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ASU school named in recognition of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford

October 18, 2012

T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics seeks better future for children, youth, families

Entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford is being honored by Arizona State University with the naming of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics in recognition of his long-time support.  

Sanford has helped advance the university over many years of philanthropic program commitment by bringing a unique partnership with Teach for America to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and creating the Sanford Harmony Program, which is intended to help children as young as three years old better understand the opposite gender and to create respect, trust and understanding between boys and girls before adolescence.

 “When you match Denny Sanford’s energy, drive and resources with what ASU is committed to do to find the solutions to the great challenges we as a society face, you have the perfect combination to create real change,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow in announcing the new name of the school. “Denny has helped put ASU at the forefront of social innovation – building what is needed to improve the health and welfare of families. 

“I believe T. Denny Sanford will be the name associated with discovery in the areas of harmonious and healthy human development and relationships to ultimately reduce divorce and abuse rates.”

Through the Sanford School, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU is developing and promoting collaborative efforts that involve faculty, practitioners, staff, students and community members, and that focus on core Sanford themes: relationships, families, children, education, health and well-being. The Sanford Harmony Program is a centerpiece of the school.

“I am a pioneer of new ideas, new thoughts and new programs,” said Sanford. “Arizona State University gave me the opportunity to bring forth the Sanford Harmony Program and now the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. These programs benefit the country by teaching children respect, trust and understanding.

“It is my dream to reduce the divorce rate in the U.S. by 50 percent within the next 50 years,” Sanford added. “Dr. Crow shares that dream. ASU is a world-class university, and we expect many significant endorsements for this world-changing program that will be made available to all preschool and elementary schools nationwide.”

The Sanford School boasts:

• a faculty of more than 60 world-class scholars that generate almost $7 million annually in research expenditures

• a large and diverse student body of more than 1,600 undergraduate and 120 graduate majors who are dedicated to understanding and improving the lives of children, youth and families

• award-winning initiatives that break traditional academic boundaries and seek innovative solutions to our most pressing social problems

• entrepreneurial leadership that is cutting-edge in creating opportunities for self-investment and transformational change

• increasing recognition as an aspirational peer for many universities across the United States and the world

ASU and the Sanford School are not traditional academic institutions,” said Richard Fabes, Sanford School director. “As a New American University, we’re aligned closer to a teaching and research hospital model – taking ideas and delivering solutions with real-world implications. Our research is used to improve well-being and provide the prevention and intervention tools to help build better relationships and live better lives. 

“Denny Sanford’s significant investments have been transformative as we further our important work and find solutions that will create a better future for children, youth and families.”

Sanford, a native of St. Paul, Minn., graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in psychology in 1958. A successful entrepreneur who serves as chairman and CEO of United National Corporation in Sioux Falls, S.D, his philanthropic endeavors have left a legacy across ASU. He has placed a focus on children through his support of ASU’s Sanford Harmony Program, created in 2008 to bridge the gender divide by providing girls and boys with opportunities and support for positive peer classroom interactions and friendships, and laying the foundation for healthy and successful relationships throughout the early childhood years and beyond. The program is based on the notion that facilitating harmonious relationships between boys and girls will improve the learning environment and set the stage for positive relationships throughout a lifetime. 

In total, Sanford has invested more than $25 million in the School of Social and Family Dynamics and Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. His support of Teachers College has helped transform the way teachers are prepared. The resulting Sanford Inspire Program has earned national recognition, redefining teacher preparation by integrating best practices of Teachers College and Teach For America. 

R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., CEO of the ASU Foundation for A New American University, said Sanford’s support represents the best kind of private-university partnership. “Denny’s contributions are groundbreaking in the sense that he is an innovative partner who has laid the foundation in developing a model for how we understand and enhance relationships among young children. He has changed the way the university recruits, selects and prepares future K–12 teachers, and he has built programs through his advocacy and resources that hold significant promise for the improvement of well-being for children, families and the world. The breadth and reach of his philanthropy are profound.

“It is an Arizona State University point of pride to have the Sanford name so prominently associated with this great university for the inspiration of children.”