Staff Council unveils new Staff Helping Staff program

April 4, 2013

Funeral expenses. Medical emergencies. When unexpected emergencies like these hit, many aren’t financially equipped to deal. In response to this need, the ASU Staff Council is unveiling a new program, facilitated by the Scholarship and Fundraising committee, called Staff Helping Staff.

Now, university employees experiencing financial hardship have the opportunity to submit an application for financial assistance.  Download Full Image

The Scholarship Committee is currently accepting applications for the program (due the 15th of each month). The committee reviews all current applications and distributes awards to chosen recipients based on their level of need and circumstance. Although funding is limited at this time, disbursements eventually will exceed the current $100 to $500 monetary value.

Staff Helping Staff has been in the works for some time, says Stephen Potter, current treasurer for the 2012-2013 Tempe/Skysong Staff Council. A fundraising initiative was originally implemented by former Staff Council member Linda Sawyer. In conjunction with the ASU Foundation, Sawyer and other council members were able to start raising funds for staff in need.

“I was very passionate about helping to develop the program after [a staff member] told me of a friend of hers who was suffering from a painful dental problem," Sawyer said. "The individual was a single mother and couldn't afford the co-pay to have the procedure she required. I had also heard that another staff member was having trouble affording a funeral for their family member.

"These are just a few of the many reasons why I wanted to be involved with the program.”

Sawyer credits her supervisors at the time, Thomas Walker and Pam Mulhearn, for their full support of the idea.

“They encouraged me to begin gathering support in moving Staff Helping Staff forward," she said. "I spent a great deal of time doing research on existing programs at other universities – drafting ideas and presenting the ideas in order to develop our own program at ASU. President Crow was very supportive and encouraged others to assist the Staff Council in moving the program forward.” 

With the passing of time and subsequent university and council member changes, fundraising efforts declined and the account became inactive. However, through the dedication and work of current members, Sawyer’s original vision has evolved into the Staff Helping Staff program. 

To increase the potential for additional funds, the Scholarship and Fundraising committees are developing various fundraising events and campaigns. One such effort – The Spare Change Campaign – will take place over numerous days throughout the year in multiple locations. During these times, staff and students on every campus will have the opportunity to drop their spare change into designated containers. These containers also will be available at all Staff Council functions to continue fundraising efforts.

Another fundraising event will coincide with ASU Staff Night at ASU Gammage’s presentation of Disney’s “The Lion King” at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23. Participants will have the opportunity to not only purchase discounted tickets for this special performance, but also attend a pre-show reception and post-show tour backstage. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Staff Helping Staff program through the ASU Foundation.

Payroll deduction is an additional way to donate to the Staff Helping Staff program. Staff may designate a portion of their paycheck to deposit a gift amount, in any denomination, for any length of time. The process is very simple, efficient, and may be cancelled upon your choosing. The ASU Foundation will provide a gift receipt for tax purposes at the end of the participating year as well.

In addition to the new program, there are a variety of other scholarship opportunities available for employees on all four campuses, including SkySong. In particular, the programs are designed to provide ASU staff assistance in developing their careers. The funds can be applied towards professional conferences and workshops, or simply to help cover the costs of materials and educational expenses.

Applications and payroll deduction forms for all programs are available through the Staff Council Office, 480-965-0892, or by sending a request to For detailed information about these and other programs, visit the Staff Council website at

Juno Schaser

Event coordinator, Biodesign Institute


President's Professors to be honored at 2013 Faculty Excellence Awards

April 4, 2013

Three outstanding faculty members will be honored as President’s Professors at the 2013 Faculty Excellence Awards on April 16, at the Memorial Union Ventana Ballroom on the Tempe campus.

The 2013 President’s Professors are: Ricardo Alarcon, professor in the Physics Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Ariel Anbar, professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Alexandra Brewis Slade, director and professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and ASU-Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions director of operations in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Download Full Image

President’s Professorships honor faculty members who have made substantial contributions to undergraduate education at ASU. The awardees are chosen based on a variety of criteria: mastery of subject matter, enthusiasm and innovation in the learning and teaching process, ability to engage students both within and outside the classroom, ability to inspire independent and original thinking in students and to stimulate students to do creative work, innovation in course and curriculum design, and scholarly contributions.

Alarcon has made a substantial contribution to excellence in teaching, particularly through general studies and physics with more than 2,500 students benefiting from his instruction and research mentorship. He is a pioneer in the use of digital teaching technologies in lecture classes and he consistently earns favorable student evaluation scores.

Known to share his knowledge, Alarcon improves the overall instructional tools available to others, thereby enhancing educational effectiveness. Of particular note is the innovative and engaging online format that he has developed in introductory physics and in general studies that feature the richness of in-class sections. 

His research is a crucial component of several high profile projects where experiments are conducted at national laboratories. Alarcon is a fellow of the American Physics Society, a leader in the field of nuclear physics and recently served on the National Research Council committee on the “Assessment and Outlook for Nuclear Physics.” He is currently the Physics’ Associate Chair of Academics at ASU.

Anbar has made a sustained and substantial contribution to earth science and chemistry general curricula from the introductory to the specialized level. Most recently, Anbar led the development of the innovative Habitable Worlds online course. Engaging to students across the board, they learn about the search for life on other worlds as a context for learning basic concepts in biology, chemistry, geology and physics in an integrative manner. More than 1,000 students have taken the class, learning through inquiry-driven exploration that science is not just a body of facts but is the process by which important questions are explored.

Habitable Worlds utilizes teaching tools such as the “Habitable Hunt” – where students search for an inhabited world in a personalized, randomized field of stars, as well as an intelligent tutoring system and virtual field trips. Anbar was asked to do a TED-Ed video about the class and recently received National Science Foundation funding to enhance the course as a platform for teaching scientific reasoning. In addition to Habitable Worlds, his student evaluations and the opinion of his peers hold Anbar in the highest regard as he seamlessly integrates his research and teaching portfolios.

Brewis Slade is a key force in the creation of multiple extremely successful experiential education initiatives in the School of Social Evolution and Social Change. This includes current study abroad programs in seven nations, all of which she has lead herself. More than 500 undergraduate students have been able to participate in hands-on, transformative experiences as they travel internationally with School of Human Evolution and Social Change faculty ASU faculty in the summers. In addition, she facilitated the establishment of undergraduate global internships in India, Costa Rica and many other countries, and a school-wide research apprenticeship program that offers undergraduate students multiple and diverse opportunities to engage in intensive, real-world research.

Brewis Slade spearheaded the creation of the popular interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in global health that integrates perspectives from a wide array of fields in the life and social sciences to address health inequalities and create sustainable health solutions. Known as an effective and dynamic teacher of global health and anthropology students in both online and in-person classes, as well as a world-renowned scholar in the fields of medical and nutritional anthropology, Brewis Slade inspires students from undergraduates to doctoral candidates.