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Affirming inclusion as the ASU way

ASU President Crow, university leaders preach inclusion mind-set at ASU.
February 18, 2016

President Crow and other ASU leaders discuss inclusive mind-set during a Diversity Dialogue

Arizona State University is working to defeat the deep-rooted idea that higher education is an exclusive enterprise, a privilege set for only a segment of the population.

And the university is working to empower the current generation of students to carry out that mission, according to ASU President Michael Crow.

“Our entire education system is built around the notion of exclusivity, scarcity, hierarchy and social status,” Crow said during a panel discussion titled “Creating Success by Whom We Include,” sponsored by the Faculty Women of Color Caucus at the Marston Exploration Theater on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“If you want inclusion to work, you must defeat that.”

Crow cited ASU’s Starbucks Initiative and the Global Freshmen Academy as two programs that have greatly expanded access to university credit. 

He also said that for current students — whom he described as “late Millennials” — easy access to technology has made their world more egalitarian.

“Our students have unbelievably high expectations for the environment when they come to the university,” he said. “They assume it will be inclusive. They believe our society should be inclusive.”

People sitting at a table.

ASU President Michael Crow (left) joins
panelists Colleen Jennings-Roggensack,
Edmundo Hidalgo, Bryan Brayboy and
Ray Anderson at a Diversity Dialogue
on Feb. 18.
Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The panelists said that ASU’s work toward becoming more inclusive of all types of people is ongoing.

Crow noted that in 1991, only 3 percent of ASU’s students came from families eligible to receive the federal Pell Grant financial aid. In 2002, it was about 10 percent, and now it’s about 40 percent.

He said that ASU’s approach has been to alter its culture, which is not easy.

“Would you be rejected by this institution as a leader or faculty member if you didn’t believe in this inclusion? The answer now is yes,” he said.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and associate vice president of cultural affairs, said she prefers the term “inclusion” to “diversity.”

“Diversity means ‘not me,’ while ‘inclusion’ means everyone,” she said.

At Gammage, the staff has collaborated with communities in Arizona to express their cultures.

“We worked with the Latino community, and they wanted a chance to share their culture defined from the beginning of time to today, and reflective of class structure,” she said. “There are 14 Asian communities, and we’ve worked with 29 First Nation communities.”

“We need to recognize that students come to us with millennia worth of knowledge. What we do is help them to envision and enact their own futures.”
— Bryan Brayboy, special adviser to President Crow on Indian initiatives

Ray Anderson, vice president for university athletics, said that his background in the private sector — including the National Football League — proved that inclusion is simply good business.

And that concept translates from the business world to ASU.

“We are trying to recruit and sell young men and women and their parents on what we are here,” Anderson said. “There is a higher comfort level when they know there are folks who look like them. We have women and we have brown-skinned folks.”

Edmundo Hildago, vice president for outreach partnerships for ASU, said the university must be willing to have difficult conversations about inclusion.

"We have to bring those conversations forward and not pass the buck when the opportunities present themselves," he said.

Bryan Brayboy, special adviser to Crow on Indian initiatives, noted that ASU is built on the ancestral lands of Native Americans.

“We need to recognize that students come to us with millennia worth of knowledge. What we do is help them to envision and enact their own futures,” he said.

He echoed Crow’s frequent theme of ASU preparing people to be lifelong “master learners.”

“It’s important that we take it a step further. We’re preparing master learners to become master doers.” 

Mary Beth Faller

reporter, ASU Now


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How the West campus was won

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.