Page appointed dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

May 13, 2011

Robert E. Page Jr., Foundation Professor and dean of the School of Life Sciences (SOLS), has been appointed vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) effective July 1, ASU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth D. Capaldi announced.

Page joined ASU in July 2004 as founding director of the School of Life Sciences, an academic unit within CLAS. He is an entomologist whose research background is in behavior and population genetics with a focus on the evolution of complex social behavior, notably honeybees. Download Full Image

”Rob Page has a track record of academic, scientific and administrative excellence and has exhibited strategic vision in organizing faculties into a school without disciplinary boundaries,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “That is the type of experience and achievement that makes him ideally suited to head the university’s core academic unit.”

Added Provost Capaldi, “Rob has been a strong leader of one of the largest units in CLAS and shown he can bridge many disciplines, bring faculty together, innovate in curriculum and instruction, and build excellence.”

The process of replacing Page with a director for SOLS will begin immediately.

Page’s responsibilities will include student academic affairs, faculty development, promotion of research, and the planning and implementation of degree programs for a college that has nearly 18,000 undergraduate and more than 2,500 graduate students. He will also be responsible for budgeting, planning, fundraising and personnel decisions.

The college’s all-funds budget for the current fiscal year is $282 million, and research expenditures in the college for the 12-month period ending Jan. 31 were in excess of $112 million.

“I have been privileged this past seven years to be part of the transformation of Arizona State University under President Crow’s vision and leadership,” said Page. “The School of Life Sciences was the first experiment in the new school-centric model and offered many challenges and rewards. I look forward to taking what I have learned and advancing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, certainly one of the largest and most complex colleges, anywhere.”

Page, who has a doctorate in entomology from the University of California, Davis, was chair of the department of entomology there for five years, before coming to ASU. His first academic post was as an assistant professor at Ohio State University.

An internationally recognized scholar, Page is an elected foreign member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences-Leopoldina.

His awards include the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, the highest honor given by the German Government to foreign scientists. His publications include more than 200 scientific papers, nine general media articles, 23 book chapters and review articles; he is the co-editor of three books and co-author of a textbook.

Page will replace Quentin Wheeler, who has been a university vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 2006. Wheeler, who is also director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU, will return to the faculty in a tenured position.

“On behalf of President Crow and myself, I wish to thank Dean Wheeler for his years of excellent service and for providing a platform from which the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences can continue to advance as one of the most outstanding liberal arts colleges in the country,” said Capaldi.

Prized fellowship is student's reward for long list of accomplishments

May 13, 2011

Joy Marsalla has been awarded one of the most highly prized fellowships to support students seeking graduate degrees in engineering.

Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, this year bestowed its fellowships on only 35 of the more than 200 top engineering students from throughout the country vying for the awards. Download Full Image

Even competing against a stellar cast of nominees, it’s no surprise Marsalla was among those selected.

Marsalla’s achievements as an undergraduate rank beyond exceptional and into the realm of “amazing,” says Arizona State University engineering faculty member Brooke Mayer. 

Marsalla, a student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, maintained a perfect grade point average in recently earning a bachelor’s degree in the civil and environmental engineering program of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

More than ranking at or near the top in each of her classes, she stood out as a shining example of a student committed to going above and beyond the basic requirements.

“She is never satisfied to simply complete a task. She unfailingly challenges herself” to master a subject and then utilize that mastery, says Mayer, who was Marsalla’s teacher in four courses and a member of Marsalla’s honors college thesis advisory committee.

Marsalla got involved in research in her freshman year at ASU, and progressed from assisting in projects to proposing and managing them. Eventually, success in lab endeavors led to support from ASU’s Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative. That helped her continue work in environmental microbiology to develop a new method of drinking-water disinfection.

Her combined academic and research performance got her into leading engineering societies and organizations – Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the Arizona Society of Environmental Professionals – and earned her a more than year-long internship with a leading Phoenix-based civil engineering company, plus the 2011 Engineering Student of the Year Award from the Phoenix chapter of the national Engineers Week Foundation.

That is some, but not all, of what Marsalla has been doing during the past four years.

She has also been secretary, vice president and then president of the ASU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. In those roles, she has helped with efforts to encourage girls to pursue education in engineering and science. She also assisted in organizing a major regional conference for the society.

As a member of a student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, she was the environmental team captain for a number of student competitions and conference presentations.

Marsalla was the prime mover in prompting the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to formally participate in the tradition of the Order of the Engineer. The Order encourages professional engineers and graduating engineering students to take an oath to act ethically and in society’s best interests in their work.

At a recent ceremony at ASU, more than 100 engineering students and alumni took the oath.

She also donated time and effort to community groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer Outdoor Arizona, and the Sonoran Desert Weedwackers, as well as mentoring new ASU students at E2 Camp, part of the engineering schools’ freshman orientation program.

Considering Marsalla’s self-motivation and rapidly advancing skills, Mayer says she won’t be surprised to see her someday “achieve the highest levels of success” as an engineer.

She will start by pursuing a master’s degree at ASU in sustainable engineering, with support from the Tau Beta Pi Fellowship.

All of this from a student who as a senior close to graduation from University High School in Tucson still had little idea about what major to sign up for in college.

Marsalla recalls going to the school guidance counselor for advice. She was told to write a simple essay about things she liked to do.

She wrote about her family’s camping and hiking trips throughout her youth. The family favored places with lakes, rivers and streams.

She noticed that in the essay she was expressing a particular affinity for water.  “Somehow I put that together with my math and sciences abilities,” she says, and came up with a decision to study engineering with an environmental bent.

“I’ve stuck with it and loved it ever since,” she adds.

In her graduate studies and research, she plans to focus on water-quality challenges.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering