ASU alumnus wants to serve his community, country

October 10, 2017

Ever since his first visit to Arizona State University, alumnus Abraham Hamadeh knew it was the ideal place for him to study political science.

“From the small class size to the friendly community, Arizona State University is a perfect fit,” Abraham said. “I wanted to go to law school and political science is the best route for someone to grasp a lot of different areas, just thinking differently and analytically.” Arizona State University alumnus Abraham Hamadeh graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science from School of Politics and Global Studies in 2012. Download Full Image

In 2012, Abraham graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies. During his time as an undergraduate, he developed close relationships with professors in the school and the future Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

Professor Sheldon Simon, an expert on international relations, and Donald Critchlow, the director of the center, were two of the most influential faculty during his time at the university, he said.

“The professors were the best part about my time at ASU,” Abraham said. “Even though it’s such a large school, you can really develop a very personal relationship with professors. Overall, they gave me great advice on my future.”

In 2016, Abraham received a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona College of Law as well as his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. During law school, he was awarded the Udall Fellowship from the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council. As a fellow, Abraham had the opportunity to work at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Arizona Attorney General's Office, Pima County Attorney's Office and the Tucson City Prosecutor's Office.

“It was a great experience to be able to work at the local, state and federal levels,” Abraham said.

Throughout his educational experiences, Abraham had many opportunities to travel. When he was an undergraduate at ASU, he studied in Washington D.C. for 13 months. When he was a law student, he travelled to Ghana, Israel, Turkey and Egypt.

“I really love that ASU had a lot of flexibility with getting on-the-hands training while having online classes as well,” he said about his time in Washington D.C. “The flexibility ASU provided was invaluable because when you have hands-on experience it’s so much different than just sitting in a classroom getting practical ability.”

Abraham is currently a deputy county attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and just finished four months of military intelligence training for the U.S. Army. He says the experience in the Army is rewarding due to the diverse range of opinions and experiences of his fellow officers.

“We would talk about philosophy, politics, religion and war for hours,” he said. “I made life-long friends with my fellow lieutenants." 

Abraham serves on the board at ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership. He’s also a founding member of the Emerging Leaders program, a group of young professionals who serve on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council to find new ways for the college and community to succeed.  

“I have a real sense of pride with ASU,” Abraham said. “It’s hard to be connected with the alumni when you have a lot of things going on and juggling your work/life balance. I want to be an advocate and ambassador for that regard. I just want to be tied to the community more.”

Abraham encourages current students and recent alumni to not be afraid of failure 

“The only thing worse than failing is never having the opportunity to fail,” he said. “You shouldn’t be afraid of almost anything. It’s just a matter of trying and if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Regret is really debilitating so it’s more important to try and fail then to have never tried at all.”

Looking to the future, Abraham wants to continue serving his country through his military enlistment as well as his community with his legal experience.

“I envision myself working for a few years in the public sector as a prosecutor to gain courtroom experience and then eventually moving over to the private sector and work in business,” Abraham said. “We’ll see where it goes from there but public service is definitely on the horizon.”

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

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Emerging Leaders encourage ASU alumni to stay connected

August 11, 2017

Six alumni, who graduated from the largest and most diverse college at Arizona State University, have joined forces to create a renewed sense of pride in their alma mater. 

“When I talk to alumni from ASU, they may not even know they were a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Steven Slugocki, a founding member of the Emerging Leaders program. “This program will engage recent graduates, increase awareness of the college and build alumni affinity.”

The Emerging Leaders program, a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, was created to establish a network of talented young professionals who graduated 10 years ago or less from the college. These alumni will invest in the college, encourage alumni involvement and showcase how an education in liberal arts and sciences can make a difference in local, national and global communities.

“I want to make a difference in my community,” said Slugocki, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a history minor in 2007. “Not all of us can write a $10,000 check, but we can give back by staying involved with the college. You’ll get to know incredible people and make a huge impact.”

Slugocki works as a business sales consultant with Wells Fargo and serves as the chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party. He’s the youngest chair of a major county party in the country.

“I hope to make the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as strong as possible,” said Slugocki. “It’s such a diverse college with so many schools and departments. I want to make it a source of pride for recent graduates and people who graduated long ago. They should be proud of their college.”

Amanda Ventura, another founding member of the program, has also been eager to help people feel connected to their college again. She believes it’s important to make sure alumni understand the college and university still have a range of resources to offer them — even after graduation.

“I want to see the foundation of our work give way to a growing network of young alumni who are empowering each other and themselves to make the most out of their careers,” said Ventura, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English (creative writing) in 2011. “I think professional networking with people who are finding practical applications from their university education is really important.” 

Ventura works with communication alumna Jennifer Kaplan, who graduated in the class of ’96 and started her own firm: Evolve Public Relations and Marketing. As a senior account manager, Ventura helps a handful of clients grow their brand through communication and marketing.

“Many alumni want to take their diploma and run,” said Ventura. “We want to reach out to those people and show them why it’s appealing to come back to the university. Our main focus is figuring out how to activate young alumni and bring them back into the support system of ASU.”

Ventura said it has been humbling to come back to campus and see how much the university has changed. She also enjoys working with the other founding members of the groups, especially Slugocki and Samantha Winter McAlpin. 

“I think as an alumna of a very large university, it’s easy to pretend there’s no need for me to get involved because there are thousands of other graduates who are most likely doing what needs to be done, but that’s never the case,” said Winter McAlpin, who received concurrent bachelor’s degrees in Spanish, English and history in 2008. “I’m so happy I’ve found a good way to re-involve myself.”

Winter McAlpin works at Sacks Tierney, a Scottsdale-based law firm, as an attorney who advises clients on estate and tax planning. She has been involved with the Emerging Leaders program since inception. She said she’s very appreciative for the education she received from the college and believes it’s time for the alumni to give back.

“Being a founding member of the program has been a remarkable experience,” Winter McAlpin said. “Our world is changing quickly, and I hope it’s valuable for the college to learn how more recent graduates feel their degree has served them.”

Paul Padegimas, Abraham Hamadeh and Jorge Coss Ortega — who just graduated in May 2017 — are the newest members of the Emerging Leaders program. They’re eager to get involved and connect with fellow alumni from the college. 

“I’ve been interested in getting a little more involved,” said Padegimas, who graduated from the university in 2011 with a master’s degree in geography.

Padegimas said he learned how to tackle complex problems from his degree program, which has been essential in his current career as a transportation consultant with Turner Engineering Corporation.

“I want to help people go further in their education than they otherwise could by helping the program secure funding for scholarships,” Padegimas said. “I also want to continue to help the college and university develop. Both have done a lot of big things and have a lot of great programs. Let’s keep pushing it in the same direction.”

In 2012, Hamadeh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He went on to complete a law degree at University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law in 2016. Currently, Hamadeh is a Second Lieutenant of Military Intelligence in the United States Army Reserve and a board member for ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

“I want to be an advocate and ambassador because I have a real sense of pride in ASU,” Hamadeh said. “I also believe in what Michael Crow stands for in education. It’s accessible to everybody and yet can be so personable. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to give back.”

For more information about the Emerging Leaders program, please contact Lisa Roubal-Brown at 480-965-2617 or

The Emerging Leaders program is a subdivision of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, an exclusive group of alumni who help shape the future of the college by staying committed to the highest standards of excellence and innovation in higher education. 

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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New ASU school aims to elevate the political discourse

March 2, 2017

Public colloquium part of Friday's official launch of School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

Editor’s note: ASU’s new School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership officially launched Friday. Here are highlights from the morning kickoff, which was attended by new school director Paul Carrese, ASU President Michael Crow, Gov. Doug Ducey and other elected officials. The full story that published Thursday about the new school follows below.

Paul Carrese

At Friday’s launch event, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership director Paul Carrese said the aim of the school is “to develop a new class of leaders.”

“This distinctive school is a blending of tradition and innovation: great ideas with preparation for leadership service,” he said.

Gov. Doug Ducey

Free speech was a theme at the event, with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey quoting Frederick Douglass that “to suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

“No one can ever accuse ASU of suppressing free speech,” Ducey said.

He also addressed the issue of a lack of diverse media exposure, saying, “We live in an age where it’s easy for people … to receive news from a single, handpicked source,” and that today’s university students are often encouraged to further insulate themselves from counter-perspectives.

“With this new school,” Ducey said, “ASU and the state of Arizona is bucking this trend. … As Americans, in times of great challenge, our heritage of rich intellectual discourse in the midst of different values and principles has served us honorably.

“The answer has never been less speech; it has always been more. Now at ASU and through the coursework at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, this tradition can continue.”

Michael Crow

ASU President Michael Crow proudly introduced the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership as the 18th transdisciplinary school the university has launched.

“Education sits at the root of the core of the advancement of democracy,” Crow said, adding later that we “cannot advance the ideals of American democracy without intellectual combat.”

George Will

George Will (pictured above), a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative political commentator, served as the keynote speaker of the event. He echoed Ducey’s statements on free speech, remarking, “Whatever else universities do, they shouldn’t attack free speech.”

He also touched on a number of hot-button issues concerning the current political climate, including cultural bias and immigration.

“Today, the temperature of politics is exceptionally high because the stakes are unusually high,” Will said. “We’re arguing about basics.”

The most crucial word in the Declaration of Independence, he said, is “secure.”

“Governments and institutions are meant to secure [basic human] rights. …That there is a fixed human nature, that we are not infinitely malleable,” Will said, because when you allow those in charge to assume we are infinitely malleable, “you license a very sinister political project. To make of human clay whatever the political class of the moment wants to happen. Our natural rights are essential to the flourishing of creatures of our nature.”

Will noted that American poet Robert Frost once said, “I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.”

“Arizona State and this new school within it is a way of letting the cream rise,” he said.


(Original story below.)

The notion that strong leadership and civil discourse are necessary in public affairs is ancient, going back to the great Greek thinkers and debaters who laid the foundation for modern democracy.

Lately, though, Paul Carrese feels that notion is woefully overlooked.

“Our political culture is in very bad shape, regardless of partisanship,” he said.

It’s something he hopes to change as director of Arizona State University’s new School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The official school launch will take place at 7:30 a.m. Friday in the First Amendment Forum of the Walter Cronkite building on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Roughly 150 guests are expected to attend, including Carrese, ASU President Michael Crow, Gov. Doug Ducey and other elected officials.

“America and other liberal democracies need to provide space in universities to think about politics, public affairs, leadership and civic society in a way that allows for the search for common good,” Carrese said.

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will combine the principles and ideals of two existing ASU centers — the Center for Political Thought and Leadership and the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty — to provide a unique curriculum that reinforces traditional learning of time-honored knowledge while encouraging students to get real-world experience.

“The mission of the school will be to introduce students to the great philosophical debates across centuries through classic texts, and to use those texts and debates to prepare them for civic-minded leadership in the future,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences..

School faculty and staff also will help guide students toward internship opportunities, whether in government, business or non-governmental organizations, on both a local and state level. Carrese has identified four major metropolitan areas — Arizona, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. — in which he hopes to eventually place students in internships.

Courses for the school’s bachelor’s degree in “Great Ideas and Leadership” are now available in the course catalog and will begin in the upcoming fall semester. More developments are underway, including a graduate program and a visiting-scholars program.

All of that will be supplemented by an extensive regular program of lectures and public dialogues to provide a model of civil debate for students, faculty, staff and the community at large. The value of reasonably and effectively working through disagreements is something we all need to be reminded of right now, Carrese said.

The first of such public colloquiums will take place Friday at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. “Leadership and Politics in America After Election 2016” will consist of three separate talks: “The Meaning of Election 2016”; “Public Policy and the Common Good in the Trump Era”; and “Is a Contentious but Constructive Politics Possible?”

Kenney will moderate the first talk, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.

“When I look back, I still remember as an undergrad going to hear visiting scholars and public intellectuals and top-tier reporters come to my university and talk, and it just really enlivens campus discussions and supplements and enhances the learning process and the range of views that are out there,” Kenney said. “President Crow has dedicated a lot of time and effort to that kind of thing across the university. It’s about bringing the world to ASU.”

Top photo: Conservative pundit George Will delivers the keynote address at the launch of ASU's new School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, a transdisciplinary program with a goal of engaging students in building a democracy. The launch featured around 150 people at the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Friday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Public colloquium on leadership and politics marks launch of new school at ASU

February 23, 2017

Academic scholars from prestigious universities, a former senator and a political analyst, among others, will discuss leadership and politics after election 2016 for the launch of Arizona State University’s new school.

On Friday, March 3, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will host a public colloquium, “Leadership and Politics in America After Election 2016,” to mark its launch. The school will empower scholars to develop and advance elevated discourse regarding the fundamental questions of life, freedom, politics and public service. The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership launch image The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will host a public colloquium to mark its launch. Download Full Image

Panelists will discuss the significance to particular patterns and results of the 2016 national elections, public policy and the common good in the early years of a Trump administration, and the traditional concern that republics or democracies tend toward self-destruction in factiousness or even civil war.

“This colloquium is the first of many school events that will feature prominent experts and diverse views about crucial questions of American politics and society, as well as international affairs,” said Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “By restoring a curriculum of great debates about politics, economics and the big moral questions, ASU is innovating and building a foundation for students to become public servants and leaders in civil society.”

The colloquium will exemplify the new school’s themes of understanding the principles of America’s civic culture, political and economic order, and higher ideals of political leadership and statesmanship.

Delving into the great works of political thought, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will elicit vigorous debate in politics and civil society while developing statesmen and stateswomen for 21st century leadership and public service. In fall 2017, the school will offer its first courses toward a Bachelor of Arts degree or minor in Great Ideas and Leadership.

Find the complete event listing at the ASU Events site here.

Panelists include: Morris Fiorina, Stanford University and the Hoover Institution; Daniel Kessler, Stanford University and the Hoover Institution; William Kristol, The Weekly Standard; Jon Kyl, former U.S. Senator from Arizona; Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University and the Hoover Institution; Susan Shell, Boston College; Catherine Zuckert, University of Notre Dame; and Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame. 

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Nearly 2,300 ASU grads flourish thanks to Obama Scholars program

As Obama term ends, his namesake ASU scholarship has nearly 2,300 graduates.
January 17, 2017

Scholarship combines mentorship with financial help, boosting retention and graduation for low-income Arizona students

They’re teachers, accountants, social workers and entrepreneurs. One is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in China, and another will graduate from medical school in May.

President Barack Obama’s visit to Arizona State University in 2009, less than a year after taking office, inspired a new scholarship program for low-income young people, and as his term draws to a close this week, nearly 2,300 ASU students have graduated as Obama Scholars.

To date, more than $200 million has been invested in these young Arizonans who, without the aid, might not have attended college.

“I was able to break that cycle of not having any opportunity,” said Sergio Rojas, whose family emigrated from Mexico when he was 4 years old. Now working for ExxonMobil while pursuing an MBA, Rojas was near the top of his class in high school but had no hope of higher education.

“The scholarship made all the difference,” he said.

More likely to succeed  

ASU launched the President Barack Obama Scholars Program nearly eight years ago for Arizona high school graduates who qualified for acceptance as full-time freshmen, providing not only financial aidThe program pays for eight semesters of tuition, housing, books and supplies through a combination of federal, state, institutional and private money for students whose families earn $42,400 or less. Obama Scholars also earn money toward tuition through work-study. but also mentorship to help smooth the way.

Students who are Obama Scholars have been more likely to persistAbout 92 percent of Obama Scholars who started in fall 2015 returned for their sophomore in fall 2016, compared with 83 percent of the entire freshmen class. In the full-time freshmen cohort who started in fall 2011, 52 percent graduated within four years, compared with 46 percent for the entire class. to their sophomore year and to graduate.

In the current freshmen class of Obama Scholars:

  • Three-quarters are Merit Scholars, and their average high school grade-point average is 3.5.
  • The average household income is about $21,000, and nearly half are first-generation college goers.
  • Nearly three-quarters are students of color.
  • About 45 percent are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or math fields. 
President Obama

President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at ASU in May 2009. Though his tenure at the White House ends this week, the Obama Scholars program will continue. Photo by ASU

The scholarship program — announced during the commencement ceremony before Obama’s speech — was ASU’s response to the president’s challenge for the U.S. to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.

“That notion of opening doors of opportunity to everybody — that is the core mission of this school. It’s a core mission of my presidency, and I hope this program will serve as a model for universities across this country,” Obama said during his address.

Alex Butler, a freshman history major and Obama Scholar at ASU, said that as an African-American, he finds the program is especially meaningful.

“I’m a big fan of President Obama, and I know that when my mother was growing up, it wasn’t even a thought that there would be an African-American president, and now I have a scholarship with his name on it,” said Butler, who wants to be a teacher.

“I’m going to try to live my day helping people as much as I can.”

Someone to cheer

Navigating a big university can be overwhelming, which is why the program assigns faculty or upperclassmen as mentors for freshmen.

Duane Roen, vice provost of the Polytechnic campus, was a mentor for several students a few years ago and met with them regularly to check in.

“We talked about how they were doing in every way that a student needs to think about — academically, financially and emotionally. We talked about the full range of wellness,” said Roen, who also is dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and of University College.

Butler said that he got a lot of help transitioning to college from his mentor, James Rund, the senior vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services.

“He helped me to feel that I’m not left behind and that there’s always someone cheering me on,” Butler said.

“He’s given me a lot of advice on things to get involved with, and from that I applied to become a community assistant in the residence halls next year, and I also got involved with the Undergraduate Student Government,” he said.

Roen, a professor of English, said that working with the scholars was fulfilling.

“I frequently talk to student groups and I tell them of all of the things in my academic career, nothing gives me greater happiness, joy and satisfaction than to see a student succeed.”

'There was something wrong'

For Rojas, who graduated from ASU in 2013, the scholarship was the second of two miracles that opened the door to higher education.

Sergio Rojas

Sergio Rojas was able to attend ASU after qualifying at the last minute for an Obama scholarship.

Rojas’ family were undocumented immigrants, working odd jobs. Eventually, his father found work as a plumber and the family settled in the West Valley.

With no insurance, health care usually meant a trip to a clinic paid with cash. So when his mother began having stomach pains, the clinic staff told her to cut out spicy food. But when the pain became worse, they took her to the emergency room, where surgery revealed she had cancer. She died a few months later, just a few weeks after Sergio had finished eighth grade.

Rojas was motivated by his mother’s death to study hard in high school. But while he earned A's, the reality of his situation dawned on him.

“For a long time, I wasn’t sure what my legal status meant. My dad kind of kept it away from me. When I was in high school, I realized what my identity was, and that there was something wrong. You couldn’t tell people about it because you might get in trouble,” he said.

In the meantime, Rojas' father married a woman who is a citizen, and didn’t tell his sons that he had started the complicated process of trying to acquire legal status for them.

Rojas graduated from Buckeye Union High School in May 2009, fourth in his class with a 4.3 grade-point average and little opportunity. He was told that without documentation, he should look for work in the fields. He had spoken with a financial-aid officer at ASU but learned that his status meant he couldn’t qualify for financial aid.

But in June, a letter arrived from the State Department, notifying him that he had been granted legal status. The problem was that it was too late for most universities. Except ASU.

He called the financial-aid counselor, who worked to get him into the brand-new Obama Scholars program.

“She told me she would do whatever she could to help me, and she gave me information in Spanish to give to my family,” Rojas said. “For my father, it meant he didn’t have to stress anymore about paying for college.”

Rojas graduated with a degree in supply chain management in 2013 and now is a site materials associate for ExxonMobil and is pursuing his MBA at Rice University.

“Without that scholarship, it would have been a very different story,” he said.

An amazing four years

For Diana German, the scholarship meant an immersive college experience.

German’s older sister commuted from the family’s Glendale home to ASU’s Tempe campus, an hour each way. When German graduated from Glendale High School in 2010, she had scholarships to help pay tuition, but she was facing that commute as well.

“I remembering touring ASU in high school and going to the dorms and saying, ‘I want to live here’ — but I knew it was impossible. I had to be happy to get my classes paid for,” said German, who graduated with a degree in secondary education in 2014 and is now a Spanish teacher at Tolleson Union High School.

German’s family was hit hard by the recession, and when she got the Obama scholarship, she realized she could fulfill her dream of living in the dorms, which she did for all four years.

“I tell my students it was the most amazing four years of my life, and I wouldn’t have been involved in so many things had I not lived on campus,” said German, who was in intramural tennis, Devil DanceSport and Adelante, a group for Latino students.

German has an ASU poster on her classroom wall and tells her students they can reach for college.

“I tell them that there are so many opportunities out there for them.”

Top photo: Diana German, an ASU alumna and Obama scholarship recipient, teaches the Advanced Placement Native-Speaker Spanish class at Tolleson Union High School. German was an Obama Scholar while at ASU. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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Independents may bridge partisan divisions, say experts at ASU event

Independent voters may be bridge in partisan politics, say experts at ASU event.
November 16, 2016

Morrison Institute conference addresses how voters are turning away from 2 main parties

Independent voters, who resist being identified with either of the main political parties, could be a way for a deeply divided electorate to move forward, according to several experts at the annual “State Of Our State” conference on Wednesday in Phoenix.

“Independent voters can provide a bridge to close the partisan gap,” said Thom Reilly, director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, which sponsored the conference.

Reilly said the institute has new research, not yet complete, showing that Republican respondents were more likely to discuss politics with friends who were independents than with Democrats. Independents make up about a third of registered voters in Arizona and were the largest single bloc of voters until registered Republicans recently overtook them.

“But for years independent voters have been ‘the other’ and treated as invisible by think tanks and in studies and polls,” Reilly said.

The conference featured a panel discussion that addressed the importance of voters who are not aligned with either major political party.

Independents were the deciding factor in electing Republican Donald Trump on Nov. 8, just as they were the deciding factor in electing President Barack Obama in 2008, according to Jackie Salit, president of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party and its online affiliate,

“It’s important to understand that independents, now 43 percent of the national electorate, represent a force of motion that is crying out for a new kind politics in this country,” she said.

Some panelists said that the two-party system disenfranchises people who don’t want to choose either Democrat or Republican.

Chuck Couglin, president of AZ High Ground campaign-consulting firm based in Phoenix, said that partisan primaries are a Soviet-style system.

“Why can’t I have a ballot with everyone on it? Let me as a candidate access that ballot. It’s disenfranchising for any independent to run,” he said, criticizing the fact that taxpayers pay for elections, which support the entrenched two-party system.

Daniel Ortega, a civil rights leader and attorney, said that Latino voters are especially left out.

“More than 60 percent of Latino millennials are independent, and 43 percent of Latinos in this state are independent. The party structure does not work for the Latino community,” he said.

“Per capita, our voting percentage is down even though we have more registered voters because they can’t vote in the primary.”

And the two-party primary system has led to deep ideological divisions that hinder collaboration according to Paul Johnson, former mayor of Phoenix and an activist for non-partisan elections.

“In this election, many Americans felt like they were choosing between the lesser of two evils and they weren’t voting for someone but against someone and that’s part of the partisan primary voting system,” he said.

“You’re talking about 5 or 6 percent of people who are making the decisions in the primary and they are demanding candidates be ideologically pure. So the candidates are divisive and split the country up.

“So it’s going to be more difficult for elected people to cross the aisle and work with both sides. It will be a winner-take-all system.”

Not everyone believes that independent voters are left out. Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, said that engaged independents should be able to find out how to get information and cast ballots. “It shouldn’t be handed to them.”

Doug Chapin, director of the University of Minnesota’s Program for Excellence in Election Administration, said that the population changes affiliations back and forth over time.

“But there is a strengthening number of committed independents who really do follow politics, do have a worldview and the one thing they agree on is that they’re not Democrats and they’re not Republican.”

(From left) Former Sen. Jon Kyl, former Congressman Ed Pastor and moderator Grady Gammage Jr. discuss the future of politics after the presidential election at the "State Of Our State" conference Wednesday in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Two longtime politicians from Arizona said they see little chance of bipartisan collaboration immediately ahead after the brutal election.

Former Sen. Jon KylKyl is a Distinguished Fellow in Public Service in ASU’s College of Public Programs and a Distinguished Scholar in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He is the namesake of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy., a Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995 and then the Senate until 2013, said that pressure from the highly fractured parties will make compromise difficult.

“We’ve allowed politicians to get to the point where a candidate can take the populist, demagogue position to get elected and then they find themselves in a governing situation that’s very difficult,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed PastorPastor earned a bachelor’s and law degrees from ASU. He is the namesake of the Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, within ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions., a Democrat, said that politicians must develop personal relationships with each other. Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991 and served as the first Mexican-American congressman to represent Arizona, retiring in 2015.

“In 1994, when the Republicans won, I wondered what would happen, but I had developed relationships and we were able to bridge some of the problems,” he said.

Grady Gammage Jr., a senior research fellow in the Morrison Institute, moderated the discussion between Kyl and Pastor and said that talking with people from the other political side is what will preserve democracy.

“I have felt for months that it was incredibly difficult to talk to people about politics, and for me that was incredibly painful,” he said.

“I think society is advanced through intelligent argument.”

Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, praised the Morrison Institute’s mission of providing a space for conversations from differing points of view.

“There have been times that people have said that politics doesn’t matter and that it’s entertainment,” he said.

“It’s our job to underscore how much it does matter.”

Top photo: Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl discusses political gridlock with former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy's State of Our State Conference on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


Rehabilitating statesmanship

Paul Carrese, director of new ASU school on civic thought and leadership, brings passion for 'old-fashioned' concept

October 12, 2016

Paul Carrese thinks there’s an important concept missing from our current political lexicon: statesmanship.

It’s kind of an old-fashioned word, especially with something of a decline in statesmanlike examples in our hyper-partisan political environment and with the word’s implicit exclusion of stateswomen. Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Paul Carrese wants to bring back the concept of statesmanship in American education, in the hopes of correcting what he sees as "great discontent and anger and polarization" in the country.

But there is something important there that Carrese wants to rehabilitate.

“In public affairs, I do think it would be helpful to bring back that old term and debate it,” Carrese said. “Why was that always held up as a term of honor and distinction?”

Carrese is well-positioned to consider statesmanship and all that it can mean. He is Arizona State University’s new director of the forthcoming School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, which will launch as a stand-alone academic entity within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in fall 2017.

One of Carrese’s goals for the new school is not only to create an environment for vigorous debate of topics in politics and civil society, but hopefully to develop some much-needed statesmen and stateswomen in the process.

So who exemplifies the virtues of statesmanship? Carrese notes that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln set an American standard, and says that more recent examples may include Ronald Reagan and former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who also served as an ambassador and worked in several presidential administrations. There are also international figures like Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of the United Kingdom during the 1980s, and Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

These are “men and women who are clearly a cut above in their commitment to service before self,” Carrese said. “It’s not that they’re not ambitious for greatness and distinction, but they’re committed to a larger set of principles, liberal democratic principles, in [the United States’] case.”

(When he refers to democratic principles, Carrese means democratic with a small ‘d’ — principles without preference for political party.)

Carrese himself could be considered something of a statesman. Not because of any political office he has held, but because of a dedication to the ideals of political thought, philosophy and debate that he has brought to his 19 years of service as a civilian professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, his current academic home. (He starts at ASU on Jan. 1.)

His parents were both in serving professions: His father was a teacher and guidance counselor; his mother was a nurse. Neither was too far removed from the immigrant experience, and both felt gratitude to be in the United States.

As such, dinner-table conversation often focused on public affairs, politics and history, which, Carrese said, primed him to study the humanities when he got to college.

His CV reads as well as any: Rhodes Scholar, post-doctoral work at Harvard, fellowships abroad and at home, a handful of books authored and edited on political science and political thought.

At the Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, Carrese was charged with designing and administering an honors program for high-achieving cadets.

After the attacks of 9/11, Carrese and his team felt that for all the success the United States was having technologically and economically, there was something missing.

“We were having international and national leadership, political problems,” he said. “And so we needed to come up with the right balance of excellence in STEM with excellence in social sciences and humanities, the foundations for political leadership and military strategic leadership.”

What emerged was a successful program that led Carrese, who has spent his entire adult life thinking and writing and arguing about political ideas and leadership, inexorably to his new position at ASU.

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will aim to prepare learners for future public policy and leadership challenges in several ways. One of the most important will have students explore the great works of political thought, and the great leaders of American history, with an eye toward turning their lives to contributing to the common good. There, Carrese can help.

“Paul’s background contains the exact combination of academic rigor and real-world problem-solving and leadership training that will make the new school such a success,” said Pat Kenney, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “As with most things we do, ASU is embarking on making a concrete, measurable difference in our society, and I am confident, with Paul’s leadership, we will.”

If successful, that difference has the potential to address a clear and present problem in American civic life: a political system that, to many, seems absolutely broken.

“There clearly is something not going so well with American political life right now,” Carrese said. “Great discontent and anger and polarization … So we all need to pull together as universities and civil society and government and public affairs to do better than we’re doing now.”

A challenge this university may be uniquely situated to address.  

“I’m very proud of ASU that it is innovating in this way.”

ASU alumnus works toward a better future for all

October 4, 2016

From mastering a mental edge on the wrestling mat to traveling around the world on combat tours, Arizona State University alumnus Martin Sepulveda has discovered an unrelenting desire to conquer obstacles and make the world a better place.

“I don’t know what failure is,” said Sepulveda, a communication major. “When things don’t work out is that a failure? I think it’s only a failure if you don’t try.” Arizona State University alumnus Martin Sepulveda Commander Martin Sepulveda, an Arizona State University alumnus, retired from Naval Special Warfare SEAL Team 17 in May 2015. Download Full Image

After attending Phoenix College, Sepulveda transferred to the university to join the Sun Devil Wrestling team. He started as a business major but switched his focus after realizing communication was a better fit for his professional goals.

“Communication was the right choice,” he said. “I liked the lateral mobility it gave me. It widened the aperture so I had a bigger choice of targets to go after.”

In 1983, Sepulveda earned a Bachelor of Science in communication from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and subsequently earned a commission to fly in the U.S. Navy.

“I like to say I didn’t fly well so I didn’t fly long,” joked Sepulveda. “But it was fun while it lasted.”

Sepulveda left active duty in 1988, but continued to serve in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He completed seven combat tours in Kuwait, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, with his last tour at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Commander Sepulveda retired from Naval Special Warfare SEAL Team 17 in May 2015.

“In my military life, I was blowing things up,” said Sepulveda. “So when you’re back in the civilian sector, it’s kind of cool not to blow things up, but to build — being part of something bigger than yourself.”

In 2000, Sepulveda founded Sepulveda Group, Inc., an Arizona-based, veteran-owned small business that specializes in commercial development, project management and renewable energy. His clients range from individual investors to Fortune 500 companies.

“When there are opportunities to participate in a development that’s going to be around for a while, it’s kind of a point of pride,” said Sepulveda, a seventh-generation Arizonan. “I want to make the place I live a better place … something that has a lot of inherent good for everybody.”

Sepulveda has also been an active member in the community. He is a former city councilman, elected twice to the Chandler City Council; president of the Chandler Historical Society; and a life member of the ASU Alumni Association and the Sun Devil Club Wrestling Inner-Circle. Most recently, he joined the Board of Directors at the Center for Political Thought and Leadership, which promotes a greater understanding of the fundamentals of freedom and liberty, the foundations of democracy, American political history and the current problems facing America.

“I didn’t limit myself,” he said. “When the opportunity comes, you have to take it. Position yourself with whatever background and resources you can and do something that really matters.”

Sepulveda has been a guest lecturer on subjects ranging from business development to leadership at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and Center for the Advancement of Small Business at the W. P. Carey School of Business. He said he credits his success to the knowledge gained from his unique experiences, including wrestling at ASU.

“Wrestling isn’t an easy sport, but it teaches you about people,” said Sepulveda. “Never underestimate an opponent or overestimate your skills. You have to figure out a plan and be ready to adjust. Never say die.”

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon to join ASU as vice president for government affairs

Congressman Salmon will assist ASU in advancing its global strategy.
June 3, 2016

ASU alum will oversee the university’s local, state and federal relations teams

Rep. Matt Salmon, who has represented the 5th District of Arizona for five terms in Washington, will join Arizona State University as vice president for government affairs at the end of the 114th Congress.

U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon

Salmon (pictured left), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, will oversee the university’s local, state and federal relations teams, putting his years of experience as a state and federal lawmaker to work on behalf of an institution that is committed to the economic, social and cultural health of the communities that it serves.

“Matt’s impressive experience, combined with his love for Arizona and his commitment to ASU, will bolster our efforts to make this institution a model for comprehensive public research universities across the nation,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Our relationships with lawmakers and education policy-makers will be greatly strengthened with Matt on our team.”

Salmon graduated from ASU in 1981 and holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Brigham Young University. After a career in telecommunications, he was elected to the Arizona State Senate, where he rose to assistant majority leader and chairman of the Rules Committee before his election to Congress in 1994.

Salmon served three terms before honoring a self-imposed term limit and leaving Congress in 2000, at which time he worked as a consultant to ASU on matters related to education policy. He returned to Congress in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014.

Salmon is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he speaks fluent Mandarin. Salmon has served as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and as chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and he has led numerous delegations to China. In his new role, he will assist ASU in advancing its global strategy, including working with the governments of other countries to advance international projects. 

“I have been privileged to have a unique vantage point from which to watch the evolution of Arizona State under the leadership of President Crow,” Salmon said. “Now I look forward to increasing the investment of resources in ASU and the Arizona higher-education system, and enhancing ASU’s partnerships with Arizona cities and countries, the federal government, tribal communities and its international partners.”

Salmon joins ASU at a time when all the traditional sources of support for public research universities are under stress and the university is expanding its efforts to open the doors to education to all qualified Arizonans. In his new role, he will serve as an advocate for higher education and the unique ASU mission and model to help facilitate ASU's acquisition of new resources from international, national, state and municipal partners and investors.

“As a fellow Sun Devil, I’m thrilled to see Congressman Salmon return to his alma mater,” Gov. Doug Ducey said. “While we will miss his leadership in the United States Congress when he retires at the end of this year, I’m excited about the policy expertise, national profile and global relationships he will bring to this new role at Arizona State University.

“His commitment to innovation, higher education and advancing Arizona fits perfectly with Dr. Crow’s vision of the New American University. Congressman Salmon’s experience with state, federal and international affairs will further advance the reputation ASU is earning as one of the leading academic institutions in the world.”

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema also welcomed the news: “I am thrilled Matt will be rejoining the ASU family,” said Sinema, an ASU alumna who represents the 9th District of Arizona in the U.S. House. "He is a critical addition to the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that we need to create Arizona's next generation of leaders."

ASU student inspired by US affairs conference at West Point

School of Politics and Global Studies' travel grant helped trip become reality

February 26, 2016

Natalie Hochhaus is a sophomore at ASU majoring in global studies with a minor in anthropology. With the assistance of the Global Studies Travel Grant offered by the School of Politics and Global Studies (SPGS), Hochhaus was able to attend a student conference on U.S. affairs at West Point. After her trip, Hochhaus took the time to provide a recap of her experiences:

Question: What was it like to participate in this conference?

Answer: This conference was unique because I was able to interact with cadets from West Point, students from all across the country and world, and with professionals from many different fields. With this diversity at the conference it was interesting to see how as a team we were able to come together to create a policy proposal to solve social injustices in the U.S. My favorite part of the conference was to meet and hear Madeleine Albright present a speech about how we need to solve the issues that we are facing today with a global perspective. I am grateful that this conference gave me the opportunity to learn more about the military experience and to experience creating policy proposals in a group setting. School of Politics and Global Studies Travel Grant - Hochhaus Download Full Image

Q: What were your takeaways from your participation?

A: After this conference I found that I love working in a group setting where I can debate how to solve critical issues that are affecting our society. However, working in this setting I had to learn how to be assertive of my own ideas, while also being open to other people’s thoughts and proposals. Furthermore, I was amazed and even more grateful for what the cadets at West Point have to do on a consistent basis. Before this experience I didn’t know how much training the cadets went through on top of their regular coursework. This conference allowed me to not only grow academically and professionally, but also learn more about the U.S. military.

Q: If someone was interested in an experience such as this, what advice would you give them?

A: My advice to someone interested in this experience is to be confident in your skill set and what you know. At this conference there were many students with different backgrounds and facilitators who are leaders in their professional field. Don’t let this intimidate you though, because the education that I received from ASU provided me with the ability to perform at the same level as students who were more advanced in their degree than me.

What's next

This past semester, Hochhaus also had a chance to participate in the School’s Junior Fellows Program. After graduation she hopes to receive the Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship to enable her to receive her master’s in public health administration. Long term, Hochhaus would like to become a professor.

“I want to say thank you to all the professors and staff at ASU and the School of Politics and Global Studies who have helped me and other students achieve our aspirations and goals,” she said.

The School of Politics and Global Studies offers travel grants for qualified students completing their SGS International Experience. To learn more about opportunities like this, visit the SPGS website.

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies