Blasingame is 2008 Professor of the Year

April 15, 2008

English education professor James Blasingame took home the ASU Parents Association’s 2008 Professor of the Year award at a ceremony April 14 at ASU’s Old Main on the Tempe campus.

Blasingame accepted the award in front of more than 200 ASU faculty, students, staff, administrators, parents and friends. The 12th annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning Excellence event at ASU marked the culmination of more than four months of community collaboration to choose a top ASU educator for this honor. Download Full Image

“I didn’t really have anything prepared, because I honestly didn’t think I would win,” Blasingame said as he received his award. “I have so many people to thank, but I guess I really have to thank my mother. I dedicate every book I write to her, because she got me into teaching; she believed every child was special, and that every child can be taught to read. You just have to have the right book.”

Blasingame, a former high school English teacher who pursued his doctoral degree after nearly 20 years of K-12 teaching, was chosen out of 30 other professors who were nominated this year by their colleagues, students and staff. Each nominee boasts an impressive track record of community engagement, research and undergraduate teaching – all important criteria of this endowed professorship. It is highly esteemed among ASU faculty and is one of two awards that makes the recipient a member of the ASU Distinguished Teaching Academy.

Blasingame has been with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 2000, and he inspires future English teachers of America with his enthusiastic spirit – and his emphasis on community outreach. Since much of his teaching is about adolescent literature, he and his students partner with local school districts to improve literacy and writing skills among middle and high school students.

“Though he would be too humble to make this claim for himself, no one meets the criteria for this award quite as fully as Professor Blasingame,” said Richard Newhauser, an English department colleague of Blasingame’s who nominated him for the Professor of the Year award. “His dedication as a teacher and a scholar to undergraduate education is unsurpassed. The productiveness of his research makes him one of the leading voices in his field of English education and the study of young adult literature.”

The award is funded by parents of ASU students through the ASU Parents Association. In addition to the prestigious designations, the Professor of the Year receives $20,000 – $10,000 of which funds undergraduate student assistance – and is distributed over two years.

In addition to Blasingame’s honor, the selection committee chose to designate another six nominees for special recognition for their teaching and scholarship, each of whom receives a $1,000 cash award. This year’s special recognition awardees were Jess Alberts, Edward Garnero, Ian Gould, Glenn Hurlbert, Douglas Kenrick and F. Miguel Valenti.

Besides Blasingame, the other nominees also set a high precedent for teaching at ASU and were applauded for their efforts at the event.

These nominees were: Tamiko Azuma, Michael Berch, Prasad Boradkar, David Capco, Peter de Marneffe, Chouki El Hamel, Miriam Elman, Anne Feldhaus, Stephen Happel, Douglas Kelley, Pat Lauderdale, Kyle Longley, Subhash Mahajan, Baruch Meir, Rajeev Misra, James Rush, Johnny Saldaña, Cynthia Tompkins, Carmen Urioste, Patricia Webb, Neal Woodbury, Ruth Yabes and Bernard Young.

The ASU Parents Association Professor of the Year award was given for the first time in 1994 and has since been awarded 11 times. Thanks to the continued generosity of ASU families and the participation of ASU students, faculty and staff, the ASU Parents Association is able to award this prestigious honor on an annual basis.

Courtney Griggs, courtney.griggs">">
(480) 727-7582
ASU Foundation

Lisa Robbins

Assistant Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Students, IRS team conduct mock fraud investigations

April 15, 2008

Bad guys and bad gals – folks like fraudsters Frank Abagnale, Jr., James Paul Lewis, Jr., Cassie Chadwick, and Kenneth Lay – wouldn’t stand a chance against a group of Arizona State University students that will team with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) on April 25 to conduct a series of mock fraud investigations. The exercise is designed to showcase career opportunities available through CID, a unit of the IRS that investigates potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes – crimes similar to the Ponzi schemes, forgery, money laundering, and tax-evasion that have landed many a crook in the hoosegow.

“Project Adrian” – named after Adrian College (Adrian, MI) where the pilot program was first offered in 2002 – will include 55 students and faculty from ASU’s School of Global Management and Leadership and 18 special agents from the IRS. It will take place on the university’s West campus from noon to 6 p.m. Download Full Image

“Our students have been eagerly anticipating Project Adrian for the chance to put into action some of the concepts and skills they have learned about this semester,” says Barbara Muller, a senior lecturer in the school’s accounting department who is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. “Especially for those who have already expressed an interest in federal law enforcement or some other type of fraud investigation, this is a unique chance to catch a glimpse of the day-to-day workings of a fraud investigation.

“Rather than just reading about fraud in a textbook, this exercise gives students the opportunity to get ‘real-life’ experience as a fraud investigator.”

The participants – students in Muller’s ACC 494/Fraud Accounting course – will be divided into seven groups, each conducting a different investigation. The program was created by Detroit-based IRS Special Agent Stephen Moore in 2001, after he was asked by a retired agent to help design a college course. The program enlists college accounting majors and makes them special agents for the day, assigned to solve hypothetical financial crimes. Some of the hypothetical investigations involve business owners skimming from their company, a bar owner who operates two sets of financial books, a multi-filer scheme, and a drug trafficker. Each group has an experienced special agent or retiree who serves as a coach and provides experienced insights during the investigation.

“The student response has been enthusiastic,” says Moore. “The honorary agents will receive support, but it will be up to them to follow the paper trail.

“Their five-hour investigation may start with an anonymous informant, a meeting with local law enforcement, or a bag of garbage. The students select their next steps in gathering evidence. Some will utilize the tools available to federal law enforcement officers, including the use of undercover, surveillance, subpoena, and search warrants. At the end of their scenarios, the students meet as a group to talk about their investigation, while receiving an evaluation from their coaches.”

Michael Fleischmann, the special agent coordinating Project Adrian, says this is the first time the exercise has been staged in Arizona and is the result of a request by ASU’s Muller. The senior lecturer was alerted to the program by CID Special Agent Scott Fischer, who had visited her classroom to discuss fraud investigation interviewing techniques with her students. Looking for an opportunity to expand her students’ experience, she turned to Fleishmann.

The project, notes Fleischmann, serves a variety of purposes.

“The IRS uses Project Adrian as a recruiting tool and to inform students that there is another side to the IRS,” he says. “This is an interactive presentation that shows the main duties of IRS special agents. Most people know the IRS civil side, but few people know about the criminal function.

“There is a lot more to accounting than sitting at a desk, and you can only learn so much from a book. This project affords the students an opportunity to put their accounting skills to the test. A number of students have applied to become special agents after participating in the program,” says Fleischmann, who notes that forensic accounting is a growing career field.

While other federal agencies have similar investigative jurisdiction for money laundering and some bank secrecy act violations, the IRS is the only federal agency that can investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code. The CID oversees a worldwide staff of approximately 4,400 employees, including some 2,800 special agents who investigate and assist in the prosecution of criminal tax-, money laundering-, and narcotics-related financial crime cases.

“The CID is toted as the best financial investigators in the world, but very few people actually get to take a peek into our world until now,” says Moore. “The students we have worked with appreciate the hands-on interaction and the life-like situations we present. There is a sense of accomplishment when they crack the case.”

Steve Des Georges