The More You Pay, the More it’s Worth

Opinion by Dr. David Svaldi, President, Adams State University

Some respected print and online publications have recently given a lot of attention to a report from PayScale, a salary comparison website, that purports to calculate the ROI – return on investment – of a degree from more than 1,300 U.S. colleges and universities. The resulting lists of the “Best” and “Worst” colleges for one’s money appeal to readers’ quest for quick, information – the print version of a soundbyte. . .

What is lacking in Payscale’s report, however, is sense. If its assessment of my university is any indicator, Payscale’s flawed methodology proves the old adage, Garbage In, Garbage Out

Read more.

This column appeared in the April 11 Valley Courier, and will shortly be published in Dr. Svaldi’s blog on the Huffington Post.


Apply for Hilos Summer Institute by April 18

Faculty and staff are invited to apply for the 2014 Hilos Summer Institute, to be held July 20-24 in San Luis, Colorado. The application deadline is April 18. Hilos Summer Institute application form and information.

Now in its third year, Hilos is funded by Adams State’s Title V Institutional Grant. Twenty faculty and staff members will be selected to attend the institute. Attendees will receive an $800 stipend (less payroll taxes) and will be eligible to apply for a $1,000 Student Engagement Grant upon successfully completing the program. Hotel and meal accommodations will be

Questions may be addressed by contacting Lillian Gomez or Anna Torello. at 719-589-7691. or

Svaldi: Why retire?

I have announced my plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2015 Academic Year–why am I retiring?

Some of my fondest recollections are of my childhood. Those were the years when summer break seemed to stretch out before me beyond the horizon. The drudgery of returning to school – just six short blocks down the street from our house – seemed eons away. I especially looked forward to having time to read, as it was my passion and primary occupation, apart from trying to construct a go-kart without any good parts (no wheels, especially) and  playing sand lot baseball with my friends. The library was only four blocks away – about five minutes on my trusty Schwinn – and there were shelves and shelves of books to read. I could usually choose to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it – at least, as long as my mom agreed. I was good kid, so she usually did.dave-truck

It is this freedom that I have increasingly missed as my career in higher education has entered the latter half of my fifth decade as a student, graduate student, faculty member, or administrator. I entered college in the fall of 1966 and have never really left! Forty-eight years is a long time to work in the same “industry.”  For the last 17 years, my calendar has driven my life, professional and personal, and a small but gradually louder voice has insistently tapped my shoulder and said: “When you retire you can do what you want to do when you want to do it, and you won’t even have to ask mom!”

So for those who keep asking-why are you retiring? – now you know. I am also of a certain age proven by a cardboard ID card I received from the government which certifies that I am no longer middle aged, but now entering a twilight that presages old age. But the great thing for me is that there are still shelves and shelves of books to read, and most now exist in an electronic format that I can actually enlarge; on my I-Pad they are even backlit! Few of my friends are around to play sandlot ball with; anyway the game would just take too long, as we would have to hobble from base to base. But I do have a nearly new set of golf clubs that Virginia gave my for Father’s day a year or two ago, and I am also looking for, not a go-kart, but a big truck to drive toward the horizon as I head to retirement to do the things I want to do when I want to do them (if Virginia says it is OK).

- Dr. David Svaldi

Campus improvements continue

Rex Activity Center to create state-of-the-art climbing wall

Adams State University’s indoor climbing wall is going to get a whole lot better. The Rex Activity Center, in conjunction with architects from Eldorado Climbing Walls, will install a new climbing terrain designed to be an all-ages and all-abilities- accessible climbing wall.  The new climbing wall will be designed with everyone in mind to accommodate bouldering, adaptable terrains, dihedrals and arêtes for technique training, and a rappel ledge.

Architect's rendering of new Rex climbing wall.

Architect’s rendering of new Rex climbing wall.

The Rex Activity Center will be closed from May 10 – August 8 for project completion. Due to the short-term closure, Conley said such services as yoga and general summer activities will be relocated to other campus facilities.

“Adams State has seen an increase in rock climbing with the addition of our ASU Climbing Team, so a new wall is much anticipated,” said Elvie Conley, Rex Activity Center coordinator of recreational facilities. “We’re ecstatic to be able to offer a new climbing wall to our community, with a total of 2,080 square feet of new climbing surface. The layout and look will be an entirely new feel for the facility.”

The present wall is 1,800 square feet and was installed during the facility’s original renovation in 1995.  Rex Activity Center offers a variety of recreation programing, ranging from intramural and club sports to outdoor adventure programing.

For more information about the Rex Activity Center, please contact Conley at ext. 7018.

Richardson Hall work underway

Vice President for Finance and Governmental Relations Bill Mansheim announced tours of the Richardson Hall remodel-in-progress will be scheduled once demolition and abatement have been completed.

A view southwest standing in what will be the welcome center, which used to be the RH break room. The center arch and the two adjacent arches will comprise the new main foyer. Note the main foyer used to be between the center arch. The restrooms have been relocated in order to expand the main foyer.

A view southwest standing in what will be the welcome center, which used to be the RH break room. The center arch and the two adjacent arches will comprise the new main foyer. Note the main foyer used to be between the center arch. The restrooms have been relocated in order to expand the main foyer.

End of Year Events

2014 Adams State University Employee Recognition Ceremony
4 p.m. Wednesday, April 30
Carson Auditorium

Join your colleagues to celebrate and recognize the special contributions that our employees have made to Adams State, including faculty promotions, tenure, and emeritus status.

Years of Service honorees

Alumna Cathy Mullens to give Commencement Address

Spring Commencement
Saturday, May 10
10 a.m.
Plachy Hall

 “Great Stories: Right Here, Right Now” is the topic of alumna Cathy Mullens’ commencement address for this year’s spring ceremony. A 1982 Adams State graduate, Mullens served as District Attorney for the 12th Judicial District, the San Luis Valley, from 1992-96. She had the distinction of being the first woman elected District Attorney in the state.

Mullens received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and government from Adams State and went on to earn a J.D. in law from Campbell University in Raleigh, N.C., in 1985. She began her legal career in the San Luis Valley Office of the District Attorney.

After leaving office she worked in several District Attorney’s Offices throughout the state, retiring in 2009 after serving as Chief Trial Deputy in the Pueblo District Attorney’s Office. She worked mainly in the area of felony domestic violence cases, including prosecuting homicides.

Mullens is currently an Instructor at the Law Enforcement Academy at Otero Junior College in La Junta and works as a photographer and reporter for The Signature Newspaper in La Veta.

ASU’s ACT Academy helps prepare local students

More than 300 high school juniors from 13 regional schools participated in the ACT Academy on campus March 18. Students learned test-prep strategies and test-taking tips and tricks to tackle the high-stakes college achievement test. The ACT Academy aims to improve valley high school students’ ACT scores so that they are more likely to test into college level courses, rather than having to take developmental courses as first-year students.

ACT Academy 2014

ACT Academy 2014

Karen Lemke, director of the ASU College Readiness office, said, “This was our second year, and I think we improved on last year’s design. Last year we had 120 students, so we almost tripled capacity. The evaluation forms are very positive, and the students seemed to be very engaged and even thanked the faculty at the end of sessions. We will examine the students’ pre-test scores and compare them to their actual ACT scores to see if our work made a positive impact and to what degree.”

Her office worked with SLV BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education Services) to plan and offer the event, which drew on assistance from Admissions, Upward Bound, Enrollment Management, as well as from ASU faculty from Extended Studies, English, teacher education, math and chemistry and BOCES’ counselor corps grant participants. Guidance counselors and principals from the participating schools also participated to prepare students for the statewide ACT test date later this month.

Participating students represented the following school districts: Alamosa, Sanford, Monte Vista, Centennial, Antonito, Sargent, Sangre de Cristo, Sierra Grande, Centauri, GOAL Academy, Center, Crestone Charter, and Byron Syring Delta Center.

Upcoming CIELO events

CIELO  (Community for Inclusive Excellence, Leadership & Opportunity) has another event this month:

 Wednesday, April 16
6-8 p.m., McD 101
Documentary film: “Training Rules: No Drinking, No Drugs, No Lesbians”

An examination of how women’s collegiate sports, caught in a web of homophobic practices, collude in the destruction of the lives and dreams of many of its most talented athletes.

Read more.

Updates from the Faculty Development Committee

The Faculty Development committee, an ad-hoc committee of the Faculty Senate, was begun in the fall of 2011 as a result of a special Senate meeting. Following extensive research in best practices, an examination of similar schools’ professional development programs, and a needs assessment, this committee has completed its first full year of programming.

Programming for 2013-2014 began with an overhaul of New Faculty Orientation, delivered in August. Through the fall and spring, workshops and sessions were presented on topics including:

  • Disturbing writing and behavior in the classroom. presented by Gregg Elliott
  • Entering midterm grades
  • Information on changes to remedial education policy
  • Library resources, presented by Carol Smith
  • Kindred Spirits luncheon on active learning.

The committee planned and facilitated an overnight retreat in Taos in January, serving 26 faculty and providing workshops on the cultural context of the San Luis Valley (given by Dr. Herman & Patty Martinez), active learning, retention and promotion, flipped classrooms, and the first year experience.

The Faculty Development Committee is pleased to have cultivated collaboration with many areas of campus, including CIELO, AITC, the Mentoring Program Committee, Nielsen Library, and others. The group’s goal is to be an advocate for faculty growth and continuing education, while working to meet three of Adams State’s strategic goals:

  • #1 Cultivate a student-centered environment
  • #2 Promote a culture of learning
  • #5 Promote, advocate, and celebrate the history and culture of the SLV.

The committee extends thanks to the Title V office for their ongoing support of faculty development programming. “We would like to recognize Anna Torello for her tireless efforts at our Taos Retreat and Lillian Gomez for her assistance in determining speakers,” said Dr. Leslie Cramblet Alvarez,  professor of psychology, who chairs the committee.

She will be sending for emails shortly regarding end-of-year programming. “We welcome your ideas and suggestions as we work to make professional development a priority on Adams State campus,” Alvarez added.

 Faculty Development Committee
  • Leslie Cramblet Alvarez, Chair, Psychology
  • Bob Affeldt, ETC
  • Anicia Alvarez, TED
  • Lisha Bustos, AITC
  • Karen Lemke, Developmental Education
  • Penny Sanders, Counselor Education
  • Beez Schell, HPPE


PASC Updates

  • Administrative staff are invited:

Brown Bag luncheon
Noon  – 2 p.m.
SUB 309Friday, April 15

All ASU exempt employees invited to join the Professional Administrative Staff Council for an open discussion on any salary and fringe benefits. Questions regarding this event may be directed to Carol Smith, director of the Nielsen Library.

  • Michelle Romero, asst. director of Admissions, was elected as PASC’s second Presidential Search Committee member, joining Kevin Daniel, director/CIO for Computing Services, on that committee.

End-of-year Purchasing Deadlines

The Purchasing Office reminds employees of deadlines for furniture orders from Colorado Correctional Industries (CCi) for the current fiscal year. The timeframe for ordering various items is available on CCi’s website.

Purchases charged to employee P-cards must post by June 25, 2014, which ends our P-card cycle for the current fiscal year.

For more information or assistance, contact the Purchasing Office, ext. 7526.

Title V STEM grant enhances equipment and facilities

Adams State continues to enhance the equipment and facilities available for science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction and outreach, through the five-year $3.6 million Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM program grant, received in 2011.

Dr. Rob Benson, professor of geology and earth sciences, has devoted his sabbatical this semester to launching a museum-quality educational touch-screen system in the Edward M. Ryan Geological Museum.

The interdisciplinary STEM lab on Porter Hall’s third floor also recently acquired an X-ray Defractometer, which can be applied to chemistry, geology, art, and other fields.

“This is the  most exciting piece of equipment we’ve ever had,” Benson said, adding, “Our students are incredibly excited.”

The XRD, valued at $90,000, uses x-rays to produce defraction patterns of various materials to aid in their analysis. Benson explained it can create a “fingerprint” of a mineral, help identify proteins, and reveal the molecular structure of crystal, for example.

Work has begun to construct a new observatory on the north end of campus between the baseball field, the softball field, and the river. At a cost of $120,000, the observatory will house three permanently mounted, state-of-the-art telescopes capable offascinating student research projects. It will also house most of the planetarium’s telescopes and will be the site of all public viewing sessions once it’s completed. Finally, it will be the home of the ASU astronomy club, which will resume activities this fall.