Root Routledge is a Durango resident who has audited eight different classes at Fort Lewis College from 2012-15. A class audit is when a resident who isn’t registered for classes sits in on lectures and keeps up with the readings, but isn’t graded on assignments or exams. He received a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University in 1968; a master’s in Statistics from Colorado State University in 1976; a master’s of Business Administration from the University of Montana in 1984; and a doctorate in Industrial Engineering from Oregon State University in 1991. The Independent sat down with Routledge for a Q & A regarding his experiences.
Editor’s Note: Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: How long have you lived in the Durango area?
A: I landed in Bayfield in 1994 and lived in Bayfield for 14 years. Most of what I was doing was in Durango, especially when I was coming to the college and stuff, with an hour-round trip. So eventually I discovered this house in Durango and ended up buying it and it’s a sweet ten minute walk to town.
Q: How long did you attend classes at FLC?
A: I last attended lectures in 2015. And I actually audited classes, where I didn’t do any assignments or tests or get a final grade, but I attended all the lectures and read all the articles and books for my own knowledge. I was there for a three-year period from 2012 to 2015. Sitting in some classes is pretty fun, and I love the millennial generation. I would be in college for four years, get a degree and go out and work for another four or five years and go back to college; it was always fun. So I was always close with the younger generations because I was never really far from them.
Q: What attracts you to higher education?
A: First of all, intellectual curiosity- I love to learn. I’ve done a bunch of stuff on my own from climate research and writing articles to running for congress, so I’m engaged in the community and what’s going on in the nation. But in the case of college, I like young folks and I like students and it’s fun to sit in classes and participate.
Q: What would you consider your favorite department or professor at Fort Lewis, and why?
A: After attending Philosophy Club in my own time for intellectual stimulation, and giving a few lectures in the philosophy department throughout the years, I would have to say Sarah Roberts-Cady is a real favorite. She really cares about her students and is very analytical and lays things out in very structured ways. Dugald Owen was a great professor as well, so really any of the philosophy people.
Q: You ran for a representative position in the Colorado General Assembly in 2016. Do you have any future political aspirations?
A: I actually ran in 2018 as well! The platform I was running on had the four main points of a healthy democracy, a healthy environment, a healthy population and a healthy economy. If we can just take care of these issues, we can completely fix all of our national problems and fix everything else. Like if we don’t put a price on carbon, our planet is toast. There is no coming back from that. If we don’t address those problems first, nothing else will matter because the planet will no longer be recognizable as we see it today. And we are losing our democracy fast. We have this charade in our political system right now that is so gerrymandered and so polluted with money that if we don’t fix it now, it will never be fixed.
Q: What advice would you give nontraditional students who are attending or considering attending classes? Any advice for the FLC student body as a whole?
A: To me, it’s a life journey, as opposed to you’re trying to get somewhere and you’re there. So I encourage students to not be in a rush in selecting a major .You don’t know or are sure what you want to study? Own it. There are so many general studies classes that you have to take anyway, that you should check things out and explore stuff. You may stumble across something you never knew about that may excite you! The other thing I would say is that there is no race. If there is a race, what’s the finish line? Before you get in a hurry to climb the ladder you want to make sure it is leaning against the right wall. If you’re going to spend eight years working up to middle management and once you get there and find out you hate everything about what you are doing, you should have given more thought to what you want. So explore what is out there, take a diversity of subjects and then get focused on something you really like. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for yourself.