ASU appoints Diane Humetewa to advise President on Indian Affairs

March 24, 2011

Arizona State University has named Diane Humetewa as special advisor to the President for American Indian Affairs.

Humetewa, a former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, takes over the duties previously handled by  Peterson Zah, who left the university last year to return to work for the Navajo Nation, where he served as the first president of the tribe. She will continue to practice in the tribal affairs and natural resources areas with the law firm of Squire, Sanders and Dempsey (US) LLP.  Download Full Image

“ASU is committed to working with Arizona’s tribes to bring more Native American students to the university. Diane Humetewa will provide advice and counsel to ASU on its efforts to design and implement programs and initiatives to better serve Native American students and to partner with Arizona’s Indian tribal governments,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Humetewa will serve as chairperson of the ASU Tribal Liaison Advisory Committee and will be a member of the Provost’s Native American Advisory Council. She’ll continue the university’s work to promote higher education opportunities among Arizona’s tribes. 

“I am looking forward to working with Diane to improve the retention and success of Native American students at the university,” said Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU Executive Vice President and Provost. 

Humetewa is looking forward to building relationships with students.

“President Zah had been so instrumental in recruiting Native American students at ASU. The student population had grown immensely. We want to continue to build on the foundation he laid  in terms of bringing in new students to pursue higher education from Native American communities and to work to retain those students who come to ASU,” Humetewa said.

She will also serve as legal counsel and in an advisory capacity with ASU in its relations with Native American tribal governments. In addition, Humetewa will be appointed as a professor of practice in the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law.

Humetewa is looking forward to discovering opportunities the university offers to Native American students and finding out how higher education at ASU has evolved during the years since she graduated with the addition of new campuses and advances such as the variety of courses that are now taught online.

“ASU has changed in terms of its ability to reach outside of Tempe,” Humetewa said.  One of her initial goals in taking over the position is to take a hard look at the future plans of the university and where Native American students and Indian Tribes fit into ASU.

One of the comments most often heard among tribal leaders is that providing higher education opportunities to tribal members is an important goal. There’s a real priority placed on providing as much assistance to tribal members or identifying and tackling the roadblocks to education in the native communities,” Humetewa said.  This can be challenging in an environment where nationally approximately 50 percent of Native American students don’t obtain a high-school diploma.

Humetewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, was born and raised in Arizona. She started school on the Hualapai Reservation. Her exposure to Arizona’s tribes began at an early age.  Her father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and traveled throughout Arizona’s Indian country, often taking her with him. She attended public high school in the Valley, but ties to her family and culture kept her close to the Hopi reservation.  “At the time, Indian children were still attending boarding schools far from the reservation,” Humetewa recalled. 

Humetewa received her Juris Doctor degree in 1993 from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and her bachelor’s degree from ASU in 1987. She has served on the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Indian Legal Advisory Committee since 1997.

Humetewa was the first Native American female in history to be appointed as a U.S. Attorney in 2007.  During her long career in public service, she also served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Subcommittee, then chaired by Sen. John McCain.

Arizona youngsters and their robots are on the move

March 25, 2011

ASU K-12 education outreach efforts give students opportunities to participate in national and international robotics festivals and competitions

Young students on five teams that participated in last year’s Arizona FIRST LEGO League competitions are on their way to national and international FIRST LEGO League events this spring.

Arizona State University has hosted the Arizona FIRST LEGO League State Championship tournament for the past three years. Download Full Image

ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering organizes the event, which brings about 400 Arizona youngsters, ages 9 to 14, to compete using robots they design and build from LEGO MINDSTORMS kits.

The program of regional and state competitions challenges students to develop and demonstrate technical know-how and problem-solving skills.

The events offer “incomparable learning experiences that can inspire children to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” says Patty Smith. She’s a K-12 educational outreach coordinator for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the Arizona operational partner for the FIRST LEGO League program.

A team from Salt River Elementary School on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community will be among more than 80 teams from around the world participating in the FIRST World Festival April 27-30 in St. Louis.

Called the Titans, the team members are Last Star Alderete, Ryan Allen, Darrell Chiago III, Michael Collins, Briah Johnson, Dakota Larabee, Brelon Pahona, Jonathan Perez and David Ray. Their robot’s name is “Wall-E.”

They are coached by Salt River Elementary School teachers Rae Begaye and Keri Tuchawena-Norris and Bill Johnson of Scottsdale Community College.

The team’s trip to the World Festival is being supported by the LEGO Care for Education Initiative, which aids programs that are effectively developing children’s learning skills and creativity through constructive play activities.

The MedTechs, a team of home-schooled youngsters from Phoenix, is raising funds to participate in the FIRST LEGO League Open European Championship June 2-4 in the Netherlands. The team plans to be one of six teams from the United States at the event among 60 teams from 50 countries.

The MedTechs members are Andrew Rasch, Aaron Rasch, Brian Gastineau, Trevor Recker, and Truett Unfried. Their robot’s name is “Anaconda.”

The MedTechs qualified for the European tournament by winning the Research Project Presentation award at the Arizona State Championship tournament.

Three Arizona teams will participate in the FIRST LEGO League North American Open tournament May 21 and 22 at LEGOLAND California.

The Building Bananas team from Mountain Elementary School in Flagstaff will be joined by The Revenge of Los Locos Amigos team from Madison Park School in Phoenix and the Purple Adrenaline team from St. Francis Xavier School in Phoenix.

The World Festival and championship tournaments give students not only more opportunities to learn about robotics but “to learn about the research and the teamwork skills that are critical to developing innovative solutions to real-world problems,” Smith says. “And by interacting with children from around the country and the world, it prepares them to think globally.”

Prominent inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire youngsters to appreciate science and technology. FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills, while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.

The 2011 FIRST LEGO League state championship tournament is scheduled for Dec. 10 at ASU’s Tempe campus.

Read more about the Arizona">">Arizona FIRST LEGO League.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering