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ASU professor builds on legacy with new scholarship

Wendy Hultsman
February 03, 2015

Wendy Hultsman says she has always wanted to create a scholarship at Arizona State University, where she has taught for 25 years.

Recently, she made that happen with a pledge of $50,000 through ASU’s New American University program, which enables faculty and staff to create scholarship endowments for students.

Hultsman, who is an associate professor and director of undergraduate programs in the School of Community Resources and Development, part of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, helped develop the parks and recreation management curriculum at ASU, and has been instrumental in the creation of special event management education. The new scholarship will support students pursuing a certificate in special events.

"This endowment is an extension of Wendy's complete commitment to our students and their intellectual and professional development," says Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. "By bringing innovation and creativity into the classroom, Wendy has and continues to inspire students to give life to their ideas and help build stronger communities. Now, her generosity opens the door for more students to realize their potential through education at ASU."

"From the time she started her career at ASU Wendy has been student-centered with an absolute commitment to excellence in teaching. Her classes are the embodiment of the community-centric vision of the School and College with every single student engaged with communities. This scholarship is another example of her generosity with respect to our students," adds Kathleen Andereck, director of the School of Community Resources and Development.

“My biggest impact on the community is the events we produce,” says Hultsman, adding that she hopes the scholarship recipients “understand the importance of events in impacting others' quality of life. That is what events do.”

Building on a legacy

Hultsman started a special events management class as part of the recreation and tourism management program at the West campus. There were 21 students in the first class. In all of Hultsman’s classes, students are required to participate in a community project.

“Initially, the community project was started to help ASU West so people would know that we were there,” she says.

Her class put on West Fest, then started a haunted house that was one of the Valley’s first fully accessible haunted houses. Truly a student-led event, they took on everything from building the set to acting roles in the event.

“It was packed. We would charge a dollar or so, and would net $2,000. That’s how many people we had,” Hultsman says, noting that all money went to fund student scholarships.

Hultsman’s classes also worked with the City of Glendale on the Sinister Sinema haunted house and the City of Phoenix’s Electric Light Parade.

Interest from students in other programs led to the creation of a minor in special events management. Hultsman teamed with Vernon Biaett, the former special events manager for the City of Glendale, to establish an 18-credit certificate program which now has more than 150 students enrolled.

In 2011, the certificate program was awarded the International Festivals and Events Association Silver Pinnacle Award.

“I’ve always wanted to create a scholarship," Hultsman said. "Why wait? If you wait, you can’t see any of this.”

Hultsman gave an immediate gift of $25,000, which will enable the first scholarship to be awarded next fall. The program matches six percent of a commitment of $50,000 or more for 10 years, furthering the impact of Hultsman’s endowment and ultimately allowing several students to benefit.

“I don’t know if my colleagues know about this," she said. "This is our university. I would love for others to see this and say, 'I can do this too.'”