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Nursing Dean Judith Karshmer named ASU's chief wellness officer

October 5, 2021

In her new role, Karshmer plans to better connect the university community with a variety of wellness offerings

As dean of Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Judith Karshmer doesn’t just talk the talk. She walks the walk.

Or rather, she bicycles, as often as she can, instead of driving — and sometimes just for fun. It’s one wellness practice she has found that she is able to sustain, and that’s key.

“Sometimes we think there's a formula for good health, but it's so different for everyone,” Karshmer said. “My advice is that people should spend some time figuring out which wellness practices they can sustain, and do those.”

portrait of ASU nursing dean

Judith Karshmer

In her new role as chief wellness officer at ASU, a role previously held by Professor Teri Pipe, Karshmer hopes to make it easier for the university community to explore and access the various wellness offerings that already exist here. 

“It really is about curating all the resources ASU already has so that more people are aware of them and can use them,” she said.

Karshmer also plans to create stronger connections between wellness and ASU’s three enterprises: the Academic Enterprise, which encompasses degree-seeking students; Knowledge Enterprise, which represents research activities; and the new Learning Enterprise, which seeks to offer learning options to anyone, whether they are attending a K–12 school or recently retired.

ASU News sat down with Karshmer recently to learn more about how she plans to do that.

Question: What does it mean to you to be the university’s chief wellness officer, especially in the midst of a pandemic?

Answer: My predecessor, former Edson Dean Teri Pipe — her passion and her love has been the creation of the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience here at ASU. They do amazing work, and they’ve done a wonderful job of spreading the mindfulness philosophy across the university. It’s also very timely considering how much tension and stress we’ve all been dealing with as a result of the pandemic. Something I’d like to do in this position is make a better coordinated effort to highlight wellness resources like the Center for Mindfulness that are available to faculty, staff and students.

I also think it’s important to connect wellness to the academic experience. If students learn that wellness is part of the academic experience, if they learn how to stay healthy while they're in college, they're going to be healthier citizens. And by the same token, we have to create a healthy workplace for faculty and staff. That's everything from making sure there’s good lighting and alternative transportation options so people feel comfortable walking on campus, to giving employers the tools to help employees when they’re stressed, to offering healthy, sustainable food options. It's a proactive sort of philosophy that puts ASU’s core values — assuming responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of its community — front and center.

Q: Where will you begin?

A: One of the things that I believe very strongly is that any activity around health at ASU should have the opportunity to address each of the enterprises — academic, knowledge and new learning. So every wellness event should be an opportunity for students to learn. It should also have an opportunity for some kind of research component, as well as a way to engage the learning enterprise.

Q: What is your overall goal?

A: It really is about curating all the resources ASU already has so that more people are aware of them and can use them. My goal in the next month or so is to meet with all the people who offer all these wellness services and get some feedback about how to better connect them all. And then also making those linkages between wellness and the three university enterprises.

Q: October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening month, and you have a master's degree in advanced psychiatric nursing. What are your thoughts on how we’re doing as a society as far as prioritizing the role of mental health in overall wellness?

A: I can remember 35 years ago talking about the need to remove the stigma around mental health. And I don't think we've done such a great job. I think there's still a huge amount of stigma. So I think it’s important to create environments that are safe enough for people to say, "Actually, I don't feel that great," or ‘"I'm feeling a lot of stress about this." We hear a lot about allies today. We need to be allies when it comes to mental and behavioral health, and normalize that sometimes you’re going to feel bad, and that's OK.

Q: Do you have any advice for students and faculty on how to balance the demands of academic life with prioritizing their wellness?

A: Sometimes we think there's a formula for good health, but it's so different for everyone. My advice is that people should spend some time figuring out which wellness practices they can sustain, and do those. If that’s walking 10 miles, great. If that’s not something you can sustain, then find something you can and do that instead. For me, it’s bicycling. But there's no one perfect way to do it. It’s about balance and finding what works for you.

Top photo by Arizona State University

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Uber-ASU partnership surpasses 100 graduates

More than 100 graduates have earned degrees through Uber-ASU partnership.
October 5, 2021

Qualifying drivers can pass tuition rewards to family members

The Uber and Arizona State University partnership has passed a significant milestone — its 100th graduate.

To date, 118 drivers, delivery people and their family members have graduated from ASU Online through the program, which launched as a pilot in eight cities — including Phoenix — in 2018. The program went nationwide in 2019.

“The partnership with ASU is one way we are able to help support those working on Uber who want to further their education but don't want to go into debt in order to pursue their dreams,” said Carrol Chang, head of driver operations for the U.S. and Canada at Uber.

“We are honored to celebrate the 118 people who have graduated from this program, and we wish them continued success in the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Uber and ASU partnership offers full tuition coverage for drivers, delivery people and their family members who pursue an undergraduate degree through ASU Online. More than 100 undergraduate degrees are offered entirely online, so students can fit higher education around their lives and continue pursuing work the way they want to. The partnership also covers upskilling courses in entrepreneurship or English language learning.

Nailah Williams, who drives for Uber, recently earned her degree from ASU Online.

Driver Nailah Williams completed her degree in urban planning this summer. She had already earned some college credits but decided to finish her education when Uber started the tuition coverage program with ASU Online.

Williams minored in sustainability.

“When I was younger, my mom used to work for a planning and development company in Atlanta, so I was inspired because I grew up in the industry,” she said.

“And that’s the way urban planning is going — sustainability.”

Williams, who lives in San Diego, loves being a driver with Uber.

“It gave me freedom to work when I want and earn money without any limits and to provide for my family,” she said. “And when they offered the opportunity to go to school, it was the ideal job.”

She enjoyed learning online.

“I loved CanvasASU's learning management system and how I could interact with classmates. I loved the discussions,” she said. “The professors did a really great job with all the information, and the way everything was organized really helped me with writing the papers.”

Williams is going to take a break before looking for a job in her field. Her advice to other Uber drivers considering the program is to go for it.

“They should figure out what their interests and passions are because there are so many programs at ASU,” she said.

Dennia Grant, whose husband drives for Uber, recently earned her degree through the Uber-ASU partnership.

Dennia Grant, whose husband is a driver with Uber, earned a degree in tourism and recreation management and recently landed a sales job with a major hotel brand.

“I worked full time prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Grant, who lives in Los Angeles. “It was difficult to work, maintain a home and manage a full course load at ASU, but I had a goal and I was determined to see it through.”

Grant encourages those in the program to connect with others in the community through social media.

“We were able to ask questions and keep each other updated on program changes,” she said.

Nearly 2,000 drivers, delivery people and family members are currently pursuing their degrees through the program. The states with highest enrollment are California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas and Florida.

The most popular degree programs for enrollment are information technology, business administration, software engineering, psychology, liberal studies and organization leadership.

The Uber and ASU partnership is open to drivers who have completed at least 3,000 rides, and delivery people with at least 1,000 deliveries, who have achieved gold, platinum or diamond status through the Uber Pro rewards program. The Uber partnership is unique in that it allows drivers to pass tuition coverage to a family member — spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, parent, legal guardian or dependent.

For more information on the program, visit

Top image by SDI Productions/iStock

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News