ASU News

ASU student-success programs win top honors

November 25, 2015

Arizona State University was awarded the Integrated Impact Award by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education during the Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards at the Tempe Mission Palms on Nov. 13.

The Integrated Impact Award was awarded to ASU for the comprehensive and integrated student support it provides and to encourage other integrated models statewide. Download Full Image

“ASU is committed to ensuring that students in the pipeline have the support they need to be college-ready,” said Beatriz Rendon, vice president for educational outreach. “Once these students come to the University, we have a variety of support services designed to ensure that students are successful including tutoring, academic coaching and Career Services. Together, these efforts demonstrate the promise highlighted in our charter: to be defined by whom we include and how they succeed.”

The Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards recognize the college-access programs that prepare or encourage students to pursue a college education and programs that support students toward postsecondary-education completion.

The ASU Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute, Promoting High School Students’ Future Success in College, Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program, Access ASU and First-Year Success Center were also recognized by the commission.

The five nominated programs support students in significant ways, and judges chose to recognize those programs individually, in addition to the overall Integrated Impact Award received by ASU.

“It is our mission to give every Arizonan the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education,” said April Osborn, executive director at the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education.

Through an array of student-support programs such as American Dream Academy, Future Sun Devil Families and SPARKS, Access ASU helps students in local communities increase their chances of completing a postsecondary education. Once enrolled at ASU, Educational Outreach and Student Services provides students the support necessary to excel academically and complete his or her college journey through graduation.

“Access ASU, CCLI (Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute) and the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program are outstanding examples of ASU’s commitment to empowering Arizona students with the academic preparation and college knowledge they need to pursue their higher-education goals,” said Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice president for educational outreach.

To learn more about ASU’s educational outreach programs visit,

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Tunnel vision: Examining the secret of ASU's underground network

And under ASU is ... a series of cool tunnels.
ASU secret #325: There are tunnels stretching under the university.
November 23, 2015

Tempe campus uses tunnel system to heat, power the campus

If you’ve ever wondered why locked plastic boxes guard thermostats in some of the classrooms on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, there’s an easy answer: Management doesn’t want you to use them to adjust the temperature.

The answer to that answer is a little more complicated, and harder to find. But there it is, 10 to 15 feet underground and inside the five, 80-year-old concrete tunnels that shoot out from the center of the campus under the Central Plant.

Yes, to the surprise of many, ASU has its own tunnel system — one that measures five miles long and stretches from Sun Devil Stadium to Apache Boulevard.

“A lot of tunnels have been here as long as the campus has, but more tunnels have been added to serve the energy needs of the campus as it expanded,” said Rick Pretzman, a facilities management director for the university.

Running along the subterranean walls are industrial-grade pipes, which funnel steam throughout the campus. The steam provides heat to the school’s buildings, but it’s a very sensitive system, according to Pretzman.

“If you change the temperature in one classroom, it is likely to set off a domino effect to the other classrooms in the building,” he said.

Which is why they don’t want people adjusting the thermostats to make the day a little warmer, or colder.

“They’re mostly only adjusted by facilities management personnel, which they can do in person or remotely.”

You could say the same about the tunnels, which are a restricted space where unauthorized personnel are not allowed. And while you might hear that about various places on campus, the tunnels really are someplace you don’t want to sneak into for the fun of it.

Pressure monitors and motion sensors are in place along the corridors to alert employees of the exact location of an intruder.

“We try to discourage students from coming down here to explore,” Pretzman said. “Once they’re down here they usually discover pretty quickly that it’s not a place they want to be.”

And it’s not just because trespassers are turned over to the police.

Guy hanging out with his friends, the pipes.

Rick Pretzman, a facilities management director for ASU, explains the pipe setup at the entrance of the tunnels underneath the university. Photos by Kenneth Fagan/ASU Now


Inside the passageways are hazardous materials and dangerous machinery — not to mention scalding steam and hot pipes. Because of these factors, everyone who enters the tunnels is required to wear proper equipment, including a respirator. (The ASU Now video crew went only so far as the entrance to the tunnels.)

Such conditions require proper maintenance and upkeep, which is why the tunnels and Central Plant undergo thousands of maintenance procedures each year to fix everything from leaking pipes to faulty wiring.

“We have operators walking the perimeter of the Central Plant at least once an hour to check for anything that might be wrong,” said Pretzman.

Up above at the Central Plant the environment has the feel of a factory. A maze of pipes and valves stretch across the expanse of the interior, leaving little headroom but a lot to see.

“We use more power at night to take advantage of the lower rates,” Pretzman said, referring to energy used by the plant to regulate building temperatures and provide them with electricity.

“Ninety percent of the cooling and heating for the Tempe campus comes from the Central Plant,” Pretzman said. “We also supply the power for 20 to 30 of the buildings. The entire plant requires people working on it around the clock to keep it running, and the workload is broken up between three shifts of employees.”

The electricity the plant provides comes from the Arizona Public Service Co. (APS); then the Central Plant distributes it throughout campus via the tunnel network.

“Because the Central Plant’s power supply comes from APS, we do lose power when they do, typically during bad storms,” said Pretzman. “But there is a spot on campus where we produce our own power with natural gas: the Combined Heat and Power plant, which isn’t affected by bad weather.”

Interesting, but perhaps not as mystifying or fascinating as these secret tunnels under the Tempe campus.

“We don’t try to keep it a secret, but we also don’t advertise ourselves,” Pretzman said. “The reason being is only facilities management personnel need to be down there, plus the steam and power lines can hurt people."

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now.

Trevor Fay

reporter , Media Relations and Strategic Communicatons

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Mark Searle named ASU provost

Mark Searle has been named provost of Arizona State University.
New ASU provost served as dean of West campus and VP for academic personnel.
ASU's provost also a prof. in the School of Community Resources and Development.
November 20, 2015

Searle, currently the interim provost, has been at ASU since 1995

Mark Searle, an accomplished university administrator, distinguished scholar, and founding dean of Arizona State University’s College of Human Services, has been named as executive vice president and university provost.

ASU President Michael Crow promoted Searle to the post, which Searle has held in an interim capacity since June, and charged him with mapping out a three-year plan to raise student retention and graduation rates, increase tenure track faculty and increase access to higher education for qualified students. The Arizona Board of Regents approved Searle’s appointment today.

“Mark has served ASU with distinction for decades in increasingly complex roles,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “His experience, skill, commitment to a modernized and innovative ASU and work ethic have proven to be invaluable to ASU and all that the institution is achieving. In addition he is well regarded by faculty, students and leaders throughout and around the institution.”

While ASU already has increased access for qualified students, the success of the state and the country depends in large part on finding ways to provide more students with the opportunity to seek a quality higher education, Searle said.

“There is tremendous need in Arizona,” he said. “There are many more thousands of students graduating from high school in Arizona capable of going to college than are going to college. We need to get those students going to universities, and we need them to go to Arizona State.”

Those students need to learn from both the teaching and research faculty, requiring the university to increase the number and diversity of tenured and tenure track faculty.

“We need them to advance the intellectual product,” Searle said. “We need to have more research done, because we have opportunities and demand for the expansion of knowledge and discovery of knowledge.”

Searle said ASU must raise its student retention rate, the percentage of students who return for the next year of school. And while it’s graduation rate has more than doubled over the past two decades, the goal is to see 75 to 80 percent graduating by the year 2020

“The first and foremost measure of having successful students,” he said, “is keeping successful students.”

Searle arrived at ASU in 1995, when West Campus was in its nascent stages of development, and the vacated Williams Air Force Base only recently had been turned over to ASU, later to grow into the Poly Campus. ASU had only recently climbed into the first tier of research institutions.

Since then, enrollment has doubled and the university’s research enterprise has grown from around $100 million to nearly $450 million

Searle advanced through the ranks at ASU since joining the university as founding dean of the College of Human Services. He served as a faculty member and as provost of West campus, vice provost for academic affairs, vice president for academic personnel and deputy provost and chief of staff to the provost.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Searle’s early career centered around public service in parks and recreation planning and management, from running a “Summer in the City” day camp as an undergraduate student to serving as a senior policy analyst for the provincial Department of Recreation and Parks, in Alberta, following graduate school. Searle received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science from the University of Winnipeg and master’s in physical education from the University of North Dakota. He earned his doctorate in recreation administration from the University of Maryland.

He held a series of academic leadership positions with increasing responsibility at the University of Manitoba before moving to ASU.

Searle has served many organizations and governments in a variety of capacities over his career.  He has edited one journal, served as associate editor of four others, reviewed for national granting agencies, and served his local community through leadership roles on various boards of directors.

ASU will conduct a national search to fill the role of deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs.

When he started at ASU and would travel to academic conferences, his employer’s name drew limited attention, Searle said. Now other attendees are keen to learn more about ASU.

“They want to understand all the change, the experimentation, the speed of success — all of that coupled with an environment that’s producing research at a rate that’s phenomenal,” Searle said. “We can do things that most people don’t think they can do.”

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A detective and his dog keep ASU safe

ASU detective and his explosives-detection dog share an intense bond.
This ASU police dog doesn't eat until she sniffs out explosives.
The Magic of Disney: ASU's bomb-sniffing dog is a super ambassador.
November 18, 2015

Disney the explosives-detection canine sniffs out danger

Most people really love their pets, but few bonds are as intense as the one between Parker Dunwoody and his Labrador retriever, Disney.

Dunwoody, a detective in the Arizona State University Police Department, handles Disney, who is the department’s explosives-detection canine. That means the two trained together, work together and live together.

But it goes beyond that. Disney is a food-reward dog. She eats only when she finds explosives.

So two or three times a day, Dunwoody must set up a training area with explosives so that Disney can sniff them out and then eat.

Every day.

“On Christmas morning, I’m putting explosives out for my dog to find, we do our Christmas and then Disney gets trained after we do our stuff,” Dunwoody said.

“I plan that into every single day to make sure she gets adequate training. We want to make sure she’s not just maintained.”

Disney sweeps near Sun Devil Stadium.

Disney, the ASU Police Department's 
explosives-detection dog,
sweeps near Sun Devil Stadium.

Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Dunwoody does have backup trainers for Disney. Another detective in the ASU department can handle her, as well as trainers from the U.S. Marshals Service, who also have explosives canines.

But most of the time, it’s the two of them.

At home, the detective will hide traces of non-regulated explosives, such as gun parts or empty shell casings. When Disney finds something, she “alerts” him by sitting down and he feeds her by hand.

Dunwoody also will take her to parks.

“Open areas are a cornucopia of smells,” he said. “You have dogs that pee there, kids that play there, people have parties there. It’s perfect for mixing in all these distracting odors to make her find what she needs to find.”

Sometimes, especially around the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, Disney will find spent fireworks that Dunwoody didn’t put out.

Disney can distinguish more than 19,000 combinations of explosive substances.

“Basically it’s anything that has gone ‘boom’ or will go ‘boom,’ " Dunwoody said.

The two will start a typical work day by visiting the light-rail stations that ASU students use, with Disney checking out the platforms.

When they get to the police department, Dunwoody will set up a training session for Disney in the office hallways and cubicles, where he can use explosives that are regulated and can’t leave the building.

Sometimes he’ll take her to Wells Fargo Arena or Sun Devil Stadium — places she typically will sweep during big events.

Dunwoody is also the department’s terrorism liaison officer and attends a lot of meetings. When he’s busy and she’s not, Disney relaxes in an office and accepts affection from the department staff throughout the day.

“Disney is a very important part of the ASU Police Department. She’s a dual-purpose dog in my book,” said Police Chief Michael Thompson. “Her primary purpose is work as an explosive-detection canine.

"On the other side of the coin, Disney is a huge ambassador for the department. Disney loves her job. She loves to visit elementary schools, and she loves being a part of the ASU community.”

Dunwoody and Disney have been on hundreds of assignments. In August, she assisted the Tempe Police Department as officers caught a bank-robbery suspect who is accused of firing several shots. Disney searched the area and verified the location of a gun that police say the suspect used.

Around the same time, Dunwoody and Disney traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where law enforcement there was investigating a series of church bombings.

Disney also helps out other Valley agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, where Disney trained as a puppy, and the U.S. Marshals Service. She’ll sweep an area before events such as bowl games or visits by celebrities.

Disney, who will turn 8 years old in January, is in the last years of her service. She cannot be certified after age 9. When she retires, she’ll continue to live with Dunwoody and his family and can fully indulge in her only bad habit — lying on the furniture.

“It’s been a wild ride and very fun,” said Dunwoody, who is hoping to acquire another canine for the department.

“I’m a dog guy in general, and any chance I get to be with my canine partner is a good day.”

Man petting dog

ASU Police detective Parker Dunwoody plays with Disney outside Sun Devil Stadium after she performed an explosives sweep before the Homecoming game on Nov. 14.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter, ASU Now

O: 480-727-4503/M: 480-748-9679

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ASU ranks No. 4 for international students

ASU ranks among top for international, study abroad students.
November 16, 2015

University also ranked in top 25 for domestic students studying abroad

Arizona State University ranked as the top public research institution and No. 4 overall college or university for international students, according to the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released today. Open Doors also ranked ASU in the top 25 for domestic students studying abroad.

The report, published by the independent non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE), shows that a record number of international students attended U.S. colleges and universities in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Of the top 25 top institutions hosting international students, ASU demonstrated the largest percent increase in its international student population, hosting 11,330 students in 2014-2015 — growth of more than 30 percent.

“ASU’s reputation as the most innovative place of higher education in America is known and recognized overseas. Our record of excellence and impact is helping attract bright, diverse scholars from nearly every region of the globe,” said Interim University Provost Mark Searle. “Importantly, our international students join a diverse ASU community and through their participation contribute to all students’ understanding of an increasingly interconnected world.”

New York University, the University of Southern California and Columbia University in the City of New York were the report’s top three schools for enrolling students from other countries. California and New York rank as the top two states for hosting international students. Arizona ranks 13.

Open Doors reports that ASU’s international students represent more than half of global scholars attending a college or university in Arizona, and they contribute to an estimated $618 million in yearly student expenditures.

International student enrollment at ASU has more than doubled in the past five years. In that time, students from more than 150 countries have enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in every discipline.

ASU's growth in international enrollment 2010-2014

International student enrollment at ASU has more than doubled in the past five years.


Bowei “William” Zhu is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering management at the ASU Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He grew up in Guangzhou, in southern China, and quickly became involved in the university’s Chinese Student and Scholar Association. Zhu is now president of the organization and is working to build an ASU-Chinese community locally and in his home country. He said he picked ASU for its engineering program and also “because I like the weather.”

In a recent ASU Now story about programs and services to help international students adjust to life in the United States, Rozaliya Everstova — a native of Yakutsk, in Siberia, who is on track to graduate with a degree in computer information systems this spring — spoke about taking advantage of tutoring services when she began her new life in the desert.

Tutoring is one of many ASU programs available to integrate students from afar into life at an American university. These include the Coalition of International Students, which is made up of individual student groups from different nationalities; the International Students and Scholars Center, which advises students on a variety of concerns ranging from visas to job placements; and Global Launch, an academic preparation service, language training and professional development curriculum to help students adjust to the U.S. learning environment.

top percentages of international students enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities by countries of citzenship, 2014-2015

A record number of international students attended U.S. colleges and universities in the 2014-2015 academic year.


According to the IIE, international students are not the only ones who benefit from coming to the United States for their studies. Their research concludes that domestic and foreign national students alike develop the skills necessary to succeed in a global community by learning alongside those from diverse cultures. These competencies include international awareness, an understanding of differing viewpoints and the opportunity to become proficient in foreign languages — all which improve one’s economic competitiveness.

In addition to hosting international students on its five Arizona campuses, ASU is sending an increasing number of students to study abroad in one of its more than 250 programs in 55 countries. In 2015, the university became a partner school of Generation Study Abroad, a national campaign encouraging more U.S. students to study abroad and to expand diversity in race and ethnicity, academic disciplines and destinations for those who do. The university sent about 400 more students overseas to study in 2014-2015 than in the year before.

most popular ASU study abroad locations

ASU is sending an increasing number of students to study abroad in one of its more than 250 programs in 55 countries. Above shows some of the most popular locations.


Growth is expected to continue as the ASU Study Abroad Office increases its campus activities to raise awareness of its programs and financial-aid opportunities, which includes a Study Abroad Fair today in the Tempe campus’ Memorial Union. The office awards more than 100 travel grant scholarships each year and was recently awarded nearly half a million dollars in scholarships for first-generation college students to study overseas. In addition to this funding from private support, ASU students can apply their financial aid and scholarship packages to spending a semester abroad.

Recently, ASU was rated as the third-best school for Fulbright award winners. Its most recent laurel as a top school for international students comes soon after it was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the most innovative school in the United States and as a top 100 world university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Beth Giudicessi

associate director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Scenes from ASU Homecoming 2015

November 14, 2015

From mad dashes to mad-fun parties, Sun Devils are celebrating in style

Sun Devil spirit is alive and well year-round at Arizona State University, but Homecoming turns that up a notch.

From carnivals to comedy shows, from dances to the time-honored Lantern Walk up "A" Mountain, this week is full of events for students, alumni and families.

Saturday's Homecoming parade and block party offered fun and plenty of goodies for participants. See inside three of the booths in this video, and scroll down for photos from the entire week's festivities.

Find more information at the official Homecoming site.


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Labor of love: Behind the scenes of ASU Homecoming

Behind-the-scenes army works to make ASU Homecoming happen.
Can you guess how many water stations there are at ASU Homecoming? Or banners?
November 12, 2015

Saturday's big events the result of weeks of work by thousands of people

After the sun has set, a small band of students and one university staffer gather in the darkness behind Old Main to build a float for the Homecoming Parade.

They set up a sound system for motivational dance music and get to work shredding old magazines for papier-mâché and screwing together 2x4s.

“We’ve got a lot to do before Friday,” said Dan Turbyfill, special-events manager for the Arizona State University Alumni Association. Normally a float takes two weeks to build, according to Turbyfill, who has built eight of them. Now they have five days.

“We’ll get it done,” he said.

When Homecoming 2015 culminates Saturday with a parade, block party and football game, it will be the result of weeks of labor and thousands of people who work largely behind the scenes and in the dark.

“The event is more than a party,” said Terri Cranmer. “It’s actually a large-scale festival on a 14-acre site.”

Officially, Cranmer’s title is director of facilities operations at ASU Gammage, but every fall she morphs into the Wizard of Homecoming. The month before the Homecoming block party she works 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week. ASU Gammage runs the operational logistics for the event.

When the Homecoming block party began 12 years ago, 20 departments, colleges and groups participated. Now, more than 100 take part, according to Cranmer.             

“With such a large event what we do is build an infrastructure, so that the various ASU entities can just show up, plug in and show off why ASU is a leader in innovation and one of the most ambitious universities in the country,” she said. “Many departments ... have fabulous, experienced event coordinators, but some departments only have volunteers for general planning their site and activities — so many are operating a tad out of their comfort zones. Our job is to support them and make them feel like they can do this, have their department shine, and make a great impression on their visitors.”

By the numbers it’s a whopping effort to welcome the hordes who descend on campus. Nine sustainable water stations. Three first-aid stations. Four stages. More than 200 signs and banners.

Talent has to be scheduled. Traffic barricades have to be ordered and set up. The ASU fire marshal, police, parking office and environmental health and safety personnel have to be in the loop, as do Tempe police, fire and EMTs. Facilities management ensures there is plenty of power, stakes are pounded safely, and the campus is clean. The university groundskeepers have to time their meticulous care around the event.

“We mostly work hard not to louse up their fabulous work,” Cranmer said.

Service teams work before, during and after the event, staffing water and first-aid stations, delivering ice, grabbing meals for volunteers, distributing fire extinguishers, and running bins of recyclable materials to recycling stations. 

Back in the darkness behind Old Main, sophomore Jamie Coe sat on the ground tearing up old magazines into strips for papier-mâché for the float. The end result will be a model of “A” Mountain, with different events from ASU history along the trail to the top, like the 1987 Rose Bowl win.

This was Coe’s second float. “We’re running a little late,” she said. “Actually, we’re running a lot late. But we’ll get it done.”

Samantha Hernandez, a part of the Student Alumni Association, also sat on the ground tearing up about 100 magazines, she estimated.

“I thought (building a parade float) sounded pretty cool, so I wanted to help,” she said.

Freshman Corrina Williams signed up because “it seems interesting and fun to do.”

They work from 6:30 until about 10 at night. Even though none of them knew each other before the float project, it’s a bonding moment.

“At first everyone is pretty quiet; then everyone is working together and laughing,” Hernandez said.

The “A” Mountain design was one of three submitted to the Student Alumni Association. They weren’t going for an accurate geologic model on the float.

“You can kind of see ‘A’ Mountain,” Turbyfill said, pointing at the lumber frame. Clearly he has a vision in his mind, even if others find it difficult to share at this early stage.

“We’ll finish the frame and chicken wire tonight.” He looked at his watch. “Probably.”

The first roll of chicken wire is lifted over the center support poles and maneuvered in place.

“I say we staple it there,” said freshman Cameron Cañetes.

“Hey, we’ve got a mountain,” Turbyfill said.

“And we shall make it so,” said sophomore Gregory Nairn. It wasn’t Nairn’s first float — he built a couple in the military — and he seemed like he knew what he was doing. “Not really,” he said.

“There’s a concept drawing,” Turbyfill said. “Somewhere.”

See more photos from Homecoming week here.

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ASU finds legacy through research excellence

ASU celebrates two decades as a Research 1 school.
October 28, 2015

ASU innovation knows no bounds.

In 1994, the university met a high standard of criteria that propelled it to a Research 1 school, and over the years it has achieved everything from making equipment for the Mars landing to finding a human genus jawbone that’s more than 2.8 million years old.

After two decades it was time to celebrate these achievements.

On Tuesday, ASU President Michael Crow and Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, who leads ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, thanked faculty and celebrated the impact of excellence at ASU at the Legacy of Discovery reception.

Crow claimed ASU’s new standard was in thanks to its progressive staff.

“I never encountered, or met, a faculty willing to do the things that you are willing to do, and able to do," Crow said. “And that is to stay committed, and stay true, to the fundamental purpose of teachers while simultaneously progressing your research and creativity towards success.”  

ASU was granted Research 1 school status in 1994 from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This placed the university among a select group who produce a great volume of quality work. In order to achieve this status, a university must offer a full range of baccalaureate programs, give a high priority toward research, award 50 or more doctoral degrees each year and receive $40 million or more annually in federal support.

Panchanathan showed his appreciation with direct praise and presented two videos, which hosted a timeline of every great milestone from the beginning of 1994 to present day.

“These amazing accomplishments that have been achieved at ASU through research and support have created impact, and most importantly, a legacy,” Panchanathan said. “We are now recognized as the most innovative university in the United States.”

The faculty in attendance shared in the feeling of accomplishment. Stuart LindsayStuart Lindsay is a Regents' Professor in the Department of Physics and the School of Molecular Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., a Regents' Professor since 1979, expressed how much the university has expanded over the course of time, elevating itself to a new standard.

“To see the enterprise, where it started, and to see it not only funded and supported on a much larger scale, but to see it grow to a level of excellence that is just stunning,” Lindsay said. “And if I want to find the best brains in the country to collaborate with, there is a good chance I’ll find it here now.”

After awards were handed out to celebrated faculty, Crow closed the evening with his own personal acknowledgment.

“Today is reflective of you, the success of all of you,” Crow said. “So what I want to say here today, most of all, is thank you.

Reporter , ASU Now

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ASU Police welcome community in first-ever citizen academy

First-ever ASU Police Academy brings community together.
ASU Police Department makes effort to promote transparency.
Free ASU class a test program for possible criminology course.
October 22, 2015

They may patrol the campus mall. They may bust some sweet Segway moves. But don’t mistake them for mall cops.

The Arizona State University Police Department (ASUPD) is an independent, fully functional arm of the greater Arizona police force. It’s been in operation since 1948, but for the first time, the department opened its doors Oct. 14 and 21 to host a two-day course detailing the inner workings of the university’s peacekeeping agency.

As the public’s demand for transparency and accountability from the law enforcement agencies that serve them has grown, ASUPD’s top officials decided that a community police academy would be the best way to clear up the cloud of mystery that can surround law enforcement agencies, especially at a college university.

“The whole concept of people not understanding what we do for our community was really driven home to me about five years ago,” said Michele Rourke, commander of the West campus. “I was in the elevator at Computing Commons going up to meet someone and a lady gets on and a gentleman gets on. The lady looks at me and says ‘Is something going on?’ I said, ‘No, I’m just going to meet somebody and talk about an issue.’”

“So, are you with Tempe [PD]?”

“No, ma’am, I’m with ASU. Are you new to the community?”

“No, I’ve worked here 12 years and I never knew we had a police department,” the lady replied.

To shed some light on the day-to-day operations of ASUPD, students, faculty and staff in attendance were greeted with presentations from every facet of the department’s operations including counselors, detectives and dispatchers.

Over the course of the two days, one of the biggest points the academy drove home was that the job of an officer entails a great deal more than just enforcing the law. For example, ASU hosts approximately 1600 special events a year — an average of more than four per day — all of which are reviewed by a two-man branch of the department that determines if an event requires a police presence.

“If we were to follow an officer around all day, you would probably find that a majority of their shift has nothing to do with law enforcement,” said ASUPD police chief Michael Thompson. “It’s to do with assisting our community members, making contacts on campus, taking a report, helping somebody work through an issue, especially on a university campus.

“When I would sit down with police officers that had just been hired on to the department, I would tell them, 'Look, if you have some delusion or some aspiration of rappelling down a helicopter with a machine gun on, then this is not going to be the environment for you to do that in.'”

Thompson emphasized that his department has the tactical resources at its disposal if necessary, but doesn’t see the need for full-time use.

One of those tactical resources isn’t an it, but a she: Officer Disney, a highly trained munitions detection and disposal expert with years of experience working high-profile events across the country like Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas. She also sniffed out a key piece of evidence in a local bank robbery last month.

Disney is, without a doubt, the most popular officer in the entire department. But because she is a yellow Labrador who won’t hesitate to kiss everyone she meets, she tends to have a couple legs up on her colleagues. She is one of the few bomb-sniffing dogs in the area and frequently lends her services to police departments around the state. Her partner, detective Parker Dunwoody gave a demonstration of Disney’s bomb-detecting capabilities during the second day of the academy.

Shortly afterwards, attendees received a completion certificate and a newfound understanding of the stresses, motivations and methods that drive ASU’s peace officers.

“I thought it was very helpful and very informative. I definitely got information I don’t think I would’ve sought out otherwise,” said 19-year-old interdisciplinary studies major Alexa Jimenez. One of her concentrations is homeland security, and she hopes to work for a government law enforcement agency in the future. “It opened up my eyes to a lot of opportunities. I feel very secure about my career and what I want to do.”

The police department is now working on developing an expanded, seven-week version of the academy in partnership with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. It’s all a part of including the community and increased transparency, said police chief Thompson.

“What transparency leads to is trust, what trust leads to is cooperation, cooperation then leads to involvement,” Thompson said. “The closer I can get to my community the happier I am. I think that’s how we — as a country, and law enforcement agencies in general — will make progress."

Reporter , ASU Now

ASU News

ASU President Michael M. Crow appointed to Department of Homeland Security's academic advisory council

October 16, 2015

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced today the appointment of Arizona State University President Michael Crow to the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC).
The council, comprised of university presidents and academic leaders, provides advice to Johnson and senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership on matters related to homeland security and the academic community.
Since HSAAC’s formation in 2012, its members have issued more than 120 recommendations in the areas of academic research and faculty exchange, campus resilience, cybersecurity, international students, DHS academic programs and student and recent graduate recruitment.
Crow’s service on the HSAAC will draw on his distinguished career in academic research and public service, which he began in 1974 by joining the University Year for ACTION, an affiliate program of the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).

Crow then received his doctorate in public administration and served in various leadership roles in higher education, including as executive vice provost of Columbia University. Crow is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and U.S. Department of Commerce National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He also serves on the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which promotes understanding between the FBI and higher education on issues such as terrorism, counterintelligence and homeland security.
Since becoming ASU’s 16th president in 2002, Crow has grown the university’s robust international student presence and led to its ranking in the top ten best colleges and universities in America for international students. HSAAC executives have requested Crow’s guidance on improving the DHS’ international student processes and outreach efforts, and on how DHS can better explain regulatory interpretations and policies to the academic community while supporting emerging trends in international education.
Crow’s two-year appointment begins immediately. The full list of council members is available here. ASU President Michael Crow Arizona State University President Michael Crow has been appointed to the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. Download Full Image