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CU Nursing & Fort Lewis College break ground on new hall for nursing.

Fort Lewis College Starts Construction on Nursing Facility

Historic Groundbreaking Solidifies CU Nursing Fort Lewis College Collaborative

Written by Molly Smerika on March 18, 2024

The University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus, together with Fort Lewis College, is taking a historic step in educating nurses in Southwest Colorado.


Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus speaks to students, faculty, and guests at the groundbreaking.

CU Nursing and Fort Lewis College officials attended a groundbreaking on March 13 for Skyhawk Hall, the future home of the CU Nursing Fort Lewis College Collaborative.

Skyhawk Hall will undergo $2.9 million dollars in upgrades and renovations to become a state-of-the-art facility, allowing students to receive high-tech training. The 5,000-square-foot building will have clinical space, a simulation lab, and a home-like setting.

“The work we’re doing here is going to be a national model not only to enhance the diversity of the nursing profession but to also, and more importantly, improve access to care for both rural and Indigenous communities,” CU Nursing Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Students Amy Barton, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, says. “I'm looking forward to integrating the high-tech learning environment that we will be building with relationship-centered care for individuals and families in the Four Corners community as we continue to boldly transform health together.”

“We came together with leadership and said, ‘We need a nursing program in Southwest Colorado’. And lo and behold, here we are,” Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus says. “When I think about what we want to try to do, as we thought about this program – this was about taking what we do at Fort Lewis, caring for students, being connected to our community.”

Focusing on Indigenous Healthcare


CU Nursing's Assistant Professor, Fara Bowler DNP, APRN, CHSE, chats with pre-nursing students.

The first cohort in the CU Nursing Fort Lewis College Collaborative will begin classes in 2025. Twenty-four students will be admitted to the first cohort. After completing one year of general courses, pre-nursing FLC students and recent FLC alums can apply to the CU Nursing program. The program will be taught by CU Nursing faculty.

“CU Nursing is the best of the best,” CU Nursing and Fort Lewis College Collaborative Director of Nursing Maggie LaRose, RN, MSN, says. “CU Nursing has 125 years of nursing education, and they’re who you think of when it comes to nursing excellence in Colorado. CU Nursing has so much knowledge on what it takes to train good nurses, and we can apply that to fit our population, students, and region.”

Bailey Martinez is a pre-nursing student at FLC. She’s from Bayfield, a town east of Durango, and wanted to be a nurse since high school.

“I’ve had family members who’ve been sick, and my mom is a nurse, so I felt like I wanted to help people and give back to my family and community,” she says. “I’m excited for this program. Since the program is so small, I’ll get to discover everything and get a better hands-on experience.”

“Everyone is so excited about it,” pre-nursing student Grace Hotsenpiller says. “Every time I tell someone I’m in the collaborative they’re so excited and are happy we have a nursing program here. I think it’s so cool.”


FLC President Tom Stritikus, Senior Assoc. Dean for Faculty & Students Amy Barton, CU Nursing Alumna Karen Zink, MSN, APRN, and Maggie LaRose, RN, MSN.

The collaborative combines CU Nursing’s high standard of nursing education with FLC’s knowledge in rural and Indigenous education.

“We have a unique population in the Four Corners area,” LaRose says. “We’re going to be intentional about trying to make sure we train nurses to serve the population that our nurses will work with once they graduate. When there are more nurses in the community, the community is healthier.”

The collaborative hopes to have students’ clinicals at regional hospitals, including in nearby Farmington and Shiprock, New Mexico.

“I love having our nurses being taught here because they’re invested in the community,” LaRose says. “It’s important to bring education to the community instead of telling people you need to go somewhere else. And, after graduation, they’re more likely to stay in our region.”

“I like being the first students because for future generations coming here, they can look up to us and say ‘You know what they did this program and it was new’, so I like that idea,” pre-nursing student Fayte Gamez says. “It makes us feel like we’re a part of something big.”

Skyhawk Hall will have a simulation space with several mannikins, a space that will look like a hospital room, a clinic space, and a home setting.

“We want to train our students for skills needed in our rural area, such as telehealth, so students are well prepared as nurses in these areas once they graduate,” LaRose says. “We want Skyhawk Hall to be as multi-use as possible so we were intentional with planning each space so we could maximize the space, every area in the Skyhawk Hall will be dedicated to training future nurses!”

Topics: Education