The Colorado School of Mines Foundation Executive Committee has designated Pat James of Castle Rock as the new chairman of its Board of Governors. James will assume the position on October 6.

James, who graduated from Mines as an Engineer of Mines in 1968, has been a member of the Colorado School of Mines Foundation Board of Governors since 2009. He has served on all operating committees during his tenure. He also served on the Advisory Board to the Mines Board of Trustees, and on two fundraising campaign committees. James was a Mines Distinguished Achievement Medalist in 1995 and received the Daniel C. Jackling Award of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration in 1999.  He also earned a Masters of Management from the University of New Mexico and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Colorado.

“Pat is one of the most genuinely passionate Mines alumnus I know, with a deep commitment to helping spread the word that Mines is the best engineering and applied sciences school in the country,” said David Wagner, current Chairman of the foundation. “His dedication to Mines and executive experience in an industry where our graduates are top-rated will help him be an effective leader for the foundation.”

James has more than 45 years of experience in the mining industry. He retired as chairman, president, and CEO of the Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corporation when it was acquired by Newmont Mining in 1997 and served a year as a director of Newmont.  He served as president and CEO of Rio Algom Limited in Toronto from 1997 to 2001. Since then, James served as a director of six other publicly-listed international mining companies, including Dynatec, Inc., Stillwater Mining Company, Constellation Copper Corp., Centerra Gold Inc., General Moly Inc., and Rare Element Resources.

The outgoing chairman, David Wagner, has served Colorado School of Mines in many capacities over his 17-year tenure. The Colorado governor appointed him as a university trustee in 1999. He joined the Colorado School of Mines Foundation Board at that time, has been Chairman since 2002, and President and CEO from 2002 until 2015. Notably he guided a reorganization of the Foundation in 2008 and has led the university and foundation’s $350 million campaign, Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Colorado School of Mines, the most successful campaign for private support in the university’s history

“Without David, the university and foundation would not be as successful as they are today. His leadership, integrity and transparency are highly respected, and his dedication to Mines is unsurpassed,” said Brian Winkelbauer, President and CEO of the Foundation.


Rachelle Trujillo, Senior Director, Marketing Communications, CSM Foundation / 303-273-3526 /


When John Mathewson ‘53 retired from oil and gas exploration at the age of 60, he and his wife, Joan, moved to the western slope of Colorado, bought a winery and started a new phase in their lives.

After spending 26 years as expatriates in places such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, Yemen and Syria (one of their favorites), John and Joan became vintners under the Terror Creek Winery label in 1992, named for the local creek that had notoriously been known to run its banks and cause big boulders to roll down the ditch. Their retirement plan had always included owning a winery, so when John worked in Saudi Arabia for Western Geophysical (which was later bought by Schlumberger), Joan took winemaking classes in Switzerland and interned at nearby vineyards. On a visit to Colorado, a friend alerted them to the vineyard in Paonia, which was owned by Chicago residents. After striking a deal, they moved stateside from Nigeria and started their new business.

“There were just eight rows (of grapes),” John remembered. “We started enlarging it. Must be about 150 rows or so now.”

With clean, crisp mountain water, warm days and cool nights, the Mathewsons worked the land and grew their vineyard, the first in the North Fork Valley at the time. Joan’s experiences at the vineyards outside of Geneva, some of which had terracing dating clear back to the Romans, prepared them as they started to pick which type of grapes to plant and what style of wine they wanted to produce. Because of her background, they went with Alsatian-style wines, including dry Reislings and Gewürztraminers that seldom have an oak barrel aroma and are crisp, fruity and sometimes spicy. Their Gewürztraminer is one of their best sellers.

The second act of their lives and the success of the winery was set up by years in the oil and gas industry around the world.

John, originally from Pasadena, transferred to Mines with several other students at Pasadena City College and got a professional degree in geological engineering. He spent two years in ROTC and after graduation, went on to serve in the Korean War. He and Joan got married as soon as he was out of the military, and he then went to work for Western Geophysical and was the manager for various foreign countries.

“We were in Egypt during the ‘76 war, watching the Israelis fly over and we were in Tunis during the ‘67 war,” said John. “We were down in Aden when the Brits were pulling out of their British colony, of south Yemen, and we saw a lot of terrorist stuff. They’d sit up on the side of the mountain and take potshots and shoot rocket launchers at night.”

The couple had two boys and raised them all over the world; they speak four languages. One son, John Matheson BS ’81, MS ‘08, followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from Mines and then working for Schlumberger. Their other son worked with drones in the Air Force and now lives in Virginia and owns a craft brewery.

Now, 24 years into the winery business, John and Joan still do wine tastings during the summer in their small, humble tasting room, but the reality of working 260 acres at 86 years old is becoming acutely felt (although John still goes skiing and knows that it takes exactly one hour and 45 minutes to get to Aspen/Snowmass ski resort). Their third act, following a life of world travels and wine, is wide open.

Anica Wong, Communications Specialist, Colorado School of Mines Foundation | 303-273-3904 |
Rachelle Trujillo, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Colorado School of Mines Foundation | 303-273-3526 |




The American Nuclear Society has selected a Colorado School of Mines graduate as its Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for 2017.
Levi PattersonLevi Patterson earned a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Nuclear Engineering from Mines. He will work in the office of a U.S. senator or representative, or a Senate or House committee, and provide Congress with expertise in nuclear science and technology. Fellows are expected to gain a better understanding of how the legislative process works.

“I was encouraged by the tremendous progress the sciences were making in solving real-world energy issues,” Patterson said of his time at Mines. “Once I started working in the energy industry, I was again encouraged by the technical capabilities our society has invested in and are ready to implement.”

However, he said, turning scientific innovations in the energy sector into reality requires significant policy efforts. “It is important that more scientists and engineers pursue policy-related positions, and that is exactly what interested me in this fellowship,” Patterson said.

Patterson said Mines prepared him well for the fellowship, as well as for his position at General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy, where he has worked since 2013. He also credited Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Associate Professor Jeffrey King, a member of the Nuclear Science and Engineering program faculty, who served as his advisor.

“Public policy is intricately tied into the field of nuclear energy,” King said. “Indeed, recent events in the nuclear industry have as much to do with public policy decisions as they do to engineering and science.”

Students in Mines’ NSE program have the opportunity to learn about the many ways in which public policy and economics impact nuclear energy, King said. “Several of our graduates have gone on to play important roles in nuclear policy. Levi is an outstanding example of this.”

Patterson will be one of nearly 30 scientists and engineers who will take part in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Science and Engineering Program. More than 2,000 have served as fellows since 1973; ANS started its program in 2000.

The program provides a $60,000 stipend for the year, and up to $5,000 in reimbursement for travel to the AAAS orientation and the two ANS national meetings during the fellowship year.

In addition to competence in nuclear science and technology, the fellowship is awarded based on a demonstrated ability to participate in public policy discussions, written and oral communications skills, and contributions to ANS.

Mark Ramirez, Information Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 |
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |

Emerita Associate Professor Cathy Skokan has been named a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) at the society’s annual conference this week in New Orleans. 

Founded in 1893, ASEE is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology. The organization promotes excellence in instruction, research and public service, and fosters technological education. The honor of fellow is bestowed by the ASEE Board of Directors upon members in recognition of outstanding contributions to engineering or engineering technology education.

The first female to earn a graduate degree at Mines

Skokan’s early interest in rocks led to a love of science, and a wise high school counselor suggested she combine her skills in math and science with her passion for the outdoors and study geophysics.

“I remember I applied to LeHigh University as C. King, my maiden name,” said Skokan, “because they weren’t accepting women at the time. But they eventually figured out I was a woman.”

Mines, on the other hand, offered Skokan a full scholarship. She received her bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering in 1970, and went on to become the first woman to receive a graduate degree from Mines in any field, receiving her master’s degree in 1971, and PhD in 1974. Her goal remained conducting research for a government organization.


From government researcher to university professor

Skokan’s many contributions to engineering education and to Mines, in particular, almost never came to be. She originally saw herself solely as a researcher rather than a teacher. Thanks to a delay in her government paperwork, she returned to Mines to do postdoctoral research in electromagnetics while waiting to start her new job. Skokan shared how her plans changed: "Just before the beginning of the fall semester, George Keller, who was the head of the department and my thesis advisor, came in and said, ‘We need someone to teach linear systems analysis.’

“I said, ‘I don’t teach.’

"He said, ‘Classes meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday.’ He handed me the class notes, told me what time it started and walked out the door.

“Linear systems was not one of my favorite subjects, though it is now.”

Skokan credits Keller as a mentor throughout her early career. She went on to accept a tenured faculty position in Geophysics. In 1996, she moved to what was then the Engineering Division at Mines (now the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences), where she spent the next 20 years teaching linear systems, senior design and geophysical courses to electrical engineering students.

“Several of my research grants centered around electromagnetic methods of mapping earth structures,” Skokan explained, “so I got to combine electrical engineering and geology, which was the best of all worlds.”

Humanitarian Engineering Program

Skokan was also one of the initiators of the Humanitarian Engineering program at Mines, the first in the nation. Initial funding from the Hewlett foundation aimed to take student engineers to communities that needed their skills most. As a result, Skokan took student groups to Senegal, Honduras and Ghana to work on solving real problems with engineering solutions.

Skokan recalls a particular Humanitarian Engineering trip to Alaska:

"An Alaskan tribal community had invited us to help with projects to prepare them for a community center. Over multiple years, we designed a road and septic system, among other things. One year, we were driving out there from the airport, and a student asked, “Do they live in igloos?” I told him, no, and that he would see what they lived in soon. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had built a series of prefab houses intended for Hawaii, and when they weren’t needed in Hawaii, they were sent there. Some members of the community lived in old school buses, and it reached -40 Fahrenheit during the winters. We left with a real sense of doing work that was needed. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us.”


Humanitarian Engineering students traveled to the University of Ghana with Associate Professor Skokan in 2007 as part of their senior design project.

Music at Mines

Skokan still believes that international experiences are essential for every engineer’s education, and often travels with Mines music students. She currently plays violin with the Mines Orchestra, bassoon with the Mines Band and erhu with the Mines Chinese Band.

"I’ve played in the band since I was a student here in the 60s,” said Skokan. “Believe it or not, I was the first director of the orchestra here, until they finally hired a real musician rather than an engineer to conduct the orchestra.”


                                                   Catherine Skokan and the Mines Marching Band in Dublin's 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In 2016, Skokan led 150 Mines music students and alumni on a spring trip to march in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “We always combine an engineering and musical component on these trips,” explained Skokan. “In Ireland, we visited Dublin Institute of Technology, with whom we are now working on a collaborative effort. I also took a group of students into the Tara Mines, a lead and zinc mine near County Meath. Because we are engineers, not just tourists, they took us underground and the students had a blast exploring the machinery. It included electrical, mechanical, civil, mining, geology— talk about interdisciplinary!”


                                                   Students prepare for an underground tour of the lead and zinc Tara Mine in Co. Meath, Ireland.

In 2015, Skokan accompanied Mines music students and alumni to Jamaica. In addition to meeting with engineering students at the University of the West Indies, the Mines group participated in a recording session with Winston “Sparrow” Martin, Bob Marley's percussionist, at the studio that Bob Marley founded.

In 2017, Skokan will be taking Mines music students to Florence. “We’ll be visiting Santa Croce,” said Skokan, “where Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini are buried. It’s also right on the Arno River, which flooded in 1966, killing more than 100 people and destroying millions of masterpieces. So we’re going to talk to a professor from the University of Florence about flood mitigation and art restoration."

Innovation in engineering education

Skokan became involved in ASEE around the time that she joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She spent a sabbatical writing a pre-engineering curriculum for Adams School District, which is still in use.

“Every project had a computer, math, writing and engineering component,” said Skokan.

“I joined the multidisciplinary division of ASEE,” continued Skokan, “because electrical, mechanical and civil were all under the Engineering Division in those days. I went from Secretary, to Treasurer, then Program Chair and finally Chair.” Skokan is currently the ASEE Vice President for External Relations, which includes chairing ASEE’s international advisory committee and external projects.

"The best thing ASEE offers,” according to Skokan, “is workshops and venues to look at innovative teaching methodsthose that worked and those that didn’t. I believe looking at the failure papers can be even more educational than the success papers." 

Despite retiring in 2015, Skokan remains as busy as ever. She will be giving a talk in Japan at the annual Japanese Society for Engineering Education meeting, and another in Korea in November at an engineering education conference. 

Skokan is the third Mines faculty member to be named an ASEE Fellow in addition to Theodore A. Bickart in 2000 and Joan Gosink in 2010.


All photos from the personal archives of Emerita Associate Professor Catherine Skokan.


Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Army ROTC programs in the nation. Colorado School of Mines was designated the ROTC Company for the Battalion (13 Metro Area Schools) to host the celebration, which occurred in conjunction with E-Days festivities on April 1.

GOLDEN, Colo., March 14, 2016 –In 2014, the Mines Marching Band competed for a highly coveted place in the Dublin, Ireland St. Patrick's Day Parade. Their performance landed them a formal invitation from the mayor of Dublin to perform in the 2016 parade, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Irish independence.

On February 18, 2016, President Barack Obama named Melissa Teague, who earned her PhD in Materials Science from Mines in 2013, as one of 105 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” President Obama said in a White House press release. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

Established by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, the award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals early in their independent research careers. Various federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most commendable professionals whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s ingenuity in science and engineering. 

Nominated by the U.S. Department of Energy, Teague was selected for her pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and her commitment to community service.

“I am very excited and honored to be recognized for my research efforts,” Teague said. “And getting to meet the president is pretty cool.” 

Teague will receive her award at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., this spring.



Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assitant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

Colorado School of Mines recently celebrated the grand opening of the Starzer Welcome Center at the corner of 19th and Illinois streets, named for Michael R. and Patricia (Patty) K. Starzer ’83, who gave a $4 million gift for construction of the building. It is the new home for the Colorado School of Mines Office of Admissions, Foundation and Alumni Association.

The Starzers say they attribute school, family and faith to their personal and financial successes. It’s also where they place their contributions.

Their gift and the story of their financial successes dates back more than 100 years and involves the man that Stratton Hall was named after.

Patty tells it best in this story she shared during the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Nov. 2:

“In the mid 1860's, there was a young man living in the midwest who dreamed of striking it rich prospecting in the Wild West of Colorado. He followed after and prospected with another enterprising young man named Winfield Scott Stratton.

This young man ventured off to seek his fortune with Stratton and others in their prospecting party in the Colorado Mountains, leaving Justina Reichuber-Starzer, his wife at home.

After long, lonely months of prospecting with nothing to show for it, the young man decided to stick it out a little longer than he and his wife had agreed and prospected a few more months. Still not finding his fortune, he decided to return home to his wife, while he still had a wife. He knew she would be miffed, so he purchased a peace offering for her in hopes that she would forgive him for being away so long and coming home poor. Upon returning home to Justina, he presented the peace offering. The story is that while his wife indeed welcomed him home, she flatly refused to accept the gift—which she viewed as very expensive at the price of their savings.  

Stratton, however, stuck it out and in July 1891 staked what became the Independence Mine near Cripple Creek. Stratton became not only rich, but was very generous. He was appointed to the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees in 1899. In 1900, Stratton presented a check for $25,000 to Regis Chauvenet to benefit the school. This was the first sizable philanthropic gift to Mines. The money was applied to construct Stratton Hall, completed in 1904, which still stands on our Mines campus today. Unfortunately, Stratton passed away in September 1902 and did not see the completion of the building that bears his name.

So how did I hear of the young man’s story? About one and a half years ago, Mike and his mom, Marilyn, and I were discussing the history of Mines and the various buildings on campus, and the need for the Welcome Center as a starting point for prospective students and their parents. When we mentioned Stratton Hall, Marilyn began questioning us about Winfield Scott Stratton and the timeframe of his involvement in the Colorado gold and silver rush and Mines. She then shared with us this story told to her by Mike’s grandfather, Joseph Francis Starzer, about Joseph’s grandfather prospecting in Colorado with Winfield Stratton and others in the prospecting party.

The story and the peace offering were passed down four generations, beginning with Mike’s great, great grandfather, that prospector from Kansas, Xaver Starzer, who wore the ring himself on his pinky because his wife, Justina, refused to accept it. This same ring I am wearing today.

Today—111 years later—we celebrate the opening of the Starzer Welcome Center on the same campus as Stratton Hall. I feel like we have come full circle and wonder what the two young prospectors would think if they were here today. We are privileged to be a part of Mines history and hope that many generations to follow will be blessed as well.”

Other major donors to the building include David and Marti Wagner (East and West Board Rooms), the Patrick M. James Family (Heritage Lounge) and Howard and Cherine Janzen (Executive Conference Room). Supporters include: Heather Boyd, The Galena Foundation, William Jr. and Jann Klett, Linda Landrum, Ronald and Judy Lease, and William and Kyle Neidt.



Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

On Sept. 30, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson visited the Colorado School of Mines campus to speak to a sold-out crowd of students, alums, faculty, staff and community members in Lockridge Arena.

“This has got to be the geekiest audience I've ever seen; I’m not holding back,” Tyson said at the beginning of the night.

Tyson’s talk, part of the President’s Distinguished Lecture series and a kickoff to the 2015 homecoming weekend, was centered on “Astronomy Bizarre”— a grab-bag of unusual objects, phenomena and ideas in the universe. He included recent NASA images indicating evidence of salt water on Mars, and reminded the audience of Pluto’s status as a planet.

“We all thought Pluto was just trying to be a victim of its environment with craters and stuff that happened to it. But if you have mountains that means you’re doing something from within. You’ve got some action of your own,” Tyson said. “But regardless of all this, it’s still a dwarf planet; get over it.”

Tyson dropped “knowledge eggs” on the crowd, including his love of black holes.

“The Earth wants to kill us! So does the universe,” Tyson said. Later he added, “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”

Recently Tyson served as executive editor and on camera host and narrator for “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," the 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series. Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship. He is also a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.


2015 Neil deGrasse Tyson


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /


Subscribe to RSS - Alumni