ASU receives grant to partner with Pakistan women's college

November 14, 2013

When most Americans think of Pakistan, images of violence and terrorism likely come to mind. But Pakistan also has an active civil society, mostly led by its women, who are seen as key to combating extremism in the Islamic South Asian republic.

Now Arizona State University will be empowering some of those women through an academic exchange program with a 100-year-old women’s college in Pakistan. The three-year project is being funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of State through its Pakistan embassy. group photo on ASU campus Download Full Image

The exchange program will involve faculty and students in English and American literature at ASU and Kinnaird College in Lahore, Pakistan. The project’s aims are to globalize research and teaching of American literature and to empower Pakistani women to become leaders and agents of change in academia as well as the larger society.

“This partnership is part of our broader effort to foster global engagement,” says Linell Cady, director of ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, which will oversee the project. “It is a wonderful opportunity to build the cross-cultural knowledge, understanding and relationships so important to life in the 21st century.”

At ASU, the exchange represents a unique collaboration between the ASU Department of English and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, both units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The project kicked off this October with a site visit to ASU by Nadia Anjum, head of the post-graduate program in English at Kinnaird. After many conversations over email and through Skype, Anjum finally had the chance to meet the ASU team in person. She returned to Pakistan with her head “loaded with project ideas,” she said.

The ASU team will, in turn, visit Pakistan in spring 2014 to carry out a series of workshops and initiate a comprehensive needs assessment. Working together with Kinnaird faculty and administrators, the team will jointly create an action plan to address the needs of the college and individual teachers and researchers in its American literature program.

The centerpiece of the project is a scholars-in-residence program, which will bring Kinnaird College faculty and graduate students to ASU for up to a full semester. While at ASU, the Kinnaird scholars will build collaborative relationships with ASU scholars, develop research ideas into publishable papers and shape new courses in American literature.

“The scholars-in-residence program will provide ASU faculty and students with a valuable opportunity for cross-cultural discussions,” says Deborah Clarke, professor of English, associate dean of faculty, and the project’s director. “Having Kinnaird scholars here will enable ASU students to consider American literature and culture from an international perspective and to see things they’ve read before with new eyes.”

ASU faculty and graduate students will also travel to Pakistan to spend several weeks at Kinnaird, teaching specialized courses. While there, they will also participate in workshops and roundtable discussions with Pakistani colleagues at Kinnaird that will also include faculty from other academic institutions in Lahore. The discussions will be focused on such common themes as border and migration studies, global feminism and women in academia, pedagogy in a digital age and scholarly publishing.

A final component of the project will be to provide new library resources for the Kinnaird College American literature program and a project website. The latter will enable exchanges between U.S. and Pakistan participants to continue beyond the three-year term of the grant.

“We believe this project will encourage the kind of personal and social transformation that can lead to broader understanding among people, nations and cultures,” says Clarke. “To explore common issues is to engage a world of possibilities as to what it means to be human in a globalized world.”

In 2010, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict began an outreach initiative to Pakistan that included collaborations with several universities in Islamabad and Lahore on a series of workshops and conferences on religion, ethics and the humanities.

History professor and Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies Yasmin Saikia, one of the faculty members who helped lead that initiative, serves on the executive committee of the American Institute for Pakistan Studies. She has conducted history dissertation workshops and reviewed and evaluated university history curriculum for the Pakistan Higher Education Commission.

Saikia will be involved in the exchange program with Kinnaird College as well. She will help lead the faculty exchanges and serve as liaison to the local Pakistani community during the scholars-in-residence program.

“Women in Pakistan have impressed me immensely because they are resilient, have incredible endurance and have managed to stay hopeful, even in the most difficult times,” says Saikia. “By empowering academic women in Pakistan through this project, we can support their efforts in creating a positive vision of peace.”

Kinnaird College for Women is one of Pakistan’s premier institutions of higher education, offering 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in liberal arts, business and media studies to women from all elements of Pakistan society. The college was founded in 1913. It is named for a titled family from Scotland that was involved in social and missionary work through the Presbyterian Church, and who donated funds to help construct the college.

Rounding out the project team are ASU English professors Neal Lester and Claudia Sadowski-Smith.

Lester, who is also director of Project Humanities, has previously been involved with a project to help develop American studies at Sichuan University in China. He will work closely with Saikia and Clarke on developing the modules for the overseas components of the project. Sadowski-Smith will direct the scholars-in-residence component of the project.

For more information about the project, contact Carolyn Forbes, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, at

Story by Barby Grant

ASU establishes board of university trustees

November 14, 2013

Arizona State University has announced the creation of the Trustees of ASU, a board made up of leadership donors that will serve as an advisory body for the university and ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Previously, the trustees were aligned with the ASU Foundation for A New American University, the private nonprofit organization that supports ASU. John Graham, chairman of the Trustees of ASU Download Full Image

In announcing the creation of the board, President Crow noted, “ASU has come a long way in a short time, but there is a tremendous amount more to be done. The Trustees of ASU are central to achieving our vision. On behalf of the entire Arizona State University community, I want to thank those who have agreed to serve and all who support this great enterprise.”

The new Trustees of ASU represents an evolution of the trustee concept, allowing the board to serve colleges and institutes across the university, added R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., Ph.D., CEO of the ASU Foundation. The trustees of the foundation board were involved in the process of establishing the new model.

“There was consensus among all the participants – trustees, foundation and university officials and President Crow – that a board of university trustees would provide stronger representation of units throughout ASU,” Shangraw said. An example of that commitment to representation, he noted, is that for the first time, deans of ASU colleges will be able to recommend trustees for the board.

The Trustees of ASU will advise the ASU president on philanthropic opportunities, provide insight into new resources for the university and offer strategies for increasing affinity of donors for the institution. The trustees will comprise members from across the greater university community, representing the breadth of ASU while drawing representation from the various colleges and institutes, other affiliated entities and from outside Arizona. The trustees will include university leadership donors who will commit to ongoing service and participation in addition to bi-annual meetings. Trustees will be subject to term limits.

“We are committed to and sharply focused on working more closely and more collaboratively with our colleges and their alumni,” said Shangraw. “We have a great opportunity to combine resources to meet the challenges facing ASU, and to further empower ASU units to lead in the discovery of solutions to the challenges facing our society.”

Four standing committees will lead the trustees: executive, development, affinity and solutions. The executive committee, charged with providing leadership for significant university-wide fundraising, will include the ASU president, foundation CEO, and the trustees chair and vice chair. The other committees will be coordinated and staffed by both ASU Foundation and university leadership.

John Graham, vice chair of the ASU Foundation board of directors, is first chairman of the Trustees of ASU, as appointed by President Crow.

“The Trustees of ASU are invested in Arizona State University’s success,” said Graham, who is president of Scottsdale-based Sunbelt Holdings and director and executive committee member of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council of 100. “We support the institution with our time, our experience and our philanthropy. The vision for the university is clear and exciting, and the trustees stand committed to helping achieve it.”

Cindy Watts, who served for two years (2011-13) as co-chair of the foundation’s Women & Philanthropy and joins husband Michael as a lifetime member of the ASU President’s Club, is the Trustees of ASU vice chair. Like Graham, Watts was appointed by President Crow.

“This will be an exciting year, and I am looking forward to being a part of it and the positive impact that is possible,” said Watts. “There has been so much great work done by university volunteers who serve as great advocates and have been so giving of their time, talent and treasure. Under the leadership of President Crow, we have the opportunity to further advance ASU and its vision of a New American University. The trustees will be an integral part of supporting that vision.”

Shangraw reported that the new model calls for the board of trustees to be action-oriented.

“We’ll have weekend meetings in the fall and spring, and they will be packed with opportunities to work on problems facing ASU, to provide input back to the president and to learn more about the work the university is doing.”

The most important questions for the trustees, Shangraw said, are, “How do we improve the connection between the university and its supporters? How do we coordinate and improve all college fundraising through collaboration? And how can we better represent and market fundraising activities to our investors, so that we can work together to find additional resources for those activities?”

Shangraw said the new board is a necessary and logical step in ASU’s continuing evolution. “From our earliest days as the Tempe Normal School, the community has been key to building and supporting our university,” he said. “The Trustees of ASU are a group of distinguished citizen-leaders who are committed to advancing the vision of a New American University.”

Stephen Des Georges,
Senior Director, Editorial Services | Communications & Marketing
ASU Foundation for A New American University

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