Sun Devils honor professors who go the extra mile for students

July 22, 2019

ASU prides itself on having faculty who care about their students and wish to help them succeed inside and outside of the classroom. These exceptional professors warrant recognition from the ASU community for their outstanding leadership, instruction and mentorship. The Centennial Professorship Award is an award designed to do just that.

The Associated Students of Arizona State University, made up of both Graduate and Undergraduate Student Government, established the award in 1984 and has presented it each academic year since as a means to attract and retain the highest quality leaders and teachers at ASU. Centennial Professorship Awards ceremony Vice President of Professional Development for GPSA Amelia Miholca speaks at at the Centennial Professorship Awards. Photo courtesy of Amelia Miholca Download Full Image

Amelia Miholca is vice president of professional development for GPSA and a graduate student pursuing a PhD in art history from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. As the head of the Centennial Awards Committee and one of the judges of the 37 submissions, she told ASU Now why the Centennial Professorship Award is important. 

“The award demonstrates ASU’s appreciation and recognition of high-achieving faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields and in classroom learning and innovation,” Miholca said.

Each award recipient receives a cash prize of $5,000 and an additional $5,000 to be used for the benefit of the students in classroom instruction and teaching innovation.

This year, three different professors and lecturers were chosen as recipients: Matthew Buman, Marianne Moore and Javier Gonzalez-Sanchez.

Buman, an associate professor in the College of Health Solutions at the Downtown Phoenix campus, cites his passion and his ability to make an impact on his students as a reason he was set apart from other candidates. 

He learned the importance of professor-student relationships firsthand by staying after class to ask one of his undergraduate professors a question, which eventually led him to performing a research project with her. 

“It was this experience, which simply started with a question, that inspired me to pursue a career in academia,” Buman said. “I learned that the best professors strive to inspire their students.”

Buman plans on using the money to fund a “citizen science” project, where the students will work in collaboration with the general public to gather data on the neighborhood environments of downtown Phoenix to see what supports or detracts from healthy living habits for those who live there. The data will then be released to local stakeholders and policymakers to help create a healthier living space for the neighborhoods downtown. 

Moore is an assistant professor on the Polytechnic campus in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts who teaches for the applied biological science degree. As a professor, Moore understands how showing enthusiasm for the subject and care for the students is important to students’ success and has demonstrated this by being a mentor for 22 undergraduate and four graduate students. She has developed an ecology, physiology and immunology research program centered on student involvement in the program, which her grant money will support. 

Gonzalez-Sanchez, a lecturer from the School of Computing Informatics and Decisions Systems Engineering, is another recipient of the Centennial Professorship Award. He comes from an interdisciplinary science background of software engineering and human-computer interaction, which plays into his diverse teaching practices and application-learning for his students. 

One of Gonzalez-Sanchez’s key teaching practices is the use of new technology in the classroom. He exposes his students to emerging technologies through applied learning, so they can be comfortable and confident with the technologies that are vital in their field and the future of the science. 

“Today, it is not enough for our students to learn programming or software engineering methodologies just by achieving the implementation of computer applications or mobile applications alone,” Gonzalez-Sanchez said.

Gonzalez-Sanchez plans on using the award money to further this endeavor and bring more smart objects, such as sensors and embedded and autonomous devices to classroom projects. The incorporation of the new technologies will help his classroom stay cutting-edge in the field and open up new industry opportunities to the students.

“It isn’t just this new piece of technology and hardware that is bringing new opportunities to these industries — it’s software,” Gonzalez-Sanchez said. “And I plan to have students solving problems and doing projects using these emerging technologies.”

Ultimately, the Centennial Professorship Award is a thank you from ASASU to all of ASU’s outstanding faculty for enriching students’ academic experiences and setting them up for success in the future.

Story by Lindsay Lohr

ASU Prep Digital to offer Utah families unprecedented access to college-prep education

July 22, 2019

This fall, back-to-school time in Utah will feature an unprecedented opportunity for free college-prep education for all Utah students through ASU Prep Digital, a program where the high school and university experience converge in a unique learning opportunity.

The new offering is made possible because of a collaboration between ASU Prep Digital and Juab School District in Nephi, Utah. Utah requires that all high school students take at least one online course to graduate. In order for ASU Prep Digital to offer its courses there, state law requires a partnership with a local district. The Juab partnership makes ASU Prep Digital’s virtual courses available to students throughout Utah. ASU Prep Digital CEO Julie Young and retired Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson sit in front of radio mics ASU Prep Digital CEO Julie Young and retired Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson, who sponsored the 2011 bill that established Utah’s Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP). Download Full Image

“The opportunity to work with such a premier university in this capacity to serve our students is awesome,” Juab Superintendent Rick L. Robins said.

“This innovative partnership will provide Juab School District students as well as students across the state of Utah with new and exciting educational experiences.” 

For advocates of digital learning options in Utah, the partnership is the culmination of years of work. Retired Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson sponsored the 2011 bill that established Utah’s Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP). 

Though online secondary education programs have operated in Utah since then, Stephenson said that ASU Prep Digital’s arrival represents the fruition of what he had in mind when he championed the bill. 

“This is a dream come true,” he said. “The quality offered by ASU Prep Digital is unsurpassed, and that is what excites me about this.”

Stephenson’s passion for online education stems from his time in the Utah Senate, where he saw poignant examples of students who needed educational choices, such as a rural student looking for an advanced math class, home-schooled students whose parents weren’t able to teach certain subjects or students who needed a more adaptive option.

“This type of program is what I hoped for. I am grateful to Juab School District for enabling every Utah public, home school and private high school student to have this option.”

Robyn Bagley, board chair for Parents for Choice in Education and an advocate for digital options, celebrated the announcement as well. 

“We welcome Juab School District and their outstanding provider partner, ASU Prep Digital, to the family of districts and providers currently serving students in this innovative course choice program. Their new partnership will dramatically strengthen the learning possibilities for all Utah students,” she said.

ASU Prep Digital’s class of 2019 exemplified how digital learners can thrive: Graduates used the flexibility available through the program to graduate early, pursue competitive robotics, travel, work and more. One graduate was 18-year-old Allie Reckinger from Gilbert, Arizona. When she enrolled at ASU Prep Digital for her senior year, she wasn’t sure she would graduate on time.

“I went to a traditional high school, and it just wasn't working for me at the time,” she said. “I stumbled across ASU Prep Digital online ... and I fell in love with it.” 

Reckinger said she was grateful for the tight-knit virtual community and the confidence her peers and educators gave her to succeed.

“This is a great place to flourish. You’re on your own time and your own schedule, but you have amazing support and amazing helpers to be there for you,” she said. “They’re there to see you succeed.”

ASU Prep Digital CEO Julie Young calls the partnership an example of ASU’s commitment to the idea of the universal learner — typified by learning anywhere, anytime and continually through our lifetimes.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Young said. “Utah students are gaining an outstanding college prep program that is embedded in the most innovative university in the nation. As our teachers and learning success coaches work with students, we have the joy of watching students thrive and, some for the first time, gain the confidence to go on to college. Some are even the first in their families to attend college. We love being part of that, whether in Arizona, Utah or anywhere else.” 

Learn more about the ASU Prep Digital-Juab School District partnership. Students will be able to enroll beginning Aug. 19.

Hannah Moulton Belec

Digital marketing manager, Educational Outreach and Student Services