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ASU Foundation premieres new season of Presidential Engagement Programs

September 20, 2013

Since 1994, the ASU Foundation has offered an annual series called Presidential Engagement Programs. Known as PEP, the programs were created by Elva Coor, wife of former ASU President Lattie Coor, and expanded by Sybil Francis, wife of current ASU President Michael M. Crow. Their purpose is to offer a gateway to the community, showcasing the benefits of having a major university next door.

That showcase opens on Tuesday, Sept. 24 with an away-presentation in the community of Prescott: “On the Road to Recovery – Economic outlook for greater Prescott and Arizona.” Lee McPheters of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business will provide an up-to-the-minute review of economic conditions, historical background and obstacles still to overcome as Arizona continues on the road to recovery.

McPheters will devote particular attention to the greater Prescott area, including how the recent fire disasters will affect ongoing recovery. Other Arizona communities will also be examined, with a look at how Arizona’s economic health and performance compares to that of neighboring Western states. The program is open to the public in the Simmons Community Center, but registration is required. Visit for information.

Throughout the 2013-14 season, PEP is partnering with colleges, departments and institutes throughout the university to provide a broad vista of what ASU is and does. Senior development coordinator Vanessa Barrera de Leyvas manages PEP for the ASU Foundation, and she says these collaborations are rich opportunities for PEP patrons.

“Our partnerships throughout the university have produced some fascinating offerings,” Barrera de Leyvas says. “It’s a pleasure for us to show members of the community that the variety of opportunities available to them through ASU is nearly endless.”

Other programs this fall include “The Future of the Brain,” “An Evening with (early childhood expert) J. Ronald Lally,” “The American Way of War,” “Is K-12 Education Keeping Up?”, “Sophocles ‘Antigone’” and “The Two Koreas.” A full slate of events is also planned for the spring, including President Crow’s annual community conversation in January, and other special events will be added throughout the year.

PEP audiences tend to be curious, enthusiastic and loyal. Kyle Longley is the Snell Family Dean’s Distinguished Professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and a regular PEP presenter. He’ll be featured in “The American Way of War,” beginning in October. Longley says, “It’s so much fun to be in front of an enthusiastic, well-traveled group that asks great questions. Members understand how rewarding it can be learning just for the sake of learning.”

Barrera de Leyvas says it’s gratifying to hear from PEP members about how much they enjoy the programs and that they’re going to tell friends. “One couple told us, ‘We routinely tell our friends about PEP and share the brochure with them in the hope they will enjoy it as much as we do.’ That’s how we know we’re successful,” she says.

The ASU Foundation’s Presidential Engagement Programs are offered from September through May, including single events and multi-week courses. All the events require advance registration and most have a charge for entry. A complete schedule is available at

Erik Ketcherside,
Communications Manager | Editorial Services
ASU Foundation for A New American University