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First Native American takes charge of Board of Trustees for Fort Lewis College

First Native American takes charge of Board of Trustees for Fort Lewis College

Ms. Karen Wilde
Ms. Karen Wilde

As Ms. Karen Wilde begins her tenure as chair of the Board of Trustees for Fort Lewis College, history is being made. Ms. Wilde is the first Native American chair of the Board, which is the governing body for Fort Lewis College, an institution with a century-old commitment to educating Native American and Alaska Native peoples.

An enrolled Muscogee (Creek) with Pawnee heritage from her paternal side, Ms. Wilde was raised in Oklahoma in a single parent household. Later, as a single parent herself, she recognized the value of education to her life and to her young family and returned to school to get her degree. It’s her mission to make sure others have that same opportunity.

“I was a young single mother when I took my 20 month old daughter to college with me,” she recalls. “I knew that I had to have that education in order to support the two of us. I believe each of us is born with the ability to rise to any occasion. As an elder, I strive to continue to be a role model and have been blessed to be an individual who advocates for the minority of the minorities.”

Higher education, both on state and national levels, is evolving rapidly. That means that colleges and universities need to be nimble enough to adapt and grow, and that certainly goes for Fort Lewis College.

“The Board of Trustees supports the administration and faculty to recruit and retain students in the best way possible,” says Ms. Wilde. “Not only has the higher education landscape been causing anxiety, but the global career perspective has changed. With the modernization of technology, the rapid response time due to the worldwide Internet and the family dynamics being altered (I’m raising my sixteen year old grandson), we hire the best qualified administration and expert decision makers to be transparent and ask us for support when needed.” 

Recent years have seen significant changes to FLC and its programs as the College works to offer the best education possible to its students, as well as satisfy state and federal initiatives.

“I would like to see the Board come together with faculty, staff and students to be recognized as a transparent institution as we move forward through the return to three-credit hour for seamless transfer and to comply with state law and policy,” she says. “The Finish in Four program to reduce student debt and increase the global workforce is paramount for a vibrant economy, and reduces debt for families.”

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