ASU establishes board of university trustees

John Graham, chairman of the Trustees of ASU

Arizona State University has announced the creation of the Trustees of ASU, a board made up of leadership donors that will serve as an advisory body for the university and ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Previously, the trustees were aligned with the ASU Foundation for A New American University, the private nonprofit organization that supports ASU.

In announcing the creation of the board, President Crow noted, “ASU has come a long way in a short time, but there is a tremendous amount more to be done. The Trustees of ASU are central to achieving our vision. On behalf of the entire Arizona State University community, I want to thank those who have agreed to serve and all who support this great enterprise.”

The new Trustees of ASU represents an evolution of the trustee concept, allowing the board to serve colleges and institutes across the university, added R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., Ph.D., CEO of the ASU Foundation. The trustees of the foundation board were involved in the process of establishing the new model.

“There was consensus among all the participants – trustees, foundation and university officials and President Crow – that a board of university trustees would provide stronger representation of units throughout ASU,” Shangraw said. An example of that commitment to representation, he noted, is that for the first time, deans of ASU colleges will be able to recommend trustees for the board.

The Trustees of ASU will advise the ASU president on philanthropic opportunities, provide insight into new resources for the university and offer strategies for increasing affinity of donors for the institution. The trustees will comprise members from across the greater university community, representing the breadth of ASU while drawing representation from the various colleges and institutes, other affiliated entities and from outside Arizona. The trustees will include university leadership donors who will commit to ongoing service and participation in addition to bi-annual meetings. Trustees will be subject to term limits.

“We are committed to and sharply focused on working more closely and more collaboratively with our colleges and their alumni,” said Shangraw. “We have a great opportunity to combine resources to meet the challenges facing ASU, and to further empower ASU units to lead in the discovery of solutions to the challenges facing our society.”

Four standing committees will lead the trustees: executive, development, affinity and solutions. The executive committee, charged with providing leadership for significant university-wide fundraising, will include the ASU president, foundation CEO, and the trustees chair and vice chair. The other committees will be coordinated and staffed by both ASU Foundation and university leadership.

John Graham, vice chair of the ASU Foundation board of directors, is first chairman of the Trustees of ASU, as appointed by President Crow.

“The Trustees of ASU are invested in Arizona State University’s success,” said Graham, who is president of Scottsdale-based Sunbelt Holdings and director and executive committee member of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council of 100. “We support the institution with our time, our experience and our philanthropy. The vision for the university is clear and exciting, and the trustees stand committed to helping achieve it.”

Cindy Watts, who served for two years (2011-13) as co-chair of the foundation’s Women & Philanthropy and joins husband Michael as a lifetime member of the ASU President’s Club, is the Trustees of ASU vice chair. Like Graham, Watts was appointed by President Crow.

“This will be an exciting year, and I am looking forward to being a part of it and the positive impact that is possible,” said Watts. “There has been so much great work done by university volunteers who serve as great advocates and have been so giving of their time, talent and treasure. Under the leadership of President Crow, we have the opportunity to further advance ASU and its vision of a New American University. The trustees will be an integral part of supporting that vision.”

Shangraw reported that the new model calls for the board of trustees to be action-oriented.

“We’ll have weekend meetings in the fall and spring, and they will be packed with opportunities to work on problems facing ASU, to provide input back to the president and to learn more about the work the university is doing.”

The most important questions for the trustees, Shangraw said, are, “How do we improve the connection between the university and its supporters? How do we coordinate and improve all college fundraising through collaboration? And how can we better represent and market fundraising activities to our investors, so that we can work together to find additional resources for those activities?”

Shangraw said the new board is a necessary and logical step in ASU’s continuing evolution. “From our earliest days as the Tempe Normal School, the community has been key to building and supporting our university,” he said. “The Trustees of ASU are a group of distinguished citizen-leaders who are committed to advancing the vision of a New American University.”

Stephen Des Georges,
Senior Director, Editorial Services | Communications & Marketing
ASU Foundation for A New American University