Greetings on this first Friday of December and a belated happy Thanksgiving to all. Certainly Lewis-Clark State College is thankful for many things this holiday season.
First, Lewis-Clark State College is proud of and thankful for its rich and unique history. Reviewing our history in preparation for the college’s 125th anniversary on Jan. 27, 2018, it’s easy to see just how fortunate LCSC is to be standing on such a solid foundation today. The college was inauspiciously founded in 1893 in the middle of a national recession, it survived a devastating fire in 1917, lived through the Great Depression and two world wars and stormed back after being closed in 1951. The result of all these obstacles, setbacks, and hurdles is the tenacious, persevering, forward-thinking, can-do college you see today. Our history has been filled with both hardships and heroics, and today we’re the better for it all.
Of course, there was one constant through all of the troubled times mentioned above – the support of the community. It’s been said that the Lewis-Clark Valley would not be what it is today without Lewis-Clark State College, and it is certainly true that the college would not be what it is today were it not for the support of the community. From donating the land upon which it sits, to fighting to keep its doors open, to partnering with it in so many different ways, the relationship between LCSC, the community, and region has been and is something special.
An academic institution is only as good as its students and faculty, and we’ve been blessed to have our classrooms filled with wonderful teachers and learners each and every year. Yes, LCSC’s enrollment has grown by 20 percent over the past 10 years, but it has never been about numbers at Lewis-Clark State. It’s always been about the direct interaction and relationship between faculty and students – where the best and most meaningful learning takes place. Since our first graduating class of 17 female students in 1898, we’ve been blessed to serve thousands and thousands of students over the years from so many different backgrounds. Some were sons and daughters of Idaho’s earliest settlers, some were veterans of the World Wars, some were members of the Nez Perce Tribe, and some came to LCSC from across the globe. The list could go on, but suffice to say that today LCSC remains thankful for and proud of its diverse student body.
Many first generation students are on campus this year, in fact, this group makes up 76 percent of our total enrollment. LCSC has always had a high number of such students, but this year’s percentage is particularly high and we’re proud of it because it means that our affordability and strong reputation are continuing to attract students who may not have attended college otherwise. To celebrate this important piece of LCSC’s culture, we held our inaugural First-generation College Celebration on Nov. 8. It was a great event and I thank our TRIO program director Traci Birdsell, who recently received the Northwest Association of Educational Opportunity Program’s Pearl Hill Professional Award, for spearheading it.
LCSC is also thankful for the Idaho State Board of Education and the great faith it has in the college to help it achieve its important goals. From its crucial support of our efforts to build a brand new, $20 million Career & Technical Education facility, to its work today to find the next president of Lewis-Clark State College, the State Board members and staff are doing great work and we are grateful. Regarding the presidential search, the board had a team on campus on Nov. 13-15 and held a number of listening sessions with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members. I trust that many of you were able to participate in these meetings and provide your valuable input. A special webpage, which will include updates as the process unfolds, has also been developed for this purpose and can be found at www.lcsc.edu/presidential-search.
Last but certainly not least, Lewis-Clark State College is thankful for you. Without the invaluable support from our alumni and friends the college would not at all be the strong bastion of education that it is today.
I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and may this holiday season be the happiest of all.
J. Anthony Fernandez
President, Lewis-Clark State College