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5 professors join Watts College faculty

3 will teach at ASU’s joint campus with Hainan University in China


Exterior of a building with the words "Watts College of Public Service and Commnity Solutions."
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August 10, 2023

The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions welcomes five new faculty members in the 2023–24 academic year, including three who will be based at Hainan University-Arizona State University International Tourism College (HAITC) in China, Dean Cynthia Lietz announced.

Three of the new professors are in the School of Community Resources and Development, one is in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and one is in the School of Public Affairs.

“My colleagues and I are proud to welcome these respected researchers and educators to the Watts College faculty. All will play important roles in fulfilling the college’s mission to build more vibrant, healthy, equitable communities,” Lietz said.

“Three of the new hires are part of our growing presence at HAITC, where we are preparing students for highly valued careers in tourism development and management, parks and recreation management, and public service and public policy.”

Read on to learn more.

Annus Azhar is an assistant teaching professor in the School of Public Affairs and HAITC who earned a PhD in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University in 2023. Azhar was an instructor at the Punjab Economic Research Institute in Pakistan from 2016 to 2019. At Mississippi State, Azhar taught introductory courses in public policy and American government. Azhar starts work in August.

Jeffry Downey is an assistant teaching professor in the School of Community Resources and Development and HAITC who earned a PhD in recreation, park and tourism sciences from Texas A&M University in 2022. Downey was an instructor and visiting professor at Texas A&M from 2020 to 2023, teaching courses in tourism marketing, applications of tourism principles, service quality in hospitality organizations, and managing hospitality and recreation organizations. Downey starts in August.

Christopher Mayer is an associate teaching professor in the School of Community Resources and Development and HAITC who earned a PhD in interpretation and natural/cultural resource communications from Colorado State University. Mayer had been an associate professor of ecotourism and recreation leadership and a program coordinator at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia, from 2013 to 2023. Mayer starts in August.

Megan Pontes is an assistant teaching professor in the School of Community Resources and Development who earned a PhD in leadership studies from the University of San Diego. Pontes has taught courses in advanced topics in resourcing religious organizations, leadership in group development and social impact strategy: tools for entrepreneurs, introduction to social entrepreneurship and women in leadership. Pontes starts in August.

Joseph Schafer is a full professor in the School of Crimonology and Criminal Justice who earned a PhD in interdisciplinary social sciences (criminal justice) from Michigan State University in 2000. Schafer was undergraduate program director at Saint Louis University from 2022 to 2023, associate dean of research at the College for Public Health and Social Justice at SLU from 2020 to 2022, and a professor of criminology and criminal justice at SLU from 2019 to 2023. Schafer started in May.

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