Sustainability, civic engagement projects awarded for local, global impact
Arizona State University President Michael Crow honored staff and faculty members during the 2022 President’s Awards ceremony, held Dec. 8 in the Ventana Ballroom of the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus.
The annual event recognizes collaborative initiatives that have demonstrated excellence in advancing the university’s mission. The categories include: the President's Award for Global Engagement, the President's Award for Innovation, the President's Award for Sustainability and the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness.
Four employees were also nominated by peers to be honored with a Serving University Needs (SUN) Award.
Submissions for the 2023 President's Awards will be open from Jan. 11–Feb. 17. Next year's awards cycle will include a new award, the President’s Award for Transdisciplinary Collaboration. This award seeks to recognize multidisciplinary project teams undertaking exemplary collaboration with participants from different sectors — academia, business and industry, government laboratories and agencies, and organizations in civil society — to address a complex societally relevant issue.
Here's a look at the 2022 winners:
President’s Award for Global Engagement
Added as a new category this year, the President’s Award for Global Engagement went to Pamela DeLargy, professor of practice within the School of Politics and Global Studies and a senior global futures scholar.
As the executive director of Education for Humanity, DeLargy and her team work to bring higher education to camp-based and urban refugees in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Uganda and Ethiopia.
DeLargy was introduced by Nasiba Hakimi, one of 64 Afghan women who sought refuge in Arizona and began attending ASU last spring.
“It was hard to leave our family, friends and our country, but we had no choice,” Hakimi said. “Ms. Pam knows that we are committed to our education. She works side-by-side with us and is an amazing example of humanity.”
Hakimi also added that DeLargy is an inspiration for giving back.
“Ms. Pam is a real model for me. I'm inspired to help other people, whether it is with the Afghan community or others,” she said.
President’s Award for Innovation
This award recognizes ASU personnel who demonstrate the university's commitment to higher education through the development and execution of innovative projects, programs, initiatives, services and techniques. Solutions may be motivated by social, economic, artistic or intellectual challenges, while creating value for the university and the broader community. Two projects were awarded this year.
ASU Clean Indoor Air Project
The project is a public health initiative to bring cleaner indoor air to K–12 schools across Arizona, in an effort to slow COVID-19 transmission. The Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (AIDE) team within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change created an innovative DIY solution using four filters and a box fan, called the Corsi-Rosenthal (CR) box.
Led by infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Professor Megan Jehn, the team deployed this solution to more than 300 K–12 classrooms across Arizona.
“About 90% of our local schools are under-ventilated,” Jehn said. “CR boxes have been shown to work as effectively as portable commercial HEPA filters at a fraction of the cost. Another goal of the project is to increase awareness about the importance of indoor air quality, and we’re doing it in a fun, engaging way in our classrooms.”
“This is a simple, hands-on public health intervention that has an immediate impact on the health of our local community," President Crow said during the ceremony. "What an ASU thing to come up with a solution that then also becomes an instructional opportunity.”
The Map and Geospatial Hub 3D Explorer
The ASU Library's customized web application allows users to virtually tour library spaces while digitally discovering and accessing library resources. Users can conduct text and location-based searches for all sorts of geographic information resources, such as maps and aerial photography.
The Map and Geospatial Hub 3D Explorer allows learners of all abilities to gain knowledge anywhere in the world, which Crow said upholds ASU's fundamental principle of accessibility.
“This is an online tool for scaling the accessibility of ASU's learning and research resources for its increasingly global community,” Crow said. “By literally mapping the ASU Library map collection, the tool innovatively empowers all ASU affiliates and the general global public to access the library's robust research resources, fortifying the university's status as the leader in 21st century information access.”
President’s Award for Sustainability
This year's winner was the Garden Commons, a community garden at the ASU Polytechnic campus, which educates students about a holistic food system and connects them to the land through hands-on learning opportunities.
Students grow and harvest their own crops all while learning about sustainable food systems and how to reestablish our relationship with food and where it comes from. The garden is home to 18 raised, organic garden beds, more than a dozen citrus trees, a pavilion and a small outdoor event space.
Susan Norton, assistant director of Sustainability Practices and founder of the Garden Commons said the garden attracts students from all disciplines, even robotics majors.
“The garden provides classes and student engagement events that focus on food system themes, sustainability, environmental awareness and wellness,” she said. “More than education, we also harvest food for the farm stand and donate to surrounding food banks.”
The Garden Commons Farm Stand offers fresh produce to students at no cost and to staff at a nominal cost, as well as surrounding food banks.
“It's really a fun place where people come together and then they talk about it with their peers," said Melissa Kruz-Peeples, program coordinator in Sustainability Practices. "There's exposure to new things and foods.”
WATCH: ASU Garden Commons
President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness
Launched in 2021, the social embeddedness award honors employees and projects that exemplify excellence in collaborating with the community to develop and implement mutually beneficial solutions and outcomes. This year, five teams were honored with an award for this category.
ASU Bridging Success
Since 2015, this universitywide, campus-based program, housed in the School of Social Work within Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, has served more than 500 students who've experienced foster care. In addition to outreach support services like navigating the college application process, peer interactions, mental health assistance, and academic and financial support, Bridging Success offers foster care alumni an early start program, which allows students to arrive on campus prior to the start of school to learn about the classes and meet with other students.
Justine Cheung, senior program coordinator, said that while she and her team are honored to receive this award, it’s truly a collaborative effort that makes the difference in the lives of so many children and adults who’ve been through the foster system.
“Today is specifically focused on the joint advisory council that we run with Maricopa Community College Districts,” Cheung said. “I love that I'm at a university that takes the time to recognize social embeddedness and that our charter says that we take responsibility for the fundamental health of our communities. I don't know any other universities that do that, and therefore, I'd be at no other place.”
“We're going to figure out how to help every student that arrives from whatever background that they come from, whatever life circumstance that they have,” Crow said.
Libraries as Community Hubs for Citizen Science
In partnership with science-based organizations and hundreds of public libraries nationwide, a team from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, within the College of Global Futures, is designing and facilitating a new model for university community collaboration.
The Libraries as Community Hubs for Citizen Science project uses libraries to crowdsource information for scientific questions that cannot be answered by one single source.
Darlene Cavalier, professor of practice and senior global futures scholar, said she sees science as a way to engage as many people as possible in things that they are curious or concerned about.
“Sometimes this also happens to advance and answer scientific questions,” she said. “These are ways for regular people, no matter what their background is, to find answers for themselves and others.”
Established in 2017, Project Cities connects higher education with the local community creating a combination of knowledge, resources and collaborative solutions to better the future. Over the past five years, Project Cities has partnered with core communities in Arizona to facilitate 75 initiatives led by 35 faculty across eight ASU colleges, and has directly engaged more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Crow said Project Cities is a prime example of social embeddedness as it is a collaboration among the creativity and minds of students, faculty and partners across the state, nation and globe.
“You might notice, we have no physical walls around this institution. We have no ivory towers, we have no walls of ivy, and that's all by design,” he said. “This project takes on a major global challenge, which is how do you take the energy of our students and the problems in different cities. The learning experiences are fantastic, the solutions are fantastic. The outcomes are fantastic. Any of that is the process of being socially embedded, being real, being engaged and not being behind some kind of wall.”
STEM and Social Capital: Advancing Families through Learning and Doing
Connecting the work of seven ASU colleges and schools, STEM and Social Capital focuses on developing STEM career aspirations of students in grades seven through 12 with refugee backgrounds.
Project activities include families participating in a college knowledge program, visiting ASU campuses on STEM-focused field trips and discussing videos that feature STEM professionals who were refugees. Students in the program also connect with STEM mentors drawn from their own communities.
Crow told the audience that Phoenix and Arizona is home to a very high population of refugees from all over the world and said this project enhances all of our collective learning and experiences.
“You all have found a way again, in the spirit of social embeddedness, to link the institution and an important set of subject areas. This is further evidence of our way in which the richness and the abundance of the university is almost without limit,” he said.
ASU Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program
The ASU Inside-Out Prison Exchange is a community-based learning program through a partnership between the ASU Center for Correctional Solutions and the Arizona Department of Corrections that focuses on rehabilitation and reentry. During the semester, 10 ASU students visit with 10 incarcerated students with the ultimate goal of breaking down the walls between the classroom and prison.
Kevin Wright, associate professor and director of the Center for Correctional Solutions within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said another important goal is to empower students to impact their communities positively
“I love being in Watts because this work actually lifts people up. It's not just stuff we can do and give lip service to, and the work is amazing,” Wright said.
The program has facilitated nine Inside-Out classes at three prisons, with more than 175 inside and outside students identifying as alumni.
Top SUN Award recipients
The following employees were also recognized as top SUN Awards recipients:
- Keriann Espersen, assistant manager, global curriculum solutions, University Office of the Provost.
- Westin McDonald, project manager, communications and web services, Print and Imaging Lab.
- Norma Peru-Ray, senior program coordinator, math and natural sciences divison.
- Danielle Winhold, academic success advisor, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
Top photo: President's Awards trophies sit on a table before the start of the 2022 ceremony on Dec. 8. All photos by Tim Trumble