Top stories of 2018 in SLV: #2--Adams State survives tumultuous year

A more positive outlook is reflected during an Adams State Trustees’ meeting this fall. From left are Trustee Wendell Pryor, President Cheryl Lovell and Chairman Cleave Simpson./Courier photo by Ruth Heide

ALAMOSA — Adams State University experienced a tumultuous year with a change in presidential leadership and financial constraints forcing staff reductions and program cuts.

On the other hand, the university was removed from accreditation probation, awarded its first doctoral degrees on May 12 and welcomed a new president whose presence so positively influenced staff and community morale that by the end of the year ASU trustees were already considering offering her a permanent position when her yearlong interim expires next summer.

Off probation

In January The Higher Learning Commission site visiting team recommended that the sanction of “Probation” be removed from Adams State University. The Institutional Action Council concurred with the Higher Learning Commission team, and the HLC board announced on July 9 that Adams State University had resolved all the concerns identified by the Higher Learning Commission and was fully compliant with the regional accrediting agency, thereby removing the institution from probation.

McClure to Lovell

Adams State University announced on February 12 that ASU President Beverlee McClure, who had been hired as the institution’s first female president in April 2015, was on leave, pending a mutually agreeable resolution because “the priorities of the current board are no longer congruent with the priorities of the president.” Dr. Matt Nehring was named interim president. The trustees accepted McClure’s resignation effective March 31 and she and her attorneys were awarded a $250,000 lump sum settlement, a 2015 Jeep and laptop, which were part of her contract.

Adams State trustees designated a presidential search process committee on April 12 and on April 26 approved a resolution triggering the job posting for an interim president, which drew 77 applications Finalists announced on June 6 were Dennis Bailey-Fougnier, Cheryl D. Lovell, Marguerite Salazar and Armando Valdez. ASU trustees unanimously voted on June 26 to appoint Cheryl D. Lovell, Ph.D. as the next Adams State president to serve a 12-month appointment beginning July 1.

Although not making an official offer, the trustees during their meeting on December 14 discussed their collective desire to retain Interim President Lovell beyond her one-year contract. Trustee Board Chairman Cleave Simpson said he hoped during the trustees’ February 2019 meeting the board could take action so that a contract could be negotiated for full rather than interim employment for President Lovell.

Difficult decisions

Following a meeting on February 15, the trustees shared a goal of $2.7 million improvement in net operating results for FY18 compared to FY17. Acting President Nehring explained this would be accomplished in part by not filling $70,000 worth of positions, dipping into $20,000 of reserves from the president’s office and $477,000 in pledged cuts. ASU was also able to save $150,000 in health insurance premiums, cut an estimated $20,000 by not having a board retreat and won’t award $5,700 in tuition scholarships to employees studying at the university.

After a two-and-a-half-hour executive session, and months of analyzing data, the Adams State Board of Trustees during their April 6th meeting unanimously approved eliminating 27 positions and reducing salary of 22 employees as part of their financial action plan to get the university on track monetarily. The majority of the $2,701,526 target was reached by $2,181,294 in personnel changes.