Michael Angilletta named ASU's Funniest Teacher

September 22, 2014

More than any faculty member at Arizona State University, Michael Angilletta, associate director of undergraduate programs in the School of Life Sciences, can claim to have the best sense of humor after winning the second annual Funniest Teacher Contest on Sept. 15.

The contest was hosted by Project Humanities, an ASU initiative striving to instill passion for and understanding of humanities study, research and humanist thought in individuals and communities within and around ASU. Mike Angilletta entertains and educates incoming freshmen at SOLS' Camp IGNITE Download Full Image

Initially, students had the opportunity to nominate professors by writing 100-word letters of support. The teachers then made videos to demonstrate their dedication to keeping humor in the classroom, and students could later vote for their favorite online.

The winner was announced at an event in the Memorial Union on Monday, after a showcase of the videos and an hour-long question-and-answer panel with the nominees. A final round of in-person voting decided that Angilletta had won, and he accepted his award from South Africa, via Skype.

“To me, it was validation that we were doing the right thing,” Angilletta, a professor and senior sustainability scholar within the School of Life Sciences, said of winning. “This is the greatest achievement of my long life!”

Go here to view the nominees’ videos online.

Jason Krell

Communication and events coordinator, Center for Evolution and Medicine


Former ASU law staffer to join US Indian Affairs office

September 22, 2014

The White House appointed Ann Marie Downes, ASU law class of 1994 and former executive director of the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, to serve in the assistant secretary's office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Downes is now deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development.

"I'm a big believer in public service," Downes said about the opportunity to join the bureau, where she will work under assistant secretary Kevin Washburn. "It was hard to leave my team at ASU, but it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. When you get the chance to serve, you take it." portrait of Ann Marie Downes Download Full Image

In her new role, Downes will oversee the Office of Self-Governance and the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. She will also be a part of a new initiative, the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The council establishes a national policy to ensure that the federal government engages in a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner.

“It’s an active and thriving office,” Downes said. “I see so much progress and positive steps being taken for Indian Country under this administration, and I look forward to continuing that work.”

Downes, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, served as policy adviser for Tribal Affairs under former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano before joining the Indian Legal Program at ASU.

"Ann Marie has dedicated her entire career to serving the needs of Indian Country, and I could not be more proud of her as she answers this call to public service," said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the College of Law. "We are extremely grateful for the work she accomplished as part of the ASU community, and wish her the best in her new role."

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, faculty director of the Indian Legal Program, said she will miss Downes' leadership, "but the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) will now have another incredible lawyer. Although the College of Law will feel the loss, the Indian Legal Program will continue to be the nation's largest and strongest – and plans already are under way to find Ann Marie's replacement."

"The Department of Interior is gaining an invaluable resource with Ann Marie joining their team," Ferguson-Bohnee added. "With her experience, Ann Marie takes a diverse background of tribal law and policy to an agency that works primarily with Indian tribes on a daily basis."

Downes is a licensed attorney in California, and earned her Juris Doctor from the ASU College of Law in 1994.