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ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts reorganizes into 3 new schools

April 7, 2023

Structure to allow students and faculty better visibility, opportunities for research and community partnerships

The College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University is reorganizing to better serve students and meet the needs of the East Valley community around ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

The new model, with three new schools, will boost the college’s identity as a distinctive arts and sciences college, grow affinity among students and faculty through applied learning, better align with the rest of the university and increase efficiency, according to Joanna Grabski, dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, or CISA.

“CISA is a dynamic college, and the three-school model is the result of an expansive and thorough process of collaboration that establishes an organizational structure to optimize our distinctive applied degrees and career-connected learning focus,” she said.

The move was critically important to support the changing needs of ASU’s students and the communities served by the college, said ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales. 

“The reorganization will build infrastructure and position CISA to pursue new strategic directions and applied degrees that are desired by today’s students and workforce across the state and nation, and particularly in the East Valley,” Gonzales said. 

“Although CISA offers degrees and courses at three of ASU’s metro campuses, the Polytechnic campus located in the heart of the dynamic and rapidly growing East Valley offers untapped potential for new interdisciplinary programs that CISA will now be poised to lead.”

The ASU Polytechnic water tower

The water tower is a distinctive part of the Polytechnic campus' skyline. “Although CISA offers degrees and courses at three of ASU’s metro campuses, the Polytechnic campus located in the heart of the dynamic and rapidly growing East Valley offers untapped potential for new interdisciplinary programs that CISA will now be poised to lead,” said ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales. Photo by ASU

The degree programs in the college will be organized into the following three schools, with searches underway for directors:

  • The School of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, which will include undergraduate and graduate counseling and counseling psychology degree programs with several focus areas and fields of faculty expertise such as sports and performance counseling, K–12 school counseling, bilingual and bicultural, LGBTQ, military and veterans, first responders and deescalation.
  • The School of Applied Sciences and Arts, which will include applied sciences degrees with concentrations such as pre-dental, pre-veterinary medicine, natural resource ecology, secondary education in biology and sustainable horticulture, as well as liberal arts degrees such as English, communication and history.
  • The School of Applied Professional Studies, which will include degrees in organizational leadership, project management, and technical communication.

“Creation of a hub at the ASU Polytechnic campus for (these schools) will provide opportunities for impact and will optimize our current assets in ways that serve ASU students and the community,” Grabski said. 

Currently, the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts has eight faculty groups serving majors and general studies students at the Polytechnic, Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses, and through ASU Online. Unlike most other ASU colleges, the college previously had no schools or departments.

The College of Integrative Sciences and Arts also offers degrees at several two-year colleges around the state. Coursework is delivered at these sites, allowing transfer students to earn a bachelor’s degree near their homes. The college also offers a general studies degree at the ASU at Lake Havasu location.

Under the new three-school structure, the Polytechnic campus will be the college’s hub, and faculty and staff will plug into the schools from wherever they are and continue to serve students wherever they are.

With the reorganization, some programs will be expanded and others will be added.

The School of Counseling and Counseling Psychology will add concentrations in sports and performance counseling, and school counseling, and it will offer some existing programs online for the first time, according to Laura Jimenez Arista, clinical assistant professor of counseling and applied psychological science.

“The addition of new programs that address market demands can provide students more options, so they can choose degrees that will satisfy the labor needs in our current economy and society,” she said.

The new model will help give the college’s faculty and students a stronger sense of identity, said Manuel Avilés-Santiago, associate dean for academic programs and curricular innovation in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

“We were the only (arts and sciences college at ASU) that didn’t have a school structure, and at ASU that makes it a little challenging. It was hard to explain that CISA was a liberal arts college without having that structure,” he said.

That enhanced identity will make it easier to form community partnerships to benefit students, he said. For example, the School of Counseling and Counseling Psychology will be instantly recognizable to school districts looking for partnerships.

Groups of students walk down a wide sidewalk surrounded by desert trees on the Polytechnic campus

Under the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts reorganization, some programs will be expanded and others will be added, providing students with more options and addressing labor market demands. Photo by ASU

The reorganization process took almost two years and involved extensive collaboration among faculty and staff, with a lot of listening sessions conducted by Grabski’s team and the University Design Institute

Igor Shovkovy, a professor of physics in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said the design process was rigorous.

In 2021, faculty were asked to fill out a design-challenge questionnaire listing which degrees they believed were the most impactful and how to optimize existing expertise.

A year ago, a virtual meeting invited everyone to express their ideas and hear input from others. The next phase was done in several work groups, addressing specific curricular issues.

“Building on CISA’s existing strengths, Dean Grabski and her colleagues utilized a thoughtful process of inclusive design work with CISA faculty and multiple other stakeholders that also integrated insights and emerging trends in higher education,” Gonzales said. “I am excited to see how this forward-looking approach will benefit CISA’s students, faculty and staff and the communities they serve in the years ahead.”

Shovkovy said he believes the reorganization will create a greater sense of community among faculty and lead to new research collaborations for faculty and research opportunities for students.

“Schools with clear identities will boost the visibility of their faculty members. Hopefully, it will help to bring additional external funding, create new collaborations with industry partners and establish stronger connections with the local communities,” he said.

The Arizona Board of Regents voted to approve the new schools earlier this semester.

“ASU’s mission to evolve as a university that is responsive to the communities it serves is ongoing, and our plans for the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts reflects that commitment,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “We appreciate the support of the Arizona Board of Regents as we advance plans, and we look forward to the impact these new schools and their future graduates will have in Arizona and beyond.”

Top photo: Santa Catalina Hall on the Polytechnic campus. Photo by ASU

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


'COMPASS' performance challenges how we think about leadership in US

Show to premiere April 22 in ASU Gammage Beyond series

April 7, 2023

What is your earliest memory of a person in your life taking charge? What’s the angriest you’ve ever been, and why? If you could transform the world, what would it look like?

"COMPASS" asks these questions. The interview-based performance piece tackles advocacy, system change and intersectional feminism and will have its world premiere April 22 as part of the ASU Gammage Beyond series. Dancers in bright yellow and red clothing perform on a backlit blue and black stage. "COMPASS" will have its world premiere April 22 as part of the ASU Gammage Beyond Series. Photo courtesy Ripe Time company Download Full Image

“It’s not a play in the traditional sense of being a play, and it’s not a dance in the traditional sense of seeing dance. It’s somewhere in between,” said Rachel Dickstein, artistic director of Ripe Time company and the show's creator. “What people are watching is about the emotional landscape of what it is to become and realize one’s own agency.”

Ripe Time company is devoted to creating theater based on adaptations from literature and centering around work from women-identifying writers or those writing about the female experience. Originally titled "Candidate X," the idea came to Dickstein about five years ago during an especially raucous political climate in America.

“('COMPASS') was originally going to be about folks running for elected office or already elected that defy standards of the white male patriarchal leadership structures,” Dickstein explained.

However, during the interview process, Dickstein found herself gravitating toward stories from leaders in the local community, schools and community advocacy. The piece also evolved from interviewing only individuals who identify as women to including nonbinary and transgender people as well. It was no longer just about the political context.

“We wanted to broaden our investigation into all individuals offering alternatives to oppressive patriarchal structures,” Dickstein said.

Interview-based theater is the idea that you can create a play out of verbatim testimony from individuals, rooted in a particular moment in time and the constellation of people who provide different points of view of that particular event.

“(The show) is a little bit different in that it is not rooted in a single event, but more so a phenomena — the phenomena that is having alternative leadership structures,” Dickstein said.

Instead of featuring the obstacles individuals faced in taking on leadership roles, Dickstein said she wanted to highlight where their successes were. Questions asked during the interview and the piece as a whole focused more on the positives, such as: “Who is the first person in your life who inspired you by taking agency for themselves?”

Over 40 interviews are represented in the piece. Dickstein made sure to include local voices from the Tempe community and hopes the piece evolves with each city it visits. Dickstein invites theatergoers to connect with the experience through choreography, imagery and text storytelling. Just like its name, "COMPASS" is very much about the strength and mettle one must have to stand up against severe obstacles imposed by society.

Dickstein hopes to inspire audience members toward advocacy in their own communities.

"We hope that coming to see the performance will be an immersion into a psychological landscape of what it is to become and realize one’s own agency,” Dickstein said. “When I interview folks, I feel completely lifted up by their own experience. That’s the experience I want to give the audience.”


7 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at ASU Gammage.

Purchase tickets online.

Alexis Alabado contributed to this article

Jillian Cote

Marketing & Communications Assistant, ASU Gammage