ASU first university to become Employer of National Service

March 31, 2015

Arizona State is the first university to sign on as an Employer of National Service, an initiative announced by President Obama last fall. The program is aimed at getting employers to consider hiring those who served in the AmeriCorps program and the Peace Corps. The announcement was made at a ceremony held March 30 at the Downtown Phoenix campus with students, faculty and national service alumni in attendance.

“As we have been searching around the country looking for employers who care and value Peace Corps and AmeriCorps alums, I’m thrilled that Arizona State University if the very first university in the nation to join Employers of National Service, the very first,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Public Allies alumna Analisa LaCour Download Full Image

Spencer’s agency oversees AmeriCorps, which has more than 900,000 alumni since the program was created in 1994.

Analisa LaCour is one of them. She participated in the Public Allies program through the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. She served two ten-month stints working with Native American youth and teens. First as an after-school academic coordinator in 2009-2010, then as a youth services coordinator the following year.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that have opened up to me as a result of my time with Public Allies,” said LaCour. “I’m additionally thankful that ASU is committed to being an Employer of National Service. It’s wonderful to work for an institution that recognizes and values what an employee like me brings. We’re passionate, we’re solutions-oriented and we’re dedicated to serving the communities we care about.”

A community college transfer coordinator at the ASU West campus in Glendale, LaCour is finishing her master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College. She aspires to create an ASU preparatory academy on local Native American reservations.

“Being involved in national service has not only opened up professional opportunities, it changed the way I thought about what I could accomplish in my own life,” said LaCour.

Since the Employer of National Service program began last fall, more than 200 businesses, governments and nonprofits have signed up, including Sodexo, Disney and the American Red Cross. Spencer hopes ASU joining the ranks will spur other organizations to do the same.

For those considering national service, Spencer pointed to research that shows the impact such experience can have when it comes to looking for work.

“If you volunteer and you’re unemployed and searching for work, you increase the likelihood of getting a job by 27 percent,” said Spencer. “Pretty significant! If you live in a rural community, it jumps up to 55 percent as an advantage.”

As a condition of being a National Employer of Service, organizations are asked to indicate an interest in hiring AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni or provide a way for applicants to list national service experience on an application such as a check box. The city of Philadelphia gives national service alumni five points credit on the city’s civil service exam. ASU is still in the process of determining which method will be used.

For more information, visit the Employer of National Service website.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


New faculty member's novel is next for ASU book group

April 1, 2015

The ASU Book Group will meet from noon to 1 p.m., April 29, to discuss “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods,” by new English faculty member Matt Bell. The meeting will take place in room 316 of the Durham Language and Literature Building on the Tempe campus. Bell will be present at the meeting.

In Bell’s mythical debut novel, a newlywed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore, where they plan to live simply, fish the lake and trap in the nearby woods. cover of the book "In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods" Download Full Image

The build a house, and then begin trying to raise a family. But as every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: “the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.”

The novel explores the limits of parenthood and marriage – and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.

Bell studied at Bowling Green State University and has taught at Northern Michigan University and served as the senior editor at Dzanc Books and was the founding editor of The Collagist, a monthly online literary magazine.

His short fiction has also appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Conjunctions, ASU’s Hayden's Ferry Review, Gulf Coast, Guernica (magazine), Willow Springs, Unsaid and American Short Fiction. His stories have been anthologized in The Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Fantasy and 30 Under 30: an Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers.

The ASU Book Group, sponsored by the Department of English, is open to all ASU faculty, staff and students, and the community. There is no membership fee. For more information, contact Judith Smith at