Fort Lewis president seeks growth

Dene Thomas, president of Ft. Lewis College

Fort Lewis College expects to gain students this fall after years of declining or steady enrollment.

Enrollment decreased every fall at the school from 2004 until last fall, when the school gained 30 students. New Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas said she expects the school to make a 1 to 2 percent gain this fall from 2009’s fall enrollment total of 3,770 students.

Thomas said she hopes to continue the upward enrollment trend with a new increased effort to recruit students from across the state. Thomas visited Grand Junction on Friday during a tour of the state to meet college presidents, alumni and potential students.

“We want students to know their options,” Thomas said. “We’re in the high schools here and across the state telling our story.”

Student counts at Fort Lewis began to drop after admission standards became more stringent at the school five years ago, Thomas said. The school is now described as “selective,” meaning high school students must have a higher grade-point average and ACT or SAT score to get into the college than they needed a half-decade ago. Admission is based on an index score determined by values given to GPA and college-admission test scores.

Thomas has served as Fort Lewis’ president since July. She has a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota and served as president for 17 years at the University of Idaho in Moscow, and as president of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, for nine years before moving to Durango.


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