BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 8/30/17
A credit downgrade and state-mandated financial audit due to rising debts, two year probation for violations of academic integrity, and now Adams State University is under review from the U.S. Department of Education. According to the August 10th letter addressed to President Beverlee J. McClure, the university is scheduled for an on-site Program Review by the DOE in September.
The letter states, “This review will assess Adams’ administration of the Title IV, HEA programs in which it participates. The review initially will cover the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 award years, but may be expanded if appropriate. The Department of Education considers the administration of the Title IV, HEA programs to be an institution-wide effort”.
The letter explains that the DOE review will include the Financial Aid office, Registrar office, Academic office, Admissions office, and Fiscal/Business office. The review will also inspect ASU’s compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, and the Department’s General Administrative Regulations.
This notification was carbon copied to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In response, ASU has provided a list of required documents by the August 28th deadline. The DOE’s on-site Program Review is scheduled for September 18th – 22nd.
EXTENSIVE REVIEWS, HUNDREDS PERFORMED EACH YEAR
According to a source familiar with program reviews by the Department of Education, they are typically conducted about every 10-15 years.
The DOE’s Federal Student Aid division states “As part of its oversight duties, Federal Student Aid routinely conducts program reviews to confirm that a school meets FSA requirements for institutional eligibility, financial responsibility, and administrative capability. During a program review, reviewers evaluate the school’s compliance with FSA requirements, assess liabilities for errors in performance, and identify actions the school must take to improve its future administrative capabilities”.
According to their website, the DOE reviewed 141 Federal Student Aid-eligible institutions during the 2016 fiscal year. 337 institutions were reviewed in 2015, 187 were reviewed in 2014. and 210 were reviewed in 2013.
REACTIONS OF SERIOUS CONCERN ACROSS CAMPUS
One current ASU employee familiar with these issues said, “this is way worse than the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)” – referring to the ongoing review of the university by its accreditor after being placed on academic probation in February 2016.
Another ASU employee remarked, “I’d be really concerned if I’d received that request from the DOE! It seems really extensive”.
One former employee familiar with student services predicted, “This is the Department of Education. They don’t care about small town politics and I can only imagine their thoughts (much like former VPAA Dr. Gilmer’s outside consultant) and the looks on their faces when they see things at ASU that make no sense and which no other institution practice. There will be no mercy”.
Another former ASU employee familiar with university finances said, “I looked at the documents requested and I know they had a hard time finding all of this. Very few people even within these departments know where these documents are. In my opinion, things are about to get real. The DOE is not going to accept ‘no’ or ‘we can’t find these documents’ as an answer. I’m definitely going to be staying tuned for this one”.
A source familiar with institutional reporting said, “It’s a pain. And ASU will fail because of Extended Studies. We tried to do the best job with the cards we were dealt but Extended Studies has always been a mess”.
In January 2017, Watching Adams ran a series of articles analyzing ASU compensation and online enrollment data. The reports detailed ASU’s pattern of intentional coursework overloads, additional compensation more than doubling the salaries of a few faculty, potential cronyism and nepotism, and questionable compensation packages for administrators.