Adams State University

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Adams State University
ASU Logo.
Logo of Adams State University
Motto Great stories begin here.
Established 1921
Type Public
President Dr. David Svaldi
Students 3,467 undergraduates
Location Alamosa, Colorado, United States
Majors 16
Colors Green and white
Nickname Grizzlies
Mascot Grizzly bear
Affiliations Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

Adams State University is a small state-supported liberal arts university in Alamosa, Colorado, U.S., in the San Luis Valley and home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. ASU is in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and its mascot is the Grizzly Bear.


Founded 1921 - Adams State was founded in 1921 as a teacher's college but now offers a variety of programs including masters degrees in many fields. Billy Adams, a Colorado legislator who would later become a 3-term governor of Colorado, worked for three decades before obtaining the authorization to found Adams State Normal School in 1921. His goal was to provide higher education opportunities for teachers from remote and rural areas of Colorado and see them work in those same areas such as the San Luis Valley.

1st Graduate - The University's first graduate, [1] in 1926, was Harriet Dalzell Hester, who went on to become the school's first librarian and an Alamosa County school superintendent. With only a grade school education himself, Adams came to the SLV in 1879 at the age of 17 to begin ranching. Within three years, he was mayor of Alamosa. Alamosa was a rough-hewn town in those days.

D&RG - The Rio Grande typically flooded each spring, turning Main Street to mud. Once the university was built, a hedge of Russian olives had to be planted along the campus edge to keep out herds of horses. Then, as now, potatoes were the area’s primary cash crop. But grain and vegetables were also raised, as well as cattle, sheep and pigs. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad shipped them east.

Governor Adams - The perseverance demonstrated by Billy Adams in founding his teachers college also characterized those who took over the task of making Adams State more than a dream. The communities of Alamosa and the San Luis Valley faithfully supported the efforts of individuals such as Dr. Ira Richardson, the University’s first president. Billy Adams died in 1954, just shy of his 93rd birthday. He left the school $10,000.

Name Change - On May 22, 2012, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill changing the name from Adams State College to Adams State University. The change became official on August 7, 2012.[1]

Notable Alumni[edit]


  • Alamosa, Colorado - Alamosa is a small city with a population of about 9,133. Great Lakes Airlines, a United Airlines affiliate, serves the San Luis Valley Regional Airport from Denver International Airport.
  • ASU and SLV - Adams State University is located in the heart of the San Luis Valley. All of the university's academic and residential buildings are located on its contiguous 90-acre (360,000-m2) campus. It is the most economical major public university in Colorado.
  • Richardson Hall - The main administration building and oldest building on campus is Richardson Hall, named after the school's first president, Dr. Ira Richardson.
  • Porter Hall - home of the math and science curriculum is named for alumnus, William A. Porter, the creator of E-Trade and a major benefactor of the school.
  • Performing arts - Campus edifices for the performing arts include: the ASU Theater (erected in 2001), the Music Building (having undergone major renovations in 2011) and the Leon Memorial Concert Hall.
  • McDaniel Hall - named for donor and emeritus faculty member Dr. John McDaniel is the main venue for English, Psychology, History, Sociology, and Teacher Education classes.
  • Staff - The academic staff at Adams State are extremely accessible. There is a high interactivity between students and faculty. There is also a strong partnership and sense of community between the university and Valley residents.
  • Gyms - There are two gyms and an indoor pool : The Rex Activity Center for student recreation including weights, exercise bikes and a basketball court; and Plachy Hall, which includes the gym and indoor pool and field house as part of the Athletics Department.
  • Stadium - The Rex Stadium has undergone major renovation including the addition of the Residence at the Rex: the new complex includes suites for game viewing. The new residence hall provides one of the most impressive views, with a view of Mount Blanca (one of the 14ers of Colorado) to the east and overlooking the beautiful track and football field to the west. A new $750,000 video-tron screen displays action and replays at one end of the field.
  • Residences - There are currently six on-campus apartment complexes (Houtchens, McCurry, Moffat, Petteys, Savage and Residence at the Rex) that include private bedrooms for 2 to 3 students, a kitchen/living room and private bath, in addition to three traditional dormitory halls (Conour, Coronado and Girault). Most entering freshmen are housed in Coronado and Girault Halls. The college provides on-campus housing to students yearly rate of $3,300.[3] The main cafeteria, La Mesa Dining Hall, in the Student Union Building is newly renovated.


Main article: Adams State Grizzlies

The school's sports teams are now called the Grizzlies (formerly known as the Indians). They participate in the NCAA's Division II, and in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Athletic groups include:

  • Baseball: Men's NCAA Division II (restarted in 2012 after a 35-year hiatus)
  • Basketball: Men’s NCAA Division II, Women’s NCAA Division II, Men’s Intramural, Women’s Intramural
  • Cross-Country: Men's NCAA Division II, Women's NCAA Division II
  • Football: Men's NCAA Division II
  • Golf: Women's NCAA Division II
  • Indoor Track & Field: Women's NCAA Division II, Men's NCAA Division II
  • Lacrosse: Men's NCAA Division II, Women's NCAA Division II
  • Outdoor Track & Field: Women's NCAA Division II, Men's NCAA Division II
  • Soccer: Women's NCAA Division II, Men's NCAA Division II, co-ed Intramural
  • Softball: Women's NCAA Division II, co-ed Intramural
  • Swimming: Men's NCAA Division II, Women's NCAA Division II
  • Volleyball: Women's NCAA Division II, co-ed Intramural
  • Wrestling: Men's NCAA Division II


Presidents have been:[4]

  • Ira Richardson (1925–1950)
  • William Newson (1950–1952)
  • Fred J. Plachy (1952–1966)
  • John A. Marvel (1966–1977)
  • Milton Byrd (1978–1980)
  • Marv Motz (interim) (1980)
  • William M. Fulkerson, Jr. (1981–1993)
  • Marv Motz (interim) (1993–1994)
  • J. Thomas Gilmore (1995–2002)
  • Lee Halgren (interim) (2002–2004)
  • Richard A. Wueste (2004–2005)
  • David Svaldi (2005–present)


External links[edit]