Adams State University

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Adams State University
Adams State University seal.png
Former names
Adams State Normal School
Adams State College
Motto Great stories begin here
Type Public
Established 1921
President Dr.Matt Nerhing-interim
Students 3,467 undergraduates
Location Alamosa, Colorado, United States
Colors Green and white
Athletics NCAA Division IIRocky Mountain
Nickname Grizzlies

Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

American Association of State Colleges and Universities
Mascot Grizzly bear
Adams State University logo.png

Adams State University (ASU) is a state-supported liberal arts university in Alamosa, Colorado, U.S.. The school is located in the San Luis Valley, home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. ASU offers undergraduate programs in physical and social sciences, fine arts, business and nursing, and specializes in educator curricula in several disciplines. ASU also offers graduate degrees in, among others, history, art, business (MBA), and educator programs, including counselor education. There is also a postgraduate (PhD) program in counselor education. The university has an active athletic program, both in participatory sports and in athletics educator training; the Adams State Grizzlies athletic teams compete under the auspices of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Although the university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university was placed on probation in 2016 for concerns about its online and correspondence programs.[1]


ASU was founded in 1921 as a teacher's college. Billy Adams, a Colorado legislator who would later become a three-term governor of Colorado, worked for three decades before obtaining the authorization to found Adams State Normal School in 1921, to provide higher education opportunities for teachers from remote and rural areas of Colorado, such as the San Luis Valley, and see them work in those same areas. In 1926, Harriet Dalzell Hester became the university's first graduate.[2] She became the school's first librarian and an Alamosa County school superintendent. In 2012, the institution's name changed the name from Adams State College to Adams State University.[3]

The university gained some national attention in 2016 when its online classes came under scrutiny. The university's regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, placed the university on probation.[1] Two years later, the university again came into the national spotlight when it placed president Beverlee McClure on leave after employees lodged complaints about her "caustic behavior."[4]


ASU 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 (36.4-hectare) campus.

Academic buildings[edit]

The main administration building and oldest building on campus is Richardson Hall, named after the school's first president, Dr. Ira Richardson. The home of the math and science curriculum, Porter Hall, is named for alumnus William A. Porter, the creator of E-Trade and a major benefactor of the school. 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.

Campus edifices for the performing arts include the ASU Theater (erected in 2001), the Music Building (which underwent major renovations in 2011) and the Leon Memorial Concert Hall.

Athletic facilities[edit]

There are two gyms and an indoor pool. The Rex Activity Center for student recreation includes weights, exercise bikes and a basketball court, and Plachy Hall includes the gym and indoor pool and field house as part of the Athletics Department.

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 track and football field to the west. A new $750,000 video-tron screen displays action and replays at one end of the field.


There are currently six on-campus apartment complexes (Houtchens, McCurry, Moffat, Petteys, Savage and Residence at the Rex) that include private bedrooms for two to three 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.[5] The main cafeteria, La Mesa Dining Hall, in the Student Union Building is newly renovated.


The school's sports teams are now called the Grizzlies and were 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, Men's Club, co-ed Intramural
  • Wrestling: Men's NCAA Division II


Presidents have been:[6]

  • 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 (2005–2015)
  • Beverlee J. McClure (2015–2018[7])

Notable alumni[edit]

  • David E. Clemmer, named to the Popular Science "10 Most Brilliant List" in 2002
  • Carlos Lucero, federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Don Cockroft, former American football punter and placekicker for the Cleveland Browns
  • Myron Thompson, Member of Parliament (1993-2008) in the Canadian House of Commons
  • Pat Porter, two-time Olympian runner
  • Neal Nelson, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach
  • Joe Vigil, Championship Adams State, Olympics, and NAIA Hall of Fame running coach
  • William A. Porter, co-founder of E-Trade.
  • Bill Stone, former football running back for the Chicago Bruisers (arena football)


  1. ^ a b "Public Disclosure Notice on Adams State University" (PDF). Higher Learning Commission. February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Adams State College. Adams State becomes a University viewed June 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Jeremy Bauer-Wolf (February 21, 2018). "President Accused of Bullying". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  5. ^ Adams State University at Locate Colleges
  6. ^ History of Adams State University - - Retrieved October 2, 2009
  7. ^ Valley Courier

External links[edit]