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ASU, adidas grow alliance with scholarship partnership

Scholarship program to begin with 100 adidas employees, expand in coming years.
August 24, 2017

Pilot program to cover majority of ASU Online degree costs for 100 adidas employees, with shared goal of helping people succeed

PORTLAND, Ore. — Leaders of adidas and Arizona State University on Thursday revealed plans to expand access to higher education for employees of the athletic apparel giant during an event at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

The adidas/ASU Digital Education Partnership is the latest development in the Global Sport Alliance, a strategic partnership announced in June with the goal of shaping the future of sport and amplifying its positive impact on society.

The Digital Education Partnership will provide scholarships to ASU’s online degree program for 100 adidas employees, granting them access to a world-class education from the nation’s most innovative universityU.S. News & World Report has ranked ASU as the country’s most innovative university, ahead of MIT and Stanford, two years running. and underpinning adidas’ goal to be “the best place to work.”

“From [adidas’] standpoint, it not only achieves their mission of social purpose but of investing in their workforce, in the people who make them successful. For [ASU], it allows us to deliver on our charter and make people successful,” said Jeffrey Angle, executive director of marketing and relationships at EdPlus, ASU's unit that creates technology for new ways of teaching and learning.

Scholarships are available to the pilot-sized group of benefits-eligible employees within the U.S. and will cover a majority of degree costs beginning in January, with aspirations to scale the program internationally over the next three years.

The program reflects both adidas’ and ASU’s commitment to social embeddedness detailed in the Global Sport Alliance. Its objective is to bring together education, athletics, research and innovation to explore topics including diversity, sustainability and human potential — all through the lens of sport.

At Thursday’s event here at adidas Village, the company's name for its Portland-area campus, about 500 employees watched a video detailing ASU’s charter — inclusion vs. exclusion; impact on public good; responsibility for the broader community — played on a jumbo screen.

When the lights came back up, President of adidas North America Mark King took the stage and greeted the crowd before launching into an introduction of the day’s discussion. It would be, he said, the first of a series of discussions to come which would feature speakers who are trying to make the world a better place and who can share their insights and passion with the adidas family.

The theme of this first talk was impact and innovation.

“When I thought about our first speaker,” King said, “there was really only one person that came to mind when talking about innovation and inclusion.”

He then recounted his first meeting with  ASU President Michael M. Crow in 2014 when adidas entered into an athletic relationship with the university.

“It only took me one meeting to understand the opportunity that we would have as an organization to partner in a more meaningful way,” King said.

Out of that understanding came the Global Sport Alliance.

“This is different than a relationship between two institutions who are buying and selling services from each other. That’s not why we have a relationship. What we care about is what can we do to enhance human potential.”
— ASU President Michael M. Crow

Crow — sporting ASU/adidas wrestling gear, a nod to his days as a heavyweight wrestler — then addressed the crowd. He praised those gathered there for their part in designing tools that have the potential to transform the world and allow human beings to move in a new direction — away from competition as survival and toward realizing unforeseen potential.

Crow praised the company in general, as well, calling it “a conscious capitalist organization as opposed to a mindless organization” concerned only with the bottom line.

adidas, Crow said, “cares about peoples’ lives, about being fair” and about providing life-changing educational opportunities to those who seek them, a value he noted is shared by ASU.

“But there’s an inherent flaw in college education in the U.S.,” Crow said. “If you come from the bottom quartile of family incomes, as I did, you have an eight percent chance of getting a degree even if you’re in the upper 20 percentile of academic achievement.

“That’s messed up. That’s not something we can change the country with. That’s not something we can move in a new direction with.”

And it’s something that spurred him to completely restructure the model for the public university, something he has been laboring at for the past 15 years at ASU. Crow’s New American University is one that matches inclusion with excellence, striving for a student body that reflects the diversity and socioeconomic demographics of the country at large and a faculty that performs just as well or better than that of institutions that limit acceptance to students coming from families in the upper 1 percent of the annual income bracket.

Several initiatives and partnerships have helped ASU get to that point, including the Starbucks College Achievement Program, which today has more than 7,000 Starbucks employees participating in the program.

When Aaron Shannahan, who works in finance at adidas, heard the news that his company will be rolling out a similar program, he called it “an awesome opportunity for anyone who hasn’t finished their degree or who is looking to advance their education further.”

Crow left the crowd Thursday with a key takeaway: Accept nothing as a given; your future is something you must determine, and ASU and adidas are committing to making sure everyone has the chance to do that.

“This is different than a relationship between two institutions who are buying and selling services from each other,” he said. “That’s not why we have a relationship. What we care about is what can we do to enhance human potential, to produce whole people who can advance physically, intellectually, socially, culturally, morally. … We think there’s a huge opportunity working with you all toward that end, and we’re very excited about that.”


Top photo: President of adidas North America Mark King (left) and ASU President Michael Crow speak onstage at the athletics apparel company's U.S. headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy of adidas

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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Rio Salado 2.0 project to involve ASU students in the design and research.
ASU to manage the project, but voices from Valley communities to help steer it.
August 25, 2017

Rio Salado 2.0 project to utilize university expertise and Valley community input; students to be involved in design, research

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Arizona State University gave a preview Friday of a new effort to transform the entire Salt River bottom through metro Phoenix into an urban and environmental amenity, a project organizers hope would engage the creativity of the university community.

The area being considered runs from Granite Reef Dam in the East Valley to the Tres Rios Wetlands in the West Valley.

“We’re looking at this whole stretch,” said Wellington “Duke” Reiter, senior adviser to ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“Anybody who drives past Tempe Town Lake realizes what a success this is,” McCain said. “Every mayor wants a Tempe Town Lake.”

McCain said he is inspired by the river walk in San Antonio, Texas, as well as similar efforts underway in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas. “This Valley is going to grow,” he said. “What kind of a place do you want your kids to grow up in?”

“We want to make this an example to the rest of the state, as well as the nation,” McCain said. “I’ll tell you whose plan it is, and who’s going to make it work, and that’s ASU.”

The immediate next step is to form a steering committee and establish timelines.

Reiter said the project would be managed by ASU, but that ASU would not be the driver.

“The university will be a convener of community interests and key stakeholders to make sure all voices are heard and reflected in the work to be done,” he said.

It will be a project that utilizes much of the expertise at the university, including hydrology, biology, design, architecture, planning, finance and sustainability. Students will be involved in the design and research.

“How we’re going to get this done is a function of the many layers of expertise at this university,” Reiter said.

The project will not be simply a continuation of Tempe Town Lake, but a balance between the two developed areas in the riverbed now: the environmental amenities at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix, and the commercial/recreational nature of Tempe Town Lake.

McCain stressed it won’t be an office park on a riverbank. If amenities like bike trails and picnic areas aren’t there, business won’t follow.

“If it’s not nice, they won’t want to locate there,” he said.

Reiter characterized the project as a “string of assets.”

“Nothing has been developed yet,” he said. “We’d like to set the course now.”

A significant number of stakeholders have announced their support for the proposal. They include the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Avondale and Buckeye; the Arizona Chamber of Commerce; the Gila River and Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribes; APS, SRP, the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and all Arizona environmental groups, McCain said.

“By the way, it’s got to be sooner rather than later,” McCain said. He said he did not want the project held up by endless study and review. He urged a cap of two years on planning and design before groundbreaking. “It’s going to be our timeline,” he said.

McCain, who told the students he is starting to think about his legacy, explained why he is supporting the project.

He brought up State Farm’s new regional headquarters on the lake in Tempe and the company’s recent hiring of 2,000 employees. Total investment around the lake is more than $1 billion, he said.

“Would they be doing that without a Tempe Town Lake?” he said. “Of course not.”

Part of the design will incorporate conservation, Reiter said.

“We want to make this a water-positive project,” he said.

The project is being dubbed Rio Salado 2.0.

“Don’t think it’s going to be easy,” McCain said. “There’s going to be opposition from the right and the left.”

“We’re going to make America great again,” he closed with a grin.


Top photo: Sen. John McCain joins ASU's Wellington "Duke" Reiter, senior adviser to ASU's president, to discuss Rio Salado 2.0 in McCord Hall on the Tempe campus Friday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now