FLC’s year

Progress and excitement at Fort Lewis College

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald photo Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald photo

These are exciting times at Fort Lewis College, and I’d like to thank those in the community who help us everyday. With our new Strategic Plan firmly in place, we have made wonderful progress toward reaching the goals we set for ourselves. There are too many successes to point out in this letter, but I want to highlight some of them.

Student success is our first goal and that success is determined by a number of factors, including the excellence of their professors and the quality of the educational opportunities. Here are just a few examples of our standout faculty:

Dr. Majel Boxer was named as one of 12 “Emerging Scholars” by the national magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Boxer was commended for her research on Native American museums and how they are revising the ways in which Native Americans have been portrayed in traditional museums. Dr. Boxer was also commended for her high academic standards and work with FLC students.

We are also proud of our Featured Scholar, Dr. Erin Lehmer, whose research on mice and the hantavirus is nationally known. Her work with undergraduate student research illustrates our committed faculty who incorporate excellent teaching with important research.

Economics Associate Professor Dr. Robert Sonora is returning to the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Economics and Business as a Fulbright Scholar for the winter 2013 semester, his second Fulbright award in five years.

While there he will be conducting research in transition and monetary economics, teaching classes in macroeconomics and graduate-level econometrics, as well as working on a textbook about environmental and natural resource economics and providing some guidance to a doctoral candidate.

A great representative of FLC quality!

A major evolution for FLC is the addition of a Master of Arts in Education: Teacher Leadership degree program.

This is the first time that FLC has offered a graduate degree, one certainly needed. In a time when teachers are being increasingly scrutinized, it is important for us to offer our Teacher Education students the opportunity to benefit from additional training beyond their bachelor’s degrees. A significant number of teachers living in this area are also interested in coming to FLC to continue their education.

Departments on campus are working to integrate the latest technology into their programs. Dean Doug Lyon and our School of Business Administration, for example, in response to feedback from business leaders in the community, are working on new ways to give their students the technological skills they need to succeed in their careers. These new developments include courses in business analytics, including data mining and econometrics, and applied computer science that will offer business and product development, innovation and programming skills.

It was a great year for our enrollment management and admission teams. On-campus enrollment rose 2.35 percent over 2011, a number that exceeded the Strategic Plan’s goal of 2 percent. In what turned out to be a challenging recruiting year around the state, new on-campus freshman enrollment at FLC was up 80 students, or 10.3 percent. Also increasing were the number of transfer students and concurrent students. The two biggest changes in ethnic enrollment were on-campus Hispanic (up 56) and Native American (up 23).

August 20, USA Pro Cycling Challenge: “It All Starts Here” – and it really did. The spirit, the excitement, the activity, and the publicity for FLC and Durango were spectacular. FLC was chosen as the Cycling Village, and this honor meant that the best professional cyclists in the world would called FLC home, thus making us the center of the cycling world, at least for a few days. This was particularly appropriate given that FLC boasts the No. 1 collegiate cycling team in the nation. The world was watching as the race began and the college and town were featured prominently. Millions of cycling fans across the globe now know the names FLC and Durango.

Finally, in an effort to give our students and the surrounding community the opportunity to experience the national political process up close, we extended invitations to all the political parties to make FLC one of their campaign stops. To our delight, we welcomed first lady Michelle Obama, GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan and Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jim Gray to campus. The rallies they held drew thousands of visitors to campus as well as media exposure on national outlets.

I am grateful for the year we’ve enjoyed. As I look forward to our plans for the future, the sky is the limit as to the heights this Campus in the Sky can reach. Go Skyhawks!

Dene Thomas is president of Fort Lewis College. Reach her via www.fortlewis.edu/president.