Rural Native American-serving college receives $2 million in-kind gift to forge new path to sustainability

Pictured: Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.(Photo: Fort Lewis College [CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0])

Colorado's Fort Lewis College wins national competition, bringing millions in consulting support from higher education and innovation experts at Entangled Solutions

News Release

Entangled Solutions

Fort Lewis College (FLC), a 108-year-old public liberal arts college and one of just six federally-designated Native American-serving, non-tribal institutions in the United States, today announced that it has been awarded $2 million in in-kind consulting support from Entangled Solutions, a pioneering innovation consultancy for higher education. The multi-year, multi-million-dollar consulting engagement will focus on continuing the rural college's enrollment and financial growth and helping the college preserve its mission while meeting the needs of students and a changing labor market.

"Growing expectations of value coupled with more options have rendered the higher education market vastly more competitive. To enhance our social impact mission of serving Colorado and Native students, we must find new ways to reach students and build a sustainable foundation for the future," said Dr. Tom Stritikus, president of Fort Lewis College. "This last year, our faculty and staff set a direction for Fort Lewis College and our engagement with Entangled Solutions will bring critical expertise and experience to accelerate the pace of change and best serve our graduates entering the workforce." 

Although the project has yet to kick off, leaders from Fort Lewis College and Entangled expect that the project will focus on attracting additional students to its rural campus by expanding online programs and building partnerships with employers and industry. Under the new leadership of Dr. Stritikus, faculty and staff at Fort Lewis College have taken steps to expand enrollment and increase revenue, notably securing accreditation for new online programs. 

Fort Lewis College's focus on serving indigenous people dates back more than a hundred years, through the creation of the Native American Tuition Waiver program. In 1910, in exchange for receiving ownership of the land from the federal government, the state of Colorado agreed to waive tuition for Native American Indian students, an agreement Colorado honors to this day. Located in close proximity to the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Apache, and Navajo Nations, Fort Lewis College is a major driver of social and economic advancement for regional tribal communities. 

"Small, rural colleges find themselves at a major crossroads today. They face an imperative—and an opportunity—to align their classic strengths with shifting student demographics and a new economy," said Paul Freedman, CEO of Entangled Group and principal consultant at Entangled Solutions. "With support, we believe that Fort Lewis College can serve as a lighthouse example for the renewal of rural colleges in postmodern America. We congratulate President Stritikus and his team for their winning bid—and their commitment to the spirit of innovation that has always defined higher education." 

Fort Lewis College's successful bid was the result of a competitive, national RFP process that included a thorough evaluation of the college's student outcomes, financial stability, strategic plan, and existing leadership team. 

A panel of national experts in higher education participated in the interview process. The Project Capstone Advisory Council includes Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance; Eric Darr, president of Harrisburg University; Helen Drinan, President of Simmons University; Jeffrey J. Selingo, Contributor to The Atlantic, Visiting Scholar at Georgia Institute of Technology; and Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College.

About Entangled Solutions

Entangled Solutions is an innovation and strategy consultancy for education. We develop solutions for academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, and private companies. Our services include innovation system creation, strategic planning, new program creation, go-to-market strategies, and partnership building. Our team includes education technology entrepreneurs, former institutional leaders, and education policy experts. Headquartered in San Francisco with team members in Austin, Boston and Washington, we support both U.S.-based and international organizations.

About Fort Lewis College

As the Four Corners' stronghold of academic excellence, Fort Lewis College blends small class sizes, an engaged faculty, and unparalleled research opportunities to help students earn college degrees and ultimately chase dreams. Guided by real-world experiences, our students develop critical thinking and communication skills and cross-cultural knowledge through multidisciplinary subjects that build on Fort Lewis College's unique location and resources, with signature programs focused on environmental studies, education, the health sciences, creative arts, and business administration. An education to live by is at Fort Lewis College.

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