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Fort Lewis College professors receive endowment awards

Donors honor academics dedicated to student achievement in entrepreneurial and political science fields
Fort Lewis College honored two of its professors last week for their commitment to student achievement with endowment awards of $20,000 and $1,000. (Courtesy of Fort Lewis College)

Two Fort Lewis College faculty members have been selected for the first professorship and endowment awards in the school’s history.

Michael Valdez, professor of management, has been appointed the inaugural holder of the Bradley Family Professorship. And Paul DeBell, associate professor of political science, is receiving the Boucher Faculty Award.

The Bradley Family Professorship was created by FLC Foundation Director Gene Bradley and his wife to support faculty’s passion for business education and entrepreneurship, while the Boucher Faculty Award was created by FLC Foundation Director Ray Boucher for those with a passion in political science.

The Bradley Family Professorship is a three-year, dean-selected appointment and a $20,000 annual award. The Boucher Faculty Award is a two-year, dean-selected appointment and a $1,000 annual award.

“Our faculty are at the heart of our students’ learning experiences, and our generous donors are thinking big and long-term about ways they can support them,” said Melissa Mount, CEO of the FLC Foundation and vice president of advancement, in a news release. “Having two of our Foundation directors create the very first named endowed faculty award and professorship in the College’s history demonstrates a deep commitment to the future of the College.”

Funding from the professorship and faculty award can be applied to research and program expenses, professional development or travel expenses, grant proposals and salary.

“Fort Lewis gave so much to me. I can never say thank you enough to the faculty, the staff, and my fellow students,” Boucher said in the release. “Through teaching, caring, and nurturing, my professors in the Political Science Department helped inspire me. I hope this small gift can bring the type of dedication and commitment from generations of professors that will inspire many students to come.”

The professorship and faculty award are funded through outright and annual gifts given by donors. The FLC Foundation is seeking a variety of fundraising avenues to assist the instructors who are essential to student educational experiences and to acknowledge them.

“This is a uniquely FLC approach to supporting faculty,” said Cheryl Nixon, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Faculty are the catalysts for students being able to put knowledge into action; these endowments will further our student-centered mission by acknowledging the faculty who have impacted students’ lives. We look forward to working with Advancement to develop more ways to recognize our faculty.”

Valdez said he is humbled to receive the Bradley Family Professorship award. He said it is a highlight of any academic’s career. He wants to focus his efforts and funding on growing the FLC entrepreneurship program.

He said he recognizes the growing number of students who want to become entrepreneurs but also sees how the field can be used in other ways.

“It’s a problem-solving discipline,” Valdez said. “These are really the tools that anyone can use to solve problems. And that’s really sort of what we focus on here at Fort Lewis College.”

He said if there’s an environmental challenge, he asks students how they can solve that problem through a business perspective. He would like to see these types of awards given campuswide to recognize faculty members impacting students.

DeBell said he is also honored to receive the Boucher Faculty Award.

“I think it is really a wonderful continuation of our work on campus, to make sure that everybody in our community is able to meaningfully engaged in their social and political world,” he said.

DeBell wants to use some of the funding on the FLC Civic Engagement Collaborative, an on-campus group comprised of the political science faculty, the Political Science Club and Associated Students of Fort Lewis College.

The group hosts panel discussions, debate-watching events and works with local organizations such as the League of Women Voters.

“This is our attempt to really create a culture of engagement for this college so that we know that to be a Skyhawk is to engage in the issues that students care about,” DeBell said.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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