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Helios invests in ASU history teaching programs

November 13, 2008

A local philanthropic organization dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals in Arizona and Florida by creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education is responding to the need for highly qualified history teachers. A $1 million gift from the Helios Education Foundation will benefit the Arizona State University Department of History.

“This investment from the Helios Education Foundation will help us prepare future teachers by building their historical knowledge base and grounding them in historical thinking skills,” says Mark von Hagen, chair of the history department in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Helios Education Foundation, which has previously invested in ASU’s history department programs, will establish two endowments at the ASU Foundation, providing permanent funding for fellowships for students in the master’s of teaching history program, as well as a mentoring program for history teachers in Arizona.

The new endowment funds will be named for William C. “Bill” Jenkins, a founding director of the Helios Education Foundation. Jenkins was a passionate advocate for history education. He inspired the foundation to fund programs in ASU’s Department of History, helping to improve the quality of history education within postsecondary classrooms. This gift is a result of Jenkins’ most recent advocacy for supporting the teaching of history. 

"William C. ‘Bill’ Jenkins was a guiding force through the creation of Helios Education Foundation, and as a founding board member he brought a genuine passion to our mission of changing lives through education,” says the Foundation's President and CEO Paul Luna. "It's with Bill's passion, commitment and excitement about the teaching of history and the teaching profession itself, that Helios Education Foundation awards $1 million to the ASU Foundation. Changing lives through education begins by first creating opportunities in education, and we believe this partnership will open doors for students and existing teachers in history education."

The gift will be presented by Vince Roig, chairman of the Helios Education Foundation, on Nov. 14 to University Vice President and Dean Quentin Wheeler as part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Homecoming Week festivities where the college will honor Bill and Sue Jenkins with the Hall of Fame Award. The couple are being recognized for their support of the humanities and the formative impact they have had throughout their careers and volunteer work in the college, in Scottsdale and in Arizona. The award is the highest honor the college confers.

Bill Jenkins, who died this past summer, taught American and Arizona history, American government, and economics for more than 25 years in the Scottsdale Unified School District. From 1966 to 1974, he served on the Scottsdale City Council and from 1974 to 1980 was the city’s mayor. He also was a U.S. naval officer. He earned a master’s degree in history from ASU in 1963 and his bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 1952.

Sue Jenkins worked for Arizona Public Service for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the community relations liaison for the East Valley. Her volunteer contributions to the Scottsdale community are many.

More information about the history department at More information about the Helios Education Foundation at More information about the ASU Foundation at