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ASU Herberger studio gives students permission to dream

ASU art students given opportunity to innovate for the future.
February 23, 2017

Steven J. Tepper embraces the notion that building a better future starts with dreaming a better world; the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts dean also recognizes that visions require time and space.

To that end, Tepper and an array of partners created a special incubator for futurist thinking at Arizona State University that allowed design and art students to investigate, research, interview, brainstorm and prototype ideas about technology, philanthropy, education, training and business models.

It was exactly the result he was looking for.

“We need artists and designers who have passion and energy and ideas and want to shape the world,” Tepper said at a presentation conference marking the end of the six-week/three-credit collaboration between the Herberger Institute, Vermont’s Bennington College and the L.A.-based Center for Cultural Innovation that was funded in part by a $40,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. 

Tepper’s remarks kicked off two days of Studio for the Future of Arts and Culture charrettes, intense planning sessions where a lineup of students gave short presentations that sought to advance a radical idea for innovation in our culture — 50 years into the future.

In true Herberger Institute fashion, the discussions were wide-ranging and big-picture.

Bennington grad student Lauren Roshan said that in the future “art can truly save the life of a young black man or woman. The future of arts and culture does not alienate black artists and audiences from art.”

She said the conclusion came in part from her own experience as a black woman who found salvation through expression. 

ASU graduate student Mitch Miller, meanwhile, said that “in the future the need for public spaces will be greater than the need for intellectual spaces” because observing and interpreting the world is at the root of creating art.

“Nobody brought the word ‘no’ into the room, and that’s part of the idea,” said Bennington President Mariko Silver, who helped develop the partnership. “It’s also not about making each other feel good, but how the team, bringing all of our perspectives together, can solve the issue.”

The charrettes, included all 13 participants — nine ASU and four Bennington students — as well as representatives from the two universities and fellows from the Center for Cultural Innovation.

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Digital media junior Andrea Quiroz presents her vision the arts and culture in 50 years, at the Studio for the Future of Arts and Culture, in the ASU Art Museum, on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Quiroz sees the Art Delegate as a governmental attaché or translator for culture to facilitate mediation for both domestic and foreign issues. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

As part of the studio program, students traveled to California to participate in the Center for Cultural Innovation’s Future Arts Forward conference, meeting with 250 other young artists and art leaders to discuss whom the arts should serve and how the arts sector might shift to serve a changing America.

Cyndi Coon of Tempe-based Laboratory 5, a creative consultant for the university, designed the course.

“I wanted (students) to understand they had permission to embody new ideas and put them forth into the world,” she said.

“I designed the course so that students would have a tool kit when they left this class.”

ASU music student Nicolette Zillich, said she thinks the course is a good start on her journey toward problem-solving.

“There are so many artists who are trying to make a difference somehow in some way, and even though that path isn’t clear yet, I’ve met so many brilliant people who’ve told me they’re looking for the same things,” Zillich said.

She added that by working together and sharing ideas they could “propel ourselves forward just by talking to each other and meeting.”

Tepper, meanwhile, is considering the future himself.

“I’ve had many students come up to me and say, ‘This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in college,’” Tepper said. “That has inspired me to think this shouldn’t be a one-time thing.

“The best studios, historically,” he said, “have been ones that have persisted over many, many years.”

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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.

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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