Barretts endow O’Connor Justice Prize

$3 million gift will help establish prize as an enduring symbol of commitment to the rule of law

February 13, 2017

Following Arizona State University’s public launch of comprehensive fundraising effort Campaign ASU 2020, the university’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law announced that well-known Phoenix business leaders and longtime ASU benefactors Ambassador Barbara Barrett ’72, M.A. ’75, J.D. ’79, and her husband, former Intel CEO Dr. Craig Barrett, donated $3 million to the university to endow the O’Connor Justice Prize.

ASU Law, which administers the award, first bestowed the O’Connor Justice Prize in 2014. It recognizes exemplary leadership in rule of law initiatives and honors the college’s namesake, the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court justice and advocate for the rule of law and judicial independence around the world. President Jimmy Carter receives the OConnor Justice Prize from ASU Law Former President Jimmy Carter is presented with the O’Connor Justice Prize on Jan. 27 at the Arizona Biltmore by (from left) former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor; Barbara Barrett, former ambassador to Finland; and Patricia Wald, former chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Barrett and her husband, former Intel CEO Dr. Craig Barrett, have donated $3 million to Arizona State University to sustain the prize in perpetuity. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now Download Full Image

Past honorees include Ana Palacio, the first woman to serve as foreign affairs minister of Spain and former senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group who is an ardent defender and protector of law, human rights and press freedom; and Navanethem “Navi” Pillay, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, the first non-white woman to serve on the High Court of South Africa and a successful advocate for establishing mass rape as a form of genocide.

The most recent prize winner is former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who accepted the award at the O’Connor Justice Prize Dinner, a formal event held at the Arizona Biltmore on Jan. 27. At the event, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Dean Douglas Sylvester announced the Barretts’ philanthropic gift, which meets one of the college’s Campaign ASU 2020 goals: to sustain the prize in perpetuity.

“This extraordinary gift will help secure the O’Connor Justice Prize as an enduring tribute to the rule of law and those dedicated to promoting it,” said Sylvester. “Since its inception in 2014, the awards dinner has become a signature event for ASU Law, drawing honorees and dignitaries from around the world. We are so grateful that the Barretts’ generosity will ensure the viability of this world-class event into the future.”

Ambassador and Dr. Barrett are unwavering supporters of ASU. Among their donations is a gift — the largest made to the university at its time — that endowed Barrett, The Honors College, which a New York Times op-ed piece called the “gold standard” in honors education. She and five other Campaign ASU 2020 volunteer principals have collectively contributed more than $50 million to ASU since the start of the campaign.

“The spirit of ASU inspires me and so many others as ASU takes the lead as the New American University,” said Ambassador Barrett. “Justice O’Connor personifies energy, team spirit, hard work, talent and dedication. ASU’s O’Connor Justice Prize annually honors Arizona’s foremost jurist, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, while it simultaneously celebrates another of the world’s leaders who also is dedicated to the values of justice, human rights and the rule of law.”

The ambassador’s connection to Justice O’Connor began at the Arizona State Legislature when then-Arizona State Majority Leader Sandra Day O’Connor encouraged then-intern Barrett to attend law school. Years later, O’Connor administered the oath of office to Barrett as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Finland.

Like the initial two O’Connor Justice Prize recipients, Barrett and O’Connor are women of “firsts.” The former was the first female deputy director of the Federal Aviation Administration, the first female Republican to run for governor of Arizona and reportedly the first female civilian to land in an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier. The latter was the first woman on the country’s highest court, serving from 1981 until her retirement in 2006.

Beth Giudicessi


ASU announces new interim director for Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing

February 13, 2017

Following the resignation of founding artistic director Jewell Parker Rhodes earlier this year, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is proud to announce and welcome a new interim director at the center: Matt Bell, assistant professor of creative writing at Arizona State University.  

With two novels, two short story collections and stand-alone work in many leading literary journals and magazines, Bell is widely considered to be one of the foremost voices in contemporary literature. More than this, he has dedicated himself to uplifting and supporting the voices of others, frequently contributing book reviews and criticism to major media outlets like the New York Times Book Review and PEN America. He has served as a senior editor at the independent publisher Dzanc Books, was the founding editor of "The Collagist," and currently serves as faculty advisor for ASU's own Hayden's Ferry Review. Piper Center Interim Director Matt Bell Matt Bell, interim director for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing Download Full Image

Angie Dell, assistant director for the Piper Center said: "Matt Bell is a true asset to ASU and the Center. His strengths as a writer, teacher, and leader have already had a deep influence on the student body and local literary community, and I have confidence his artistic vision and extensive knowledge of the creative writing field will guide the Center to excel across our programs."

Most recently, Bell authored the novel "Scrapper," a Michigan Notable Book for 2016, and the short story collection "A Tree or a Person or a Wall." His previous novel, "In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods," was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of the short story collection "How They Were Found," the novella "Cataclysm Baby" and a non-fiction book about the classic video game "Baldur’s Gate II."

Bell's stories have been published in magazines such as Tin House, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Unstuck, Fairy Tale Review, Guernica and Hobart, as well as anthologies including "Best American Mystery Stories" and "Best American Fantasy." His poems have appeared in Salt Hill, Spork, Barn Owl Review, Waxwing, Tupelo Quarterly and Big Lucks, among other venues. He has written book criticism and coverage for The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Believer, PEN America, Rain Taxi, American Book Review, The Quarterly Conversation and The Brooklyn Rail.