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Community activist Barbara Ridge, who helped establish ASU's West campus, dies at 78

June 20, 2018

Barbara Ridge, the West Valley business owner, civic leader and community activist who helped to conceive of and lead the successful grassroots effort for what would become Arizona State University's West campus, died on June 6. She was 78.

Her passing was communicated to ASU by her son, Jamie Ridge.

Ridge, along with her husband Sterling, the former Glendale mayor, advocated for an ASU campus near Glendale starting in the 1970s and continued to be strong supporters of the university well past the campus’s establishment on West Thunderbird Road.  

“Barbara Ridge was a tremendous leader in our community,” said ASU executive vice president and university provost Mark Searle, the former provost of the West campus. “She and Sterling were a powerful force to drive the establishment of ASU’s West campus and to push for its continued excellence. We will always be thankful for Barbara’s contributions to our university, her civic mindedness and her commitment to education.”

Ridge’s vision of a four-year degree-granting college in the West Valley initially came out of the desire to finish her own bachelor’s degree after becoming a mother; the trip to Tempe to complete that work was impractical. She and others saw the need for an institution of higher education that could serve the fast-growing community on the other side of the Phoenix metro area. 

Ridge was proud of what the West campus has become, especially the access to higher education it provided to a broad and diverse group of students, according to her son.

Those wishing to honor Barbara’s memory may contribute to the Barbara and Sterling Ridge Memorial Scholarship. Checks can be made out to the Glendale Union High School District, 7650 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301 (Attention Tina Charette). Please include “Barbara and Sterling Ridge Memorial Scholarship” on the memo line.