CDE approves Adam State graduate program in higher ed leadership


The Colorado Department of Education May 7 approved Adams State College's proposal to offer a master's degree program in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL). Housed in Adam State's School of Business, this addition brings Adams State's graduate program offerings to seven.

Adams State developed the program with a two-year, $300,000 grant from The Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) in its Special Focus Competition for Graduate Programs at Institutions of Higher Education Serving Hispanic Americans. It was one of 30 grants awarded totaling $8.2 million.

Roughly 54 percent of Hispanic students attend Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) - a federal designation for colleges and universities with student enrollment that is least 25 percent Hispanic. Adams State is an HSI, with undergraduate Hispanic enrollment at 29 percent.

Dr. Melissa Freeman

Program director Dr. Melissa L. Freeman, assistant professor of business, said: "We're thrilled this program has been approved by CDE. There's been a lot of interest in program over last several months from people who want to either enroll, teach, or help with recruitment efforts. This speaks to the need for this kind of program, which is designed to serve individuals who work within the nation's HSIs."

The first cohort of students will begin this fall in the 36-credit program, to be taught online by senior administrators at HSIs. The program also includes a three-day on-campus residency and attendance at a Leadership Summit in Denver. For those who already hold a graduate degree, an 18-credit post-master's certificate program is also available.

Program unique in Colorado

Freeman noted no other public institution in Colorado offers an MA in higher education administration and leadership.

Based on a two-year analysis and qualitative data collection process, ASC discovered a need for professional development opportunities for individuals who work within HSIs. Discussions with Latino leaders and higher education officials indicate a strong interest in and need for this degree option, particularly at an affordable price.

"The Latino/a higher education community is facing a leadership crisis nationwide," Freeman explained. "Latinos/as now represent 16 percent of community college students and 12 percent of students at four-year colleges, but represent less than 5 percent of college and university administrators and less than 4 percent of college faculty."

The number of Hispanic students in the nation's elementary and secondary schools is now approaching 20 percent

"This program will help position Adams State College as a leader among HSIs. Other schools will look to us to find and develop their own leaders," Adams State Provost Michael Mumper. The program will also contribute to increasing enrollment and in developing Adams State's own administrative staff.

By Julie Waechter