In 2015, the Northrop Grumman Foundation continued outreach efforts by contributing $10.2 million to diverse STEM-related groups such as the Air Force Association (CyberPatriot), Conservation International (ECO Classroom), the REC Foundation (VEX Robotics), NSTA and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

About NSTA
The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership includes approximately 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reimagining early childhood education

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 2:16 PM

The Raising of America - Trailer (30 sec) from California Newsreel on Vimeo.

I was talking to my sister-in-law recently about all the cutbacks she's made in order to pay for half-day preschool for my 3-year-old nephew. 

She was clearly irritated. If all the evidence shows that kids really need to go to preschool, why isn't it provided as a part of public schooling, she wondered. Well, it turns out that there's a lot of research into early education these days. That research is showing what our country could do to help young kids develop into successful adults — if we're willing to spend the money and make the changes.

PBS is running a documentary on the subject and a group is hosting a community-wide conversation on the topic this Saturday. Read on for all the details:

Pikes Peak area organizations commence a community conversation about early childhood

The newly formed group The Raising of America: Pikes Peak Community Alliance will launch a community-wide conversation on the topic of early childhood on Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 10am-12pm at Library 21c. Led by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the alliance has the support of 18 other organizations in the Pikes Peak region. The group is using the PBS documentary (airing in January) as the basis for facilitated dialogues to explore ways our own community might address the issues raised in the series.

“We believe that this is an important conversation for our community to have,” said Cara Koch, local AAUW Public Policy Director, “There is significant new research in the areas of child development and the economics of investing in early childhood, and the life-long effect of inequity on the futures of our children.”

The alliance seeks to engage all facets of the community in the conversation including parents and families, service providers, community leaders, public policy makers, and philanthropists.

The first public event will be Saturday, January 9 from 10am-12pm at Library 21c. The conversation will explore how the growing squeeze on families for time, money, and resources can alter the development of a child’s brain- and lead to life-long effects. Community members may view The Raising of America on January 7 from 9-10pm on Rocky Mountain PBS. A second event will take place in April.

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Recent Comments

All content © Copyright 2020, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation