Adams State asks students to support campus improvements

(02-15-2008)

Adams State College will soon embark on $35 million in campus improvements, if students approve a new fee March 19-20, according to Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi.

At their Feb. 15 meeting in Alamosa, Adams State trustees received details on the fee and the projects it would finance. A new student residence hall and "extreme makeover" renovations of the ES and Music buildings top the list.

During the first year (beginning fall 2008), $10 per credit hour for on-campus courses will be charged to support these capital improvements, said Bill Mansheim, vice president for Finance and Administration. The fee will increase 7 percent for each of the following 9 years, generating an average of $3.4 million each year.

Twenty percent of the fee revenue - more than $681,000 average each year - will be committed to new scholarships and grants. Mansheim noted that at least one-third of current students will not be impacted by the fee next year, because the Pell grant will increase $421.

"In order to remain competitive, we need to enhance the campus, and in particular, our student housing. We want our students to live and learn in a supportive, comfortable environment," said Ken Marquez, dean of Student Affairs. "This will be one of the most significant building efforts on campus since the 1960s."

Mansheim said 70 percent of the fee - nearly $2.4 million average each year - will support financing for major construction projects, divided evenly between academic and student life buildings. Six percent will be dedicated to building repair, 2.5 percent to technology upgrades, and 1.5 percent to equipment repair.

He noted that other colleges are implementing similar fees to support capital improvements, due to inadequate state funding. The state of Colorado cut more than $120 million from the higher education budget between 2001 and 2005. Only 11.5 percent of the state budget now goes toward higher education, Mansheim said, compared to 27 percent in 1972, making Colorado 48th in the nation in per capita funding for higher education.

Mansheim presented the proposal to the Board of Trustees for Adams State College on Feb. 15. Overall, the board members appeared to support the initiative. Chair Tim Walters said: "We need to compete with institutions already making these improvements. This proposal shows progressive action on the part of our administration."

Marquez said students last year expressed a need to update college residence halls and other buildings. All construction will meet new environmental standards for green buildings. Some projects would begin by late summer.

Adams State students in 1992 approved a similar fee to renovate the College Center and create the Rex Activity Center.

By Julie Waechter