Cheng to lead AzTE

June 8, 2007

Augustine Cheng, associate general counsel and head of Columbia University's Patent & Licensing Group, has been appointed the managing director of Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the company that handles technology transfer for ASU and Northern Arizona University. Cheng will officially assume his post Aug. 1.

“Augie is one of the most talented people I know working in the complex arena of intellectual property law and technology commercialization,” ASU President Michael Crow says. “From managing high-stakes patent litigation to negotiating licensing and technology transfer deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, his skills are exactly what the university needs at this time. Under Augie's leadership, I am confident that AzTE will be able to navigate the rapidly changing patent landscape and continue to advance its core mission of working with university faculty to transfer their inventions and discoveries to industry.” Download Full Image

“Augie has been instrumental in the level of success achieved by Columbia University in technology transfer,” adds Craig Weatherup, chairman of the AzTE board of directors and chairman of the ASU Foundation board. “Our university is fortunate to have him joining the team.”

Cheng says it was Crow's vision for ASU and its research mission that drew him to the position.

“It's truly an extraordinary time to be at ASU as Dr. Crow and his team work with the university and broader community, as well as local and state officials, to transform ASU into a new model for public research universities,” Cheng says. “In a very short period of time, there has been remarkable progress on all fronts. In the specific area of technology transfer the university is now well-positioned to begin moving into a tier that has been traditionally dominated by research institutions such as Columbia.

“There is tremendous promise in the multi-disciplinary approach advanced by Dr. Crow to finding scientific solutions to some of most important problems of our time. ASU research initiatives, such as the Biodesign Institute and the Flexible Display Center, are among the most innovative in the country.”

AzTE is a subsidiary of the ASU Foundation. Johnnie Ray, the president and chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation, says moving the university's discoveries into society where they can be of benefit to humankind is a fundamental part of ASU's vision as the New American University.

“Augie Cheng believes strongly in this part of our mission and he has vast experience in setting up and managing structures to make it happen,” Ray says.

Cheng says he will turn to strengthening AzTE's relationship with faculty and the rest of the university community.

“University investigators are the key to successful technology transfer organizations,” he says. “They are the pipeline for the scientific advancements that AzTE is charged with moving into the commercial sector.”

His team also will focus on creating long-term relationships with industry sponsors and venture capital firms.

Michael Cleare, executive director of Science & Technology Ventures of Columbia University, has worked closely with Cheng for the past several years.

“Augie Cheng, a talented business lawyer, has a tremendous ability to understand complex issues from the legal and business perspectives, and to use these insights to come up with innovative solutions for licensing deals,” Cleare says.

Cheng has been at Columbia since 1994, when he was appointed an associate general counsel focusing in the areas of litigation, contracts, and technology transfer. Before joining Columbia, he was in private practice with the New York law firms of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Schulte Roth & Zabel. He also served as a law clerk for William Timbers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Cheng received his undergraduate education at Columbia University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia College in 1984. He received his law degree in 1989 from Fordham Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Fordham Law Review.

Sharon Keeler

Law school bids farewell to Lowenthal

June 8, 2007

The list of things retiring professor Gary Lowenthal will miss about the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is as colorful and substantial as his famed collection of loud ties and patterned socks.

For instance, there's the lively debate and obvious affection among his colleagues, including the craggy-voiced Michael Berch. Download Full Image

“I would hear, right on the other side of my office door, Michael Berch's voice booming – and then I'd realize he was on the other side of the building,” Lowenthal joked during a dinner in his honor, which was attended by 100 family members, friends and former students.

Then there's the college's work environment, where Lowenthal has been warmly assisted by librarians and secretaries for 31 years.

“One of the neat things about walking in this building is coming in the front door and seeing Estela's smile,” he said, referring to receptionist Estela Obregon.

And then there are the students, thousands of them, who have blossomed under Lowenthal's beloved teaching style, the hallmark of which was thoughtful mentorship. He says he'll miss “the classes in which you think you are trying to say something or talk to students, and suddenly, a debate breaks out, and they are talking to each other, and it's the easiest class in the world to teach, because they are teaching themselves.”

Lowenthal presumably has taught his last class at ASU and plans to move with his wife, Susan Cedar, and their 6-year-old daughter, Angela, to Santa Fe , N.M. There, he will begin a new chapter in his life as a full-time writer.

He was lovingly toasted at the annual Law Society dinner during the spring semester, and Patricia White, dean of the College of Law , presented him with a bronzed sculpture of a horse crafted by Arizona artist Cynthia Rigden. The artwork is similar to one received by only one other individual: O'Connor herself.

“We are immensely saddened by your retirement, Gary , but your legacy is a lasting one, and we are all far better for knowing you,” White said.

Professor Jeffrie Murphy opened the program by saying many people don't know about Lowenthal's achievements – as a published scholar, an author, attorney and judge pro-tem – because he's not a “prima donna self-promoter.”

Years ago, when Murphy began teaching criminal law, he asked Lowenthal for help on generating discussion among students and composing their exams. Murphy since has passed along that knowledge to other professors at the College of Law .

“They didn't realize that, when they were talking to me, they were talking to Gary ,” Murphy said. “As long as there is criminal law at the ASU law school, it will be Gary Lowenthal's law.”

Lowenthal studied law at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, as did his longtime friend, Jim Walsh, who spoke at the dinner. Walsh, the attorney general special counsel for southern Arizona , traced Lowenthal's roots as a popular and warm – but competitive – guy from his days at Freeport High School on Long Island , N.Y.

“Gary Lowenthal was listed as ‘Mr. Wonderful' of Freeport High School – and when you are ready for the plaque here, he is certainly ‘Mr. Wonderful' of the ASU College of Law,” Walsh said.

Donna Elm was pregnant twice during her years at the College of Law , including in 1986, when she was Lowenthal's graduate assistant. For part of the time, she was too sick to come to school, but he was sympathetic and trusting.

“He's taught me so much about being a good person, and that has made me a fine lawyer,” said Elm, an assistant federal public defender in Phoenix . “With a whole host of lawyers, he taught us not to think like lawyers, but to think like humans. We have all benefited tremendously from that.”

Lowenthal's colleague Bob Dauber tickled dinner guests with a slide show of mostly old photos of the retiring professor. It ended with a video clip of perhaps the one person who will not miss Lowenthal in his retirement, because she will get more of his time.

“I like when my Daddy plays marbles with me and reads me books and plays cards with me and tells me bedtime stories,” said his daughter, Angela.