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New ASU scholarship program aims to serve students, build legacies

portrait of ASU professor Ted Humphrey
March 12, 2014

New scholarship endowments will nurture spirit of philanthropy among the ASU community

Editor's Note: The ASU Foundation announces a new scholarship program designed to nurture the spirit of philanthropy among dedicated faculty, emeritus faculty, administrators and staff members of Arizona State University. The Maroon and Gold Leaders Giving Program allows them to create scholarship endowments for students with academic merit and financial need. Through the program, ASU will match 4 percent of an endowed scholarship commitment of $25,000 or more for 10 years, for a total match of $10,000. Since December, 16 faculty, administration and staff members have established an endowment, putting it closer to the ASU Foundation’s goal of $1 million.

The program is an ideal way for faculty and staff members to create a legacy and continue to serve students in perpetuity. One of the first faculty members to contribute to the fund was Ted Humphrey.

In 1966, Arizona State University was small enough to publish an annual yearbook, the Sahuaro.

College Avenue still cut through the middle of campus.

Much of the desert stretching from Tempe was raw land.

And Ted Humphrey was a newly minted, untenured assistant professor in ASU’s philosophy department.

So when he says, “This campus is not recognizable from the time I came, and there’s no way in which it is recognizable,” he knows what he’s talking about.

And when he speaks of great changes at ASU, he doesn’t mean its physical transformation. Humphrey is bearing witness to ASU’s emergence as one of the best public universities in the world.

“ASU is not recognizable in terms of the quality and stature of the faculty, the national rankings of its programs, the quality of students who come here or its reputation,” Humphrey says. “This is a transformed institution. I doubt very much that there is another post-World War II institution in the United States that has made as much progress as this one has.”

An important driver of that progress was Humphrey himself.

In 1966, Humphrey was very much like the university he had just hitched his star to – young and full of potential.

Over the next 47 years, Humphrey and ASU would reach that potential together.

By 1974 Humphrey was chair of the philosophy department. By 1983 he was directing the university’s honors education, a program that at the time received scant attention or funding.

Within five years, Humphrey would lead the program to collegiate status. By 2005, Barrett, the Honors College would be named one of the best honors colleges in the country, and serve as a model for how to integrate outstanding honors education throughout a large, public university.

To be able to contribute such an important chapter to ASU’s story, he says, has been an immensely rewarding experience.

Cement a reputation, create a legacy

On the other side of 47 years, Humphrey is now considering his legacy at ASU.

That is why he is establishing a Maroon and Gold Leaders Giving Program scholarship endowment, taking advantage of a new initiative that allows ASU administrators, faculty, staff and emeritus faculty to create scholarship endowments for promising undergraduates with financial need.

A Maroon and Gold Leaders endowment will allow him to continue impacting students in a meaningful way and contributing to the university’s progress, even after he is no longer a daily presence on campus, Humphrey says.

“I’ve thought for a very long time about where I want to make my giving investments,” Humphrey says. He considered his alma maters, the University of California at Riverside and San Diego.

But he decided that his experience here, combined with ASU’s mission to extend education to first-generation college students, makes an endowment at ASU a worthwhile investment.

“I do feel that I’ve learned far more here than I did during my undergraduate and graduate education – not because they were deficient in any way,” Humphrey says. “It’s because I’ve been here for a long time; I’ve had the opportunity to do a great many things, and this institution is distinguished, even now, as serving the needs of first-generation college-goers.

“I am one of those,” he says.

Humphrey returned to the classroom in 2003 as a Barrett professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics, a phase of his career he calls “extraordinarily rewarding.” His scholarship focuses on Latin American intellectual history, and includes two anthologies of writings by Latin American thinkers and a new, from-the-ground-up translation of Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s "True History of the Conquest of New Spain." It has been a blessing, he says, to teach “really wonderful students.”

He says he wants to help those students gain a meaningful education, and not come out of their educational experience deep in debt. Faculty, administrators and staff can be a big part of that, developing gift aid for students “to the highest degree possible.”

“As I look at it, I have spent almost my entire life, and certainly my professional life, in a beautiful environment with very smart colleagues, with very smart students – persons who in every way are extraordinarily talented and engaged – and I don’t quite know how to express it, but I’m thankful to be able to have had such a career as that.

“I think that any faculty who looks up and reflects on his or her situation just a little would come to the same conclusion,” he says.

Endowments are an especially useful tool in building a lasting culture of philanthropy because, well-managed, “they can go on forever,” Humphrey says.

“I think we need these permanent memorials,” he says. “We’re going to continue having students. We’re going to continue having a population that needs educational support. That’s not going to go away.”

For information on creating a Maroon and Gold scholarship endowment, please call Mary Negri at 480-965-0878 or visit

Melissa Bordow,
ASU Foundation Communications and Marketing