Adams State College or University, What is the Big Deal?

Megan Smith
The Paw Print

Many opinions have been flying around campus as to how changing the Adams State College name to University would affect students, staff/faculty, and the Alamosa community. After much research the board of trustees came to a final 8-1 decision on August 26 to the start the process of changing the school’s name.
This would not be the first time the institution has changed its name. Originally, Adams State College, named after W. H. “Billy” Adams, a former Governor of Colorado and resident of the San Luis Valley, was chartered by an act of the Colorado legislature in 1921 as Adams State Normal School and accepted its first students on June 15, 1925.
The College’s name was changed in 1929 to The Adams State Teachers College of Southern Colorado. In 1945, the institution was given its current name, Adams State College, to reflect the broadening mission and curriculum.
One might ask, if it was changed then to reflect the broadening of the mission and curriculum, what would be wrong with changing the name now?
To help research and gather information about the image of Adams State College, Noel-Levitz consultants visited the campus to conduct focus groups with current students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators.
The Noel-Levitz consultants interviewed or received feedback from 88 individuals about their perceptions of the potential change to university status and their experiences, including 29 students and 59 staff, faculty, and administrators. Participants in the study shared many opinions about ASC’s image and about the positives and negatives of their student life and educational experiences
The Enrollment Growth Research Report  March 2011 reported the following opinions:
University vs. College
 University is just a title; it really doesn’t matter
 A name change would be a bigger draw for high school kids
 Change would facilitate growth in college and community
 We “have to” change; other colleges in Colorado are.
 More selectivity would be a good thing.
 Students might be more motivated.
 Would generate more money from more grad students.
 We could offer a doctorate in education.
 University doesn’t fit this school.
 Might mean different academic requirements.
 Might change from a liberal arts school (a bad thing).
 Change would eliminate some San Luis Valley students (too expensive).
 There would be too many students for their already limited space.
 What’s the cost of that change and who’s going to eat it? Change would be a waste of money..
 Loses history; loses connection with alumni.
 The infrastructure is not in place.
 Concerns that a change would mean less individualized attention.
 The Hispanic population might not like the change because it would make the school seem less accessible.
 Students come from very small towns, so “university” is intimidating.
The difference between college and university designation.
Another important aspect of these arguments is the association of the two words; college and university.  According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary the definition of college is:  a) body of clergy living together and supported by a foundation, b) a building used for an educational or religious purpose a preparatory or high school c) an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of general studies leading to a bachelor’s degree; also: a university division offering this d) a part of a university offering a specialized group of courses e) an institution offering instruction usually in a professional, vocational, or technical field business college.  The definition for university in the Merriam Webster dictionary is very different, “ an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees; specifically: one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor’s degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master’s degrees and doctorates”.
Also in the  Enrollment growth research report, before asking participants’ their opinion of a potential Adams State name change, they were asked to associate adjectives with either “college” or “university.”  The following were the representative responses:
Adjectives or phrases associated with a college: small, laid-back, affordable, community college, less rigorous, more personal, less research.
Adjectives associated with a university: prestige, prestigious, large, more majors, four-year, higher standards, research, international students, Ph.D. programs, intimidating, sports, party school, expensive, impersonal, Division 1, overwhelming, better on resume.
“In over 25 years hundreds of institutions have changed their name, and many of which look just like us,” said Dr. Michael Mumper, senior vice president for Enrollment Management and Program Development. One of the main concerns from students was that tuition cost would increase and that there would be severe changes to the curriculum. Mumper says the only thing that will change is the school name.
State Senator Gail Schwartz and House of Representative Ed Vigil will introduce a bill proposing the name change in January 2012 once the Colorado legislative session begins. From there the bill will be voted on by the entire legislature and, if passed, signed into law by the governor. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet