I’d like to offer an update about the budget situation at Fort Lewis College.
As a campus community, we want to be proactive as we look ahead to the future. At the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 1, we presented a number of Summit Project proposals for new certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and co-curricular programs. These represent areas in which FLC can invest in the future success of our students, growth of the institution and support for our community.
These investments are likely to take some time to implement, if they receive final approval. The funding for these programs will come from money set aside for new strategic initiatives and include: Ski Operations, Pre-Health and Digital Marketing certificates; Early Childhood Pathway to 2.0 credential; bachelor’s degrees in Computer Information Systems and Environmental Science; Masters of Public Administration; Business Administration Entrepreneurship and Small Business option; Pre-Orientation experiences and FLC Cycling Team expansion.
The Board of Trustees also voted to approve the new Master of Arts in Education: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD). The new degree program is anticipated to hold its first classes in Fall 2018, pending final approval by the Colorado Department of Higher Education. This will be FLC’s third master’s program. The CLD program is aimed at educators who want to both earn a graduate degree and apply for the CLD endorsement with the Colorado Department of Education, or the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages endorsement from New Mexico. There are thousands of educators working in the Four Corners. Given how diverse this part of the country is, the ability to offer a pathway to these endorsements is an important service to the region. The opportunity for teachers to earn a master’s degree simultaneously allows them to progress to higher levels in their careers.
In the short-term, at its Dec. 5 meeting, the Budget Committee looked at a number of possible future scenarios for how the college budget would need to be adjusted to include Fall 2018 enrollment and innovative plans and initiatives. It is too early to tell what the enrollment might be, but we want to be proactive and prepared.
In the end, the committee proposed that we look at the possibility of cutting up to $4.5 million, which is about 8 percent of FLC’s budget. If budget cuts occur, every FLC office and department would examine its operations to identify efficiencies to support the financial health of the institution. We are not announcing a $4.5 million cut, only that we want to be prepared for what the future may hold. It may seem counter-intuitive to be working on new programs and investments while also talking about possible budget cuts. The world of higher education is evolving. We see it in where students are choosing to go to school, what and how they are studying and what employers are looking for in future employees. This evolution is going to be a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. There are populations and communities that FLC can serve through programs that we are uniquely qualified to offer. There are many chapters in the history of the college, and today we are poised to turn the page on a new one.
Dene Thomas is president of Fort Lewis College. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.