Fort Lewis College News

News at Fort Lewis College

Students make change happen

Tawnie Knight, the current Miss Hozhoni, is an example of a current student being a leader and inspiring change on campus.

Fort Lewis has undergone a lot of change in a century. But, as the saying goes, change happens. For an institution to survive and thrive through change, though, as Fort Lewis has done, takes people changing with change. It takes leaders making change happen.

And if one thing has stayed the same through Fort Lewis' 100 years of change, it's that those leaders and change-makers often arise from the student body. Maybe it's that Western independence and mountain-town self sufficiency. Or maybe it's the spirit of community that grows from a century of building something together.

Whatever it is, after 100 years it's still alive and well at Fort Lewis College.

Below are five examples of student-inspired and initiated projects that have become cornerstones of today's Fort Lewis College campus.

Hozhoni Days attracts hundreds of spectators and dancers.

Hozhoni Days

In Navajo its name means "Days of beauty," which is perfectly suited to Hozhoni Days -- a month of pageantry, speakers, powwowing and celebration of cultures climaxing in the three-day Hozhoni Days Powwow, which is perhaps Fort Lewis College's longest-standing annual tradition. In 1966, the Shalako Indian Club, an early incarnation of today's Wanbli Ota, turned a small on-campus event into a full-blown celebration, and renamed the multi-day event "Hozhoni Days." Since then, Hozhoni Days has become the premiere spring event, at which all FLC students come together to celebrate the cultural diversity FLC stands for.

Jim Vlasich makes history by reading KDUR's first
broadcast in 1975.


KDUR was officially birthed as KFLC in 1974, when the college gave a small group of students a room, some equipment, and $3,000 to start a radio station in the basement of the College Union Building. For its first year, the station "broadcast" only through speakers hardwired in the building. On May 13, 1975, KDUR went on the air for the first time with a 10-watt signal. "In the Durango of the 1970s, you had two choices: cowboy AM or cowboy FM," laughs Mark Radosevich (Biology, ’77), the station’s first financial director. "All we wanted to do in the '70s was play a variety of music, like some Moody Blues and Beatles. KDUR opened the door for the college students to speak unedited and free form to the community at large." For its 35th anniversary in 2010, the station installed a new tower and antenna on the Fort Lewis College rim, boosting its signal to 6,000 watts and expanding the station into a free-form voice for the entire region. This year, KDUR moved into FLC's new state-of-the-art Ballantine Media Center, in the newly renovated Student Union.


Jerry Roach proudly holds the Fort Lewis flag on a
Himalayan peak in 1978.

Outdoor Pursuits

In the mid-1970s, Exercise Science major Walt Walker and his professor, Dolph Kuss, shared a vision: A program in outdoor recreation that would make a classroom out of the mountains, deserts, and rivers around them. In 1976, the two teamed up to start the Outdoor Pursuits program as a way to outfit student adventures while providing expertise and opportunities for guided adventures in the region. Nearly 35 years later, Outdoor Pursuits is Recreation Services' most popular student program, with some 650 student, faculty, and staff members. The program loans all kinds of outdoor equipment and offers up to 20 trips per semester, as well as frequent clinics, movies, and outings for all skill levels.


Members of the Environmental Center march in a
parade in downtown Durango.

Environmental Center

The EC's rich history of promoting sustainability on campus and in the community goes back more than two decades. The Fort Lewis Environmental Center was formed in November 1990, after students petitioned the student government with 800 signatures. Since then, the EC hasn't looked back as it leads the campus toward sustainability and creates ways for students to get hands-on experience changing the world for the better. In the past two decades, the EC has managed and expanded the on-campus recycling program, launched the annual REEL Environmental Experience Film Festival, and brought notable speakers and activists to campus.


Student fans cheer on the football team at the
Homecoming game.


The theme for the 2010 Homecoming was "Blast from the Past!" But that really marked a break with the past, since for the first time students named, planned, organized, and managed Homecoming. Homecoming 2011, "100 Years of Summer: The Event of a Century," will keep this new tradition alive, but with events that will also educate participants about the history of Fort Lewis. "This will show alumni who are so passionate about Fort Lewis that students are still passionate," says Homecoming Committee Chair Amber Neumann, a sophomore Marketing major from Lakewood, Colo. "For them to come back and see that this is still a wonderful place and students are still psyched about it is really important."


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