ASU's Lev Gonick named Arizona CIO of the Year

May 5, 2023

On Friday, April 18, Arizona State University Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick was named the 2023 Arizona CIO of the Year as part of the 2023 Arizona ORBIE Awards. The annual event honors the most innovative and transformative technology leaders in the state.

In his role as CIO, Gonick leads ASU’s Enterprise Technology – a staff of 900-plus people dedicated to the advancement of the digital ecosystem.  ASU CIO Lev Gonick Lev Gonick Download Full Image

Under Gonick's stewardship, Enterprise Technology has been recognized for initiatives dedicated to helping the ASU community thrive. Such projects include Digital Backpack, a collection of learning tools for students, and Learning Futures, a living laboratory for students to experiment with emerging immersive technology. 

“Lev has revolutionized ASU’s technology enterprise to keep us moving forward, no matter the challenge,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “He’s a driver of our culture of innovation.”

With a deep commitment to living out ASU’s charter, teams at Enterprise Technology recently received a $34.6 million grant to increase broadband access to 20,000 households and 150 community anchor institutions in Maricopa County.

“Lev has been able to exceed his goal of evolving ASU’s technology organization to better address community needs,” said Chris Howard, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ASU Public Enterprise, in his official letter of support for the ORBIE.

Gonick's vision for expanding digital access and equity at scale is fundamentally human centered, whether connecting student employees with career opportunities or developing the Technical Upskilling Program to help people break into IT careers. 

A lifelong technology advocate

Gonick’s vision for a fully connected digital world began long before he came to ASU. In 1992, he took internet equipment to Zimbabwe to increase social and economic impact through internet connectivity. He then co-founded and was the CEO of Digital C, an award-winning nonprofit organization dedicated to innovating technology for the public good. 

From 2001–13, he served as the CIO at Case Western Reserve University. While there, he created the Case Connection Zone, a project that later led to other connectivity initiatives, such as US Ignite and Gig.U. Gonick also joined the board of advisors for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, a position in which he still serves today.

At ASU, he co-founded ShapingEDU, a global community of education and innovation enthusiasts devoted to using technology to improve learning in the digital age, and T4 Leadership Academy, which aims to help professionals evolve into adaptable, resilient and socially-minded leaders skilled in empowering others. 

With digital learning being a top priority, Gonick also co-founded Learning Experience, which provides workshops and technical resources that enhance teaching and learning, and the ASU Information Security and Digital Trust, an initiative committed to keeping data safe and cultivating trust within the ASU community.

A history of recognition

Gonick’s latest accolade adds to a history of recognition across the field. In 2022, EdScoop honored him in its “50 Awards,” which honors influential higher-education leaders. Before that, in 2015, Inside Business Magazine added him to the Power 100 list, while in 2011 Government Technology called him a "Top 25 Doer, Dreamer & Driver in Public-Sector Innovation.” 

Crain’s Business Cleveland named him one of its “10 Difference Makers,” and Broadband Properties gave him the Cornerstone Award for "using fiber to build an inclusive society and empower individuals.” Gonick has also been named “Visionary of the Year” by NATOA, a Premier 100 IT leader by Computer World, and a CIO 100 by CIO magazine

“I am continually guided by ASU’s charter of inclusion — our North Star — to bring opportunity to our local and global communities through the power of technology,” Gonick said. “There is so much more for us to accomplish, and I know we’ll go further and faster through strategic collaboration.”

Written by Samantha Becker, executive director, creative and communications, Office of the CIO. Jennifer Moore contributed to this article.

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Young students take the stage at ASU Gammage thanks to Disney grant

May 5, 2023

Disney Musicals in Schools program aims to create sustainable theater programs in elementary schools

On May 2, more than 115 elementary students from Tempe and Phoenix had the opportunity to sing and dance on the ASU Gammage stage through the Disney Musicals in Schools program.

The grant from Disney enables ASU Gammage to offer the program to four schools. Disney Musicals in Schools is designed to create sustainable theater programs in elementary schools. Through the program, participating schools produced a musical in their school community and joined in a culminating performance on the ASU Gammage stage.

This year's participating schools were Desert Spirit Elementary School, Emerson Elementary School, Eisenhower Center for Innovation and Palm Lane Elementary School.

“Exposing students to the arts, the earlier you're able to do that the more likely it will grow into a lifelong love of the arts, and every year that goes by we're planting more theater programs around the valley so the number of schools affected, and students affected, will only grow,” said Desiree Ong, the program's manager.

The selected schools participated in a 17-week musical theater residency, led by a team of teaching artists trained by ASU Gammage and Disney Theatrical Group, at no cost. Each school received performance rights, educational support materials and guidance from the teaching artists.

The program featured a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partnered with ASU Gammage teaching artists to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph and music direct, culminating in their first 30-minute musical at their school. 

The Student Share Celebration at ASU Gammage on May 2 was the culmination of this year’s program.

ASU Gammage was filled with the elementary students, teachers and their families. The young performers presented their performances from “Jungle Book Jr.,” “Aladdin Jr.” and “The Lion King Jr.," each school presenting one number.

The evening concluded with a heartwarming finale that included all student participants on the stage together singing “It Starts with a Dream,” an original Alan Menken number that was composed for Disney Musicals in Schools.

“I've seen some students who I think were looking for an outlet like this, and this has been really positive for them," Emerson Elementary School Principal Nicholas Lodato said. "It's helped them to exercise an interest and a desire that they've had — they've just not had a music production to put on and express it. It’s like they’ve finally found their place right there."