ASU trustees terminate president’s contract

Dr. Kent Buchanan named acting president

ALAMOSA — In a unanimous vote Friday, after an apparent several hour executive session, Adams State University Board of Trustees terminated the institution’s contract with President Cheryl Lovell. Kent Buchanan was named acting president effective immediately.

Buchanan has been Vice President of Academic Affairs at ASU since March 1, 2020. ASU Trustees Amanda DeLaRosa and Jen Mueller were named by board chairperson Michelle Lueck to head up a search committee for a new president.

The trustees passed two resolutions during the noon hour meeting Friday, the first terminating the contract with Lovell and a second appointing Buchanan as acting president.

Chairman Lueck and several members of the board cited a lack of leadership from Lovell while terminating a contract signed on June 1, 2019. Lovell was originally hired as interim president in September 2018 and her “interim” title was removed by the board in February 2019.

"This was not an easy decision," Lueck said. "However, we believe Dr. Buchanan and the entire executive council will transition to a new era with grace and skill."

In reading the first resolution terminating Lovell’s contract, Lueck cited concerns about the “behavior of the current administration” and added “it is time for a leadership change at ASU.” Speaking individually, most of the board members echoed those feelings.

Trustee David Tanberg said it was made “quite clear” to Lovell a year ago what changes she needed to make and what the consequences would be if improvements weren’t made.

Trustee Pam Bricker said it was a difficult and stressful decision for the board to make, but that the “university needs to move in a positive direction,” adding that a different “set of skillsets are needed” at ASU.

One of the newest trustee appointees, Mark Martinez said, “transparency and trust are paramount” and a change was necessary in ASU’s leadership.

Trustee DeLaRosa added that a different leader is needed to “carryout the directions of the board.”

After appointing Dr. Buchanan as acting president, trustee Arthur Ortegon said, “we’re turning the keys over to you in continued trying times,” and her encouraged him to continue putting the students first.

Faculty trustee Beth Bonsetter wouldn’t comment on the termination of Lovell’s contract but did say the faculty supports the appointment of Buchanan.

When hired by President Lovell, Buchanan brought more than 25 years of experience in higher education to ASU. He served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma City University for the previous 13 years. He was also a tenured professor of biology at two other universities, including Tulane University Health Sciences Center.

He has been credited with leading efforts to add new academic programs at ASU in online platforms as well as strategic planning, budget development, accreditation, and faculty development.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Buchanan said, "I am willing to step in as acting president of Adams State. I accept this role because I have absolute confidence in our faculty and staff's commitment to their profession and dedication to our students. Together we will keep moving Adams State forward."

The board of trustees and the executive council met throughout the afternoon Friday to determine next steps in the university's leadership.