Adams State sees growth in retention, student credit load

Adams State University is making progress in two key areas that contribute to degree completion: first-year student retention and student credit load. The university also set another record in graduate student enrollment: 969, a three percent increase from last year.

More enrollment stats:

  • 10%: increase in persistence of first-time, full-time students
  • 2,993: total enrollment – down 3.4 percent from last year
  • 13.47: average student credit hours (SCH), up from 13
  • 49%: of all students are first-generation to attend college

Undergraduate racial background:

  •  43% white
  •  32.5% Hispanic
  •  24.5% Other races/ethnicities or unknown

Freshman Class:

  • 41% received merit scholarships – new record
  • 40% Identify as Hispanic – new record
  • 30% from SLV

Read more.


HLC accreditation reaffirmation gains momentum

Adams State University is embarking on the process of comprehensive evaluation for reaffirmation of regional accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).  Adams State’s site visit will occur during the 2016-17 academic year. A website with complete information is being developed.

Dr. Frank Novotny, VP of Academic Affairs and chair of the HLC Steering Committee, recently told the Adams State Trustees this process will be “Our chance to shine.” He noted the university is two years ahead in preparing for the visit, compared to the last reaccreditation effort. HLC changed its process from previous reaccreditations, Novotny added, and faculty and staff from all areas of campus will be participating.

The ten-year, cyclic process concludes with a Comprehensive Evaluation in Year 10. The process has two components: Assurance Review, which occurs twice during the cycle, and the Quality Initiative, which is designed to meet the particular institution’s current needs or aspirations. Adams State’s initiative is “Focus on Finishing at ASU.”

HLC has designated five Criteria for Accreditation, each with a set of core components. Subcommittees are being formed for each criterion, as well as for Campus & Community Engagement

Adams State’s HLC Steering Committee:

  • Dr. Frank Novotny, VP Academic Affairs, Steering Committee Chair
  • Dr. Dave Svaldi, President
  • Dr. Matt Nehring, chair, Criterion 1: Mission
  • Dr. Michael Mumper, chair, Criterion 2: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  • Margaret Doell, chair, Criterion 3: Teaching & Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
  • Dr. Beez Schell, chair, Criterion 4: Teaching & Learning: Evaluation & Improvement:
  • Kevin Daniel and Carol Smith, chairs, Criterion 5: Resources, Planning, & Institutional Effectiveness
  • Walter Roybal
  • Andrea Benton-Maestas
  • Ken Marquez
  • Traci Bishop
  • Karla Hardesty, chair, Campus/Community Engagement
  • Jen Stoughton

Academic Affairs Fellowships

The Office of Academic Affairs created two Fellowship positions to give continuity to Adams State’s efforts through the cycle. Dr. Beez Schell, chair of the Department of HPPE, was named the Assessment Fellow; and Dr. Leslie Alvarez, assoc. professor of psychology, was named the Fellow for Faculty Development. Both positions are two-year, half-time appointments.

As the Assessment Fellow, Schell is the lead on the annual academic program assessments and will also work with non-academic departments on assessment (student affairs, business office, enrollment management, etc). She also serves on the Quality Improvement Committee and conducts the annual general education assessment.

As the Faculty Development Fellow, Alvarez chairs the Faculty Development Committee (FDC) and will develop evaluation tools and compile evaluation data. She also plans and facilitates New Faculty Orientation and oversees the faculty development budget.

HLC Liaison

Dr. Mary Vanis, ASU’s HLC Liaison, will visit campus next month to meet with the steering committee. She served as an HLC peer reviewer and team chair for over 25 years before joining the staff as Vice President for Accreditation Relations in 2014. As a peer reviewer, Dr. Vanis participated in more than 30 evaluation visits, working with community colleges, tribal colleges, and private colleges and universities.

Beyond her work in accreditation, Vanis has over 30 years of experience in higher education as an administrative, instructional and student services leader. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska, and a Doctor of Education from Northern Arizona University.

Public meeting on higher ed funding

The first in a series of public outreach meetings on a new funding formula for Colorado public higher education will be held on campus:

Wednesday, Oct. 1
6-8 p.m.
SUB 130

Earlier this year, the Colorado legislature passed and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 14-1319, which charges the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) with developing a new base funding formula to allocate state general fund dollars among the state’s public institutions of higher education. The CCHE must also recommend tuition policies that ensure both accessible and affordable higher education for Colorado residents. The new funding model will be implemented in the 2015-16 academic year.

The meetings, to be held across the state, are facilitated by the Keystone Center and Engaged Public. The CCHE wants to hear from students, parents, higher education faculty, administrators, and staff, representatives from K-12, business leaders, elected officials, and others interested in higher education in Colorado within the context of what the bill requires. Input from the regional outreach meetings will be synthesized and shared with the CCHE to help inform the design of the new base funding formula.

Read more.

Trustees amend Anti-discrimination Policy

At its Aug. 28 meeting, the Board of Trustees for Adams State University unanimously amended the university Anti-discrimination Policy to expand on the sexual orientation section. The policy now reads:

The University prohibits and will not tolerate discrimination that violates federal or state law or this policy. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation including transgender status and gender expression, veteran status, or disability. The University complies with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Rehabilitation 11 4 Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Executive Order 11246, sections 24-34-301, C.R.S. et seq. and the Trustee Policy Manual.


Two new Title V grants support education access

Coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month, Adams State was awarded two grants to improve educational access for Hispanics.

Title V for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI’s) awarded $3,196,636 over five years for a cooperative project led by University of New Mexico-Taos, “UNIDOS: Building Pathways to Access and Opportunity for the Upper Rio Grande Region.” It is designed to offer new online degrees and promote student retention and graduation among ASU, UNM-Taos (2-yr college), and New Mexico Highlands Univ.

Adams State will receive $841,470, divided fairly equally over the grant period, according to Grant Specialist Tawney Becker. The grant will fund a full-time designer/trainer in distance pedagogy, a new lecture capture system among other distance technology upgrades, professional development for faculty in distance pedagogy, and online degree development, and other collaborative efforts. Inter-library loan and other digital library services will also be improved.

Another Title V program, the Department of Education’s Promoting Post-baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) program, awarded Adams State $2,838,865 over five years to expand education opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students. The grant amount for the first year is $574,327.

To improve the four-year master’s degree attainment rate for Hispanic and low-income students by 15% over the grant period, the project focuses strategically on three project goals, which will ground the creation of the Graduate Support Center (GSC) and establish a campus and an online presence that supports graduate student success:

  1. Graduate Student Support Services
  2. Financial Support for Graduate Students
  3. Faculty and Staff Learning Communities

For the first time, ASU graduate students, and Hispanic and low-income students in particular, will have comprehensive graduate center services and staff dedicated to assisting them in navigating graduate student life and the path to master’s completion.

For the first time, ASU graduate students, and Hispanic and low-income students in particular, will have comprehensive graduate center services and staff dedicated to assisting them in navigating graduate student life and the path to master’s completion.

The PPOHA grant-writing team included Dr. Michael Mumper, Lillian Gomez, Dr. Melissa Freeman, and Tawney Becker.



Campus Improvement Update

$5.8 Million awarded for East Campus renovation

ASU received $5.8 million in state capital construction funds to complete renovation of the East Campus. According to Bill Mansheim, VP for Finance & Governmental Relations, the next step is to hire an architectural firm to develop a program plan on how to best utilize the facility and grounds. Campus forums to solicit input will be announced. Details.

  • Richardson Hall’s renovation is moving right along. Carpet and paint are finished in some offices. The interior blends the traditional architecture with a contemporary office environment. One change is an expansion of the main lobby to admit more light.
  • The Plachy pool renovation has been funded; now in process of hiring architech/engineering consultants.

Join in inclusive excellence

ASU CIELO (Community for Inclusive Excellence, Opportunity and Engagement) invites all interested faculty staff to its working group meetings, held the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month from 8 – 8:50 a.m. in McDaniel Hall 208.

  • CIELO’s Kindred Spirits Luncheons are open to all.
  • 12:10-12:50 p.m.
    La Mesa Dining Room

Grab a tray, some (complimentary) lunch, and join in these informative and interactive discussions and lectures. Next luncheon:

October 17, 2014
The Common Reading Experience Book Discussion: The Other Wes Moore, a memoir
Lead by Carol Smith, Director of Nielsen Library

Videos of the dynamic presentations by Dr. Mario Rivas and Tom Brown during the all-campus new academic year meeting and the New Student Orientation are available  on the ASU Youtube site to review, refresh, or be newly inspired by their messages about how to celebrate and achieve our educational mission.

What on EARTH?

  • The EARTH Group (Environmental Action for Resources, Transportation, and Health) announces its glass recycling trailer is again available. It is an enclosed white trailer located between the ropes course and the river, accessible behind Trinity Lutheran Church.
  •  Glass Recycling Rules
  • All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to participate in EARTH, which now meets the second Tuesday of each month at noon in the Student Life Center, 1st floor SUB.
  • EARTH website

Get moving, with Empower U

Empower U’s mission is to empower members of the Adams State University community to improve lifelong wellness by increasing opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health. The group organizes weekly exercise groups in pursuit of this goal. Empower U blog


Empower U Exercise Groups 2014-2015


  • Skateboarding Group: Mondays, 3:30 p.m., Campus Green
  • Table Tennis Group: Mondays, 4:30 p.m, East Campus Multipurpose Room
  • Yoga Group: Mondays, 5 p.m, East Campus Gym
  • Walking Group:Wednesdays, noon, meet at Ole Mosie statue (in front of Rex Activity Center)
  • Basketball Group: Thursdays, noon, Rex Activity Center
  • Bicycling Group: Fridays at noon at meet at Ole Mosie statue (in front of Rex Activity Center)

Common Reading Experience welcomes author Oct. 24

The Common Reading Experience book selection for this year is The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore.

The Common Reading Experience Program engages the campus and community in a shared intellectual experience through year-long programming.

The author will speak on Campus Friday, Oct. 24. Details will be available soon.

2014-2015 Common Reading Experience Committee

  •     Bob Affeldt, English
  •    Masood Ahmad, Student Engagement and Success
  •    Kristy Duran, Biology
  •    Jess Gagliardi, AAA101
  •    Maddie Mansheim, student representative
  •    Kat McLaughlin, student representative
  •    Gustavo Plascencia, Art
  •    Nick Saenz, History
  •    Carol Smith, Committee Chair, Nielsen Library

Autumn@Adams wraps another successful week

The Autumn@Adams Committee appreciates the support shown by the Adams State campus throughout Autumn@Adams Week, September 8 – 13. The committee hosted several events to compliment the 2014 theme, Great Expression/Gran Expresión.

The events require collaboration from many departments across campus, said committee chair Linda Relyea. Faculty and staff from several areas stepped up to assist in preparing the activities, and the success of each event depended on the cooperation.

 Autumn@Adams Committee

  • Shirley Atencio
  • Jenny Gawronski
  • Stephanie Lewis
  • Aubrey Lucero
  • Rodney Martinez
  • Jenna Neilsen
  • Mark Pittman
  • Linda Relyea
  • Kevin Ruybal
  • David Svaldi
  • James Trujillo

Vistas Restaurant reopens

Vistas has reopened in the Rex Stadium. Be sure to stop by and enjoy the amazing views while filling up on your favorite wings, dogs, and specialty pizza OR satisfy that sugar craving with a deep fried Twinkie or Oreo cookie.

3rd floor of Rex Stadium
Monday through Friday
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Cyberbullying revisited

ASU’s Department of Counselor Education, in cooperation with the Megan Meier Foundation, will once more host a presentation by Tina Meier, who raises awareness of cyberbullying and the damage it can cause.

“Cyberbullying in Our Children’s Environment
Tuesday, October 7
5:30 p.m.
Alamosa High School auditorium

This is a free community presentation open to the public in which Meier will share her personal story and struggles of cyberbullying with students and parents. Meier’s daughter, Megan, took her own life at the age of 13, due to the actions of cyberbullies. Megan’s story will be shared along with the topics of bullying, bystanders, digital footprints, cyberbullying, and sexting. This presentation will provide up-to-date information about the dangers children face online as well as offline.

For more information contact Dr. Cheri Meder at 719-587-8368.

Faculty Development news

If you would like to plan an event or have a suggestion for faculty/staff development, please contact Dr. Leslie Alvarez.

The Faculty Development Committee, chaired by Dr. Leslie Alvarez, includes the following members:

  • Dr. Anicia Alvarez – Teacher Education
  • Bob Affeldt – English, Theater, Communication
  • Tyler Eagan/Stacy Davis, Academic Instructional Technology
  • Karen Lemke – College Readiness Programs
  • Dr. Penny Sanders – Counselor Education
  • Dr. Beez Schell – HPPE – Mentoring Program Coordinator
  • Anna Torello – Title V


Professional & Scholarly Activities

  • The Counselor Education Department faculty recently had several presentations accepted for the semi-annual Rocky Mountain Association Counselor Education Supervision regional conference. Dr. Cheri Meder will conduct an educational session covering her research comparing online and on-campus learners titled, “Where do Online Learners Stack Up?”
    She and Dr. Brandon Wilde will present, “Promoting a Unified Approach to Programmatic Assessment Utilizing the 2009 CACREP Standards,” discussing the Counselor Education comprehensive assessment plan currently being utilized to assess student learning.
    Dr. Laura Bruneau will present “Growing one page at a time: Using reading in counselor education.”
    Bruneau will join Dr. Penny Sanders, Dr. Theresa O’Halloran, and Dr. Lori Notestine in the panel discussion” “Women of a certain age.” Sanders will also attend the AGLBTIC Conference, where she will present “From Stonewall to Marriage Equality: Stories of Personal, Professional, and Societal Development.”
  • Aaron A. Abeyta, professor of English, recently had his latest book, Letters from the Headwaters, published by University Press of Colorado. Through epistolary essays and poems, the volume captures the soul of the cultural and geographical crossroads of the driest quadrant in the nation, the Colorado Headwaters, source to all the rivers in the southwestern and mid-western United States. Originating from and expanding on the themes of twenty-five years of “Headwaters” conferences at Western State Colorado University, these essays and poems embrace the region’s past while also exploring the struggles of a present that seeks a sustainable future for the borderlands that define the very cross-cultural essence of the American experience. The book is available from University Press of Colorado.
  • Dr. Rob Benson, professor of geology and earth science, was invited to contribute in a technical presentation at the Geological Society of America at their national meeting in Vancouver, Canada, as a result of his engagement as a geologist in education and outreach at Adams State University, and as an advocate of the STEM through his efforts through the Ryan Geological Museum.
  • Gregg Elliott, director of Counseling & Career Services, and Jackie Bennett, co-director for RN-BSN and adjunct nursing instructor, received Colorado Health Foundation Health Professions Scholarships through the San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center (SLVAHEC). Bennett has been accepted to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Family Nurse Practitioner Program, with graduation anticipated in fall 2016. Elliott is enrolled in ASU’s new Ph.D. program in Counselor Education and Supervision. He anticipates graduating in May 2018.
  • Scholarships recipients agree to practice in a rural and/or underserved community position upon completion of training for a minimum of two years.
  • Dr. Jeff Elison, associate professor of psychology, introduced his new book Vertical Mind: Psychology of Optimal Rock Climbing (and life) at a reception held Sept. 17 at the Nielsen Library. Details.
  • Dianne Lee was recently promoted to Associate Athletic Director for Internal Affairs. She retains her Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) title, which she has held for nearly five years.
  • Dr. David MacWilliams, professor of English, is now chair of the Department of English, Theatre & Communications.
  • Aaron Miltenberger was recently promoted to Director of Student Life.
  • Gustavo Plascencia, asst. professor of art, was part of the Print Exchange Exhibition in NYC, held in Williamsburg, NY. His artwork (Senza Lui, 2014) recently became part of the Brooklyn Art Library Permanent Collection. He will be a speaker at the 2014 Society for Photographic Education Southwest “A Collective Vision” in Salt Lake City, UT, as well as at the 2014 Society for Photographic Education South Central “Engaging Possibilities” in Murfreesboro, TN
  • Dr. Penny Sanders, asst. professor of counselor education, and Dr. Beez Schell, chair of the HPPE Dept., are attending and presenting at the Inaugural Conference for the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Issues in Counseling, held in New Orleans. On Sept. 19, they will present ” No drinking, No drugs, No Gays: Addressing Homophobic Bullying in Sports and Physical Education.” The negative ramifications of homophobia and related verbal abuse contributes to lower academic achievement and self-esteem, higher dropout rates, depression, and suicide. A recent study of 600 students aged 14-23 found more than 32 percent reported regular verbal abuse in PE classes.
  • Eugene Schilling, professor of art, was one of 16 Colorado artists invited to participate in the show, “From Here and There: Drawings from Colorado and Wales.” This exhibition is part of an international exchange of contemporary drawings between artists in Colorado and Wales. The show was first exhibited at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea Wales early this summer. It opens September 26 in Colorado State University’s Clara Hatton Gallery, with a reception at 6 p.m. in the Visual Arts Building room F101. The show continues through October 31. Details.
  • Dr. Benjamin Waddell, asst. professor of sociology, recently had a piece published in the Journal of Community Positive Practices. His article is “Remitting Democracy? The Role of Migrant Remittances in Promoting Social and Political Change in Guanajuato, Mexico.” His article “Old Habits Die Hard: Political Patronage and Remittance-led Development in Guanajuato, Mexico,” will appear in the January issue of the Latin American Research Review. His article “An Invitation to Improve the World” was accepted for publication in an edited book project titled Sociology for the Curious. He will also be spearheading the SLV Lifeways Research Project on campus. The project is designed to promote student-led research in the San Luis Valley, and is generously supported by an initial grant from the BLM of $30,000. Tori Martinez will be the program’s student project coordinator for the 2014-2015 academic year.
  • Kathy Park Woolbert, instructor of English, has returned to the San Luis Valley. In addition to teaching through Extended Studies, she is a Writing Studio tutor and will again teach on campus this spring.

ASU welcomes new faculty & staff

New Employees

  • Timothy Mobley, instructor of developmental math
  • Krista Andereck, asst. athletic trainer
  • Ryan Anderson, Career Services coordinator – Read more
  • Raquel Barata, visiting asst. professor of mathematics
  • LeRee Bearss, visiting asst. professor of ed
  • Jerusalem Benavides, residence director, Housing
  • Jennifer Carter, asst. director of Student Life
  • Marietta Clark, admission counselor
  • Tiffany Darling, asst. women’s basketball coach
  • Joshua Dreher, head athletic trainer
  • Valentino Dressler, custodian I
  • Clayton Foster, asst. track & field coach
  • Eden Wales Freedman, asst. professor of English
  • Henry Garvin, visiting asst. professor of management & health care administration
  • Joel Givens, asst. professor of counselor education
  • Pedro Gomez, director, CAMP Grant
  • Jason Levesque, head men’s lacrosse coach
  • Kimberly Medema, librarian
  • John Pearson, manager, Vistas Restaurant
  • Danielle Persinger, admin. asst. I, Enrollment Management
  • Steve Neal, asst. football coach
  • Terry Rodriguez, head cook, Vistas
  • Michael Skinner, sports information director
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, police officer I
  • Elizabeth L. Robinson, visiting asst. professor of chemistry
  • Jared Romero, asst. professor of biology and Earth science: animal physiology
  • Placido Erwin Romero, visiting asst. professor of math
  • Timothy Rowley, asst. men’s lacrosse coach
  • Matthew Steffenson, asst. professor of biology
  • Samantha Thomas-Trabert, MBA program manager
  • Elisabeth Tomlin, Counseling & Career Center
  • Collin Walker, athletics compliance officer
  • Kristi Yates, asst. to director of Student Support Services
  • Brian Zuleger, asst. professor of HPPE

More details on new faculty members