Anniversary event included ribbon-cutting ceremony, guest speakers, civic officials
Shortly after the onset of the Great Recession, a Lake Havasu middle school sat vacant, and the city needed revitalization.
Its citizens saw opportunity in higher education — specifically the innovation that Arizona State University could bring to the region.
They raised $2 million dollars through bake and T-shirt sales, payroll deduction campaigns and other fundraising activities. A generous donor matched their efforts, and a new college location was born.
That was a decade ago and is ASU at Lake Havasu’s proud origin story.
“It’s hard to believe this ASU location is 10 years old because we still think of ourselves as young, vibrant and evolving,” said Carla Harcleroad, who has served as the executive director for ASU at Lake Havasu since 2020. “We keep growing and innovating in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next decade.”
City council members, business officials, local dignitaries, and ASU faculty and staff marked the occasion in February with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, reception and open house featuring several guest speakers tied to the campus’ history. Sparky was there, too.
Video by Ken Fagan/ASU News
“President Michael Crow saw this as a place to try and experiment. We tried lots of different things to make this place different and stand out from the rest of ASU,” said David Young, who was ASU at Lake Havasu’s first director and served from 2012–17. “From the very beginning, we emphasized to students to become engaged and volunteer whenever they could because this was truly a community effort. This place would not have happened without the community getting behind this project.”
Rich Stanley, ASU senior vice president and university planner, said the success of the campus is due to the unwavering support of the community, businesses, committees, school boards, non-profit organizations and citizens banding together.
“ASU said to the world, ‘We’re interested in finding places outside our metropolitan areas,’ and Lake Havasu was one of the places that raised their hand and said, ‘We’d like to talk to you about it,’” Stanley said. “We gradually found too many things that were hard to do but everybody kept talking and kept saying, ‘We can find a solution.’ They were the ones who kept this thing going, and so here we are.”
Lake Havasu City Councilwoman Jeni Coke was involved since the beginning. She said the Great Recession hit the city hard. People moved away, city coffers were dwindling, and businesses suffered and shuttered. And the citizens knew that an ASU location could turn things around.
“Arizona State University wanted a rural campus. We wanted to be the rural campus,” said Coke, who has been a Lake Havasu City resident for 23 years. “We had a perfect location by downtown. It was everything they were looking for, and the shoe fit. This community raised $2 million and said, ‘We want this!’”