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Living the W. P. Carey legacy

After years as a professional skydiver, W. P. Carey's great-nephew comes to ASU.
April 15, 2016

MBA student follows a long journey to the ASU school that bears his family's name

After spending years as a professional skydiver, Rod Boden wasn’t sure how well he would fit in at business school when he arrived at Arizona State University in 2014.

But whenever he felt a bit overwhelmed, he was able to tap into some amazing inspiration — his great-uncle, W. P. Carey.

“I can’t turn my head without seeing his name everywhere,” said Boden (pictured above, right), who will graduate in May from the full-time MBA program.

“Being in a sea of all these bright young minds, any time I felt like I wasn’t quite as smart or quite as quick as everyone else in class, I would think of Bill and think that there was some small piece of him in me and that kept me feeling strong and motivated,” Boden said.

Boden has a family legacy that goes all the way back to the founding of ASU. He descends from John Samuel Armstrong, whose legislation launched Tempe Normal School, the precursor to ASU, in 1885. Armstrong’s grandson was William Polk Carey, a businessman whose foundation donated $50 million to ASU in 2003. The business school was then renamedWilliam P. CareyWilliam P. Carey and his likeness at the business school that bears his name. the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“It’s a little overwhelming sometimes to think about the accomplishments of the people who came before me,” Boden said.

Earlier this month, he and his cousin, Doug Parvis, gave a presentation at the business school about Bill Carey and his brother, Frank, who is Boden’s grandfather.

Boden said the talk was something he had wanted to do for a while as a tribute to Bill Carey.

“We were just incredibly lucky that we got to be a part of this family and that we got to know the patriarchs of this family,” Boden said.

Great integrity

The Carey brothers had a tough childhood. Their mother married four times during a time when that was uncommon. They ended up living with their grandfather in Baltimore and showed an early aptitude for entrepreneurship — their first business venture was selling ink and soda pop out of their basement.

Frank went to Princeton, so Bill went there too. As a sophomore, Bill began buying secondhand refrigerators and renting them to students. The venture was enormously profitable but left little time for chapel or classes. He withdrew before he was kicked out and then enrolled in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

“He was humble along the way but always wanted to be the best,” Parvis said. “Whenever it was written about his education — Princeton and then Wharton — he never corrected people who assumed he had an MBA from Wharton.”

Frank Carey became a lawyer and eventually joined the company founded by brother.

Bill Carey started the International Leasing Co. at age 28 and later founded the W. P. Carey Co. investment firm. He was known as a humble but savvy businessman with great integrity.

Andy Rooney did a segment on “60 Minutes” about Bill Carey, describing how, as a young man, Bill was sent to a small town in Colorado to close a family sugar business that had failed. The sugar-beet farmers had worked for a year and were not paid because the business was bankrupted. Bill never forgot the farmers. Nineteen years later, he paid them.

In 1988, the W. P. Carey Foundation was formed to benefit education, and in 2003, it endowed the ASU business school.

“Of all the things he did, Bill was the most proud of his philanthropy,” said Parvis, who is on the board of the W. P. Carey Foundation.

A perfect fit

Rodney Carey Boden took a winding path to the spot that bears his family’s name.

After graduating with a degree in psychology from Johns Hopkins UniversityThe W. P. Carey Foundation also endowed the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins. in 2008, he became part of a mobile response team in North Carolina, on call for 24 hours for people who were in danger of killing themselves. Boden said the work was rewarding, and he is proud of the fact that he was able to save five people from committing suicide.

“But that work takes a toll, and I started looking for a way out,” he said.

Rod Boden sky diving

Rod Boden worked as a professional skydiver in Hawaii for several years before coming to ASU.

He had been skydiving for fun, and by 2011, he had more than 750 jumps. So he moved to Oahu, Hawaii, where he worked for Skydive Hawaii on the North Shore. He taught skydiving and shot video and photographs. He competed in the U.S. Nationals in canopy piloting, in which the jumper flies the parachute through an accuracy course.

“I was living on the beach, surfing every morning, skydiving all day, yoga in the afternoon or maybe another surf session. Rinse and repeat,” he said.

Idyllic as that was, he needed more. So he worked at a marketing start-up, using his video and photography skills for several companies as well as testing high-performance action cameras.

After a while, “I realized I was being undervalued. If I wouldn’t do it for cheap, they would find someone else to do it for cheap,” he said. “That’s when I realized it was time to re-enter the world.”

After taking the GMAT, Boden was headed back to the classroom, where the W. P. Carey School of Business’ marketing MBA program was a perfect fit.

At first, Boden didn’t advertise the fact that he is related to the school’s benefactor. “I didn’t want people to judge me based on anything other than who I am,” he said.

Boden has been happy to give back to the institution. One of his proudest moments was being elected president of the MBA Association, the student governing association for full-time MBA students.

He also was on the team that designed the Forward Focus MBA, and he helped to develop that new program’s cross-functional learning lab, in which students from different majors work as teams to solve problems.

After Bill Carey died in 2012, Boden inherited two mementos: a purple and green bow tie and a Tiffany watch. Last year, he started wearing the bow tie every Thursday, as a silent tribute to Bill and the motivation he inspired.

"I came into this wondering if I would fit in, but I realized that with the mix of all my experiences, and of me being me, that this was the perfect place for me.”

Top photo: Doug Parvis (left) and Rod Boden give a presentation about their ancestor W. P. Carey in McCord Hall on the Tempe campus April 12. Boden wore the bow tie he inherited after his great-uncle's death. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Setting the table for better health

CENAS isn't just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers say.
Incorporating cultural ties as well as health is key to cooking program's aim.
April 15, 2016

New ASU program combines cooking, theater to promote healthy behavior changes

In ASU’s teaching kitchens in downtown Phoenix, the din of cooking activity is peppered with the sounds of friendly conversation.

Just an hour ago, the white-aproned amateur chefs knew each other only casually. Now they are cooking shoulder-to-shoulder and sharing stories inspired by the food, such as eating nopalesNopal is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads. and making tortillas with their grandmothers. They also discuss their roles in the cooking show they will record. As the group cooks, shares and later crafts a theater piece together, they are also promoting behavior that will help prevent type 2 diabetes.

A tall white chef’s hat bobs energetically about the room as the lead chef demonstrates tortilla-making techniques or asks someone to elaborate on a meal or recipe they remember. The man beneath the hat calls himself Mero Cocinero, the People’s Cook. Periodically he gestures broadly with a wooden cooking spoon or praises the participants in a booming voice.

The role of Mero Cocinero is played by Robert Karimi, a chef and performance artist. He joined faculty from ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the School of Transborder Studies to create Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences (CENAS, which is the Spanish word for “dinners”). CENAS combines theater-making and cooking to promote behavior changes linked to healthy eating and type 2 diabetes prevention in populations at risk for the disease. At the same time, the program honors the cultural food pathways each participant brings to the table.

That theater-making can take the form of role-playing, but sometimes includes actually filming a cooking show. It's not just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers said.

Tamara Underiner is associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. She leads CENAS with colleagues Seline Szkupinski-Quiroga, faculty research affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center; and Stephani Etheridge Woodson, associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. The research is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and by ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research.

The team designed the research methods and cooking curriculum for CENAS to evaluate the impact of a series of lively, immersive cooking experiences on the attitudes and behavior of participants. Over a three-week period, students, community leaders and professionals in south Phoenix donned aprons and began to mix, mince and marinate under the direction of Mero Cocinero.

Mero Cocinero enthusiastically guided participants to put on cooking shows, role-play as farmers or chefs or learn a new skill in the kitchen. With encouragement from Karimi and trained ASU students, participants shared stories about the recipes their grandmothers made, favorite holiday foods and memories of a childhood garden.

“Making theater together, honoring the stories your grandmother told while she was cooking the beans over the cookstove, those are the kinds of things that help people move to a position of strength to honor who they are and where they came from and to continue to cook together for the whole family's benefit,” said Underiner.

The CENAS team introduced ways to incorporate traditional foods into meals using the American Diabetes Association’s “plate method” of eating, which recommends filling half a plate with vegetables, one-quarter with starches and one-quarter with protein. Karimi emphasizes that eating culturally important foods is not inherently unhealthy, contradicting a message that some of the participants unfortunately have received, even from medical doctors. Instead, he explains, returning to the recipes and foods cooked by older generations and based in ethnic cuisine can be both healthy and empowering.

“This is the place to do this kind of work. If you have a good idea you can do it here.”
— Tamara Underiner, associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Art

“Food is the beginning, not the end. Food is both educational and is bringing the community together through food culture and joy,” said Karimi.

After the cooking experiences, participants reported eating more fruits and vegetables and having a more open attitude towards healthy eating. Importantly, participants also reported viewing healthy eating as a practice they could embrace and one that made them feel empowered.

Quantifying the effects of theater-making on behavior change and healthy eating is novel in the field of medicine. The results of this study are now being used to design broader intervention research that will comply with National Institutes of Health standards.

Karimi likens ASU’s transdisciplinary culture to the comedy improvisation rule of “yes, and,” which commands actors to consider unexpected outcomes and to collaborate with other performers.

The CENAS project would not be possible anywhere but ASU, said Underiner, because of the “yes, and” willingness of faculty to collaborate across academic disciplines and the support from university leadership to try something new.

“This is the place to do this kind of work,” said Underiner. “If you have a good idea you can do it here.”

Top photo by Lyn Belisle/

Kelsey Wharton

Science Writer , Knowledge Enterprise Development