BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 5/8/17
In April 2017, a group of current and former Adams State University (ASU) employees and students anonymously released a chronology called Adams State University: A Chronicle of Decline to the Brink of Failure.
The document was sent on April 9th from an email address identified as “Billy Adams,” the deceased namesake credited with founding the college in 1921. It included a brief cover letter that explains, “while this is a compilation of years of a downward trend, recent events drove the release of this information in this format and further emphasized the urgency for call to action now.”
The 27-page document, detailing ongoing problems stemming back to around 2008, states that it was sent to various press outlets, local, state and federal officials, and regulatory agencies – including the Office of the Colorado Attorney General, Colorado State Legislative Audit Committee, Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the Higher Learning Commission.
DOCUMENTING A PATTERN OF SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS, RETRIBUTION
In the chronology’s introduction, it mentions “the historical trend towards failure, the lack of transparency, poor management, and a refusal by leaders to take responsibility for ASU’s current critical condition.”
The introduction explains, “This is a collective work representing more than 20 former and current ASU employees and students. Its authors remain anonymous because of a substantiated fear of retribution, many examples of which are documented here and still continue to this day. This chronology articulates the deep concerns of a community too fearful to speak out. If ASU does not make significant, systemic changes to the way it operates and to the way its leaders behave, then it will continue to decline to the point of failure.”
The document goes on to state, “We are all worried that if current leaders are allowed to continue their flawed trajectory, many ASU employees and their families will lose their jobs, their homes and their future prospects. The purpose of this document is reach out to decision-makers beyond ASU who can be apprised of these persistent, systemic problems and intercede. We are calling for those who have the power to institute much-needed change before ASU reaches the point of total failure.”
CONCLUDING REMARKS CALL FOR OUTSIDE INTERVENTION
Detailing ASU’s financial, academic, personnel and public relations problems, the report calls for outside intervention to address the structural deficiencies that the university’s current leadership seems incapable of solving.
The report concludes:
“Those currently leading the university have demonstrated an inability and unwillingness to effectively address the pressing concerns facing Adams State University. The Board of Trustees seems to be as incapable as Dr. McClure to alter ASU’s course. But if the Board can’t do it, then someone else from outside with the right skills and temperament needs to step forward.
Adams State University is too important to fail. For the economic, vocational, and cultural health of the San Luis Valley, the university’s role cannot be understated. Founded in 1921, ASU is among the central drivers of commerce and intellectual life in a region with high levels of poverty, homelessness, and limited opportunity. It is for this reason that ASU cannot be allowed to continue failing its students, its employees, and its community with persistently low graduation rates, escalating tuition and fees, deficit spending, high employee turnover, and a dwindling mission to serve the state education system of Colorado.
We hope this document galvanizes state government and the local community to work together to find solutions to ASU’s administrative and leadership problems before it is too late.”
See also: Supporting Documents for the Chronology