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ASU West was created in mid-1980s in response to decade-long grassroots effort.
The architecture at ASU West was modeled after Oxford and Cambridge.
ASU West has been designated a Phoenix "Point of Pride."
February 18, 2016

ASU's West campus — which began as one student's project and grew into a formidable grassroots campaign — is thriving as it turns 30

Wind spatters Fletcher Library’s three-story picture window with rain, but inside hardly anyone notices.

The crowd grows inside the library — the first building to be completed on Arizona State University’s West campus — kicking off a monthlong 30th-anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking of the campus that would firmly establish the university’s presence in the West Valley. Among the throng on a rainy day in early February are West campus Vice Provost Marlene TrompMarlene Tromp also serves as a professor of English and women and gender studies, and dean of ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences., campus architects Gerald McSheffrey and Jack DeBartolo, and the library’s namesake, Robert L. Fletcher.

The West campus began rather humbly, as a class project of Glendale Community College student Barbara Ridge, who called for the establishment of a West Valley ASU campus. Ridge was not alone in her vision, and soon, members of the community rallied behind her in support.

State Sen. Debbie McCune Davis was among them. She remembers the three-and-a-half years she spent driving back and forth between 54th Avenue and Camelback Road in Glendale and ASU’s Tempe campus to attend classes during the 1970s.

“Every single day, I said, ‘We need a campus in the West Valley.’ I mean, it was as clear as can be,” she recalled.

Also in agreement was state Rep. Lela Alston, who was familiar with the same long drive.

“We knew that this community on the west side, which was growing and thriving, deserved an opportunity to go to college and expand and give back to our community,” Alston said. “It was just such an obvious need, and all of us representatives from the west side were resolute about that being our number one priority.”

In 1972, Ridge and her supporters formed the Westside Citizens Committee for Higher Education to push the cause forward. Four years later, in 1976, after a furious letter-writing campaign that inundated House and Senate members with 2,000 handwritten pleas for support, a feasibility study was undertaken. After a year of deliberation, the study committee decided it was time to establish education facilities on the west side.

Both McCune Davis and Alston were present on April 18, 1984, when Gov. Bruce Babbitt signed Senate Bill 1245 officially establishing Arizona State University West. Architects Gerald McSheffrey and Jack DeBartolo were called upon to design the new campus, and two years later, in 1986, the groundbreaking took place at 47th Avenue and Thunderbird Road.

McSheffrey recalled the scene: “[It] was 300 acres of just desert.”

But he and DeBartolo had a vision of a campus that conveyed a sense of place; a feeling that, “when you’re here, you can’t be anywhere else.”

So they set to work, modeling the campus and its buildings after the cloisters and courtyards of Oxford and Cambridge. The move was a calculated one, allowing for larger walkways and breezeways that provide ample shade and protection from the harsh Arizona climate.

During construction, DeBartolo says he often daydreamed of the end result.

“I was visualizing students running across [Fletcher] lawn to get to the shade, and having fellowship and interaction in the courtyards,” he said.

Today, it’s safe to say those daydreams are a reality. At the 30th-anniversary celebration, Tromp welcomed the crowd to what she called “the most beautiful campus at ASU.”

“ASU West has made a lasting mark on the state of Arizona, and a lasting mark on the world,” Tromp told the crowd. “We have alumsASU West campus alumni include Arizona’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Jeff Kunowski, state Sen. Martin Quezada and cybersecurity firm co-founder Edward Vasko. who have done extraordinary things. ... And it’s because of the beautiful foundation they had in this community that, just like the external West Valley community, gathered together to create this campus.”

Today, ASU West serves thousands of students in more than 50 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. Each year, academic program offerings expand to meet increased workforce and marketplace demands in subjects such as applied computing, natural sciences, teacher education, criminal justice, nursing, global business and accountancy — the dedicated faculty who teach those subjects are top-caliber experts in their fields. The physical campus has also expanded, most recently to include a state-of-the-art fitness complex, as well as new dining and residence halls.

“We could talk about the number of programs we’ve produced, the kinds of academic impacts we’ve made, but we’d be falling short if we didn’t talk about the way it has changed people’s lives,” said Tromp. “Having this campus here has changed people’s lives, and it changed the West Valley.”

The 30th-anniversary celebration continues all month. Join in the fun at noon Saturday, Feb. 20, at the lacrosse tailgate birthday bash. Attendees will have the opportunity to take a picture with Sparky, enjoy cupcakes and test their knowledge in an ASU West trivia game for fun prizes.

To delve even deeper into the history of ASU’s West campus, check out the ASU West History Project in ASU Libraries Digital Repository.

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Meteorites fall everywhere, but they’re tiny, says ASU meteorite curator.
Likelihood of being killed by rock from space is astronomically low.
February 18, 2016

ASU Center for Meteorite Studies curator sets record straight on space-rock odds, their characteristics — and the incident in India

Before we begin reporting on his talk, let’s get something out of the way that Laurence Garvie, research professor and curator for Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies at the School of Earth and Space Exploration, has been hearing about for two weeks.

Whatever killed the Indian bus driver about two weeks ago was not a meteorite.

“We still don’t have a direct hit,” Garvie said at a reception before his lecture on “Asteroids, Meteorites, and Dangers to Life on Earth.”

Meteorites don’t create explosions, he explained. And the likelihood of someone being killed by a rock falling from space is still astronomically low.

In 1954, a woman in Sylacauga, Ala., was hit by a particle from a meteorite that fell through the roof of her house. “Even then, it didn’t hit her directly,” Garvie said. “It hit the fridge and bounced off her arm.”

“It all comes down to probability, doesn’t it?” he said. “From above, we’re about a foot wide. And there are 7 billion people on Earth ... we could do the numbers!”

A man speaks at a lectern.
A meteorite like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs (such as the ones on his tie) is likely to occur only once every 100 million years, said ASU research professor Laurence Garvie. This and photo below by Ben Moffat/ASU Now


Garvie presented several numbers during his lecture, all of them fascinating.

Some 78,000 tons of extraterrestrial material hits the Earth every year, most of it dust. Most meteorites come from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid belt is not like what you see in the movies; it’s not that crowded. Meteorites also come from the moon or Mars. “We’ve sent rovers there, but we haven’t brought anything back,” Garvie said. “Nature has done that for us.”

“As these objects come into the atmosphere, they produce a massive spectacle,” he said.

Meteorites are not hot and glowing when they hit the ground. In space, heated by the sun, they might only reach 200 degrees. Even when they fall through the stratosphere, they only have about four seconds to get hot. Garvie compared them to Baked Alaska; the inside is still cool.

Meteorites fall everywhere, but they’re tiny.

“The vast majority of meteorites are about a centimeter or so,” he said.

 “Fortunately for us the very large events are rare,” Garvie said.  A fall like the one captured on many dashboard cameras three years ago in Chelyabinsk, Russia, happens about once a generation.

A man speaks in front of an audience.

A Tunguska-level eventThe Tunguska event was a large explosion that occurred near the Stony Tunguska River, in Yeniseysk Governorate, nowKrasnoyarsk Krai, Russian Empire, on the morning of 30 June 1908 (N.S.).[1][2] The explosion over the sparsely populated Eastern Siberian Taiga flattened 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) of forest and caused no known casualties. The cause of the explosion is generally thought to have been a meteor. It is classified as an impact event, even though no impact crater has been found; the meteor is thought to have burst in mid-air at an altitude of 5 to 10 kilometres (3 to 6 miles) rather than hit the surface of the Earth. — Wikipedia as happened in Russia in 1915 occurs about once every 100 years. Chicxulub, which slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula, wiped out the dinosaurs and trashed the entire planet, is likely to occur only once every 100 million years.

A 100-foot-diameter asteroid is orbiting Earth in a wobble and will next pass by in March. Scientists estimate it has a one in 250 million chance of hitting Earth. If it does, it will create a crater only a few hundred meters wide.

“What I hope you go away with is that you’re safe, basically,” Garvie said. “Will there be another large impact? Yes. When will it happen? Hopefully not soon.”

The School of Earth and Space Exploration’s New Discoveries Lecture Series brings exciting scientific work to the general public in a series of informative evening lectures, each given by a member of the faculty once a month throughout the spring. The School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now