Crow announces pledge to increase graduation rates at national forum


December 4, 2014

Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow on Thursday announced a pledge by the University Innovation Alliance to graduate 68,000 more students from 11 member institutions in the next decade.

Speaking at a national education forum convened by the White House, Crow said universities working together could change the culture and dynamics of higher education, and create new avenues for graduates from all economic and cultural backgrounds. people sitting on a stage Download Full Image

“We think that we can do that by innovating together, dramatically, and that’s what we’re excited about,” Crow, who chairs the alliance, said at Thursday’s White House event.

Crow made the announcement at the second College Opportunity Day of Action in Washington, D.C.

Hosted by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama, the event expanded upon commitments made by more than 140 college presidents in January 2014 at the first such event.

Crow represented the University Innovation Alliance in the day’s first panel discussion.

The organization was formed in the fall of 2014 by 11 public research universities, including ASU. The UIA members collaborate on ways to produce more graduates, produce more graduates from lower socioeconomic status families, lower the cost of higher education, and share their findings with one another.

“We believe that we can produce fantastically capable college graduates from all family backgrounds at scale at a lower cost by innovating together,” Crow said.

Crow shared the stage with Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Gov. Bill Haslam, Republican, of Tennessee; Sebastian Thrun, CEO and co-founder of Udacity; and Candace Thille, assistant professor in the Stanford School of Education. The panel was moderated by Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Both Crow and Hrabowski agreed that an important part of enabling student success is changing the attitude and the culture of higher education as we know it.

“We must change the systems, the methodologies, the culture and the dynamics,” said Crow.

Addressing the conference, President Obama praised the attendees attention to issues surrounding access to and graduation from institutions of higher education.

“All we did was ask a simple question: What can we do collectively to create more success stories…” President Obama said. “You collectively have responded to give more of our students a chance.”

Crow also announced Thursday that the four-year graduation rate at ASU has seen an increase of 20 percentage points between 2002 and 2010, with the most dramatic increase occurring after the introduction of a system called eAdvisor, which allows students to plot their progress toward a degree in real time.

“(That is) largely derivative of a highly innovative faculty willing to innovate in dramatic ways with the injection of technological tools that allow them to operate in ways that even they couldn’t imagine,” Crow said.

Since then, ASU has made many other investments to boost graduation rates, including the hiring of hundreds of tutors, the creation of focused learning communities on campus, the introduction of adaptive learning platforms and a “retention dashboard” that signals to administrators when a student needs additional support.

That collection of tools has had a significant impact on the success of students.

“It’s really unbelievable to see the outcomes,” Crow said.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

ASU in Hollywood brings top executives to class


December 5, 2014

Aspiring stars of stage and screen have tried many things to get their shot at fame and fortune. But one Arizona State University alumnus who has made it to the top of Hollywood has simple advice: hard work and dedication can get you where you want to go.

“Find something that you love and stick to it,” said Michael Burns, the vice chairman of Lionsgate, speaking to an ASU film class this week in Santa Monica, California. “Devote time to it.” students watching live feed projection of person speaking ASU film and media students on the Tempe campus listen to Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate, speak during a live feed of a "Welcome to Hollywood" class at ASU's California Center in Santa Monica. Download Full Image

Burns shared his experiences, some life lessons and personal advice on how to make it in a notoriously competitive industry at the “Welcome to Hollywood” class taught at ASU’s California Center by film professor Adam Collis.

He argued that, along with dedication, the ambition to strive for big things is crucial to being able to achieve them.

“When looking for a job, you have to ask yourself, where would you be great?” he said. “And then dare to be great.”

Burns has close ties to ASU, where he studied political science and was the president of his fraternity. Now he is the leader of Lionsgate’s corporate management team, and has been involved in the acquisition and production of some of Lionsgate’s biggest box office hits.

The “Welcome to Hollywood” course is part of ASU in Hollywood, a collection of ad hoc classes, programs and internships run by Collis, a professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The goals of "Welcome to Hollywood" include broadening ASU students’ exposure to leaders in the film and television industry. The program also aims to connect ASU to California’s biggest metropolitan area.

In fact, Burns’ speech was streamed live onto the Tempe campus, where 20 Arizona-based students had the opportunity to participate in and interact with the class.

Steven Wallace, an ASU grad who attended the lecture on the California side, said he learned details about budgeting and foreign affairs from Burns’s talk, in addition to getting to hear his words of wisdom.

“He was a very personable speaker, and I just liked his overall message,” Wallace said.

One of those messages was that new technologies can create openings for new opportunities in storytelling.

“You want to go where the puck is going,” Burns told students. “You don’t want to go where it’s been.”

Lionsgate was ahead of the media curve when it came to technology, Burns said, but around the globe technology continues to grow.

Burns is also a believer in social media and argues YouTube can be harnessed to increase someone’s profile: the perfect tool to broadcast uniqueness and get a name noticed.

While Burns touched on the technical and corporate side of the entertainment business, he said he shared his experiences to prove that people have to dig deep in order to survive in this industry.

“Everyone has something unique about themselves. Everyone has a hook. Make yourself stand out,” he said.

Written by Jillian Lopez