Trustees approve tenure, sabbaticals

ALAMOSA — The Adams State University Board of Trustees approved six faculty for tenure and emeritus positions and two sabbatical leaves during their meeting on Thursday. The positive approvals occurred before the board had to make the difficult choice of staff reductions at today’s meeting.

ASU Interim President Matt Nehring, who entered that role Thursday after former president Beverlee McClure resigned, addressed the dichotomy of the two meetings when presenting the recommendations to the board.

“It’s difficult at times, often at normal circumstances, to go forth and approve sabbatical leaves,” said Nehring. “Despite the fact that we are in a position where we are going to be making cuts, I think it is a critical component of our academic enterprise here at Adams State University.”

Faculty can only apply for sabbatical once every seven years.

“It is something that is commonly found throughout academia and we do compete to recruit our faculty nationally. If Adams State is a university that does not provide opportunities like that going forward, it would be much more difficult for us to recruit faculty from one year to the next.”

Nehring also stated that sabbaticals could bring the university positive press, such as Jared Beeton’s contributions to the Cerutti Mastodon site being covered by the Los Angeles Times, Nature, National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine.

Beeton, who talked about his completed sabbatical with the board that afternoon, thanked the university and mentioned how giving undergraduates research opportunities helps with retention.

“We see that very clearly in the earth sciences,” said Beeton. “Students that get involved with research projects tend to stay here.”

Both psychology professor Leslie Cramblet Alvarez and biology professor Kristy Duran, who was promoted to full professor, were approved for sabbatical leave in the spring semester in 2019 with full pay. They’ll use the time to research with students and publish reports.

“It demonstrates in approving theses that Adams State is going to remain open for business,” said Trustee Wendell Pryor. “I think it is a strong signal to support our faculty and our students here with this kind of work.”

The board also showed its support by granting nursing director Melissa Milner and newly promoted associate professors Nick Saenz and Jared Thiemann—who serve in the history and counselor education departments, respectively—tenure positions.

Faculty can apply for tenure positions after five probationary years and the board of trustees is presented with only the applications supported by the tenure committee, vice president of academic affairs and university president.

Also on Thursday, retiring English, history and government professors Richard Baker, Ed Crowther and Dick Goddard were bestowed the honorary emeritus title. The title is not automatically granted and professors must have had at least 10 years of service to ASU.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to do this part of the job, given the other more difficult task we have in front of us,” said ASU Board of Trustees Chair Cleave Simpson of the sabbatical, tenure, and emeritus approvals. “It’s one of the more sobering times for me to serve on this board over the last three years.”

The last action item of the meeting was making the board’s legal counsel Colorado Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Scoville board secretary and ASU Chief Financial Officer Heather Heersink board treasurer. Since McClure—who served as the board’s secretary and treasurer—resigned, the board had to elect new members to those positions. According to the board’s bylaw a board member couldn’t be in those roles.

The board meets today at 9 a.m. to discuss their financial action plan and departments slated for reduction.

Caption: ASU Interim President Matt Nehring. Courtesy photo.