Fort Lewis College took its name from a U.S. Army Post built in southwest Colorado in the late 1870s, and it became a boarding school for regional American Indians in 1891. In 1911, Congress gave the school and the old fort site to Colorado with the agreement that American Indians would continue to receive tuition-free education. From its beginning as a state-supported agricultural high school, Fort Lewis College became a junior college in 1933, moved to its present site in Durango in 1956, and offered its first four-year liberal arts programs in 1962. The Bachelors of Arts in Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics were three of the inaugural degree programs. Fort Lewis College is now Colorado’s Public Liberal Arts College.
In 1974, Fort Lewis College School of Business Administration (SOBA) was the first member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) with undergraduate only programs to be accredited by AACSB International. This milestone confirms our dedication to the core value of providing high quality undergraduate programs, with a commitment to developing a liberally educated and professionally competent student. This historical commitment to integrating the depth of professional skills with the breadth of liberal arts will influence our support of curriculum changes to the general education program as mandated by the May 2005 Colorado Department of Higher Education Performance Contract with the College. This contract requires a minimum threshold number and type of general education credits that must transfer among state colleges and universities. This commitment will also influence our adaptation to a mandatory civic engagement and service learning program to be phased in by the College.
During its 96-year history, Fort Lewis College has been dedicated to the economic development of the Four Corners region. From early contributions as an agricultural high school, today’s contributions range from business creation and expansion services of SOBA’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), to course-based business practice and market research projects, to co-curricular activities for American Indian students in the American Indian Business Leader’s Club. Internships, course-based business practice projects, and co-curricular activities return a meaningful “real-world” experience to our students in preparing them for professional careers.