The Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees have renewed President Dene Kay Thomas’ contract for three years.
“It feels wonderful,” said Thomas in a phone interview Thursday. “What can I tell you? This is the best job in the world.”
The board’s vote to renew Thomas’s contract was unanimous, after a months-long review of her job performance.
Thomas became the first woman president of FLC in 2010 at the time of the college’s 99th birthday. She will receive a 2.5 percent raise now, but her salary will remain flat for the next three years unless FLC faculty and staff get raises, in which case the board might vote to extend her the same raise, Thomas said.
Asked how the FLC Board of Trustees came to the decision to renew Thomas’ contract, John Wells, vice chairman of the board, said, “Well, we flipped a coin. Just kidding! Don’t quote that. Really it was easy. Dene Thomas has been a really blessing for FLC. We appreciate her ability to communicate with faculty, staff, trustees, the community and the students. She’s very talented in all those realms. We’re very confident about her leadership and the ability to continue with the strategic plan.”
Thomas said that of the major accomplishments of her first three-year term, she was proudest of “the fact that our enrollment is growing, up 2.35 percent this fall, in light of most of Colorado institutions’ enrollment declining slightly. But that growth has been due to hard work on the part of everyone.”
Thomas said she was also pleased that FLC had “maintained our quality standards. Admission standards have stayed high, though we grew in numbers. I am very proud of the whole faculty and staff contributions making that management happen.”
Wells said FLC would benefit from Thomas for the next three years because, “she is very adept. She and her wonderful staff have handled the financial crisis that all colleges are facing so well, and she very much keeps tabs on making us fiscally responsible, while keeping student enrichment in mind.”
Wells said that Thomas is a natural political animal.
“It’s not supposed to be a political position, but it does become political. She’s been very good at getting support from the state Legislature, and she has the ability to look for consensus throughout many constituencies: faculty, staff, students. It’s a rare gift.”