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Public Health Director brings 25 years of experience

Connie Kitchens brings extensive experience to FLC's burgeoning Public Health program.

Dr. Connie Kitchens, program director of Fort Lewis College’s new Public Health program, is just the type of professor students want to learn from. Dedicated to helping students find their way. Passionate about her subject matter. And though it’s just her first year as a full-time professor, she’s definitely no rookie when it comes to public health.

“I’ve had the chance to do a lot of things in my career, and I think that’s very important for a field of study like public health,” says Kitchens, who spent her 25-year pre-FLC career in college student substance abuse prevention and working as coordinator of various community health initiatives and studies. “A good public health program allows students to see the broad spectrum of this field and the many possibilities out there—working in communicable diseases, health policy, environmental health, or even pursuing nursing or medicine.”

Since arriving at Fort Lewis in January 2011, Kitchens has been busy developing relationships with community health organizations, hospitals and government agencies to create practicum experiences for Public Health students that will translate into solid resume-builders. “I am a big believer in interactive learning because that’s when students get to the heart of a subject—when they experience it,” says Dr. Kitchens. “I try to give students many opportunities to apply what they learn.”

Kitchens is also reaching out to area colleges. There are efforts underway to develop and implement a pipeline program between Diné College and Fort Lewis, whereby graduates of Diné’s Associate of Science in Public Health can transfer to Fort Lewis to finish their bachelor’s degrees, and a similar partnership with the University of Northern Colorado, sending Fort Lewis graduates on to its Masters and Doctorates of Public Health programs.

While the thought of building a program from the ground up might intimidate some, to Kitchens, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. She’s no stranger to startups, having coordinated and directed the “A Healthier You 2002” program in conjunction with the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. Earlier in her career, she helped write and managed a $2.25 million grant for substance abuse prevention on Utah college campuses, an experience that guided her Ph.D. dissertation. And as an adjunct instructor at the University of Utah and Utah Valley State College for more than 12 years, Kitchens designed several new courses.

At Fort Lewis, Kitchens is focused on helping students find their niche. “I want to help students discover the thing that catches them on fire,” she says. “That’s a great thing about doing this at Fort Lewis, too. Our class sizes are small so you can really get to know students. And faculty members are encouraged to be collaborative, which is exciting for me. I am someone who will work to help students come up with different things they want to do.”

Learn more about the Public Health program here.

Contact Public Health Director Connie Kitchens at or (970) 247-7396.

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