Change in action at ASC

(06-22-2010)

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

You can't help but notice a few changes as you drive through the Adams State campus on First St. - or possibly detour around Stadium Dr. or Monterey. Rex Activity Center is caged in scaffolding . . . temporary fencing and orange barricades block the street and sidewalk . . . trucks and machinery rumble back and forth . . . valley winds swirl the dirt of demolition and construction.

It might be hard to imagine that only a few months from now, this North Campus area will be green with attractive landscaping, centered on a new student residence hall and community building that is unique in the state. The area will be alive with more students than the campus and community have ever seen. I don't think we're overstating the situation to call this endeavor the North Campus Transformation. The next phase is a South Campus Transformation, beginning with renovation of the ES building next spring, to be followed by renovation of the Music building and Leon Memorial Concert Hall.

This physical transformation stems from growing momentum at Adams State. For each of the last five terms, student enrollment has increased over the previous year. We recorded our highest total enrollment last fall - 3,369 students - and we expect to set another record this coming fall semester. New academic and athletic programs will help bring more than 500 additional undergraduate students to campus over the next five years. Creating a more appealing campus is a crucial part of our strategy to recruit and retain more students.

By building enrollment to fulfill the capacity of our campus facilities - we'll never become a college of ten thousand - Adams State can blunt the impact of continued cuts in state funding. We can increase tuition income while keeping tuition rate increases to a minimum. Today more than ever, Adams State's affordability allows many students to achieve the dream of higher education and transform their futures.

It's not unreasonable for casual observers to wonder: "Where is ASC getting the money for all this construction?" Over the next five years, Adams State will complete about $60 million worth of campus development. It's no secret the cash isn't coming from the State of Colorado. This most ambitious building endeavor on our campus in nearly 50 years is financed by a student-approved capital construction fee. A portion of the fee is generating a new scholarship endowment to help students absorb the increased cost. Despite the discouraging economic climate, Adams State is more vibrant than ever, thanks to the vision and confidence of our students.

These projects will not only upgrade the college's infrastructure and make us more competitive in recruiting students, but also bolster the local economy. The community benefits immediately from additional revenue and jobs created by college construction projects. Over the long term, Adams State's success spills over to the entire San Luis Valley. More students equal more college revenue, much of it spent in the community. When campus housing is full, as it is now, more students seek rentals in the community. Each student living off campus spends at least $11,000 locally (est. based on 2005 data). Every dollar spent by the college, its employees, and its students generates $1.70.

For Adams State and our community, change is a good thing.