ASU, Arizona Science Center awarded $30K for science and literacy partnership

April 17, 2013

The Central Arizona Writing Project at Arizona State University and the Arizona Science Center have been awarded a joint grant of $30,000 to advance professional development at the center via a public writing and science literacy partnership. The initiative is funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation to design a program that will integrate science and literacy.

The Central Arizona Writing Project is a local site for the National Writing Project (NWP) housed within the Department of English, and grew out of a collaboration between ASU, the NWP and local area schools, to enhance professional development of Arizona's K-16 students and teachers. Download Full Image

The grant will further strengthen the existing partnerships between the university and the Arizona Science Center. With great support from the Office Knowledge of Enterprise and Development, English professors Jessica Early and Christina Saidy-Hannah will work with a team of K-12 teachers from the Central Arizona Writing Project to develop a series of training workshops for the center’s staff.

The idea for the program came directly from conversations with Arizona Science Center leadership who saw that while employees came from a background of scientific study, they were interested in more support in communicating scientific knowledge to a diverse audience through reading and writing.

“The Arizona Science Center employees have vast scientific knowledge but are not necessarily formally trained in how to communicate this information to the public through writing,” said Saidy-Hannah. “With our support, we can help them in their goals of communicating that science is a daily part of life.”

The Central Arizona Writing Project is one of five sites selected to take part in the grant opportunity. Other winners are the Montana Writing Project and spectrUM Discovery; the San Diego Area Writing Project, San Diego Natural History Museum, and the Fleet Inquiry Institute; the UNC Charlotte Writing Project and Discovery Place; and the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and Carnegie Science Museum.

For Early, director of the Central Arizona Writing Project, the grant offers a unique opportunity to pair K-12 teachers with scientists in the local community.

“This project directly falls under Michael Crow’s vision to improve social embeddedness in research and teaching," Early said. "Because of this, our research program is now brought to a community space for the benefit of all involved. I believe it will open a lot more doors for future community engagement and collaborative research."

In the spring of 2012, leadership within the university began engaging the Arizona Science Center in discussions on how to further expand their partnership in a more strategic manner. With the center receiving more than half a million visitors annually, ASU saw a perfect opportunity to highlight the groundbreaking research taking place across all four campuses. In turn, the center benefits from having the university as a direct touchpoint to bring new and different types of science content to their facility.

Already the center is working with ASU on a variety of projects, including the promotion of STEM education – advancing technology and engineering interest in the community – and co-hosting events such as planetarium shows at the center.

For more information about the partnership, visit

Clarke appointed associate dean of faculty

April 17, 2013

Deborah Clarke, professor of English, has been named the associate dean of faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

In her new position, Clarke will serve as the administrative officer responsible for recruitment, retention, diversity and faculty development for the college. Besides serving as the main point of contact for faculty-related issues, Clarke will oversee faculty searches and reviews, and work closely with college leadership, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the College Senate to support, guide and advocate on behalf of departments, schools and the college’s 1,364 faculty. Professor Deborah Clarke Download Full Image

Clarke starts her new duties June 1.

"I am very excited about having Deb onboard," said Robert E. Page, university vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "It is a difficult job interacting with faculty and unit leaders around some of the most important and complex administrative activities of the university: the hiring, promotion and tenure of faculty. She is experienced, has the respect of the faculty, and has the right personality to do it well.”

Clarke joined ASU’s Department of English in 2008, after spending 20 years at Pennsylvania State University. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from Yale University. Her primary field of study is 20th century American fiction, particularly the work of William Faulkner and women writers. She has published two books and numerous articles.  

In her most recent book, "Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America," she examines the intersection of American fiction and automobile culture, arguing that issues critical to 20th century American society – technology, mobility, domesticity and agency – are repeatedly articulated through women's relationships with cars.

Her current work examines financial issues in a project tentatively titled "Alternative Economies: Credit, Debt, and Barter in Twentieth-Century American Fiction."

“I feel that the close connections between the arts, sciences and social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are at the forefront of new directions in higher education, and I am eager to help advance the ability of our faculty in their pursuit of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary interests, teaching and research,” said Clarke. “After several years on the University Promotion and Tenure committee, I’ve learned a great deal about the excellence and diverse interests of our faculty, and look forward to working with people across the college.”

Throughout her career, Clarke has taken on a wide range of administrative duties in addition to her research pursuits. She served for two years as the chair of the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, is a member of the University Graduate Council and on the executive board for ASU’s Faculty Women’s Association. While as a Dean’s Administrative Fellow, she worked to develop a college-wide study of mentoring for a faculty mentoring system.

Clarke has received numerous awards and honors for her scholarship, teaching, advising and mentoring, including the Best Faculty Mentor in Literature from ASU’s graduate students in English. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and she served as a Beatrice Bain Research Fellow at University of California-Berkeley. She is also the president of the William Faulkner Society and the past present of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost