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A record year of support for ASU’s scholarships, research and programs

Record year for ASU fundraising, helping students with research, scholarships
July 26, 2016

2016 the best year for university fundraising

Individuals, corporate and foundation partners donated more than $215 million in fiscal year 2016 to support Arizona State University’s educational programs, research and services that enhance student success and community engagement.

The amount reflects the best-ever year in the history of the university. It is the second consecutive year that the ASU Foundation — the highly-rated, separate, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private support on behalf of ASU — generated more than $200 million in new gifts and commitments. These contributions do not replace core funding from state appropriations and tuition, but rather augment and enrich the ASU experience.

This year more than 100,000 donors, including 23,000 alumni, made contributions ranging from a few dollars to a few million.

The unprecedented level of giving indicates broad understanding of the impact of ASU and shows determination by donors to provide crucial private support at a time when ASU is accelerating the creation of new pathways to education and research excellence.

“This new fundraising mark continues to validate our investors’ commitments to this university, its charter and the vision ASU President Michael M. Crow has set forth,” said Gretchen Buhlig, chief operating officer and managing director of the ASU Foundation. “I am excited by the momentum this milestone sets for future fundraising efforts.”

“Private support affects nearly every aspect of the ASU experience – from scholarships and named professorships to art supplies, museum exhibits, alumni events and athletic facilities,” said Crow. “This year’s support reflects donors’ tremendous relationships with so many aspects of this great university.”

More than 8,400 ASU students received $42 million in scholarships from benefactors in the last school year, supplementing an array of financial aid resources that help defray the cost of attendance for some of those enrolled.

Investments from extraordinary friends of the university are transforming ASU, including those by Jeanne and Gary K. Herberger for the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, by Cindy and Mike Watts to name the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life with Sun Devil Athletics and by David Lincoln for the W.P. Carey School of Business, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Longtime supporters and first-time donors alike participated in Sun Devil Giving Day, an annual, university-wide event that culminated in over $4 million raised from 2,548 individuals in just 24 hours – an increase of 185% in assets and more than 50% in donors from the previous year. For the first time, Sun Devil Giving Day partnered with Snapchat and Uber to form non-traditional channels for users to sustain their favorite areas of ASU.

The ASU Foundation provides support to ensure student success.

Sarah Stansbury started backing ASU before her graduation from the university this spring. “Giving back to the English Department – a community that has supported me through my college career in so many ways – simply feels like the right thing to do,” she said.

The impact of private support is not only felt within ASU’s departments, but across the world – and beyond.

Of the thousands of projects donors sponsored in fiscal year 2016, they:

  • Helped ASU researchers install solar panels at primary schools in Palestine;
  • Provided a travel stipend for an undergraduate improving maternal health and childbirth practices in Sweden; and
  • Created engineering training for professors in Vietnam through a program President Barack Obama highlighted during a recent visit to Southeast Asia.

In another example, Regents’ Professor and Ed and Helen Korrick Professor of Geological Sciences Phil Christensen, who is building an instrument to be used on an upcoming National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mission, used private funding to introduce freshmen to space exploration.

Regardless of their area of greatest passion, ASU benefactors contribute to a culture of philanthropy that is generating new opportunities at the nation’s most innovative university.

“President Crow’s vision for Arizona State University remains bold, compelling and transformational,” said Rick Shangraw, chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation and its parent organization, Enterprise Partners. “ASU’s investors help deliver the resources necessary to achieve that vision. We are grateful for all they do.”

To read more stories about the impact of private support at ASU, please visit Above photo: Sun Devil Giving Day 2016. Courtesy ASU Foundation.

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ASU cybersecurity expert on the DNC email hack

July 27, 2016

The Democratic National Committee found itself embroiled in a cyberscandal after emails from party officials were posted to Wikileaks in the days leading up to the national convention.

The posting threatened to undercut Hillary Clinton's presidential nomination after the emails revealed some evidence that members of the DNC may have tried to actively work against her rival Bernie Sanders. The disclosure also prompted the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as party chairwoman. 

It's not clear how it happened, but there have been allegations that Russia was behind the hack. Russia's foreign minister, however, has denied involvment. To try and cut through the speculation, we talked to cybersecurity researcher Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University's Global Security Initiative. 

Jamie Winterton

Question: Was the DNC hack really the Russians?

Answer: Do I think it was Russia? Yes — but only after being skeptical and digging into the details. One thing is certain: attribution is incredibly difficult in this space. While the “Russian fingerprints” on the data are pretty convincing, it’s exceptionally hard to say for sure. Once we on the tech side have settled on a “most probable” explanation, based on the data we have available, then the political scientists and ethicists and diplomats come in with questions that I don’t have the answers to: What happens when we implicate a nation-state in a cyberattack? Is this a cyberattack? Does it constitute an act of cyberwar? Those terms are so ill-defined. The playbook hasn’t been written for these incidents yet. 

Q: What makes this particular hack so interesting?

A: Quite frankly, the depth of this operation is pretty impressive. It wasn’t a single email server that was breached, but a comprehensive attack that broke into the personal email accounts of individuals in the DNC. It was well coordinated. It also shows that people are hacking for politically motivated reasons. Lots of hackers used to hack just for credit card information and Social Security numbers for identity theft, or hitting large corporations or hospitals with “ransomware” — these hacks are financially beneficial. That’s still how most people perceive hacking. But here, we see an attack that has a political aim, and goes way beyond an Anonymous-style website defacement. This hack is about reputation. The “why” is still a little fuzzy, even though there are numerous suggestions and speculations out there. 

Q: Why Wikileaks? And what’s the deal with this “Guccifer 2.0” person?

A: Wikileaks is known to be hostile to the U.S. government, and they have extraordinarily little discretion about what they post. Tons of politically irrelevant yet sensitive information was in the DNC email dump — home addresses and Social Security numbers — which is par for the course if we use the recently dumped “Erdogan email” and the Snowden leaks as examples. They had total disregard for many of the individuals who had nothing to do with the politics. 

The Guccifer aspect of this is also fascinating. “Guccifer” is the handle of a Romanian hacktivist that has pulled off several high-level intrusions in the U.S. and Romania. The actual Guccifer is also in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to also be a Russian-hating Romanian who picked up the DNC project from the original Guccifer, but in an online interview with VICE, he or she didn’t seem to be fluent in Romanian. The documents that Guccifer 2.0 created had metadata (hidden data about the document’s whereabouts) in Russian, as well as Russian error messages in some of the documents that had been converted to PDF. So while we don’t have the identity of Guccifer 2.0, we know that his or her backstory doesn’t stand up very well. As far as this person (or group’s) connection to Russian state-sponsored hacking, the evidence is certainly building. 

Q: What could have stopped it from happening?

A: Encrypt everything! I’m here to preach the gospel of encryption. While of course I’m not standing up for unethical, immoral or illegal activities being hidden by encryption, the DNC could have avoided it by encrypting their files and communications. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to your Yahoo! or Gmail notifications that say, “Hey, this looks like state-sponsored hacking.” In that event, just changing your password is not going to save you. 

Logan Clark

Media Relations Officer , Department of Media Relations and Strategic Communications