The Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees approved a new mission statement for the school Friday that drops the words liberal arts, but school officials say, captures the essence of what it means to be a liberal arts institution.
The new mission statement of the school is: “Students are at the center of Fort Lewis College, where we create inclusive, experiential learning environments that foster innovation, growth and community engagement.”
The statement and a new set of core values was unanimously approved by the trustees and backed by groups that represent the college’s faculty and students.
The new mission will replace the statement: “Fort Lewis College provides an integrated and formative liberal arts and professional education to a diverse student population, preparing global citizens to work in and contribute to a complex world.”
The appointed task force of faculty and staff that drafted the new statement didn’t want to use liberal arts to define the school because it would be redundant, said Michael Martin, a history professor who participated in the committee.
“You can’t define a word with the word,” he said.
The new statement is also in line with the school’s new strategic plan, which emphasizes introducing students to experiences intended to keep them engaged in school, said Provost Cheryl Nixon. The strategic plan also sets goals to turn around the school’s declining enrollment and increase retention.
Like the strategic plan, the mission statement is action-oriented, she said.
“They wanted it to be much more focused on, ‘What do you do with this education,’ rather than just using ... a label for the education,” she said of the task force’s reasoning.
To help keep students engaged, Nixon said she wants to build on the first-year launch courses that started this fall. The one-credit hour classes focus on sparking students’ curiosity, encouraging students to have relationships with professors and increasing their awareness of services on campus.
Nixon said she wants to put similar experiential learning opportunities in place for all sophomores by next fall and ensure students interested in attending FLC are connected to social groups on campus. FLC has plenty of opportunities for students to get involved, but she wants to ensure they are systematically offered, she said.