A herd of Holstein Friesian dairy cattle allowed a course of study in “Dairying,” described in the 1914-15 catalog as “A study of dairy animals, feeds and buildings, the handling of milk from the time it leaves the cow until it reaches the consumer.”
Fort Lewis began sponsoring – and promoting – a wide array of “wholesome, uplifting” recreational activities in the 1920s when the school wanted to increase the enrollment of girls in its Rural Teacher Training and Home Economics programs.
The Aggies basketball team played 12 games in its 1938 season. Six of the games were against collegiate rivals Adams State, Trinidad, Pueblo, and Portales. The other six were against local teams, including Gardenswartz, Durango Mercantile and Bauer’s Cash Store.
By 1945, the Fort Lewis curriculum included a “Course of Study for Business Career,” including courses like New Matter Dictation, Theory of Shorthand, Secretarial Practice, and Typewriting, pictured here.
James M. Hunter, the architect of the Durango campus, followed the philosophy of "organic architecture," the idea that buildings must be responsive to their time and place. He designed the Student Center to showcase the campus' spectacular views of the La Plata Mountains.
Fort Lewis’ first baccalaureate commencement ceremony on April 19, 1964 on the plaza of the Student Center recognized 59 students.
Three years after it was established in 1970, the Bala Sinem Choir recorded American Indian Songs and Chants with Canyon Records. When Colin Ben (Southwest Studies, '02) sang in the choir 30 years later, he learned many songs by listening to that recording.
In 1980, the Computer Center offered “digital computer indoctrination seminars.” The Digital Revolution was well underway in 1989 with 60 interactive terminals networked to three minicomputers, 25 Apple Macintoshes, 25 Apple II’s and 75 IBM PC-compatible microcomputers.
The Cycling Club was established in 1994 and put itself on the map by winning the first National Collegiate Cycling Association mountain biking championship. Chris Bills (Business Administration, ’01), who raced for the team from 1996 until he graduated in 2001, recalled that “We left Fort Lewis with some serious pride.”
When the Outdoor Pursuits program began in the 1970s, so did the dream of an academic program that would make classrooms out of the nearby mountains, deserts, and rivers. Under President Brad Bartel’s leadership, this dream was realized with the creation of the Adventure Education program in 2007.

This year's Centennial commemorates the federal government's 1911 deeding of the former Fort Lewis military post to the state of Colorado to establish an "agricultural and mechanic arts high school." In the century since then, Fort Lewis has undergone constant evolution -- from high school, to teaching school, to A&M college, to the four-year public liberal arts college we know today -- as it has adapted with the changing needs and demands of the times.

The Centennial offers the opportunity to remember the resilience and determination it has taken to get to where Fort Lewis is today, and to honor and celebrate the 100 years of service this institution has offered to the people of Colorado, the region, country, and world. The Centennial also inspires all of us -- faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends -- to carry forth into the next century the mission of Fort Lewis College: to offer an accessible, high quality, baccalaureate liberal arts education to a diverse student population, preparing citizens for the common good in an increasingly complex world.


Dene Thomas

As Fort Lewis College begins its second century as a public educational institution, I am amazed as I consider who we were, what we have become, and the opportunities that lay before us.

Please join us in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opening of that first high school, which evolved into an A&M college, was relocated to Durango, and then was reinvented as the liberal arts college that it is today. More...