Adams State works to grow revenue, trim costs

(12-04-2017)

Adams State University presented its audited financials for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to the Colorado Legislative Audit Committee on Monday, and updated the state audit committee on the progress of the university's overall performance.

"We continue to strive to make Adams State University financially strong, while also meeting the needs of our historically underserved student population," said Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure. "We are committed to improving our financial health while not losing sight of our role and mission as a designated Hispanic Serving Institution. Adams State is vital to its population and the economy of rural Colorado."

The university's audited financials contained two findings and recommendations related to its financial condition and internal financial controls. In both cases, the university agreed with the findings from the auditing firm Wall, Smith, Bateman, Inc.

The auditing firm's recommendations were for Adams State to continue to identify opportunities for revenue growth and to search for additional efficiencies to decrease expenses, and for the university to improve internal controls over its financial activities through training and ensuring the university's formal policies and procedures are implemented.

Adams State Chief Financial Officer Heather Heersink noted that significant staff turnover combined with a limited number of accounting positions helped weaken the university's internal financial controls but that new staffing and training will address the audit's findings.

"As the accounting department is now fully staffed, it will be possible to reinstate an appropriate segregation of duties and a secondary review during the Fiscal Year 2018," Heersink said. Adams State operates on a fiscal year of July 1 through June 30.

Adams State also shared with the Legislative Audit Committee its progress on addressing recommendations from its February 2017 performance audit, independently conducted by Huron Consulting.

"While Adams State has made some progress toward our goals, we do still have a substantial amount of work to do," said President McClure. She then outlined steps the university is taking to address its overall health.

Those steps include refinancing some of the university's outstanding bonds to lower its debt service requirement for three years, implementing its Guaranteed Tuition strategy and holding the line on tuition for the 2017-18 school year, identifying and implementing new student recruitment and retention strategies, and partnering with the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid's "Project Success" for Minority Serving Institutions. The University will also further develop its continuing education and professional development course offerings to serve the community and provide another source of revenue.

The Adams State Board of Trustees also authorized the administration to prepare a contingency plan to "right-size" the campus and contain costs in a manner that supports the board's long-term priorities as reflected in the ASU 2020 Plan.