ASU’s Hugh Downs School director to step down on July 1

June 29, 2020

Linda C. Lederman, director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University has announced she will step down from the position effective July 1. Professor Paul Mongeau will serve as interim director beginning July 1.

READ MORE: ASU's Hugh Downs School names new interim director Professor Linda C. Lederman Download Full Image

A professor of health and human communication who has led the school since 2014, Lederman will take a yearlong research leave and then return to the faculty in August 2021. 

“In her time at ASU, Linda Lederman has demonstrated outstanding leadership, drive and commitment while continuously striving for the advancement of the university and students,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

“She exhibits tremendous civic duty, always responding to requests to serve ASU, The College, her school. We are grateful that she will continue to make a positive impact at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and The College in the classroom and through her impressive scholarly efforts.”

In addition to her administrative role at the Hugh Downs School, Lederman also served as dean of social sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU from 2007–2012, where she provided leadership and vision by expanding cross-campus collaborations with all departments and academic units at The College, and also, as the executive director of the Institute for Social Science Research in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. From 2006–2010, she led a research staff in the Institute for Social Science Research that facilitated scholars’ survey research, geographic information services and collaborative research technology.

Elizabeth D. Capaldi, provost and executive vice president at ASU at the time Lederman stepped down as dean said of her that she had “guided ASU’s social sciences schools, centers and programs through significant growth and change.”

Hugh Downs School Associate Professor Amira de la Garza, a member of the search committee that recruited Lederman to ASU in 2005 said of her: “I remember that from the very start, we were attracted by the balance of heart and mind in her scholarship. We had no idea at the time that it was precisely this attribute that would help her to lead us as a unit.” 

Before joining the faculty at ASU in 2006, Lederman was a professor of communication at Rutgers University for more than 25 years, a member of the faculty of the Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies and founding director of the Rutgers Center for Communication and Health Issues, one of the first research groups in the nation to study the role of communication in alcohol use and abuse. Lederman, who received her PhD from Rutgers in communication and information studies, was named Rutgers University Distinguished Graduate in the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2010.

Lederman is nationally recognized for her use-inspired research on alcohol-abuse prevention, alcoholism and collegiate recovery, which has been funded by grants from federal agencies totaling more than $8 million. Her 14 published books include “Changing the Culture of College Drinking” and “Voices of Recovery from the Campus,” a collection of stories from people who began their recovery while undergraduate students.

Driven by this passion to educate people about alcoholism and recovery, ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named Lederman as the recipient of the Gary Kranbuhl Difference Maker Award in 2016.

“Dr. Lederman’s scholarship, service and teaching are seamlessly connected to the health and well-being of the broader ASU community,” wrote Cameron Thies and Mary Margaret Fonow, two distinguished professors and school directors who nominated her for this prestigious award.

Lederman’s impact extends beyond the ASU community. She has been invited in recent years to give a colloquium about her work on alcoholism and collegiate recovery at the University of Arizona Department of Communication, as well as asked to be a keynote speaker at the Rutgers University Graduation for Recovery Students, and this spring, she was a panelist on the Arizona Theatre Company’s production of White Chip, a play about alcoholism and recovery. In 2017, the Empty Space Theatre in the Hugh Downs School presented a performance titled “Recovery,” based on her books and journal articles about communication, alcoholism and recovery. 

Lederman also was a founding member of the board of ASU's Recovery Rising, a collegiate recovery program dedicated to supporting students throughout the recovery process. The program organizes Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and announces Narcotics Anonymous meetings at ASU and neighboring communities through its social media pages. 

“For people who have alcoholism, the role of storytelling has been a profound part of many of the recovery programs that’s been successful in this country,” Lederman said. “Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 Step programs are about people who share the same problem getting together and telling the stories of what it’s like to experience addiction.”

Under her leadership, the Hugh Downs School has grown in its academic successes, many of which were detailed in the Academic Program Review of the school conducted in 2019. The report highlights the “exceptional morale and climate” at the school among students, staff and faculty, and referred to the Hugh Downs School as a “vibrant learning community.” 

“Linda’s leadership challenged the faculty to be the best versions of themselves — in instruction, in research and school morale,” said Olga I. Davis, professor at the Hugh Downs School and associate dean at Barrett, The Honors College. “Having a leader who sees the vision of what you can become individually and collectively without clipping your wings is an astute leader and one who inspires by impression. No doubt, she has made an indelible impression on each of us, and hopefully, her collective work in building community in the school will continue.” 

During her tenure, the Hugh Downs School had significant growth and success of its undergraduate program, introduced a popular online master’s degree, and hired seven assistant professors. Lederman also oversaw the creation and expansion of its six research collaboratives, previously known as “initiatives.” These collaboratives encourage faculty and graduate students to pursue mutually interesting and beneficial research. Under her helm, the collaboratives expanded to include partnerships with scientists and social scientists at ASU and in the medical industry, as well as community and faith-based organizations. 

“Our previous ‘initiatives’ gradually evolved into powerful faculty ‘collaboratives,’ emphasizing transdisciplinary thinking and fostering of collaborative and intellectually inclusive imagination of what we could accomplish as a community of scholars,” de la Garza said. “The collaboratives have shifted our emphasis from linear thinking to dynamic openness to the possibilities of collaborative work between faculty, graduate students, and the communities we live in and serve."

Jennifer Linde, co-director of the I-4C research collaborative, and artistic director of The Empty Space says Lederman’s enthusiasm for community collaboration is unmatched. 

“In her tenure as director, her creativity, passion, depth of knowledge, and commitment to faculty, students and community partners has built a lasting foundation for the Hugh Downs School.”

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


How ASU's policy and security office is reimagining IT culture

June 29, 2020

Editor's note: UTO Humble Heroes is a series featuring the people who make UTO run — their stories, in their own words. These exceptional team members solve problems, provide support and help students, staff and faculty at Arizona State University. 

Partnership, leadership and stakeholder empowerment is at the heart of ASU's University Technology Office governance, policy and information security teams' unique approach. These domain experts and cultural ambassadors cultivate effective information technology (IT) practices, drive security and enable innovation across the university. Members of the Governance, Policy and Information Security Team meeting virutally. Members of the governance, policy and information security teams meeting virtually. Download Full Image

'How can we do things better together?'

This question, posed by Tina Thorstenson, chief information security officer, reflects the culture of collaboration that drives her teams' work. Information technology touches every facet of ASU life and every member of the university community. In this complex and ever-changing environment, the governance, policy and information security teams are challenged to bolster technology alignment, information security, policy and acompliance — and to do so in a way that enables innovation.

“We have a responsibility to our ASU community — our ASU family — to keep them safe,” said Rebecca Hirschfeld, a system architect with the information security team, “and being part of the security office involves everything globally as well as within our campus community.”

These partnerships enable both proactive innovation and responsive adaptation. For example, in collaboration with EdPlus around ASU Open Scale — a learning pathway designed to expand access to higher education — this team helped provide the technical foundation for a new ASU initiative.

In response to COVID-19, ASU launched ASU for You, a collection of digital education resources available to all. With this project, the number of learners who needed a new digital identity to access ASU systems and resources skyrocketed. In partnership with EdPlus, this unit of the UTO developed a way to quickly create these identities and provide access to learners. Using an automated process, governance, policy and information security team members are able to keep up with demand, bringing on 50 to 100 new accounts per day. Since March 1, a total of 2,407 new identities have been created for EdPlus, including Open Scale and ASU for You.

The UTO governance, policy and security teams were also integral to the partnership between ASU and Air University, the U.S. Air Force’s eSchool for graduate professional military education.

“In order to get the partnership with Air University, we had to get certified by the Air Force to connect our systems to theirs, and we had to get a security certification,” said Tom Castellano, lead architect and senior director of cybersecurity strategy and assurance. “I'm most proud of getting that accomplished. It was really a team effort.”

According to an Air University press release, the partnership between ASU and Air University will “transform the distance learning experience for Air Force officers and civilians worldwide,” and is already serving 1,650 Air Force students. As with ASU Open Scale and ASU for You, GPIS was integral to developing the online identities for these students.

Strategic partnerships with vendors and industry leaders are also a key part of ASU’s efforts to proactively safeguard our community and seek out opportunities for innovation. For example, to bolster protections for the ASU community in this new remote modality, the Information Security Office collaborated with CrowdStrike to provide antivirus software for home use. This UTO team and the broader ASU community are also partnering with vendors around free training resources.

'Leadership is a critical part of GPIS'

Carolee Deuel, director of policy and compliance says her team enables information security and effective technology practices for all 34 decentralized units at ASU.

“We’re not about mandating,” Thorstenson said. “We develop partnerships and encourage everyone to be at their best.”

For example, the Information Security Office informs and collaborates with the Information Security Task Force, a team of senior leaders from across the university, to lead information security at ASU. This task force provides feedback and recommends new policies and standards. The decision to roll out two-factor authentication to all ASU staff, for example, was made through conversation with this task force.

“We're advisers,” Deuel said, “but the only way that we can be successful is if we're really good listeners, because people need to feel that we are there to help them not to dictate something that just makes their life harder.”

Thorstenson’s unique approach to governance, policy and information security centers around a holistic understanding of and commitment to ASU’s mission and culture.

“We align the university mission and goals with the technology needed to support those goals, and anticipate university needs,” Thorstenson said. “We strive to be stewards for better IT culture and communications across the university.” 

“Tina is an inspiration as a leader both within ASU, and across a male-dominated field like cybersecurity,” said Samantha Becker, UTO’s executive director of creative and communications. “I aspire to achieve the same level of expertise, agility and insight as Tina in my own field. Though there is an instant gravity that comes along with prioritizing safety and security, her positive and appreciative attitude adds to the cultural well-being of the UTO and ASU.”

As the deputy CIO for IT governance, policy and information security, Thorstenson leads with Positive Core culture, a deep respect for collaborators and a grounded optimism. Thorstenson guides her team in providing leadership beyond matters of technology or information security. 

“We work to ensure that ASU’s enterprise IT team (UTO) is a strategic partner with all ASU units,” Thorstenson said, “advancing 1) technology leadership across the ASU enterprise through strong connections ... 2) ASU's innovation through collaboration and cross-unit partnerships and 3) safety and protection by bringing visibility to potential IT risk.” 

This focus on culture and alignment enables the governance, policy and information security teams to rapidly pivot in the face of new threats or changing environments, including adapting to the complexities surrounding the COVID-19 virus. For example, when Brett Woods’ National Guard unit was activated to support the Arizona community, his colleagues on the information security team took on additional responsibilities and enabled Woods to support Arizona’s coronavirus response.

Stakeholder empowerment

A core way in which the governance, policy and information security teams demonstrate leadership and collaborative partnership is by educating and empowering the ASU community. 

“Stakeholder empowerment,” Castellano said, “is through focused engagements with a common growth-mindset approach to increase impact, drive success and develop teams.”

The GetProtected website offers curated security information and resources for the ASU community. Additionally, refreshed information security training is provided every year.

“We release a new version of that training every July, and the process is in the works right now to rewrite scripts and get that started,” said TJ Witucky, director of the security operations center.

By providing resources and tools, this team enables staff, faculty students and other stakeholders to better protect themselves and ASU. For example, the annual IT risk assessment enables stakeholders to better understand and mitigate the risks to their platforms and tools. Governance, policy and information security teams provide a survey to units across ASU, which illuminates the strengths and potential vulnerabilities in their systems.

“Stakeholder empowerment is crucial to the mission of the ASU Information Security Office,” Witucky said, “All ASU students, faculty, staff and affiliates must be empowered to secure any ASU information and assets under their control as ultimately, the security of the university is everyone’s responsibility.”

Another tool, the Executive IT Risk Review Dashboard, provides leaders across ASU with both high-level and detailed views of their unit’s systems, strengths and vulnerabilities.

“We're here to be your partner,” Hirschfeld said, “to help you resolve things by providing guidance to show you what needs to be fixed and how potentially you can fix it.” 

“Governance, policy and information security teams provide us with the most basic of human needs — safety and security,” said Christine Whitney Sanchez, UTO’s chief culture officer. “(Their) values-led approach and dedication to customer delight positions them as culture leaders within and beyond UTO, and enables them to better safeguard the community and enable innovation across ASU.” 

Featured UTO Humble Heroes: Tom Castellano, Richard Chappell, Donelle Culley, Carolee Deuel, Stephen Garcia, Alyssa Goldstein, Fred Hernandez, Michelle Hernandez, Rebecca Hirschfeld, Martin Idaszak, Robert Kamilli, Ahmed Khalil, David Lee, Darnell Loggins, Giovanna Lopez, Jeff Lords, Kevin Lough, Jason Pratt, Sean Reichert, Frank Rodriguez, Karen Tamayo, Tina Thorstenson, Jennifer Tweedy, Barnaby Wasson, Jeni White, TJ Witucky, Brett Woods and Melody Young.

Nominate a UTO Humble Hero.

Laura Geringer

Content strategist and ShapingEDU community manager, University Technology Office