ASU awarded $2.4M USAID grant to help strengthen higher ed in Vietnam

August 30, 2012

An ambitious higher engineering education initiative driven by Arizona State University to advance economic development efforts in Vietnam is continuing to attract support and build momentum.

A $2.4 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) grant to ASU will expand the Higher Education Engineering Alliance Program (HEEAP) that leverages public and private sector funding to improve the quality of higher education in the country. Download Full Image

Through a partnership with Intel Corp., the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and ASU, HEEAP seeks to help modernize higher education and prepare a more highly trained workforce to meet the increasing needs of global high-tech industries.

This USAID grant will support a new component of the HEEAP initiative. The Vocational and University Leadership and Innovation Institute (VULII) will provide capacity-building and training programs for Vietnamese university presidents and engineering school deans.

“Using an integrated approach, VULII will encourage leadership and innovation at the highest levels in conjunction with quality assurance at the delivery level,” said ASU professor Kathryn Mohrman, and principal investigator for VULII. “This is the best way to influence systemic change across institutions and across the tertiary education sector in Vietnam,” she added.

HEEAP was established in 2010 with funding support from USAID and Intel. Jeffery Goss, an assistant dean and executive director with ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering is director of the program. To date, HEEAP has trained more than 100 faculty members from Vietnam's universities and colleges in advanced methods for teaching engineering.

“The framework of HEEAP will now evolve into five pillars: Faculty Development, Leadership Development, Technology in Education (Distance), Technical English, and Women in Technology and Engineering,” Goss said.  

Mohrman, director of ASU’s University Design Consortium and a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs, will oversee the six major leadership development components for VULII:

• Quality Assurance Institute. Vietnamese universities cannot succeed at transformational change without a robust system of quality indicators integrated into institutional and departmental strategic plans.

• Rectors Leadership Institute. The success of VULII depends on the ownership of the reform process by the institutions themselves; transformational change cannot be imposed from the outside.

• Deans Leadership Institute. Annually, deans will be trained on developing strategic plans for their colleges and departments that are aligned to their rectors’ institutional plans and national education goals.

• Financial Management Institute. VULII will also hold annual one-week seminars in Vietnam for directors of budgeting and finance from each of the eight target campuses; the focus will be on modern methods of budget and finance, as well as implementation of the institution’s strategic plan.

• Faculty and Curriculum Development Institute. VULII resources will further support this core HEEAP focus by emphasizing institutional change strategies and providing the critical infrastructure necessary for continued enhancement of faculty and curriculum development efforts.

• Centers of Excellence will provide scalability through outreach, and will be accessible to anyone in Vietnam (or the world).

Mohrman said the participating rectors and deans will concentrate on strategic planning and “they will be supported by quality assurance experts and institutional researchers as necessary as they implement their plans.” Engineering professor Dan Shunk will teach leadership components and strategic planning to Vietnamese university rectors and deans and Chell Roberts, executive dean of the College of Technology and Innovation, will lead the Deans Leadership Institute.   

The implications of the grant are expected to be wide-reaching, enhancing ASU’s globalization efforts, strengthening ties with the Vietnamese government, and providing ASU, as well as universities in Vietnam, a chance to develop a more international perspective of education.

"This program will help further strengthen the collaboration between academia and industry, and ultimately will accelerate economic development in Vietnam," said Francis Donovan, USAID mission director.

HEEAP works with Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA). HEEAP's participating institutions are Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technical Education, Can Tho University, Danang University of Technology, Cao Thang Technical College, Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology, and Ho Chi Minh Vocational College of Technology.

The HEEAP expansion announced by partners in Hanoi last week will also have other funding partners, including MOLISA and Intel Corp., and other industry partners. The estimated target investment from current and future partners for the HEEAP expansion is $40 million.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.

For more information about USAID and its programs, please visit, and

Associate Director, Marketing & Communication, Educational Outreach & Student Services


Counseling services at ASU – for when life hands you lemons

August 30, 2012

Chances are, if you’ve ever hiked up “A” Mountain, or waited for the Light Rail at Veterans Way & College Ave., you have unknowingly passed by one of ASU’s best (unintentionally) kept secrets: the Employee Assistance and Wellness Office.

The office is tucked away from the roar of buses along 5th Street, where it is situated unassumingly in the northwest corner of the University Towers building, in Suite 101. Employee Assistance Office staff Download Full Image

Populated by an experienced staff of medical professionals, the EAO’s sole purpose is to promote and maintain the mental and physical health of ASU’s valued faculty and staff. This means you. The services EAO provides are wide-ranging and always free of charge to all benefits-eligible employees and their spouses, dependents and household members.

The office has been assisting ASU employees and their families for 28 years, since first opening its doors in July of 1984, after being converted from a pizza parlor to the modern office space it is now.

At once charming and welcoming, the first thing you notice when you walk through the door – besides the smiling face of receptionist Robin Cook – is a distinct sense of calm and ease. Despite its small size, the space manages to accommodate a lobby area, a large conference room, a wellness office and four individual counseling offices.

The four counseling offices are inhabited by Jillian McManus, EAO director; Suzanne Jacobs, senior counselor; and fellow counselors Leonard Nasca and Korah Hoffman.

Each office is similarly furnished with cushy sofas and frosted glass doors, which serve as both a private exit and an aperture for letting in some restorative daylight.

As stated on their website, “The Employee Assistance Office uses a brief model of intervention (one to five sessions) to assist employees and their family members in addressing a variety of issues that may affect their general well-being, productivity and relationships.”

Most often, McManus says, it’s the regular life stressors that bring people into their office, and she wants ASU employees to know that a person doesn’t need to be suffering from a debilitating mental illness to benefit from counseling. According to the staff, the most common issues they deal with on a day-to-day basis are anxiety and depression, interpersonal relationships – both personal and professional – and stress.

But Jacobs urges, “There is no issue that’s too small or too big that we can’t help with.”

The EAO is partnered with Banner Health, which provides the office with a psychiatric resident once a week who is able to prescribe medication when needed. If a patient would like to continue with more sessions, after the initial one-to-five, the EAO is equipped to refer individuals to support groups or doctors within their network.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and though they do accept walk-ins, anyone interested can always call ahead to schedule an appointment and get answers to any questions they may have.

The counseling services are 100 percent confidential and are available on all campuses.

Besides counseling services, the EAO also maintains a wellness office, run by Elizabeth Badalamenti, a community health nurse, who coordinates campus wellness screenings and flu-shots in addition to scheduling nutrition, wellness and exercise classes every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Memorial Union. Information on classes offered at other campuses can be found here

Badalamenti advocates that in order to be mentally well, you need to also be physically well. “Mind, body and spirit are all related,” she says. "Keeping them in balance ensures that a person feels their best and is most productive.”

Perhaps the most important thing to know about the Employee Assistance Office is that the staff there really does care. As Jacobs puts it: “Everyone has the resiliency and the strength within themselves to fix their problems, but sometimes they can lose their way. My job is to hold up a flashlight for them and help them get back on their path.”

McManus echoes that sentiment. “I love what I do. I believe that people innately have the power to heal themselves and sometimes they just need an objective viewpoint to help discover their own inner strength; witnessing people heal themselves is truly inspirational.”

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657