Emerge conference brings discussion of big technology ideas to ASU IT professionals

May 25, 2018

Arizona State University recently hosted Emerge, an energy-filled internal collaboration event for all ASU IT professionals. Emerge brought over 700 participants together to engage in idea-generating peer discussions and passionately discuss technology trends.

“This event is the first of its kind at ASU," said Tina Thorstenson, ASU’s chief information security officer and one of the executive sponsors for the event. "And given the amazing energy in the room it certainly served as a catalyst for creatively exploring and ultimately delivering a new level of service to students and faculty.” emerge conference Over 700 attendees discussed big ideas in the future of IT and learning at UTO's Emerge conference. Download Full Image

Attendees were encouraged to reflect on how ASU can leverage current technology advancements to embody the direction of the New American University.

From the welcome address from Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost, to the panel of ASU leadership and student leaders, to a series of lightning talks meant to spark ideas, the tone of thinking about big ideas was set for the day.

“The Charter of ASU and its ambition for making access and quality the key elements in the New American University is made possible by technology and the contribution of the ASU IT professionals in this room,” Searle said.

Deputy Provost Stefanie Lindquist, the event’s emcee, moderated a discussion between Tempe campus Dean of Students Nicole Taylor; Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO Morgan Olsen; Associate Vice President Research Tamara Deuser; and two incoming undergraduate student government presidents, Tempe's Allison Sorgeloos and West's Alexander Haw.

Innovative initiatives were presented by the conference’s lightning talk presenters:

  • "LROC: Nine Years Exploring the Moon" by School of Earth and Space Exploration Professor Mark Robinson

  • "Dream, Do, Drive — Finding the Next Gear" by Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick

  • "Education through eXploration" by President’s Professor Ariel Anbar

  • "EdPlus — Inclusive Design for International Populations" by Senior Director, Lifelong Learning Initiatives at EdPlus, Bethany Weigele

  • "Ask a Biologist: Teaching and Learning K to Grey" by Chief Technology Innovation Officer Charles Kazilek

Over lunch, attendees selected one of 50 big ideas to discuss with their lunch partners. These innovative Birds of a Feather discussions ranged from artificial intelligence academic pathway, to blockchain infrastructure for lifelong learning, to enterprise-wide VR adoption, and beyond. 

In the afternoon, participants also hosted breakouts based on their own ideas, gathering the like-minded and the curious to discuss enhancements to processes around career progression in IT and making the digital experience effective for students.

At the end of the conference, participants enjoyed a gamified experience to highlight the most intriguing ideas of the day. Capping off the event, Gonick said, “There is enormous talent across the IT professionals at ASU. If we are intentional about emerging as a loosely coupled community of practice, we can, and we will be a catalyst for advancing the mission of the New American University.”

All in all, the conference was a joyous, productive day full of important conversations looking to the future of technology and education at ASU, a constant relevant facet in all fields.

Learn more about the event, and make sure to follow UTO on Twitter.

Written by Tristan Ettleman

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The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences moves to Armstrong Hall

May 24, 2018

ASU's largest college has moved into the historic location, its first stand-alone building since it was founded in 1954

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

The largest college within Arizona State University has coalesced under one roof.

This week, deans and administrative staff of the College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the largest and most diverse unit at Arizona State University, with 23 academic units, 95-plus undergraduate majors, 140-plus graduate programs and 40 interdisciplinary research centers and one-of-a-kind institutes. packed up their offices, scattered at various points across the Tempe campus, and headed for Armstrong Hall. 

As CLAS’ new home, Armstrong Hall will serve as a main hub for students, providing a standardized set of courses and orientations for incoming freshmen and transfer students, as well as services to help outgoing undergrads secure internships and prepare for graduate studies.

”Having a central location with a more uniform approach is really going to be beneficial for our students,” said CLAS Dean Patrick Kenney.

This first floor of the newly-renovated building features nearly 46,000 square feet of space for academic advising and student services focused entirely on student success, including The Futures Center — a project built in partnership with ASU’s office of Career and Professional Development Services as a 21st-century career center for liberal arts and science majors.

There are also two levels of student study space staffed by ASU Library and open after-hours from 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, during summer session, where students will have access to an active learning classroom, group study rooms, event space and academic support from an ASU librarian.

Located on the southeast end of campus, CLAS' new home is in a building named for a man with an equally sizeable import — legislator John S. Armstrong, who was instrumental in the passage of a bill to establish the Territorial Normal School that would become ASU.

The man

John Samuel Armstrong was only 27 years old when on Feb. 26, 1885, he introduced into the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature House Bill No. 164, “An Act to establish a Normal School in the Territory of Arizona.”

At the time, legislators had proposed the establishment of both a university and a normal school to address the need for higher education in the state and representatives were vying to secure one or the other for their city. Also up for grabs was a mental health facility, which came with a substantial appropriation of $100,000.

The second youngest representative in the Thirteenth Legislature, Armstrong had been elected on a platform of securing the mental health facility and the university for Maricopa County. Historical accounts conflict as to why, but Armstrong eventually sought to secure the normal school instead of the university, which he won, in addition to legislators’ support on a public school reform bill and the appropriation of the mental health facility.

That normal school, of course, became Arizona State University.

The building

In 1964, university president George Homer Durham proposed the creation of a law school at ASU. Durham’s biographer Gordon Sabine called the move, which followed ASU’s losing out on the establishment of a medical school to the University of Arizona, a careful and strategic one. Sabine posits that Durham saw it as an opportunity to funnel more metropolitan ASU graduates into a state legislature dominated by UofA graduates from rural communities.

After the Arizona Board of Regents approved the law school, Durham hired Willard Pedrick in 1965 to serve as its first dean. Pedrick advocated for the creation of a brand-new building to accommodate students’ burgeoning interest in the field, and in the late summer of 1967, the university welcomed the inaugural class of 117 students. With the law school building still under construction, classes were initially held in the old Matthews Library, now Matthews Center.

John S. Armstrong Hall was dedicated on Feb. 26, 1968, with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in attendance.

“It was a way to honor the memory of Armstrong as an effective legislator,” said Rob Spindler, university archivist.

In 1970, the first class of law students graduated from ASU, and the building would go on to serve as the home of ASU law for almost 50 years, until the program relocated to downtown Phoenix in 2016.

Forty-seven graduating classes and more than 7,000 law alumni have passed through the doors of Armstrong Hall.

The future

On Thursday morning, CLAS senior special events manager Aida Lyon was just finishing packing up her office in the Fulton Center in preparation to make the move to Armstrong Hall. An alum of the college herself, Lyon is looking forward to being on campus, having students around and all the energy that brings.

“I think it’s going to be amazing,” she said. “Until now, we didn’t really have a central home. And hopefully it’ll help create an affinity for the college.”

While Armstrong Hall is looking a lot different these days, with its restored original terrazzo floors cozied up to modernized study spaces and contemporary color schemes, evidence of its legal history is still there.

Inside, natural light pours in through the massive skylight, illuminating the substantial Native American art piece suspended beneath it, a gift to the law school from the Hopi artist Dennis Numkena. Outside, a large copper plaque depicting John S. Armstrong keeps watch over the building’s south entrance.

“We’re happy to occupy such an iconic building,” Kenney said. “And we’re looking forward to the opportunities it will give our students.”

Top photo: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administration moves from its offices in the Fulton Center to its new home in the recently renovated Armstrong Hall, Thursday, May 24, 2018. When the College of Law moved to downtown Phoenix, it vacated both Armstrong and Ross-Blakley halls, which were remodeled and updated for $21 million. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU, Lyft agreement offers ASU discounts, provides sustainable transit

May 2, 2018

A new agreement between Arizona State University and Lyft, the fastest-growing ride-share company in the U.S., connects campuses and locations in Arizona and beyond.

“Lyft’s 100 percent carbon-neutral rides pair well with ASU sustainability efforts,” said Nichol Luoma, University Business Services associate vice president, Sustainability Operations officer and chief procurement officer. “Offering Lyft as part of the transportation mix advances our goal of zero emissions from transportation by 2035.”  People ride in a Lyft car As the first step in an agreement between ASU and Lyft, people who create a Lyft business profile using their ASU email address will get a $15 personal ride credit. Sun Devils who have already set up a business profile with their ASU email will automatically receive this coupon soon. Photo courtesy of Lyft Download Full Image

Lyft helps support ASU’s sustainability objectives by connecting Sun Devils where they live to sustainable alternatives like the bus or light rail.

ASU students, faculty and staff may download the Lyft app, create a Lyft business profile using their ASU email address and get a $15 personal ride credit. The offer is valid within 30 days of signing up. Sun Devils who have already set up a business profile with their ASU email will automatically receive this coupon soon.

“This is just the first step in the Lyft-ASU agreement,” said Melinda Alonzo, ASU Parking and Transit Services director. “Students, faculty and staff can look forward to many more opportunities in the coming months as we work to integrate this service with other university transportation solutions.”

Departments, colleges and schools should contact Parking and Transit Services if they want to sponsor a service for their organization.

In mid-May, the ASU-Mayo Clinic shuttle will be replaced by Lyft rides, and ASU will install marked ride-share pick-up and drop-off points on every campus. Those who participate in programs associated with the ASU-Mayo partnership will receive a code for free rides between the locations.

“This agreement means responsible, convenient, inexpensive travel anywhere Sun Devils are,” said JC Porter, PTS commuter services assistant director.

To make program and service suggestions, contact Parking and Transit Services. Learn more about Lyft.

Annual Event Vendor Showcase to be held at ASU on May 16

May 2, 2018

The ASU Meeting, Event Coordinator and Associates (MECA) group will be hosting the annual Event Vendor Showcase from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16 in the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Tempe campus. 

The Event Vendor Showcase features vendors who offer products and services to the meeting and event producers of Arizona State University. Event production areas represented include promotional items, food and beverage, decorations, signage, hotel accommodations and facilities, event services, staging, and more. Download Full Image

The showcase is open to all ASU employees. Bring business cards for the networking and an appetite for food samples.

To RSVP visit http://links.asu.edu/eventvendorshowcase2018.

ASU Downtown Phoenix campus piloting healthy vending program

May 2, 2018

Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus is launching a pilot program designed to promote healthy living by adding new snack and beverage options to its vending machines.

Starting this week, vending machines at certain locations across the campus will add healthier snack and beverage choices to accompany traditional food and drinks found in the machines. Food and beverages will include nuts, granola bars and high-fiber chips as well as water, juice and tea.  Vending machine ASU has added healthier snack options to its vending machines at certain locations across the Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

The new vending options will be located at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the Mercado, the University Center and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, which will have snack options for the first time since opening in 2013.

The new initiative was spearheaded by Teri Pipe, ASU’s chief well-being officer, and Christopher Callahan, vice provost of the Downtown Phoenix campus. The program was made possible through Auxiliary Business Services, which manages the vending partnerships at ASU.

Callahan called Pipe “a national leader in creating an environment that supports the health of college students.”

As ASU’s chief well-being officer, she is charged with creating an environment that supports mental and physical health for students, faculty and staff.

Pipe, who is completing her tenure as dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation so she can focus full-time on her university-wide role as the chief well-being officer, said ASU has “the opportunity to help students shape their own lives and influence positive change.”

“This particular initiative, connecting the different units of the Downtown Phoenix campus with the goal of healthy living, really gets me excited,” she said.

The new food and beverage options are through Coca-Cola and Gilly Vending. The vending machines with healthier snack and drink options will include special signage on the machines. 

Krystal Lewis, manager of strategic partnerships at ASU who played the key role in executing the initiative, said the pilot is aligned with the Live Well @ ASU program, which provides information and resources to empower the Sun Devil community to achieve a healthy lifestyle. 

She said the new initiative will help the university understand consumer behavior when it comes to making decisions about snacks. 

“Many of the new healthier snacks have a similar taste to the more traditional vending options,” Lewis said.  “We’re looking forward to examining the impact this initiative has on our campus.”  

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


ASU graduate credits study abroad trip for choosing communication major

April 29, 2018

 Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Araceli Villezcas is graduating from Arizona State University with honors this May, completing her honors thesis on the stories of her father's life as an immigrant.  She is a recipient of a Wells Fargo award and serves as editor-in-chief of Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, a publication that showcases literary, artistic, musical and cinematic work by undergraduate students.   Araceli Villezcas Araceli Villezcas. Download Full Image

Villezcas will earn her degree in communication, with a minor in sustainability.

Question: What's your current job?  

Answer: I am working at Arizona Kids Think Too (AZKTT), a nonprofit organization serving disadvantaged youth and their families in the greater Phoenix area. At AZKTT, I work as an instructor for a program named Building Our Leaders Through Science (BOLTS). I lead groups of children through STEM-based activities that promote leadership and teamwork. I also tutor math and language arts for third-fifth grades at Academia Del Pueblo.

After graduation, I plan to work in marketing and public relations in the media. I am interested in communication design and creating impactful messages. Communication is a powerful tool to inspire action and change, and I would love to work in a position that allows me to be creative while also doing work that matters to me.

Q: What was your "aha" moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

A: It was when I was on a study abroad trip in Liege, Belgium. At the time, I was a student at Mesa Community College and taking an intercultural communication class. Traveling within the European Union was an incredible experience. I learned about theory in the classroom and witnessed it play out during my travels and interactions with the local people. Communication is truly an essential part of everyday life and is applicable to every situation. I have greatly enjoyed choosing to pursue this area of study because I know it will always remain relevant in my life, work, and experiences.

Q: What made you choose ASU? 

A: I primarily chose ASU because it was important for me to stay close to my family while pursuing my education. I also loved the campus, programs, and opportunities that ASU offered. I knew I would thrive here so it was the natural choice for me to make. 

Araceli Villezcas

Araceli Villezcas receives an award in recognition of her volunteer work.

Q: Is there a particular faculty member at ASU who was influential?  

A: Dr. Heather Curry was one of (my) most influential professors at ASU. I took both her Introduction to Communication and Intro to Communication Inquiry classes in my first year at ASU. She taught with such a passion for the field and it made me excited to go to class. The discussions and coursework were also interesting and insightful. Taking both classes with her as the professor motivated me to continue pursuing this field of study.

Dr. Olga Davis at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication was also one of (my) most influential professors at ASU. I took her Identity, Performance, and Human Communication class in the spring of 2017. I had never previously considered performativity as a way to engage with coursework and it opened up a whole new world to me. In part, her class inspired my honors thesis work, which focuses on challenging harmful master narratives.

Q: What were the most useful classes you took?

A: They were COM 325 Advanced Public Speaking, SOC 365 Sociology of Mass Communication, and COM 316 Gender and Communication. COM 325 encouraged me out of my comfort zone and helped me become a more practiced speaker. SOC 365 challenged me to become a more thorough writer and allowed me to sharpen my research skills, something that has greatly influenced my academic success. Lastly, COM 316 taught me about the pressing issues affecting LGBTQI+ individuals. Since taking these classes, I have continued to learn more about the subjects.

Q: Were you involved in any student organizations or clubs? Or athletics? 

A: This year, I am the editor-in-chief of Lux Undergraduate Creative Review. Lux is a student-run annual publication that accepts submissions in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, music, film, and screenplay from all ASU undergraduate students. The publication is produced with the help of Barrett, The Honors College. 

Q: What advice do you have for students who may be following your path? 

A: Become involved in student organizations during your first year at ASU. You may not realize it but you’ll only get busier so take advantage of the spare time that you have early on. Attend meetings, events, and lectures. There is always something going on at every campus. Also, push yourself to engage in a different internship at least once every year. Experience is the key and ASU offers so many opportunities — all you have to do is look for them! Finally, study abroad at least once during your time at college. It sounds cliché but you really do meet your best friends and make life-changing memories!

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

A: Changemaker Central on the Tempe campus was my favorite spot for studying and working on projects with friends. They have comfortable seats and the walls are covered with events, projects, and organizations. It was always a good spot to study in between classes.

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

A: I believe that one of the most pressing problems of our time is climate change. Unfortunately, it is disproportionally affecting developing countries, even though it is developed nations that tend to have a higher ecological footprint. If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, I would focus on promoting sustainability efforts by making education more accessible in developing countries across the world. In the words of Julie Ann Wrigley, “It’s people who cause the most daunting sustainability challenges we face. Thus, it’s people — with the right knowledge, tools, and experiences – who can change the current trajectory to a more hopeful, more positive one.”

Araceli volunteering at citizenship fair

Villezcas volunteering at at a citizenship fair.

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


ASU receives HAWP Gold Level Award

April 26, 2018

For the third year in a row, Arizona State University has been named a Gold Level Award recipient by the Healthy Arizona Worksites Program (HAWP).

HAWP is a part of a public health initiative to help Arizona employers successfully implement evidence-based worksite wellness initiatives to improve the health of their employees and businesses. A Gold Level Award is given to businesses that are tracking and documenting outcomes and behavior change. Download Full Image

ASU has a robust Employee Wellness Program which includes The Mayo Clinic Annual Health Assessment, the Health Impact Program and the Employee Assistance Office.

ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members awarded for excellence in teaching

April 25, 2018

As another academic year winds down, Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is awarding faculty members who have gone far beyond expectations to facilitate scholarly excellence and create memorable academic experiences for their students.

The Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award was established in memory of Zebulon Pearce, who graduated from the Territorial Normal School at Tempe (now ASU) with teacher’s credentials in 1899. The awards recognize faculty within the college who demonstrate teaching excellence. James Blasingame (left), professor in the Department of English, has been awarded the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award for the humanities division. Download Full Image

For the spring 2018, the college has named three honorees based on their contributions to the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, and their dedication to student success.

The winner from the humanities division is James Blasingame, professor in the Department of English. Melissa Wilson Sayres, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, is the winner in the natural sciences division. The social sciences division winner is Jennifer Sandlin, associate professor in the School of Social Transformation.

In addition, the college honored Carolyn Cavanaugh-Toft, lecturer in the Department of Psychology, with the Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Lecturer Award for 2018.

Meet this year’s awardees:

James Blasingame

Blasingame has been a professor in the Department of English since 2000, after spending 24 years coaching, teaching and working in administration in secondary education. Since joining the Sun Devil family, Blasingame has focused on young adult literature, indigenous education, secondary writing instruction, preparing pre-service teachers and cowboy poetry. His love of literature and continuous learning are qualities that he hopes to instill in each and every student.

“At the heart of my teaching philosophy is the educational principle of student-centered learning,” Blasingame said. “The best curriculum and instruction fans the flames of passion in students such that they continue to seek further knowledge and grow in their understanding for the rest of their lives. It also actively engages them in their learning.”

He teaches the importance of lifelong learning to his students and has the desire to continue learning himself. Blasingame says he never wants to stop learning new ways to be a better teacher and meet his students’ needs. He emphasizes the fact that this is a world that depends on teachers to put out the best graduates they can.

“The love of teaching he exhibits is contagious, and his desire to see each of his students excel along their individual paths toward higher education is inspiring. It is a blessing to sit in his class each week,” said one of Blasingame’s students.

A professor who exudes passion in his work, Blasingame displays excitement and enthusiasm in his curriculum, engaging his students and making learning an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience. His positivity and fun lectures provide an environment where students can thrive.

“[James] is a caring and creative educator,” said Krista Ratcliffe, English department chair. “[He] practices what he preaches: know your subject, know your students, adapt your teaching to your context, and never be afraid to show your passion for your subject or care for your students.”

Melissa Wilson Sayres

Wilson Sayres has been an assistant professor of genomics, evolution, and bioinformatics at the School of Life Sciences since 2014. A computational biologist, she focuses on sex-biased biology and understands the difficulty of combining biology with computer programming. She takes her training and passion to teach to the next level, providing help to students struggling with the same difficulties she learned to overcome.

“As a mathematics major who became a computational biologist, I had not previously fully appreciated the terror that many life sciences students have when confronted with learning computer programming,” Wilson Sayres said.

In addition to teaching a combination of biology and evolution classes, Wilson Sayres says she hosts a series of extracurricular boot camps and short workshops on computer programming that are open to all undergraduates. Through these events, she has been able to experience face-to-face interactions with over 150 trainees, introducing them to computational techniques, command line and programming.

“Unlike the natural wonder often inspired by biology, computer programming is set upon a pedestal by popular culture and thus seems unattainable to many biology majors,” said Wilson Sayres. “I am driven to prepare our students to be not only competent, but competitive, in an increasingly computational world.”

Dedicated to improving the educational experience for students and providing the care and assistance to those who need it, Wilson Sayres has gone beyond minimal expectations and made an incredible impact on her students’ lives.

“I have often heard it said from other professors in the department that ‘students should take advantage of office hours because no one ever actually goes,’” said one student. “This is almost laughably incorrect for Dr. Wilson Sayres; each week there were consistently students standing because there were not enough chairs for everyone.”

Jennifer Sandlin

An associate professor in the Justice and Social Inquiry Department in the School of Social Transformation, Sandlin has been a member of the ASU family since 2007. Sandlin’s work focuses on the intersections of education, learning and consumption, which translates to the classes she teaches in education, popular culture and justice, and social and cultural pedagogy. In her teaching, Sandlin incorporates the different experiences of her students, creating a stimulating learning environment with diverse points of view.

“In my courses, I build upon learners’ vast and varied experiences with the concepts and practices of teaching, learning, social pedagogy, social justice and cultural studies that we discuss in class, as I simultaneously introduce them to new theories, research and practices of these fields of study,” Sandlin said.

Sandlin says she facilitates reflective learning among students through assignments where they can reflect on course readings and discuss how what they are learning impacts or engages with their own teaching, learning, work and life practices.

“I fully believe that undergraduate students can and should conduct research,” said Sandlin. “Learning to do research will be an asset to them no matter what career path they choose, and I regularly incorporate research projects in my undergraduate courses.”

Engaged in her students’ varied backgrounds and their common thread of the desire to learn, Sandlin displays the drive to incorporate studies and research into everyday life and provide an academic experience in which students can prosper and learn to make a difference.

“I have never met a teacher who has more passion and thrive to change the world than Jennifer Sandlin,” said one student. “Not only is she impacting lives in the classroom but she's impacting lives every day just by being an outstanding person with a passion to make the world a better place.”

Carolyn Cavanaugh-Toft

ASU alumna and senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Cavanaugh-Toft has been making her mark on the university for over 20 years. Cavanaugh-Toft is a licensed psychologist, with an extensive background in clinical psychology. She has worked in various clinical and academic environments and heads the Early Start program for incoming psychology students.

“I bring a passion for the field of psychology together with an intense desire to help students learn,” Cavanaugh-Toft said. “I share my excitement in acquiring knowledge and want to inspire students to ask questions to better understand their world around them.”

Cavanaugh-Toft says she works hard to create a classroom environment where students feel understood, respected and supported in their efforts to understand and question things. Her open and fun approach to teaching creates an engaging space for students to learn and feel at home.

“Dr. C’s whimsical storytelling and deep knowledge of the material made it impossible to devote anything less than full attention to her lectures,” said one student. “Her enthusiasm for teaching is evident in each and every class session and her love of the knowledge associated with these courses is absolutely infectious.”

Cavanaugh-Toft’s dedication to her students and unique teaching style is displayed every day when she goes the extra mile in assisting those who are struggling. She says her storytelling approach to teaching challenges students in their thinking, motivating them to generate questions that promote deeper comprehension of concepts, while her use of humor and vivid imagery further engages students and helps them to enjoy the learning process.

“I repeatedly tell students that there is no such thing as a stupid question, and demonstrate respect for diverse ways of learning and being,” Cavanaugh-Toft said. “I hope to instill in them the skills and desire to critically evaluate the information they encounter so that they can become better students, citizens, and people.”

Award recipients will be honored at convocation ceremonies for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Olivia Knecht

Student writer-reporter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Andrea Whitsett named director at ASU Morrison Institute

April 23, 2018

Andrea Whitsett has been named director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. She has served as interim director since August.

“After a national search, Andrea emerged as the best candidate to continue the important work of Morrison Institute,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Her experience, leadership and connection with the community — visible in the overwhelming support expressed by a diverse group of Arizona leaders — made this key appointment a clear choice.” Andrea Whitsett is the director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy Andreat Whitsett is the new director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

Whitsett, 37, fills the top position vacated by Thom Reilly, who become chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Whitsett joined Morrison Institute in 2007 and served as associate director, management research analyst senior and special projects manager prior to her interim appointment.

“I am excited that Andrea has been selected as director,” said Richard Morrison, a co-founder of the public policy center launched in 1982. “She has twinned a passion for public policy with a dynamic personality. With her great team, the institute will continue to offer important service for the benefit of Arizonans throughout the state.”

Betsey Bayless, chair of the Morrison Institute Advisory Board and a member of the search committee, said Whitsett’s longtime ties to Arizona benefit both Morrison Institute and Arizona.

“Too often we look outside Arizona for people with ideas and solutions for Arizona when there are many talented individuals here already,” Bayless said. “Andrea being a native Arizonan is a real plus. She understands the state’s challenges and culture, along with its tremendous potential. She has great leadership instinct. Her collaborative spirit draws diverse constituents to the table for meaningful conversations that will shape Arizona for generations to come.”

During her tenure at Morrison Institute, Whitsett has guided the publication of numerous policy briefs, led Morrison Institute’s flagship State of Our State Conference and launched the first Citizens’ Initiative Review in Arizona — a multi-day, intensive citizen engagement project.

Whitsett assumes leadership of a research organization that has produced several recent high-profile reports: "Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms," which examined teacher recruitment and retention challenges; the "Spotlight on Arizona’s Kids" series, which provided original data on subtypes of child neglect; and "Gamechangers? Independent Voters May Rewrite the Political Playbook," which explored disruption of the two-party system. An upcoming report, "Arizona’s Voter Crisis," is part of a voter education and engagement project via Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

“I am honored to serve at the helm of an enduring Arizona institution that works to inform sound public policy across a broad range of issues,” Whitsett said. “Whether the focus of our policy work is water, education, human services or economic development, we impact Arizona by bringing facts and nonpartisan analysis to further the conversation.”

She also noted her appreciation of its previous directors — Reilly, Sue Clark-Johnson and Rob Melnick — all of whom she worked under at Morrison Institute.

“I’ve benefitted greatly by learning from all three, including their distinct styles, shared vision and collaborative approaches to examining public policy,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett is a member of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s DATOS Research Committee and has co-edited multiple background reports for Arizona Town Hall. Whitsett previously served on the board of directors for the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and as board secretary for Florence Crittenton. She is currently a member of the Collective Impact Group for Child Safety and Well-Being.

Whitsett’s passion for service traces back to her grandmother, Julieta Bencomo, who was the first Latina to serve on the Arizona State Board of Education.

“My grandmother was a tireless community leader who held herself and her community to the highest standard of excellence. I have always been inspired by her fierce spirit and her commitment to the principles of access, equity and public service — values that I am fortunate to carry forward under the ASU charter,” she said.

She graduated from Arizona State University with a master’s degree in nonprofit studies and has been a faculty associate in ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development. She holds a bachelor of arts in American studies from Yale University, where she was awarded an Amy Rossborough Fellowship through the Yale Women’s Center.

Whitsett and her husband, Timothy Whitsett Jr., reside in north Phoenix with their two young children, Ben and Jack.

Morrison Institute is commemorating its 36th year as Arizona’s premier think tank for public policy. Its motto of “policy, not politics” is a mantra for nonpartisan research, analysis and public outreach on such issues as education, the economy, water, changing demographics, criminal justice reform, social policies, and governance and elections. In addition to its general policy operations, Morrison Institute features two centers — the Kyl Center for Water Policy and the Latino Public Policy Center. Morrison Institute also oversees the Arizona Legislative Academy, which launched in 2016 to provide new lawmakers with a stronger base of knowledge about Arizona governance and policy. The Arizona Capitol Times named Morrison Institute as one of its Leaders of the Year in Public Policy for contributions to education in 2016 and to government in 2017.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


3 ASU researchers elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2018

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected three Arizona State University faculty members to its Class of 2018. The ASU researchers are Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Robert Cialdini and K. Tsianina Lomawaima.

Academy members are chosen for being exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators. Along with ASU’s inductees, the Class of 2018 also will induct 44th president of the United States Barack Obama, NASA climatologist Claire Parkinson, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. lindy Elkins tanton Professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton is one of three ASU researched newly elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

The academy was founded in 1790, and is one of the oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers in the U.S. It convenes leaders from academia, business and government sectors to address critical challenges facing the global society.

Elkins-Tanton is the director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. She also is co-chair of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative and is principal investigator of the NASA Psyche mission, a robotic orbiter visiting a metal asteroid. Her research includes theory, observation and experiments focused on terrestrial planetary formation, magma oceans and planetary evolution.

Cialdini is a Regents’ Professor Emeritus of psychology and marketing. His research interests include persuasion and compliance, altruism and the tactics of favorable self-presentation.

Lomawaima is a professor in ASU’s School of Social Transformation, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and is a professor in ASU’s Center for Indian Education. Her research focuses on the sovereignty of Native people and nations, the role of Native nations in shaping U.S. federalism, and the history of American Indian education.

“Membership in the academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility,” said academy President Jonathan Fanton. “Members can be inspired and engaged by connecting one another and through academy projects dedicated to the common good.”