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

ASU Enterprise Partners named top employer for 7th year


June 29, 2020

ASU Enterprise Partners earned high marks as an employer for 2019, making it a Top Company to Work for in Arizona for the seventh consecutive year.

The nonprofit organization raises resources on behalf of Arizona State University and was one of 120 employers selected for the award presented by Republic Media and the Arizona Commerce Authority. Companies with at least 25 employees are evaluated through surveys to employers and employees regarding leadership, culture, communication, job satisfaction, work environment, training and development, pay and benefits and engagement. The firms are ranked based on their composite scores in each area. three people holding sign that says "We did it!" ASU Enterprise Partners employees celebrate Sun Devil Giving Day. Download Full Image

“We are thrilled to again be recognized as a Top Company to Work for in Arizona,” ASU Enterprise Partners CEO Dan Dillion said. “We pride ourselves on having a culture that is focused on serving, engaging, innovating and caring for ASU, our community and our employees.”

ASU Enterprise Partners operates under the philosophy that its success comes from ensuring its employees are happy, healthy and successful in all aspects of life, he said.

That includes a culture of caring, family-friendly benefits and a host of offerings for health and wellness and personal and professional development. Employees have the opportunity to enjoy complimentary on-site yoga during lunch and participate in periodic health assessments. Employees also receive complimentary personal finance tools and a paid day off for their birthdays. 

“The organization provides unique staff events, including all-staff movies, bring your kid to work day, gingerbread house decorating contests and motivational speakers,” said Cheryl Shumate, vice president of human resources. “We recognize that people spend a lot of time at work and want to provide a place that is fulfilling and fun. That’s why we hold so many events focused on engagement, appreciation and wellness.”

Professionally, employees complete DISC assessments when they are hired to learn about their communication style and how they respond to conflict and stress to improve communications with colleagues who may have a different style. Employees also have access to mentorships that may lead to a future career path within the organization or supplement their understanding of other departments in their current roles.

“Our employees are our greatest asset and we want to provide them an enriching work environment to help them grow personally and professionally,” Dillon said.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners

480-727-7402

ASU Enterprise Partners awarded for trailblazing technology use


June 25, 2020

ASU Enterprise Partners was awarded the Dave Perry Excellence in Innovation Award by Salesforce.org for being a trailblazer that uses technology in an unconventional way to enhance the donor experience.

ASU Enterprise Partners, parent organization to the ASU Foundation for a New American University, was recognized for implementing Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud e-commerce technology on the ASU Foundation website. The award was announced virtually during Salesforce’s eighth annual Higher Education Summit. The Dave Perry Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes a college or university that uses Salesforce to advance recruiting, student success, advancement, marketing or engagement. It is named after a Salesforce employee who was integral in higher education data architecture and passed away in 2017. ASU Foundation website screenshot of donor funds available The ASU Foundation website features an e-commerce platform for an enhanced donor experience. Download Full Image

“What was innovative is we’re the first higher education nonprofit to implement the Commerce Cloud for online giving,” said Zach Lisi, director of solutions development for ASU Enterprise Partners and an integral part of the multidisciplinary team that implemented Commerce Cloud. “The old platform was very basic. We wanted to give donors the ability to go to the ASU Foundation website and do research, look up funds, learn about those funds and see the impact of how they affect students directly.”

Not only was the nonprofit the first to use a platform that is commonly used among online retailers, but the implementation team transitioned the ASU Foundation giving experience on a very aggressive timeline.

ASU Enterprise Partners worked with a seasoned partner to implement the platform and was told such implementations typically take a year, but some companies have implemented Commerce Cloud in six months, Lisi said.

ASU Enterprise Partners implemented the platform in just 12 weeks.        

“They were very skeptical. We made it happen,” Lisi said.

Other ASU Enterprise Partners implementation team members included Melissa Bordow, Jana Brown, Andrew Carey, Anna Consie, Jorge De Cossio, Chris Dizon, Carey Fredlake, Melissa Kwilosz, Liz Levenson, Gabe Martinez, Lauren Mitchell, Blake Pappas, Erin Sherman, Debbie Williams and Serah Ye.

Commerce Cloud enables donors to search by cause instead of fund name, similar to how a consumer searches for an article of clothing from their favorite online retailers.

The e-commerce experience allows each of the nearly 600 fund pages to provide a visual representation of the fund through videos and photos, stories about what the fund is intended to do and the impact the donor can make through the fund, said Fredlake, director of strategic outreach for ASU Enterprise Partners.

If a donor is interested in funds related to COVID-19 research, they can search for that interest and learn more about funds focused on that cause, Lisi said.

“People aren’t necessarily donating to a school they are an alumni of,” he said. “People want to give money to things they’re passionate about.”

Commerce Cloud reduced the time it takes a donor to donate and the additional visuals and information led to a 25% increase in gift amount, Fredlake said, adding that there has also been an increase in conversion rates compared to nonprofit industry benchmarks.

ASU Enterprise Partners has used the Salesforce customer relationship management platform for a few years and recently added Salesforce’s gift processing tools.

“We’re just starting the journey of what this can turn into,” Lisi said of the potential for the Commerce Cloud platform in the future.

It could become a donor portal to see giving history and provide endowed scholarship reports and donation tax documents, he said, adding that it could also be used to sign up people for volunteer and mentor opportunities at ASU.

The foundation can provide a more targeted and personalized experience to donors between Commerce Cloud and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud.

“Commerce Cloud is a robust tool in our toolbox, which has provided a streamlined, storytelling focused donation experience,” Fredlake said. “It has become a natural extension to the stories shared through our donor journeys.”

Other higher education foundations have reached out to ASU Enterprise Partners to learn more about the possibilities because of its success, Lisi said.

“It was a big effort, it was a big team, it took a lot of resources and dedication,” he said. “We should all be very proud of what we accomplished.”

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners

480-727-7402

 
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ASU at Lake Havasu names new director

June 23, 2020

Oregonian Carla J. Harcleroad will helm new post on July 1 but has already been getting to know the community since April

When ASU at Lake Havasu Director Raymond Van der Riet leaves his post next month, his big shoes will be filled quickly and seamlessly.

Carla J. Harcleroad has been named the Arizona State University location’s new director and will start her position July 1.

“Carla brings a wealth of leadership, academic and professional experiences to this position,” said Mark Searle, ASU executive vice president and university provost. “I am confident she will be a strong leader for ASU at Lake Havasu, leading it to a bright future.”

Harcleroad has been at the location since April. She came early to get acquainted with the job, shadowing Van der Riet and, according to her, “working to facilitate a seamless transition even amid COVID-19.”

The Oregon native was a former associate vice president at Portland State University in Oregon before arriving at ASU. Prior to that, she worked at the University of Oregon as well as Lewis and Clark College in Portland.

ASU Now spoke with Harcleroad as she prepared to take the helm in Havasu.

Question: What is your educational and professional background?

Answer: I’ve held numerous leadership, research and teaching roles in the past 17 years, including the Educational Policy Improvement Center in Eugene, Oregon; the University of Oregon; Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon; and Portland State University. Across all of these professional roles, I have been most inspired by efforts that seek to increase student success. I’ve developed expertise in organizational change, college student retention and college student academic and career advising. I earned a PhD in educational leadership–policy, management and organization from the University of Oregon, an MA in higher educational and organizational change from UCLA, an MS in educational leadership–higher education administration from the University of Oregon, and a BA in English and applied linguistics from Portland State University.

Q: Why did you choose to lead ASU at Lake Havasu?

A: I’m excited to support students, faculty and professional staff to achieve new and continued success at a location with strong and meaningful connections to the broader community. The hands-on learning experiences students engage in through partnerships between the campus and Lake Havasu City provide unique, service-based learning opportunities, and I wanted to be a part of this great work. I’m also very excited to live in a smaller city with exceptional access to outdoor recreation. My husband and I love the sunshine and the water!

Q: When not at the office, what are your favorite hobbies?

A: In my free time, you will find me with family and friends, caring for my rescued bullmastiff, Joey — who has special needs — reading, and spending as much time as possible outside enjoying water-focused and sun-filled activities.

Q: What are your office must-haves?

A: Beyond the basics, in my office at work, I like sit-stand workstations. The ability to stand up during the day increases my productivity and contributes to my well-being. I also like plants. I think plant life in office settings helps create a welcoming environment.

Q: How has it been taking on a new job in a new location in the middle of a pandemic?

A: (It) has been challenging, interesting, stressful, creative and growth-full. It’s required patience and exceptionally creative problem solving, and while it’s been challenging, it’s also been so special to receive such a warm reception from my colleagues at ASU at Lake Havasu, the broader ASU community and Lake Havasu City. People have extended their advice, their help, their care and their kindness. While the pandemic is tragic and full of loss, starting a new job at this time has also given me the opportunity to see that my new colleagues and friends are community-focused. It’s truly an honor and privilege to be here in this new professional role, and I’m grateful to be a part of this very special Lake Havasu City community. Even though I’ve only been here for [a short time], I already feel a deep appreciation for the city and for the people.

Q: Had you been to Lake Havasu City before this transition?

A: While growing up in Oregon, my grandparents lived in Tucson, and we had the opportunity to visit often. As an adult, I continued to visit them in the summer — so I have been in Arizona when it’s hot — and I knew that I wanted to live in this state at some point. I haven’t had the opportunity to spend time in Lake Havasu City prior to visiting in March, but I instantly fell in love with the city and community. What’s not to love? It’s warm, it’s in Arizona and it hosts a beautiful lake!

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-5176

Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics moves to the humanities, appoints new director


June 22, 2020

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University was founded on the belief that ethical behavior can create better and more positive outcomes in every facet of life. Now, more than 20 years after the center was first established, this mission is being reinvigorated with an official move to the humanities and a new director.

In July, Elizabeth Langland will take on the role of director of the center. Langland has been with ASU since 2007, serving as vice provost of the West campus and dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Since then, Langland has served in several other roles at ASU, including interim dean of humanities at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and, most recently, as director of the Institute for Humanities Research.  Elizabeth Langland has been appointed the new director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Download Full Image

“This move marks the next chapter for the Lincoln Center and The College,” said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of the humanities. “Applied ethics in their relation to technology and innovation have never been more urgent, and this emphasis enables the center to fulfill founding vision of the Lincoln family. As we embark on this transition, I am confident that with Elizabeth’s outstanding leadership there will be many exciting collaborations and projects to come.”

Langland specializes in Victorian British literature, particularly in theory of the novel and feminist criticism. She has authored four books and dozens of articles and has edited or co-edited five books on these topics.

After working at other universities, Langland said she was drawn to ASU for the university’s unique emphasis on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study and collaboration. She said she sees ethics as an essential foundation for any discipline and hopes this move will encourage more cross-discipline collaboration moving forward.

“This is a way of really creating significant synergies with what other centers and departments are doing, because ethics truly is just a part of every aspect of our lives,” Langland said. “If you're studying business, it's important to think about what ethical practices are and why you want to institute ethical practices in business. If you're studying medicine, obviously we want to behave ethically toward patients. If we're thinking about engineering, we want to make sure bridges don't collapse and that buildings don't fall apart. All of these are critical issues to think about instead of just making profit.”

In addition to encouraging collaboration, the center will have a new focus on ethical innovation and humane technologies. With this new focus, Langland also hopes to collaborate beyond the university with innovators in the field of technology to inform ethically based innovation.

“We're depending so much on technology. It’s done so many wonderful things for us, but at the same time, people have major concerns about the effects of technology on our life,” Langland said. “Our challenge in the coming years is to ensure that innovation is ethically based. As No. 1 in innovation, let's make that innovation ethically based.”

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU writing center wins prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing to present over 25 events showcasing indigenous arts and culture programming as part of NEA Big Read in spring 2021


June 16, 2020

The Virginia G. Piper CenterThe Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is nonacademic university center dedicated to offering classes, talks, readings, workshops and other literary events and programs for the larger community. for Creative Writing at Arizona State University has been awarded a prestigious Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to present a month of talks, readings, book clubs and other dynamic events and programs around indigenous culture and the literary arts in spring 2021.

"For over 16 years, the Piper Center has been a catalyst for connecting area arts and culture organizations and serving communities through innovative, inspiring and accessible collaborative programs," said Alberto Ríos, inaugural Arizona Poet Laureate and center director. "With an extensive network of valued partners within Arizona State University and throughout the state, the Piper Center has the structure and community investments needed to deliver a deeply meaningful and transformative experience through the NEA Big Read." person reading book Photo courtesy of Pixabay. Download Full Image

A page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction

The NEA Big ReadThe Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2019 and June 2020.: Phoenix is centered around "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich (Anishinaabe). Winner of the National Book Award in fiction for 2012, the novel is a classic coming-of age story blended with elements of memoir, detective novels and oral history that, according to the NEA, "tells the suspenseful tale of a 13-year-old boy's investigation and desire for revenge following a brutal attack on his mother that leaves his father, a tribal judge, helpless in his pursuit to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Exploring justice, family and personal history through an indigenous lens, the Piper Center is organizing a dynamic and extensive lineup of interconnected performances, workshops and conversations with university partners and other organizations from the larger community.

New work from acclaimed poet 

For the keynote event, acclaimed poet Layli Long Soldier (Ogala Lakota) will develop and present new work commissioned by the grant in a reading and conversation moderated by poet, MacArthur Fellow and ASU Professor Natalie Diaz.

Long Soldier has a deep history of social activism and has received numerous recognitions and awards for her work, including a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Whiting Award and a National Book Critics Circle award. Her debut collection, "Whereas," uses the language and occasion of President Obama's 2009 congressional apology to Native Americans to challenge, as described by Diaz, "the making and maintenance of an empire ... transforming the page to withstand the tension of an occupied body, country and, specifically, an occupied language."

Logo for NEA Big Read

Over 25 panels, workshops and performances

Beyond the keynote, the NEA Big Read: Phoenix will feature a variety of programs spanning poetry, storytelling, library science, the humanities and more, including:

  • Diné poetry reading: A reading and panel of Diné poets curated by poet and Diné College Professor Jake Skeets (Diné), winner of the 2020 Whiting Award and the 2019 National Poetry Series.
  • Oral history and family archive workshops: A series of oral history and family archive workshops with the Labriola National American Indian Data Center and local poet Amber McCrary (Diné).
  • Storytelling event: A storytelling event curated by Liz Warren of South Mountain Community College.
  • Political action: A panel reconvening members of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Committee (HB 2570) with Arizona House representative Jennifer Jermaine.
  • Land recognition: A panel on the ethics, politics and craft of land recognitions with ASU professors and staff, with David Martinez (Akimel O'odham/Hia Ced O'odham), Felicia Mitchell (Chickasaw) and Alex Soto (Tohono O'odham).
  • Literary salons: A literary salon on decolonization with Associate Professor Amanda Tachine (Diné).
  • Book clubs: Numerous book clubs and reading groups with Burton Barr Central Library.

While many events focus on or are intended for indigenous individuals, all events are open to the public. With a few exceptions, the majority are free.

To share "The Round House" throughout the community, the Piper Center will be distributing over 750 books to the public for free. Community members will also be able to check out unlimited copies of the e-book for three months through the Phoenix Public Library.

Addressing a critical national and local issue

Within "The Round House's" larger themes, the Piper Center will place a particular focus on the issues that form the central conflict of the novel: missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

"Violence against Native women and girls exceeds that of any other group in the United States," said Traci Morris, who directs the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University. "While Native women make up less than 2% of the national population, nearly 40% of all women involved in sex trafficking cases are indigenous."

Several efforts have taken steps to address this problem over the last year. The Arizona Legislature formed a local task force to study MMIWG through HB2570 in May 2019. A similar committee was established by an executive order from Donald Trump that November.

Unfortunately, a lack of reliable data and standardized collection practices among local, state, federal and tribal governments make it virtually impossible to assess the extent of the issue, let alone address it.

"Native women in Arizona disappear three times when they go missing: they disappear in real life, they disappear in the data and they disappear in the media," said state representative Jennifer Jermaine. "With HB2570 we are examining the systematic gaps in data collection and resource allocation from the state level. We are also partnering with tribal leaders and federal agencies to begin to solve communication and coordination problems that have complicated search, rescue and recovery efforts."

Similarly, the American Indian Policy Institute recently received a grant from the Media Democracy Fund to analyze crime reporting flows, algorithmic bias and other complex systems around collecting information. With improved data sets and reporting practices, governments will be able to create more effective policies and legislation.

At the same time, statistics alone can't provide the political, social and historical context in which these crimes take place, nor can they capture the experiences of individuals, families and communities who are forced to live through it. Most importantly of all, these issues risk reducing their identities to that of mere victims, simplifying a rich and dynamic humanity.

Through this grant, the center aims to extend and deepen the discourse around indigenous perspectives, raise awareness and activism surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and honor the lives and stories of Native American storytellers, artists and community members.

“With its NEA Big Read programs structured around the work of indigenous women and social justice, the Piper Center has once again demonstrated its commitment to embodying the mission of The College," said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. "The future of the humanities is here.” 

More information about the NEA Big Read: Phoenix

Jake Friedman

Coordinator, Virginia G. Piper for Creative Writing

480-965-6018

 
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'To Be Welcoming' curriculum offers tools to counteract bias

June 16, 2020

Free Starbucks online courses, developed at ASU, strive to foster empathy, understanding

The current protests over police killings and racial injustice has left many people with a hunger to learn more about inequality and to try to do better. America’s best-seller lists and TV shows are addressing the tragic results of racism.

Two years ago, Starbucks asked Arizona State University to develop an online curriculum for all Starbucks employees that is intended to drive reflection and conversation on the topic of bias. 

Now Starbucks is making those courses available to the public at no cost.

The curriculum, a set of 15 modules, is called “To Be Welcoming” and was rolled out in September 2019. 

The interactive courses were created by ASU faculty experts to share research and information that can help people to think about how they view the world and to consider how other people experience it. 

“We’re encouraging people to ask questions and as an educational institution, that’s the heart of what we do,” said Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, director of the Center for Indian Education and President’s Professor in the School of Social Transformation. He led the project for ASU.

“The hope is for people to think about things from a perspective of curiosity and wonder, and try to understand how other people might feel and to be able to engage in conversations that aren’t always easy,” said Brayboy, who is special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow for American Indian affairs.

ASU and Starbucks have a long-standing partnership that began in 2014, with the inception of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a first-of-its-kind program with 100% tuition coverage for all U.S. retail Starbucks partners admitted to ASU to complete their first bachelor’s degree. As of May 2020, more than 4,500 Starbucks partners graduated through the program, with over 16,000 currently working toward their degree with ASU. 

In May 2018, Starbucks closed its doors across United States for an afternoon, so partners could participate in anti-bias training. The afternoon closure was in response to an incident in April that same year, when a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police over two black men who were waiting in a store. That episode led to accusations of racism, which prompted the companywide training. But Starbucks decided to do more and reached out to ASU to create “To Be Welcoming.”

To Be Welcoming logo

Everyone who works at Starbucks can take “To Be Welcoming”, although it’s not required. Each module includes several sections with videos, interactive exercises, quizzes, a glossary and resources for further study. Everyone starts with the “foundational” course, which covers key elements of the curriculum that apply to all courses, and then may take the remaining 14 courses in any order.

The curriculum covers a wide range of biases that can be experienced by different groups of people: gender, race, age, disability, religion, nationality, sexuality, class, political culture, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, black/African American, Arab/Middle Eastern and Asian American/Pacific Islander.

“The foundational course defines what dialogue is and some areas that prevent us from having it productively,” Brayboy said.

For example, “political correctness” is discussed as a term that often is used to avoid meaningful conversation about ways that groups of people are excluded or oppressed.

The topic of bias can be uncomfortable, said Ersula Ore, who reviewed and helped create the coursework on racism. Ore is the Lincoln Professor of Ethics in the School of Social Transformation and associate professor of African and African American studies and rhetoric at ASU.

“These are hard conversations to have,” she said. “Part of it is that students don’t know what to say and are scared to say anything because they don’t want to be ‘tripped up’ and ultimately perceived to be guilty of bias.

“My job as a reviewer was to anticipate the audience, and to consider the questions and issues that individuals might stumble over as they completed modules. For instance, What is a microaggression? What is the difference between the terms racism and prejudice?”

In one of the course videos, Ore discusses how past acts of racism are directly related to contemporary racism.

“There’s a level of detail you have to provide in order for the audience to be grounded, and I help them to make that connection,” she said.

The courses were reviewed several times. After the ASU faculty experts created the content, it was reviewed by other experts at ASU, and then sent to peer experts at other institutions. The goal was for the classes to be clear, concise and accessible to a broad range of people — and not written too academically.

It also was reviewed by faculty and administrators who are ideologically conservative, including Matt Salmon, vice president for government affairs at ASU.

“There’s a perception out there by a lot of conservatives that universities are monolithic in their thinking and that it’s just liberal ideology and there isn’t any tolerance for other viewpoints,” said Salmon, who is a former five-term U.S. congressman. 

“This process showed me that that’s just bunk. At this university, there’s a real desire not to just put out a product but to get it right.”

Salmon said the revision process was open and collaborative, much like the way people must confront sensitive issues of bias.

“It will take open-mindedness and willingness to say things that might feel offensive,” he said.

“But if you tiptoe on eggshells, you’ll never get to the bottom of it.”

The coursework encourages personal reflection. For example, the foundational module includes a journaling exercise in which participants are asked to write about a time they felt personally affected by national hatred, or, if they never were affected that way, the reasons why not.

It was a challenge for ASU faculty members to boil down their broad expertise into modules that can be completed in less than an hour, according to Jessica Solyom, associate research professor in the School of Social Transformation at ASU, who studies diversity, belonging and justice. She co-curated the content with Brayboy.

“For example, we have 30 minutes to talk about American Indians and Alaskan Natives, but there are over 570 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. with an abundance of different indigenous languages, histories and challenges,” Solyom said.

“We would not have been doing right by the communities we were writing about if we didn’t acknowledge the diversity within the group and offer further opportunities for learning and engagement on that.”

So while the coursework in each module can be completed in less than an hour, students can access many more resources to thoroughly explore each topic.

One key component of “To Be Welcoming” leads learners to think beyond individual acts of racism, like what happened to the men in Philadelphia. The foundational module discusses a “bias quadrant” — bias by individuals that is conscious or unconscious and bias that is systemic, at the government or institutional level, that is conscious or unconscious.

“Often, when corporations talk about bias, they focus the conversations and the potential solutions at the individual level. But bias is so much more complex than that,” Solyom said.

“How do our individual-level biases contribute to systems that also silence or discriminate against particular communities or groups?”

Another important concept is intersectionality — how people’s lives are shaped by more than one identity. For example, black women have different experiences than white women and black men.

Mako Fitts Ward, a clinical assistant professor and faculty head of ASU’s African and African American Studies program, is an expert in the study of intersectionality.  

“The courses are grounded in an intersectional approach to engaging bias and microaggressions, in all of their forms. If you’re taking the course on gender you can’t only address gender with no discussion of how race, sexuality and other identity groups impact the experiences faced by different people,” said Ward, who worked closely with Marlon M. Bailey, an associate professor of women and gender studies, on the content. 

“The videos are an important aspect of the series. We wanted them to be inclusive and to reflect the voices and perspectives of women across all groups in terms of class, workplace experience, sexual identity, race, ethnicity and culture,” she said. 

The goal is for everyone to see themselves. 

“People will find content that allows them to see their own experiences represented and by people from different backgrounds who reflect those experiences,” Ward said.

Karen Taliaferro, an assistant professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, reviewed and contributed to the course on national origin. She hopes that students reflect on what it means for Americans to be “one nation.”

“We are a unique country, historically speaking, because we were never made up of one ethnic group or immigrants from one nation only,” she said.

“So our country is very much what we Americans — coming from our rich array of ethnic and geographical backgrounds — make of it, together.”

Taliaferro wants students to see the inherent dignity and value of people they disagree with. And she’s hopeful. 

“I hope that they see some real good in our country that we can continue to build on,” she said.

“There is no denying that as a society, we face very real, and serious, challenges, but I think that those aspects of our country in which we can and should take real pride are often disguised behind headlines that tend to divide us. 

“I hope that this project will help us all build on those more promising aspects, and do so in ways that reflect empathy and respect for our neighbors.”

Learn more about the "To Be Welcoming" curriculum or take a course

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

Biodesign C shines in 'Copper' awards

ASU building earns accolades as a modern-day architectural marvel


May 29, 2020

Traveling down Rural Road next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, it’s impossible to ignore the shiny copper façade of the Biodesign Institute Building C.

The building earned another accolade as a modern-day architectural marvel with its latest win, a North American Copper in Architecture Award. Turns out, this shiny reddish metal is very green — as a sustainable building material — and has a very long history. Copper glory: Biodesign C in the final stages of construction. Photo by Nick Merrick, Hall+Merrick/ZGF Architects Download Full Image

Some of the most celebrated landmarks in the world’s history featured copper. The massive doors of the temple Amen-Re at Karnak in ancient Egypt were clad in the semiprecious metal. The “Golden Temple” built during the Ming Dynasty in Kunming, China, was solid copper, not gold. From the spires and roofs of celebrated castles and cathedrals of Europe, along with the famous baptistry doors of Italy’s Florence Cathedral, copper endures as a timeless element. One of America’s greatest landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, is coated in copper, the same thickness as putting two pennies together.

Likewise, Biodesign Institute C is an award-winning landmark on ASU’s Tempe campus. It won the 2019 North American Copper in Architecture Award granted by the Copper Development Association and the Canadian Copper and Brass Development Association. The awards program recognizes and promotes building projects in the United States and Canada for their outstanding use of architectural copper and copper alloys. ASU’s building was one of 15 to earn the distinction.

“The distinctive copper exterior is a nod to Arizona’s roots, copper being one of Arizona’s historic 'Five Cs' that drove the state’s early economy, and is a unique expression of the reddish hue that permeates the campus architecture,” said designer Sean McGreal, lead principal with ZGF Architects. “From the earliest stages of conceptualization, the design intention was to enclose the building in copper to create a visually stunning and highly functional outer skin for the building’s double skin system.”

As part of the building’s high-performance double skin façade, an outer copper screen wraps around a primary skin of insulated metal panels. 

“The screen is comprised of thousands of copper panels featuring eight different levels of perforation,” McGreal said. “These perforation patterns have been carefully calibrated and positioned to minimize solar heat gain, optimize daylighting and visual comfort, and provide unobstructed views of the campus.”

Separately, the building’s outer copper screen and primary skin of insulated metal panels don’t reduce energy usage, but together they deliver remarkable cooling benefits.

A two-foot gap between the insulated metal panels and copper screen, coupled with openings in the screen, creates a ventilated cavity where the air temperature between the two skins is balanced with the outdoor air temperature. The copper screen acts as a shading device that reduces the surface temperature of the inner façade by roughly 65 degrees on hot summer days. In turn, the shade reduces the interior surface temperature of the building’s walls, significantly reducing the cooling load on perimeter spaces.

Beyond the energy-saving use of copper in the building’s façade design, the metal alone is environmentally friendly. “Copper is truly one of the most versatile and sustainable building materials available,” said Stephen Knapp, a director with the Copper Development Association.

Copper boasts one of the highest recycling rates of any engineering material. Copper roofing or cladding isn’t discarded and doesn’t wind up in landfills; because of its value, it can be easily salvaged and recycled.

It is also highly durable and requires little or no maintenance. Copper’s longevity is due to a natural patina it develops with age, weathering naturally to a lovely blue-green or nut brown color depending on climate. Unlike rust oxidation, the copper patina is a protective barrier that retards further corrosion, maintaining copper’s long life.

“As the green building trend continues, we expect to see the material increasingly utilized to achieve various certifications and environmental goals,” Knapp said.

Among Biodesign Institute C’s other accolades, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the facility the prestigious LEED platinum certification. Biodesign C is the fifth ASU building to receive a platinum certification, the highest green building ranking under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — program, which recognizes buildings that are designed and constructed for high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability.

"Building C is unique on so many levels,” said Biodesign Executive Director Joshua LaBaer. “Its design and construction, including the sleek copper façade, really reflect the ideals of the institute itself, where so many innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to science are unfolding. This award is further testament to that.”  

In addition, Engineering News Record, a publication focusing on engineering and construction news, designated the building as a national Best of the Best Project in the Higher Education/Research category. Approximately 200 projects across America were considered for the honor.

Biodesign Institute C houses critical lab and research support space designed to accelerate ASU scientific research and enable the creation of cutting-edge, collaborative research clusters. The building will be home to the first-of-its-kind compact X-ray free electron laser.

From the outset, aspirations for the building’s design were set very high. A goal was to create a new research building that provided highly flexible and adaptable space for reliable research. ASU challenged the design team to create a dense web of workspace options that would promote and empower the formation of collaborative research clusters, while increasing opportunities for chance interactions among different research groups.

“Our research at ASU is growing all the time, and I believe a big draw for researchers is Biodesign Institute C,” said Monica Perrin, ASU Capital Programs senior project manager. “I’ve spoken to researchers, and they love the fact that it’s a collaborative space, they enjoy the environment, and the design helps them to be successful in their research.”

Written by Lori Baker

ASU Cultural Affairs, Desert Financial present blood drive on May 31

Drive aims for 350-plus healthy donors


May 28, 2020

Every day in hospitals across the country, millions of patients depend on lifesaving blood donations to survive and thrive. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of blood drives were canceled due to school and business closures, causing a significant drop in blood donations. With elective surgeries resuming in Arizona hospitals, blood needs are on the rise. 

Healthy, eligible donors are invited to the Desert Financial Arena Community Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, at Desert Financial Arena on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Blood donors help Arizona kids like 4-year-old Adelyn who received her 66th blood transfusion on May 6. Download Full Image

Participants are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early. The first 350 donors will receive an ASU/Desert Financial T-shirt in appreciation for giving blood at this crucial time.

Blood drive details, maps and registration

Vitalant, Arizona’s largest nonprofit community blood provider, has partnered to host the blood drive. While there is no inherent risk of contracting coronavirus while donating blood, Vitalant is following current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Extra precautions will be implemented with regard to social distancing, health screening and sanitation to protect staff and donors.

Donors will be invited to wait in their cars or other comfortable and convenient locations, and alerted just prior to their appointments via text. Masks will be required during donations and provided by Desert Financial.

Learn more about additional precautions taken during the blood drive

  • Temperatures will be taken at registration; those higher than 99.5 Fahrenheit are not eligible to donate.
  • Waiting areas will accommodate social distancing measures of 6 feet apart.
  • Prepackaged, single-use servings of snacks/beverages will be available.
  • Donors are required to wear masks; Desert Financial will supply masks for one-time use.
  • Masks and gloves will be worn by Vitalant staff.
  • Donor-touched areas will be sanitized frequently and after every collection.
  • Donations will be taken using sterile, one-time use collection sets.
  • Donors' arms will be swabbed with an antiseptic for 30 seconds.
  • Children and other visitors are discouraged from accompanying donors.

“Over the past few months, we’ve been reminded just how much we need each other. We’ve been encouraged by the many stories of generosity and acts of kindness across our community, and we encourage those in good health to step up in a big way. It’s safe, it’s easy, and nothing feels better than giving back,” said Jeff Meshey, president and CEO at Desert Financial.

Blood donors help Arizona kids like 4-year-old Adelyn who received her 66th blood transfusion on May 6. She was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare disorder that prevents her body from producing red blood cells. Every three to four weeks, she relies on the generosity of blood donors to keep her alive — a need that is expected to continue the rest of her life.

“Adelyn has taught us the importance of donating blood,” said her mother, Kami. “We are forever thankful to each and every blood donor.” 

“ASU wants to open its doors for this important life-saving opportunity,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for Cultural Affairs. “Connecting the community during a blood a drive is a way for people to give in a powerful way and impact us all.” 

Marketing Communications Assistant, ASU Gammage

ASU Leadership Institute accepting applications through June 30


May 22, 2020

The Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the third cohort of ASU Leadership Institute. Applications are being accepted now through June 30 for this professional and personal leadership development program. 

“ASU has experts in a variety of fields who are educating the next generation of leaders,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, ASU Alumni Association president and CEO. “The Leadership Institute provides up and coming leaders the ability to learn critical leadership skills from ASU executives while also gaining an in-depth look of ASU as the New American University.”  ASU Leadership Institute - Class 1 ASU Leadership Institute - Class 1 Download Full Image

ASU Leadership Institute Class 1 member Andrew Vandertoorn, evaluator pilot for the U.S. Air Force Reserve and first officer for Delta Air Lines, talks about how the program gives you a top down look at how the university works and how it impacts students, alumni and communities.

“The Leadership Institute was a pivotal turning point in my career offering me an amazing support network, lifelong friends and an opportunity to inspire ASU students and alumni around the globe,” he said. “Truly remarkable experience!”

The program will help participants understand and develop critical leadership skills. The cohort of Class 3 will participate in a leadership assessment tool that provides in-depth analysis and insights identifying key strengths to develop and enhance their professional skills further.

“ASU is filled with innovating students, staff and alumni,” said Class 2 member Bianca Vargas, accountant at Girls Scouts Arizona Cactus Pine Council. “It is an amazing opportunity to personally meet these individuals through networking, lectures and guided conversations.”

ASU Leadership Institute features nine ASU Innovation Days throughout the course of the program led by experts from fields including business, military, nonprofit management, media, health and science, technology, design and the arts, and applied-use research. The programs work to enlighten, inspire and transform leaders from a variety of professions and communities.

Applications for Class 3 of ASU Leadership Institute must be received by June 30. Successful candidates from the private, public and nonprofit sectors are chosen through a competitive selection process. For more information about ASU Leadership Institute, visit alumni.asu.edu/engage/leadership-institute.

Morgan Harrison

Director of strategic communications , ASU Alumni Association

480-727-7106

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