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Elizabeth Wentz appointed vice provost and dean of the Graduate College

January 15, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Elizabeth "Libby" Wentz, a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been appointed to a new leadership role at Arizona State University.

Effective July 1, Wentz will assume the role of vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. The position will be vacated by Dean Alfredo Artiles, who accepted a faculty position at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education.

Wentz is recognized for her global leadership in the social sciences and was recently named the 2020 Fellow of the Association of American Geographers. Wentz received her doctorate from Pennsylvania State University and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State University.

Since her arrival at ASU in 1997, Wentz has devoted her research to geographic information science technologies, such as remote sensing and spatial analysis, to understand urban environments. Under her leadership, the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning launched a first-of-its-kind bachelor’s degree in geographic information science.

“ASU’s nationally recognized graduate programs serve scholars with a global mindset who are focused on solving problems of social significance,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Libby Wentz’s expertise as a social scientist, her leading work in community resilience and her exemplary graduate student mentorship will provide valuable guidance in the college’s design and evolution as a resource for lifelong learners.”

Wentz has been instrumental for the university’s graduate students, not only elevating their experiences with graduate-level research, but teaching them how to design, write and present a successful dissertation proposal. For her exceptional service to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, Wentz received the Graduate College’s Outstanding Faculty Mentoring award in 2016.

“Libby’s commitment to the professional development and career advancement of graduate students makes her a natural fit for this leadership role,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “The university needs to build on the initiatives started under Dean Artiles and expand our capacity to serve graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.”

One of those initiatives is creating a broader societal impact by increasing more opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in generally male-dominated fields.

“I plan to look more at what those programs look like by recruiting students from a lot of different spaces, including American Indian students and Latino students, Hispanic students, African American students,” Wentz said.

Wentz also plans to focus on pregraduate programs, especially for students who don’t plan to stay within the same discipline, and postgraduate programs for students seeking high-level government positions rather than traditional academic pathways.

“We’re seeing increasingly more and more of our PhD students that are taking their skills, and their research skills, and going into industry,” Wentz said.

Wentz would like to prepare students for those pathways through innovation and many of the other institutional goals at ASU.

In her current role, Dean Wentz has been deeply involved in the professional development of faculty within the social sciences while expanding her knowledge in fields outside her expertise. She believes this breadth of experience will help strengthen her goal of creating career paths and options for students in the Graduate College.

“Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are central to the success of the New American University because of their unique contributions to educating students and advancing knowledge,” Wentz said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to shape the programs in ASU’s Graduate College.”

Top photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU

Jimena Garrison

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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ASU’s Committee for Campus Inclusion honored with city of Tempe’s diversity award

January 15, 2020

On Jan. 17, Arizona State University’s Committee for Campus Inclusion will be honored for its commitment to diversity in the city of Tempe.

The Tempe Human Relations Commission will award the committee the 2020 MLK Diversity Award in the category of educational organization. The annual recognition is given to individuals, businesses or community groups that help achieve the goal of making the city a better place. It’s the first time the committee will be receiving this award, after being nominated by a university employee.

“It’s wonderful to be in an institution that knows that inclusion is important,” said Cassandra Aska, associate vice president and dean of students and university chair of the Committee for Campus Inclusion. “To see that there’s a role that we can play to support the university and the people in the university,  and then to have that work that we do be recognized for an award in it of itself — is very humbling.”

The committee is made up of faculty, staff and students who are actively involved in outreach work across all ASU locations. In order to ensure that the university’s spaces are welcoming to all people, regardless of status, the committee is committed to engaging in dialogue and offering programs that encourage inclusion.

A point of pride for the committee is its Catalyst Awards, which are given out to individuals, groups, teams, programs, organizations or units that have made a significant difference in fostering and promoting diversity and inclusion at ASU and beyond. Aska believes this is one of the committee’s greatest accomplishments, especially in 2019, when 54 individuals were nominated for the award.

“We wholeheartedly believe that this is not any one individual’s, any one department's, any one unit’s responsibility. This is throughout. And to recognize multiple people in a lot of different spaces: in the classroom, in the library, in student success, student services spaces — that are doing this — is absolutely phenomenal.”

Aska considers the committee's work transformative and in alignment with the university’s bold charter. She’s confident people apply what they’ve learned through Committee for Campus Inclusion in their communities, even if they leave the university or Arizona.

“I think the support that we have within the university is awesome. It’s again a reflection of the commitment that exists to all of us continuing to evolve and grow in this area,” Aska said. “We believe we’re making a positive impact.”

It’s because of these accomplishments, and many more, that the city of Tempe is honoring Committee for Campus Inclusion. On Friday, Jan. 17, ASU students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to be recognized at the 2020 MLK Diversity Awards breakfast, which will be held at the Tempe Marriott Buttes Hotel.

Top photo: The Committee for Campus Inclusion's executive board and past co-chairs, include (from left) Karen Engler, Rod Roscoe, Venita Hawthorne-James, Zachary Reeves-Blurton, Benjamin Mills, Amy Pate, Cassandra Aska and Margot Monroe. CCI co-chairs not present in photo: Drew Ross, Jennifer Stults, Linda Torres and Courtney Smith. 

Jimena Garrison

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications