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First-year Fort Lewis College students to ski Purgatory, Hesperus free

Resort aims to help college boost enrollment, spark interest in ski area
Full-time, first-year students at Fort Lewis College will be given free season passes to Purgatory Resort and Hesperus Ski Area for the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters.

Ardent skiers have another reason to attend Fort Lewis College: free passes to Purgatory Resort and Hesperus Ski Area for full-time, first-year students.

“We’re so grateful for this partnership with Mountain Capital Partners. It highlights the amenities available to our students and the strong relationship and support we have with the Durango community,” said Jess Savage, FLC director of admissions, in a news release issued Monday. “It signals to students and families that the community values our students and wants to see them experience more than just campus.”

Passes will go to first-year students carrying at least 12-credit hours for fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters.


“The goal of the overall program is to help recruit more students to a great college,” said James Coleman, Mountain Capital Partners managing partner and owner of Purgatory Resort and Hesperus Ski Area. “And the long-term goal is to have FLC graduates who love skiing become productive Durango residents.”

Greg Ralph, director of business development with Mountain Capital Partners, said prospective students visiting FLC are given a free daily lift ticket, and half-price daily lift tickets are available to their family members.

“We really feel like we’re part of the FLC family, and we try to help with recruiting wherever we can,” Ralph said.

On Purgatory’s part, Ralph said the resort is always looking for seasonal help.

“We hope to get them hooked on the mountain and perhaps they’ll work part-time. We’re always looking for new employees and future managers,” he said.

Every year, he added, Purgatory has several business interns working in its office in Durango.

Ralph said the passes will be Mountain Capital Partner’s Power Card passes and will be honored at Arizona Snowbowl and at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort in New Mexico.

FLC has explored various creative ways to boost enrollment in recent years as it dealt with declining student numbers since the Great Recession in 2008.

In fall 2018, FLC’s enrollment came in at 3,317 students, only two fewer than in 2017. Fall 2017 enrollment of 3,319 was a 269-student drop from fall 2016.

In July 2018, the Fort Lewis Foundation used private donations to complete the purchase of a rafting company with permits on the Chama and San Juan rivers in New Mexico and the Salt River in Arizona. The purchase was seen as a way to boost enrollment and to take advantage of outdoor opportunities in the Southwest to offer unique academic and social opportunities for students.

Savage said, “College is about getting a great education, but it’s also a time for personal growth and exploration – this is the perfect way to encourage students to take advantage of our beautiful location and maybe try something new.”


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