Fort Lewis College

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Fort Lewis College
FLC Seal.png
Type Public liberal arts college for undergraduates
Established 1911 [1]
Provost Barbara Morris
Undergraduates 3,864 [1]
Location Durango, Colorado, U.S.
37°16′30″N 107°52′12″W / 37.275°N 107.869999°W / 37.275; -107.869999
FORT LEWIS COLLEGE Latitude and Longitude:

37°16′30″N 107°52′12″W / 37.275°N 107.869999°W / 37.275; -107.869999
Colors Dark blue, Light blue, Gold
Athletics NCAA Division IIRocky Mountain
Nickname Skyhawks
Affiliations Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Sports Varsity, club, and intramural
Mascot Skyler the Skyhawk
Fort Lewis College logo.png

Fort Lewis College is a public liberal arts college located in Durango, Colorado.

FLC is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, with additional program-level accreditations in Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, and Marketing; Athletic Training; Chemistry; Engineering Physics; Music; and Teacher Education. The college offers 30 bachelor's degrees through its four academic units.

Because of its unique origins as a military fort turned Indian boarding school turned state public school, Fort Lewis College also follows a 1911 mandate to provide a tuition-free education for qualified Native Americans. Fort Lewis College awards approximately 16 percent of the baccalaureate degrees earned by Native American students in the nation. In 2008, FLC was designated as one of six Native American-serving, non-tribal colleges by the U.S. Department of Education. [3]


The first Fort Lewis army post was constructed in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, in 1878, and was relocated in 1880 to Hesperus, Colorado, on the southern slopes of the La Plata Mountains. In 1891, Fort Lewis was decommissioned and converted into a federal, off-reservation Indian boarding school.

In 1911, the fort's property and buildings in Hesperus were transferred to the state of Colorado to establish an "agricultural and mechanic arts high school." That deed came with two conditions: that the land would be used for an educational institution, and “to be maintained as an institution of learning to which Indian students will be admitted free of tuition and on an equality with white students” in perpetuity (Act of 61st Congress, 1911). Both conditions have been the missions and guides for the Fort Lewis school's various incarnations over the past century.

In the 1930s, the Fort Lewis high school expanded into a two-year college, and in 1948 became Fort Lewis A&M College, under control of State Board of Agriculture. The "Aggies" studying at the Fort Lewis Branch of the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanics could choose from courses including agriculture, forestry, engineering, veterinary science, and home economics.

The Fort Lewis military post in Hesperus, Colorado, May 1883.

Fort Lewis College underwent another period of growth and changes starting in 1956, when the college moved from its long-time home in Hesperus to its present location, 18 miles east, atop what was then known as Reservoir Hill, overlooking Durango. Here, FLC became a four-year institution, awarding its first baccalaureate degrees in 1964.

Also in 1964, the college dropped the "A&M" moniker. At that time, the new Fort Lewis College also changed its mascot from "Aggies" to the "Raiders," and changed the school's colors from the green and yellow of the Colorado State University system it had been affiliated with to the blue and gold it still sports today. [4]

In recent history: In 1994, the college's mascot became the Skyhawks, retaining the blue and gold. In 1995, Fort Lewis College joined the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, and in 2002, the College became independent of the Colorado State University system, and formed its own governing Board of Trustees.


The 247-acre Fort Lewis College campus is in southwestern Colorado is situated at 6,872 feet atop a mesa overlooking the Animas River Valley and downtown Durango. A network of trails as well as city bus service (free to students with FLC IDs) connects the campus and town.

The campus' distinctive architectural theme utilizes locally quarried sandstone to acknowledge the region's Native puebloan building style and evoke the Four Corners landscape and colors. The style was crafted by prominent Boulder architect James M. Hunter, who was contracted to establish a campus building plan by the college in the late 1950s, following the college's move from Hesperus, Colorado, to its Durango location.

Today, on-campus housing is in six residence halls and two apartment buildings, with singles, doubles, and suites. Also on campus are 14 academic buildings, as well as a Student Life Center, Aquatic Center, and Student Union. On-campus athletic facilities include Ray Dennison Memorial Field, Dirks Field, the Softball Complex, Whalen Gymnasium, and the Factory Trails, an off-road bicycling race course.

The La Plata Mountains rise behind the Fort Lewis College campus in Durango, Colorado

The new Student Union opened in Fall 2011, and now hosts the college's cultural centers, the Native American Center and El Centro de Muchos Colores, as well as student government, the Environmental Center, the post office, and the bookstore. The new Student Union also offers several dining options, and houses both a Leadership Center and a Media Center that includes the college's news magazine, literary journal, and KDUR radio station.

The Student Union building was awarded LEED Gold status in August by the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainability features. It is the third LEED Gold building on campus, along with the Berndt Hall Biology Wing and the residential Animas Hall. Those environmental awards helped FLC be named one of "America's Coolest Schools" by Sierra magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, in 2011. [5]

Other notable on-campus facilities include:

Art Gallery
The Art Building's Art Gallery brings local, regional, and national exhibitions to the campus, providing students both a research tool and a venue for public exposure for their own creations.
Center of Southwest Studies
Completed in 2001, the shapes and stonework of the Center of Southwest Studies complex reflect the ancestral puebloan structures found throughout the Four Corners. The Center is home to the Anthropology and Native American & Indigenous Studies programs, and the Delaney Southwest Research Library. The Exhibit Gallery also features a solstice window that focuses the first rays of the summer solstice sun, casting a spiral image on the gallery wall.
Community Concert Hall
The Hall opened in 1997 [6] and is one of the largest live-performance venues in the region, the 600-seat Community Concert Hall hosts local, regional, and national music, comedy, drama, lecture, and dance acts in an intimate setting. The Concert Hall lobby also features more than a dozen Southwestern landscape paintings by Stanton Englehart, a founding faculty member of the FLC Art Department renowned for capturing the beauty and mystery of the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau.
Fort Lewis College campus looking north, showing the Southwestern-style architecture.
John F. Reed Memorial Library
Opened in 1967, stone used in the construction of the Library was quarried just three miles from campus. With a study area facing a large wall of windows offering views to the La Plata and San Juan mountains, Reed Library is one of the most popular study spots on campus.
Mainstage Theatre
Home to frequent faculty-directed shows, student productions, and class projects, the Theatre Building's Mainstage Theatre has been the center for campus drama and performing arts for more than 50 years.
McPherson Chapel
Built in 1958 as part of the original Durango campus, this stone chapel's construction was funded entirely with donations. The large windows allow for a stunning view of sunsets behind the Animas River Valley and La Plata Mountains. The Chapel provides a non-denominational place of meditation, and is also a popular wedding site.

Campus and the community

The college offers a number of non-academic programs that reach out to the Durango and Four Corners communities:

  • The Fort Lewis College Office of Community Services assists local communities, students, and faculty to improve academic, social, economic, and the ecological well-being of the Four Corners region.
  • Fort Lewis College's Community Concert Hall, Center of Southwest Studies, Roshong Recital Hall, Art Gallery, Student Union Ballroom, and Mainstage Theatre host concerts, recitals, performances, exhibits, plays, speakers, and films open to entire community.
  • Many faculty in the Music Department are active in Durango performing arts ensembles, including the Durango Choral Society, the San Juan Symphony, and several chamber ensembles and pop bands.
  • KDUR Community Radio provides a bridge between the college and La Plata County with music, public affairs, and alternative news programming. The station provides educational, training, and on-air opportunities for both students and community members.
  • The Common Reading Experience hosts forums, discussions, and lectures related to each year's CRE book, both on campus and in Durango, bringing together both groups for shared exploration of important issues.
  • The Small Business Development Center provides workshops and advising for small and independently owned businesses in the region.


Fort Lewis College is divided into four academic units, offering 32 baccalaureate degrees. Programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology, the American Chemical Society, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, and the National Association of Schools of Music.

  • Accounting
  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Engineering
  • Economics
  • Educational Studies
  • Elementary Education
  • Engineering
  • English
  • Environmental Studies
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Exercise Specialist
  • Gender & Women's Studies
  • Geology
  • History
  • Journalism & Multimedia Studies
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Native American & Indigenous Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Sport Administration
  • Studio Art
  • Theatre
  • Writing [7]

Student life

Student housing offers six residence halls and two apartment buildings, with singles, doubles, and suites.

Student engagement programs

Registered student organizations

Students manage more than sixty clubs and organizations. The Terry R. Bacon Leadership Center is a central clearinghouse for the campus' registered student organizations, providing resources, services, and a work space. The Center also offers several workshops and programs that helps students with their personal and professional development and leadership skills.

Outdoor pursuits

The Outdoor Pursuits program warehouses a wide variety of outdoor gear, hosts workshops and movies, and houses a resource library and a bike- and ski-tuning shop. The program also offers skill workshops and guided backpacking, biking, boating, and skiing trips for all skill levels.

Student Union Programming

Student Union Programming disburses student fee monies and brings entertainment and educational events to campus.

Associated Students of Fort Lewis College (ASFLC)

The Associated Students of Fort Lewis College is responsible for disbursing student fees. ASFLC represents student interest and concerns to the administration. They are given an ex-officio position on the Board of Trustees and on the President's Cabinet.

Ballantine Media Center

The new Ballantine Media Center, in the Student Union, provides a digital media production lab and houses campus media, including KDUR radio, The Independent monthly campus news magazine, Images annual arts and literature magazine, and the Intertribal News Native American cultural website.

Native American Center
Traditional dancers perform at the Hozhoni Days Powwow.

The Native American Center offers an on-campus place to study, work, and socialize, while promoting the academic success and personal development of all Native American students through academic, cultural, social, and spiritual support.

El Centro

El Centro de Muchos Colores, the college’s Hispano Resource Center, provides a central location for relaxing, studying, and gathering with other students of Hispanic heritage or those interested in Hispanic language and culture. It also offers tutoring and support services, as well as hosts cultural events. The center also produces La Movida, a student newspaper on issues happening in the Latino community.


The college's athletic teams, nicknamed the Skyhawks, compete in the NCAA at the Division II level as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC); as well as the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (WILA) for women's lacrosse and a nationally ranked cyling program that competes at the Division I level of USA Collegiate Cycling. [8]

Notable alumni


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