ASU’s activities in community earn Carnegie Foundation nod

December 19, 2006

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected ASU for its new “Community Engagement” classification, recognizing the deep involvement of ASU faculty and students in activities that benefit the broader community.

ASU offers more than 1,030 outreach programs throughout the state, making a difference in the lives of Arizonans by providing needed educational, cultural, legal and health care services at hundreds of locations. The Carnegie Foundation cited ASU’s curricular engagement in addition to its outreach and partnerships. Download Full Image" alt="" width="300" height="408" />

ASU's long history of community outreach has earned the university recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Seventy-six U.S. colleges and universities received the new classification – 62 of them with substantial commitments in both categories.

“Finding new and better ways to connect with their communities should be a high priority for higher education institutions today,” says Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation.

The new classification was developed as part of an extensive overhaul of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and is in addition to ASU’s basic classification as a research university with very high research activity. Few research universities made the new list, indicating the uniqueness of ASU’s broad mission as the New American University.

Hundreds of faculty members across all four ASU campuses take their research and teaching into the community, leading to more relevant research, a vibrant educational experience for students and rich benefits for the people of Arizona. The ripple effects of their engagement extend across the state and the nation.

A few examples:

• Theater professor Stephani Woodson helps children in foster care create digital videos about themselves to tell their stories to new caseworkers, who often pass through their lives with little continuity. She also produces videos with Native American youth exploring perceptions of happiness, family and drug culture, to share with their communities and begin a dialogue.

• Nutrition professors Linda Vaughan, Donna Winham, Kathleen Woolf and Jeff Hampl educate children about good nutrition in grades K-12 throughout the Valley. Their work includes a food-gleaning program for low-income elementary schools, education at Pappas schools for homeless children, nutrition guidance to high school athletic teams and programs tailored for high school student newspaper staff members.

• Nursing professor Carol Baldwin, who is involved with her students in providing preventive health screenings and clinic training in the town of Guadalupe, created a health information Web site with resources for families in English and Spanish. The well-received Southwest Borderlands Nursing page also includes information for faculty and students regarding Latino life, culture and folk medicine practices.

• Irwin Sandler, Regents Professor of psychology and director of the Prevention Research Center, has been working with children from families experiencing high-stress situations for more than 20 years. Research at the center has developed programs for children who have experienced divorce or death of a parent, reducing mental health problems and improving their well-being.

• As an American Studies professor in language, cultures and history, Gloria Cuàdraz produced an oral history documentary of former Mexican-American residents of the Litchfield Park migrant camps from the 1920s to the 1970s. With the Litchfield Park Historical Society, she helped organize a reunion for former residents to show the video, an event attended by more than 500 people from all over the United States.

In addition to faculty activities, thousands of students across the ASU campuses participate regularly in organized community service. In the ACES (Academic Community Engagement Services) program alone last year, 575 students mentored and tutored children in service-learning internships or in “America Reads” and “America Counts” programs in schools throughout the Valley. More than 23,000 community members were served.

“Public service has long been a defining characteristic of ASU,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “With the advancement of our vision for ASU as a New American University, we envision a new model for higher education that integrates the community into its research and teaching – a university that assumes responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of its community.

“By institutionalizing social embeddedness, ASU has the opportunity to become a unique and leading model, inspiring campuses across the nation. I applaud Carnegie for recognizing the importance of connecting the university to the community.”

Decision Theater serves as redistricting resource

December 19, 2006

The Arizona School District Redistricting Commission is working on a research assignment, and the ASU Decision Theater is one of its key resources.

The commission was created to review school districts that are not “unified,” meaning they don't offer instruction from preschool through grade 12. Of these non-unified districts, 108 are elementary school districts and 15 are union high school districts. The commission will examine those common school districts and consider combining them into new unified districts to, in part, provide more integrated instruction and to potentially increase efficiencies. Their recommendation is due to the governor by this time next year. Download Full Image

Rick Shangraw, executive director of the Decision Theater, says the Decision Theater's role in this effort epitomizes what the theater is about, providing tools for informed analysis as part of the decision process.

“With the strong support and involvement of Seidman Institute (within ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business), our partner in this effort, we've been able to collect a lot of data on each of the school districts, put that data into a model allowing commissioners to visualize the information, and then run ‘what if' scenarios for them,” Shangraw says.

Deirdre Hahn, associate director of the Decision Theater, says the first order of business was to gather the statewide data on non-unified school districts needed by the commissioners to begin exploring and proposing redistricting alternatives. Nettie Klingler, a senior research scientist at the W.P. Carey School of Business Seidman Institute, and Ron Russell, a senior geographic information systems analyst at the Decision Theater, are core ASU project team members who've been involved every step of the way.

“We've created a special tool called ART – the Arizona Redistricting Tool – to visually illustrate county level data for each of the non-unified school districts,” Hahn says.

ART stores the geographic location of district boundaries, along with data such as average daily attendance, teacher salary, operational expenses, student demographics and student-teacher ratio. The commissioners are able to visually see what the districts look like through boundaries reflected on maps and data reflected on spreadsheets.

“If a commissioner asks what happens if we propose combining non-unified district A with non-unified district B into unified district C, we can use ART to create a new map showing the new district configuration and provide spreadsheets reflecting the new combined data,” Hahn says. “The goal is for commissioners to see the impact of their potential decision across multiple variables and on maps.”

The Decision Theater also has conducted three commission public meetings where commissioners have explored redistricting possibilities and engaged with the community.

Commission chairman Marty Shultz says he's very appreciative of the Decision Theater's contributions.

“The Decision Theater tools have helped us organize a very complex geographical, educational, and public policy issue in a way that allows the commission to display unification plans for others to see,” Shultz says. “This helps people to fully understand the impact of this important issue.”

John">">John Skinner,
(480) 727-9229