Students have enjoyed the state-of-the-art labs, classrooms and study areas since January, but on Friday, the community will have its chance to check out the new geosciences, physics and engineering hall at Fort Lewis College.
“A lot of people are walking through and getting fired up about what this means to the college,” said Mark Jastorff, FLC vice president for advancement, adding that his office has given a number of tours to potential donors. More tours, including for groups such as Leadership La Plata alumni and members of the League of Women Voters of La Plata County, are on tap for the coming weeks.
The fundraising will continue – Jastorff’s office has raised about $2.2 million of the campus goal of $4.2 million, with several pledges and gifts in negotiation. The remainder of the funding for the $35 million facility came from state of Colorado capital funds.
Twenty eight gifts that led to naming opportunities have been confirmed. The front courtyard, which features one of the building’s references to the history of science with a sundial, will be named the FLC Foundation Courtyard in honor of its $600,000 gift.
A new monikerThe hall is opening with a new name, Sitter Family Hall, after a major land donation, considered the largest land gift in the college’s history, from the clan.
“It’s not a recent gift,” Jastorff said, saying it was made in 2010, “but the family decided it should go toward the hall.”
The donation, appraised at about $2 million, consisted of property in the Durango area.
The largest cash donation honors, he said, go to the Robert M. & Roberta Armstrong Barr Foundation, with $1.4 million donated to provide scholarships for future teachers. Richard and Mary Lyn Ballantine have the honors for the largest in-kind donation, the $5-million Durango textile collection given to the Center of Southwest Studies.
The idea of applying the land donation toward the hall was matriarch Marjorie Sitter’s idea.
“The Sitter family has deep roots in the community dating back several decades,” the family said in a statement. “Marjorie Sitter recognized the importance of Fort Lewis College in providing the diversity and culture that makes Durango unique among mountain towns. Her son and daughter-in-law have been long-time Durango residents and business owners, while her daughters are enthusiastic visitors to the community. It is Marjorie’s desire that the Sitter family gift will aid FLC students by providing a state-of-the-art facility to pursue STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum comparable to our country’s largest universities.”
Doug Sitter was a member of the Fort Lewis College Foundation Board of Directors for several years, where he played a major role in bringing in gifts, the college said in a news release. The FLC Board of Trustees approved the name selection at its December meeting in executive session, but the name change was not announced until the end of March – just before the letters were added to the building.
“This is a fitting acknowledgment of a gift that continues to influence the lives of our students in so many ways,” FLC President Dene Thomas said.
“This is an opportunity to create an awareness amongst our students that someone at some time cared enough about their education to have generously given their time and treasure to Fort Lewis College, and that when the time comes, they will consider investing into their alma mater and future generations.”