ASU Foundation: The basics

April 4, 2017

In February, we ran an overview of the basics of a comprehensive campaign. In continuation of our effort to help the public understand how fundraising works at ASU — and how it enables scholars to have robust educational experiences — our latest Q&A unpacks the ASU Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions to Arizona State University.

Question: What is a foundation? Download Full Image

Answer: A foundation is a non-governmental entity established to advance charitable purposes for another organization or organizations. There are foundations dedicated to a wide variety of charity work: some issue grants to improve world health or support biomedical research, others encourage creative people to promote peace or fund journalists or teachers working in underprivileged areas.

The ASU Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation comprised of professional fundraisers and administrators who cultivate resources from private donors for the benefit of Arizona State University. This type of foundation is known as an “institutionally related foundation.”

Q: What is an institutionally related foundation?

A: An institutionally related foundation, or IRF, is a separate 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing a college, university system, school district or teaching hospital, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Q: What are the benefits of having an IRF?

A: In fiscal year 2016, the ASU Foundation raised more than $215 million in support of ASU’s educational programs, research and services that enhance student success and community engagement.

What’s more, according to CASE, IRFs have greater flexibility to raise and manage private support than state offices or government subdivisions who are often mandated by low-risk, low-return investment strategies. IRFs can also perform business transactions, such as selling property, in a more competitive and expeditious manner than is regulated by public entities.

In many cases, donors prefer the security of making a major gift to an organization governed by individuals with specialized financial management experience and legal and business expertise.

Q: How are IRFs accountable?

A: Also according to CASE, IRFs are accountable to their donors and the students, faculty, staff and trustees of the institutions they serve. They are also legally accountable to the Internal Revenue Service and state agencies that oversee nonprofit organizations.

The ASU Foundation is governed by an independent board of directors that ensures gifts are used according to donors’ wishes and that the foundation acts in a fiduciary responsible way that represents donors’ interests.

The ASU Foundation has consecutively been awarded the highest rating for efficiency, accountability and transparency by Charity Navigator, the largest independent evaluator of nonprofits in America.

Q: How does an evaluator like Charity Navigator assess an organization?

A: Charity Navigator uses an in-depth set of criteria to determine if an organization adheres to sector best practices and executes their mission in a financially efficient way.

One such metric is how much of a gift goes directly to support its cause. According to the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar and Charity Navigator, most nonprofits aspire to spend no more than 15 percent on overhead; in reality, that figure is closer to 40 percent.

At the ASU Foundation, donations include a 5 perecent unrestricted gift towards administrative expenses, meaning 95 percent of each gift directly supports its cause.

Q: In what activities does the ASU Foundation participate?

A: Specifically, the ASU Foundation:

• facilitates and receives all contributions to ASU, including from individuals, corporations and other foundations
• coordinates and directs major fundraising initiatives on behalf of ASU, including Campaign ASU 2020
• disburses contributions according to the expressed wishes of the donor
• oversees management of investment assets
• actively promotes a culture of philanthropy and generosity at ASU

Q: What are donors’ rights when they make a gift via the ASU Foundation?

A: Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public and that supporters have full confidence in the nonprofits they support, we believe all donors have a right to be informed of the organization’s mission and those who serve on its governing board, to have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements, to receive appropriate acknowledgement, to be assured their gifts are being used for the purposes for which they were given and to be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and confidentiality to the extent provided by law. A full explanation is here.

ASU Art Museum receives Contemporary Craft Initiative grant from Windgate Charitable Foundation

March 28, 2017

ASU Art Museum is the recipient of a two-year, $330,000 grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation in support of the establishment of the Windgate Contemporary Craft Initiative. This gift will support a series of contemporary craft exhibitions, visiting artists and scholars, new acquisitions, conservation, public and university programs and student awards in contemporary craft.

ASU Art Museum has a long-standing commitment to this particular area of interest.  Installation shot from “Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft” (2013) Installation shot from “Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft” (2013). Photo by Craig Smith Download Full Image

“The museum was one of the first in the United States to present craft exhibitions and programs in the broader context of a contemporary art museum within a major research university. Since the 1950s, we have been a major force in contemporary craft through collecting, commissioning artists, contributing to the scholarly dialogue and presenting public exhibitions,” said Heather Sealy Lineberry, senior curator and interim director. “This generous support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation will allow for sustained, substantive contributions to the American contemporary craft scene, impacting artists, scholars, students and communities.”

The initiative includes exhibitions that will help to further discovery and dialogue in the field and will actively advance awareness of contemporary craft to a broad range of audiences. The fellows program will bring curators, scholars and practitioners to the museum and university to engage in innovative research, writing, teaching and curating on contemporary craft.

Collaborating with museum staff, School of Art faculty and community members, fellows will participate in classroom instruction, public presentations and workshops, and informal mentoring and critiques for students. In addition, fellows will go on to distribute their experiences and enhanced knowledge through their subsequent positions and roles across the country.

Finally, the museum’s International Artist Residency Program will provide contemporary craft artists with space and support to develop new bodies of work. The university context for this initiative allows for deep collaborations with faculty and students and impact on the next generation of artists.

ASU Art Museum’s relationship with the Windgate Charitable Foundation has been strong for well over 20 years prior to this current gift. The foundation has supported several museum exhibitions, ranging from “Turned Wood Now: Redefining the Lathe-Turned Object” (1997) to the recent “Wayne Higby: Infinite Place” (2013) and “Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft” (2013). Also in 2013, support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation made possible the museum’s symposium “FlashBackForward: Rethinking Craft,” which explored critical issues facing contemporary craft locally, nationally and internationally.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation has also supported paid curatorial internships at ASU Art Museum since January 2005. ASU student interns are integrated into departments across the museum, working alongside the museum’s staff and mentoring in museum professional practice and research. After their graduation, many have become staff members at museums across the country including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boise Art Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Upcoming visiting artists, scholars and fellows include Yuri Kobayashi, Nancy Servis, Donald Fortescue, Neil Forrest, Isabel Berglund, Sequoia Miller and Garth Clark.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


Public service scholarship helps ASU students make a difference

March 24, 2017

Kelsey Wilson plans to make her mark in education. Not as a teacher, but as an advocate. She’s well on her way.

The ASU Spirit of Service Scholar is active on campus. She serves on the policy team at Arizona State University student government, volunteers through her sorority and has already interned at the state Capitol as a Senate page. ASU Spirit of Service Scholars 2016-2-17 Spirit of Service Scholars include, front row from left to right: Zak Ghali, Mahnoor Mukarram, Kelsey Wilson, Anisa Abdul-Quadir, Stephanie Cordel, and College of Public Service and Community Solutions dean Jonathan Koppell. Back row: Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service director Alberto Olivas, Stanford Thomas Prescott, Thomas Kim, Marli Mayon, Kalah Polsean and Carlo Altamirano. Not pictured: Alpha Ngwenya and Madit Yel. Download Full Image

Her passion is making sure K–12 education is properly funded.

Wilson grew up in Lake Havasu City in western Arizona. She attended public school at a time of massive state budget cuts. While some communities could turn to local taxpayers to make up the difference, her community couldn’t. Lake Havasu is a retirement destination. And with many people living on fixed incomes, they wouldn’t support ballot measures that would increase their property taxes to boost education funding.

“I had really great teachers, so it was a good community to grow up in,” Wilson said. “But, because of its location on the Colorado River, we have a larger elderly population and a lot of snowbirds. So that’s made it very difficult to raise taxes to benefit schools.”

Wilson is the first in her family to attend college. She credits her parents, who run a hardware store, for always supporting her educational pursuits. In high school, Wilson served on a student advisory group to former Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal.

“As student delegates, we got to talk to him about some of the issues facing communities all over Arizona,” Wilson said. “We learned what went into creating education policies that affected students positively and could remedy some of the problems we faced.”

Wilson is appreciative of the education and experiences she had growing up in western Arizona. She had great teachers and support systems, but she knows her education could have blossomed even more with proper funding.

Kelsey Wilson

Kelsey Wilson served as a state Senate page prior to applying to the ASU Spirit of Service Scholar program.

Helping solve the problem regarding education funding is the reason why Wilson applied to ASU’s Spirit of Service Scholarship program. She was selected as one of a dozen undergraduate and graduate students for the 2016–2017 school year.

The Spirit of Service Scholar program is part of the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions in downtown Phoenix. ASU undergraduate and graduate students from any major and any ASU campus who have a desire for public service can apply for the program. They receive a $5,000 tuition stipend and in-depth training from community leaders on specific subject matters. Scholars are partnered with a high-level mentor in the field of their choice and, in turn, work with other scholars to mentor local high school students. 

“I really want to make a difference,” Wilson said. “And for me, I think being a Spirit of Service Scholar is providing me with networks in this area and also allows me to really learn more about the issues that I want to work on.”

Wilson knew she wanted to make an impact on the community with her time spent pursuing higher education at ASU. She is pursuing two degrees, one in political science and the other in public policy with a concentration in education policy.

“Really, I think education policy is where I want to be,” said Wilson. “Lobbying and working on policy for the government. I definitely see it as an opportunity to remedy problems within the U.S. and a way to elevate the future leaders of this country that we're creating.”

When Wilson was selected as a Spirit of Service Scholar, she was matched with a working professional mentor from her field of interest to help her reach her goal. Receiving a mentor is just one of the many benefits to being selected as a recipient.

She was matched with Peter Hayes, the chief public affairs executive for the Salt River Project, a water and electric utility based in Phoenix. 

“Having Peter Hayes as my mentor has been great,” Wilson said. “He encouraged me to run for the vice president of policy for the Undergraduate Student Government. It's seems like every time I am conflicted about my next step, he is right there to help me through it. Having his insight has been so rewarding.”

Through learning from her mentor, being involved in many types of organizations on campus and continuing to peruse her passion through the Sprit of Service Scholarship, it is no doubt Wilson is going to make a change in her community in the future.

“I not only want to soak up all the information I can from this, but I want to give wholeheartedly,” said Wilson. “I'm a firm believer that I'm a part of something larger and it’s my job to leave this place even better than I found it.” 

Applications for the Spirit of Service Scholar 2017–2018 class will be accepted until Friday, March 31. Apply at

Private donations, which help support scholarships at ASU, are part of Campaign ASU 2020, a comprehensive philanthropic effort that aims to accelerate ASU’s mission and raise support for its educational priorities by raising at least $1.5 billion by 2020. Learn more at

Written by Makayla Perkins

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Entomologist couple donates world-class insect collection to ASU

Weevil gift will more than double ASU's collection, includes rare specimens.
Gift to help ASU become top center on understanding devastating weevil species.
March 23, 2017

$12M gift from researchers Lois and Charlie O’Brien to transform university’s research; couple also endowing professorship

By some estimates, there are about 10 million species of insects on the planet, but only about a tenth have been named. Key in that knowledge gap are the weevils, a mega-diverse group of beetles that devastates crops around the world. 

Now, thanks to a $12 million gift from two of the world’s foremost entomologists, Arizona State University is poised to become a leading center for understanding an insect group that has shown potential to be helpful, even as it has been harmful, to the agriculture industry.

Charlie and Lois O’Brien are entrusting to Arizona State University a global collection of meticulously classified insect specimens, including more than 1 million weevils and 250,000 planthoppers.  

The gift, one of the world’s largest and most important private collections, more than doubles ASU’s current collection and adds rare and unidentified specimens that could provide enormous scientific value. The O’Briens also are endowing professorships in the School of Life Sciences devoted to insect systematics, the process of identifying and naming new species.

ASU’s “whole approach is exactly what we were looking for as far as potential future research and the use of the collection,” Charlie O’Brien said.

The O’Briens said they selected ASU for the endowment because of its upward trajectory in research funding and strong entomological base, which includes a public insect collection with close to 1 million specimens and its curator, Nico Franz, an expert on the weevil and a long-time colleague of Charlie O’Brien.

MORE: The O’Briens: A partnership in life and in the lab

Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of the Division of Natural Sciences in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the gift creates a legacy of the O’Briens’ work as it elevates the university’s capacity for research.

“We are deeply indebted to the O’Briens for their transformative gift,” Garcia-Pichel said.   

Franz, curator of ASU’s Frank Hasbrouck Insect Collection, director of the Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center and associate professor in the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the university is up for the challenge the gift presents.

“The O’Briens have placed great trust in us as a research community,” he said. “And at the same time, it’s a responsibility for us to make sure this collection has the greatest possible impact in terms of research and mentoring for future generations.”

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The Hasbrouck Collection, with close to 1 million specimens, is open to the public and maintained in a newly renovated facility about 2 miles southeast of the Tempe campus. Interaction is a key component, as community members volunteer in research labs and visitors interact with undergraduate and graduate students who work on classifying and digitizing the collection.

“The specimens have a large reach in terms of their scientific visibility and ultimately their scientific impact for both research and mentoring, and that’s at the heart of what the O’Briens were looking for,” Franz said.

Weevils are known for devastating the U.S. cotton industry nearly 100 years ago. In a mournful, old blues song, “Boll Weevil,” singer Lead Belly laments: “Say, why do you pick my farm?”

The invasion forever transformed agriculture in the region, but it wasn’t confined to the U.S. The sweetpotato weevil, for example, has plagued farmers in Central and South America, Southeast Asia and East Africa. In many instances, the bugs reproduce quickly, proving pesticide-resistant and highly mobile.   

Weevil pests burrow into plant stalks and lay eggs that hatch into larvae that eat through different plant parts, including roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Today, there are about 65,000 identified weevil species. Estimates put the total number of species at about 220,000.

The U.S. has taken strides to prevent damage with Agriculture Department eradication programs in place across the South.

But aside from the potential for devastation, weevils can be put to good use.

Charlie O’Brien, a former professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, became a specialist on biocontrol and created a lab and center to eradicate invasive weed plant species using weevils.

By his count more than two dozen countries have used weevils to control major infestations of invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants.

O’Brien has discovered, or “described,” hundreds of weevil species, and several are named in his honor.

The collection he and Lois O’Brien, a leading expert on planthoppers, donated to ASU includes weevils that are 2 inches long and others that are mere specks. Among Charlie O’Brien’s favorites are clown weevils from the Philippines, which are colorfully striped. Others are gorgeously iridescent in purple jewel tones.

The O’Brien collection, amassed over 60 years of field work, promises major economic impact domestically and internationally.

“One of their unique features,” Franz said of the O’Briens, “is the combination of having amassed something of such great value and at the same time, sharing it so selflessly and widely.”

The O’Briens’ collection donation and endowment will boost the efforts of Campaign ASU 2020, a comprehensive philanthropic effort that aims to accelerate ASU’s mission and raise support for its educational priorities by raising at least $1.5 billion by 2020. Learn more at

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Love and insects: One couple’s partnership in life and in the lab

O'Briens spend life creating huge insect collection, which they're giving to ASU
March 23, 2017

Charlie and Lois O’Brien met in entomology class and have stuck together ever since, following research interests around the world

After Charlie and Lois O’Brien first met in an entomology class, she wanted to go collect insects with him but he turned her down.

He was the teacher and she was the student, and he didn’t think it would be fair to her classmates.

“He was a challenge,” Lois O’Brien said of those early days.

“We were evenly matched,” Charlie O’Brien said. “I couldn’t chase you around.”

Lois stuck with Charlie, and over the next six decades, they were partners in life, in the lab and on the road as they became two of the world’s top entomologists. They have devoted their lives to collecting and studying insects, and they created one of the largest and most important private collections in the world.

The O’Briens, who live in southern Arizona, have decided to donate their collection to ASU — a gift that will transform the university’s entomology research. They’re also endowing a professorship dedicated to insect systematics, the discipline of identifying and naming species, using physical characteristics, geography and other processes to improve the understanding of evolution and conservation.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful life as an entomologist, collecting with my husband, and I hope the students at ASU have as wonderful a life as we have had,” Lois said.

Now in their 80s, the two work on their collection every day, in their labs across the hall from each other in their house in Green Valley, Arizona. They live a short drive away from the place where they met — the University of Arizona, where Charlie was earning his master’s degree in entomology, and Lois, who had a master’s degree in chemistry, was working part-time in the entomology department while she pursued a teaching degree.

“The professors made insects sound so wonderful that I had to switch. They were intellectually stimulating,” she said.

Lois got her doctorate before Charlie did because he took time off to work in Antarctica. It was 1958, only the second year that scientists were working there, and Charlie’s job was to sit in a small plane with the doors off and try to catch insect fragments in a net to evaluate air currents. It was 15 degrees below zero and boring.

“We got nothing in the nets,” he said, but he did find lice on penguins. He also traveled to New Zealand and the Solomon Islands during that trip before returning to California, where he and Lois were married.

They launched their personal and professional collaboration by collecting insects during their honeymoon in Canada, and eventually they traveled all over the world, including a lot of time spent in natural history museums in Europe, examining the historic specimens there.

The O’Briens lived in Chile and then in Texas and finally settled in Florida, where Charlie was a professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a historically black college in Tallahassee.

He became one of the world’s top experts in weevils, a mega-diverse group of beetles.

“They were everywhere, and almost no one could identify any of them and they were wide open for study,” he said.

“Questions! Questions! Answer one question and you have 20 more.”
— entomologist Lois O’Brien on the vast area of untapped knowledge about insects

Because most weevil species tend to eat only one kind of plant, some of those species have become a scourge of crops. With such a huge economic impact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent millions on weevil identification and mitigation. Many of the O’Briens’ collecting trips were funded by federal grants.

Charlie has discovered, or “described,” hundreds of weevil species — including three he found in his backyard in Florida — and has several named after him.

They often drove — and collected — off the beaten path. In 1974, they drove from Tallahassee to Panama for four months, and the hotel rooms were so mosquito-infested that they slept in their car.

The couple developed a routine for collecting, one on each side of a trail — if there was a trail. Back home, Lois built the glass-topped wooden drawers for their personal collections: weevils for him, planthoppers for her.

Back home, they spent hours sorting their specimens, examining and dissecting them under microscopes, and then mounting them. Lois did most of the labeling.

When they retired to Arizona about a decade ago, they added extra rooms onto the house for their labs. Each lab is stuffed with hundreds of specimen drawers, along with books, journals, file cabinets, computers and microscopes. The walls are adorned with bug posters and bug cartoons.

The breadth of the couple’s collection is fantastic. It includes weevils that are 2 inches long and others that are brown specks. Among Charlie’s favorites are “clown weevils” from the Philippines, which are colorfully striped. Others are gorgeously iridescent in purple jewel tones. A drawer of planthoppers from Asia displays wings of turquoise, coral and brilliant gold. Lois’ favorite specimen looks exactly like a peanut.

“The weevils are more important to people right now. I help him at times, and that means I don’t get to do my work,” said Lois, who has about 250,000 planthoppers in her collection and has written more than 50 papers.

The collection of specimens is just part of their amazing legacy. The level of curation is what elevates the scientific value.

“More than half of everything I have is identified, and that takes an unbelievable number of hours,” Charlie said.

“I can spend a hundred hours identifying a single species. Or I can spend a hundred hours and not identify that species.”

That’s why the pair are passionate about students learning from their collection.

“The whole approach is exactly what we were looking for as far as potential future research and the use of the collection,” Charlie said of ASU.

The couple also has a long relationship with Nico Franz, the curator of ASU’s Hasbrouck Insect Collection and director of the Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center in the School of Life Sciences.

“The O’Briens have lived a uniquely purposeful and focused life,” said Franz, who met the couple in 1997. Charlie was his external thesis adviser, and Franz himself is one of the top experts in the world on weevils.

“It makes sense for their collection to be cared for by a weevil specialist as opposed to a bee specialist or a dragonfly specialist,” Franz said.

“There’s a universe that’s larger than mammals and yet there are very few specialists. It’s this huge portion of the tree of life that’s largely unknown.”

Lois O’Brien said that insects are a vast area of untapped knowledge.

“Questions! Questions! Answer one question and you have 20 more,” she said. 

The O’Briens’ collection donation and endowment will boost the efforts of Campaign ASU 2020, a comprehensive philanthropic effort that aims to accelerate ASU’s mission and raise support for its educational priorities by raising at least $1.5 billion by 2020. Learn more at

Top photo: Charlie and Lois O'Brien at their home in Green Valley, Arizona. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU political science student grateful for opportunities

March 23, 2017

On the heels of Sun Devil Giving Day and quickly approaching graduation, Arizona State University senior Austin Marshall wanted to take the time to express his gratitude for the support he’s received from the School and its donors.

Marshall, who is majoring in political science in the School of Politics and Global Studies (SPGS), was awarded the Kenneth C. Behringer Political Science Scholarship in 2016.  Download Full Image

“The scholarships money I've received has been crucial to my success in college,” Marshall said. “It's gone to support everything from books to rent. It helped give me the peace of mind I needed to allow me to take advantage of all the opportunities ASU has to offer.” 

The Behringer Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students interested in pursuing a research project. Marshall, who is also a student in Barrett, The Honors College, completed his honors thesis in partnership with this scholarship.

Marshall’s thesis looked at what effect Arizona’s clean elections system had on representation in the Legislature. He collected data from the Arizona Clean Elections Commission and from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and ran statistical tests to analyze how running clean interacted with party affiliation, gender and if a candidate was urban or rural.

“While I gained practical experience working on campaigns, SPGS and Barrett gave me the philosophical and theoretical background to everything I did. I would knock on doors and talk to voters in the morning and then read Aristotle, Hobbes, and Locke in the evening,” Marshall said.

Marshall is currently participating in the Arizona Legislative Internship Program run out of the school. The program allows students to intern full-time at the capitol while receiving course credit. The experience has given Marshall an inside look into how policy is made. 

Born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, Marshall says his interest in politics was first sparked by his mother, who worked in the newspaper.

When he came to Tempe to attend ASU, Marshall said he wandered into a Young Democrats meeting his freshman year. According to Marshall, everything he’s done in politics during his college career all started with getting involved in an ASU club.

“Joining gave me a community for academic and personal support, career connections and opportunities, and a sense of belonging on campus,” he said.

Whether it is working on political campaigns, interning at the DNC, completing his honors thesis or graduating college, it is clear Marshall has taken full advantage of the opportunities given to him. 

“The best advice I got in politics was to just show up and work hard. It seems really simple but if you are around when someone is needed and give it your best effort you will really go far.”

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


Two donors enable students to study Ukrainian at ASU

March 8, 2017

Thanks to generous support from two donors who advocate for legal reform in Ukraine, Arizona State University students can learn Ukrainian, an East Slavic language, at the Melikian Center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The Melikian Center is among the few centers of critical language study, serving the nation’s defense and national security needs,” said Patience T. Huntwork, donor and advisory board member. “It is time that Ukrainian is recognized as a critical language along with Russian and other languages. I hope the Ukrainian community will join in this effort to fund this project.” Mark von Hagen, interim director of the Melikian Center Mark von Hagen was recently appointed as interim director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. Download Full Image

Patience and her husband, James R. Huntwork, provided generous seed funding to help the center add Ukrainian language courses to its Critical Languages Institute in the summer of 2017. The center will also seek to raise funds to endow a Ukrainian Studies Program in perpetuity.

Patience, a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, works as an attorney in the judiciary of the State of Arizona. Her volunteer human rights efforts in Ukraine began with her successful international campaign to persuade the American Bar Association to sever its ties with a Soviet organization, the Association of Soviet Lawyers, and continued with efforts to advocate for legal reform and the rule of law in a democratic and independent Ukraine.

In recognition of those efforts, Patience received the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews Humanitarian Award, the American Jewish Committee’s Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s Certificate of Recognition and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America’s “Man of the Year” Award. She served as a UCCA election observer for the May 2014 presidential election and the October 2014 parliamentary election in Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian language in and of itself rebuts centuries of disinformation and is the key for accessing the past and present reality of this critically important nation,” said James Huntwork, who received a master’s degree in economics and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University. Currently, he practices transactional law with a Phoenix firm.  

Patience and James Huntwork have served as election observers in Ukraine dating back to the Gorbachev era and have worked to support commercial law reforms in independent Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian language, like all the languages we teach at the Melikian Center’s Critical Language Institute, is a gateway to a rich culture and dynamic society,” said Mark von Hagen, who was recently appointed as interim director of the Melikian Center. “After two years of Russia’s war with Ukraine, the teaching of this language will also likely become a national security priority for the United States.”

Von Hagen teaches the history of Eastern Europe and Russia with a focus on Ukrainian-Russian relations at ASU. Prior, he taught for 24 years at Columbia University, where he also chaired the history department and directed the Harriman Institute.

At the Harriman Institute, von Hagen developed Ukrainian studies in the humanities and social sciences. He is chair of the international advisory board of the German-Ukrainian Historians Commission and a member of the Steering Committee of the Leonid Nevzlin Center’s 1917 project (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). He was elected president of the International Association for Ukrainian Studies in 2002 and presided over its congress in Donetsk in 2005. He also served as president of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies in 2009.

During his New York years, von Hagen was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and remains a member of the Advisory Board for Europe and Asia at Human Rights Watch. He has worked with historians, archivists and educators in independent Ukraine and with diaspora institutions. In July 2013, he was elected dean of the philosophy faculty at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich and re-elected for a second term in July 2015. He received the Certificate of Honor from the Embassy of Ukraine for contributions to U.S.-Ukraine relations and to the development of Ukrainian studies.

“I remember fondly and gratefully the generosity of the Ukrainian communities of North America for our Ukrainian programming during my Columbia years,” von Hagen said.

His publications treating Ukraine include: the co-edited volume “Culture, Nation, Identity: the Ukrainian-Russian Encounter, 1600-1945” (Toronto, 2003); “War in a European Borderlands: Occupations and Occupation Plans in Galicia and Ukraine, 1914-1918” (University of Washington Press, 2007); the co-edited volume “Empire and Nationalism at War” (Bloomington, Indiana: Slavica Publishers, 2014); and “ ‘Notes and Materials’ toward a(n) (Anti-) (Post-) Colonial History of Ukraine,” in the book “The Future of the Past: New Perspectives on Ukrainian History” (forthcoming, Harvard University Press, fall 2017).

To donate to the Melikian Center’s CLI Ukrainian Fund, visit

Amanda Stoneman

Senior Marketing Content Specialist, EdPlus


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ASU Law establishes endowment for trailblazing black judge

Retired Judge Cecil Patterson will be honored in ceremony at ASU Law.
February 24, 2017

Cecil Patterson, ASU Law Class of '71, was first black appeals court judge in Arizona

Cecil Patterson is used to being a trailblazer: He was the first black judge appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court, the first black lawyer in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the state’s first black appeals court judge.

What the 1971 ASU Law grad isn’t used to is tooting his own horn. So he’s got a bit of a learning curve ahead.

“There are a lot of things that a judge can’t do, like raise funds, act politically, make speeches on others’ behalf, things of that nature,” said Patterson, who retired in 2011. “This is going to be a new endeavor for me.”

Patterson is raising money for an endowment established in his name as part of Campaign ASU 2020, a comprehensive effort to raise at least $1.5 billion to accelerate the university’s mission. If he raises $500,000, it will establish a scholarship for outstanding minority law students.

The Honorable Cecil B. Patterson Scholarship Endowment will be announced at a celebration and scholarship reception Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Beus Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, home of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

The event, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP to

“His passion for community engagement is legendary; he once stated that his greatest reward comes from mentoring young lawyers to be the next generation of leaders in the bar,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He called Patterson a true leader and advocate and added “we are honored to establish this scholarship in his name.”

Organizers want the first Patterson scholarship to be awarded in fall 2017 and every year thereafter. 

In addition to the scholarship, Patterson will be recognized with a room named after him in the Beus Center. The room will serve as a meeting place for students, faculty and visitors and will spark conversations about Patterson’s career.

The scholarship and room dedication is an opportunity for ASU Law to “make a statement,” said Peter Kiewit Foundation Professor of Law Myles Lynk. 

“It’s a way to mark Cecil’s passage through the law school, and his impact on the community,” Lynk said. “He’s always been such a positive force for good, always wanting to bring everybody up. He’s continually a man in motion.”

The 76-year-old’s first thoughts of becoming a lawyer date back to his childhood in Newport News, Virginia.

“My dad used to sit and talk about having wanted to go to law school at the table when we’d eat breakfast or dinner,” Patterson said. “He didn’t have the money.”

Patterson graduated from Hampton University in 1963, majoring in history, but couldn’t afford law school. He joined the Air Force instead.

His five-year military stint involved tracking and intercepting Soviet warplanes. His final assignment was Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, where he established his family and planted new roots.

People posing for picture

Cecil Patterson was the only African-American in his law class when he enrolled at ASU in the fall of 1968.

Using the G.I. Bill, Patterson could finally attend law school. He enrolled at ASU in 1968 and graduated three years later. At the time, he was one of only a handful of black lawyers in the state.

Patterson discovered there were inequities in poverty, housing, youth programs and the criminal justice system for people of all color in Maricopa County. He particularly disliked seeing young people go to jail.

“I used to say to kids the system is like a meat grinder and will take a filet mignon and turn it into a hamburger,” said Patterson, who served as a presiding judge of the Maricopa County Criminal Department as well as a juvenile court judge.

Patterson saw prevention as a solution, and he maintained a presence on various community boards that could help, including the YMCA, United Way, Samaritan Health Services and the Red Cross.

“He brought hope, skill and knowledge to the board in hopes that things could be better for family and children,” said Nadine Basha, who served with Patterson on an early childhood initiative in Chandler from 2007 to 2013. “Because of his mind, he always asked the best questions and helped us to focus. Having his perspective was important.”

Education, family values, childhood development and afterschool programs, he could publicly advocate for. Other causes, like promoting minorities within the legal system, he had to approach strategically.

“I was a quiet advocate publicly, but visible and pushy within the organization,” Patterson said. “I found myself a community leader because of my position and role within the African-American community.”

In that role he served the community well, said the Rev. Warren Stewart, pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, who has known Patterson for several decades.

“I’ve known judges before, and most live in this silo where it’s hard to interact with them but that’s never been the case with Cecil,” Stewart said. He added that Patterson was reachable, never stopped relating to people and never “stopped advancing the community forward.”

Patterson did so by encouraging bailiffs, court clerks and government workers of all ethnicities to study law, take the bar exam and become lawyers and judges.

“The horizon is far higher and much further than what you can see,” Patterson said. “You just got to get out there and look for it.”

Reaching that horizon almost describes Patterson’s reaction to the endowment that will bear his name in perpetuity.  

“I’m delighted and overjoyed,” Patterson said. “It is something beyond words for me, which is very rare by the way.”  

Top photo: ASU Law Class of '71 alumnus Cecil Patterson (shown in his Chandler home on Feb. 14) was the first black judge appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court, the first black lawyer in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the state’s first black appeals court judge. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Sustainability project factors happiness and making a buck

ASU sustainability students guide small organizations toward zero waste.
Other student-created finalists: PCs for Refugees and Solar Water Solutions.
February 20, 2017

Student team wins Pakis entrepreneurship prize with solution to eliminate waste, save money

No one wants to live in a world overflowing with garbage, but how does a regular person tackle such a complicated problem?

Three Arizona State University sustainability students have come up with a way to guide small organizations painlessly toward zero waste.

And they’ll make money doing it.

Their consulting firm, Circle Blue, will partner with schools, nonprofits and small businesses to find and eliminate waste, saving money and reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills.

“Part of being sustainable is being happy, and in order to be happy we have to make money,” said Eric Johnson (pictured above), one of the Circle Blue team members.

“But that doesn’t mean we do it at the expense of society and the environment. We’re trying to create a new transformative business model to show that you can make money and be sustainable at the same time.”

The Circle Blue team won a $20,000 grant last week from the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, defeating two other teams in the pitch competition. The event, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, sought the team with the strongest potential to solve a social challenge.

Success in social entrepreneurship requires a firm grasp of complex problems and the ability to make enough money to be viable.

“Who wants to live in this world?” asked Johnson, showing a photo of overflowing garbage during the pitch event. “In the city of Tempe annually, we sent 1 million tons of waste to the landfill.

“That’s enough to fill Chase Field 14 times from bottom to top.”

Johnson said the firm is harnessing peoples’ desire to do the right thing and empowering them to find a way to do it.

“It’s not easy, but we provide them with the support they need to achieve zero waste,” he said.

The other two finalists were PCs for Refugees, which refurbishes donated computers and gives them to refugee families, and Solar Water Solutions, which retrofits water pumps in rural communities in Zimbabwe with solar-powered technology.

Fred PakisFred Pakis is managing director of Clarendon Capital Management and chairman of the Pakis Family Foundation. The Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy is part of the Arizona Community Foundation. Photo by Jordan Johnson/W. P. Carey School of Business, benefactor of the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy, which funds the competition, said all three teams were strong.

“You’re all doing wonderful things for the world, which is the reason we put this contest together.”

Each team was awarded places in the “boot camp” run by Seed Spot, a Phoenix-based entrepreneurship incubator.

This is the second year of the Pakis Challenge. Last year’s winner was All Walks, a nonprofit group that created a program to teach life skills to survivors of sex trafficking. One of the last year’s finalist teams, 33 Buckets, is a nonprofit group that installs water-filtration devices in developing countries, and was featured in an ASU commercial during the Super Bowl.

Here’s more on this year’s teams, which each earned $7,500 for being named finalists:

Circle Blue

The team: Eric Johnson, Sean Murray and Daniel Velez are all master’s students in the School of Sustainability. The venture had its beginnings as Johnson’s thesis project when he was an undergraduate in Barrett, the Honors College.

The mission: Circle Blue is a consulting firm that partners with small to mid-size organizations to divert as much waste from landfills as possible. The company already has worked with Native American Connections on its multifamily housing units, saving it $13,000 on trash fees, and with two schools in the Tempe Elementary School District as pilot projects. Tempe Academy achieved 88 percent waste diversion after working with Circle Blue.

The model: A for-profit consulting firm, the company charges a fee for its services, which begins with a waste audit to see how much is being produced.

“From the outside it looks like we’re dumpster diving, but the reality is that we’re collecting a lot of valuable data,” said Velez.

The team then meets with the people in an organization to see what the obstacles are and to get everyone engaged before adapting new behaviors. At Tempe Academy, that meant a pep rally to fire up the students.

“First we focus on reducing. Are there ways we can minimize the amount of consumption to minimize trash?” Johnson said. “Second we focus on reusing materials. At Tempe Academy, we’ve been able to donate at least 50 pounds of food a day to the homeless. Previously it was going to a landfill.”

At some organizations, especially schools, up to 75 percent of waste is food, so composting is an important element.

“If you’re able to take that and create compost, that compost gets repurposed to grow new food,” Johnson said.

Why they do it: The team has done a lot of research on attitudes about sustainability and realized that while most people embrace it as a concept, they don’t know how to do it.

“We want to help people find the solutions they need. There’s a big disconnect between belief and action, and we’re trying to fill that gap,” Murray said.

What’s next: Circle Blue will use the $20,000 to expand its services to all schools in the Tempe district and to ramp up the business.

Riad Sbai, co-founder of PCs for Refugees, sets up a computer for a Syrian family. The organization takes donated laptops and personal computers, refurbishes them and gives them to refugees.

PCs for Refugees

The team: Riad Sbai, who has a master’s degree in health care delivery from ASU and now works as a web developer for a health care company; Louis Ship, a computer systems engineering major; Abdul Bayazid, a health sciences major; and Sudip Thomas, an employee at Intel. Sbai and Bayazid are Syrian Americans, and Sbai has lost family members to the war in Syria.

“The most difficult part of it all was the feeling of helplessness,” Sbai said. “The refugee community is a vulnerable population, and it’s more important than ever to show we do support them and want them to succeed.”

About 10 months ago, he and Bayazid began visiting newly arrived refugees and noticed that none of them had computers.

The mission: PCs for Refugees collects donated personal computers and laptops, refurbishes them and distributes them to Syrian refugee families who have settled in metro Phoenix. Then they work with Cox Communications, which has a program that provides internet service to low-income families with kids for $9.95 a month with no installation, modem or cancellation fees. The team members also provide computer training for each family. So far the team has donated to 97 families, with six refugees acquiring jobs because they had access to a computer.

The model: The team recently made PCs for Refugees a 501c3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.

Why they do it: “Lack of a computer is a big limitation. Everyone relies on a computer for doing homework, job searches, applications for scholarships and accessing resources,” Sbai said.

The biggest challenge for the families is learning English, and the PCs come with English-tutoring software, as well as educational and professional programs.

The first family that received a computer included a daughter who is disabled.

“This computer was really her lifeline to the world,” Sbai said.

The $7,500 finalist grant was a big help, because it costs $15 to $18 to refurbish each computer, usually for batteries, adapters, speakers, mice, monitors and other peripherals. Thomas took on the job of driving all over the Valley to pick up donations and deliver them to Sbai.

What’s next: The team hopes to expand to refugees from other countries besides Syria and to offer other computer skills, and will start a PCs for Refugees Club at ASU.

Ngoni Mugwisi, co-founder of Solar Water Solutions, describes the project during the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Photo by Jordan Johnson/W. P. Carey School of Business

Solar Water Solutions

The team: Ngoni Mugwisi and Mohammed Munir, both electrical engineering majors; Allistar Machacek, a construction management major.

The project began in EPICS, the Engineering Projects in Community Service course in which teams design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering-based problems for charities, schools and other not-for-profit organizations.

“It started as a sustainable gardens project, but the biggest way to improve is to learn from your mistakes and we learned that the project didn’t work quite as well as we thought it would,” Munir said. “So we shifted to water.”

The mission: Solar Water Solutions will retrofit existing water pumps with solar-powered submersible pumps in rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The team installed one pump in 2015 that supplies 48 households.

“They were really happy about the outcome, and it improved their lives on many different levels. They started a little garden next to the pump,” Mugwisi said.

The model: Solar Water Solutions is a hybrid nonprofit and for-profit model that works this way: A rural community will receive a free pump and, with more water, can increase its harvest profits, which will allow it to invest in the next pump in another community. The venture also will sell pump kits that have added functionality for solar-powered lights and Wi-Fi to boarding schools in Zimbabwe. The sale of five kits will fund one nonprofit pump. Operation of the pumps will be supervised by a local committee in the communities, which handles maintenance and security.

Why they do it: Most rural communities use hand-powered pumps, which are labor-intensive and take a long time.

“We realized we could go to existing pumps and retrofit them with solar panels, so now it’s not only pumping water but storing it, so anyone can turn on the faucet and have water,” Munir said.

What’s next: Solar Water Solutions is planning to install seven pumps in Zimbabwe this summer and eventually hire a director to supervise operations there. Next fall, Mugwisi will be working on his PhD at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Top photo: Eric Johnson is one of the members of Circle Blue, which will partner with schools, nonprofits and small businesses to find and eliminate waste, saving money and reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills. Photo by Jordan Johnson/W. P. Carey School of Business

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Stronger together: When design and art meet science and technology

February 19, 2017

Herberger Institute artists, students work with scientists and big data in multidisciplinary projects

Microscopy. Big data. Seismology.

These are just some of the tools faculty and students at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are using in their research and their work — work that also gives back to technology, science and other disciplines outside of design and the arts.

“The multidisciplinary environment of ASU and the energy and curiosity of the Herberger Institute faculty have fused to create this incredibly rich environment for the intersection of the arts and sciences — and beyond,” said Jake Pinholster, associate dean at the Herberger Institute. “We are rapidly moving to a place where design, the arts, the sciences, engineering and the humanities are drawing from one another to solve big problems and find new areas for exploration.”

Susan Beiner, Joan R. LincolnThe professorship was endowed in 2010 by David and Joan Lincoln, longtime supporters of a number of ASU programs ranging from Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, to those within the arts, law and ASU libraries. Endowed Professor in Ceramics, is teaching a new Arts and Science course in the ASU School of Art this semester.

“The art and science collaboration is an opportunity for art students to become exposed to areas of science to spark new concepts for their art as well as to open their mind to utilizing new techniques and materials,” Beiner said.

In 2015, the Herberger Institute’s School of Art partnered with the ASU ­School of Life Sciences (SOLS) for Sculpting Science, a project where art students worked with faculty in the SOLS Electron Microscopy lab to create works of art that represented electron microscopy images of various materials, from plant parts and pollen to sludge and fired clay pieces. The artists received inspiration for their art, and the scientists saw new ways of presenting their information and communicating their work.

“It was so successful that I decided it needed to be a class,” Beiner said.

The new Art 494/598 course expands on the collaboration with Robert Roberson, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, and using scanning electron microscopy scans. Students visit multiple labs and research collections in the School of Life Sciences and hear professors present their areas of research.

“In this ongoing relationship, the art students will translate new scientific hypotheses into visual imagery,” Beiner said, “and the scientists will gain rare insight into what their research could look like as real 2-D or 3-D objects.”

Roberson said he’s excited to continue working with the School of Art.

“Collaborations between scientists and artists can result in a beautiful piece of art for the artist and a means of communicating for the scientist: a win-win situation,” he said.

In the same way that Beiner’s students translated scientific scans from the Electron Microscopy lab into sculpture, Jessica Rajko uses dance to present big data beyond its purely technical aspect.

Big data is full of numbers and databases, charts and graphs, terabytes and gigabytes. But when Rajko, an assistant professor in the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, looks at big data, she sees art. Her latest work, “Me, My Quantified Self, and I,” which premiered Feb. 10 at Unexpected Art Gallery in Phoenix, is the culmination of the past two years she spent researching big data.

“I was interested in how we make data tangible so that we can start to build meaningful tangible metaphors about humans’ relationship to data,” Rajko said.

Rajko’s research started with a project called “Vibrant Lives,” funded through seed grants from the Herberger Institute and the ASU Institute for Humanities Research. Rajko and her collaborators built interactive installations where people could feel their own data. In one installation, guests plugged their mobile phones into wearable devices that provided haptic feedback when they scrolled through their information, so they could feel how much data they were using. 

“We were really interested in human experience of data,” Rajko said. “In this research we realized more and more how much people are implicated in big data infrastructures, because really big data is about people. It’s about human activity.”

One way her piece aims to make data feel less elusive is with the example of a giant 20- by 20-foot hand-crocheted net. Through a grant from the city of Tempe, Rajko enlisted the Tempe Needlewielders, a volunteer organization that creates and donates handmade items to local charities, to crochet objects onto the net during the performance.

“I really wanted to think about metaphors for data that more accurately reflect what data feels and looks like, which is messy and improvised,” Rajko said. “Having these women crocheting and building and growing this net live through the performance harnessed a lot of what I see as the behaviors of data.” 

By creating these new metaphors and exploring the everyday experience with data, she’s reframing big data, both for a new audience and for those inside the bubble.

“Technology always feels like an insider’s game — we often feel like you have to be a computer scientist to understand,” Rajko said. “The arts in this particular case offer a different type of dialogue around technology, one that feels like it doesn’t talk at people but includes them in it.”

To expand that dialogue, when her show premiered the weekend included a facilitated group discussion about digital human rights, privacy concerns and decolonizing approaches to data use as well as personal cyber-consultations on protecting your data with ASU’s Global Security Initiative.

Lance Gharavi, assistant director of theatre in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, also uses art to reach a wider audience. In May, Gharavi will present an hourlong performance piece all about the Earth’s core, called “Beneath.” In the vein of Radiolab or Cosmos, the show is a family-friendly scientific exploration of the Earth’s deep interior.

“People will hopefully leave understanding things about the science of the Earth’s material that they didn’t know before, and they will have had a great time,” Gharavi said. “We all gaze up into the sky and into the stars and wonder about what’s up there. We know the mass of Jupiter’s moons. We know what the atmosphere of Venus is made of. We know what the center of galaxy smells like; seriously, we do. But we know almost nothing about the what’s a few hundred miles underneath our feet. ... That’s what the show is about — that mystery of what lies beneath.”

Gharavi, who is working with geophysists, seismologists, mineral physicists, geochemists and other scientists at ASU, said he loves telling stories and loves working with scientists to tell their stories — stories about what they’re doing, what they’re learning and what they’re discovering.

“The advantage to the scientists is their work gets communicated to populations they might not have reached otherwise, and that’s in the case of this kind of work that I’m doing here, which is really about communicating science in a sort of discursive way,” he said.

The performance is part of a larger collaboration between the Herberger Institute’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Ian Shelanskey, a graduate student in the Herberger Institute studying interdisciplinary digital media and performance, is working with professor Edward Garnero and graduate student Hongyu Lai, both in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, to create a tomography visualization tool.

As Gharavi describes it, seismic tomography is basically taking a CT scan of the planet. The data output is columns of numbers. This new tool creates a picture of the Earth’s interior based on mathematical operations of the data. Scientists can use the tool to adjust the math and see changes in the picture in real time, allowing for deeper analysis and conversation.

Gharavi said this kind of interdisciplinary work is beneficial to everyone.

“The scientists and the designers and the artists that I work with all have different sets of training and skills and specialized knowledges,” he said. “Those are different among us, but we all have a passion for asking questions and finding answers and solving problems, and that’s what we do.”

Top photo: Jessica Rajko’s “Me, My Quantified Self, and I” dance work features a 20- by 20-foot hand-crocheted net as a metaphor for big data. Photo by Tim Trumble/Courtesy of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator , Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts