A new Fort Lewis College provost who will help promote student success and retention has been hired and will begin July 1.
FLC’s first-year retention rate, at 66% for 2015, the last year for which data are available, is well below the 72% average retention rate for colleges, according to College Factual, a firm that seeks to place students in colleges that fit them.
FLC’s new provost will be Cheryl Nixon, who currently works as an associate provost and English professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Nixon holds a master’s and doctorate in English from Harvard University.
Nixon will replace Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jesse Peters. Peters will return to his previous position as Arts & Sciences dean.
The new provost was selected from a pool of nearly 100 applicants, said FLC President Tom Stritikus.
“Dr. Nixon is a proven academic leader, she brings a wealth of experience in a very complicated institution,” he said. He also expects her to bring energy, creativity and passion, he said.
At UMass Boston, she oversaw strategic planning, department assessment and accreditation, and she served as the director of the Office of Global Programs, according to her bio.
She also designed an experiential learning curriculum that supports the success of diverse students, according to her bio.
At FLC, she will work with the faculty to modify, improve and introduce new programs to serve students, Stritikus said.
“I look forward to working with faculty and staff to create an innovative, multifaceted campaign that ensures student success,” she said, in an email to The Durango Herald.
She said she wants to build on the new First Year Launch classes that all freshman will take next fall. The classes are meant to introduce students to their new academic community, inspire their curiosity, develop their ties to faculty members and increase their awareness of services on campus.
Data can also be used to track student performance and intervene when warning signs arise, such as a poor grade, she said.
Also, she would like to see students connect to the Durango community through research projects, internships and service projects, she said.
“Students who can put their ideas into real-world action are much more likely to succeed,” she said.
Nixon will join a slightly restructured administration team at FLC. This year, the school eliminated the vice president of enrollment position and plans to eliminate the vice president of student affairs position, Stritikus said.
The responsibilities of these administrators have been reassigned, he said. For example, employees who reported to the vice president of enrollment now report to the president and the director of admissions.
“We are always looking at how we can be most efficient and most effective,” he said.