ASU’s special event management students take part in the 'Greatest show on Grass'

January 24, 2020

This tournament has it all: the biggest names in golf during the day and the biggest names in entertainment at night.

More than $147 million donated to charities in the Waste Management Phoenix Open's 84-year history. A build-out of grandstands, security magnetometers, hospitality skyboxes. Parking logistics, volunteer management, a commitment to sustainability through zero waste initiatives, social media impressions and so much more. group of people at golf course ASU students and faculty member Erin Schneiderman on the 18th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Download Full Image

When Arizona State University's special event management students were offered an opportunity to get involved in the largest golf tournament in the world, they didn’t waste any time.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, about 60 students were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the TPC Scottsdale golf course and auxiliary venues just days before it would open to the public — an estimated attendance of 750,000 patrons. Students met with representatives from the Thunderbirds, the charitable organization that produces the tournament and associated events; ProEm Event Services, which handles the infrastructure, safety and security; and M Culinary, which supports the hospitality venues with food and beverage.

Students were welcomed by Tim Woods, 2020 tournament chairman, who offered appreciation for those students who would be returning the following week to volunteer their time. He told the group that the Thunderbirds were excited to surpass the $150 million charitable donation mark this year, an incredible accomplishment over the 85-year history of the tournament.

Next, Brady Castro, principal at Pro Em National Event Services, led students on a tour of the course focusing on ticketing, types of tenting, hospitality and sponsorship.

“Every component of the open focuses on ways to maximize giving through sponsorship,” Castro said. “The more we can sell to companies interested in becoming, the more we can give to charity each year.”

For the final leg of the tour, Doug Janison, managing partner at M Culinary, discussed the strategy behind feeding upwards of 60,000 meals in the hospitality venues over the six-day event. Janison and his team of 700 staff members and temporary workers begin staging for the event in September and work daily out of the commissary to ensure all plans are in place.

When asked about their sustainability efforts, Janison told students there are two options for leftover food.

“If food is customer-facing (offered to patrons), it is not salvageable and food waste goes directly to compost,” Janison said. “We aim for under 5 tons.”

Janison also explained that food that is not cooked is picked up by St. Mary’s Food Bank and distributed to 47 various recipients.

Some students have attended the tournament in the past, and they were encouraged to take the tour with a new lens of observation. For some, this was their first time on the course.

“My biggest takeaway would be the importance of networking; having created reliable partnerships has allowed Waste Management Phoenix Open to continuously adapt to the ever-changing needs of attendees,” said Aracely De La Cruz, a senior studying public service and public policy (business) with a minor in nonprofit leadership and management. “There are so many moving parts behind the making of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and it was an enjoyable experience being able to hear and see the amount of work and attention to detail that came from a vision that began decades ago."

During the week of the tournament, Jan 30 to Feb. 2, 40 event management students will be volunteering at the golf tournament in the volunteer appreciation zone. Students will work on customer service, setting up a tabletop display and inventory, and they will receive perks, including admission to the tournament during the week, meals and gifts.

“It is important for our students to understand the amount of work, details and commitment to host a large-scale event such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open,” Clinical Professor Erin Schneiderman stated. “At this tournament there are several moving parts that all have to operate in concert for this to be a successful event, and we love the fact that our students can get a glimpse into the strategy behind it all.”

ASU’s Special Event Management program offers students with an interest in working in the special event industry an opportunity to learn fundamental principals of producing a wide range of events including concerts, festivals, weddings, conventions, sporting events and more. Students can pursue a minor or concentration that ties their degree into the field of event management or the six-credit certificate to add to their degree, which will put them at a competitive advantage entering the workforce.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU emeritus professor exhibits paintings to encourage climate-change awareness

Mark Reader, creator of 'A Carbon Reduction Art Installation,' participated in ASU's first Earth Day in 1970

January 17, 2020

Fifty years ago, Mark Reader joined protests at ASU and in the Valley demanding clean air and water as part of the original Earth Day. Today, the emeritus professor of political science continues advocating on behalf of the environment — although these days, he’s taking a slightly different approach.

Reader, a talented painter, is promoting a healthier world through his art, something he has recently returned to creating after many years. He said art can make an impression on people just like the public awareness that helped bring about the first Earth Day in 1970. ASU Professor Emeritus of Political Science Mark Reader art exhibition through May 15, 2020, at University Center, Phoenix Mark Reader, "Human Scale" (Sacred Valley of the Inca, Peru), 2013. Watercolor, 20 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. Loan: Private Collection. Paintings and mixed-media artworks by ASU Emeritus Professor of political science Mark Reader are on view through May 15 in an environmental-themed exhibition at the University Center at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

Reader’s exhibition of paintings and mixed-media artworks, “Notice Nurture Nature … and Each Other: A Carbon Reduction Art Installation,” is on view through May 15 in the University Center lobby at the ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. The presentations of desert wildflowers, edible produce and depictions of people living in sync with their surroundings commemorate that first Earth Day, he said.

Listening to Reader talk about the show is to hear echoes of the themes of decades ago as the world deals with climate change today:

“The art show teaches us, if we wish it, how to relate to nature and to each other in a less destructive place. It teaches us to notice the natural world around us, and to use the arts to create a noninvasive, nonabusive culture, based on the sustainability of nonviolence and human restraint,” Reader said.

“That’s what I’m trying to encourage in the show, is for people to think about living in harmony with the world, and to begin to exercise the skills they’ve never been given in terms of living in a less violent way." 

ASU Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Mark Reader

Five decades go, air pollution created hazy, smoggy skies over U.S. cities, and waste material was dumped into lakes and rivers, fouling waterways. At the time, few laws existed to protect the natural landscape and the plant and animal life that lived there.

Reader was at ASU then, having begun teaching political theory in 1967 after moving from Pennsylvania, attracted by the desert’s beauty. But even Arizona was beginning to experience the harmful effects of automobile exhaust and smokestack emissions. Some days you couldn’t see Camelback Mountain, he said.

Many students, professors and others were involved in ASU’s celebration of that first Earth Day, with demonstrations, experiments and learning activities, he recalled.

Some of the first efforts at establishing Arizona as a solar power producer began then, he said, building a foundation for today’s response to climate change.

ASU Professor Emeritus of Political Science Mark Reader, art exhibition through May 15, 2020, University Center, Downtown Phoenix, environmental-based art

Mark Reader, “Spatial Relations,” mixed media, 2015. 13 x 9 in.

In 1970, the idea of looking at the whole planet in perspective was new, Reader said. Today, fossil fuels and chemicals are central to the global economy, and governments aren’t as responsive to effecting change as they once were.

Now in his mid-80s, Reader said he’s offering an artistic perspective to encourage thinking about inventing a new world where we are no longer consumers of resources but conservers of them.

“We can’t have a global consumer economy with more and more people polluting,” he said. “We have to change our cultural habits.”

Reader has contributed many of his paintings, each with an environmental theme, to charities and educational institutions in Arizona and Washington state, including at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix and ASU’s Emeritus College art collection at both the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses, as well as the permanent art collections of the University of Washington at Tacoma.

He dedicated his show at the University Center to teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, whom Time magazine named its 2019 Person of the Year, and the global student-led climate strike movement.

“Human survival depends on enough people doing the right thing at the right time to avoid disaster. I don’t believe in a politics of blame or punishment. I believe in a politics of inclusion,” Reader said. “We have to say, 'OK, we’ve made mistakes. What do we have to do to get out of this?'”

He said he invites both “the powerful and well as the powerless” to join in creating those solutions.

“I think the arts do that. They are very invitational,” Reader said. “I invite you, through my art, to pause to think about what you can do, no matter who you are, to limit the damage that you do. We all do damage. When we start blaming each other, something common in our politics now, we don’t get anywhere. It’s not functional.”

A public reception for Mark Reader’s exhibition on the Downtown Phoenix campus, “Notice Nurture Nature … and Each Other: A Carbon Reduction Art Installation,” will be 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, in the lobby of the University Center, 411 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Students mark MLK Day of Service by obtaining nearly 1K books for children at domestic violence shelters

ASU School of Social Work students will spend MLK Day reading to children

January 16, 2020

Each January for a quarter century, thousands of Americans have foregone a day of leisure on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor the work of the slain civil rights leader by helping others.

Arizona State University School of Social Work students will mark the 25th MLK Day of Service by giving the gifts of words, pictures and ideas to children staying at Valley domestic-violence shelters and other nonprofits that work with women and children. Student members of Survivor Link have collected nearly 1,000 donated books they will distribute on Monday, the MLK holiday. School of Social Work students collected nearly 1,000 children's books for distribution at Phoenix-area domestic-violence shelters as part of MLK Day of Service School of Social Work students who are members of AmeriCorps Survivor Link participated in the 25th MLK Day of Service by collecting donations of nearly 1,000 books to be distributed Jan. 20 to children at Phoenix-area domestic-violence shelters. Download Full Image

The MLK observance on the third Monday in January is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. Although the day is promoted by the slogan, “Make It a Day On, not a Day Off,” Survivor Link members began their volunteer efforts days before the holiday by gathering and preparing the donated books.

The students obtained the donations from the university community and from the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, which gave about 500 books to the cause.

Survivor Link is a team of educators, students and community volunteers dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and reducing gender-based violence, supported by AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Vista. The two organizations are part of the Corporation for National & Community Service, which coordinates annual Day of Service activities.

School of Social Work students clean and wrap some of nearly 1,000 children's books they collected for distribution at Phoenix-area domestic-violence shelters Jan. 20 as part of the 25th MLK Day of Service

The students gathered Jan. 13 to sort and clean each volume and wrap each one individually to give as gifts.

Students chose to collect and distribute the books because it’s a part of their mission as part of the AmeriCorps Vista program to serve the community in different ways, said Survivor Link member Netanya Quino.

“This is just part of it,” Quino said. “Providing books for our youth emphasizes the focus Dr. Martin Luther King had in educating our children for a better future by creating a more equitable society.”

After collecting the donated books, the students gathered Jan. 13 to sort and clean each volume and wrap each one individually to give as gifts to the children. 

Student Survivor Link member Esmeralda Sanchez said she was excited to donate books to the children.

“I think children are the most appreciative, and just seeing their smiles and knowing that I was a part of it is a reward in itself,” she said.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Desire to make a difference by merging scholarship, practice led Jon Gould to ASU

The world-renowned expert is the new director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

January 6, 2020

Jon Gould is an internationally recognized criminal justice policy and reform expert whose talent for merging scholarship and practice is aimed squarely at making a difference in the world.

He credits his passion for applying the lessons of academia to the policy world, and vice versa, for leading him to the job of director of Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Foundation Professor Gould took over as the school's director on Jan. 1 after serving as inaugural director of the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research and chair of the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University in Washington, D.C. He assumes the position from newly named Regents Professor Cassia Spohn, who is returning full time to the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice faculty to devote more time to scholarship and research. Jon Gould began work Jan. 1, 2020, as director of ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Jon Gould began work Jan. 1, 2020, as director of ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Download Full Image

ASU’s school appealed to him on several fronts, he said. He already knew many of the the school's faculty and found that the school is “operating on all cylinders.”

“It has remarkable scholars and is doing a tremendous job of putting ASU on the map to become among the nation’s leaders,” he said. “To use a sports metaphor, I want to lead a sports team that’s already in the playoffs and lead them to even greater glory.”

That means working to fortify the school’s already impressive national leadership position (ranked No. 5 for its PhD program and No. 6 for its graduate degree by U.S. News & World Report) to become even better known by colleagues around the country. To do that means to dive into what the school’s home, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is known for: solutions-based approaches.

“It is not enough, especially at a public university like ASU, to only have scholarship and to teach students,” Gould said. “You must be part of the conversation to create a solution for criminal justice systems in this nation and in criminal justice systems around the world.”

Originally from Chicago, Gould said one of his favorite quotes is from renowned architect and fellow Chicagoan Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846–1912), who said, “Make no little plans. … Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”

Gould said he was lured to ASU by the opportunity to make a difference.

“When I sat down with the dean and the provost and talked ideas, with every single one of them, they said how they could push things forward,” he said. “I’m a guy who likes building things and this was an opportunity to work with top leadership that is like me and not scared of growth. This is rare in American academia, a university that is not fearful of growth.”

Jonathan Koppell, dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, said of Gould: “We couldn’t be more excited that Jon is joining Watts College to lead our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Jon is a terrific scholar, who is universally respected for his contributions, and an experienced leader with a track record of achievement. I am particularly enthusiastic about his desire to engage the communities of policy and practice, giving even more power to the findings and insights generated by our field-leading faculty.”

Gould’s desire for academic knowledge to be relevant and useful was satisfied during his time as a U.S. Justice Department senior policy adviser during the Obama administration. He wrote a policy applying to law enforcement agencies designed to help prevent wrongful convictions through identifying and reducing eyewitness misidentifications.

“It was one of those rare moments when you can put together what you studied with the opportunity to make change,” he said.

Among Gould’s first priorities as director is simply listening.

“I’m a big believer in this leadership — you can’t take people in a direction they don’t want to go, because even if you do, the change isn’t going to be lasting because it’s not part of the institution’s DNA,” he said.

Other goals include broadening the school’s influence while streamlining its message, making sure the school is deeply engaged in solving some of the policy problems in criminal justice systems in Arizona and beyond and to “bring ASU to Washington, D.C., and make sure our research is not only at the table, but that they’re using it.”

Ed Maguire, a criminology and criminal justice professor and associate director of ASU’s Center for Violence Prevention and Safety, has been a fan of Gould’s since both men were on the faculty of George Mason University in Virginia.  

“I was especially influenced by two aspects of Jon's work,” Maguire said. “First, in a field heavily focused on crime control, Jon's research reminds us how important it is to focus also on justice.

“Second, as both a legal scholar and a social scientist, Jon draws an important distinction between the law on the books and the law on the streets. This is an important distinction for understanding the reality of law and justice in people's lives.”

Maguire said Gould’s work on miscarriages of justice, particularly on wrongful convictions, is groundbreaking.

“Jon is also a gifted teacher. He has mentored many doctoral students over the years who have gone on to build impressive careers of their own,” Maguire said. “His unique contribution to their careers is his emphasis on blending sociolegal scholarship with more mainstream work in criminal justice. These are two very different research traditions and Jon does a great job of bringing them together, both in his own work, and in his teaching.”

Gould holds both JD and PhD degrees and is admitted to the bar in both the United States and in New Zealand. He conducted the interview for this article from New Zealand, where he spent part of December advising that nation’s Ministry of Justice on criminal justice reform, as well as teaching a comparative criminal justice and criminology class.

He is the author of four books and over 50 articles focusing on such diverse subjects as erroneous convictions, indigent defense, prosecutorial innovation, police behavior, hate speech, sexual harassment and international human rights. His first book, "Speak No Evil: The Triumph of Hate Speech Regulation," was a co-winner of the 2006 Herbert Jacob award for the best book in law and society. His second book, "The Innocence Commission: Preventing Wrongful Convictions and Restoring the Criminal Justice System," was named an outstanding academic title by the American Library Association.

Gould has won awards for his teaching and service and is a regular contributor to The Hill newspaper.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU student team engages nearly 900 voters with software that reminds people to cast ballots

Efforts place team in top 15 out of 131 U.S. colleges, universities

January 6, 2020

A team of Arizona State University students engaged nearly 900 fellow students in the voting process with an online tool, placing ASU in the top 15 among 131 U.S. colleges and universities, the nonpartisan organization Democracy Works announced.

Managed by the Brooklyn, New York-based Democracy Works, the tool, called TurboVote, employs easier ways to register and to get an early ballot, and sends students online reminders that elections are near to help them remember to cast ballots. Andrew Goodman Ambassador Cyrus Commissariat, right, assists a student voter. Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassador Cyrus Commissariat assists a student voter. Download Full Image

TurboVote streamlines the voting process, but it is only as effective as the people involved in sharing it, said Mike Ward, Democracy Works’ vice president for voter engagement, in a letter congratulating the students.

“ASU connected close to 900 students with the TurboVote technology in advance of this year’s elections, thanks to your enthusiastic team, thoughtful planning, and strategic implementation,” Ward wrote.

Volunteers in ASU’s 2019 engagement effort included representatives of ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG), several Andrew Goodman Foundation “Vote Everywhere” Ambassadors and members of the Student Civic Coalition. All worked with the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service.

“We’re extremely proud of this recognition from Democracy Works. But this level of student voter engagement would never be possible without the immense efforts of our student champions, namely our Andrew Goodman Foundation ‘Vote Everywhere’ Ambassadors,” said Alberto Olivas, executive director of the Pastor Center, which is based at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“The AGF ambassadors coordinate student voter registration, voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts with leaders in student government and other active organizations participating in the multipartisan Student Civic Coalition,” Olivas said. “I give them all so much credit for making our campus one of the most engaged and active universities in the country.”

Democracy Works’ website describes its organization as “a team of software developers, public policy wonks and civic organizers building the tools needed to upgrade the infrastructure of our democracy.”

Since 2012, more than 6 million voters have signed up for TurboVote, through participation with more than 300 colleges and universities as well as 50 nonprofits and other organizations, including Google, Facebook, Starbucks and Univision, according to the website.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Secretary of State, state treasurer tell of finding common ground in remarks to Watts College fall convocation

December 23, 2019

Brightly colored regalia, broad smiles on the faces of more than 360 graduates, their families and friends and inspiring words about those of different viewpoints working together for a better society highlighted the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Fall 2019 Convocation Ceremony.

Dean Jonathan Koppell opened the Dec. 19 ceremony at the newly renamed Arizona Federal Theatre in downtown Phoenix by reminding the audience of the importance of the graduates’ achievements. He assured the honorees that their efforts while at Arizona State University are already helping make a better world. Watts College graduates celebrate their achievement at the college's fall 2019 convocation in downtown Phoenix. Watts College graduates celebrate their achievement Dec. 19 at the college's fall 2019 convocation in downtown Phoenix. Download Full Image

Koppell said the Watts College ceremony is different from others at which speakers urge graduates to be mindful of the needs of others as they head out on their career journeys. Nothing wrong with that, he said.

“But here’s the thing: At this university there is one group of students that have already answered that call to serve. There’s one group of students that chose to pursue degrees to equip them precisely to serve their communities and take on their most challenging problems. There’s one group of students that does not need encouragement to make the world a better place. That’s this group of students,” the dean said as the audience erupted in cheers.

The Watts College has a diverse group of undergraduates, graduates and doctoral students earning degrees from its schools, he said.

“But they all share a common foundation. The common foundation is they start with the premise that our fates are intertwined, and we cannot operate with the assumption that if I do OK, everything will be fine,” Koppell said. “Rather, our fates are hopelessly intermingled. One of us cannot thrive if the rest of us are not thriving. And if one of us suffers, all of us are suffering. And that unites this college of public service and makes this night so very important.”

Convocation keynote speakers Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, D-Ariz., and State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, R-Ariz., are among three Watts College alumni who were elected to statewide political office in 2018. The third is U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Hobbs’ degree is from the School of Social Work, where one of her internships was at a domestic violence shelter. She underscored Koppell’s message of solutions-oriented service.

“I want to applaud you. You’re making the choice to have an impact in your communities, our state and in the world,” she said. “I also wonder how many of you are sitting there thinking that this career path will lead you to elective office, or have actually thought about running for office?”

Hobbs said that at her graduation 24 years ago, she probably would have laughed at such an idea.

“But here I am, nine years after being elected to the Legislature and just a year after winning statewide office, and I can say with certainty that it was my career in public service as a social worker that led me to running for office,” she said.

She said the political divide she encountered when first entering the state Legislature in 2010 has become greater than ever, more in Washington, D.C., than in Arizona. That’s why people who want to devote their lives to public service and the skills they learn in studying ways to advance change are needed today more than ever.

Hobbs noted the importance of bipartisanship and building bridges.

Even though Democrats held few seats in the House during her first years there, Hobbs said she was able to get two bills passed and signed into law because she built relationships and found common ground with Republicans.

“The bottom line is, I chose to pick my battles. Because when I had a bill that was a good idea that solved a problem, it was an opportunity to build a bridge and get something done. And that creates a win for everybody.”

Yee, whose degree from the college is a master’s in public administration, recalled how her time on the staff of the Senate Education Committee led to her choice of ASU’s MPA program.

“Every class in the MPA program was truly fulfilling and taught me real-world skills that I was already using in the public-sector work I was doing. The classes prepared me to be a leader in public policy and public administration,” Yee said. “I remember that at the end of every semester, I would think, ‘Wow, that semester can’t get any better.’ And then it would.”

Her classes in public budgeting readied her to manage public finance, she said.

“And I never would have guessed that later I would become the state treasurer to manage … $40 billion in the cash flow of public funds for our office and $17 billion in assets,” Yee said.

“I’d say that the investment in (my degree in) public administration was a good thing, and it has come in pretty handy over the years, and I know that you too will see as you enter the endeavors awaiting you today,” she said.

Both Hobbs and Yee served in both the Arizona House of Representatives and the Senate, and in fact simultaneously served in the Senate as minority leader (Hobbs) and majority leader (Yee).

“Work with people and show them respect, even in your differences. When I served as the Senate Republican majority leader, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, here on stage with me, was the Senate Democrat minority leader. While we sat on different sides of the aisle, it was important that we worked together, even when we disagreed,” Yee said. “There may have been deep debates on the floor of the Senate into the wee hours into the night, but with the spirit of respect and camaraderie, we’d leave the floor of the Senate asking what we were going to have for dinner that night.”

Yee recalled having the honor to invite retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to revisit the Arizona Senate chamber. O’Connor is an Arizonan who was the first woman on the court and in the 1970s was the first woman to be Arizona Senate majority leader. Yee, the second woman to be majority leader, led O’Connor onto the Senate floor in 2017.

“I asked Justice O’Connor, ‘What is it that you see that is different in politics today than when you served?’ She looked around the floor of the Senate and said, ‘See? All of these desks decorated with either an elephant to represent Republicans or a donkey to represent the Democrats? Back then, we never paid attention to party affiliation. We just got the good work done.’”

During the ceremony the college honored several graduates for academic and community achievement:

• Outstanding Graduates: Five students — one from each of the college’s four schools plus its interdisciplinary offerings — were honored as Outstanding Graduates: Brittny Dwyer, BS, of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Ashley Funneman, MPA, of the School of Public Affairs; Wendi Malmgren, MSW, of the School of Social Work; Atlas Pillar, BS NLM, of the School of Community Resources and Development; and Oliver Silva, MA EMHS, of Watts College Interdisciplinary Programs. Funneman was honored as the entire college’s Outstanding Graduate.

• Barrett, The Honors College graduates: Brittny Dwyer, honors thesis, “Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material and its Correlation to Sexual Offending”; Taryn Malone, honors thesis, “Prison Dogs: A Second Chance for Two Species”; and Jazmyne Landes, honors thesis, “Burn, Baby, Burn: The Centralia Mine Fire.”

• Moeur Award: Ethan Dougherty (School of Community Resources and Development, Community Sports Management). The Moeur Award is Arizona State University’s oldest, continuing honor. It was established in 1901 by Dr. Benjamin B. Moeur and Honor Anderson Moeur, and it is now sponsored annually by the Arizona State University Alumni Association. The award is presented to those individuals who have attained the highest academic standing toward their degrees with eight consecutive fall and spring semesters as ASU undergraduates. Moeur had served on the Tempe School Board, on the Board of Education for the Tempe Normal School (predecessor to Arizona State University) and as governor of Arizona.

• Doctoral graduate: Virginia Coco, whose doctoral dissertation was titled, “Identifying Barriers to Field Based Environmental Education in K-8 Public Elementary Schools in Arizona.”

Serving as college marshal during university undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies earlier this week was Maria Napoli, associate professor in the School of Social Work.

In the lobby after the ceremony, Molly Wagge, who received her master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management, said she felt “a mixture of emotions” upon graduating. “I feel ready to take on the world,” she said.

Now that the years preceding his receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice are over, Jeremy Pierce said it still didn’t feel real. “It’s kind of awe-inspiring that it’s over,” he said.

Graduate school — perhaps law school or studying intelligence analysis — is a probable next step for Bailey Nielson, who also received her bachelor’s degree from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. But that’s in the future. Right now?

“I feel pretty good — I’m done,” she said.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Competing for Control

Fifty-two prisoners in Texas were murdered in a 21-month period in the 1980s. Ninety percent of these deaths were related to gangs, primarily involving intergang conflicts between the Mexican Mafia and Texas Syndicate as well as the Aryan Brotherhood and Mandingo Warriors. Prison gangs exploded onto the scene across the United States around this period, helping usher in what has been called the era of “mass incarceration.” About 15% of the 1.5 million inmates in state and federal prisons are affiliated with gangs.

ASU grad dedicates herself to sexual violence prevention in Arizona

December 16, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Mia Reza, who is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in social work in December from the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, has spent her time at ASU working to improve the overall heath of her communities.  ASU grad Mia Reza ASU grad Mia Reza. Download Full Image

Reza has been involved with the Public Service Academy through the Next Generation Service Corps, where she supported individuals experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders in Maricopa County. She was also a student adviser for the Sun Devil Movement for Violence Prevention at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, where she educated and trained students interested in sexual and relationship violence prevention. Reza also worked as a peer educator for the organization. She helped expand and shape the program by facilitating trainings, supporting survivors and more. 

“I do know that students who have experienced sexual or relationship violence have a more difficult time succeeding in their classes, and upon learning the rates in which sexual and relationship violence happens I decided to commit myself to helping these students succeed,” she said. 

“I wanted to ensure that students know the resources available to them, teach people about consent and what healthy relationships should look like and create the community of care that I know ASU is all about.”

In the future, Reza plans to continue working within the realm of sexual and relationship violence prevention.

Reza spoke with ASU Now about her ASU experience, what advice she’d give to those still in school and what the future looks like for her. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I have had experience with the social work field my entire life. Something that my mom always emphasized to me was to be grateful for what we had, even when it seemed like what we had wasn’t very much. From a young age, I volunteered at soup kitchens and made it a point to give back to my community. I didn’t realize that this was within the realm of social work until years later. 

I originally came to ASU as a speech and hearing science major. The summer going into my second year at ASU I received an internship at a U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. There, I worked in the Education and Developmental Intervention Services program, helping children with developmental disabilities work on their language development. I really enjoyed the work there, and speech and hearing will always have a place in my heart, but when I met the social worker on our team and began to understand her role I made the connection to my previous experience and I knew that social work was where I needed to be.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I learned a lot about the importance of empathy. Empathy is something that we talk a lot about in social work classes. Within social work, in order to truly be helpful to clients, it is important to take the time to think about how people’s experiences have shaped who they are and the decisions they make. Empathy is a practice that I carry with me in my daily life. I find that it is harder to be mad or frustrated with people when I try to understand their point of view. This practice has honestly brought a lot of peace to my life.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I always wanted to attend a big university, and I initially chose to attend ASU because of the big sense of community it provides and the programs that were offered.  Even though I ended up taking a different path with the programs I chose, I have never once doubted my choice in ASU. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: During my time in the social work program at ASU I have had so many wonderful and caring professors. I can truthfully say that each one has provided me with unique insights into the field of social work. Their knowledge and expertise shaped me into the social worker I am today and has given me a vision of who I would like to be in the future. 

An example of one of these amazing teachers is Lilly Perez-Freerks. Lilly was the first Latina woman who I had as a professor and having class with her has helped me to be confident in myself and take pride in my experiences and culture.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: The best piece of advice I would give to those still in school would be to really take the time to practice self-care. The college experience can be very difficult, and students can sometimes take pride in the stress they carry. 

I often hear people comparing the little amounts of sleep they get or the ways that the work/school/life balance is too much to handle. I have definitely fallen into this type of behavior before but learning how to set your own boundaries and stick to them is so incredibly important. Remembering that it’s OK to say no to going out with friends or learning to ask for help when it’s needed are great ways to keep yourself from burning out. 

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

A: My favorite spot on campus has been the student center at the post office on the Downtown Phoenix campus. There is a nice lounge area on the bottom floor with arcade games and couches. I spent a lot of time there studying and hanging out during my longer breaks on campus.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduating, I will be pursuing a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in policy, administration and community practice. I will also be working with CARE 7, the city of Tempe’s crisis response team, where we respond to 911 calls in Tempe and help to support and provide resources for victims of crime and people experiencing crisis situations. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be pursuing a graduate degree and working with such an amazing organization. 

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

A: If I was given $40 million to solve one problem, I would begin to tackle the implementation of equitable education. This is a very complex issue, and addressing it would help to provide equal access to all levels of education for children in marginalized communities, including indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and children in low-income areas. 

There are many factors as to why education is inadequate in certain communities. Some of these disparities in education come from a lack of training for educators, learning materials that are not adequate, poverty among students and discrimination based on race and gender. This problem is very important to me because equitable education would provide more nurturing environments to ensure the success of students. I believe that these environments should be available to all children regardless of their background. 

Written by Austin Davis, Sun Devil Storyteller

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


ASU’s Watts College launches Master of Social Work degree program in Yuma

December 13, 2019

Arizona State University’s School of Social Work will offer a first-of-its-kind graduate program in Yuma, Arizona, that focuses on issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Starting next summer, students can earn a master’s degree in social work with instruction through ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Applications are now being received and will be reviewed until the first cohort of 30 students is welcomed for the 12-month course of study.  Download Full Image

Apply to the MSW program 

“Yuma is a critical region of Arizona, and we have always enjoyed great support for the work we do there,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the Watts College. “This new Master of Social Work program builds on the undergraduate social work programs presently offered on the Arizona Western College campus and continues our collaboration to serve the communities of southwestern Arizona.”’

James Herbert Williams, director of ASU’s School of Social Work within the Watts College, said the new program will provide those living and working in areas along the Colorado River an opportunity to earn a graduate degree in their own community that’s tailored to address specific issues and populations of the region.

“We train students to be social work practitioners with an understanding and respect for the unique social and cultural diversity of the Southwest,” Williams said. “Developing a graduate program that prepares students to practice in the borderlands advances this mission while strengthening the workforce in Yuma.”

The program will be open to all students who achieved at least a 3.2 grade-point average while receiving a bachelor of social work degree within the past six years from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Courses will be taught on the campus of Arizona Western College in Yuma.

The new degree offering comes in response to a request from several graduates of Northern Arizona University’s Bachelor of Social Work program in Yuma who were seeking an in-person Master of Social Work program near them. The 12-month program in Yuma is unique in its design to build on the program developed by NAU to prepare social workers for practice near the U.S.-Mexico border.

ASU’s School of Social Work is working with community organizations, schools, hospitals and nonprofits to develop partnerships and internship placements for students. Interns provide volunteer hours and get vital on-the-job training in social service agencies.

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ASU professors to help Gulf Coast communities assess climate risks

ASU professors on team to help Gulf Coast residents assess disaster risk.
What is needed to make a specific house resilient — and how much will it cost?
December 13, 2019

Research project funded by settlement in 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster

As the seas rise along the Gulf Coast of the U.S., thousands of communities must decide how to adjust to a new environment. Two professors at Arizona State University are part of a team that’s developing a new tool to help homeowners assess their risk and make informed decisions.

Melanie Gall, research professor and co-director of the Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security at ASU, and Natasha Mendoza, associate professor in the School of Social Work, are working with researchers from eight other institutionsThe other institutions are the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Louisiana Sea Grant, Louisiana State University, the RAND Corp., the University of Florida, the University of New Orleans and the University of South Carolina. Gall will direct the project with Christopher Emrich of the University of Central Florida. to create a new information platform that will tell residents the likelihood that they’ll face a weather disaster and how much it might cost to avoid it. The work is made possible by a $3.4 million grant from the Gulf Research Program, which is funded by settlements from the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil spill in 2010.

“FEMA likes to say that insurance is the first line of defense for residents against flood damage, but we would argue that it’s actually your house that’s your first line of defense,” Gall said.

“We want to provide information to residents to learn more about the resilience of their house. Can you elevate your house? Can you put on hurricane shutters? And how much would that cost?

“We also want to increase the awareness around the hazard profile of your community. Has it had tornadoes in the past? Has it had floods, and where did they occur?”

The researchers envision a Zillow-type app in which residents can look up an address and instantly see all of this information.

Currently, much of the data already exists, and this project will pull it together in a consumer-friendly format. ASU houses a disaster-loss database, which Gall has worked on ever since she was a PhD student at the University of South Carolina several years ago. SHELDUS, or Spatial Hazards Events and Losses Database for the United States, shows events such as thunderstorms, flash floods, weather fatalities and property losses at the county level.

“Over time, we realized there’s a need in the community, especially the planning community and research community, to maintain this database, and a lot of our funding agencies don’t like to maintain things. They like to fund new things,” she said.

So when Gall came to ASU in 2017, she brought SHELDUS with her, and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions agreed to provide startup money to create the infrastructure to house it. Now the database, which charges for subscriptions, is financially self-sustaining. But because ASU provided funding, all the data for Arizona is free.

Besides SHELDUS, other databases that will be in the new platform include FEMA mapping services, which delineate flood zones, and the Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities at the University of South Carolina.

“You’ll have an information platform but also a visualization platform,” Gall said. “If you see a dot on the map and you see all the stuff that’s gone on around it, that gives you a much different visual impact than just a list of statistics.”

Crucially, the team also will study whether homeowners actually use the information.

“The whole premise is that more information does not always mean better decision-making. There’s plenty of research that shows this,” Gall said.

“That’s one of the pitfalls we want to avoid. Not just sharing the information, but presenting it in a useful way.”

The researchers will work with community members to avoid negative impacts, such as making sure everyone has access to the information tool.

This kind of information can be sensitive because many people in these communities have already been traumatized by weather disasters like hurricanes.

“There is research that shows that it is stressful for residents to think about how safe or unsafe their residence might be and people might prefer not to think about it,” Gall said. Mendoza, who is director of the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, will be involved in evaluating the stress that this information could cause.

While the initial natural-disaster research will be focused on the Gulf Coast, Gall said the tool could be expanded to include the entire country.

“You could envision something like this with regard to heat in Arizona. What’s the insulation and how heat-resilient is a certain location?” said Gall, who teaches in the ASU Online Emergency Management and Homeland Security program. “In California, there’s plenty of information on wildland interface, vegetation that’s fire resistant and the history of wildfires in certain areas.”

Homeowners should know all the information about a residence before they buy it, including what their costs could be many years down the road, she said.

“There are many homebuyers who find out at the closing table that they are required to buy flood insurance,” Gall said. “That’s what we want to avoid, because the closing table is not the time to decide if you’re going to walk away.”

Top photo of New Orleans submerged after Hurricane Katrina by David Mark of Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now