ASU alumni represented well in the Phoenix Business Journal’s '40 Under 40 Awards'

August 5, 2020

More than a third of this year’s Phoenix Business Journal “40 Under 40” honorees are Arizona State University alumni, with representatives from eight different colleges. The 15 honorees pursued careers in law, nonprofits, sustainability, engineering, journalism, higher education and social work. 

The annual awards recognize the top business and civic leaders in the Phoenix area for their career success, community involvement, leadership ability and influence. Download Full Image

More than 400 nominations were reviewed and narrowed down to 40 honorees by a panel of judges that included previous winners and sponsors. All the honorees will be featured in a “40 Under 40” special section to be published in the Aug. 7 issue of the Business Journal and at a virtual awards celebration Aug. 5.

To celebrate their achievements, ASU will be sharing the honorees’ biographies on its social media channels in the upcoming weeks.

Congratulations to this year’s Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 honorees and ASU alumni:

Eric M. Bailey
Bailey Strategic Innovation Group

Antwan Davis
Beyond Borders & Co.

John Gray
Perkins Coie LLP

Jon Howard
Quarles & Brady LLP

David Jackson
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie

Jacob Kashiwagi
Kashiwagi Solution Model Inc.

Lindsay Leavitt
Jennings Strouss Law Firm

Jamison Manwaring
Neighborhood Ventures

Anna Ortiz

Lea Phillips
Ballard Spahr

Vanessa Ruiz
Arizona State University

Drew Trojanowski
Arizona State University

Karla Verdugo
United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona

Dylan Vicha
Windom Security Strategies Today and Wounded Warriors

Tamara Wright
Community Solutions

ASU Law announces new leadership positions

August 4, 2020

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has announced the following new appointments and expanded roles on its leadership team.

Adam Chodorow is now vice dean, taking on broader responsibilities in the external relations of the school, in addition to continuing to serve as the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law. photo of asu law deans Download Full Image

Zachary Kramer is now executive associate dean with broader responsibilities for the day-to-day function of the school, in addition to continuing as a professor of law and the Mary Sigler Fellow. 

Eric Menkhus is now associate dean of centers, programs and innovations leading efforts to support and grow the school’s centers of excellence in research and teaching.

Tamara Herrera is now associate dean of academic affairs, succeeding Chodorow in this role, with oversight of academic experience for students and faculty.

Victoria Sahani is newly appointed as associate dean of faculty development, succeeding Herrera in this role, to support faculty research and innovation.

Kathlene Rosier is newly appointed as assistant dean of institutional progress to focus her efforts on the student experience. She will continue to serve as executive director of ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program.

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ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester

“A big part of what makes ASU Law so special is our stellar faculty and staff who work hard every day to ensure we are delivering the most exceptional law school experience possible,” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said.

“As we all are facing challenging times, I am confident we will overcome these circumstances with this team, and I continue to be so grateful to be a part of the ASU Law community.”

Julie Tenney

Interim Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

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ASU among top 10 ‘Best Buy’ public schools in latest Fiske Guide to Colleges

ASU is the only Arizona school to make Fiske Guide's "Best Buy" top 10 list.
July 28, 2020

University's strong programs, support services highlighted in annual report

Arizona State University has been ranked in the top 10 “Best Buy” public schools in the 2021 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, the only Arizona school to make the list.

Now in its 37th edition, the Fiske Guide provides an annual snapshot into more than 320 public and private colleges and universities across the country, ranking the institutions for academic excellence and value for the cost of tuition. ASU shares the distinction with, among others, the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, the University of Washington and Texas A&M. ASU was also recognized last year

The guide, which is widely known as a reputable resource for prospective students and parents, recognizes ASU for innovation and touts the university as a “national model of how to navigate the emerging demographics of U.S. higher education.”

“ASU is proud to be an advocate and leader for higher education,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “We understand that no two learners are alike, and are honored that the Fiske Guide recognizes the commitments ASU has made to provide flexible options to those who are interested in pursuing their educational or career goals through the university’s nationally ranked programs.”

ASU offers a wide variety of academic choices with more than 800 undergraduate and graduate programs from the university’s 16 colleges and schools — along with access to top programs and award-winning faculty through ASU Online. The Fiske Guide highlights ASU’s hands-on programs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; spotlights the “ambitious honors projects” at Barrett, The Honors College; and calls the School of Earth and Space Exploration a leading center for research in astronomy and astrophysics. The guide also identifies eight strong programs at ASU:

  • Architecture.
  • Art.
  • Business.
  • Design.
  • Education.
  • Engineering.
  • Journalism.
  • Performing arts.

Positioned in one of the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas, ASU has made “serious efforts to provide students with strong support services,” according to the guide. The Fiske Guide points to ASU’s award-winning First-Year Success Center, where new students can receive a variety of peer coaching services to help them adjust to college life while reaching their goals. Also noted: the success of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, contributing to the growth of ASU’s veteran population.

Overall, research expenditures are up at ASU, along with student retention and graduation rates. In fiscal year 2018, ASU reported a record total of $617.7 million in research expenditures, rising to No. 7 in total research expenditures for universities without a medical school.

Base tuition for an Arizona resident and full-time student is about $10,710, although ASU offers a number of opportunities for tuition assistance, including financial aid and scholarships — significantly reducing the cost of a college education.

Top photo by Arizona State University 

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Woodbury named CEO of Science Foundation Arizona

ASU's chief science and technology officer will lead the nonprofit, which connects researchers, businesses

July 21, 2020

Neal Woodbury, interim executive vice president of Arizona State University's Knowledge Enterprise and chief science and technology officer, has been named chief executive officer of Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz). SFAz is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 to establish industry and university partnerships, attract world class talent and jobs to Arizona, enhance the state’s competitive standing in the global economy, and increase access to quality STEM education. 

“It’s an honor to be selected for this role, and I’m excited to work with the exceptional board members at SFAz, my colleagues at Arizona universities, our state government and the science-based industry in Arizona,” Woodbury said. “I also look forward to helping expand the application of innovative science and the high-tech workforce that underlies it.” Neal Woodbury ASU Neal Woodbury, ASU chief science and technology officer. Download Full Image

Woodbury is assuming the position previously held by William Harris, who served as CEO of SFAz since its inception in 2006. Under Harris’ leadership, SFAz funded and enhanced research and education at Arizona’s three state universities, as well as developed collaborative relationships with industry and state government. 

“The board of SFAz is pleased that a leader and scholar of such regard has accepted the leadership of the organization. Our board, led by SFAz founder Don Budinger and our longstanding CEO, Bill Harris, have built a significant asset for our state. The foundational support of our primary donor, Jerry Bisgrove, allowed SFAz to leverage additional resources and make broad investments in research that contributed greatly to our state’s economic prosperity,” said Rick Myers, chairman of the SFAz board and former Arizona Board of Regents member. “Going forward, we appreciate the strong support of ASU to keep SFAz building on our past success. With Neal’s leadership, we are excited for what the future will bring.”

Throughout the course of his 32-year tenure with ASU, Woodbury has been a trusted resource and advocate for the research enterprise, regularly advising ASU leadership on issues related to the university’s major research activities. He has been responsible for developing new, large-scale collaborative projects, as well as facilitating broad interactions between the Knowledge Enterprise and ASU’s academic units. Woodbury concurrently serves as a professor in ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences.

“It’s great news for Arizona that Neal Woodbury has been appointed the next CEO of SFAz," said David Schultz, vice president for research at Northern Arizona University. "Neal’s deep knowledge of science and technology, Arizona’s universities, the needs and potential of STEM education, and the opportunities that exist to build Arizona’s economy, are ideally suited to support SFAz’s mission and the goals of the state in STEM and technology business growth. I look forward to working with Neal and furthering collaborations between Arizona’s great higher education institutions.”

Woodbury is an expert in the field of electron transfer and photosynthesis and is the co-founder of HealthTell, a company focused on a diagnostic technology known as immunosignaturing. In addition to his academic and research achievements, Woodbury is a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors and holds multiple patents.

Woodbury will continue in his role as interim executive vice president and professor at ASU in addition to this appointment.

ASU Law and Behavioral Science initiative wins 2020 President's Award for Innovation

July 10, 2020

In just three years’ time, the group of faculty behind the Law and Behavioral Science initiative took Arizona State University from relative obscurity in the field to one of the most dominant players. In recognition of their dedication and hard work, the original team of eight who founded the initiative has been named the recipient of the 2020 President’s Award for Innovation.

Nicholas Schweitzer, founding director of the group and an associate professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said it is an honor to be recognized, but their success would not have been possible without the commitment of the ASU faculty and students who have contributed to the initiative’s success over the years. statue of Lady Justice Download Full Image

“It’s pretty unusual to go from nothing to the kind of scale and the scope we have in just a few years,” Schweitzer said. “When I looked back at how many times ASU has presented at national and international conferences, we had more people presenting than any other university in the world. And we’ve been very fortunate because we’ve been able to recruit the best students and the very best faculty.”

The purpose of the initiative is to bring together scholars and students from across ASU whose research interests are at the intersection of law and psychology, an area which has broad appeal and an exciting potential for real-world impact.

“This team has been incredibly innovative in taking scientific principles about human behavior from psychology — including social, cognitive and affective processes — and integrating them with an understanding of law and legal institutions to address important societal problems,” said School of Social and Behavioral Sciences Associate Director Nicole Roberts.

“They were front-runners in bringing together topics to create a new, and hugely popular, field of study at ASU — forensic psychology. Although there are now many interdisciplinary teams at ASU, they were one of the first not only to engage in this, but also to gain traction among students at all levels — undergraduate through doctoral — and to draw national attention as a destination for cutting-edge research in psychology and law. Their research questions have widespread implications, such as how to reduce bias in the legal system; how to understand who is convicted or exonerated and under what circumstances; and how to change ineffective or unfair practices within the criminal justice system. Their collective work allows them to examine individual- and institutional-level processes using a variety of descriptive and experimental methods.”

The initiative’s founding team will be recognized by ASU President Michael Crow at a ceremony this fall. They include faculty from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences:

  • Nicholas Schweitzer, founding director – School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, New College.
  • Hank Fradella – School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Watts College.
  • Michael Saks – Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.
  • Jose Ashford – School of Social Work, Watts College.
  • Jessica Salerno – School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, New College.
  • Tess Neal – School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, New College.
  • Tosha Ruggles – director of academic services for Graduate Studies, New College.
  • Todd Sandrin – dean, New College.

The President's Award for Innovation honors ASU faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the university and higher education in general through the creation, development and implementation of innovative projects, programs, initiatives, services and techniques.

Since its founding, the Law and Behavioral Science initiative has grown to include 32 core and affiliated faculty across seven schools and colleges at ASU, operating five cross-school academic programs that educate over 1,300 students at the undergraduate, master's degree and doctoral levels, placing it among the largest in the world of its type.

“We already had the intellectual base to do something like this and just needed to be brought together with some organizational structure,” Schweitzer said. “Once that happened, we realized we were really poised to do something big.”

The initiative is responsible for research that has looked into such issues as how emotion affects jury members’ decision-making, the effectiveness of tools used to assess one’s competence to stand trial and more.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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ASU's top academic programs keep climbing in world rankings

July 10, 2020

For years, Arizona State University has been recognized globally for its top-ranked academic programs, and 2020 is no different.

Shanghai Ranking released its annual Global Ranking of Academic Subjects on June 29, rating more than 4,000 universities across 54 subjects in natural sciences, engineering, life sciences, medical sciences and social sciences. ASU made some notable achievements, ranking significantly higher than in 2019 in at least five subjects, while ranking in the top 20 nationally in at least eight subjects.

In the W. P. Carey School of Business, ASU’s management program ranked fifth globally, up from seventh in 2019 — outranking Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California. Business administration jumped from 26th to 16th place globally, while economics ranked 21st, up a few spots from the No. 25 position in 2019.

“We are thrilled our faculty’s scholarly research is being recognized as 21st in the world in economics, an increase of four places over last year, in addition to moving up two places to 5th in Management,” W. P. Carey Dean Amy Hillman said. "Overall, the W. P. Carey School of Business advanced 10 places since last year to 16th in the world. Our faculty research is at the highest tiers, and we’re grateful for the recognition.”

ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is also celebrating higher global rankings in 2020, coming in at 15th — up from 23rd place in 2019, and besting other reputable institutions like Northwestern and Cornell.

“For ASU Law to move up a remarkable eight spots in just one year and achieve this prestigious honor as now the 15th top law school globally is incredible and a testament to the passion and innovation our students and faculty demonstrate each day,” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said. “Additionally, earlier this year we jumped three spots to become No. 24 in the U.S. News & World Report’s best law school rankings. It’s humbling to be recognized for our continued efforts to provide students the finest educational experience that helps them make an impact in their legal careers. My heartfelt congratulations to them and to our faculty and staff for their tremendous leadership.”

In the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, environmental science and engineering ranked 10th globally, a remarkable increase from the 39th spot in 2019, and outperformed Princeton, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Yale University.

“We are very proud of the recognition exemplified by the rise in rankings of our environmental engineering program,” said Ram Pendyala, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “Our award-winning faculty are engaged in cutting edge research and are renowned for their work in advancing public health, cleaning the environment and combating climate change. Their contributions to improving the human condition around the world are truly inspirational.”

READ MORE: School of Public Affairs' rankings for public administration research rise to No. 2 in nation, No. 4 in world

Shanghai Ranking used five criteria to rank thousands of universities across the globe, including the number of papers published in top journals and the number of faculty awards in the specific subjects. Below is a list of some of ASU’s best 2020 rankings based on subject.

Business administration

2020 world ranking: 16th

2020 national ranking: 14th


2020 world ranking: 21st

2020 national ranking: 17th


2020 world ranking: 17th

2020 national ranking: 14th

Environmental science and engineering

2020 world ranking: 10th

2020 national ranking: Seventh


2020 world ranking: 24th

2020 national ranking: Fourth


2020 world ranking: 15th

2020 national ranking: 15th


2020 world ranking: Fifth

2020 national ranking: Third

Telecommunication engineering

2020 world ranking: 76th–100th

2020 national ranking: 10th–12th

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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ADHS, ASU announce partnership to increase COVID-19 testing in Arizona

Tests are by appointment only; schedule at
July 9, 2020

ASU will launch program to provide free saliva-based diagnostic testing for up to 100,000 Arizonans

July 13 update: An additional date has been added: 7-11 a.m. Tuesday, July 14. Appointments can be made at the same link below, with the same agency code. Please check for future dates and times.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Arizona State University announced a new partnership Thursday that will increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Arizona. ASU will launch several testing sites that will provide free saliva diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in high-need underserved communities around the state.

The tests are by appointment only, which can be scheduled by visiting The first testing will take place on Saturday, July 11, from 8 a.m. to noon at Ak-Chin Pavilion, Gate 6, 2121 N. 83rd Ave. in Phoenix. Pre-register now by creating an account using the code jdzkkww6. Note that saliva testing is prohibited for those under the age of 8 years old.

Through this partnership, ADHS has committed up to $12.7 million to fund the expansion of testing sites to serve up to 100,000 Arizonans. ASU’s Biodesign Institute announced in May that it had developed the first saliva-based COVID-19 test in the state and has been utilizing saliva-based testing over the past six weeks to test critical workforce including health care workers, first responders and infrastructure personnel. ASU has also been using the saliva-based test with employees and students.

A collection tube for a COVID 19 saliva test

ASU’s Biodesign Institute developed the first saliva-based COVID-19 test in the state and over the past six weeks has used it to test critical workforce. In the coming week, it will begin testing the public. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“This critical partnership will have an immediate impact in the fight against COVID-19 and help us surge testing where it’s needed most,” Gov. Doug Ducey said. “My thanks to Arizona State University for their continued partnership and for continuing to step up to aid public health in innovative and invaluable ways.”

“We are excited to partner with Arizona State University to launch this new testing program that will increase our capacity to test more people for COVID-19,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “Testing is an important public health tool to help us track COVID-19 and to implement mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the disease in Arizona, and over the last several months we have been working with partners across the state to increase COVID-19 testing. This includes providing funding for new testing equipment and distributing specimen collection kits to health care partners, laboratories and local health departments.”

“It is the university’s commitment to be of service to the citizens of the state of Arizona in any way we can as we all work together to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “We are fortunate to have some extremely talented people at the university who have developed an innovative testing model, and it is our duty to share that expertise and put it to work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The new partnership with ASU will further increase the number of people who are getting a diagnostic COVID-19 test. ASU is working with ADHS on details related to future testing sites around the state. Since April, PCRPCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests are used to detect the presence of an antigen. diagnostic testing has increased 596% from 52,866 tests in April to 367,992 tests in June. There have been 36,653 PCR tests reported in the first week of July.

Arizonans can take the following precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wear a mask every time you are in public, even if you do not feel sick. 
  • Physically distance by staying at least 6 feet away from others who are not in your household when you are in public. 
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. 
  • Arizonans at higher risk for severe illness should continue to stay at home and avoid crowded public spaces. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Health care providers are offering testing at nearly 300 testing locations statewide. People are encouraged to follow the instructions on the testing website as many of the health care providers require individuals to pre-register for testing and may have other requirements to get tested. Testing locations along with appointment times and registration links can be found online at

Top photo: Meghan Herrick (right) demonstrates giving Irene Mendoza instructions to fill the collection tube between a minimum and maximum level at one of seven ASU employee COVID-19 testing sites on Thursday.

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What is the difference between ASU Sync, iCourses and ASU Online?

July 9, 2020

We answer some questions about the new learning environment called ASU Sync

As ASU students prepare to head back to campus for the fall 2020 semester, we break down the details of the new learning environment called ASU Sync and how it is different from both iCourses and ASU Online.

ASU Sync and iCourses are offered to those enrolled as on-campus students. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the Location column in the course catalog, ASU Class Search. In-person classes (which ASU Sync is part of) will list a physical classroom; iCourses will have "iCourse" as their location.

ASU Online courses are most similar to iCourses in how they are delivered (entirely online). However, they are separate enrollment options using different course catalogs. On-campus students cannot take ASU Online courses, and ASU Online students cannot take iCourses (or in-person classes).

Learn more about each learning experience below.

ASU Sync

ASU Sync combines live Zoom lectures with in-the-classroom instruction. Students enrolled in in-person classes will attend classes both in person and via ASU Sync (Zoom). Sometimes students will need to attend class via ASU Sync for distancing reasons (keeping classrooms below a certain capacity), and other times students will utilize ASU Sync for health concerns or because they cannot be on campus due to travel restrictions.

The overwhelming majority of in-person courses will have an ASU Sync option (the exceptions are explained below); ASU Sync is already built-in, with no need to "opt in" for it. Students will access the ASU Sync option from their My ASU course list; the week before classes begin, each class listed under View My Schedule will have buttons next to them that allow students to launch a live ASU Sync session.

 Things to know about ASU Sync:

  • Every student in a class will participate in every class: Some will do so in person in the classroom; others will be participating in real time, via Zoom. 
  • To accommodate social distancing, professors will create a schedule for students on who attends in-person vs. remotely. For example, if you sign up for a Tuesday/Thursday class, your professor may assign you to come in person on Tuesdays and attend remotely on Thursdays. Professors will contact enrolled students in August to inform them how their specific class will be taught and managed.
  • Some classes (like performing arts or science labs) will be in-person only. For classes that will be offered in-person only, you will see a gray, "In-Person Only" tag to the right of the course name in your My ASU semester schedule. Additional instructions for students enrolled in classes that will meet in-person only can be found in the Special Notes section of the class details.
  • July 21 update: Some classes, primarily those with enrollment of 100 students or more, will only be via ASU Sync, without the in-person component. Those are labeled "ASU Sync Only" in the class list in My ASU.

MORE: Register for upcoming webinars or watch previous ones on the ASU Sync page


These courses are designed to be taken entirely online, for the duration of the semester. They feature recorded lectures and other content, which students can watch and utilize on their own schedule. 

Over 2,400 iCourses are available. On-campus students can find and register for an iCourse by filtering by campus location in ASU Class Search. The link to the online coursework will be available via the class list on My ASU.

ASU Online

ASU Online is a separate enrollment system.

Things to know about ASU Online:

  • ASU Online classes are not ASU Sync classes or iCourses. They have different course catalogs.
  • ASU Online courses are 100% remote learning, as they always have been.
  • On-campus students cannot sign up for ASU Online courses.

More resources: 

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See full-size, zoom-able PDF of the above graphic.

ASU's Hugh Downs School names new interim director

June 30, 2020

The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University has named Paul Mongeau as interim director beginning July 1.

A professor at the school since 2002, Mongeau currently serves as associate director, a position he has held since 2013. Mongeau is also an ASU alumnus, having received his BS (1981) and his MA (1983) from the then Department of Communication.  Professor Paul Mongeau Download Full Image

Mongeau replaces Linda C. Lederman, a professor of health and human communication who has led the school since 2014.  Lederman previously served as dean of social sciences at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. Lederman will take a year-long research leave and then continue teaching in August 2021.

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

Mongeau is a leading researcher in interpersonal and persuasive communication and has an acclaimed reputation, as is reflected in how frequently his work is cited and used by other scholars in communication and other disciplines.

“Professor Mongeau’s exceptional work in the field of human communication and his commitment to excellence at ASU position him to serve as an excellent leader for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I look forward to collaborating with him during this exciting new chapter of the school.”

In his new appointment as interim director, Mongeau will continue to provide students and faculty with the tools to understand, analyze and respond to communication problems and opportunities, including interpersonal relationships, workplace teams, and community.

Earlier this year, Mongeau was presented the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the Western States Communication Association at its annual conference in Denver. He was recognized for his numerous volunteer roles contributing to the success of the organization, including service as president from 2015–2016.   

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