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A new senior class

Maroon and golden years: ASU to develop university-based retirement community.
Sports, theater, education in store for retirees at ASU's planned community.
April 11, 2016

ASU to develop continuing-care 'life plan' facility — integrating education, culture, health care and intergenerational child-care programs

Arizona State University, in collaboration with the ASU Foundation and Pacific Retirement Services, will develop a university-based life plan community near the corner of University Drive and Mill Avenue on ASU’s campus and within steps of downtown Tempe’s restaurants and cultural venues.

The facility will engage older alumni and retired faculty, staff and friends by providing lifelong learning, a continuum of health-care services for aging adults and an environment rich in performing arts, social, athletic and research activities. Plans for extensive amenities include on-site physicians, fitness, dining, estate planning, on-campus educational and mentoring opportunities, and concierge services, as well as intergenerational child-care programming that has been shown to improve academic performance in children and emotional and physical health in aging adults.

An artist rendering of the retirement community.
An artist rendering of the conceptual design for the university-based housing project at ASU.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to provide intellectual stimulation for senior members of the ASU family — and in an altogether new way,” said Rick Shangraw, CEO of the ASU Foundation. “The ASU community will certainly benefit from their presence, as we hope they will from their return to the campus of the nation’s most innovative university.”

An influx of 77 million Baby Boomers approaching retirement age is driving demand for housing that delivers conveniences and aging-in-place accommodations at the intersection of hospitality, health care and real estate.

Currently, there are about 100 similar university-based communities in the United States, including at Penn State University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin and Dartmouth College. About half of ASU’s 60,000 graduates age 65 or older live in Arizona — a state that ranks as one of the most popular destinations for retirees — and that figure that is expected to double in 10 years.

The future site of the retirement community
The approximate location at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive where the senior community will be located. Construction is expected to begin in 2018. Photo by Ben Moffat/ASU Now

To meet this growing need and to provide innovative and exciting options for senior members of its community, ASU is exploring potential partnerships between the forthcoming living facility and the Mayo Clinic, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and ASU’s nursing, health innovation, nutrition, arts and design and teaching programs.

With support from the City of Tempe, the ASU Foundation selected the experienced not-for-profit Pacific Retirement Services to co-develop and operate the project, which is expected to feature 20 stories consisting of 291 independent, assisted, memory-care and skilled-nursing units inspired by the urban Mirabella communities in Portland and Seattle. The site will be LEED-certified and will utilize solar power.

ASU, the ASU Foundation and Pacific Retirement Services are conducting a marketing and feasibility study about the facility, which is subject to ground lease approval from the Arizona Board of Regents. Assuming it proves viable, construction is expected to begin in 2018, with occupancy predicted in spring 2020. The development team includes Ankrom Moisan Architects and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. PRS has secured a committed lender for the project, Cain Brothers, a pre-eminent investment bank focused exclusively on health care.

Interested future residents should contact 1-844-542-6061. More information is available here.

Beth Giudicessi


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From ghost towns to wearable technology, ASU Barrett students showcase research.
April 11, 2016

ASU honors student among 170 to showcase exceptional thesis projects

When she was a child, Nicole Lemme’s father would take her to see an old mining town in northern Arizona that he used to visit when he was young.

Now an Arizona State University student, Lemme thought about that town and the other dusty old Western towns as she was searching for a thesis topic.

“It was personal nostalgia and also state-history nostalgia,” said Lemme, who is from Phoenix and has a double major in English literature and communications.

“I took a class in mythology and it got me thinking about whether we have an equivalent in American mythology, and I thought about these Western narratives,” she said.

Like all students in Barrett, the Honors College, Lemme completed a research project and defended a thesis. Hers is an 84-page work of creative nonfictionHere is an excerpt from her paper: “I was born and raised here. Born in the Copper Queen Community Hospital. I was born in the same room as my siblings, and my first two children were born in the same room as I was,” Bennie says with a smile. As we sit in the Queen Mine Tour lobby, Bennie, his head covered by his blue and white striped miner’s hat, tells me about his long history with the town. Bennie also was a miner in his youth. He went underground for the first time in 1959, against his mother’s wishes, because the dangerous work meant higher bonuses. titled “Copper, Cowboys and Converts: Resurrecting Arizona ‘Ghost’ Towns.”

On Tuesday, Lemme will be among 170 Barrett students who are presenting their work at the Celebrating Honors Symposium at the Barrett complex on the Tempe campus. The honors work is one of the opportunities that ASU offers for undergraduate research.

There is a huge range of projects this year. One student created an interactive booklet for parents to test whether their toddlers are color-blind. Another performed a statistical analysis of stem-cell clinics in Arizona. Other theses tackled immunization rates in Arizona, the neurobiology of American Sign Language learners and pediatric hospice-care design.

Barrett students can pick any thesis topic they want, and most have at least a vague idea of what they want to study but need help zeroing in on it, according to Aviva Dove-Viebahn, an Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett.

Dove-Viebahn, who advised eight students on their projects this year, said she also helps students set the thesis format, whether it’s a straightforward research paper or something creative, such as a piece of music, a film or a performance.

“I see my role as one of which I’m not dictating the terms of what they have to write. I’m here to help them figure out where to go,” she said. “I want them to come away from the project feeling like it’s their project and they conceived and executed it and I’m there to help facilitate and guide.”

Although Lemme knew what she wanted to research, it took her awhile to decide she wanted to write creative nonfiction, using people’s own voices to tell the story.

Last fall, she visited Tombstone, Bisbee and Jerome and interviewed visitors and people who live there. She walked up to strangers and asked them to talk about the towns. Some were eager to share, and others rebuffed her. Many were ardent in their enthusiasm.

“I found people who were steadfastly devoted to Tombstone, in particular. Some people came all the way from England every year to visit,” she said.

The projects require students to dig deep. Lemme’s research went beyond the interviewing. She connected the discussions of the past to the towns’ current lives.

“The metaphor I used was a kaleidoscope. Everything is being re-created continuously so how people think of the past is how they act in the town, and that shapes how people present the town and that shapes how people who visit think about the history and what is a cowboy town.”

Students also learn to overcome obstacles in their projects. Brady Falk has always been interested in healthy lifestyles and wearable technology. He wanted to develop a workout shirt that integrated sensors to measure performance, such as heart rate.

Until he discovered that the Ralph Lauren company had just put that product on the market.

“I was disappointed because I had wanted to use this project as a starter to maybe start my own company,” he said.

So he pivoted.

“I want to see how far I could push the technology,” said Falk, who is a biomedical engineering major.

“A lot of people use this technology for everyday activity, but nobody had done it for military. I’m trying to predict fatigue in military personnel in the field.”

Falk is testing the shirt on real people, but he said that most of his work involved researching the research long before he put any subjects on a treadmill.

Many of the Barrett students must work with ASU’s Institutional Review Board, which must approve all research involving people. That process, and making revisions to research methods, can take weeks and disrupt deadlines.

“They wanted to make sure the facility I would be using would be well kept with trainers there,” Falk said. “They're very thorough, as they should be.”

Sierra Morris sent out an anonymous, online survey as part of her project and said the IRB approval took nearly three weeks. Her project is titled “Sex Trafficking Victim Identification in the Medical Setting.”

Morris interned at Obesity Solutions, an ASU initiative in partnership with the Mayor Clinic. She was asked to create a curriculum about healthy lifestyle choices for girls who are at risk for becoming sex-trafficking victims. That piqued her interest in the topic, so she worked with Dominque Roe-Sepowitz, an associate professor at ASU’s School of Social Work in the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research. Morris created a 17-question survey for health-care providers about identifying and helping patients who might be victims.

“We wanted to find out whether they knew how to identify if someone presented with similar symptoms of a sex-trafficking symptoms and whether they had any rules in place for handling it if they identified if somebody might be trafficked,” said Morris, a global health major.

She found a lack of awareness.

“And for the people that knew how to identify if someone was being trafficked, it seemed like there was no policy in place for reporting, and a lot of people didn’t know where to refer out in the community for resources.”

Her project will fulfill a need for the School of Social Work, which could use the results to develop a training module for health-care providers.

Morris saw a unique perspective as she researched sex trafficking.

“In other countries, sex trafficking is often when someone is held against their will, but here, the individual who is trafficked thinks they are in a relationship with the trafficker. There’s a lot of coercion.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now