Late last May, Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas announced she would retire as of June 30, 2018. At that time, the board of trustees set a selection process in motion that kicked off in earnest in October, and will soon come to a close.
Starting tomorrow through April 5, students, faculty, staff and the community will have several opportunities to meet each of the three finalists, on- and off-campus.
Selected from a field of 120 applicants (Herald, March 21), Dr. Maria Guajardo, Deputy Vice-President of Soka University in Tokyo, Japan will be the first to visit tomorrow and Friday. Dr. Tom Stritikus, Deputy Director of K-12 U.S. Programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, and, Dr. Teresa C. Balser, John Curtin Distinguished Professor and Dean of Teaching and Learning for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University in Perth, Australia will visit next week.
Campus feedback will be provided to the board of trustees and a public input session is scheduled for the board’s April 13 meeting, at which they will select and notify the candidate of choice and a public announcement will follow.
The three finalists were chosen for their dynamic personal leadership styles, expertise, and commitment to excellence, innovation, collaboration and experience building strong higher education communities, as well as a commitment to FLC’s historic mission. Only Guajardo has prior academic and professional experience in Colorado.
We are lucky to have such qualified candidates at this time in the college’s history when low enrollment and diminishing resources have plagued campus and more cuts loom, issues that were discussed with each candidate (Herald, March 21).
The college is an economically, socially and culturally important institution in our community and its success is paramount. In 2014-15, the most recent impact and analysis conducted, the total economic impact of employee, student, college, visitor and capital expenditures totaled $151 million. The contribution, of course, is not just economic, but also in human capital. Students,faculty, staff, visiting artists and others all add vibrancy to Durango.
With new academic programs and buildings, a culturally diverse student body, a talented faculty and staff, unmatched scenery that provides innumerable outdoor education and recreation opportunities, and more, the pieces and parts are there. There will be big expectations for the next president and their leadership team to pull them together into a practical strategy and plan for success.
Get your questions ready and let’s give them a warm welcome to town. Finalists’ curricula vitae, biographies and details of their visit can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2gAILV0.