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Reflecting on 2012, ASU deans make 2013 predictions

January 10, 2013

Part I: In their own words, Arizona State University deans look back on the developments of 2012 and make their predictions for the new year.

Keith Lindor, executive vice provost and dean of the College of Health Solutions

Two big themes have emerged. One was the prominence of health care before and during the elections, with the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act. It is clear that the topic has risen to a higher level of interest as we face continued problems with a health care system that does not deliver acceptable outcomes and does so at enormous costs to a limited number of Individuals. New models, such as accountable care organizations, are being deployed as pilots to determine if different reimbursement and hence delivery models can address these issues.

The other theme seems to be the growing realization and articulation that health and health care are not the same. Health care is really sick care, and inadequate attention has been given to how we might better ensure health. ASU is ideally poised to help lead this transition in thinking. I see real progress in 2013 in both of these areas.


Robert E. Mittelstaedt, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business

The most significant business story in 2012 was the unclear outlook for our economic future. Businesses and consumers found themselves at various times confused by changing indicators, frustrated with the slow recovery, tired of political battles and perplexed about the implications of the fiscal cliff. As a result, consumers and business leaders remain cautious about spending and investing.

The news-making stories in 2013 are likely to be about continued slow growth, but with Arizona generally doing better than the rest of the country. Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. will increase slowly albeit at generally lower wages because of productivity increases and global competition.

We can only hope to see some real progress in how the European Union and the United States cope with issues related to debt and social program funding. Importantly, governments need to learn from our own Nobel Laureate Edward Prescott. Research that Prescott and colleagues conducted more than three decades ago showed that inconsistent or uncertain government policies make business cycles worse.

On the positive side, progress toward energy independence for the United States will accelerate. Entrepreneurs will create new businesses and new industry sectors as the U.S. continues to be a world innovation leader, especially in telecommunications, computing, energy, aerospace and professional services. Our global reputation as the world’s most productive higher education provider will continue.

Teri Pipe, dean of the College of Nursing & Health Innovation

In the health care arena, we are seeing the convergence of many important factors that have significant impact for all health professionals, including nurses and health innovators. These factors include the marked increase in the number of older adults, the increasing prevalence of individuals with chronic illnesses including obesity at much younger ages and the shortage of primary care providers, especially in underserved areas. These trends are true nationally and globally.

In the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is also having a profound impact, including providing health insurance for millions of individuals who up to this time have been uninsured or underinsured. This increased access will also push the demand for primary care and care coordination--skills that nurses can provide. The ACA also provides incentives for organizations to provide care for populations within a fixed amount of financial resources. Health homes (sometimes referred to as medical homes) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) are some of the organizational structures that provide this type of care. Some of the most successful strategies of delivering better health effectively to more people is to integrate care from an interprofessional team of highly capable individuals.  
Research clearly demonstrates that higher levels of nursing education lead to better outcomes for patients, even being linked with decreased risk for patient mortality in hospitals. 

As a result, many health organizations are moving to require at least a BSN for entry into employment for nurses. Likewise, the demand for doctorally-educated nurses (DNP and PhD) is also expanding. There is a critical shortage of nursing faculty which is expected to worsen in the coming decade.

All of these factors converge to intensify the urgency of providing high caliber educational experiences for all levels in nursing.  We are working very diligently to provide our students at all levels and in all programs with opportunities for interprofessional education which will teach them to work effectively in teams to provide excellent health care. In this way, nurses and other professionals can work at the highest levels of their skills and abilities to have the best possible impact on health.


Mari Koerner, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

2012 may well be remembered as the year in which innovations in digital technology began to have a truly widespread impact on education, from preschool though higher education. The biggest stories in the popular media included the introduction of the MOOC (the “Massive Open Online Course”), the “flipped classroom,” (in which lectures and other core content are provided online, allowing the use of classroom time for activities such as application exercises or small group problem-solving), the growing use of e-books and tablets instead of traditional textbooks, the popularization of the huge online instructional video library offered by the Khan Academy, the growth of adaptive learning technologies, and the explosion of interest in game-based learning. Some of these trends are reflected in popularity of our college’s graduate certificate in K-12 online teaching, and the new Center for Games & Impact.

Such innovations have been made possible by the considerable expansion of access to digital tools and the internet across schools and communities. For example, at the start of the 21st century, only half of all U.S. school classrooms had Internet access. Today, that number is 98 percent. Preschool children now are more likely to know how to use a computer mouse than to tie their own shoes. However, these most visible technological innovations primarily affect the delivery model for education. They don’t necessarily have a fundamental impact on the underlying model of teaching and learning, which often continues to be the transmission of information. Games, for example, can be used for skill and drill; the flipped classroom can be used to allow more class time for testing students’ knowledge of isolated facts; and MOOCs can simply allow more students access to canned lectures (as dynamic or prestigious as the faculty might be).   

These examples illustrate the fundamental challenge that we now face in education: how to leverage new technologies to truly transform teaching and learning in an age where people need to become lifelong learners, where knowledge is outdated almost as quickly as it is created, and where being producers – of ideas, tools, new forms of social organization – is crucial to the future of our children and our society.

Fortunately, there are trends and developments that are beginning to address this challenge. The truly cutting-edge stories of 2013 will focus on how digital tools are used to engage learners in authentic problem-solving, to develop their skills in peer-to-peer collaboration and information sharing, and to promote creativity, systems-thinking and design skills, among others.

Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

The most significant happening in the legal field was The Supreme Court's landmark decision in National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius, which determined the constitutionality of the most significant domestic legislation in a generation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The decision surprised many observers as Chief Justice Roberts wrote a majority opinion upholding the controversial individual mandate to buy health insurance as an exercise of Congress's taxing power rather than its commerce power. Roberts’ opinion also left it up to each state to decide whether or not to expand health coverage for low-income individuals and accept the new federal funding that is provided under the ACA.

In the coming year, the Supreme Court will decide two issues of considerable social importance: affirmative action in higher education and the legality of same-sex marriage. Given the Court's recent pronouncements on the topic, the affirmative action case – Fisher v. University of Texas – might lead to the end of race-conscious affirmative action in higher education, a circumstance that would drastically change the way many universities make admissions decisions. The same-sex marriage cases – Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor – mark the first time the Supreme Court has entered into the lively and often heated debate over same-sex marriage.

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