STEM-3 Student Success Center

STEM Susan DeckerDr. Susan Decker,

Program Director

Susan comes to Fort Lewis College with a BA in English, an MS in Curriculum and Social Foundation, and a PhD in Education, Curriculum, and Social Foundations, all from Oklahoma State University. Additionally, Susan has over 10 years of experience in higher education as a grant director and writer, student advocate, and faculty member. She has two teenage children, David and Sarah. Susan’s hobbies include writing, traveling, and enjoying live music. Her goal and passion in life is to help others to be successful in college.

Ph: (970) 247-7455


STEM James Deaton

James Deaton, Academic Services Coordinator

I am excited to be on the TRIO STEM SSC staff. I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Exercise Science Sport Administration in 2009.  I was in the TRIO Program for Academic Advancement as a student, and the outstanding support I received at PAA inspired me to pursue a career in academic advising myself. PAA’s academic counseling helped me balance a full class load and a demanding work schedule, while maintaining an athletic lifestyle.  Further, the camaraderie and cooperative environment at PAA provided me with a “home base” on campus, where I felt comfortable to study in between classes.

As a low-income, first generation student, I am familiar with the struggles that students with a similar background may face while completing their degree. Additionally, as I returned to College after a change in careers, I understand the challenges of non-traditional students.  I am dedicated to providing the same thorough and thoughtful advising that I received as a student with PAA.

I am originally from Granite Bay, California. In my first career, I was a professional mountain biker, and my racing activities brought me to Durango.  I am a former World Mountain Bike Downhill Champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee.  In the course of my racing, I have traveled many places around the world. I have chosen to live in Durango because I appreciate the human scale of the city, the positive atmosphere of Durango -  in which residents are actively involved in the enrichment of the community, and of course,  the world-class mountain biking.

Ph: (970) 247-6186

STEM Tim Birchard

Tim Birchard, Academic Services Coordinator

Tim is passionate about helping others connect with their dreams. He holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (with an emphasis on Multicultural Education) from Texas A&M University, and a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film (focusing on audio production) from the University of Texas as a first-generation, low-income student. His career in education has taken him from Austin, Texas to as far away as Takamatsu City, Japan, serving everyone from elementary students to college undergraduates to professionals in social service fields.

In the fall of 2007 he moved to Durango from Takamatsu City, where he had spent a year writing and recording his first of 16 full-length albums and teaching English. Here in Durango he spent 4 ½ years directly advocating for secondary students as Student Services Coordinator for the Durango Adult Education Center before serving college students at FLC. He is delighted to be part of the STEM SSC team and to continue his work as an advocate for people of all ages who are striving to realize their dreams and improve their lives through education.

With a love for Durango and a drive to give back to his community, Tim is a Leadership La Plata alumnus and is actively involved with the Mankind Project. When he is not advocating for the welfare and success of students, you can find him writing, recording, performing, or dreaming about music.

Ph: (970) 247-7521