29 leaders from 25 universities selected for 7th cohort of Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership


December 10, 2019

Twenty-nine senior leaders from more than two dozen universities, including Cornell University, University of Michigan, University of Connecticut, Santa Clara University and Paul Quinn College, have been selected as fellows in the seventh cohort of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, co-hosted by Arizona State University and Georgetown University.

The eight-month program, which began Nov. 11 and takes place at Georgetown and ASU, focuses on preparing the fellows to lead organizational change at colleges and universities. Logo Download Full Image

During four intensive sessions in the District of Columbia and Tempe, Arizona, fellows at the academy will be introduced to the latest thinking and research about change leadership, teaching and learning in a digital age, external challenges facing higher education and the financial sustainability of institutions.

Participants also will apply the principles of “design thinking” to reimagine the future of higher education. A mix of seminars, hands-on workshops, design sessions and fireside chats with leading thinkers from various industries will help the fellows prepare for leading innovation at their own institutions.

Academy faculty members represent a cross-section of higher-education scholars and leaders from other sectors of the economy that are facing similar challenges.

This year’s fellows are:

  • Haya Ajjan, faculty administrative fellow, assistant to the president, associate professor of management information systems, Elon University
  • Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University
  • Barbara Crow, dean, Queen's University
  • Robert Cummings, executive director of academic innovation, University of Mississippi
  • Cynthia Demetriou, vice provost, University of Arizona
  • Mary Dobransky, dean, science and technology, Bellevue University
  • Jennifer Drake, provost and vice president for student and academic life, The Evergreen State College
  • David English, chief financial officer, senior vice president for finance and management, Denison University
  • Patricia Friedrich, associate dean of academic programs and faculty affairs and professor, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University  
  • Cynthia Geer, associate dean, Xavier University
  • Nicole Gelston, general counsel, University of Connecticut  
  • Robert Hinde, vice provost for academic affairs, University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • Mark Land, vice president for university relations, Clemson University
  • Mark Moller, dean of first-year students and director of academic advising and associate professor, Denison University
  • Mary-Ann Mycek, associate dean for graduate and professional education, College of Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Anthony Niedwiecki, dean, Golden Gate University
  • Michelle Pautz, assistant provost for the common academic program, University of Dayton
  • Karen Pedersen, dean, Global Campus, Kansas State University
  • Vijay Pendakur, Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley dean of students, Cornell University
  • Chris Plouff, senior associate vice president for academic affairs, Grand Valley State University                                                               
  • Kelly Pokrywka, associate vice president, enrollment management and student success, Xavier University
  • Daniel Mark Roberts, executive director, Virginia State University
  • Ellen E. Schendel, associate vice president for academic affairs, Grand Valley State University
  • Alexander Sens, Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos chair of Hellenic Studies and senior associate dean for program development, Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Corlisse Thomas, vice chancellor for student affairs, Rutgers University – Newark
  • Yvonne Villanueva-Russell, dean, College of Innovation and Design, Texas A&M University-Commerce
  • Natalie Williams, chief of staff, Paul Quinn College
  • Kathryn Zimmerman, senior director, emerging initiatives, Lehigh University
  • Sabrina Zirkel, dean, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, Santa Clara University

For more information, go to http://georgetown.asu.edu.

Written by Jeff Selingo, executive director of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership and special adviser to President Crow

ASU grad watches life through a shadowy lens


December 10, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

What makes a film a “noir”? Must it have a scene that takes place in a smoke-filled police interrogation room? Must the protagonist be brooding and struggling with personal demons? Must the overall cinematic theme be “crime and punishment” or does “existentialism and dread” count? Scholars and fans debate. Graduating ASU student Patrick Boontho / Courtesy photo ASU film and media studies graduate Patrick Boontho said that applying the literary theory of abjection to film noir "is kinda like how (detection fiction author) Dashiell Hammett once described when reality meets with corruption; it is like peeling the layers of an onion. It only gets more rotten the closer you get to its core." Download Full Image

While the exact definition of “noir” is still up for discussion, graduating Arizona State University student Patrick Boontho’s appreciation for it certainly isn’t.

Boontho, who grew up in Phoenix and is earning a Bachelor of Arts in film and media studies this December, is an admitted fan of all things noir. He acknowledges that — ironically? — his interest in crime film was piqued in a justice studies course.

Boontho’s noir fascination is an overarching one, ranging from media to culture, and it has led Boontho to intellectual engagement with literary theory as well as to other social ventures.

“Patrick’s love of film (especially noir, Japanese cinema and Japanese noir cinema) is very contagious,” Department of English academic advisor Mollie Connelly-MacNeill said. “He goes above and beyond to engage with the community, sometimes hosting film events locally. He also worked with film instructor Michelle Martinez to develop coursework for a Japan Study Abroad.”

The connection between noir and Boontho’s other passion, Japanese cinema, is closer than you might think. One of Boontho’s cinematic idols is famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and according to Boontho, several entries in Kurosawa’s filmography fit the noir aesthetic. Boontho stumbled onto Kurosawa’s work after exhausting a list of American noirs.

“What makes Kurosawa speak to me,” Boontho said, “is that his films have a bit of a western touch. Which isn’t much of a surprise since Kurosawa had watched many silent films from the west when he was a child.”

Boontho hopes to rectify what he sees as a dearth of academic attention to Kurosawa’s legacy.

“Many films,” he said, “such as ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Warriors,’ ‘Magnum Force,’ ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ ‘Isle of Dogs,’ and many others, have drawn inspiration from Kurosawa, yet it is a shame that he isn’t as recognized as other directors.”

We sat down for a brief chat with Boontho, where he spoke more about noir, “proto-studying” film, and, how it all relates to Kristeva’s theory of abjection and horror (gulp).

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field?

Answer: When I was doing dual-enrollment at Arcadia High School and Scottsdale Community College, I had a very keen interest in film noir, especially after studying the Knapp Commission and “The French Connection” in justice studies. While there were no “film noir” classes available to me at that time, I had to do personal research on my own. This culminated into studying several aspects of the genre, from its history, philosophy, aesthetics, dialogue, politics, race, gender and sexuality. Even delving deeper into the genre, I managed to personally watch over 170 film noirs. At some point, I learned that there was a degree suited for film and media studies, so I took that opportunity to learn other aspects of film and media while using my previous knowledge to the test. It is a little difficult for me to know precisely where my “aha” moment really was, but if anything, I was “proto-studying” film outside of academics.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: A particular lesson I’ve learned at ASU that has changed my perspective was understanding Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection. What fascinates me about is that there is a border of where we safely know and are familiar with to then a point of disgust and horror. Like a decaying flower, we acknowledge that it was once living but we are disgusted by its rotting nature.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Other than economic reasons, ASU was relatively close enough to where I could be studying my academics and be present with my family. If anything, my family had put a lot of effort into supporting in my journey through education, so it was nice to be close by them at their side.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Daniel Gilfillan had once told me to take life at an easy pace whilst staying focused on my own personal interests.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: A helpful advice I’d give to students is to plan ahead and be organized in their work. I recommend doing certain assignments as early as they can, so that there is room to reevaluate their work and have time for other personal interests.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is definitely the Hayden Library; essentially, it is a good place for students to meet for projects, research, study, or just a place to hang out.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: For next spring, I’ll be tutoring and guiding various students here at ASU. For the following summer, I’ll take in the interest of an internship whilst seeking a master’s degree to become a professor of film and media studies. Additionally, I am currently writing a novel involving the themes of film noir and the Asian diaspora.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: While I am not an expert in sustainability, I would use that money into environmental watch organizations such as the Amazon Watch, an organization that not only protects the Amazon forest but also its indigenous populace.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

senior marking & communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611