ASU humanities scholar lauded for international research, local impact

January 8, 2015

“Humanities is all about the description of the human soul and the life that soul lives,” says Regents' Professor David William Foster of ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures.

Foster, professor of Spanish, and women and gender studies, believes in the importance of the humanities in higher education, and the numerous awards and accolades he has received throughout his 49-year career at ASU testify to his role as an educator and scholar in the field. ASU Regents’ Professor David William Foster Download Full Image

This academic year he adds two more honors to his trove as the 2014 recipient of both the Premio Victoria Urbano de Reconocimiento Académico (Victoria Urbano Academic Achievement Award) and the Arizona Humanities Dan Shilling Public Humanities Scholar Award.

Describing himself as a male feminist, Foster writes extensively about women and the impact gender-related issues have on society and popular Hispanic culture. His work in this area led the Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánic (AILCHF, or the International Association of Hispanic Feminine Literature and Culture) to chose Foster as the first man to receive the Premio Victoria Urbano de Reconocimiento Académico in the organization’s more than 30-year history.

AILCHF aspires to increase the investigation and diffusion of cultural Hispanic productions concerning feminist studies. Foster credits his female peers during his days as a university student for heightening his interest in feminist studies: “From the day I walked into the university in 1958, with my high school diploma, to the day I walked out in 1964, with my PhD, I had one woman professor.”

Foster’s research interests focus on urban culture in Latin America, with emphasis on issues of gender construction and sexual identity, as well as Jewish culture.

Robert Joe Cutter, director of the School of International Letters and Cultures, said of Foster’s accomplishments, "David Foster is an outstanding and generous scholar and teacher whose work is known internationally. His interests are manifold, and his many lectures and publications address matters of significant cultural and civic importance."

Foster’s contributions to the humanities extend beyond academe. Arizona Humanities was launched in 1973, and he was one of the founding board members. Foster says that he feels grateful that his efforts to step outside of the classroom setting are recognized and supported by the organization. Describing himself as a public humanist, Foster has a strong commitment to serve the public and bring humanistic perspectives to public issues.

David Foster’s formidable career speaks for itself, according to Melissa Fitch, associate professor of Spanish at the University of Arizona, who nominated Foster for the Dan Shilling Award.

“He has devoted much of his career to serving the people of our state by sharing the richness of our own cultural heritage through his numerous authored, coauthored and edited books and essays on cultural production related to Arizona,” she said.

According to George Justice, dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Foster’s academic and personal endeavors have an impact that resonates at ASU: “David William Foster has been one of the leading humanists at ASU, and, indeed, a national leader in the study of Latin American literature and culture.”

“One of the amazing things about David,” Justice said, “is his complete generosity with students and community members. He is internationally famous, but locally engaged. These recent recognitions highlight both parts of his scholarly genius and public impact. We are very proud of David Foster at ASU.”

Having come to ASU in 1965, Foster is one of the longest-serving professors at the university, and his prolific academic career continues to influence students like Spanish doctoral candidate Patrick Ridge, who commented that developing a relationship with a professor like Foster is invaluable because “he not only cares about his students, he goes out of his way for them.”

Foster considers his academic career a vocation dedicated to further expanding the importance and practice of humanist studies.

“Our society is shaped by culture, our society lives culture,” he said. “Culture is the substance of the daily life of society. The language we speak, the values we hold and the interests we have.”

The School of International Letters and Cultures is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Written by Monica Mancillas, communications student assistant

Susan Kells

Communications Coordinator, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


Building the Future Campaign raises over $37M for ASU Law

January 8, 2015

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has raised more than $37 million, as it enters into the second half of its ambitious five-year fundraising campaign – the first comprehensive campaign in the college's history.

“When we launched the Building the Future Campaign, many in the community told us we wouldn’t succeed – not in this economy and not in this city. Well, our alumni and the Phoenix community have, once again, proven the naysayers wrong,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the college. artist's rendering of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Building Download Full Image

In the past nine months alone, the College of Law has received the largest gifts in its history through the Building the Future Campaign. In September, prominent Phoenix attorney Leo Beus and his wife, Annette, made a $10 million gift – the largest in the history of the law school.

“Giving to ASU has been one of the best decisions of our lives,” said Leo and Annette Beus. “Knowing that our funds will help the next generation of lawyers at a great law school is certainly part of it. But it is also deeply gratifying to know how much our funds are appreciated by ASU. ASU views gifts as investments, and the returns on those investments are immediate and personal. Our advice is that people should give now. ... It is wonderful to experience the benefits of your gifts, and ASU makes sure that you do!”

In November, the W. P. Carey Foundation made a $3 million gift to recognize John Samuel Armstrong’s legacy at the College of Law, allowing for the largest hall in the new building to be named the Armstrong Great Hall. Currently, the College of Law is housed in Armstrong Hall on the ASU Tempe campus.

“The Armstrong Great Hall is just one example of how we plan to recognize those people who helped to found and to build the College of Law,” Sylvester said. “For example, we are very pleased to announce two other namings in honor of two of our founding faculty. The Rebecca and Michael Berch Student Success Center and the Alan Matheson Dean’s Office are the first of what we hope will be many recognitions of those who built this law school.”

In addition to those gifts, $10 million in testamentary gifts have been made through the course of the campaign, including one for $5 million.

Overall, the college has secured seven gifts of $1 million or more – having received only one gift of more than $1 million in its prior 45-year existence.

“The generous support we have received from our law alumni, the Phoenix legal community and the community as a whole has been overwhelming,” Sylvester said.

Although part of the campaign funds are for the construction of the $129 million Arizona Center for Law and Society, the new home of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Downtown Phoenix, the lion’s share of donations are to support student scholarships, professorships and programming at the college.

Construction on the new building began in July, and will be ready to house the entering Class of 2016. The building is planned to be approximately 280,000 gross square feet, with two levels of underground parking. In addition to state-of-the-art classrooms and simulation facilities, the new center will house the ASU Alumni Law Group – the world’s first teaching law firm – the Arizona location for the McCain Institution, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and numerous other publicly oriented policy and outreach centers.

“This building has been constructed, floor by floor, with our two main audiences in mind: the public we serve and the students we educate. It will be, simply put, a facility that engages the public and educates lawyers better than any other in the country,” said Thomas Williams, assistant dean of Academic Affairs.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library, currently located in a separate building near the law school in Tempe, will be moved to the new building. The library will occupy multiple floors and create the main circulatory structure of the center. The first floor of the building will have retail space consisting of a school bookstore and a café.

“This is an exciting time for the College of Law. While other law schools are struggling, we are thriving. We have increased our national impact and profile. We have enrolled the strongest entering classes in our history. We have placed our students in great jobs at rates far beyond national averages – and had the support of the community at levels beyond any similar law school,” Sylvester said.

The lead architects on the project are Ennead Architects of New York City and Jones Studios of Phoenix. DPR Construction is the construction manager and Buro-Happold is the engineer.

For more information on giving to the Building the Future Campaign, please contact Jim Van Wicklin, senior director of development at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, at or 480-727-0645, or visit