By Benjamin Brewer, student contributor
Fort Lewis College demonstrated its commitment to students yet again this past week at the Academic Hub grand opening. Attended by nearly 100 students, 40 percent of whom were first-years, the event was bustling with excitement. The message was clear: Fort Lewis College is investing in the long-term success of its students.
“We are trying to weave support into the very fabric of Fort Lewis College,” says Cheryl Nixon, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We need to do a better job of supporting students who do not come from a higher education background.”
At Fort Lewis College, nearly one-half of students are first-generation college students; a demographic that has been statistically shown to receive far less emotional, financial, and information support from their guardians when compared to their peers.
The Academic Hub features programs that are designed to directly combat this inequity. For instance, the Circle Back program is geared towards bringing students who took a semester withdrawal back into the fold through peer counseling, access to other support services on campus, and assistance with reintegration into a classroom setting.
The scope of the Academic Hub far exceeds Circle Back, however, as there is a litany of programs that have been built or consolidated into the Hub. Any FLC student can connect with the Peer Education Center, the Undergraduate Research Center, the Career & Life Design program, the Success Coaching program, and the Writing Studio—all housed within the Hub.
With all these resources now available, the excitement from students is palpable. “It’s a good move on FLC’s part,” says William West, a senior studying Geology. “I wish I had this years ago, but it’s good we have programs dedicated to addressing some of these issues now. It’s not just the academic side of things either, but this place seems to have a focus that goes beyond scholastics.”
It’s true: the Academic Hub has a larger mission that is communicated by its open, functional design. Inspired in part by the “Fish Bowl” in Reed Library, the space boasts ergonomic furniture, etched glass partitions, and lacquered wood floors. Perhaps the most captivating part of the Hub, however, is the Professional Development Space or the “Dev Space.” It features an eye-catching mural by Maddie Sanders (Communication Design, ‘21) that was inspired by Indigenous basket weaving.
"I hope it's welcoming to students from all backgrounds. More importantly, though, I hope it represents the ‘community of care’ we have emphasized since the beginning of the pandemic."
The design elements of the Hub, which were constructed within a year through Title III funding, serve to fan the “spark” in every Fort Lewis College student, Nixon says. “I hope it's welcoming to students from all backgrounds,” she beams. “More importantly, though, I hope it represents the ‘community of care’ we have emphasized since the beginning of the pandemic."
The Academic Hub, it seems, has done just that.