ASU creates sustainability leadership directorate

May 5, 2010

Shangraw appointed director; van der Leeuw appointed dean; Melnick continues as chief operating officer and executive dean

ASU President Michael M. Crow announced R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. has been appointed director of the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), a key universitywide research initiative. Shangraw also serves as ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Simultaneously, ASU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth D. Capaldi announced the appointment of Sander van der Leeuw as dean of the School of Sustainability. He also will continue as director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative. Download Full Image

Rob Melnick continues as GIOS chief operating officer and executive dean. He, along with Shangraw and van der Leeuw, form the institute’s new directorate providing overall leadership to GIOS and its School of Sustainability.

“The provost and I decided to appoint Dr. Shangraw and Dr. van der Leeuw following a national search for a new GIOS leadership team,” Crow said. “Given Rick’s strong leadership credentials and his deep expertise and experience in energy and environmental issues, he’s ideally suited to lead GIOS during this next phase of the institute’s development.”

Shangraw’s involvement with sustainability issues began in the 1980s when he worked on energy issues at the Rand Corporation. He was later part of the team that led the largest environmental cleanup program in the world – the remediation of the United States' nuclear weapons complex. He has extensive consulting experience with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to work more closely with ASU faculty and staff in advancing sustainability,” Shangraw said. “This is one of the most important issues of our generation and I am eager to make a difference in this area.”

The provost said van der Leeuw is uniquely qualified for the dean position, having impressive teaching and research credentials, a passion for sustainability and a record of relevant intellectual contributions, and the respect of the faculty. 

“Sander has shown the ability to build a strong multidisciplinary academic unit in his record as director of the School of Human Evolution and is the right type of leader to build upon the strong foundation established by current school director Chuck Redman.”

van der Leeuw is an archeologist and historian by training, having held numerous academic appointments in the United States and Europe. Much of his research focus has been at the intersection of society and the environment from distant past to present. Since 1992, he has been involved in a series of European Union research projects in the area of modern socio-natural interactions and environmental problems, in a network of long term socio-environmental research sites in the countries along the northern Mediterranean rim. He’s also exploring environmental perception and policymaking.  van der Leeuw is an External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute and a Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.  He teaches courses on the ethnography of innovation. 

“It will be an honor and privilege to work closely with the faculty to ensure we aren’t just known as the first university sustainability school in the nation, but the ‘best’ sustainability school in the world,” van der Leeuw said. “Chuck Redman has done a wonderful job leading and growing this school. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey.”

Crow and Capaldi acknowledged Melnick for his outstanding work during the past two years with GIOS students, staff, faculty and board members.

“Together, Rick, Sander and Rob form a very powerful leadership cadre for GIOS and the school,” they said.

About the School of Sustainability in the Global Institute of Sustainability:
The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges – especially as they relate to urban areas. For more information: visit" target="_blank"> or" target="_blank">


R. F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr., Global Institute of Sustainability, (480) 965-1225
Sander van der Leeuw, School of Sustainability, (480) 965-6215
Rob Melnick, Global Institute of Sustainability, (480) 965-5233

Media contacts:

Skip">">Skip Derra, 480-965-4823
Karen">">Karen Leland, 480-965-0013

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU forms Knowledge Enterprise Development

May 5, 2010

Research and Economic Affairs reorganizes to Knowledge Enterprise Development;
Shangraw appointed Senior Vice President and Panchanathan appointed Chief Research Officer

In response to ASU’s rapidly growing research enterprise across all fields and disciplines and the need for continued focus on innovative knowledge creation and transfer, ASU President Michael M. Crow announced the Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Affairs is being reorganized and renamed the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. 

Crow also announced the appointment of R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. as senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development and director of the Global Institute of Sustainability. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan will serve as deputy vice president and university chief research officer. Download Full Image

ASU’s major interdisciplinary research institutes and initiatives report to Shangraw. These include the Biodesign Institute, Global Institute of Sustainability, Flexible Display Center, LightWorks, Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative and Decision Theater. With GIOS, Shangraw will serve as director of that universitywide initiative. 

“Dr. Shangraw and Dr. Panchanathan know the incredible talent of our broadly scoped research community as they’ve seen ASU propel from relative research newcomer to one of the top 20 research institutions in the nation without a medical school,” Crow said. “In this expanded capacity, Rick and Panch will continue to cultivate ASU’s knowledge enterprise within the global innovation ecosystem. They are the right type of leaders to keep at the helm as we continue to grow our enterprise and expand our impact.”

The evolution of the Office of Research and Economic Affairs to the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development ties those involved in research and discovery, innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization in a way that more effectively advances knowledge generation, integration and utilization. 

Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi said that the strong performance of the faculty in research and scholarly activity has brought ASU to this new level.

Shangraw said he is “very grateful for this opportunity to serve in this broader capacity and looks forward to defining this new role to leverage all aspects of the university’s knowledge enterprise from the humanities to engineering and science.” 

“ASU is an interconnected lattice of faculty and staff who generate knowledge, disseminate knowledge and transform knowledge into new ideas, new theories and concepts, inventions, new processes and spinout companies," Shangraw said. "This expanded view of ASU as a knowledge enterprise better reflects all of the activities and outcomes of this great university.”

Panchanathan echoed the sentiment, saying he’s looking forward to helping to advance numerous strategic research initiatives, particularly in assisting faculty identify and compete for major research opportunities.

“Panch is the perfect choice as the university’s chief research officer,” Crow said. “He’s well-respected inside and outside of the institution and his research accomplishments are extensive and impressive. Rick and he make a strong team that is sure to further grow our knowledge enterprise.”

Before becoming the deputy vice president of Research and Economic Affairs, Panchanathan was the founding director of ASU’s School of Computing and Informatics and instrumental in founding the Biomedical Informatics Department at ASU. He also was the chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department. In addition, he was appointed as the Foundation Chair of Computing and Informatics.


R. F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. – (480) 965-1225
Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan – (480) 965-3699

Media contacts:

">"> Skip Derra, 480-965-4823
John">">John Skinner, 480-965-1225

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library