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Public university paid board chair $12,000 to host social-justice retreat

UPDATED

Doesn’t even cover food

Colorado’s Adams State University might be wondering now whether it should have just put up with crusading ex-professor Danny Ledonne, rather than calling him a terrorist and then paying $100,000 to settle his due-process lawsuit.

The founder of the accountability blog Watching Adams published documents showing that the public university paid Board Chairman Arnold Salazar $12,700 to host the Unidos Equity Leadership Institute, a five-day retreat in August, on his La Manzanilla Farm property.

Each day’s discussions had a theme, according to the event schedule: “Classism/Privilege” on Friday, “Racism” on Saturday, “Gender” on Sunday, “LGBTQAI” on Monday, and “Dealing with Educational Change & Taking It Back” on Tuesday.

MORE: Public university pays critical professor $100,000 for calling him a terrorist

The agreement between Adams State and the farm (known legally as “Jack Farm, LLC”) states that ASU will pay for and bring its own pre-prepared food to the event – the $12,700 is simply for event space, tables and chairs.

The Colorado chapter of the American Association of University Professors reviewed the documents, and President Stephen Mumme told Watching Adams:

As a matter of practice, procuring paid service from board members is unethical unless there should be a highly compelling argument to the contrary. If the facility was the only such facility within a 30 mile radius perhaps it might be justified. But I see no reason to suppose this is should [sic] be the case in Alamosa [where ASU is based].

Watching Adams said there’s no shortage of retreat venues in ASU’s southern Colorado region, from hotels to “historic ranches and farms”:

Similar ASU retreats have previously been held in Del Norte and San Luis, Colorado and in Taos, New Mexico. In researching this story, Watching Adams obtained rough estimates of $900 to $1200 per day for the use of these venues as conference locations, about half the daily cost of Salazar’s Jack Farms Event Center.

Adams State doesn’t seem to be flush with cash: The Pueblo Chieftain reported last week that its undergraduate enrollment has dropped for the fifth consecutive year, though graduate enrollment is up.

CORRECTION: The article originally stated that Arnold Salazar is the brother of Ken Salazar, former U.S. senator and Interior secretary and current head of Hillary Clinton’s presidential transition team, based on the author’s review of a 2008 Denver Post report that called them brothers. The two are not related. Another trustee on ASU’s board, LeRoy Salazar, is Ken’s brother, however. The article has been amended accordingly.

MORE: Ex-professor threatened for showing up at president’s meetings

MORE: University can’t ‘interfere’ with critical faculty blog, judge says

‘Civility’ a threat to profs’ blogging against school, judge says

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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