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President Dene Thomas farewell

In May, President Dene Kay Thomas announced that she will retire effective June 30, 2018, concluding an eight-year run that saw a number of challenges and accomplishments that helped to reshape the College. A search for FLC’s next president is currently underway.

Dene at Hozhoni DaysPresident Thomas started as president at FLC in 2010. She arrived at a time when the College was dealing with cutting $4.5 million from its budget. She helped guide campus through that challenging time into several years of enrollment growth.

Over the ensuing years, Thomas tackled a number of the major issues facing Fort Lewis College. She oversaw the redesign of the FLC curriculum ahead of the College’s successful reaccreditation in 2016. She also worked with the Colorado State Land Board and Colorado State University to resolve the issues surrounding control of the Old Fort Lewis campus in Hesperus.

A recent milestone for FLC was the dedication of Sitter Family Hall in 2017, the new home of the Geosciences and Physics & Engineering departments. This state-ofthe-art facility is a vital step forward for the campus and the Durango community.

Thomas embarked upon her own academic career as a single mother at the age of 30, when she pursued a bachelor’s degree in English from Southwest Minnesota State University, in Marshall, Minnesota, an institution much like FLC. She then earned a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota.

Later, Thomas taught writing at the University of Idaho, where she was an associate professor before undertaking several administrative positions on campus, including vice provost of academic affairs. She became president of Lewis-Clark State College in 2001.

The final year of President Thomas’ tenure is far from a coast to the finish. FLC is currently working through a comprehensive strategic enrollment process that will shape the institution for the foreseeable future and is her top priority throughout her last year.

“I want to use my remaining time fully committed to positioning FLC on the right path for years to come,” she says. “We must work quickly to meet the needs of students and external stakeholders. This is a critical time for Fort Lewis College, and I will be here for the challenge.” FLC

Dene giving high fives at graduation

Dene awarding diploma

Dene in audience

Dene waving