ASC students say "Yes" to campus improvement

(03-21-2008)

With nearly one-third of the student body voting, Adams State College's new capital fee passed by a huge margin, according to Provost, Dr. Michael Mumper. The fee will support financing of $35 million in construction and other campus improvements. Some projects can begin this summer.

"Out of a total of 603 votes, 475 were in support of the fee to finance campus improvements," said Dean of Student Affairs, Ken Marquez. "This is the largest student vote turnout we have had in years, which validates that our students really do care about the future of our campus." Voting was conducted from March 17 - 20.

He noted this fee is separate from tuition, which has not been set for next year. It will be based on state guidelines and subject to approval by the Adams State College Board of Trustees.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Mansheim, said, "In campus meetings last year, students told us loud and clear campus housing needed to be updated. By approving this fee, students have given us a mandate to move forward. This will be one of the most significant building efforts on campus since the 1960s."

Top priorities include building a new residence hall, renovating current housing, and renovating the ES and Music buildings.

"These campus improvements will be pivotal in the growth and vitality of Adams State College," Mumper said.

"Twenty percent of the revenue - an average of $681,000 each year - will fund scholarships and grants to reduce the fee's impact on students. Also, the Pell grant is going up $421 next year and will more than cover the fee increase for one-third of our students," Mansheim added.

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

Mansheim said the fee would generate $35 million for campus improvements and a new scholarship endowment. He noted the fee will also support a variety of other pressing campus needs. Six percent will be dedicated to building repair, 2.5 percent to technology upgrades, and 1.5 percent to equipment repair. All construction will meet new environmental standards for green buildings, and some projects could begin by late summer.

The Board of Trustees for Adams State College endorsed the fee at its Feb. 15 meeting, and AS&F (Associated Students and Faculty) enthusiastically supported the proposed fee at its Feb. 25 meeting.

Mansheim 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.

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

By Julie Waechter