image title

ASU at Lake Havasu celebrates 10 years of community education

March 16, 2023

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!’”

That fervor for the campus has never waned according to Lake Havasu City Vice Mayor David Lane.

“The city council does not make a decision without discussing how this will affect our relationship with ASU and how we can include ASU in those discussions,” said Lane, a former California Highway Patrolman, who sits on several other local boards and committees. “It’s fascinating what this campus has done for the community. We are teaching to different cultures from around the world and learning from them as well. I recently met a student who had never actually seen a pickup truck in person, only in books. So I tossed her the keys to my pickup truck and said, ‘Go for a drive.’ That’s an experience she got to take back home.”

The economic impact has also been substantial, according to Lisa Krueger, president and CEO of the Lake Havasu City Chamber of Commerce.

“The impact has been amazing. ASU has given us an opportunity to have the very best post-secondary educational experiences for our local residents,” Krueger said. “ASU also brings people from around the world to come and experience Lake Havasu City, study and learn here, and in some cases, make a home here once they’ve completed their studies.”

Second-year business student Haider Virk said he couldn’t think of a better college experience. He originally wanted to attend classes at the Tempe campus, but the more he read about ASU at Lake Havasu City, the more intrigued he became.

“ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business is pretty famous. It’s on par with the Harvard Business School,” said Virk, who hails from Pakistan. “There are many things I like here: small class sizes, better interactions with the faculty, and tuition is cheaper. In terms of the student body, we’re all like a big family because we all know each other.”

The campus’ international reputation also extends to faculty. Leepsa Nabaghan Madhabika, an assistant teaching professor from India, wanted to teach in Lake Havasu City.

“This is a very community-oriented location, and we have a diverse group from a lot of different countries,” said Nabaghan Madhabika, who teaches business classes at the campus. “I have international experience and I want to be able to offer and share that with our students. ”

Since 2012, ASU at Lake Havasu has gone from a quaint campus to a location that offers high-demand degree programs, more than a dozen full-time faculty and a record-high enrollment in fall 2022.

That goal is now within reach with the recent announcement of ASU Local, an innovative hybrid college program that pairs in-person coaching and mentorship with those looking to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“ASU Local brings the best of a global research university to you. At learning environments across the country, we enable students to stay rooted in their communities while pursuing degrees,” said Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of Learning Enterprise. “Students engage in ASU Local’s signature experiences, where we nurture belonging, resilience and in-demand skills. Success coaches guide students and help them navigate every step of the college journey. A hybrid cohort model emphasizes peer-to-peer connections, empowering students to grow their network while developing the capacity to thrive in a competitive job market.”

Anguiano said that they’ve embedded this core design in the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles, the ASU Barbara Barrett and Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C., and Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona.

The campus has reached a milestone and is turning a corner. But it’s also firmly sticking to its roots.

“ASU at Lake Havasu is looking ahead at the next decade and preparing for additional enrollment and engagement growth through innovative programs, partnerships and facilities enhancements,” Harcleroad said. “As the campus adapts and changes in the coming years, it will retain its focus on personalized teaching and learning opportunities and an intimate college experience. The future is bright, and we’re looking forward to our next steps.”

Related stories

Manipulating molecules and minting chemists

ASU makes nursing degree more accessible to students at Lake Havasu location

Top photo: ASU at Lake Havasu Director Carla Harcleroad (center) and Sparky are joined by faculty, staff and community leaders for a ribbon cutting in front of a new sign at Acoma Boulevard and Swanson Avenue to kick off the 10-year anniversary celebration of ASU at Lake Havasu on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

ASU graduate student awarded fellowship to improve scientific web applications

March 16, 2023

Arizona State University graduate research assistant and PhD candidate Nicole Brewer knows the importance of consistency and standardization across web applications and networks to ensure quality and accessibility of information. Now, she will be able to expand on the work she is doing in that space after having been named as one of the 2023 Better Scientific Software Fellows. 

The BSSw Fellowship Program gives recognition and funding to leaders and advocates of high-quality scientific software. Each 2023 fellow will receive up to $25,000 for an activity that promotes better scientific software, such as organizing a workshop, preparing a tutorial or creating content to engage the scientific software community. Portrait of ASU graduate student Nicole Brewer. Nicole Brewer is a PhD candidate for the history and philosophy of science program in the School of Life Sciences at ASU. She is working to make scientific software accessible and reproducible with scientific web applications. Photo courtesy Nicole Brewer Download Full Image

“It’s an exciting and unique award where she will be focusing on improving accessibility of research data and software with scientific web applications,” said Jessica Ranney, assistant director of the Center for Biology and Society

Brewer is a PhD candidate for the history and philosophy of science program in the School of Life Sciences studying the science of science from the perspective of complex systems. Her research focuses on network analysis of scientific publications. She is working to make scientific software accessible and reproducible with scientific web applications. 

Web applications provide accessible ways to disseminate research, teach, engage stakeholders and even update policymakers.

“I'm excited for this particular work, because I feel like I get to continue to promote better software practices in the context of my current research,” Brewer said. 

Brewer’s background is in software engineering and mathematics. She currently serves on the steering committee for the United States Research Software Engineer Association and she holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with computer ccience from Purdue University. 

Previously, she was a research software engineer at Purdue, where she developed web applications for domain scientists who were interested in making their work accessible and reproducible. 

“I was wrapping researcher code in these web interfaces where users can point and click and select data and transform data, or run some sort of computation. And so we did that a number of times and finally turned it into a template, because we didn’t want to repeat ourselves too much,” Brewer said. 

“So the work for this fellowship is to turn that template into a tutorial so that other people can do what we are doing,” she said.  

This fellowship will allow her to  demonstrate how Jupyter Notebooks can be used to easily adapt existing researcher code into web interfaces that hide underlying code from users. Brewer will develop tutorials for developing web applications in Jupyter Notebooks and compile various example applications into a “cookbook” that will provide a reader with recipes for various Jupyter-based web application capabilities.

“It’s a really nice fellowship, and she’s the only grad student to receive this — which is a high honor,” said Jane Maienschein, University Professor of History of Science; Regents, President's and Parents Association Professor; and director of the Center for Biology and Society.

Better Scientific Software is a central hub for sharing information on practices, techniques, experiences and tools to improve CSE software productivity quality and sustainability. It also focus on raising awareness of the importance of good software practices for scientific productivity and the increasing challenges facing CSE software developers as high-end computing heads to extreme scales. 

Brewer and the other fellows standing on stage at the Exascale Computing Project Annual Meeting.

Brewer and the other fellows were recognized at the Exascale Computing Project Annual Meeting in Houston earlier this year. Photo courtesy Lisa Ferichs

The main goal of the BSSw Fellowship program is to foster and promote practices, processes and tools to improve developer productivity and software sustainability of scientific codes. It gives recognition and funding to leaders and advocates of high-quality scientific software. 

Brewer and the other fellows were recognized at the Exascale Computing Project Annual Meeting in Houston earlier this year. 

“I’m honored and thrilled to get this award because I think that the way that we share our software and our data is so important to improving accessibility, especially among researchers,” Brewer said. 

“And now I will be in a position to enable researchers to share their research in new ways, including nontraditional ways that are maybe sort of undervalued now and not very well developed. I get to be a part of promoting new formats and getting credit for them,” she said. 

Dominique Perkins

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Life Sciences