Another swing at the gut of the administration while offering no effective solution to the issues facing Fort Lewis College – that’s what I see when I read yet another piece making wild accusations about bad motives of the college administration.
The theory this time: An FLC name change is a racist guise to cover the school’s history.
An appropriate name change may be “The Bubble on The Mesa.” Outside this bubble of imagination exists a very large world with 7.4 billion people. This world will exist with or without Fort Lewis College.
If the students, faculty and staff of FLC hope to continue to be part of that world, all stakeholders should come together in the spirit of increasing enrollment and delivering a valuable educational product.
FLC can continue to distinguish itself by focusing on value-driven programs such as the John F. Reed Honors Program, STEM degree options, the School of Business Administration, online education and graduate-level coursework. This can all be done while offering a foundation in liberal arts.
In addition to focusing on high-demand programs, FLC can leverage its unique value propositions such as location, personalized education and low-cost tuition. If a name change is an aspect that may allow FLC to become more competitive in the marketplace of higher education, it is an avenue worth exploring (though I’d be sad to see my degree hanging knowing my alma mater has changed its name).
I recently had dinner with the director of the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University. He discussed the reality that higher education has increasingly come to mimic corporate business models. Institutions must now be run with an emphasis as much on profit and loss statements as on quality education.
Perhaps stakeholders resistant to this broad reality of a changing higher ed landscape would be best to start their own system where revenue isn’t needed, and performance metrics don’t matter.
I, however, believe education has the power to influence both minds and communities for the better, which means we must adapt to a changing world to ensure education continues to reach as far as it can.
Stakeholders should develop solutions to create a thriving future for FLC, not devise baseless conspiracy theories that further divide a campus already experiencing deep divisions.
There are many ways to preserve and respect history which are not mutually exclusive to discussing potential solutions to FLC’s enrollment and revenue struggles. History is important. So too is ensuring our institutions stay solvent so they’re around to tell that history.
Conner Cafferty is a graduate of FLC and served as student body president and a 2016-2017 student representative to the board of trustees. He is now a student at Brandeis School of Law. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.