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Founders’ Day events celebrate ASU’s birthday


March 02, 2007

Champion golfer Phil Mickelson will share the podium with an inventor who helps stroke victims and a popular teacher from Barrett, the Honors College, at a celebration of ASU’s founding March 6. It’s an ASU birthday party in a way, and the university is honoring seven people who embody the spirit of its founders.

A Founders’ Day dinner and awards presentation, conducted by the ASU Alumni Association, will take place at 6 p.m. that day at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel. It marks the day in March of 1885 when the 13th Territorial Legislature established the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, which later became ASU.

Awardees who will be seated with ASU President Michael Crow also will include a disability advocate, an adviser to ASU students for 38 years, a leading ASU scholar on immigrant studies and a sought-after expert on mental health in juvenile offenders.

Mickelson, a professional golfer who has captured more than 30 PGA victories, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the ASU Alumni Association. The 1992 graduate in psychology is known for his competitive spirit, his courtesy and his generosity to ASU and other community organizations. He has donated $230,000 to ASU through the PGA’s “Golf: For Business and Life” program and is the catalyst behind the PGA tour’s “Birdies for the Brave” charity.

Two graduates will receive Young Alumni Achievement Awards for excellence in their professions and contributions to ASU and the community. Ed Koeneman, a 1992 graduate in electronics engineering technology, founded Kinetic Muscles Inc. six years ago to design and manufacture devices that help stroke survivors regain the function of paralyzed muscles. Koeneman, who also holds an ASU master’s degree, has been recognized as a top innovator by the governor’s office and the Arizona Bioindustry Association.

Samantha Johnson helped organize the first conference in the West on women and disabilities even before she graduated from ASU in 2000 in liberal arts and women’s studies. She has since been an agency case worker for domestic violence victims and the elderly and chronically ill, serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues and speaks at ASU classes and leadership conferences.

All three of the alumni achievement award winners will have $500 scholarships donated to ASU students in their names. Three outstanding ASU faculty members also will receive awards at the celebration and will be given $2,000 grants. Award funds are raised from Founders Society members.

The Faculty Research Award goes to Cecilia Menjívar, associate professor of sociology, who is an internationally known scholar in the areas of immigration and adaptation of immigrants. She often presents her research at institutions around the country, and her work has appeared in top journals. As a founding affiliate research faculty for ASU’s North American Center for Transborder Studies, she also is known for mentoring graduate students in their research.

José Ashford, a social work professor and a renowned expert in the area of mental health for adult and juvenile lawbreakers, will receive the Faculty Service Award. He has introduced a new way of responding to drug offenders within the legal system and has developed a risk assessment for juvenile offenders. He also has worked within Arizona’s Native American communities to establish substance abuse programs.

Menjívar is in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Ashford is in the College of Public Programs.

Eric Susser, who joined the faculty of Barrett, the Honors College, 10 years ago, will take home the Faculty Teaching Award for mentoring and inspiring students and for innovation inside and outside the classroom. He’s a published author who teaches several popular Barrett courses that cross boundaries between literature, science and modern culture. Susser also has helped create the college’s summer study abroad program in Paris, and he has mentored more than 30 students on theses and independent studies.

Laura Orr, who was hired at ASU in 1968 as a clerk in the graduation office and is the academic advising coordinator in the School of Social Work, will receive the Staff Achievement Award and a $2,000 grant. She is described as a “quiet warrior” and an “unsung heroine” for her work ethic, her positive attitude and her inordinate reserve of patience. Orr is said to be the key to the successful transition of the school’s base of operations from Tempe to downtown Phoenix last fall.

For more information on the awards, or to reserve a ticket to the event, visit the Web at www.asu.edu/foundersday or call (480) 965-5074.