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2 from ASU elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 22, 2021

ASU President Michael Crow, Shakespeare and race scholar Ayanna Thompson honored for achievements

Two members of the Arizona State University community are named in the new membership rolls of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced on April 22.

ASU President Michael Crow and Regents Professor of English Ayanna Thompson are among those newly elected to the prestigious academy, one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Others elected this year include former Starbucks CEO Howard D. Schultz, Oprah Winfrey, former U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, journalist Maria Hinojosa, activist Angela Y. Davis and neurosurgeon and medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Members are recognized for their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs. Their charge is to conduct policy studies and nonpartisan public policy advocacy.

The academy was founded in 1780 and included George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in its first membership cohort. Over 1,300 nominations are considered each year; in 2020, around 270 members were elected — including two from ASU

“We are honoring the excellence of these individuals, celebrating what they have achieved so far, and imagining what they will continue to accomplish,” David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy, said of this year's newly elected members. “The past year has been replete with evidence of how things can get worse; this is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge and leadership that can make a better world.”

Headshot of ASU Professor

Ayanna Thompson

Thompson, who directs the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), is an internationally recognized scholar of Shakespeare, race and performance. She is the author of several books, including “Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Sellars” (2018), “Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach,” co-authored with Laura Turchi (2016), “Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America” (2011), and “Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage” (2008). She is the editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race” (2021), “Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance” (2010) and “Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance” (2006). She wrote the new introduction for the revised Arden3 “Othello” (2016) and is collaborating with Curtis Perry on the Arden4 edition of “Titus Andronicus.”

“I am truly honored by this recognition, and I hope to use this platform to amplify the needs of BIPOCBIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, people of color. scholars in the academy,” Thompson said. 

Her most recent book, “Blackface” (2021), unearths the history and legacy of the performance of Blackness, from premodern stages to contemporary media. Thompson discussed the book with students and faculty in a virtual event as part of ASU’s TomorrowTalks series on April 15.

Thompson is a Shakespeare scholar-in-residence at The Public Theater in New York. She chairs the Council of Scholars at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, New York, serves on the board of Play On Shakespeare, serves as a trustee on the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company and previously served on the board for Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C.

When Thompson began her tenure as director of ACMRS in 2018, she announced that the center’s mission would be daring and inclusive. “This will be the place where people want to go to try out their new ideas,” she promised. “… My goal is for this to be the world-leading center for the study of medieval and Renaissance work."

By many accounts, Thompson has already accomplished that goal. ACMRS has played host to globe-spanning events and has been recognized in national media for its vision and impactful work. The center’s wildly successful RaceB4Race series challenges scholars of premodern studies everywhere to acknowledge race as a lens for investigation, to support scholars of color and to address the systemic inequity in their universities and institutions. Publishers Weekly announced that ACMRS Press, another new venture by the center, was “pulling Shakespeare into the 21st century,” with the publication of the Play On Shakespeare series. And most recently, Thompson helped guide a cluster hiring initiative that will bring five new faculty of color to the Department of English and ACMRS in fall 2021.

“Ayanna Thompson is amazing, and the work that she undertakes is changing the world,” said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, of which both the Department of English and ACMRS are part. “I’ve never met anyone so brilliant, visionary and selfless: Everything she does is for a greater good. I joke that I have made a second career out of composing tributes to her latest achievements — and there have been so many well-earned ones over the past few years! Her election into AAAS is extraordinarily special. The humanities community is fortunate to have her with us, blazing a trail towards a better future.”

Headshot of ASU President

Michael Crow

Crow, who spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of the world’s best public metropolitan research universities, is an educator and a science and technology policy scholar in addition to being a higher education leader. As a model “New American University,” ASU simultaneously demonstrates comprehensive excellence, inclusivity representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the United States, and consequential societal impact.

Lauded as the “No. 1 most innovative” school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for six straight years, ASU is a student-centric, technology-enabled university focused on global challenges. Under Crow’s leadership, ASU has established 25 new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and important initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Since Crow took the helm of ASU in 2002, research expenditures have grown from $110 million to $639.6 million in expenditures in fiscal year 2019, putting the university at No. 6 in the latest National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development rankings. Enrollment has grown to more than 120,000 students while success metrics have kept pace: First-year retention and four-, five- and six-year graduation rates have all increased since the start of Crow’s tenure, and the student body’s demographics have diversified to better match that of the state.

The inaugural recipient of the ACE Award for Institutional Transformation, Crow is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Public Administration, and a published author.

“It is with deep appreciation that I welcome my election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” Crow said. “It is recognition of the incredible evolution of this institution, which is the result not of my work alone but the collective effort of so many to advance our charter — pursuing excellence in the classroom, the lab and in the community, opening access to education to learners across their life span and across demographics, and working in and with communities to make life better for all. There is unbelievable potential when we step away from how we’ve always done things and move toward new ideas and new approaches, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

For a complete list of new American Academy of Arts and Sciences members, visit the organization’s website.

Leah Newsom and Kristen LaRue-Sandler contributed to this story.

ASU named a 'best value college' by The Princeton Review

April 22, 2021

Arizona State University was named a Best Value College for 2021 by The Princeton Review. ASU is among 200 school profiles featured and selected out of more than 650 institutions that were considered for the ranking.

The Princeton Review considered more than 40 data points to tally the return on investment ratings of the colleges to determine its school selection. Topics included academics, cost, financial aid, graduation rates, student debt, and career and salary data. girl laying in bed taking classes on her laptop Download Full Image

It notes that the schools chosen are the most exceptional in the nation at delivering great academics, affordable cost and great career foundations.

ASU has been at the forefront of providing affordable and accessible quality education, welcoming its largest student community to date when, nationally, college enrollment was declining.

Historically, the university has maintained a model that ensures students have limited financial barriers to attend the university and have access to the maximum amount of financial aid available. And despite recent challenges, the university is committed to providing a quality academic experience, available to all students regardless of their geographical location, to ensure they remain on track to graduation.

Beyond graduation, 89% of undergraduate students start their own business or receive at least one job offer within six months of graduation.

The Princeton Review is also widely known for its college rankings in dozens of other categories which the university is also a part of such as Best 386 Colleges and Best Business School lists.

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ASU Staff Council sponsors 1st Diversity and Inclusion Conference

April 13, 2021

Two-day virtual event examines the myriad efforts underway at the university to combat social injustice

In fall 2020, after a renewed cry for social justice in America, Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced the university’s commitment to address social transformation by implementing 25 actions designed to support Black faculty, staff and students.

The LIFT Initiative, which aims to Listen, Invest, Facilitate and Teach, is a universitywide effort to support equity and inclusion and to advance the national conversation about social justice. Those efforts are being led by ASU’s new Advisory Council on African American Affairs, which is co-chaired by Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, vice president of ASU Cultural Affairs, and Jeffrey Wilson, a professor of economics in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

As part of those collective efforts to “accelerate meaningful change,” the ASU Staff Council sponsored its first Diversity and Inclusion Conference on April 8–9. The event, which was held virtually on Zoom, created a space for reflection, collaboration and action.

In a prerecorded message, Crow thanked participants and attendees for their efforts to make ASU a comprehensively diverse and inclusive institution that lives up to its charter — and emphasized the hard work that’s still ahead.

Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2021

ASU President Michael Crow posed some of the difficult questions that ASU students, staff and faculty are facing regarding how best to achieve inclusion and diversity.

“It’s not just about the diversity of our student body or the inclusivity of our student body,” said Crow. “It’s about our workforce. It’s about our environment. It’s about our culture. It’s about how we’re thinking, how we’re moving forward.

“What you have to ask yourself is: How do we do better? How do we create an environment where everyone feels welcome and comfortable and culturally expressive, culturally creative? How do we make that all happen?”

The inaugural conference’s many voices helped shape some of those conversations. Valencia Clement, a doctoral student in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College who is studying educational policy, shared her perspective on social justice through an enlightening poem called “Parasites of the Planet.” The Haitian American artist, scholar, activist and entrepreneur from Queens, New York, said she wrote the poem after working with the city of Tempe and the ASU Office of Sustainability.

Clement explained, “It’s not just about justice for the planet, it’s also about justice for the people — especially for the people who are disproportionately impacted by climate change — like unsheltered populations, people in developing countries, etc.”

Although the LIFT Initiative was born from ideas and feedback from ASU’s students, faculty and staff, this conference leaned on perspectives from community partners and leaders who advocate for social justice on a daily basis.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Danielle Shoots, the founder and CEO of the Daily Boss Up, a digital startup focused on professional development, and vice president and CFO for the Colorado Trust, a private health equity foundation. She said she’s optimistic about the collective leadership taking place in our nation right now.

Danielle Shoots keynote speaker

Danielle Shoots, founder and CEO of digital startup the Daily Boss Up and vice president and CFO for health equity foundation the Colorado Trust, offered the keynote address at the ASU Staff Council Diversity and Inclusion Conference.

“I think that people really are learning this work and engaging in this work in such a way that is profoundly exciting and gives me so much hope to be a part of it, and to watch where we’re moving as a country and as people in this space," she said. "All the things that we do and who we influence and who we interact with in our environments, in our cultures, require us to lead, especially this conversation.”

Leadership is a key component to inclusion, as expressed by Grace O’Sullivan, vice president of corporate engagement and strategic partnerships at ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise, and Minu Ipe, managing director and vice chair of the University Design Institute at ASU, whose presentation was titled “How Do We Create a Level Playing Field for Women?”

In order to create an inclusive university — to benefit all underrepresented groups and individuals — everyone must be a leader, no matter where they sit, explained O’Sullivan and Ipe. They shared the importance of developing an intentional “personal board of directors” — the advocates who can help make the work visible to others — and the importance of speaking up, especially within “spheres of influence.” They believe everyone is a part of the solution.

“There have been times in my career at ASU where I didn’t know I could speak up and change things,” said O’Sullivan. “I thought I just had to make it work — nose to the grindstone, take what was given to me and just make that work. Anything is possible, as long as you’ve thought about it, you have a good proposal, you have some data and experience to support it.”

Ipe points out that ASU has momentum right now, with the university’s recent shift at the top: the hiring of three women to lead the university’s three enterprises. But more must be done.

“This is an invitation to all of us to say, we are all in it together and what we do may not always be visibly moving the needle, but if enough of us are involved, there will be momentum that propels the institution forward, especially when it comes to leveling the playing field,” said Ipe.

The conference hit on key topics, like cultivating an equitable and inclusive educational and working environment, creating inclusive events, making mentorship opportunities available and designing inclusive online courses.

“What I think is really important about what President Crow is doing with the 25-point plan he put together is really helping to lift all of ASU, to look at our charter as our aspirational selves,” said Jennings-Roggensack. “We will be valued and measured by whom we include, not whom we exclude, and the success of those we include.”

Jennings-Roggensack provided a detailed update of the progress of the Advisory Council on African American Affairs, including plans for a multicultural center at all of ASU's campuses and the locations in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. By July, she says, the council should have the designs and timelines ready for review.

ASU Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2021

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, vice president of ASU Cultural Affairs and co-chair of ASU’s new Advisory Council on African American Affairs, gave an update on the plan to create multicultural centers on every ASU campus.

To understand where ASU stands, and where the university needs to go, the council put together a report on the history of African Americans at the university. The council has also been conducting “stay interviews,” asking those who are part of the ASU community what’s working and what’s not, especially those in staff positions. ASU is also reimagining campus security, exploring what policing means at the university and what other resources are needed to keep the community safe.  

The goal of the two-day conference was to raise awareness about social issues and to help attendees apply practical steps to shift culture and to create more inclusive institutions by giving everyone a voice, especially those who are underrepresented in various facets of society.

Top photo by ASU News. Conference screen grabs by Jimena Garrison/ASU News

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts to welcome new dean

April 8, 2021

Art historian Joanna Grabski will lead the college effective July 1

When Joanna Grabski took over as director of the School of Art at Arizona State University, she increased enrollment 20%, rebranded it as a globally oriented school for the 21st century, established several interdisciplinary and cross-program collaborations, increased access to the arts for an expanded community of learners, and designed new programs and initiatives to leverage ASU’s No. 1 ranking in innovation as well as its commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.  

Now Grabski has been named the next dean for the College of Integrative Science and Arts, ASU’s fourth-largest college. It’s home to more than 6,300 undergraduate majors at ASU’s Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix and Tempe campuses as well as the Lake Havasu location and ASU Online, with more than 200 graduate students and more than 350 faculty.

It’s a springboard from community colleges into the university system and a landing pad for returning adults who want to complete their degrees. The college’s degrees integrate applied learning, creativity and theory and include specialty fields such as technical communication and user experience, sustainable horticulture, natural resource ecology, preveterinary medicine and counseling psychology.

With a doctorate in art history and African studies from Indiana University, Grabski has applied sustained participatory ethnographic practices and interviews in studying African artists for more than two decades. This work includes two books, numerous articles, curated exhibitions and a feature length documentary film about the narratives around a secondhand goods market in Dakar, Senegal. Her work has been supported by several fellowships, grants and awards, including from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

She begins her new position July 1. ASU News sat down with her to discuss her new role and what she hopes to accomplish.

Question: You are stepping into a different role from what you've done before. How do you feel about that?

Answer: I am incredibly excited and very honored to have the opportunity to lead the college and to continue contributing to ASU. I'm absolutely thrilled — over the moon actually.

Q: What direction do you want to take the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts?

A: The critical thing will be for me to get a better understanding of the landscape and all the contributions that Dean (Duane) Roen put in place. I understand that he's had great success with building a community, serving students, building out online programs and igniting new programs, basically. I need to get a sense of all that he's accomplished. I'd like to build on those successes of course, and then really optimize the way that CISA can be a connector. A couple of the features that really strike me — that I think really compelled me to apply for the job — are the uniqueness of CISA’s position across campuses. They're really important in terms of being a portal of entry for community college students and for accessing educational pathways for students coming from LA. So there's a lot happening that sounds like we can optimize it and really increase the impacts. The idea of many points of entry is really interesting. The ability to be a connector is really interesting across programs.

Q: What else was of interest to you at the college?

A: Another thing that was really of interest to me was the idea of them being a hub for experiential and applied learning. I see that as absolutely critical to President (Michael) Crow's vision of building out the economy here, in creating a workforce. So that was a big factor in my enthusiasm. They have a number of applied degree programs. So I'm very interested in finding ways to build those out to continue to maximize the impacts, and then also find ways for students to get internships that lead to jobs so they can have wonderful lives and contribute to the economy. So that's really exciting to me.

Top image: The next dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Joanna Grabski. Photo courtesy Ryan Parra

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News


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Meet the new director of ASU's Institute for Humanities Research

April 6, 2021

Nicole Anderson says societal problems such as racial discrimination and climate change can be eased by the humanities

COVID-19 has impacted lives across the globe in a variety of ways. Some have lost loved ones, others have lost their jobs or their homes, and many suffered isolation from friends and family. In Nicole Anderson’s case, it meant staying eight months in Australia before claiming her new job at Arizona State University.

Anderson, the new director at ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research (IHR), safely arrived on U.S. soil in March and is about four weeks into her new job, ready to resume her life and career.

She's also ready to share her experience and wealth of knowledge with the ASU community. Anderson's research interests are interdisciplinary and span fields such as cultural theory and practice, art theory, posthumanism, animal and environmental studies, ethics, bioculture, biopolitics, poststructuralism and continental philosophy.

ASU News spoke to Anderson about the past year, what the future might bring and how she can help students understand the importance of the humanities.

Question: You were originally supposed to arrive at ASU about a year ago, but the pandemic struck. What was the past year like for you?

Answer: It has been a challenging year for everyone everywhere in different ways. For me, over the last year my aim was to keep those around me in Sydney, as head of a large school/department, as well as myself — amidst uncertainty around obtaining a visa, challenging government travel restrictions and cancelled flights — focused, motivated and forward-looking. That was helped by the fact that I felt incredibly fortunate and privileged to have the support of ASU in general and in particular my colleagues Dean Jeffrey Cohen and Ron Broglio, associate director of IHR, as well as the patience of the wonderful IHR staff. The empathy and generosity extended to me during this past year is testament to the strong leadership and values of ASU. I look forward to repaying that incredible generosity.

Q: Why are the humanities critical right now in 2021?

A: One way I tried to explain the humanities to my inquisitive young nephew once was to tell him it concerns the way we think about ourselves. I even gave him the idea that if we ever colonize Mars, he could think of the humanities as providing diverse tools — philosophy, history, politics, literature, art, media and so on — to represent, communicate, transform, shape or create the new world we might live in (Mars) and understand the world (Earth) we came from and the history of human endeavor; in other words, our story. What is critical is how and for what purpose we tell those stories.

For this reason, I believe that the problems we face today — such as climate change denial; sexual, gender and racial discrimination; poverty; and the role of technology to name but a few — are not merely technical and economical in nature, but have to do with what and how human beings are taught to value and how they go about interpreting their world. To change values and perspectives it is not enough to present facts: Cimate science denial is an example. What makes the humanities critical right now is that it can provide a narrative that includes ethical and social justice rhetoric and stories around these issues that the general public can understand and that presents another interpretation or view of the world, with which they can interact. Part of what the humanities can do is turn the facts into the compelling stories that need to be told and influence and change the way people view the world.

Q: How can the humanities create just, ethical and sustainable worlds?

A: As we all know in the past few years there has been increasing public skepticism around "facts" and with that an escalation of tensions in many areas of thought. The humanities provides the visual, oral and digital communication skills about who we are and where we are going, and through the myriad forms of story can continue to shape the cultural, social, political and ethical imagination in socially just and inclusive ways. How the humanities can do this is through research and translating that research into our teaching. It comes down to how we collaborate with each other as well as the sciences and industry here, now, today. It is about the relevance of what is learnt in the classroom and in our research and the way we connect, convey or communicate that to students and/or the general public, so that better more thoughtful approaches to issues can be embraced.

Q: Tell me briefly what it is that the Institute for Humanities Research does and what is the scope of its work?

A: The IHR exists to facilitate research in all its varied forms. It supports research projects, it increasingly enables internal and external grants and fellowships that bring visibility to the university, and it puts on events that address the issues we are facing today in order to inspire and generate ideas and further interdisciplinary collaborations. A distinctly modern initiative is working with the sciences because they are impacting our lives more dramatically every day.

Q: What do you hope you will bring to the institute and how will it change or evolve?

A: The IHR has increased research and grown an inspiring program of events — see the newsletters — due to a range of previous directors, including the amazing work of founding director Sally Kitch and Cora Fox. More recently this is particularly due to the strong leadership of both Elizabeth Langland and Ron Broglio. Also the work that has been done by IHR staff: Elizabeth Grumbach, Lauren Whitby, Celina Osuna, Barbara Dente and Sarah Moser, has been incredibly professional and outstanding. My aim is not to come in and simply change things for the sake of it, but to respect their legacy by building on the work they have done and in consultation with them, the faculty and the university.

So it is for these reasons that as director of IHR I would want to continue to promote and support the various ways that humanities research already fosters an understanding of how humans continue to shape, traditions, customs and cultures; foster the values of dignity, agency and equity; and continue to situate the institute as the facilitator in inter- and cross-disciplinary research collaborations; making ASU greater than the sum of its parts. In and through all of this, at the same time the IHR could develop as a provider or facilitator of significant and innovative contributions and solutions to industry, government, community and the real-world problems of our times, and to increasingly engage and involve all ASU students and faculty.

Q: What’s the best thing you think you’ll like about ASU and living in the States?

A: ASU represents the best of the United States in enabling opportunities and possibilities to contribute to effecting positive and socially just changes for a better world for all. Also the inter- and cross-disciplinary work that is allowed to happen at ASU is incredibly exciting because it is empowering and innovative.

Top photo: Nicole Anderson is the new director of ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research. She earned her PhD from the University of Sydney. She recently served as the head/dean of a large interdisciplinary department (Media-Communications, Creative Arts, Language and Literature) at a leading university in NSW, Australia. Anderson is the co-founder and chief editor of the journal Derrida Today, published by Edinburgh University Press, and the founder and executive director of the Derrida Today Conferences. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Indigenous Culture Week emphasizes unification

April 2, 2021

There’s something new this year for Indigenous Culture Week.

It’s the word “Indigenous.” Sacramento Knoxx portrait Interdisciplinary artist Sacramento Knoxx will lead a live performance and an interactive workshop as part of Indigenous Culture Week at ASU. Download Full Image

Previously known as Native American Culture Week, and before that, American Indian Culture Week, the new name can be accredited to the advocacy and hard work of current Indigenous students. 

“We’re unpacking this term ‘Indigenous’ and sharing it with our communities,” said Lourdes Pereira (Hia-Ced O’odham and Yoeme), an undergraduate student double-majoring in American Indian studies and justice studies, who works at the ASU Library’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center. “It’s not a new term, but it’s still something people are learning how to use. It’s an international term.”

Indigenous Culture Week events are happening April 2–11 across all campuses at Arizona State University, located on the ancestral homeland of the O’odham and Piipaash people.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous people and promote Indigenous voices.

Voices like Sacramento Knoxx, an interdisciplinary artist from Detroit, whose “versatile background with different forms of music allows him to blend traditional and contemporary styles creating dynamic storytelling experiences with live music performances, dancing and video projections that take audiences on a participatory journey and a creative experience.”

Knoxx will be leading two events for Indigenous Culture Week. Sponsored by the Labriola Center, the RED INK Indigenous Initiative and the Department of English, Knoxx’s interactive workshop on April 6 will focus on creating music and lyrics from patterns and structures of sound. He will present a virtual music performance on April 7. 

Other events include a pride run, a virtual walk-through experience of the American Indian Boarding School exhibition at the Heard Museum, a talk on unresolved trauma and a screening of the film “Sisters Rising,” the story of six Indigenous women fighting for their personal and tribal sovereignty.

Pereira says the push for the term “Indigenous” came out of a desire to communicate greater inclusion and a more deeply rooted connection to the land and to each other — an idea threaded throughout the Indigenous Culture Week Library Guide, created by Pereira and fellow student workers at the Labriola Center, including undergraduate students Elizabeth Quiroga (Tohono ‘O’odham), majoring in social justice and human rights with a minor in American Indian studies, and Mia Johnson (Navajo), majoring in applied computing.

The library guide is aimed at informing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike about all the resources available to them at ASU, and it offers a historical look at the culture week celebration. 

It is also an attempt at examining the language surrounding Indigenous people – an idea conveyed visually through a gallery of promotional posters of past culture weeks.

“We need to think about our words more carefully and what we’re advocating for,” said Quiroga, who identifies with the term “Indigenous” rather than “Native American.”

“I feel like part of the issue in America is being focused on our own issues, individualizing all of our problems, but the issues we face here in America as Indigenous people, recognized or unrecognized, these are the issues being faced across the world,” Quiroga said.

Johnson offers an important reminder that Indigenous issues are not just historical — they are current.

“We’re not extinct. In classes, I’ve heard instructors talk about us as if we’re not around anymore,” Johnson said. “The O’odham and the Navajo – this is not just a historical story. These are contemporary issues — legal issues and social issues.”

To learn more about Indigenous Culture Week, visit the ASU students’ library guide and check out the week’s calendar of events.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

New psychology summer course teaches students how to learn

March 31, 2021

One of ASU’s goals as part of its charter is to have a first-year persistence rate of 90% and to graduate students at a rate of 85%, or approximately 32,000 students each year. These goals mirror the idea that the university is measured not by who it excludes, but by who it includes and how they succeed.

The transition from high school to college can be a jarring experience and barrier to these goals for students who don’t know how to study properly for college courses. Often, students graduate high school with a high GPA only to discover that the strategies they use don’t offer the same results in college. These students may face extraordinary struggles if they aren’t able to learn and apply more effective practices. overhead shot of people sitting on a couch and pointing at a laptop screen Eevin Jennings, a lecturer in the ASU Department of Psychology, is teaching a course about “how to learn in college” and aims to correct some of the gaps in students’ learning foundation. Photo by John Schnobrich Download Full Image

Eevin Jennings, a lecturer in the ASU Department of Psychology, has a doctorate in cognition and cognitive neuroscience, and knows how important proper learning techniques are to academic success. She proposed teaching a course about “how to learn in college” that aims to correct some of the gaps in students’ learning foundation. Additionally, this course focuses on the neuroscience of learning and how different regions of the brain are involved in learning different tasks.

The approach of the course is to understand the science behind learning in order to improve and maximize how students study for future courses in any major. 

“I realized that many students in other courses I teach aren’t necessarily prepared to learn in college. I think that part of being in the ASU community is finding ways to help elevate the strengths of all of our students and teach them new ways to succeed,” said Jennings. “I hope to teach students new strategies that expand their toolkit for success.”

High school learning is based on a set of standardized learning expectations that vary by state and district. Teaching strategies align with rote memorization for many of these standardized test scores, and when students come to college, that structure is gone.

In high school, students are used to spending four to six hours studying per week in total, whereas each 15-week, three-credit course at ASU requires six to nine hours per week – for every single class.

“Things as simple as proper note taking, or better time management, or assigning a learning space, can be very important for students to succeed in any major, let alone psychology,” said Jennings.

“We are going to examine their misconceptions about learning. Learning takes work, and the people who do the work are the ones who succeed.”

The course will cover operant and classical conditioning, cutting-edge research in online versus face-to-face approaches, attention management and the brain structures behind learning.

“Students will learn how to identify problems that they are facing and use tools that they will acquire to take charge of their own experiences,” said Jennings.

The course is open for students in all majors and will be available in Session B for summer 2021. Sign up now.

Video courtesy of Robert Ewing

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


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ASU cuts ribbon on newest biomedical facility in downtown Phoenix

March 30, 2021

Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 makes way for economic development, biomedical research that impacts the community

The din of construction on the northeast corner of Garfield and Fifth streets in downtown Phoenix will soon give way to a flurry of activity as the researchers and entrepreneurs who will inhabit half of the new 225,000-square-foot building that now stands there move in to embark on journeys of discovery and advancement that promise to enhance the health and vibrancy of the surrounding community.

Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 (PBC1) broke ground in 2019 after Arizona State University, the city of Phoenix and real estate development company Wexford Science and Technology saw an opportunity to bridge the surrounding neighborhoods, the academic community and the professional community through research, entrepreneurial activity and corporate engagement to create a thriving knowledge community.

As ASU President Michael Crow noted during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony March 30, despite the pandemic, great progress is still being made.

“This building is the beginning of a new kind of energy in downtown Phoenix,” Crow said. “(One where) private sector companies are clustering around scientists, around nurses, around physicians, around students, around dreamers, engineers, creative people, entrepreneurial people, innovative people.”

The $77 million state-of-the-art facility is the first piece of a 7-acre parcel ASU is responsible for on the city-owned Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a 30-acre area in the heart of downtown that was established in 2004 by an initiative between the city, the Arizona Board of Regents and the state’s public universities to expand medical education and research in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her hopes Tuesday for PBC1 to take the downtown biomedical campus and the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level as one of the top five emerging bioscience areas in the country.

“This is place that you want to work, where you're going to come up with the next cure for cancer, which I'm convinced is coming through the downtown biomedical campus,” Gallego said.

ASU will lease approximately 112,000 square feet — half of the building — for 15 years with three five-year options. The remainder of the building will be occupied by private-sector companies, a fact that organizers expect will be the secret sauce in forging the kind of discovery and innovation that can have a real impact on the community.

Wexford Science and Technology exclusively partners with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop mixed-use, amenity-rich knowledge communities. The company’s portfolio extends across nine states and includes projects in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami and Baltimore.

Thomas Osha, Wexford Science and Technology’s senior vice president for innovation and economic development, said it’s no accident that the new building in downtown Phoenix is located in the middle of a diverse urban area and is right next to the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

“Innovation districts aren't exclusive, walled campuses,” Osha said. “They're porous, they’re open, they’re inviting, and they’re creating inclusive opportunities for residents of the entire area, and at all levels.”

The building itself features 240,000 square feet of wet and dry labs, office and retail space, and is LEED Gold certified. Global design firm HKS served as the architect and interior designer for the project, which was inspired by the saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert in which PBC1 is located.

"Like the saguaro," HKS' website states, "the building facade combats the arid climate conditions with geometric ribs that shade the structure and help mitigate the effects of the extreme solar radiation. ... The materials used for the exterior are primarily concrete, weathered steel and brick, which are slow to warm up during the day and dissipate the heat."

One of PBC1's first tenants is the company OncoMyx, a spinout from research previously done at ASU that is working to develop oncolyticAn oncolytic virus is a virus that preferentially infects and kills cancer cells. immunotherapies with the goal of achieving the greatest therapeutic benefit for more cancer patients.

OncoMyx CEO and co-founder Steve Potts shared his view for the company to leverage the resources afforded by the new facility to put them in the position to fill a valuable void in the biomedical innovation landscape.

“If you think of the biomedical space, especially the space that's generating intellectual property assets ... the industry is really a tripod,” Potts said. That tripod is made up of diagnostics, medical devices and pharmaceutical drug development. Arizona is known for its strength in the first two; Potts hopes his company will help prop up the third, thanks to the Wexford building’s myriad assets, not least of all its ability to entice new employees with proximity to industry and travel, and a lower cost of living compared to other biotech hubs.

And, Potts said, “In terms of the lab and the office balance, it's hard to find a facility like this, that's this modern and kind of just built for life science firms, even if you go to San Francisco or Boston. It's a  beautiful building, it's really well-built for … anybody doing life sciences. … I find it just a great place to build companies.”

Researchers who will share space in PBC1 will come from all across ASU, including the College of Health Solutions, the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Biodesign Institute.

Frank LoVecchio, who recently joined ASU as the medical director of clinical and community translational research, will be on hand to provide medical oversight for much of that research.

“The research we’ll be doing here is really going to take us to the next step in doing what's best for the patients, and that's the people of Arizona,” LoVecchio said.

One project he is currently overseeing involves College of Health Solutions Professor Scott Leischow, who also serves as the director of clinical and translational science for the college, and is looking at a new smoking cessation drug, using volunteers from the community as study participants.

The building will also have space for the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.

“As the pan-university and pan-community resource for ASU students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community, we work in collaboration with community partners like the Flinn Foundation, the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, StartupAZ, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and many others to support innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Ji Mi Choi, vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “… The power of place is in bringing together ideas and people for connectivity, collaborations and positive collisions.”

And even though ASU does not have a medical school, College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer sees PBC1 and the work that will be done there as an opportunity to take advantage of the new direction modern medicine is taking.

“Traditionally, when we think about biomedical research and education, we think about medical schools,” Helitzer said. “But more and more today, health care is delivered in an ambulatory, or outpatient, environment. So the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, anchored by ASU and its downtown colleges, has the advantage of being a location with multiple organizations and entities. … There's no other place in the country that has this kind of ecosystem.”

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US News ranks 14 ASU graduate programs in top 10

March 30, 2021

The latest report from US News & World Report shows 33 graduate degree programs at ASU in the top 20

Arizona State University has 14 graduate degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationwide, according to new rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

Of the 14 top-ranked degree programs, half are in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The list was released March 30 after the magazine assessed more than 2,100 degree programs for 2022.

U.S. News & World Report provides several higher education rankings throughout the year, and last fall rated ASU as the most innovative university in the country for the sixth year in a row.

The highest ranked graduate degree program for 2022 at ASU is the doctorate in criminology and criminal justice, in the Watts College, which tied for second place with the University of California at Irvine and ranked ahead of Penn State and Florida State. Last year, that ASU program ranked fifth. 

The other top 10 graduate degree programs at ASU, with last year’s ranking in parentheses, are:

  • Supply chain, in the W. P. Carey School of Business: No. 3 (3), ahead of Ohio State, Penn State and Stanford University.
  • Legal writing, in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law: No. 3 (7), ahead of Georgetown University and the University of Michigan.
  • Information and technology, in the School of Public Affairs in the Watts College: No. 3 (not a ranked category last year), ahead of the University of Southern California.
  • Local government management, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 3 (3), ahead of Syracuse University and the University of Southern California.
  • Homeland security, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 3 (3), ahead of Harvard, Columbia and George Washington universities.
  • Project management, in W. P. Carey: No. 5 (4), ahead of the University of Texas.
  • Environmental policy, in the School of Public Affairs: tied for No. 5 (8), ahead of Columbia and Harvard universities.
  • Nonprofit management, in the School of Community Resources and Development: No. 5 (9), ahead of New York University and American University.
  • Leadership, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 5 (6), ahead of Harvard, the University of Southern California and Ohio State.
  • Urban policy, in the School of Public Affairs: tied for No. 5 (5), ahead of the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Chicago and Harvard.
  • Information systems, in W. P. Carey: No. 7 (13), ahead of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Elementary teacher education, in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College: No. 7 (13), ahead of Ohio State and Stanford.
  • Business analytics, in W. P. Carey: No. 10 (11), ahead of Duke, Columbia and the University of Michigan.

Overall, 33 graduate degree programs at ASU were in the top 20, including special education and production/operations, both 11th, and accounting and secondary teacher education, both 12th.

“The scholarship and research of our graduate students and faculty in graduate programs across ASU have contributed greatly to the growing national reputation of ASU as a top destination for a high quality graduate education,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “And, the newly released U.S. News & World Report rankings for graduate programs shine a light on the fact that our academic excellence is not siloed in a limited number of academic disciplines, but rather experienced across the university in fields as diverse as social sciences, education, business, arts and engineering.”  

U.S. News & World Report also ranked overall graduate schools.

The overall graduate program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College tied for 11th place with the University of Southern California, and ahead of Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at Berkeley. Among public universities in this category, ASU ranked fourth. 

The School of Public Affairs graduate program tied for 13th place with American University, Columbia University, Ohio State University, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Chicago. 

The full-time law program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law ranked as the No. 9 public law school, ahead of the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program tied for 25th place overall.

The full-time MBA degree program in the W. P. Carey School of Business ranked 30, up from 35 last year, and ahead of Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame. The part-part MBA program tied for 22. Overall, 11 of the 14 graduate degrees programs in W. P. Carey that were ranked were in the top 20.

“We are thrilled to see ASU’s efforts to build outstanding graduate programs for our students recognized nationally because graduate education is critical to ASU’s success,” said Elizabeth Wentz, vice provost and dean of the Graduate College at ASU. “Today’s rankings confirm that our graduate students are learning from top notch faculty, advancing research and the discovery of public value and making a difference In Arizona and around the world.”   

The data for the rankings came from statistical surveys of more than 2,100 programs and from surveys sent to more than 23,000 academics and professionals, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

The remaining degrees in the top 20 are: special education, No. 11; production/operations, No. 11; accounting, No. 12; secondary teacher education, No. 12; dispute resolution, tied for No. 13; curriculum and instruction, No. 14; educational administration, No. 14; education policy, tied for No. 15; management, tied for No. 16; health care law, tied for No. 16; public finance, No. 16; executive MBA, No. 18; industrial engineering, tied for No. 18; finance, No. 20; international business, tied for No. 20; marketing, tied for No. 20; environmental engineering, tied for No. 20; environmental law, tied for No. 20; public policy analysis, No. 20.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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ASU 2021 Founders' Day celebrated innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers

March 29, 2021

On Wednesday, March 24, the ASU Alumni Association and President Michael M. Crow recognized the achievements of the university’s faculty, alumni and supporters during the 2021 ASU Founders’ Day celebration. The event was attended virtually by thousands of supporters from around the globe, and friends and family of the honorees were brought in virtually as the background of the studio set to celebrate with them.

Flavio F. Marsiglia, a Regents Professor at the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, was awarded the Faculty Research Achievement Award. Watch Marsiglia’s Founders’ Day video.

Jeffrey R. Wilson, an ASU professor of statistics and biostatistics with extensive experience in the biomedical, statistics and law, business management and public opinion research industries, was awarded the Faculty Service Achievement Award. Watch Wilson’s Founders’ Day video.

Brian DeMaris, an associate professor and artistic director of music theater and opera at ASU, was awarded the Faculty Teaching Achievement Award. Watch DeMaris’s Founders’ Day video.

More than 350,600 Campaign ASU 2020 donors who raised $2.3 billion to fuel ASU's innovative, world-changing educational model were awarded the Philanthropists of the Year Award. Watch the Campaign ASU 2020 Founders’ Day video.

Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award. During Goldin’s acceptance speech she said, “I remember my time fondly at ASU. And as I share with so many people that I have met along the way, but also so many students, I think that the most important thing that I learned at ASU is to just go and try. Just go and do it. And it’s up to you to really set the stage and look at the future and not look at what everybody else is doing. Satisfy your curiosity and take risks. Little did I know that those things would actually add up to being an entrepreneur and doing what I’m doing today. As Steve Jobs used to say, sometimes the dots eventually connect.” Watch Goldin’s Founders’ Day video.

After the awards were given to each honoree, Crow answered questions live from three virtual attendees from Arizona to Dubai and concluded with a question about what’s next for ASU.

“What’s to come for us is really just a greater and more impactful university," Crow said. "There’s huge forces of change all through our society – social forces, cultural forces, political forces, economic forces, technological forces — and one of the things that we know is that we’ve got to find a way to make college and advanced learning available to everybody. Available to anyone, available to families teaching at home, available to people that have been knocked out of work, available to people that weren’t able to finish college, available to people that can’t go to college, available to people that just need a little bit of enhanced learning to be able to do something new so that they can adjust to the next wave of change. Whether it’s a wave related to the pandemic or it’s a wave related to a technological advancement or a wave related to more autonomous technology that’s coming online disrupting the economy. All those things.”

After a year of disruption due to a pandemic, the Alumni Association was still able to bring together thousands of Sun Devils from around the globe to recognize an outstanding group of honorees and continue the annual tradition of celebrating ASU’s Founders’ Day to honor the past, celebrate the present and continue to invent the future.

Watch and share the 2021 Founders’ Day recorded celebration.

Top photo: President Michael M. Crow (center), President and CEO of the Alumni Association Christine K. Wilkinson (second from left), Founders' Day Chair Stephanie Mitrovic (second from right), Founders' Day honorees and Sparky at the March 24 event. Photo by Tim Trumble

Morgan Harrison

Director of strategic communications , ASU Alumni Association