Fort Lewis College is raising private funds to purchase a river rafting company, which would be used by faculty and students for academic and recreational trips.
If the deal goes through, the college would own the company, including its river permits and equipment, said Mitch Davis, spokesman for the college.
“It was really somebody who knew somebody who said, ‘Hey, this might be something that’s good for Fort Lewis,’” said Vice President of Advancement Mark Jastorff.
The company is not local to Durango, Davis said, adding that FLC would not be competing with other river companies in town because the purpose is for students and faculty trips rather than as a commercial outfitter.
Expanding student access to river trips draws on FLC’s unique location, and the college would like to use the program to attract more students. This comes at a time when the administration is scrambling to increase enrollment.
The purchase would give FLC exclusive permits to launch on the Chama and San Juan rivers in New Mexico, and the Salt River in Arizona.
Logistics are not final yet, but multiple academic departments would be able to use the program.
A crowdfunding campaign has begun with a goal of raising $25,000. In addition, $25,000 has been pledged by a private donor as a match to the crowdfunding goal.
The total goal is $100,000, and additional funds will be solicited from private donors. The deal is still under negotiation, so the school does not have a final buying price, Jastorff said.
The college started looking into the idea about a year ago and has since studied its financial feasibility. A few schools have comparable programs, one being Prescott College in Arizona, Jastorff said.
The project is being spearheaded by the FLC Foundation, the college’s fundraising branch.
“This is about creating unique opportunities and to expand our access so that we can fully integrate our location’s amazing offerings into our academic curriculum and student-life programs, which helps with recruitment and retention,” Jastorff said.
“The idea of having a resource that would integrate into majors from across campus, and that provides additional chances for our students to fully appreciate what the Southwest has to offer, would make Fort Lewis College a stronger choice to live and learn,” he said.