Donors, students and staff attend the third annual Donor Recognition Banquet


award recipients

Donor recognition award recipients for 2006 are Joe and Shirley Zanski, Mike Achatz, and Pat and Tom Gilmore.

The generosity of numerous donors supports student achievement and helps Adams State College in its commitment to student success. Scholarships enable students to concentrate on their studies and avoid graduating with large debts.

The Adams State College Foundation held its third annual Donor Recognition Dinner Nov. 3 in the Student Union Building banquet rooms to honor all donors and pay special tribute to award winners. For the first time, scholarship recipients joined donors at the banquet.

Adams State's president, Dr. David Svaldi, welcomed the donors, award winners, and students, noting Adams State College is still the most affordable college in Colorado.

"Many of our students would not be here without the assistance of our donors," Svaldi said. "Thank you all very much. You are all members of the million dollar club."

Honorees included Pat '68 and Tom '67 '68 Gilmore, Willis Fassett, Jr., Award; Mike Achatz, Swire Coca Cola, Grizzly Club Corporate Partner of the Year; and Joe and Shirley Zanski, Grizzly Club Individual Partner of the Year.

Larry Mortensen '88 '93, Adams State athletic director, and Steve Valdez '87, vice president of the Adams State Grizzly Club, presented Achatz and the Zanskis with their awards. Mortensen said each year 350 student athletes receive scholarships.

mike achatz and sofia monroe

Sofia Monroe shows her appreciation for scholarships by presenting Mike Achatz with flowers after the banquet.

Achatz started working for the local Coca-Cola plant as a delivery driver. He moved up to an account manager after four years of driving and five years later was promoted to plant manager - a position he has held for nearly 20 years.

"Swire Coca Cola has donated a half a million dollars to the Grizzly Club," Valdez said. "We appreciate all Mike Achatz has done for Adams State College athletics. He has paved the way for the future of many student athletes."

"It is really awesome to receive this award," Achatz said. "The credit needs to be shared with the twenty-five employees that work with me and to Coca-Cola for providing the funding. They are just as supportive of Adams State as I am."

Achatz said there were many others just as deserving of the award and he appreciated the Grizzly Club for choosing him and Swire Coca-Cola.

"Adams State College is a big part of the way I grew up," Achatz said. "I was very impressed with the event. The evening went very well."

Joe Zanski worked for Excel Energy for 42 years before retiring. Joe joined the Tomahawk Club, Adams State's athletic booster club, now known as the Grizzly Club in 1953. He spent two years on the board of directors and one year as president. Shirley Zanski worked for 19 years at the middle school. The couple has seven children, all of whom attended Adams State, and three who are graduates.

Mortensen said the Zanskies have contributed not just financially, but emotionally, as well.

"Joe and Shirley are in the stands for all the Grizzly teams," Mortensen said. "Whether we are winning or loosing, the Zanskis are there lending their support to both our women and men teams."

steve valdez shirley and joe zanski

Steve Valdez presents Shirley and Joe Zanski with their award.

"We are very humbled to be honored at tonight’s banquet," Joe Zanski said. "Shirley and I think a lot of Adams State College and have had a lovely relationship with the campus for 50 years or more. We will continue to support them."

"We are honored to be selected by the Grizzly Club as the Individual Partner of the Year for having fun doing things we enjoy," Shirley Zanski said.

Jenny Cooper, president of the Foundation Board, said the Gilmores had devoted virtually their entire lives to the college.

"To honor the Gilmores in the spirit of the Willis Fassett, Jr. Award could not be more appropriate," she said.

pat and tom gilmore with jenny cooper

Pat and Tom Gilmore receive award from Jenny Cooper.

Tom Gilmore spent his entire professional career at the college, starting as a faculty member in the School of Business in 1973, and retiring as president of the college in 2003. Pat Gilmore taught elementary school for two years in Westminster, Colo. before the couple married. Pat then worked as a stay-at-home mom until her children were older.

"It is strange to be honored for work that is so satisfying," Tom Gilmore said. "Tonight I see the faces of so many who have supported Adams State College and I want to thank all of you and honor all of you for what you have done for the students at this college."

Tom is currently chairman of the Board of the San Luis Valley Federal Bank, chairman of the Alamosa Ranch Advisory Committee, on the economic restructuring committee for the city, and is involved in the Boys and Girls Club. Pat has been active in church work, served on the Alamosa Public Library Board, and is a Friend of the Library.

"There is no better cause than that of a student continuing their education," Pat Gilmore said. "We encourage the students here tonight to pass it on in their future."

During Tom's presidency, $55 million worth of campus improvements were made, and Adams State expanded its services and programs to K-12 educators throughout Colorado.

"I was lucky to be associated with the college," Tom said. "Walking home, even after a stressful day, I would realize this is something worthwhile. Contributing to students receiving an education is a good way to spend your life."

The Adams State College Foundation Board is a group of concerned volunteers who raise money for scholarships, provide students with the latest technology, and support other programs on campus. Cooper said the Foundation has raised nearly $1.7 million and awarded 444 students scholarships for a grand total of $75,000, and the Grizzly Club awards an additional $130,000 in scholarships to student athletes, in the 2007/2007 academic year.

"I would like to specially recognize Dr. John McDaniel (professor of history, government and philosophy)," Cooper said. "He has been with Adams State College for over 30 years and has established thirty scholarships with colleagues, alumni and friends."

Cindy Palmer, vice president for the Foundation Board, said "One thing I have come to realize is that money that comes into the institution to fund education has a ripple impact. Some of our students are the first in their family to receive a college degree."

She then introduced Michelle Hernandez '08, who said she was thankful for the opportunity to express her gratitude to scholarship donors.

"To begin is easy, to finish is difficult," Hernandez said. "Your gift came at a time not when I needed to begin but when I needed it to finish and I thank you with all my heart. I am sure many other students share my sentiment."

By Linda Relyea