Seeking nominations for the 2019 ASU MLK Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award

September 11, 2018

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president of cultural affairs and chair of the ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, is soliciting nominations for the 2019 ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award. This year’s theme is "Find Your Voice."

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will present a Servant-Leadership Award to an ASU student at the MLK Breakfast on Jan. 24, 2019. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Download Full Image

Servant-leadership is a practical philosophy, which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant-leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening and the ethical use of power and empowerment.

The committee is requesting help in identifying a student servant-leadership awardee. The student must be currently enrolled full-time, exemplify the ideals of servant-leadership and have a track record of commitment through volunteer service. Candidates may submit his or her resume with this form. Letters of recommendation are acceptable, but no more than two. Self-nominations are encouraged.

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will provide a $1,500 scholarship to the awardee to be used toward his or her educational costs. This scholarship is available to ASU full-time undergraduate or graduate students. The winner must be a full-time student during the spring 2019 semester.

All applications will be reviewed and three finalists will be selected. Finalists will have 30-minute interviews with the committee on the morning of Oct. 12. Finalists will be contacted for their interview. The awardee must be able to attend the breakfast on Jan. 24.

Nominate yourself or another student here.

Please submit nominations by close of business Oct. 1, through campus mail to Michelle Johnson at MC 0205, fax 480/965-7663 or scan and e-mail to

Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference heads to ASU

The call for papers for the conference is out; deadline is Oct. 1

August 31, 2018

Learning analytics refers to the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, in order to understand and optimize learning and the environments in which learning occurs. 

The Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference, the annual event of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR), brings together an international group of researchers, practitioners, educators, leaders, administrators, and government and industry professionals interested in learning analytics and related fields. Download Full Image

The 2019 conference is headed to Arizona State University March 4–8.

Sharon Hsiao, an assistant professor in ASU's School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Jim Cunningham of the ActionLab at EdPlus, and Katie McCarthy, a former postdoctoral scholar in the Science of Learning and Educational Techonology Lab, nominated ASU by emphasizing the university’s charter that proclaims ASU is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed’. 

Because of ASU’s commitment to innovation and inclusion, the theme of this year’s conference is ways in which learning analytics can be used to promote inclusion and success. LAK welcomes theoretical, methodological, empirical and technical contributions that address questions such as:

• Universal design for learning promotes an inclusive approach to the curriculum — how can learning analytics support curriculum design and revision from this perspective?

• How can analytics be applied in ways that support inclusion and success?

• How can the training of data scientists be made more inclusive?

• What does educational success look like, and how can it be supported?

• How can systematic biases (e.g. related to diversity) in our analytics algorithms be identified, reflected and possibly avoided?

Call for papers

The Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference invites paper submissions for several tracks: research (full and short), practitioner, workshops and tutorials, posters and demos, and doctoral consortium. The submission deadline for all tracks is Oct.1, 2018.

Learn more about paper submission guidelines and important conference dates.

Thompson set to transform Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

August 27, 2018

World-class scholar. Accomplished leader. True innovator. A major force. These are just several of the accolades Ayanna Thompson’s colleagues use to describe her.

Thompson joins Arizona State University this semester as the new director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a professor in the Department of English. Ayanna Thompson Download Full Image

“I feel very privileged that she and I are coming to ASU at the same time,” Dean of Humanities Jeffrey Cohen said. “I, as a first-time person, her as a return. She brings so many good things to this place, including a love of ASU.”

Thompson left ASU to work at George Washington University five years ago. But she said she realized that around year three at GWU, when she referenced “we” in meetings, she still meant the team she had at ASU.

“The ethos, the whole drive of what we do here, striving to be the best and the most inclusive, are things that I’m passionate about. I kept referring to the ‘we’ as ASU, so it's a real homecoming. I feel like I’m in the right place,” she said.

Cora Fox, associate professor of English, has known Thompson since they worked together in the English department in 2004 and said ASU is lucky to have her back.

“Ayanna will transform the center,” Fox said. “She is a dynamic and visionary scholar and will bring renewed attention to the strength of ASU’s faculty in medieval and Renaissance studies.”

Thompson describes herself as a big thinker and appreciates that ASU allows people to think big. In her new position at the center, she has big ideas to help transform it into a major research hub.

“The center is amazing and has done great work but I do think it has operated as a niche research center. I want to blow it open. I want this to be the place, where everyone — whether they’re U.S.-, U.K.-, India- or China-based Shakespeare scholars — thinks of it as the cutting edge for medieval and early modern studies," Thompson said.

“This will be the place where people want to go to try out their new ideas, to make their work accessible to a nonacademic audience, to hit the most complex ideas that are affecting us currently and show us why these older materials impact the way we can think about new and better futures. My goal is for this to be the world-leading center for the study of medieval and Renaissance work. And we will do it in five years, this will be the place."

Building the center into one that appeals to students of all backgrounds is an important goal of Thompson’s. She didn’t grow up in a privileged family and said she never considered a career in academia or theater.

“I came from such a disadvantaged background; I thought success meant making a lot of money,” she said.

“If we, as a center, can encourage work that has crossover appeal, you get more students who would never have thought about going into this field going into it and more diversity, whether that’s economically diverse, racially diverse, gender-wise, everything — that’s the goal,” she said.

Tackling big or complex ideas is not a new undertaking for Thompson. While some in the field describe her as a Shakespeare scholar, her work is more interdisciplinary. She began her academic life as a historicist, working on issues in the early modern period, but then her work pivoted.

“I started asking questions about nontraditional casting and how that was being employed on stages. I was the first person to put together a book on this topic; it’s called 'Colorblind Shakespeare.' I didn’t realize at the time that it would be picked up by practitioners and theater companies. They use it to start dialogues about what they’re doing on stage. That moved me out of thinking about just the early modern period and moved me into thinking about what’s on stage now.”

Nontraditional casting is the practice of casting actors of color in roles that were originally imagined as white characters to be performed by white actors.

“What’s amazing is that the history of nontraditional casting in Shakespeare goes back to 1821, so it’s not new. It’s not something that happened in 1980; it has a huge, long history. But one of the issues is there is a discomfort in our country and the U.K., too, about talking about race openly, so companies that would start employing nontraditional casting didn’t have a way of talking about it and no one had given them a history of it.”

Susan Dudash, assistant director at the center, credits Thompson with pioneering the conversation about the performance of race.

“She has created the possibility for conversations that everyone else has been avoiding by addressing them head-on and creating a space in which the conversations can happen,” she said.

Thompson said her pre-academic life had a hand in helping her prepare for those conversations most were avoiding.

“I started off my professional life as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers in the oil and gas group. This was in an era where there were not women and certainly not women of color. And I felt like I developed a very thick skin then,” she said. “When I got to academia, I was like, wait a minute, we’re not talking about billions of dollars; let’s have the debate. While I hated that job passionately, I’m very grateful for the skill set that it gave me which is to be tough, strong, fight for what I believe in and to make people have the conversation with you face-to-face.”

Of all the milestones Thompson has achieved, she said the one she is most proud of is becoming the first scholar of color to be elected the president of the Shakespeare Association of America.

“When I joined that professional organization, there were not many scholars of color at all. I was able — through being elected first as a trustee, then vice president and now president — to put in some structural and programmatic changes that have made it much more inclusive,” she said. “I always felt of myself as a troublemaker in that organization so when my colleagues elected me to this position I was unbelievably honored and humbled by it.”

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Passionate, innovative new faculty members underscore ASU Law’s commitment to excellence

August 24, 2018

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is pleased to welcome four new faculty members for the 2018–19 school year:

• Gregg Leslie, executive director of ASU Law’s First Amendment Clinic and professor of practice of media law
• Trevor Reed, associate professor of law
• Justin Weinstein-Tull, associate professor of law
• Ilan Wurman, fellow and lecturer-in-law Download Full Image

“These four individuals not only bring outstanding credentials and expertise, but also innovative thinking, passion for the law and enthusiasm for teaching,” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said. “Those are the hallmark traits of our outstanding ASU Law faculty.”

Dynamic additions to the staff are part of the continual evolution for ASU Law, which is one of the highest-rated public law schools in the country. Ranked 19th in the nation for percentage of graduates who land high-quality law jobs, at 89 percent, ASU Law has ranked in the top 20 in that category for the past five years. During that same five-year stretch, it has also held the highest bar-passage rate in the state.

“We will never be satisfied, and we will never get complacent,” Sylvester said. “Continuing to add talented faculty is part of our ongoing commitment to offering an elite legal education.”

The newest members of the staff bring a diverse collection of experience, culture and expertise to ASU Law. They are excited by everything that Phoenix, ASU and their new desert home has to offer. And they are fierce defenders of civil rights, democracy, free speech and the rule of law.

Gregg Leslie, distinguished professor of media free speech

Gregg Leslie

Leslie is the inaugural executive director of ASU Law’s First Amendment Legal Clinic, and he will also be serving as the school’s professor of practice of media law.

The clinic, opening this fall, will focus on First Amendment protections and is funded by a nearly $1 million gift from the Stanton Foundation, a private organization established by longtime CBS president Frank Stanton.

“It is an honor to be selected to launch this exciting clinic,” Leslie said. “I'm thrilled to be joining such an energetic and innovative legal community, and am really looking forward to working with the students to promote and defend First Amendment rights. I think this clinic will be a great addition to the school and will benefit both the community and the students who want to immerse themselves in these topics.”

Leslie said his interest in the First Amendment predates his enrollment in law school. His passion grew when, first as a student journalist and then as a professional journalist, he ran into challenges with government employees using the law to try to hinder reporting. After graduating from law school, he said, he jumped at the chance to work for a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting journalists.

He has been with the Washington, D.C.-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press since 1994, serving as director since 2000. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit association is dedicated to assisting journalists. It was founded in 1970 by a group of reporters and lawyers when the nation’s media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas from the Nixon administration, forcing journalists to reveal confidential sources.

A graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, Leslie has worked for the campaign and transition team of former President Bill Clinton; has served as chairman of the D.C. Bar's Media Law Committee; was a member of the governing committee of the Communications Law Forum of the American Bar Association; and has been part of the ABA's Fair Trial and Free Press Task Force.

Leslie says a free society is largely dependent on a free press.

“The very notion of a democratic society, where people have a role in how their own governance, depends on having both access to information about the government and the right to distribute it freely without fear of retaliation or prosecution,” he said. “And it's not important that the process be nice and neat. Open, robust political debate will involve angry accusations and sometimes bad information, and it all should be subject to public scrutiny. A free press is essential to that process.”

(Read more about the First Amendment Clinic and Professor Leslie)

Trevor Reed, associate professor of law

Trevor Reed

Reed joins ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program as an associate professor of law, and he will be teaching ILP courses, as well as classes on copyrights and trademarks.

He earned dual graduate degrees from Columbia University’s law school and graduate school of arts and sciences, where he also gained national prominence as director of the Hopi Music Repatriation Project.

Reed grew up in Seattle but also spent significant time with relatives in the Hopi village of Hotevilla, Arizona. He then attended Brigham Young University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music composition in 2005.

After graduating, Reed joined the Utah Symphony and Opera in Salt Lake City as artistic and operations coordinator, and that’s where his musical interests began to intersect with the legal world.

“I was in charge of contracts with guest artists,” he said. “We did a lot of work with musicians’ unions, but by and large, a majority of my time was spent planning and then executing concert performances. You wouldn’t think it would be so rigorous, but actually Utah’s Symphony is one of 17 full-time orchestras in the country, so it was there that I really learned a lot about law and the arts. I wasn’t a lawyer, but I did a ton of transactional work, and it was a lot of fun.”

In 2007, he moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia, beginning a decade-plus of music-inspired study that would result in three master’s degrees, a PhD and a Juris Doctor.

“When I got there, it opened up so many new issues for me,” Reed said. “It just so happens that Columbia owns this massive archive of Native American musical recordings that I don’t know if anybody had really ever heard about. When I learned about that, it sparked an interest in wanting to return music and other types of archival collections, artifacts and other types of intellectual property back to Native American tribes.”

Reed said he has always been impressed with the scholarship that has come out of ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program, pointing specifically to landmark work in the areas of constitutional law, tribal sovereignty, economic development and voting rights.

“The faculty have done so much to advance tribal and federal Indian law. The students are a diverse group, and yet very united. I’m extremely excited to be working with both the students and the faculty of the program and feel privileged to play a small role researching and teaching with them,” he said.

(Read more about Professor Reed)

Justin Weinstein-Tull, associate professor of law

Justin Weinstein-Tull

Weinstein-Tull joins ASU Law as an associate professor of law who will be teaching constitutional law and the 14th Amendment, as well as a seminar on federalism.

A native of the Bay Area, he attended Stanford as an undergraduate, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science and a master’s in political theory.

While working in Washington, D.C., afterward, for an anti-hunger advocacy organization, he decided to further his education.

“I realized I would need a law degree to get the tools to do equality work going forward,” he said. “And when I went to the Harvard Kennedy School for a master’s in public policy, it was clear that I needed something a little bit more.”

That little bit more wound up being a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, which he earned in 2008. Afterward, he said he had a great experience clerking for Judge Sidney Thomas on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Billings, Mont. Although Weinstein-Tull had always hoped to work in academia, his career went in a different direction after the clerkship.

“Obama had just taken office, and I had the chance to work in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, and it was something I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “I spent three years there and then two years at a law firm in San Francisco. It was more of a detour than I intended.”

He then made the transition back to the academic world, with a fellowship at Stanford Law School, before joining the ASU Law faculty.

His legal focus is on government institutions and the protection of civil rights.

“I care about institutions, largely at the state and local level, and the ways in which they can fortify or weaken civil rights,” he said. “I enjoy looking at interactions between all levels of government: federal, state and local. It’s a diverse set of interactions and endlessly generative when it comes to interesting and troubling issues to look into.”

And he looks forward to sharing his passion for politics and social justice with students and fellow faculty members at ASU Law.

“I litigated in election law for three years at the DOJ, and I care a lot about election law,” he said. “So one thing I hope to bring is a set of real-world experiences doing some impact litigation. I care about politics and social justice, and I hope to be part of that set of conversations going on in the law school.”

He says he loves to teach and mentor students, especially those who are committed to public-interest work. And there’s one other thing he’d like people to know about him.

“I have the best dog ever,” he said. “He’s a reddish golden retriever, and his name is Rusty.”

Ilan Wurman, fellow and lecturer in law

Ilan Wurman

Wurman joins ASU Law as a fellow and lecturer-in-law who will be teaching administrative law and the 14th Amendment.

Born and raised in California, he studied government and physics at Claremont McKenna College before earning a law degree at Stanford.

“People always say, ‘Oh, you must be so smart, you have a physics degree,’” he said. “And I say, ‘You don’t get it, there’s a reason I went to law school — I was bad at physics!’“

Despite his lofty academic credentials, Wurman said he suffered a bit from black-sheep syndrome.

“My family is a bunch of scientists, and I always felt compelled to pursue that,” he said. “I had always been decent at math and science in high school, but it just wasn’t a natural fit. I was much better, I would say, at political philosophy and law.”

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 2013, he clerked for a year on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston, for Judge Jerry E. Smith, then spent three and a half years working for a law firm in Washington, D.C.

Even when he was still trying to make it as a physicist, he was always fascinated by the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. And that carried over into law school, where he wanted to go beyond the “what” and learn more about the “why.”

“Most students in constitutional law classes only get a superficial introduction to the Constitution, in terms of how it should be interpreted and why it should be binding on us,” he said.

He wanted to learn more, especially about the two principal schools of thought on constitutional interpretation.

“Should we interpret it through originalism — the idea that we should interpret the Constitution with its original meaning, you know, the meaning it would have had to the public that ratified it and to the framers that wrote the Constitution — or should we interpret it as a living, breathing document subject to changing interpretations over time?”

After graduating and completing his clerkship, he decided to write the book he wished he had had as a law student. He says the book, “A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism,” which was published last year, is a short and accessible introduction to constitutional interpretation and what the Founders were trying to accomplish with the Constitution.

“And it’s particularly timely given the debates over the direction of the Supreme Court that are currently going on,” he added.

Wurman is high-energy, a musician who plays both the piano and flute, and enjoys hiking and outdoor activities with his significant other. And he is, of course, passionate about law.

“The most important thing that I want to bring is my enthusiasm and excitement for the law,” he said. “As I tell students who are inquiring about whether they should go to law school, ‘The law, yes, is hard. Law school is hard. But once you get through it, the law is not only important and it matters to real people — to clients and people with real needs — but it’s also fun and it’s interesting.’ And if I can convey that excitement and enthusiasm for the law to my students, in particular, then I feel like I will have acquitted myself decently well, so to speak.”

Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


ASU Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative announces winners of short story contest

August 20, 2018

Last week, ASU’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative — a partnership of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the Center for Science and the Imagination — announced the winners of its Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest. The contest invited writers to explore the effects of climate change on the ground, for actual people in specific places, through all genres of fiction, ranging from science fiction and fantasy to literary, experimental and hybrid forms. The winners hail from six different countries, across four continents: 

Grand Prize Winner — $1000 prize climate fiction The Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest received more than 540 submissions. Download Full Image

Barbara Litkowski, “Monarch Blue,” U.S.

Finalists — $50 prize

Sandra Barnidge, “The Last Grand Tour of Albertine’s Watch,” U.S

Vajra Chandrasekera, “Half-Eaten Cities,” Sri Lanka

Anthony Dietz, “Darkness Full of Light,” U.S

David Hudson, “Luna,” Malta

Rebecca Lawton, “Tuolumne River Days,” U.S

Jean McNeil, “The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World,” United Kingdom

Leah Newsom, “Orphan Bird,” U.S

Mitch Sullivan, “The Office of Climate Facts,” Australia

Jean-Louis Trudel, “Losing What We Can’t Live Without,” Canada 

The response to the contest was truly global: more than 540 submissions from 66 different countries. The contest was judged by science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, author of many foundational works in climate fiction (including the recent "New York 2140"), along with ASU experts in fields ranging from environmental science to creative writing. 

The grand prize winner and finalist stories will be published in a free digital anthology, which will be published in fall 2018. This year’s contest is the second from the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative; you can read the winning stories from the inaugural contest in 2016’s "Everything Change," also available for free download.

Kathleen Merrigan appointed executive director of Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems

August 20, 2018

Kathleen Merrigan, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and a leader in sustainable food systems, is the first executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. Merrigan also holds the position of the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Practice in Sustainable Food Systems with appointments in the School of Sustainability, College of Health Solutions and School of Public Affairs.

Merrigan brings decades of experience in agriculture, sustainability and food systems to ASU. She helped write the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which enacted a standard for organic products. As the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013, Merrigan managed the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to support local and regional food systems. She became the first female chair of the Ministerial Conference of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009; she was named one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010; and, most recently, Merrigan was the executive director of sustainability at George Washington University, where she led the GW Sustainability Collaborative and the GW Food Institute. Kathleen Merrigan, wearing gray suit, looks at the camera Kathleen Merrigan's expertise and leadership will strengthen ASU's global impact as she works to influence a sustainable and healthy food economy.

“Food sustainability — learning how to feed the world’s growing population more efficiently and effectively — is one of the most daunting challenges we face,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “Kathleen Merrigan is eminently qualified to lead the new ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, given her extensive background in agriculture, food sustainability and food systems. She has been involved with sustainable food systems at nearly every level and understands every facet of it, providing an abundance of knowledge for our students.”

The Swette Center was announced in late 2017 after entrepreneurs Kelly and Brian Swette, who left their corporate careers in 2012 to launch vegetarian food company Sweet Earth Natural Foods, made a major gift to ASU to establish the center and an endowed scholarship. The foremost goal of the Swette Center is to educate the next generation of consumers and decision makers through the first Sustainable Food Systems degree program. The center tackles food systems from a holistic standpoint, taking into consideration water and energy use, carbon footprint and nutrition, innovations in food policy, and the well-being and livelihood of farmers and others working in food systems.

“We are fortunate to have Kathleen lead the center, and there isn't a better place to launch it than ASU,” Kelly Swette said. “There can no longer be an indifference to how and what we eat.”

Merrigan’s expertise and leadership will strengthen ASU’s global impact on research, policy and education in food systems. She will work to influence a sustainable and healthy food economy that will have lasting impact for years to come.

Michelle Schwartz

Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


image title

Maria Anguiano joins ASU as senior vice president for strategy

August 20, 2018

A first-generation graduate herself, the new senior VP aims to find innovative ways to increase access for all students

As a first-generation college graduate, Maria Anguiano has a deep personal understanding of the difference higher education can make in someone’s life. That’s why she dedicated her career to improving access to educational attainment.

On Aug. 15, Anguiano was appointed senior vice president for strategy at Arizona State University, where she hopes to collaborate across departments to innovate new ways of targeting student populations who are not being well served. 

“My mission in life, frankly, is to make sure everyone has access to an affordable, high quality education,” she said.

Anguiano’s responsibilities will include working with the members of the senior leadership team on university budget strategies, capital planning priorities, enrollment-based and other revenue development opportunities, and multi-year strategies to support operating and capital needs at the program level. Anguiano will also work to identify and further develop opportunities for ASU programs in California, refine and improve the tools available for budget analysis, and prepare the annual operational and financial review presentation to the Board of Regents.

A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, where she earned dual degrees in economics-accounting and Spanish, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she earned her MBA, Anguiano has served as vice chancellor of planning and budget at University of California, Riverside. She also has experience in the private sector, working for investment bank Barclays Capital and accounting services network Deloitte & Touche.

Most recently, she served as chief financial officer for the Minerva Project, a for-profit capital venture startup that provides infrastructure for the nonprofit Minerva Schools at KGI, an online residential four-year undergraduate program.

ASU Now talked to Anguiano about her decision to come to ASU, and what the university can expect in welcoming her into the Sun Devil community.

Question: Why did you leave the Minerva Project for ASU?

Answer: As my philosophy around higher education evolves, the more I realize it’s not one-model-fits-all. We need many educational delivery models in order to provide the type of access that can transform lives. To me, there’s no institution other than ASU that is really willing to take that on. The Minerva model works exceptionally well for a very particular set of students — 18- to 24-year-olds who can be fully immersed in a residential program. My interest lies in providing broad access to the full spectrum of students that exist in the world. I worked on broad access at UC Riverside and I worked on innovative models at Minerva but ASU gives me the opportunity to do both. 

Q: What excites you about that opportunity?

A: I thrive on getting things done, so working in a fast-paced environment that is redefining what a 21st-century public research university is and can be is very exciting for me. I think there is a long way to go in improving access to education and delivery models to certain types of populations of students who are still not being well served by our current models. So I’m excited to work with a group of people at ASU that continue to push the envelope of what is possible.

Q: When did you know you wanted to work in higher education?

A: Since middle school, when I was class treasurer, I’ve been interested in leadership and the effective use of resources to accomplish goals, so working in finance and strategy was a natural fit for me. I also have a passion for education. My mom only graduated from the sixth grade but I was lucky enough to get a master’s degree from Stanford business school. The only difference between us was living in a society that provided access to education to low-income students. So ensuring that the access I was given to education is available to everyone is a personal passion of mine. Working in higher education has given me the opportunity to combine my finance and strategy background with my passion for education.

Q: How did being a first-generation college graduate affect the work you do today?

A: The year I applied for college, my family of four had an income of $15,000. Even with a full scholarship, paying for college was very difficult for me and my family. Putting financial concerns aside, my college campus was like a foreign country to me, which made day-to-day life very lonely and difficult to navigate. Today, as a higher education leader, I try to never forget those times, because I know many of our students are struggling with the same issues today. This leads me to have a deeply student-centric view in all of my day-to-day work.  

Q: What’s something you want the ASU community to know about you?

A: I have a passion for education, learning, discovery and the advancement of the human condition. Even though my background is in finance and strategic planning, I tend to be very broad and interdisciplinary in my thinking. I sit on the board of a couple of ed-tech startups as well as the James Irvine Foundation and the Board of Regents of the University of California. One of the reasons I like to do this type of diverse work is because I think the solutions to today’s most complex problems will require a coalition of people with diverse backgrounds and ideas to come together. It’s going to take ideas from everyone in the community to figure out how to solve the current gaps in the nation’s educational attainment goals. I’m highly inclusive because I believe in the old African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

image title

Nancy Gonzales named dean of natural sciences in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

August 16, 2018

New dean aims to emphasize social embeddedness and use-inspired research

To say the town of Miami, Arizona, is small is an understatement — it covers less than a square mile with a population just under 2,000. It’s a place a lot of people left when they grew up, said Nancy Gonzales, herself an expat of the once-thriving copper boomtown.

But growing up there left its mark on the Arizona State University Foundation Professor of psychology.

Almost everyone in Miami, including much of Gonzales’ extended family, worked for the mines, where the division between the blue-collar laborers and the white-collar executives and engineers was clearly demarked along ethnic lines. As a youth, she witnessed two major labor strikes that impressed upon her the importance of a solid foundation of community and shared values in achieving success.

Nancy Gonzales

“I was raised in a Mexican-American mining community in Arizona that a lot of people looking from the outside might characterize as ‘at-risk’ based simply on its demographics. But there was tremendous strength and pride among the families in my community at that time, and a strong conviction that education would open opportunities for future generations," she said, adding that an unusually high percentage of community leaders and current members of the academy grew up in that small community, which made her want to better understand the processes of resilience that enable people to thrive in the face of adversity.

On July 1, Gonzales was named dean of natural sciences at ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is taking over for Ferran Garcia-Pichel, who will now focus full-time on his work as director of the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics.

Most recently, Gonzales served as the associate dean of faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, directing the academic personnel team across the 18 schools and departments that make up the university’s largest college. A renowned clinical psychologist, her research explores how physical, neurological and social development in childhood is influenced by context — community, family, culture — in order to determine patterns of adaptation and functioning that predict academic and psychological well-being.

“Psychology is no longer the study of mental functions as a 'black box' that cannot be seen or measured," she said. "We now study psychological processes, such as attention, emotion, social relationships and mental disorders as being closely connected to biological systems, all of which can be measured and manipulated. Our methods also span across levels, from genetic and neurological bases to broader societal and cultural dimensions. These advances help us understand what it means to be human and also allow us to design meaningful, evidence-based strategies to improve lives.”

Gonzales received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from ASU in 1984, then went on to pursue her master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Washington. She was lured back to Sun Devil country in the early 1990s by the psychology department’s trajectory toward a prevention science emphasis, which she was eager to parlay into research on intervention strategies for minority populations.

“Coming back to ASU brought me home to my community and a research center widely recognized as a national center of excellence in prevention science. ASU was and continues to be the best place for me to pursue community-embedded research with high public health value and impact,” she said.

Gonzales has served as the principal investigator on NIH- and NSF-funded grants totaling nearly $25 million this decade alone. She is the 2018 recipient of ASU’s Faculty Research Achievement Award, for which College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Patrick Kenney commended her work for “(representing) the epitome of locating the intersection between top-tier scholarship and its applicability to people’s everyday lives.”

Currently, she oversees four longitudinal studies that follow families for several years, measuring the children’s development over time and attempting to discern the factors that affect it and to what degree.

Some of the key questions Gonzales and colleagues have been addressing have to do with the role of culture. Particularly among immigrant populations, they are concerned with the extent to which the pressure to conform to mainstream culture jibes with efforts to maintain aspects of one’s traditional culture. What they found is that a strong sense of cultural identity promotes more adaptive stress and coping skills.

“One of the things that we consistently show is that even the kids who are integrating into mainstream culture very fast tend to do better — in terms of educational success, psychological well-being, etc. — if at the same time, they’re maintaining some sense of their original culture in the process," Gonzales said. "For me, the most exciting aspect of that work is that it allows us to then understand points of leverage for programs and interventions, to promote resilience and prevent a wide range of problems that undermine well-being in the community.”

“For me, the most exciting aspect of that work is that it allows us to then understand points of leverage for programs and interventions, to prevent people from developing problems.”

One such initiative, the Bridges/Puentes program, targets kids in low-income, Title 1 schools with large populations of Mexican-Americans whose parents may not necessarily have a good understanding of the U.S. educational system and what resources are available to them. The program works with the families to help them foster the kind of environment in which students can succeed in school and in life.

And it’s working. A recent study showed the program decreased alcohol use in teenagers who participated.

While Bridges/Puentes currently only operates in Phoenix, plans are underway to adapt and implement the program in North Carolina and Nicaragua. And although it was originally geared toward low-income, minority families, Gonzales sees the program as relevant and beneficial to all populations.

Bridges/Puentes is one of many initiatives to come out of the psychology department’s REACH (Research and Education Advancing Children’s Health) Institute, for which she serves as co-director. The institute is a transdisciplinary unit that works both locally and globally, putting rigorous academic research to use by delivering evidence-based prevention and treatment programs and practices that elevate the health and well-being of children and families of communities in need.

“The applied aspects of this kind of work are very exciting to me," Gonzales said. "They fit with my own motivations as a scientist, and they’re very much in keeping with ASU’s emphasis on social-embeddedness and use-inspired research.”

As the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ newly-minted dean of natural sciences, she hopes to continue promoting and advancing such an agenda, noting that it benefits all involved. Undergrads who assist with the research gain experience working up-close-and-personal with members of the community in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and can then take what they learn to write their own papers and presentations. And community members gain positive exposure to ASU.

“When we take these projects into the schools, there are all these kids who see these ASU students coming in, and they’re connecting with the ASU students, and they can better see themselves doing something like that,” Gonzales said.

She also intends to focus on expanding and strengthening inclusive, interdisciplinary collaborations to continue to push the boundaries of science and solve global challenges.

In thinking about teaching students of the future, one thing she intends to focus on in her new role are the innovations of those at ASU studying how to best deliver science education in an increasingly online world.

“Of all the disciplines, the sciences are the hardest to move into the online environment because of the required labs and the need for hands-on experiences with the physical materials,” Gonzales said.

But progress is being made; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently graduated its first cohort of students in the new online molecular sciences program, which utilized a hybrid model that allowed them to do most of their training online and their lab-based work on campus.

The approach, she said, was “highly successful and very well-received.”

“We have many outstanding faculty who don’t just advance knowledge but are also rethinking how to deliver science education in new and better ways to serve future generations of learners," she added. "ASU is a leader in this respect.”

Because in the end, the goal of any school is to educate, and that’s something Gonzales clearly reveres on a personal level.

“It’s a core belief of mine that education opens opportunities,” she said. “It certainly has in my own life.”

Donna Cataldo to serve as 2018–19 University Senate president

August 15, 2018

Donna Cataldo will serve as the University Senate president at Arizona State University for the 2018–19 academic year.

Cataldo is a clinical professor and has taught in the kinesiology program at ASU since 2001. She has over 20 years of experience in exercise physiology and chronic disease management with a focus on heart rhythm analysis, endocrinology and women’s health. She is also the program coordinator for the graduate Clinical Exercise Physiology MS program that she created four years ago. woman's portrait Donna Cataldo Download Full Image

For over 20 years Cataldo has been a member of the Southwest American College of Sports Medicine and serves as the editor for their newsletter. She is also a 20-year member of the American College of Sports Medicine and serves as a contributor on the national Consumer Information Committee. Cataldo also serves on the newly formed national Consumer Outreach Committee providing information on current health issues for professionals and the general population.

During her tenure with the University Senate she has served as the co-chair of the Senate Online Education Task Force, served as the primary senate faculty liaison for the Learning Management System review and is a now a four-year member of the University Academic Council having served as the Downtown Phoenix campus Senate President during the 2016–17 school year.

Cataldo said she is both energized and humbled to be leading such an outstanding shared governance organization. 

“I am amazed at the commitment of the ASU faculty members and academic professionals who involve themselves in our shared governance activities," she said. "Collectively, each of them represent thousands of other ASU faculty members and our ability to understand and effectively insert the faculty perspective into ASU decision-making is, I believe, a big part of what helps set our University apart both nationally and internationally.” 

Cataldo indicated that in the upcoming year the senate will finish its work studying online education at ASU and press each of its committees to explore policy topics that will both enhance the university and improve the faculty and academic professional experience and effectiveness.

Shared governance at Arizona State University is rooted in both state law and Arizona Board of Regents policy. The University Senate is the official organization designated to fulfill this opportunity and represent the faculty and academic professional perspectives at Arizona State University. For more information visit the University Senate website.

Back to school: 4 tips for faculty from ASU's librarians

August 14, 2018

Faculty are receiving a flurry of emails and fliers this week. To keep it simple, ASU Library offers just four tips to help make the new semester a successful one for them and their students.

1. Give your students access to your readings and course materials via ASU Library Reading Lists.

Access equals excellence, right? hand paging through book "Polycronicon. English," printed on May 16, 1527, is among ASU Library's distinctive collections. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now Download Full Image

Ensure your students’ success by making all your readings and course materials available online.

Now embedded in Blackboard and Canvas, the new ASU Library Reading Lists tool makes it easy to add electronic and print reserve items to your students’ reading lists. To begin building your course reserves, just add the tool.

2. Get to know Noble Library.

Noble Library is now home to many of the books that left Hayden Library last year in preparation for the renovation, which is now underway. (Not all, but many of the books will return to Hayden Library in 2020 when the renovation is complete.)

While many of the books now live at Noble, you can still have books delivered to Hayden Library if that is your preferred pick-up location.

3. We are open 24 hours a day, five days a week.  

“The only thing you absolutely must know is the location of the library,” said Albert Einstein, but knowing the library hours can be helpful too.

Although Hayden Library is undergoing renovation, it remains open 24 hours a day, five days a week, during the semester. Noble Library is also open 24/5, and other libraries are open for late-night study. Additional study space for students on the Tempe campus has been added to Armstrong Hall, which will be open after-hours from 5 to 10 p.m.

4. Check out the data science lab.

Officially launching this semester, the Unit for Data Science and Analytics is a way to connect with a growing, interdisciplinary community of researchers leveraging machine learning, data analytics, visual storytelling, network analysis and text and data mining. A grand opening will take place Sept. 17–21 — coined Data Science Week — to introduce the ASU community to this new library resource.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library