BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 4/25/16
On April 14th, 2016, Adams State University (ASU) published a video by President Beverlee McClure in response to the recent sanction of ASU by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC placed ASU on academic probation in February 2016 after finding multiple compliance violations in the Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct of the university’s online coursework.
Dr. McClure’s video response was sent to students, staff and faculty in an all-campus email. Yet despite Dr. McClure’s October 20th 2015 email asserting “under my leadership, Adams State University will remain as open and transparent as possible,” this is an unlisted video link which does not appear on the official ASU YouTube channel and will not appear in online search results. Watching Adams has embedded the video for public viewing here:
Upon review, one ASU staff member said, “Watching this video infuriated me more. Now our President is a talking head. Why is she so afraid to walk around campus and engage with people in spontaneous dialogue? Is that too much to ask?”
Another ASU staff member went into more detail: “I keep hearing that the only reason ASU is on probation is because of findings in distance learning. Why doesn’t somebody say that? … Something to the extent of, ‘there were no negative findings for any of our on-campus programs,’ would go a long way to reassure on-campus students. President McClure continues to address faculty, staff, and students as if we are stupid, saying, ‘Adams State University will not be on probation in the very near future.’ Sounds good. When? Give us a date. A month, a year, two years?”
An ASU student responded with similar observations: “Dr. McClure’s actions seem a bit late if she was planning on doing this all along. She should have done a video when she was throwing a parade for herself. As for the video itself, I think it is all very vague. In it, she tries to blame other people to make Adams look not as guilty. That’s like saying ‘yes, I stole something, but look at all of these other people who stole! People do it all the time, so really it’s not that bad that I did it, too.’ And, like everything McClure does, she only tells us to trust her and her word. It was one minute of avoiding blame. Again.”
The student continued: “Also, by the way, one of my teachers showed it to our class, and told us that we had nothing to worry about. He said that it was like a student getting put on academic probation. Which, like, I understand, but I still think academic probation is something to worry about. I’ve still seen students get kicked out because they weren’t able to get off of academic probation, and I’m not sure if I have faith in the school, or Beverlee McClure to actually acknowledge what they’re doing wrong. Maybe they’ll do only what is necessary, but nothing more. So I’m sure this will be a problem again in the future.”
Via the online social networking app Yik Yak, users in the Alamosa area shared similar concerns:
One former faculty member stated, “This was pretty much a predictable marketing statement. She is very clever in minimizing the effects of probation. I’m not sure it will sway any students or parents who are having doubts about Adams State. She might have addressed why and how Adams failed to be in compliance and what they are doing to turn things around. This was simply a ‘rah-rah, GO Grizzlies!’ marketing piece.”
One former staff member stated, “McClure’s recent defensive YouTube video about HLC’s academic probation sanction draws more negative publicity which we do not need. It is clear that the President repeatedly does not know what to say and when to say it. However, at least this video of hers received more views than she ever did while heading ACI (NM Association of Commerce & Industry) in Albuquerque. Hardly anyone viewed her YouTube posts in New Mexico.”
Upon review by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Colorado Conference, several of the officers shared their concerns.
Dr. Jonathan Rees, CO AAUP Co-President, said, “If I were a student at Adams State, I’d start panicking immediately because [Dr. McClure] never describes what the actual problem is. Students just have to take her word that everything will be okay and that’s not an attitude that smart adults should respect.”
Dr. Ross McConnell, CSU Campus Chapter Co-President, observed: “I’m not surprised that University of Phoenix was one of the [universities on probation], given their history of shady practices, so citing them does not make a convincing case that this kind of thing happens all the time, as [Dr. McClure] seems to want to imply. She says, ‘If you plan to go to grad school, this won’t impact you in any way at all.’ It seems unclear, given the negative national publicity around the case, that grad school applications won’t be impacted.”
An ASU staff member shared similar thoughts, objecting to Dr. McClure “throwing some other universities under the bus.” They said, “I only want to hear about other programs on probation if I know why they are on probation. Just the fact that they were on probation does not make me feel better about our probation.”
In addition to this video release, ASU hosted a “Pizza with the President” event on April 20th, 2016 in an attempt to answer further questions that students may have. Some administrators have visited classrooms to answer questions, as well. The results thus far have been mixed or underwhelming. For more student reactions to ASU’s academic probation, see ASU Students Discuss Academic Probation on Yik Yak.