Fort Lewis College Seeks New President/Interim President Named

Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus (Courtesy: Fort Lewis College)

Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus is stepping down to become the President at Occidental College, a four-year liberal arts college in Los Angeles, Calif.  Steven Schwartz, Fort Lewis College’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, will serve as interim president effective May 6.    He will leave after this year’s Spring Commencement scheduled for Saturday, May 4.  

From Fort Lewis College

Update: Monday, April 1, 2024

Steven Schwartz, Fort Lewis College’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, will serve as interim president effective May 6. 

Last week, Tom Stritikus announced he was leaving the College after Commencement to lead Occidental College in Los Angeles. 

 “With a 27-year tenure of service to our College, Steve has the historical wisdom, financial acuity, political networks, and hard-earned trust of the Skyhawk community,” said Mary Rubadeau, chair of the FLC Board of Trustees, in an email to campus. “Steve will build upon our momentum as we launch the search for a permanent president.” 

 The recommendation comes after Rubadeau met with campus leaders, including faculty and staff, to discuss the characteristics needed for an outstanding interim president, she said. 

Rubadeau said that while President Stritikus leaves extremely big sneakers to fill, he developed a strong leadership structure and amplified faculty, staff, and student voices through a commitment to shared governance.  

 “Steve has been instrumental in the execution of our state legislative strategy, capital construction across campus, the creation of the mortgage assistance program, and many other important building blocks of FLC,” Rubadeau said. “What you may know less about is Steve’s steadfast commitment to students and our reconciliation work. Beyond the scenes, Steve has impacted and influenced every aspect of our campus.” 

 Schwartz has worked at FLC for almost 27 years, serving under seven presidents. He’s been in his current position for the last 22, leading the College with a focus on student learning and supporting faculty and staff.  

 Most recently, he created a mortgage assistance program to help employees achieve their dream of home ownership. 

 Schwartz holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky and his bachelor's degree from Fort Lewis College. 

 “I am humbled by the trustees’ decision and honored to serve Fort Lewis College in this new capacity,” Schwartz said. “Our students, faculty, staff and Board of Trustees are awesome and FLC is stronger than ever. I’m excited to continue our momentum as we search for a permanent president.”  

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

After six years at the helm of Fort Lewis College, President Tom Stritikus is stepping down to become the President at Occidental College, a four-year liberal arts college in Los Angeles, Calif.  

  He will leave after this year’s Spring Commencement scheduled for Saturday, May 4.  

   “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,” said Mary Rubadeau, chair of the FLC’s Board of Trustees.  

  “On behalf of the Trustees, I want to express our sincere appreciation for his outstanding and courageous leadership and acknowledge that we are stronger as a campus community as a result of his dedicated service.”  

   Rubadeau said the board will take immediate steps to convene and appoint an interim president and establish the framework and timeline for a presidential search.  

“In the spirit of shared governance, the Board of Trustees will announce opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to be involved in the selection process for a permanent successor.”  

 Stritikus joined FLC in August 2018. During his tenure, the College experienced dramatic increases in fundraising and embarked on a process to confront its history as a former boarding school.  

  Stritikus said he was excited about the new challenges he would face at Oxy, but the decision was bittersweet.  

  “I’ve loved every single day of serving as President of Fort Lewis College, getting to know the amazing students that make our community so special,” Stritikus said. “It’s been a tremendous honor to work with our faculty, staff, and trustees. Our team has made great strides in recent years, and I leave the College knowing that it’s in great hands to provide our students with the student-centered education they deserve.”  

   Steve Short, chair of the FLC Foundation Board and former trustee, said when Stritikus joined FLC, the College faced steep budget cuts and enrollment drops, contributing to declining morale among faculty, staff, and students.  

  “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.  

  “Tom approached his presidency with energy, enthusiasm, and passion, always committed to placing students first and foremost. Through his tireless leadership, he assembled a team across campus with a like-minded commitment to excellence. While his dedication and leadership will be missed, he leaves the College well-positioned for a vibrant future.”  

  Rubadeau agreed, adding that while saddened by Stritikus’ departure, the FLC Board of Trustees is thankful for the lasting impacts of his vision.  

   “His leadership resulted in new academic programs, extensive capital projects, increases in grant funding for innovation and workforce readiness, strong partnerships with Tribal, business, and community leaders, and strengthening campus culture,” she said.   

 “Looking ahead, we are filled with optimism and enthusiasm for the future of Fort Lewis College.” 

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