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Tom Stritikus resigns as Fort Lewis College president

Man at the center of FLC takes on new opportunity at Occidental College
Tom Stritikus served as the president of Fort Lewis College for six years. The college announced Tuesday he is stepping down to take a job at another college in Los Angeles. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Fort Lewis College is looking for a new president.

The college announced Tuesday that President Tom Stritikus is stepping down at the end of the academic year to take a job with Occidental College, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles.

Over the last six years, Stritikus has directed the college through the COVID-19 pandemic and its reconciliation work with Native American students.

Stritikus said Tuesday he is proud of where the college is in regard to staffing and enrollment, and he feels comfortable leaving the school in its current situation.


“I truly have loved every minute I’ve been at Fort Lewis College,” he said. “We, as a team, helped realize its potential – and it still has even more potential.”

He said his time at FLC had been a great chapter but he is looking forward to his next chapter at Occidental.

Stritikus touted FLC’s ability to hire staff, focus on student needs and turn attention to Native American reconciliation during his time at the helm.

Under Stritikus, the college also launched a mortgage-assistance program for faculty members to help staff with Durango’s high cost of living.

This program sought to finance below-market loans for qualifying staff members and faculty. The loan program received $1 million in program funding from the FLC board of trustees and the FLC Foundation Board. It allocates funds administered through HomesFund, up to $70,000 per household.

The school also expanded its tuition promise to offer free tuition to students with a family income under $70,000.

During Stritikus’ tenure, the college also underwent substantial infrastructural changes, including construction of a new health sciences building, Schlessman Family Hall.

With the help of the FLC Foundation, Stritikus has helped spearhead projects still under construction, such as the Centura Sports Performance Center and renovations to Skyhawk Hall, which will turn the building into a facility for the college’s new nursing program.

“Our concept of putting students at the center of everything we do really drove all the decisions that we’ve made at Fort Lewis College, and it has caused other people in the community to believe in what we do because they believe in our students,” Stritikus said.

Chairwoman of FLC’s board of trustees Mary Rubadeau said the board will convene and appoint an interim president and establish the framework and timeline for a presidential search.

“We are grateful for the inspired and dedicated leadership that Tom has brought to campus, and know that we will miss his tireless energy, vision for innovation and equity, and his engaging and visible presence on campus,” she said in a news release.

Steve Short, chairman of the FLC Foundation board, said when Stritikus started at FLC, the college faced steep budget cuts and enrollment drops, contributing to declining morale among faculty, staff members and students.

Last fall, the college received its largest gift in school history when Marc and Jane Katz donated $10.4 million to the school of business. It is one of multiple large-dollar amounts the FLC Foundation and Stritikus helped bring to the college.

“Given the increasing challenges of funding higher education and the associated pressure on tuition, Tom collaboratively worked with the FLC Foundation Board, the Foundation’s CEO, and the entire advancement staff to achieve the most successful philanthropic efforts in the college’s history,” Short said in the release.


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