Hugh Downs School opens its doors to prospective doctoral students

March 26, 2018

The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication held its annual Welcome Weekend this month for 14 prospective doctoral students visiting from across the country, providing them an opportunity to explore what Arizona State University and Tempe have to offer. 

“Our Welcome Weekend is an important part of our efforts to recruit students who will succeed in our PhD program,” said Benjamin Broome, professor, and director of Doctoral Studies at the Hugh Downs School. “Potential students become acquainted with many aspects of our community of scholars. They not only engage with Hugh Downs faculty members about their research, but they also experience the inclusive and collaborative environment that characterizes our school at all levels. These two factors are essential to helping students find the right graduate school for their work.” Graduate Teaching Associate Michael Tristano Graduate Teaching Associate Michael Tristano. Download Full Image

Welcome Weekend is a project organized and run by the Communication Graduate Students Association. Students opened their classes to the visiting students, socialized with them, gave tours of the campus and the area, and shared with them their experiences at ASU and the opportunities they have found.

A new feature of Welcome Weekend this year included the Hugh Downs School Invitational Mini-Conference Poster Session, an opportunity for the students to see collaborative research projects underway at the school.   

“The poster session was a great success due to the conversations about the research that the posters triggered,” said Linda Lederman, director, and professor at the Hugh Downs School. “The posters highlighted the unique feature of our school — our research initiatives that bring faculty and graduate students together through mutual areas of interest.

students talking
Discussions of Hugh Downs School of Human Communication research projects.

"This sort of collaboration on research projects is one of the biggest draws of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. The fact that the researchers responsible for the posters were there to talk about their work, and the level of engagement for all in attendance was what made this session quite like an academic conference.”

Graduate Teaching Associate Nikki Truscelli echoed Professor Lederman’s points.

“The poster session was a beautiful composition of faculty and graduate student research, past and present," Truscelli said. "The informal nature of the gathering led to brilliant introductions and dialogue among faculty and both current and prospective graduate students. This, I hope, was the first of many future HDSHC poster mini-conferences.”

Katrina Hanna, doctoral student, and president of the Communication Graduate Student Association, also felt the poster session was a success.

"It is difficult to describe the energy that was in the room as we all gathered to discuss the amazing work that is happening in our initiatives," she said. "Ultimately, the posters allowed potential students to gather with faculty and current graduate students to talk about research, funding, and all the possibilities that are available in our graduate program." 

YoungJu Shin and Benjamin Broome
Assistant Professor YoungJu Shin speaks with Professor Benjamin Broome.

Broome added that the potential doctoral students left with an overwhelmingly positive impression of the program, students, faculty, staff, and campus.

“The comments I’ve already received from many of the students point to the welcoming and inclusive environment they found here, and the excitement many of them feel about the possibility of studying here and working with the professors, the initiatives, and the many research projects they learned about during their visit. They all expressed their appreciation to us for inviting them and hosting them in such a warm, friendly, and hospitable manner.” 

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


Joe O’Reilly named director for Decision Center for Educational Excellence

March 26, 2018

Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University have selected Joe O’Reilly as the director of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence powered by Helios Education Foundation. In this newly created role, O’Reilly will lead efforts to elevate the use of education research and data in Arizona.

“Dr. O’Reilly is one of Arizona’s foremost experts on education research and data,” said Vince Yanez, senior vice president of Arizona community engagement at Helios. “We are thrilled to have him lead the Decision Center for Educational Excellence and help utilize real-time data to inform educational policy and practice.” Download Full Image

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence is the product of a partnership between Helios and ASU dedicated to addressing the challenges facing the state’s pre-K through post-secondary education system. The center is developing a first-of-its-kind computational model of Arizona’s education system, which will offer real-time feedback on how changes to policies, funding mechanisms and other interventions could affect the system as a whole.

More: ASU, Helios all-in on improving Arizona's education system

The model will allow stakeholders to pinpoint bright spots in the state’s education system that may be scalable system-wide, and identify interventions that could serve to improve performance in underperforming schools. The model will offer Arizona’s education influencers — from school leaders to policymakers — the tools needed to make informed, data-driven decisions that support a high-quality education for all Arizona students.

“As I have described the center to others, the reaction has uniformly been that this approach is something that is desperately needed to advance Arizona’s education system, and the focus on evidence-informed discussions and collaborative decision-making among all education stakeholders will help the state make substantial improvements in student outcomes,” said O’Reilly.

Prior to taking the helm of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence, O’Reilly served as the executive director of student achievement support for Mesa Public Schools, Arizona’s largest school district.

“Joe’s expertise and leadership will help us facilitate evidence-driven decision-making and advance ASU's mission of serving our community,” said Luke Tate, ASU’s executive director of opportunity initiatives, the institutional home of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence.

O’Reilly has served on numerous state and national committees and work groups focused on the effective use of data to propel educational progress. At the state level, he has served on the state assessment technical advisory committee, Arizona eLearning Task Force, Governor’s P-20 Council of Arizona, Race to the Top Task Force, and chaired the No Child Left Behind/Title I Committee of Practitioners. At the national level, he has been vice president of the American Educational Research Association, president of the National Association of Test Directors and president of the Directors of Research & Evaluation. He has also served as a reviewer of state assessment programs and No Child Left Behind accountability plans for the U.S. Department of Education. His work has been highlighted in Educational Research Service publications and won awards from Division H of the American Educational Research Association.

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence is being funded by a three-year, $2.5 million grant from Helios Education Foundation.

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations & Strategic Communications