ALAMOSA – After 40 years serving students, Bea Martinez ’76 retired as Adams State University’s Director of Student Business Services. If there is one word to describe her decades of service, it would be “change.” From hand-written columns of figures to complex computer programs, she witnessed the advent of the technology era.
“I had a really good time at ASU and miss the students and fellow employees but not the stress,” Martinez said. “I wanted everything go right; I wanted to do a good job.”
Her first job at Adams State was as a work-study in the Financial Aid Office. A business education and psychology major, her goal was to become a high school counselor. “Once I graduated, I applied to teach in my hometown of Antonito and had an offer.”
But her supervisor at ASU recognized her talents and offered a full-time position. She spent three more years in Financial Aid, then became Director of the NDSL (National Defense/Direct Student Loan) program, now known as the Perkins Loan Program. For each new position, Martinez had a supervisor or other colleague encourage her to apply. For about a year she worked as Controller of Sponsored Programs, then was named assistant business manager, which entailed oversight of billing, tuition and fees programs, cashiering, and collections.
Dawn of digital
In the mid-1980s, technology became more prevalent. “As a student employee in financial aid, I used the ten-key to add, or even added columns in my head and I was accurate.” She remembers the first computer terminals (POISE), no connectivity, the blue terminals, and the huge IT room with air conditioning for the computers.
“I had a reputation as being resistant to technology,” Martinez said. “I don’t believe in change for the sake of change. But change comes so fast and furious you don’t have a choice but to keep up.” While technology can streamline processes, she pointed out gathering data from numerous sources and running processes still requires time. For example, Adams State once had a half-dozen tuition rates; now there are multiple tuition rates and a variety of fess structured in different ways. “Departments across campus work very closely to ensure systems work. We build and test, build and test; one small change can throw everything out of whack.” Credit card processing, online billing, Colorado’s College Opportunity Fund (COF) and TABOR added to the process. “Adams State was one of the lead schools in Colorado when we implemented COF. Many institutions looked to us to test, find the bugs, and help develop solutions.”
Martinez appreciates Adams State implanting new policies to reign in the cost of receiving a college education, so student don’t have to “borrow their life away.”
She knows first-hand about the continued rise in higher education costs. Martinez and Faustin, her husband of 43 years, have two boys, Matt (Amanda) and Ryan. All three have degrees from Adams State. “I thought college was expensive when our older son, Matt, went through. I would really like to go back to those days, now that Ryan is pursuing his degree.” Ryan, who is twelve years younger than Matt, received his associates from Adams State, and is finishing up at a larger university.
Connecting with students
Martinez’s work put her in touch with many Adams State students. “I appreciated how nervous freshman could be when they would come into my office.” They didn’t always know how to talk about money, especially when they may not have had it. Martinez wanted them to feel comfortable as they explored their options. “I believe dealing with the business aspect of their education was part of their education. It is okay to be scared and nervous. My staff and I did our best to encourage them as they gained confidence.”
Martinez was never one to simply come to work, do her job, and leave. She appreciates all Adams State offers. “The students make this community what it is. I can’t imagine the San Luis Valley without ASU. The college adds so much, including theatre, music, and athletic events. We have so many talented students here. I hope people can look at students and see what they bring to us.”
Her support of athletics has not gone unnoticed. She and Faustin received the Grizzly Club Individual Sponsor of the Year Award in 2015. “I have always loved athletics. I followed the teams as a student, and it was natural to continue as an employee.” The Martinezes hosted volleyball players at home dinners and provided goodies or presents during holidays or special events. “We got to know students, where they were from, their goals, and were often impressed on how well they performed on the field and in the classroom.”
Her fellow employees made the work atmosphere supportive and often fun. “I had many supervisors and co-workers who showed confidence in my ability and were positive mentors.”
She in turn was a positive mentor to Greg Cook, Adams State alumnus ’02 and current Student Business Services Director. He said Martinez encouraged him to not just know how to perform tasks, but why they were done that way. “She took the time to explain the detail behind the processes. Bea was also very detailed oriented and encouraged me to be the same.” Cook describes Martinez as caring, approachable, dedicated, knowledgeable, and friendly. “I miss her,” he added.
After 40 years, Martinez is soaking up retirement. “I am loving life right now.” She helps run the family farm, north of Alamosa. “I am now learning how the farm and ranch markets work and other factors that govern operation. I love being outdoors, especially after years in the office.”
Caption: In retirement, Bea Martinez spends more time with her husband, Faustin, on their ranch north of Alamosa.