ASU grad programs lauded among best by US News


March 10, 2015

Arizona State University’s graduate schools rose higher this year in national rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report, moving ASU further in one of its charter missions of attaining national standing in the learning value added to the university’s graduates.

Among the fast risers were: students studying outside W. P. Carey School of Business, ASU Tempe campus Download Full Image

• ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, up a notch to 17th

• the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, which climbed five spots to 26th

• the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering reached its highest mark ever at 42nd

“ASU continues to elevate its national standing in the quality of our academics and the impact our schools have in every field,” said University Provost Robert E. Page Jr. “We are pleased that progress has been recognized, but the greatest confirmation is in our graduates – the leaders of tomorrow.”

The 2016 edition of U.S. News’ Best Graduate Schools analyzed more than 1,300 graduate programs from several academic disciplines to compile the annual report.

Among other high water marks for ASU:

• The W. P. Carey School of Business ranked No. 3 in supply chain/logistics. The school was ranked No. 30 among top full-time MBA programs and No. 27 among part-time MBA programs for its evening MBA offering.

• The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is now in the top 13 percent of the 198 accredited law schools evaluated, as well as No. 9 among law schools west of the Mississippi. Other programs within the law school include legal writing at No. 8, health law at No. 12 and dispute resolution at No. 11.

• The College of Public Service and Community Solutions claimed several high rankings this year: No. 2 for its city management and urban policy graduate program, No. 2 for its criminology and criminal justice online graduate program, No. 12 for the criminology and criminal justice program and 16th overall for the public affairs master’s programs.

• The jump for ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College followed a similar rise in their online program.

• The College of Nursing & Health Innovation at ASU placed 24th in the country for its master’s programs in nursing, making it the highest-ranked in Arizona. Under the College of Health Solutions, audiology was ranked No. 17 and speech language pathology was No. 21.

• The School of Earth and Space Exploration holds its rank among the top 20 graduate schools in the country. Its earth sciences program ranks 20th among public and private graduate programs, making it the highest ranking science program at ASU.

• The ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is ranked 22nd among the graduate schools of fine arts in the country. The school's printmaking program ranks fifth nationally, the ceramics program seventh and the photography program eleventh.

• The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering continued a steady rise in the rankings of engineering schools over the past decade.

The rankings underscore the university’s push to become the leading university nationally in at least one department or school within each of the university’s schools and colleges.

Reporter , ASU News

480-727-5176

Pitching competition encourages ASU science students to think like entrepreneurs


March 10, 2015

A self-described introvert, Kali Johnson isn’t necessarily comfortable on stage.

But that’s exactly where the 25-year-old Arizona State University student found herself – in front of a panel of judges during the Great SESE Pitching Competition. Johnson was pitching an idea for a student organization that will create support systems for ASU students who are also parents to help them succeed. SESE student Natalie Hinkel Download Full Image

The competition, organized by ASU’s School of Earth Sciences and Exploration (SESE) with support from ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is one of a growing number of efforts across the university to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in ASU graduate and undergraduate students, including students who don’t necessarily see entrepreneurship as a career goal. Two winners – first place and audience favorite – were selected from undergraduate as well as graduate student categories, and won a total of $3,000 in prize money.

The idea for the competition is the brainchild of Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of the School of Earth Sciences and Exploration. According to her, the traditional approach of educating students, especially those pursuing graduate degrees, leaves much to be desired.

“While we’re doing a wonderful job of training our students to be brilliant researchers, we need to start teaching them other useful life skills, such as the ability to pitch an idea, to speak compellingly to others, to negotiate and write budgets, etc., that will take our students to the next level,” she said.

Elkins-Tanton decided to tackle this problem. First, she enlisted the support of SESE faculty members and Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. Montoya funded the two first prizes and found Elkins-Tanton pitching trainers to help graduate students hone their pitches and communicate their ideas effectively to the judges and the audience.

“Our graduate students then trained our undergraduate students, using the expert advice they’d just received,” she said. “The peer-to-peer mentoring was very effective in helping our incoming freshmen think about education and their college experience in a different way.”

Entrepreneurial spirits

Kali Johnson, a sophomore majoring in astrobiology and biogeosciences, first joined ASU in 2007 but had to drop out a year later because of health reasons. Determined to stay on path, she went on to get her associate’s degree in arts and worked in retail for a few years. Then came the turning point: She gave birth to her daughter.

“I didn’t want her to think that I gave up too easily on my dreams, so I came back to ASU to earn my degree,” she said. “However, I quickly realized that I needed more support in terms of information, networking and scholarship opportunities to finish my degree, especially as a young parent, and thought this was an opportunity to create something that will outlast my time at ASU.”

Johnson pitched the idea for the Proud Parent Scholarship Fund at the Great SESE Pitching Competition and won $500 as part of the audience’s choice award in the undergraduate category. Kevin Conklin, an astrophysics junior, won the first place and $1,000 to fund his venture: a weekly podcast called ASU Connections that aims to educate, entertain and attract people to scientific research and scientists at ASU.

“I decided to join ASU to earn my college degree after listening to a podcast featuring ASU planetary scientist and astronomer Jim Bell talking about the Mars Curiosity Rover and his involvement in the project, which blew me away,” said Conklin. “Through the ASU Connections podcast, I’d like to build a brand of educated people who take their science seriously but also like to have fun with it.”

Combining research and entrepreneurial ideas

According to Elkins-Tanton, while most undergraduate students focused on ideas that were inspired by academic disciplines, graduate and doctoral students pitched ideas for research projects on earth sciences-related topics.

Abhijith Rajan, a doctoral student of astrophysics at SESE and first prize winner in the graduate student category, proposed hosting a two-day Software Carpentry workshop at ASU that teaches students to be efficient software programmers and, consequently, better researchers. Software Carpentry is a nonprofit organization whose members teach researchers basic programming skills. Rajan hopes to launch the program in the summer and make it self-sustaining.

“We have identified local resources, including students in the department, who will teach sections to help make the program more affordable and, going forward, completely free for the department,” he said.

Jean François-Smekens, another SESE doctoral student who won the audience choice award in the graduate student category and a sum of $500, pitched an idea that turns a sulfur dioxide camera – digital cameras that monitor sulfur dioxide emissions during volcanic activity – into a practical tool for volcano monitoring.

Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU, views the Great SESE Pitching Competition as an example of a larger culture change underway ASU.

“At ASU, we are creating a pipeline of graduates who think differently,” said Montoya. “Programs like SESE inspire students to do something out of their comfort zone. This exposure to new ways of thinking and problem-solving helps develop an entrepreneurial mindset that is needed to succeed in any field. Programs like this show ASU’s university-wide commitment to fostering entrepreneurial and innovative ASU students in all academic disciplines.”

Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, ASU Local

479-236-9969