Adams State values SLV community

(03-18-2011)

Opinion by Dr. David Svaldi, president of Adams State College

While Adams State College plays an important educational and economic role in the San Luis Valley, we are aided in our efforts by support from all sectors of our community. Our hometown sports fans and culture buffs encourage our students. We benefit from the expertise of volunteers on the ASC Foundation, Alumni Association, and Grizzly Club boards. Financial support from local alumni, organizations, and individual scholarship donors is extremely important. Most of all, we value families in the region who choose to send their children to Adams State.

ASC is facing challenges more severe than any I can recall, because the state of Colorado is projecting a budget shortfall over one billion dollars. For ASC, this translates to a funding cut next fiscal year of $2.3 million dollars - a best case scenario. This is a nearly 30 percent decline over this year's funding, which was partially supported by federal stimulus funds. More cuts may well be introduced before the long bill is signed.

Colorado public higher education is especially challenged, because our institutions have no constitutional funding protection similar to K-12 - yet even K-12 is facing a major reduction in their increase for the next academic year. The expectation is that these budget woes are temporary and that Colorado will grow its way out of the current budget shortfall as our economy rebounds. However, a recent study published by the University of Colorado Denver and the Buechner Institute for Governance concludes that Colorado is on a "fiscal collision course." They project that when revenues increase, non-discretionary portions of the Colorado budget will grow and gobble up any increases that might be available to fund higher education and other vulnerable state programs. Some of my presidential colleagues are planning for a time when they receive no state funding for their institutions. At ASC we are more optimistic, but nevertheless are planning on continued decreases in state support.

My team and I are hard at work planning for this challenge. Our greatest worry is that we will be forced to raise tuition and fees to a level that many of our current and incoming students cannot afford. Forty-six percent of our undergraduate student body identifies as part of a racial or ethnic minority group. Among those who qualify for financial aid (91 percent of all students), the average family adjusted gross income is just under $18,000.

We have reduced administrative costs and eliminated positions. Our intent is to keep tuition raises as low as possible, but we also have to pay our bills, which are similar to yours: utilities, risk management (insurance), and transportation. And our hard working, loyal faculty and staff are facing a third year without raises; some are even being forced to take pay decreases to maintain their pensions.

As the saying goes, things are tough all over, but continued community support of Adams State can help mitigate these hard times for our students. Whether you bleed green for the Grizzlies - or give your green to student scholarships - we sincerely appreciate your support.