ASU Graduation Rate 26% Lower than State Average


In an August 26th Valley Courier article, the headline touted “Adams State graduation rates are up“.  The article leads with the good news: “Adams State University’s graduation rate for their six-year cohort for 2010 is up 1.5 percent from the 2009 data. In comparison, the state average is down .3 percent”.  But nowhere does the article mention the much larger number – ASU’s six-year graduation rate is 25.7% lower than the state average as shown on the same chart.



According to recently-released data of the 2010 cohort, ASU’s four-year graduation rate is only 15.3%.  And in six years, only 34.2% of students will graduate with a degree.  The same data shows the statewide average for six-year degree completion at 59.9%.

When compared to the 2009 cohort, ASU’s 2010 rate has improved from the 32.9% figure – a 1.5% increase.  But at this rate, it will take over 17 years for Adams State to catch up to the state average for six-year graduation rates.

While ASU is recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the university also graduates Hispanic students at about half the rate of the state average.


Given how misleading the Valley Courier’s reporting of this data has been presented, one former employee noted that Karla Hardesty, ASU’s Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management “must have read How to Lie with Statistics“.

Another observer noted, “Given the data set presented at the Board of Trustees meeting indicates ASU’s graduation rates are over 25% below average, identifying a 1.5% graduation rate increase as the most significant finding fit to print in the Valley Courier is a troubling development.  A 1.5% change is statistical noise which means next to nothing.  Being 25.7% below the state average is a much bigger, and more distressing, number to report”.

One employee said, “Hardesty’s report and the Valley Courier’s coverage continue the trend that led ASU to our current dismal state. They focus on tiny bits of good news while ignoring the icebergs in ASU’s path. You can’t steer the ship effectively by talking about the pretty birds and pretending the icebergs don’t exist.”

A former faculty member also wondered, “how is it possible that one of Colorado’s premiere HSI’s is underperforming to the tune of 20% when it comes to Hispanic students?  This gap is even worse (35%) when one compares ASU Hispanics with Whites attending CO schools. You’ll also notice that the gap between Hispanics and Whites gets worse over time. ASU does a terrible job of serving Hispanics in their first 4 years, but does arguably worse in serving them in years 5 and 6”.

They continued, “In my mind, this is related to retention of staff and faculty. If after four years you’ve witnessed nearly half of the professors you grew to trust and respect leave, then why would you stay? After all, it’s the staff and faculty that you look up to. They might not be saying, ‘Go somewhere else’ but in leaving, they are certainly sending a clear message”.

The former faculty member concluded by stating, “The solution to dismal graduation rates begins with improving the retention rates of faculty and staff. However, it seems President McClure is moving in the exact opposite direction by publicly promoting attrition and retirement amongst ASU’s ranks as a means of saving money. At this point, the only attrition that could potentially save ASU from ruin would be the retirement of President McClure herself!”


UPDATED 8/29/17: An earlier version of this article incorrectly included a paragraph detailing graduation rates from Colorado public high schools, as published by the Colorado Department of Education.  That information has been removed.