ASU Enterprise Partners makes Top Companies to Work For list

CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. discusses the importance of corporate culture

June 8, 2018

ASU Enterprise Partners has been named a Top Company to Work for in Arizona by the Arizona Republic for the fifth year in a row.

ASU Enterprise Partners’ mission is to advance the success of Arizona State University. It raises resources to benefit students, researchers and programs contributing to ASU’s impact in the world.   sparky with a fan Download Full Image

To learn more about what makes ASU Enterprise Partners a top company, ASU Now turned to ASU Enterprise Partners’ President and CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. to discuss the importance of corporate culture.

Question: How do you define corporate culture?

Answer: Corporate culture is an interesting term. People throw it around a lot and sometimes it is hard to define. It’s the intangible part of an organization. It’s about mindset. It’s about how people interact with each other. It’s about values. It’s about principles. It’s about all the things that you really can’t get your arms around but are still important to a successful, functioning organization. To define our culture, I look at some of our values. We innovate. We certainly have this concept to be innovative and entrepreneurial in what we do. We engage. We communicate effectively with people. We serve. We are a service organization. And, finally, we care. All of our other core values roll up into us caring about our colleagues, caring about donors and caring about the folks that we surround ourselves with. I do think we live those values here at ASU Enterprise Partners. They’ve become embedded in our culture.

Q: What are a few things you have done to help create a culture that employees love?

A: Creating culture, too, is hard because it’s not something that you can just dictate saying, "Here’s a culture." But, there are some fun things we do here. We give people their birthday off, which, I think, sends a signal to the organization that it’s important to enjoy yourself and have fun. We have "You Rock" cards, which allow employees to recognize their colleagues for their hard work. Every time I get a "You Rock" card, it puts a smile on my face; I know that it must put a smile on somebody else’s face when they get one. We do a lot of fun events around the holidays, such as parties or contests. We’ve had chili-tasting contests, pumpkin-carving contests and salsa-making contests, to name a few. I think these contests bring the team together and put a little competitive spirit in our teams by doing something fun. These fun things we do send a signal that work is supposed to be productive but it's also supposed to be fun.

Q: How do you promote diversity and inclusion?

A: Diversity and inclusion really starts with myself, making it clear that I think it’s important to have diverse points of view and that we need to be inclusive of others no matter what their backgrounds are. We always work hard to make sure we bring diversity into the workplace. As we promote and then hire, we need to have that as an explicit part of our consideration in the way that we think through those decisions. We also need to make sure that we have a workplace where, in the workplace itself, people are accepting of diversity and inclusion. When they’re not inclusive, we immediately stop and say, "Timeout, that’s not acceptable in our organization." So, while we can always improve on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I think we have the right mindset and mentality around it and now it’s a matter of continuing to execute on it.

Director of Media and Public Relations, ASU Enterprise Partners


image title

'A motivating step': ASU program works to award two-year degrees to students

Milestones can be a boost, so ASU helps students acquire associate degrees.
June 1, 2018

University's reverse-transfer partnership with community colleges results in nearly 500 additional associate degrees

Twelve years after graduating from high school, Stephen Houx had earned a lot of college credits before and after a five-year stint in the Marine Corps, but he was still working toward a degree. Then out of the blue, he was notified last year that his time at Gateway Community College plus his courses at Arizona State University added up to an associate in science degree.

“It was a nice surprise to get that,” said Houx, who will be a senior at ASU in the fall. “It was a little motivating step along the way to let me know I’ve accomplished something. It’s easy to get lost and question your major or think you’re falling behind.”

Houx is one of nearly 500 ASU students who have benefited from “reverse transfer” — a program in which their ASU credits are added to their Maricopa Community Colleges credits and they are awarded an associate degree.

Houx said it was gratifying to find out that he had earned a degree without even realizing it. He attended the graduation ceremony at Gateway Community College and hung the degree on a wall with his military honors.

“If I ever had to drop out, they can never take that away from me,” said Houx, who is majoring in criminal justice.

And that’s the point of the program.

Under reverse transfer, ASU works with all 21 tribal and public community colleges in Arizona to identify students eligible for degrees. In the 2016–17 academic year, about 43 percent of transfers from Arizona two-year collegesIn the 2016–17 year, ASU accepted about 16,000 transfer students. About 5,300 were from a Maricopa County community college, and about 740 were from another Arizona two-year institution. arrived at ASU with credits but no associate degree.

The program fulfills an important mission, according to Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU.

“This is what the state wants — more college degree completion. And this addresses that,” she said.

And even more importantly, preliminary data show that students who are awarded a reverse-transfer associate degree are slightly more likely to complete their bachelor’s degree. Ted Bland, the reverse-transfer coordinator at the Maricopa Community Colleges, found that 89 percent of students who retroactively earned an associate degree went on to get a bachelor’s degree, compared with 85 percent who did not get the two-year degree.

Overall, since 2015, the Maricopa system has awarded nearly 800 reverse-transfer associate degrees to students at Arizona universities. This summer, Bland expects to award a 500th associate degree to an ASU student.

The program is beneficial because the students will have a degree in hand if they apply for internships or scholarships or need to “stop out” of school in order to work, he said.

“Students who had been in dropout status from a university and now have an associate degree are then more eligible to re-enroll,” he said. “So it works for students whose attendance is not interrupted but it also helps those who have to stop out, who are more commonly older students.”

Every step in the postsecondary education process is reflected in earnings. People who have some college but no degree had an average annual salary of $41,700 while those with an associate degree had an average salary of $46,000, according to a 2015 report by the College Board. The average salary for holders of a bachelor’s degree was $61,400. High school graduates earned an average $36,800.

Reverse transfer is free and easy for the students, many of whom don’t even realize they’ve earned the associate degree until they get an email about it.

Fitting the puzzle pieces together

ASU started working on a reverse-transfer process more than five years ago.

“We started to think about what we could be doing to help students achieve their associate degree because the research was pretty clear that if students can achieve these milestones along the way to the bachelor’s degree, it incents them to continue going,” Hesse said.

According to the 2015 U.S. census, one in five adults in America has some college credit but no degree. But by 2020, 65 percent of all U.S. jobs will require a college education, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Nationwide, reverse transfer began to pick up steam about five years ago, when the Lumina Foundation gave out grants to institutions in several states to set up pilot programs. More than 20,000 associate degrees were awarded by more than 500 institutions in 17 states, including Arizona, according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Nearly 2,000 people returned to college — some decades after leaving — to finish the degrees they were so close to achieving.

Reverse transfer also benefits the community colleges, which have faced questions about their graduation rate. The 10 colleges in the Maricopa County district had a six-year graduation rate of 21 percent for students who started in 2011. In the Maricopa system, reverse transfer retroactively increased the number of associate degrees awarded by nearly 3 percentage points for the 2016–17 academic year, Bland said.

“We started to think about what we could be doing to help students achieve their associate degree because the research was pretty clear that if students can achieve these milestones along the way to the bachelor’s degree, it incents them to continue going.”
— Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU

While the process is painless for students, it’s labor intensive behind the scenes. ASU’s technology is able to automatically flag which transcripts might be eligible for reverse transfer and then send them back to the community colleges. The ASU system finds students who have completed between 15 and 70 credit hours from an Arizona community college, and between 30 and 60 ASU credit hours, with the total credits between 60 and 100.

Once the transcript gets to the community college, the process of manually auditing each student’s coursework is like putting together a puzzle, according to Bland. This is because students might change majors multiple times or attend several different colleges.

“As they move around, those puzzle pieces don’t fit together as neatly as they once would have 30 years ago, when much of the higher education architecture was put into place,” he said.

Bland not only combs over the courses to make sure they fulfill the requirements for an associate degree, he also will tell students what courses they are missing so they know what to take to complete the degree. That’s how Allie Dake received her associate in arts degree from Rio Salado College last fall.

“I found out about the program from an email and wondered what I needed to get an associate, and I found out I only needed one class,” said Dake, who will be a senior at ASU in the fall. She had accumulated many credits from Rio Salado through dual enrollment while she was in high school.

Dake took a communications class, which completed her associate degree. She is spending this summer applying to medical school, which she hopes to attend after graduating from ASU with degrees in biochemistry and psychology in 2019.

“So it’ll be cool to have three degrees in four years,” she said.

Hesse said that ASU will soon look at leveraging its technological prowess to improve the process.

“We’re kind of ahead of the game in terms of doing this work, but it’s still very labor intensive,” she said. “We’d like to think about some ideas for how technology might help us streamline it even more.”

Shortening the time to a degree

One obstacle to reverse transfer is data privacy. Students must give permission for their universities to share academic records with their community colleges. Typically, the opt-in rate for this is extremely low.

“What we learned pretty quickly by looking at the data is that when students are doing admissions forms, they’re not reading all that fine print. We were not getting many permissions,” Hesse said. “We tried doing several email campaigns to promote it and we got very low response rates.”

ASU has overcome this hurdle for one group of students: People who register for one of the designated degree tracks, such as the Maricopa-ASU Pathway Program, or MAPP, are automatically signed up to be considered for reverse transfer. Students outside of a pathway program who want to investigate reverse transfer can visit the website.

“There’s almost no downside … to allow the university to send your information back to your community college,” Hesse said.

Although the number of students who transfer to ASU with an associate degree has been trending upward, there are many reasons why people leave two-year colleges before completing, Hesse said.

The main reason is that the coursework offered at some of the colleges isn’t broad enough, particularly for more specialized majors.

“If you live in Show Low and are attending Northland Pioneer College, they don’t have a journalism program. You could do general studies but you would run out of classes that would apply to the journalism degree, and you don’t want to waste money on courses that don’t shorten the time to degree completion,” she said.

Engineering and architecture are two common majors in which students transfer before completing an associate degree.

“Although many community colleges will have physics and calculus courses, only a few have the full breadth of freshman and sophomore courses that would parallel what the university is offering,” she said.

Another reason is timing.

“We interviewed students to try to get a better understanding of why, if we have these programs in place that incentivize you to finish, you’re leaving your community college six credits short of a degree,” she said. “The range of answers was stunning.”

Some students want to make sure they start at ASU in the fall semester, she said, and others don’t want to stay at their community college part-time to complete only a handful of credits.

“They’d say things like, ‘I had an offer to become a roommate in an apartment with another guy I wanted to live with, so I decided to leave.’"

Houx said he loved the small class sizes and close relationships with faculty at Gateway, which he attended for three semesters, but the GI Bill will cover his tuition no matter where he goes.

“I knew the university had so many great research resources and facilities, and I needed to go for that.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


image title

Rafael Reif: ASU and MIT have a lot in common

May 4, 2018

The president of MIT will receive an honorary degree at ASU’s May 7 graduation ceremony and will deliver the commencement address

The two universities opened their doors to students only 21 years apart — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1865 and Arizona State University in 1886.

While MIT is private and ASU is public, the universities share many challenges and advantages, according to Rafael Reif, president of MIT. He will receive an honorary degree at ASU’s May 7 graduation ceremony and will deliver the commencement address.

“We have a lot in common. Both institutions have a strong commitment to the role of education and what it can do to elevate and bring people to a better economic situation,” said Reif, an electrical engineer who became the 17th president of MIT in 2012 after serving as provost for seven years.

Reif noted ASU’s commitment to first-time college goers. In fall 2017, 26 percent of all enrolled students, including first-time freshmen and transfers, were the first in their families to go to college, compared with 18 percent a decade ago. A first-generation college-goer himself, Reif said that about 18 percent of MIT’s students are first-generation.

“Another thing we have in common is that we believe in opening our door to talent no matter where it comes from,” he said. “ASU is very open to bringing international students onto campus, and we also care deeply about bringing students who have the talent and motivation to be among us.”

Both institutions were recognized among the most innovative in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine — ASU at No. 1 and MIT ranked thirdThe list was based on a survey of college presidents, provosts and admissions deans around the country who nominated universities that are making the most innovative improvements to curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities..

“Both institutions believe strongly in the power of innovation in general and in particular to solve complex global challenges,” he said. “We both believe in the power of digital learning and how to rethink education on our campuses.”

Reif said he’s eager to talk to ASU President Michael Crow about innovation, sharing strategies for encouraging faculty to think in new ways.

“I admire what Dr. Crow has done,” he said.

“The good news is that faculty are by and large motived to innovate. They do it by themselves in many ways. The challenge is to put them to work together and innovate for a purpose as a whole institution. That’s a little more difficult.”

Reif said that many conversations with everyone over several months is the best way to inspire collaboration.

“The idea gets sharper and better as we progress in these conversations. It produces a common ground in which people bind to an idea and want to participate in it,” he said.

“The bad news is it takes time, but it’s time well invested.”

Reif said the two universities share an urgency to publicize the mission of higher education.

“All of us, the whole domain of higher education, is being punished in the media for the way we do things, for being ‘elite,’” he said.

“We need to convey the fact that we’re important in society and do things that matter. We help people to have a better life. That’s a challenge we share.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


image title

The voice of ASU graduation

May 4, 2018

Mike Wong, director of career services at the Cronkite School, helps students launch into post-college life in more ways than one

Mike Wong is always there for Cronkite school students, and he has been for over 30 years.

After several years’ experience in radio and television news as a producer, he took the opportunity to teach some courses at the then-named Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunication. Wong continued to progress with the school and most recently has guided students to exciting post-graduation paths in journalism as the director of career services at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

But Wong is also there for all Arizona State University students — at least during graduation. For over a decade, Wong has been the voice of university commencement ceremonies.

He started his career working as a radio announcer at KTKT top 40 in Tucson while studying one year at the University of Arizona. (Ignore that tidbit, Wong said: “Yes, I am a Sun Devil and I bleed maroon and gold.")

“Did I want to be an announcer? Kind of. You know, I grew up with Casey Kasem and the American top 40," Wong said. "I was in a few church plays as the narrator; after the performances parents would come up to me and say, ‘You should do that, you sounded pretty good,’ and that kind of inspired me to pursue it.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

His part-time ASU voice career started with auditioning for Sun Devil Athletics to announce a variety of different sporting events.

“I had an audition at Wells Fargo Arena, because I was interested in sports and wanted to be a public-address guy. They asked me if I could do this sport or that sport, so that was the start of my announcing career,” he said.

About 15 years ago, Christopher Callahan dean of the Cronkite School wanted to do something special for the school’s spring graduation ceremony and asked Wong to announce. Commencement producer Melissa WernerWerner is director of university ceremonies and protocol officer at ASU in the Office of University Events and Protocol. heard him at that event and asked him to repeat the gig for the university the following fall. He has been doing it ever since.

It's always a special day for Wong.

“I am flattered to be able to help out the university in this unique way. It’s so special to see the students walk across the stage," he said. “I always get a little butterfly in my stomach before announcing, but I have a very capable producer, Melissa Werner. She coaches me; as long as I have a road map, I am fine.”

Wong has had many Cronkite School students come up to him after the ceremony to thank him for being a part of their academic career and for helping them get a job. Most don’t realize he was part of their graduation day as well.

Top photo: Mike Wong awaits his next announcing cue at fall 2017 undergraduate commencement. Photo by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Ken Fagan

Videographer , ASU Now


image title

ASU in top 1 percent of world’s prestigious universities, says Times Higher Education

April 12, 2018

University in upper crust of world’s 20,000 universities in teaching, research, knowledge transfer, international outlook

Arizona State University is in the top 1 percent of the world’s most prestigious universities, according to 2018 rankings announced by Times Higher Education.

Times Higher Education world university rankings represent the only global performance tables that measure research-intensive universities across core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The rankings include the world’s top 1,000 universities (representing no more than 5 percent of the 20,000 higher education institutions around the globe) and are based on responses from 20,000 senior scholars from more than 140 countries. In total, 77 countries are featured in THE’s table of the top 1,000 universities.

“ASU is proud to be a globally engaged, 21st-century knowledge enterprise that delivers high-quality education and leading-edge research opportunities to learners and partners around the world,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “As a community of innovators, we’ve demonstrated that the simultaneous achievement of comprehensive excellence, broad access and public service at scale is possible, and we’re excited to continue building on that trajectory going forward.”

Times Higher Education notes, “the prestigious group (of top universities) is drawn from THE’s comprehensive and growing database, which contains hundreds of thousands of data points on more than 1,500 leading global research universities, selected for analysis on the strength of their record in international research and on their global academic reputation.”

The U.S. topped the list of countries represented in the top 200 world universities, counting 62 institutions, including ASU, among such prestigious international entries as Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and others.

Among the trends cited by Times Higher Education in its 2018 rankings is the positive impact growing research performance has on reputation. In 2017, ASU was recognized by National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development (NSF/HERD) as one of the fastest-growing research enterprises in the United States, placing in the top 10 in overall research expenditures among institutions without a medical school; Health and Human Service funding — including NIH funding — among institutions without a medical school; and NASA funding.

“ASU’s place among the top 1 percent of worldwide higher education institutions is a testament to the innovative spirit, constant pursuit for excellence and a growing commitment to societal impact through our research and education endeavors,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “ASU continues to pioneer world-class basic and solutions-oriented research that addresses the needs of communities both locally and globally.”

Top photo by Andy DeLisle/ASU Now

Steve Des Georges

director strategic marketing and communication , Enterprise Marketing Hub


image title

Thunderbird alumni gather to say goodbye to their iconic campus

Nostalgic alumni celebrate Thunderbird's campus before it moves to Phoenix.
April 8, 2018

Graduates reminisce in Glendale before their school moves to ASU's downtown Phoenix campus

Hundreds of alumni gathered at the Thunderbird School of Global Management over the weekend to say goodbye to their iconic campus before Thunderbird moves to downtown Phoenix over the summer.

The “campus tribute” celebration marked the school’s past, with flyovers from World War II-era planes on Saturday, and looked ahead to its future, with a Sunday morning visit to the new site in Phoenix. In between was a lot of reminiscing by nostalgic graduates at the iconic Glendale campus.

“I came because it was the last chance to see the campus,” said Alan Horne, from the class of 1993. He learned Japanese at Thunderbird and after graduating, he worked in Japan for 10 years.

“I had read about Thunderbird before I came here and it was like they were writing about me. I knew I had to be a student here. And when I got here, sure enough, it was everything it was advertised to be,” said Horne, who now lives in Florida.

Alumni spent Saturday taking class photos and wandering around the campus. Graduates visited the library, with its artwork donated from around the world, and the Tower Building, home of the original flight tower and the iconic Pub, the social center of the school.

Alumni who gathered at the Thunderbird School of Global Management campus tribute event this weekend learned that the new site in downtown Phoenix will include many of the iconic parts of their campus, including artwork and the Pub. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Allen Morrison, CEO and director-general of Thunderbird, told the alumni that the new site will include that legacy.

“We’re committed to retaining the heritage icons of this campus and capturing the history of Thunderbird as we move downtown,” he said.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off with a flyover, evoking the original use of the Glendale campus, which was started as a World War II air field. More than 10,000 pilots from 30 countries trained at Thunderbird Field before going off to fight in World War II.

After the war, Gen. Barton Kyle Yount, the retired commander of the Army Air Forces, bought the vacant air base for a dollar and started a school to train businessmen to work overseas. The American Institute for Foreign Trade opened in 1946. Thunderbird grew from a small trade school to a bustling center of graduate education. By 1990, about 1,500 students were enrolled from all over the world.

But by the late 1990s, people could earn degrees online and companies didn’t have to send employees abroad to do international business. Enrollment declined, leading to financial problems. In 2014, Thunderbird was bought by ASU, which stabilized Thunderbird's finances.

Today, Thunderbird has more than 44,000 alumni, with active chapters in more than 140 countries. The undergraduate program, which began in 2015, will remain at ASU’s West campus.

Morrison said that he’s spent the past three years meeting with alumni around the world.

“We have moved from a feeling, I would say, of discouragement to one of excitement and engagement,” he said.

Rennie Sloan, of the class of 1993, came to the campus tribute from Atlanta, where she works as an assistant communications director at the Carter Center.

“I’ve met some wonderful young undergraduates who are very impressive and seem committed to carry on the T-bird vision and uniqueness,” she said.

Sanjeev Khagram, who will become Thunderbird’s new dean and director-general on July 1, addressed alumni and students at ASU's downtown Phoenix campus on Sunday morning. “I know this weekend has been a powerful and emotional time for all of our alumni, students and faculty,” he said. Photo by Summer Sorg/ASU Now

“It’s so good to meet all the alumni and new people here. We all share a common bond and this has reinforced our connection to the school.”

The alumni network is one of the strengths of Thunderbird. Sloan came to the event with Kara Connell, a 2013 graduate who is a global senior marketing leader for GE. They met through the Atlanta alumni chapter.

“I moved a bunch for work because I was part of a post-MBA leadership program,” said Connell, who organized a “speed-networking” event for current students and alumni on Friday.

“Every time I moved, the alumni in each of those cities were one of the primary sources of how I made friends,” she said.

One quality that Thunderbirds share is their affinity for international travel, said Connell, who holds passports from Canada, the United States and England.

“I’ve been to 21 countries, I lived abroad in Colombia and Peru. I speak Spanish,” she said.

“We don’t have the sports teams to talk about, like ASU, but we do have that love of travel.”

Alex Sielaff, from the class of 1989, said she’ll always remember her time at Thunderbird as intense.

“People from all over the world come together with something indescribable, yet commonly valued. It’s a feeling I have not replicated unless I get together with other alums around the world.

“We’re a global club and we can always pick up where we left off.”

Sielaff, who’s a professor and corporate trainer in Milwaukee, recalled how rigorous the master’s of international management program was.

“We did real-life scenarios. I could get a call at 3 a.m. requesting me to drop deutsche marks. We all had accounts in our international finance class and we were trading against real currencies in the world market.

“At any time, you could be called upon to execute a trade for your team. Our professors were the real deal.”

Sielaff said she wanted to attend the tribute as a “last hurrah.”

“We’ll never again have this coming together at this place.”

The love of international cultures is what brought Corinne Holm to the American Institute for Foreign Trade, where she graduated in 1950.

“I already knew French, German and Spanish, so I majored in Portuguese,” she said. “There were so few girls then that we had a date every night.”

Holm lived abroad in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Ecuador for many years with her husband, an embassy doctor.

“I taught at schools for the Department of State and I taught them what I learned at Thunderbird,” said Holm, who came to the event from Tucson.

A decade ago, a group of Thunderbird alumni wanted to offer the school’s unique education to more people from developing countries, so they created the SHARE Fellowship, which provides funding and mentorship to high-potential students. Annie Wambita Okanya of Kenya, who has a degree in journalism from the University of Nairobi, is one of 18 current SHARE fellows at Thunderbird.

On Saturday, she talked to alumni about the program.

“These are people who have been involved in interesting projects to create impact in their regions. All of us have unique stories,” said Okanya, who will graduate in December. She worked on a project that helped doctors in East Africa get benchmarked to international standards for minimally invasive surgery.

“We’re a family created by the bigger family,” she said.

Okanya will be among the 400 current students and staff who will move over the summer to downtown Phoenix.

The new Thunderbird building, which will be at Polk and Second streets next to the Beus Center for Law and Society, is scheduled to open in 2021, the school’s 75th anniversary. The 85,000-square-foot building will be financed through donations, proceeds from selling the Glendale campus and a $13.5 million investment from the city of Phoenix.

In the meantime, Thunderbird will hold classes at One Arizona Center, near the downtown campus, starting in the fall.

On Sunday morning, several hundred alumni and current T-birds visited the new site and toured ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus. Sanjeev Khagram, who will become Thunderbird’s new dean and director-general on July 1, addressed them.

“I know this weekend has been a powerful and emotional time for all of our alumni, students and faculty,” he said “It's a time of change and I want you to join me in bringing that global village we had in Glendale here to downtown Phoenix."

Khagram, an expert on global leadership and sustainable development, said he knows what moving is like.

"Over my life, I have moved about 25 to 30 times. I tell you this because I know what it means to experience change. I've been through it and I know that we can take what happened in Glendale and take it right into the 21st century here at our new home."

Okanya said she is excited to make the move.

“There’s a misconception that letting go of this place will hurt,” she said.

“But being a T-bird is a mindset. You can throw me in the middle of Namibian desert and I’ll still be a T-bird.”

Connor Pelton contributed to this story.

Top photo: Thunderbird School of Global Management alumni from the 1990s pose for a class photo at the campus tribute event in Glendale on Saturday. More than 1,000 alumni celebrated the iconic Glendale campus over the weekend before it moves to Phoenix this summer. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU enters international partnership to accelerate research collaborations, educational reforms in Japan

April 4, 2018

Committed to finding pedagogical solutions and educational reforms beneficial to every Japanese citizen, Japan’s universities have begun forging international relationships to face their unique challenges — including a rapidly aging, shrinking population and changing economy.

Arizona State University, along with seven other U.S. universities, has entered into an ambitious collaboration with eight Japanese universities to promote international, cross-institution partnerships and cooperative research. From left to right: Troy McDaniel, associate director of Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC); Satoshi Watanabe of Hiroshima University; Derrick Anderson, adviser to the president; Sethuraman Panchanathan, chief research and innovation officer and executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise Development; Nadya Bliss, director of the Global Security Initiative; Luke Tate, assistant vice president and executive director of opportunity initiatives and Professor Yohsuke Yamamoto of Hiroshima University pose for a photo in Toyko during a Japan-U.S. Digital Innovation Hub event. Download Full Image

Through the Japan-U.S. Digital Innovation Hub, the sixteen institutions aim to facilitate and promote research collaboration, especially in fields such as data science, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. The hope is that the hub will serve as a platform to create educational projects to develop necessary skills for the digital age.

“The future of education is rapidly changing, providing an exciting and unprecedented opportunity for forward-thinking universities to shape the next iteration,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, chief research and innovation officer and executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise Development. “As institutions of higher learning, we can empower individuals with the mindsets necessary to succeed in a continually evolving economic and technological landscape.”

From March 19-20, representatives from the hub’s member universities, as well as Japanese government officials, gathered at the University of Tsukuba’s campus in Tokyo for a workshop to discuss the future of the Japan-U.S. Digital Innovation Hub.

Along with Panchanathan, ASU’s delegation included Luke Tate, assistant vice president and executive director of opportunity initiatives; Nadya Bliss, director of the Global Security Initiative; Troy McDaniel, associate director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) and Derrick Anderson, adviser to the president.

Panchanathan presented a keynote speech to the assembled representatives and guests, who included Yasuo Fukuda, former prime minister of Japan and Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the U.S. Department of HomeIand Security. Both Fakuda and Chertoff delivered lectures as well.

Panchanathan’s keynote covered the accelerating pace of knowledge creation, lifelong learning, the future of work and the relative role of universities. These topics are of particular interest to universities in Japan as the nation weathers great economic and demographic change.

The enormous economic growth of the '80s and '90s, spurred by advanced manufacturing and electronics, has slowed in the past two decades as the population is both declining and becoming older. More than 22 percent of Japanese citizens are 65 or older and working-age adults are either having fewer children later or forgoing parenting altogether. These factors are leading to predictions of an overall population decline of more than 30 percent by 2060, when more than 40 percent of the population will be 65 or older.

This uncertain future is challenging universities in Japan to reconsider the role they have in the broader societal context, said Anderson.

“Within that challenge, many Japanese institutions have connected with ASU out of interest in learning more about the design for a New American University and how that thinking could benefit Japanese higher education reforms,” he added.

The hub’s next summit is slated for summer 2018. ASU will host the event at the newly opened Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C.

Japanese universities participating in the initiative are Osaka University, Hiroshima University, Kyushu University, Keio University, Nagoya University, Tohoku University, University of Tsukuba and Waseda University.

In addition to ASU, Case Western Reserve University; University of Delaware; Johns Hopkins University; North Carolina State University; Ohio State University; Washington University in St. Louis and University of Maryland, Baltimore County comprise the U.S. institutions in the Japan-U.S. Digital Innovation Hub.

ASU, partners commit to be a fair trade-designated university

March 28, 2018

Arizona State University President Michael Crow sent an open letter on March 28 to the ASU community committing ASU to be the largest fair trade university in the U.S. The commitment is in partnership with Aramark and Follett.

Fair trade-certified products are produced with fair labor practices and environmental protections. ASU joins 47 other universities and 533 university retailers that pledge to provide fair trade food items like coffee, tea, chocolate and other products including textiles.  two students having food made for them at a college dining facility Chantel Lawrence (right) and Tracie Smith have a stir fry prepared just for them in the Barrett Honors College dining facility. Download Full Image

As part of the commitment, the following locations must provide at least two fair trade food options:

• Aramark

• Atlasta

• Sun Devil Campus Stores

• Sun Devil Dining

Participating vendors must provide signage and education about fair trade certified products. Aramark already provides fair trade resources when it caters campus events.

“This designation demonstrates institutional commitment to fair labor, global connection and supporting student initiatives,” said Nichol Luoma, University Business Services associate vice president and chief sustainability officer. “It furthers the university’s sustainable procurement policies and procedures.”

ASU School of Sustainability graduate student and Aramark intern Hannah Trigg invested three months in drafting the fair trade commitment and implementing most of its provisions, and then partnered with University Sustainability Practices for the final steps in securing the commitment. Biological sciences junior Daniella Simari continues to lead tabling events, education and outreach.

Four ASU students will attend a national conference and showcase fai trade innovations in late March. They also plan to host a lecture about fair trade clothing in partnership with The Fabric Studio and the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability on April 27.

Campaign organizer and Japanese senior Sydney Williamson connects the ASU community to parts of the world most affected by fair trade practices. The campaign asked students to write Valentine’s Day cards to farmers in Ecuador, Ghana and Philippines. In April, Asian Pacific Heritage month, the campaign will bring more awareness to tea grown in Asia and India.

“We’ve seen these events excite both international students and U.S.-born students,” she said. “It’s a powerful way to humanize the issue of fair trade.” 

Students can further the university’s commitment to food reconnection when they purchase fair trade products. When employees purchase fair trade food, they can earn points on a green office or event certification.

“The university’s food reconnection goal includes re-establishing a strong relationship with nutritional food and where it comes from,” said Mick Dalrymple, university sustainability practices director. “When we buy fair trade, we’re closer to knowing our food’s sources and impacts on other people and the health of our planet.”

Learn more about ASU’s food reconnection goal. Learn about how to become involved in collaborative sustainability action on campus. 

Peter Northfelt

Editor assistant, Business and Finance Support – Communications


image title

Sun Devils go dark to celebrate Earth Hour

Exit light. Enter night. #EarthHour2018 is approaching for ASU.
March 21, 2018

60 minutes of darkness will help ASU advance its sustainability goals

Arizona State University will answer an international call to action this Saturday when the school participates in Earth Hour 2018. 

From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 24, the university will encourage students to turn off all non-essential lights and host stargazing events to highlight the benefits of reducing light pollution.

"We are looking at it as a way to highlight what each person can do in just a small amount of time," said Lesley Forst, a program manager at ASU Sustainability Practices. "We want to let students know that we should really be turning off non-essential lights whenever possible, and Earth Hour is a great first step."

ASU staff members will lead the way in the effort. All janitorial crews will only turn on lights on specific floors or rooms they are cleaning, rather than the normal practice of turning on the lights in an entire building.

The University Sustainability Practices (USP) team has also been hard at work to inform both students and staff of the difference they can make.

"From the USP side, we've been responsible to make sure we are promoting and supporting energy conservation," Forst said.

Conservation has been a focal point for ASU over the past decade. 

The university has reduced its carbon emissions per student by 46 percent and per square foot by 48 percent since 2007. This is a big step for ASU, which has a goal of achieving climate neutrality from building emissions by 2025. 

"Earth Hour fits into ASU's sustainability goals by creating awareness as to energy waste that adds to our carbon footprint and utility costs," USP director Mick Dalrymple said. "It also supports our goal of being climate positive." 

ASU is joining over a billion people in this event, which has been organized by the World Wildlife Fund since 2007. In the past, icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower have gone dark for 60 minutes in support of Earth Hour

"I really enjoy the solidarity that it creates in connecting people across the globe with the same actions," Dalrymple said. "We are all connected, and together we can turn things around." 

For more information about ASU's sustainability initiatives, visit

Top photo by Nathan Thrash/Arizona Board of Regents

image title

New director for ASU at Lake Havasu has vision for the location's future

March 20, 2018

The university has named a new director, who predicts Havasu will double its student population in 5 years

Man in dark suit and glasses smiling
Raymond Van der Riet

Raymond Van der Riet's resume is impressive. He served in the military. He’s proficient in several languages. He has a law degree. He’s comfortable in international diplomacy. He runs marathons. And he dabbles in quantum physics.

It’s possible only a few of these skills are actually on the job description, but those Renaissance-man attributes make Van der Riet the ideal new director of ASU at Lake Havasu.

“Raymond has been with ASU at Lake Havasu from the beginning and has been integral to the development and growth of this important component of the ASU knowledge enterprise,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “His relationship with the community in Lake Havasu City, his vision for the future of ASU’s work in western Arizona and his passion for teaching will help to further the reputation of the Havasu location as he works to create a learning environment unlike any other.”

Born in London and raised near Cape Town, South Africa, Van der Riet said the common denominator in all of his work is finding interesting and innovative projects that can make a difference in society.

“I’ve believed in this project from day one,” Van der Riet said. “I can see big things for this location and I’m on a mission to move it in the right direction.”

What is ASU at Lake Havasu?

ASU at Lake Havasu's genesis was also interesting and innovative. The idea was given seed funding with a $1 million grant from Mr. and Mrs. James J. Santiago, longtime Lake Havasu residents and principal owners of Beachcomber Resort and Island Suites. Another $1 million was raised by the Lake Havasu City community through bake and T-shirt sales, payroll deduction campaigns and other fundraising activities in the wake of the Great Recession.

The location is a former middle school. It opened in its new form in fall 2012 — the same year Van der Riet started. Its main aim is to give students lower-priced alternatives to higher education.

It offers bachelor’s degreesbiology, business, communication, criminology and criminal justice, environmental science, health education and health promotion, kinesiology, organizational leadership, political science, psychology, sociology, tourism and recreation management, and general studies all tied to the degree programs at the Phoenix-area campuses. It also includes exploratory majors in humanities, health and life sciences, and social and behavioral sciences.

“ASU looked at a few other locations but no one matched this community’s passion,” Van der Riet said. “I feel such an obligation to this community because there is such buy-in to see ASU succeed.”

The buy-in was a no-brainer say many of its supporters, including Cal Sheehy, vice mayor of Lake Havasu City and vice president and general manager of the London Bridge Resort. He called ASU at Lake Havasu “a valuable resource.”

“It’s the only four-year university in northwestern Arizona and provides an opportunity to increase the educational attainments in our community,” Sheehy said.

He said in addition to providing a large economic benefit to Lake Havasu through investment, salaries and staff and student purchases, ASU also stimulates minds through a community lecture series given by PhD-level experts in fields of study that range from the opioid epidemic to water conservation and management.

A program poised for growth

Speaking of water, ASU at Lake Havasu is located at the edge of 19,300-acreLake Havasu is technically a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River. lake and at the foot of several mountains. And with easy access to volleyball, boating, picturesque hiking and mountain biking, ASU’s Havasu students are an active bunch — on and off campus.

The active lifestyle is one reason why students chose the Havasu location, and Van der Riet and his colleagues aim to introduce this special environment to an increasingly larger national audience. ASU at Lake Havasu, Van der Riet says, should be a destination for students who want a great education on a campus with well-developed connections to the great outdoors.

ASU at Lake Havasu is currently home to 130 students, and Van der Riet expects the student population to more than double in the next five years. A lot of that growth will come from initiatives being implemented by the newly formed 42-member community advisory group, comprised of key city stakeholders who help him explore ideas on student recruitment and retention, branding, fundraising for scholarships, awareness campaigns for potential students, and promoting local ASU pride.

“Raymond is a dynamic and trusted leader who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and work alongside us in creating a better environment for education and business,” said Lisa Krueger, director of the Lake Havasu City Chamber of Commerce. She said the chamber supports the college in many ways, initiating and participating in a payroll deduction fundraising campaign and providing literature and referrals about ASU to prospective residents and businesses.

The community advisory group recently concluded an innovative agreement with Arizona’s state parks department to allow ASU at Lake Havasu to place an ASU-branded beach hut right next to the lake. The group also funded the purchase of six kayaks, two paddle boards, and three mountain bikes to be housed in the beach hut. Use of the equipment is open to students free of charge. Van der Riet said the ultimate goal is to have a permanent recreational structure on the beach.

“ASU at Lake Havasu students will truly have the best of all worlds,” he said. “A world class education with access to fun resort-style living.”


Top photo: Students complete labs for their ecology class at Lake Havasu beach. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now