ASU professor helps students learn, lead and innovate

July 13, 2017

Mike Tueller has many talents. He completed an academic conference paper in high school, served in the U.S. Navy and studied at Harvard University. He also landed his childhood dream job: professor.

“Of course, there’s no way I could have known as a preschooler what a university professor really did,” said Tueller, associate professor of ancient Greek in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. “So, I have to consider it the sheerest luck that I’ve actually found this job suits me.” Mike Tueller, associate professor of ancient Greek Mike Tueller is an associate professor of ancient Greek in the School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

Tueller started programming computers for a research project at a local university while in high school. The project’s aim was to develop high-powered space-based lasers as part of former President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, more commonly known as the “Star Wars Defense” plan. 

“I’ll admit this may sound more impressive than it is, but you should remember it was the '80s. A university research project couldn’t have a grad student do the work because the only people who knew how to program computers were high-schoolers,” he said. “But this means I delivered my first academic conference paper when I was 17, and in a completely different field from the one I find myself in now.”

As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Tueller first majored in astrophysics for his love of science. He said he hadn’t heard of the Classics as an academic field until he met one of his roommates. He switched his major to Classics and received his bachelor’s degree in 1992.

“I still love science, but I really wanted to try something different,” Tueller said. “And, like a lot of people who make similar switches, I was hooked.”

Tueller took a Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps scholarship at Harvard. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for four years in between his undergraduate and graduate years, most of which was spent in Puerto Rico. In 2003, he completed his doctoral program in classical philology at Harvard. He taught for five years at Brigham Young University before joining the faculty at ASU in 2008.

Tueller teaches courses in ancient Greek language and literature. His research focuses on Greek epigrams, which began as inscriptions on objects but soon turned into very short, ancient poems that often feature witty turns of phrase or thought. He is currently re-editing the Loeb Classical Library’s standard English edition of “The Greek Anthology,” an ancient collection of about 4,500 short poems.

“These poems are tricky: they’re so short that they omit all context. In fact, they make a game out of forcing the reader to guess what their original context would have been,” Tueller said. “In my research, I have attempted to determine how ancient readers would have processed these poems – from discovering the reader’s starting point to how the nuance of individual words would play out across the poem, and where the surprises lie.”

Tueller said many people criticize forms of speech that are known for being short, such as the “tweet” or “sound bite,” because they believe it’s a diminution of public discourse. Tueller disagrees with this opinion, saying brevity is suitable for some kinds of expression.

“I think the Greek epigram can give us an example of how a rich literary tradition adapted to circumstances that favored brevity,” Tueller said. “Every new thing I discover in my research, no matter how small, feels like a jolt of electricity. And in my teaching, I get to see students have that same experience — a sudden flash of insight can redirect a life.”

While many students come to professors with very specific job-related worries, Tueller said it’s our responsibility as a university to raise their sights beyond the workforce.

“An undergraduate education should give its graduates the skills not just to do what they’re told but to forge their own paths, to innovate and to lead,” Tueller said. “This requires a much broader education in the world and its ways, and the cultivation of some very hard-to-pin-down skills in incisive observation and critical analysis without boundaries.”

Tueller teaches in a field with a long tradition of paying very close attention to words. He said a student who has acquired a precise ability to question the meaning behind words is less likely to be deceived and more likely able to address any need. Further, rigorous habits of reading, writing and speaking make clearer thinkers and more effective leaders.   

“Learning involves a leap into the unknown,” Tueller said. “You have to take the risk of being wrong and looking foolish if you’re ever going to make any progress.”

Amanda Stoneman

Copywriter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU's Cronkite School receives high praise from journalism accrediting council

July 14, 2017

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a “model for retention, transformative education and inclusion,” a national council said in re-accrediting the Arizona State University program for another six years.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering excellence and high standards in professional journalism education, found the Cronkite School in compliance on all standards on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. An exterior photo of the Cronkite School. ASU's Cronkite School was recently re-accredited The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The accreditation report said "the school has built a global institution of learning, innovation and career development that serves working journalists, media businesses, students and society at large.” Download Full Image

The ACEJMC action followed a review by the ACEJMC Committee, which voted in a public meeting held in Chicago to re-accredit the Cronkite School’s bachelor’s and master’s programs. Both the council and committee agreed with the recommendation of a five-member site team, led by Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, to re-accredit the program.

The site team, which conducted an on-site review of Cronkite’s program in January 2017, assessed the school’s progress over the past six years. In its 55-page report, the team offered effusive comments on virtually every dimension of the Cronkite School and cited no weaknesses.

“The school has built a global institution of learning, innovation and career development that serves working journalists, media businesses, students and society at large,” the report states. “True to the university’s charter, the unit takes ‘fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.’”

The Cronkite School, accredited since 1973, received high marks across all nine accreditation standards, which cover mission, curriculum, diversity, faculty, scholarship, student services, resources and facilities, public service, and learning outcomes.

“The school is never satisfied with the status quo,” site team members wrote. “Faculty and administrators are constantly reviewing, tweaking and discussing ways to improve the education delivered to students as well as ways to ensure students are especially well prepared and competitive in newsrooms.”

The Cronkite School has dramatically grown since its last re-accreditation in 2011, which was its first as an independent unit at ASU. During the six-year review period, Cronkite assumed operations of Arizona PBS, launched four new degree programs and expanded its professional programs from three to 13, which includes a Washington public affairs reporting bureau, a Los Angeles sports bureau, a borderlands reporting program and a public relations lab, among others.

The school also grew its full-time faculty from 35 to 48 — a 37 percent overall increase.

“The praise for Cronkite faculty was universal,” site team members stated in their report. “Students are not only satisfied but are enthusiastically grateful for the quality of the education and mentoring they receive.”

The site team also called the Cronkite School “one of the nation’s great leaders in diversity and inclusion in journalism and mass communication,” noting the school had managed to “substantially improve on an already impressive record in this area.”

Diversity among the student body increased from 31 percent at the beginning of the review period in 2010 to nearly 40 percent in 2016. Faculty diversity also improved, with people of color representing 27 percent of full-time faculty. During the accreditation period, the school hired 15 new faculty members, more than half of whom are people of color and two-thirds of whom are women. Diversity and inclusion also play a significant part in the school’s curriculum and community outreach efforts.

In April, the Cronkite School was named the recipient of one of the highest honors in journalism education for diversity and inclusion, the Equity & Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

The site team also commented on Cronkite School’s facilities and equipment. “The school’s resources, facilities and equipment would be the envy of most other programs, anywhere in the world,” the report states. “Students, faculty and professionals all rave about the beauty and quality of what is available.”

In addition to Norton, the site team consisted of Hubert Brown, associate dean of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications; Jackie Jones, assistant dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication; Heidi de Laubenfels, vice president of operations at Nyhus Communications; and Diane McFarlin, dean of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications.

Prior to their visit, team members reviewed an extensive self-study report prepared by Cronkite faculty and staff. During the on-site review, they visited classes and met with faculty, administrators, students and media professionals in the community as well as ASU leadership.

For more than 70 years, the ACEJMC has been dedicated to excellence and high standards in professional education in journalism and mass communications. The organization, which accredits more than 100 journalism and mass communications programs in the U.S. and abroad, encourages educational innovation by programs in their efforts to meet accreditation requirements and standards to prepare students for careers in journalism and mass communication around the world.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication