BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 8/20/18
In an effort to continue tracking high levels of employee turnover at Adams State University (ASU), Watching Adams has identified at least 45 full time employees who departed the institution during the 2017-2018 academic year. Several additional employees remain on temporary contracts or have been shifted to teaching only in online programs as their on-campus faculty positions are eliminated.
This year’s employee departures come after at least 17 faculty departures in 2015-2016 and at least 40 employee departures in 2016-2017 – with over 100 employees departing during the past 3 academic years. The university employs approximately 450 full time faculty, staff, and administrative positions according to their website.
HIGH TURNOVER FROM FINANCIAL LOSSES
The ongoing loss of employees coincides with declines in student enrollment and retention – an 11% drop during this same time period. The university’s six-year graduation rate is 25.7% lower than the state average.
On April 6th, 2018, the Board of Trustees announced the cutting of 27 positions and the reduction of salaries and terms of existing contracts as part of their Financial Action Plan. The university also released a list of the eliminated and reduced positions.
The stated reason for these staffing cuts was to “to restore fiscal health” and the Board had previously stated in August 2017 that “attrition” was among the methods to “achieve savings.” This led to a widespread perception that ASU was implementing a sort of “Hunger Games” to pit employees against one another for survival in dire fiscal straits.
DEPARTING PRESIDENT AND UPPER ADMINISTRATORS
After Dr. Beverlee McClure’s short-lived presidency, often marred by needless controversies and personnel turmoil, the Board of Trustees placed her on administrative leave in February 2018 and accepted her resignation in April 2018. After Dr. Matt Nehring served as the acting president, Dr. Cheryl Lovell was hired in June 2018 to serve as the interim president.
In addition, several other upper administration and support staff were also cut or resigned during the 2017-2018 academic year. These include Chief Operators Officer Kurt Cary, Executive Assistant to the President/Board of Trustees James Trujillo, and Assistant to the President for Communications Julie Waechter.
Several directors resigned or their positions were eliminated, including Director of Student Life and Recreation Aaron Miltenberger, Director of Counseling & Career Services Elisabeth Tomlin, Facilities Services Director Scott Travis, and Public Relations and Marketing Director Mark Schoenecker.
DEPARTING FACULTY AND STAFF
A number of department chairs and many faculty resigned, retired, or their positions were eliminated in 2017-2018. This includes the Chair of English, Theatre and Communications David MacWilliams, Chair of History, Anthropology, Political Science, Philosophy, Spanish Ed Crowther, Art Department Chair Claire van der Plas, and Human Performance & Phys Ed Chair “Beez” Lea Ann Schell.
In addition to these department chairs, at least 14 faculty members departed ASU during the previous academic year.
Staff reductions and resignations affected many areas of campus during the previous academic year, with notable gaps in library staffing, admissions, academic advising, and student services.
CUTS FOR MANY, RAISES FOR SOME
Despite years of faculty and staffing cuts, employee attrition and constructive dismissal, as well as the elimination of some administrative positions in the name of financial exigency, other positions have seen an ongoing rise in compensation.
A recent review of 2018-2019 administrator salaries found that among eight administrative positions alone, over $75,000 in raises were given. These include an additional $11,376 (13%) to Assistant Vice President Academic Affairs Margaret Doell, $15,780 (16%) to Chief Financial Officer Heather Heersink and $15,972 (16%) to Chief Information Officer Kevin Daniel.
One former staff reflected back on the years of high employee turnover by stating, “After looking through this list, I can’t help but think back to the comments made by individuals saying, ‘there’s only a small handful of unhappy people and once they leave we can go back to normalcy.’ This list is evidence of the exact opposite. And the reality of the matter is, I know many current employees who continue to actively seek employment elsewhere.”
The former employee continued, “I also continue to wonder how the community members and leaders truly feel about ASU’s situation. Due to the nature of ASU being a large employer, those employees are living, working, and spending in the San Luis Valley. As more and more employees leave ASU, it continues to have an impact on its surrounding community. What are their thoughts on ASU cutting jobs/budget and giving themselves raises?”
Upon information and belief as compiled during July and August 2018, the following 45 full-time employees departed ASU during the previous academic year:
Robert Astalos (Professor of Physics)
George Backen (Professor of Philosophy)
Rosanna Backen (Access Service and Distance Learning Librarian)
Jared Beeton (Professor of Earth Sciences)
Renee Beeton (Associate Professor of Chemistry)
Liz Bosworth (First Year Immersion Coordinator, Student Life and Recreation)
Kurt Cary (Chief Operations Officer)
Miguel Chaparro (Office of Admissions, Transfer Coordinator)
Debbie Chapman (Student Success Center)
Stuart Church (Instructor of Mathematics)
Ed Crowther (HAPPSS Department Chair)
Yaël Defaye (System Admin, Computing Services)
Taylor Dunne (Assistant Professor of Mass Communication)
Roger Eriksen (Art Department Faculty)
Tracey Greeman (Extended Studies)
Richard Goddard (Professor of History & Archaeology)
Logan Hansen (IT Professional, Computing Services)
Stephanie Hensley (Teacher Education Department)
William Herrmann (Assistant Professor of Accounting, School of Business)
Larry Hunt (Head Coach Women’s Basketball)
Matthew Ikle (Professor of Mathematics)
Sally Kelly (Administrative Assistant, Office of Admissions)
Diane Lee (Associate Athletic Director)
Alexey Leontyev (Assistant Professor of Chemistry)
David MacWilliams (English, Theatre, Communications Department Chair)
Jacqueline Martinez (Office of Registrar)
Lori Martinez (Teacher Education Staff)
Beverlee McClure (President)
Mae Mercadante (Admissions Counselor, Office of Admissions)
Aaron Miltenberger (Director of Student Life and Recreation)
Kristina Mouzakis (Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology)
Kateri Reeves (Teacher Education Department Admin)
Regina Rice (Music Department Admin Assistant)
Michaela Romero (Academic Advisor, Student Support Services)
Tony Romero (Teacher Education Department Faculty)
“Beez” Lea Ann Schell (Human Performance & Phys Ed Chair)
Mark Schoenecker (Director of Public Relations and Marketing)
Eileen Tilton (HAPPSS Department Admin Assistant)
Elisabeth Tomlin (Director, Counseling & Career Services)
Scott Travis (Director of Facilities Services)
James Trujillo (Exec. Assistant to the President/Board of Trustees)
Nicole Trujillo (Electronics Resources, Discovery Librarian)
Claire Van der Plas (Department Chair, Associate Professor of Art)
Julie Waechter (Assistant to the President for Communications)
Jeremy Yeats (Associate Professor, HPPE Department)
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