ASU Gammage to celebrate 50th anniversary with series of events

March 18, 2014

In September 2014, ASU Gammage will kick off its 50th anniversary with a series of special events and programs. The celebratory calendar of events will include a blockbuster 2014-2015 Broadway season, world-renowned artists, free events and exclusive anniversary performances.

Fifty years ago, ASU Gammage opened its doors and has since grown into a top cultural destination in the Valley. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed performing arts center located on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University is one of the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world, home to the Desert Schools Broadway Across America – Arizona and BEYOND series. ASU Gammage’s mission of Connecting Communities goes beyond the stage and the programs, and impacts the community through shared experiences in the arts. stage still of "The Phantom of the Opera" Download Full Image

"ASU Gammage’s 50th anniversary is a time to celebrate the best of the last 50 years, and to cheer on our plans for the next 50 years," says Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director. “With a terrific Broadway and BEYOND series planned, we are also most excited to open the building to the public on Sunday, Sept. 28, so everyone can celebrate with us."

ASU Gammage will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 28, which will include complimentary birthday cake and refreshments, building tours, free performances and more.

The 50th anniversary Desert Schools Broadway Across America – Arizona series will include Tony Award winning hits like "Kinky Boots" and "Pippin," as well as two shows that changed the Broadway touring business, and two of ASU Gammage’s most successful shows in history: "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Wicked." The 15-week Broadway series is expected to bring in more than $100 million of economic impact into Tempe and the Valley.

The full Broadway line up will feature:

• Kinky Boots
• Pippin
• Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
• Dirty Dancing
• Cinderella
• Motown The Musical
• The Phantom of the Opera
• Chicago (special engagement)
• Wicked (special engagement)

The BEYOND series for 2014-2015 will showcase the return of some of the greatest artists to perform in the series, including the ASU Symphony and the School of Music, who will perform a tribute to the 1964 inaugural concert that featured Eugene Ormandy & The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. Former ASU Gammage residency artist Daniel Bernard Roumian will return to perform a program including his eclectic signature compositions with an All Star Arizona High School Symphony. The Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to bring their distinctive style and grace to the ASU Gammage stage.

The series will also feature Phillip Glass and guest pianists performing a celebration of his full 20 Piano Etudes, as well as Kota Yamazaki and the Fluid Hug-Hug Dance Company.

“The 50th Anniversary season will have something for everyone; we hope the community will join as we celebrate some of the greatest performers and shows to have ever graced our stage, as well as celebrate this iconic Frank Lloyd Wright design as it celebrates its Golden Anniversary,” Jennings-Roggensack says.

New ASU degree helps meet critical demand for high school math teachers

March 18, 2014

Arizona State University is gearing up to produce more and better-prepared high school math teachers, addressing a critical need in classrooms around the state and the nation. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is offering a new bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, which will provide a new pathway for teaching careers. The degree allows deeper mastery of mathematics coupled with the ability to handle the challenges of a high school classroom.

Arizona is suffering a teacher crisis. According to a recent Arizona School Administrators survey of district administrators, 62 percent said they have teacher openings, and over 62 percent have teachers leaving already this school year. math on chalkboard Download Full Image

Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, emphasizes that quality teachers are important. “Research says that the quality of teaching is the number one influence on the learning of children, and will either advance them or hold them back,” said Carlson. “There is a growing consensus here in Arizona that teacher talent is the key variable in producing 'A' schools, present and aspiring.”

In the Phoenix Union High School District, math teachers are always high on the list of “must-have” hires. The district had to fill more than 25 math openings, and in some cases had to resort to hiring retired teachers to fill the void.

“Obviously, we are always in need of good math teachers, especially with the state raising the math requirement for graduation to four years,” said district spokesman Craig Pletenik. “We like the idea of bringing individuals with strong content knowledge to the teaching field.”

National education groups echo this sentiment. Change the Equation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in the United States.

“Our STEM Vital Signs report for Arizona found that the state needs more teachers with a strong background in STEM content and pedagogy, particularly in math,” stated Linda P. Rosen, chief executive office for Change the Equation. “We recommend strategies that include requiring teachers to demonstrate a stronger grasp of content, while broadening the supply of teachers who can clear the hurdles. Arizona should create more pathways into teaching for STEM majors in college.”

This new bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, will offer exactly that – a new pathway into teaching for math majors at ASU. “We want to produce expert mathematicians who have the preparation to be excellent teachers,” says Fabio Milner, professor of mathematics and director of mathematics for STEM education.

Pat Thompson, a professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, researches how students learn and how teachers teach mathematics. “A principal problem in the quality of the teachers’ mathematical preparation is that they leave high school with little understanding of the mathematics they studied. The result is that students are ill-prepared to understand university-level mathematics, and they return to high school (as teachers) having never revisited the ideas of high school mathematics that they never understood in the first place.

“The result is a vicious cycle wherein poorly educated high school students return as teachers, who have no greater insight into the secondary mathematics curriculum than when they completed high school.”

The new degree, which is available now, hopes to break this vicious cycle by focusing on teachers’ mathematical preparation for teaching high school mathematics. Professor Marilyn Carlson says the new ASU degree stands out for its sequencing of courses, "which is designed so students will understand the processes of learning, understanding and teaching mathematics, and the intricacies of supporting students to become competent and confident mathematical thinkers. Students will have a coherent set of courses and instructional experiences to assure that they develop the deep understandings and connections needed to be highly effective mathematics teachers. They will emerge from our program equipped to provide mathematics instruction that is coherent, meaningful and challenging."

“The mathematics education faculty members within our school form an extremely talented group with many connections to school districts in Arizona,” stated Al Boggess, director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “Working collaboratively with these districts, this degree program will provide the graduates who are needed to improve secondary education in mathematics for Arizona.”

Another advantage of the new degree, according to Thompson, is that students will have all the options that come with a bachelor's in mathematics and a bachelor's in education – graduate school in mathematics or mathematics education, jobs in industry or in industrial education, or teaching high school mathematics.

Admission applications are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit or call (480) 965-7195.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences