by P.D. Lesko
“Your presence on campus presents a concern to the campus community; is disruptive and/or you have been previously warned that such behavior will not be tolerated. Your alleged behavior is deemed to be detrimental to the well-being of the institution and/or incompatible with the function of the University.”
The excerpt above comes from the letter (below) written by Adams State University President Beverlee J. McClure and delivered to former Adams State University adjunct faculty member Danny Ledonne by the campus chief of police in early October 2015.
Below, read a copy of President McClure’s letter to Danny Ledonne:
A former ASU film instructor, Ledonne told Denver, Colorado’s online new site www.westword.com that he “couldn’t figure out what he’d done to merit such attention. He had not issued any threats or received any prior warnings. And the timing of this fiat couldn’t have been worse; he was the director of the 2015 Southern Colorado Film Festival, scheduled to take place on campus the following weekend, and now he was finding out he couldn’t even attend the festival without landing in the hoosegow.”
Westwood.com reporter Alan Prendergrast writes that the only “alleged behavior” Ledonne has been engaged in that could be deemed to “present a concern to the campus community” is his ongoing criticism of Adams State’s salary policies — particularly its shabby treatment of adjunct instructors.
Danny Ledonne worked part-time at ASU between 2011 and 2014. He was then offered a contract as a full-time visiting professor, with full benefits. In Spring 2015, Ledonne’s contract wasn’t renewed. Since then, according to the westwood.com article, “he’s launched a watchdog website, Watching Adams, that explores publicly available salary data and compensation issues, and accuses the university of violating the Colorado Wage Act by making adjuncts wait until the end of the semester, or longer, to get paid for their work.”
President McClure declined a request for an interview about the ban, but her office issued a brief statement denying that the decision was made in response to the Watching Adams website: “It is unfortunate that a disgruntled, unsuccessful job applicant is misconstruing information about Adams State University. Mr. Ledonne’s persona non grata status was not issued in response to his website, but for safety reasons. There is an appeal process that can be pursued by Mr. Ledonne. Since this is a personnel issue, the University will not comment further.”
McClure, hired by Adams State University in April of 2015, is the former head of the The New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry.
ACI Board Chair Dan Girand congratulated McClure when she was hired by Adams State University.
“Beverlee has done an outstanding job leading and growing ACI for almost a decade” he said.
However, ACI’s federal income tax statements tell a different story. Between 2009 and 2012, under McClure’s leadership ACI’s revenue decreased from a high of $537,600 in 2010 to $485,945 in 2012. Tax records also show that between 2009 and 2012, the ACI ran a negative fund balance: the association’s liabilities exceeded its available assets. In 2009, when ACI brought in $515, 121 in gross revenue, McClure’s organization lost money overall ($12,072), and the ACI’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $177,146.
In addition, in 2012 the bulk ($304,633) of the member organization’s $485,945 in gross revenue went to pay salaries, including McClure’s $168,661 compensation package.
In a recent e-mail to faculty and staff, it was reported that McClure defended ASU’s open-records policy and announced that the university website no longer requires a visitor to sign in to access salary data — a requirement that Ledonne suggested was being used to monitor and learn the identities of the curious. “Under my leadership, Adams State University will remain as open and transparent as possible,” she wrote.
Caprice Lawless is the vice president for the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) chapters of the American Association of University Professors. In response to Ledonne’s campus ban, Lawless had this to say:
“First Amendment rights are under attack at Adams State University in Alamosa and in Colorado’s Community College System (CCCS). Nothing seems to irritate six-figure-earning college administrators more than faculty who raise legitimate questions about staggering differences in wages between administrators and faculty. Those who do, like Prof. Danny Ledonne in Alamosa, might lose their ability to walk onto campus. Others, like me, may lose their jobs.”
Meanwhile, in response to President McClure’s defense of her actions, Danny Ledonne posted his own response to his site Watching Adams:
“Banning the messenger is not the solution to the problem,” he writes. “I do not believe it is in Adams State University’s best interest to court further public controversy by upholding this legally tenuous ban, nor does it serve the core mission of an institution of higher learning to issue retaliatory policies in response to constitutionally protected free expression.”