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President Thomas welcomes new students at Fall Convocation


DURANGO – On Friday, August 30, 2013, more than 1,100 new freshmen and transfer students, along with their friends and family, packed Whalen Gym at Fort Lewis College for Fall Convocation. Convocation marks the official end of New Student Orientation and the beginning of the school year.

Those assembled were welcomed by the College’s leaders, including Board of Trustees Chair John Wells, Faculty Senate President Charles Riggs, student body president Dylan Leigh, and 2013-14 Miss Hozhoni Chanetel Johnson.

FLC President Dene Thomas offered the Convocation Address. Her remarks revolved around the value of a college degree in today’s world and, in particular, what makes a Fort Lewis College degree special.

“The professors you learn from here could easily be hired at just about any institution in the world,” President Thomas said. “They are here because they want to be here and because teaching at a liberal arts college means they get to focus on you. Give them your best and they will make your best even better.”

She went on to mention a number of points of pride for the institution, such as exceptional alumni like Bill Mendoza, an FLC humanities graduate, who is the director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education in President Obama’s administration.

She also talked about the research that Fort Lewis College professors do and involve their students in, like Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Tino Sonora. Dr. Sonora is a Fulbright Specialist that only recently returned from doing research and teaching in Croatia.

“Because we are a small liberal arts college, you have the chance to get to know your professors well,” she told the audience. “Teaching is our top priority, but the research your professors do, and you can do as well, is world class.”

Finally, she turned to the sciences and related a statistic that might be a surprise to those not familiar with the College’s Department of Chemistry.

“Studying the sciences also offers a new perspective of the world and a path to success after graduation. For example, over the last 10 years, the top three schools in terms of the number of chemistry students who go on to earn doctorate degrees from Colorado are: number one, CSU—huge, great school; CU-Boulder—huge, great school; Fort Lewis College—small, great school!”

Following Convocation, the new students and their families were invited to a campus picnic before having the weekend to get the last minute dorm shopping done, relax, and prepare for the first day of school.

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