ASU Drops Online History Partnership After Controversy


In a July 5th email sent to the Adams State University (ASU) campus, President Beverlee McClure and Interim VP for Academic Affairs Matt Nehring outlined a series of 19 changes to be enacted during the summer and fall of 2017.  One notable item is ASU’s discontinuation of the partnership with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute (GLI).

As stated in the email, the university administration plans to:

“Discontinue the partnership with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute (July 2017). As per the agreement signed in 2014, ASU has provided the 120 day notice dissolving the partnership and will allow students to enroll in courses for Fall 2017, but enrollments will not extend beyond December 2017. Students who have enrolled in the M.A. Humanities: American History Emphasis can continue their degree directly with Adams State if they so choose.”


As Watching Adams reported on May 8th, the online MA in Humanities with a U.S. History Emphasis partnership was plagued by problems from the beginning.  This program was overseen by Dr. Ed Crowther, Chair of the Department of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, and Spanish.

Our report identified significant complications with registration and degree title discrepancies, transparency and communication disputes between GLI and ASU concerning the oversight of the program, and potential academic integrity violations (as raised by the Higher Learning Commission) with no deadlines for semester-based coursework.  These were apparent red flags with this degree program.

In an anonymous comment to Watching Adams dated July 11th, someone claiming to be an MA student in the GLI program described their experiences in the program by stating “the requirements are rigorous” but also concluding:

“I am glad for future participants in the program that the association with ASU is ending. Although I believe that I have received a quality education, that appears to be primarily because of the work Gilder Lehrman has put into it. Based upon my experience, I think ASU is a schlocky institution.”

On July 17th, another commentator added:

“That is exactly why the relationship between Gilder Lehrman and ASU has always been so questionable; in the way it was implemented and administered. Regardless of the rigor Gilder Lehrman offers in its own programs, they are not in the “business” of providing Master’s level diplomas. Similarly, ASU should not be attaching its name to Gilder Lehrman and claiming title of a rigorous Master’s level program. By doing so, it is nothing more and nothing less than a diploma mill.”


Additional proposed changes outlined in the July 5th email include:

  • Integrating academic oversight of Extended Studies coursework within each respective department
  • Transitioning print-based coursework to semester-based classes
  • Pausing low-enrolling graduate programs within the Department of Teacher Education and the Higher Education Administration & Leadership Program

During the summer of 2017, reports indicate that Dr. Crowther was removed from the position of chair for Teacher Education.