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ASU attracts Olympic talent as world-class training hub

With Phelps on pool deck, ASU commits to being an Olympic training hub.
August 18, 2016

University commits to upgrade facilities, involve community, hire top coaches — such as superstars Phelps and Bowman

The closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Games comes this weekend, but it won’t be the end of Arizona State University’s Olympic involvement. The school is positioning itself as a mecca where world-class athletes will come to train year-round.

To create the right environment, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson said the university has committed to hiring top-level coaches, improving facilities and leveraging community support.

“We’re very serious about our Olympic sports,” Anderson said. “We think they really add to the entire experience of what our responsibility is to deliver.”

At the forefront of those efforts, Anderson said, is swimming. The school last year hired Bob Bowman — personal coach of Michael Phelps — to run the swim program.

“The thing I noticed when I came here is that there is such a great energy within the administration and staff to make ASU something really great,” Bowman said. “I truly believe we’ll be an Olympic training hub, and each year it will build.”

Phelps came to ASU to train last year before heading off to his fifth Olympic games, where he won six medals, bringing his career total to 28. It has cemented his legacy as the greatest swimmer in history and the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.

Phelps will return to ASU this fall as an assistant swim coach.

Ray Anderson

Ray Anderson, vice president for university athletics, said that ASU is serious about becoming an elite training mecca. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


Besides Bowman and Phelps, there are several other Sun Devil coaches with Olympic experience, including:

• Misty Hyman, senior assistant coach for swimming, was a gold-medal winner in the 2000 Olympics;

• Cliff English, head of the new triathlon program, was in Rio de Janeiro as the personal coach for two triathletes;

• Mark Bradshaw, head coach of the diving program, competed at the 1988 Olympic games and was head coach of Finland’s national diving team in 2004 and 2008;

• Zeke Jones, head coach of the wrestling program, won a silver medal in the 1992 Olympics and was head coach of the men’s freestyle team in the 2012 games in London, which won two gold and two bronze medals.

Zeke Jones

Zeke Jones, head coach of Sun Devil wrestling, said his Olympic experience was "life changing." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


Phelps has mentioned ASU’s facilities as a key draw.  “I swam indoors my whole career,” before starting to train at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. “Being able to see the sun every day is something that’s beneficial.”

The school’s most high-profile facility upgrade, the $250 million Sun Devil Stadium renovation, won’t directly affect Olympic sports, but Anderson said ASU is dedicated to other improvements.

“We have the will to do it,” he said. “We have absolute intentions of upgrading tennis as facilities that will accommodate lacrosse and soccer. We’ll eventually upgrade track and field as well.”

The facilities already have been enough to attract several Olympians besides Phelps, including swimmers Chase Kalisz, Cierra Runge and Allison Schmitt, weightlifter Morghan King and Australian triathlete Ashleigh Gentle.

Jones, the wrestling coach, discussed the importance of community support in building an Olympic hub, citing the ASU’s work with the Phoenix-based Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, including a youth camp, as a key partnership.

“What you see here you don’t see elsewhere — world-class coaching, partners, university commitment. That doesn’t happen in many places,” Jones said.

Jones wrestled for ASU and came in 2014 to become head coach of the program. He called the Olympic experience “life changing,” adding, “It’s this tradition we hopefully keep passing along here.”


Top photo: Record-breaking American swimmer Michael Phelps trained at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center with head swimming coach Bob Bowman before traveling to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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August 18, 2016

Smooth start to first day of fall semester as students head back to class

The first day of the 2016-2017 school year got off to a smooth start at Arizona State University. It was easygoing in Tempe, streamlined at West, bucolic at Polytechnic and compartmentalized at the Downtown Phoenix campus. At ASU’s Lake Havasu City location, meanwhile, students counted bats.

In all, ASU absorbed thousands of people — from first-year students to returning faculty — without much fuss.

The newbies of the Class of 2020 represent a group that’s already making history: Of the 11,500 freshmen joining the university, nearly 7,000 are from Arizona, the largest in-state class in school history. The record number of Arizona enrollments reflects the university’s commitment to serving families across the state, ASU officials said in a statement.

Also, nearly half of the Arizona-based first-years come from underrepresented populations, marking the most diverse freshman class in ASU history. It highlights the historic dedication of research universities to educate a diverse student body, the university said.

The new students are spreading out across ASU’s various campuses: about 9,000 in Tempe, 1,500 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, about 1,000 between Polytechnic and West, and nearly three dozen at Lake Havasu City.

Here’s the story of the first day from each campus:

Tempe campus: First-years, first thing in the morning

It was 82 minutes after sunrise on Thursday as several freshmen scurried to their first college classes at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

And if a 7:30 a.m. start time wasn’t enough of a challenge for the first day, it was gloomy and gray outside the Durham Language and Literature Building.

“Today of all days to rain,” lamented Ernesto Vargas of Peoria, a graphic design major. “I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with the early time, but it’s nothing different from high school. It’s OK for a few classes but not all of them.”

His friend, Nathan Herr, a film major who lives in Peoria, had been up for hours in order to make it to his 7:30 a.m. class on ASU’s largest campus, home of the Palm Walk, The Memorial Union and Sun Devil stadium.

“I got up at like 4:30 and drove to the West campus and took the bus from there to here,” he said. “I have to do that every Tuesday and Thursday for a math class.”

Also sleep-deprived was Alexa Mayer of Nogales, who had English 101 at 7:30 a.m.

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so anxious about the time. I didn’t even need an alarm,” said Mayer, an accountancy major.

“But it’s not as bad as I thought because the teacher is so chill.”

The instructor, Heather Crook, teaches at 7:30 a.m. five days a week, although she’s glad to be done before 1 p.m. every day.

“If I don’t have my coffee, or if I run out of my coffee, it’s a sad day,” she said.

“The first couple of weeks, the students are pretty excited, but then after that they start to be groggy and they might be a few minutes late,” Crook said.

“But for the students who are morning people, it’s awesome.”

That would include Giovanni Romani, a performance and movement major. “I don’t mind the mornings,” she said. “I guess I’m weird.”

Time-lapse by Ken Fagan/ASU Now


Across campus, another group of freshmen ducked out of the drizzle into McCord Hall as part of a tour for their W. P. Carey 101 course — a one-credit, weekly class that introduces the new students to resources in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“We talk about advising, our business career center, study abroad,” said David Reali, the staff member who led the tour and coordinates the Camp Carey program. “Each week is designed to open the eyes of the students to everything that’s at their fingertips in the school.”

Junior Nick Staloch was helping to lead the tour, which on the first day included the W. P. Carey buildings and the college’s personal Starbucks outlet.

“I went to a very small high school so coming to ASU was a bit daunting,” said Staloch, who also is a resident assistant in Barrett, the Honors College.

“It’s fun to be able to help people who are going through what I went through just two years ago.”

West campus: Students return to streamlined parking

One of the first things students have to learn to deal with when they roll up for the first day of classes is parking. If you’re unfamiliar with campus or in a hurry, it can be frustrating to navigate.

This year at ASU's West campus, Mark Gaertner, field operations supervisor for ASU Parking and Transit, was out bright and early to greet students and answer any questions about the new, more streamlined pay-to-park system on the liberal arts campus in Glendale. 

“It’s a lot more convenient,” said Gaertner. “You can pay and then come and go as you like.”

At the Starbucks inside Fletcher Library, Tiffany Spriulle served up both hot and cold drinks to faculty, staff and students. Even with everyone returning to campus the crowds weren’t overwhelming.

“It’s been pretty nice and steady,” she said.

Biology juniors Dena Haddab and Sameera Khan discussed their biochemistry class as they waited in line for their morning caffeine rush. Khan is excited for the year ahead but says “it’s going to be a tough semester” because she has a lot of challenging classes and will be preparing for the Medical College Acceptance Test.

Video by Dave Hunt/ASU


Out on Fletcher Lawn, Student Activities and Conference Services student workers Jesus Hidalgo and Charlene Smith set up tents for the “Fear the Fork” welcome barbecue, hosted by Undergraduate Student Government.

Hidalgo, a secondary education major, said the event is a great way to welcome students.

“First impressions matter,” he said. “It’s a big transition coming from high school to college, and it feels good knowing you’re helping to get students involved and feeling comfortable.”

Some students slipped away from the sun by bringing the feast inside Fletcher Library. Sophomores Dustin Nguyen and Czarina Perez shared a plate stacked with corn on the cob, pulled pork, fried chicken and corn muffins.

Nguyen is celebrating being done with his first organic chemistry class, and says he’s “looking forward to getting all A’s this semester.”

Around the corner, senior Ena Razic double- and triple-checked her schedule for the day. The communications major has classes at both the Downtown Phoenix campus and West.

“I just wanna make sure I know where everything is so I don’t have to check again when I get down there,” she said.

Downtown Phoenix campus: Low-key milestones

ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus kicked off the fall semester with a trio of milestones: The campus is celebrating its 10th anniversary, welcoming a record number of students and showcasing the newly opened Beus Center for Law and Society.

All that’s just trivia, however, to students preoccupied with finding their classes on the campus geared toward city-minded students seeking careers in health, nutrition, law, journalism, teaching and non-profit management.

J.J. Santos took the light rail from ASU’s Tempe campus but was late for Mary Cook’s “The ASU Experience.” The course, designed to help students succeed by introducing them to campus resources and services, was held in a meeting room in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Despite the tardiness, Santos walked in confidently. Cook asked Santos whether he was a movie star. The 18-year-old replied, “Yes. I am,” though his current resume would indicate otherwise.

By contrast, first-year students Ramon Garcia and Caitlyn Brooner were on time. The pair of nursing majors graduated from Phoenix’s Alhambra High School in June. While waiting for their 9 a.m. introduction to chemistry class, they chatted in the lobby of the Beus Center.

Garcia said he was excited but found it hard to shake the nerves. “It’s a lot of pressure being the first one in your family to go to college.”

Brooner feels pressure, too, but for a different reason. “My goal is to be successful and not let my own expectations down while holding to what I believe.”

The nearly $130 million Beus Center is now home for about 900 ASU Law students after a massive relocation that began about 10 years ago.  

Second-year ASU Law student Devyn McCullen was taking a break outside the six-story, 280,000-square-foot structure before catching the light rail back to Tempe. It was her first visit.

“It’s very hi-tech compared to the Tempe campus, but I think it fits in down here,” McCullen said. “It’s near the legal community and the courts, and opportunities for internships should be easier.”

The influx brings the number of students at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus above 13,000, the highest total in it’s now 10-year history.

“That’s really cool,” Brooner said. “I thought it was older than that.” 

Polytechnic campus: First-years get bearings on quiet first day

The doves were cooing as the sun rose over the fields of the Polytechnic campus.

It was freshman Heather Bearden's first day, and sat outside the student union. "I'm excited but I'm nervous at the same time," the graphic information technology major said. "I'm looking forward to making new friends and learning about my degree."

Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus is nicknamed “The Maker Campus” because it has so many labs and workshops. Students print and design and test and build here. They study applied sciences and mechanical and electronics engineering. Some of them are in the aviation program, where they can walk out of the classroom and get in a cockpit at the airport across the street.

"It's so much quieter and smaller than the Tempe campus," Bearden said. 

And it is. So much quieter that a small skunk is prowling a wash beside the union.

"You don't see that every day," Corey Stevenson said. 

An outreach coordinator for the teacher's college, today Stevenson staffs an information booth. She has volunteered to help on the first day of classes for the past four years. 

"Just directions" are the most common request. "Where's this building? Where's that building? That's what we hear the most. I try to be a friendly face, just reassure them." 

The freshmen are unsure about a lot, about what to bring, where to go. A young man approaches the table.

"Do you know where classroom 133 is?"

Stevenson jumps up to show him the way.

Down in the basement of the Sim building, no one is flying virtual skies today. Faculty associate Mike Hampshire, who teaches flying on the aviation program simulators, explained that he’s pairing up students before they start to train together.

“I’m less behind than I normally am,” Hampshire said. “Everything goes so fast. One minute they’re freshmen and the next thing you know they’re flying the flight you’re on. And you feel good about it.”

Thunderbird campus: A close-knit, global education

Just a mile north of the West campus in Glendale, students at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management are pumped to begin learning how they can put their undergraduate knowledge to work in today’s global industry.

The week leading up to this first day of class, students participated in various activities on campus to get to know each other, professors and the physical space better.

Orientation was each day from 7-8 a.m. Global affairs and management grad student Gillian Reid said it was a lot of information at once but it was worth it — not to mention, coffee was provided.

Students at Thunderbird are placed into cohorts of about 30. Mary Alexandrou said, “The best part about being a master’s student is having a cohort and learning together at the same pace.”

Fellow cohort member Bethany Bennick agrees. “It really feels like a family here at Thunderbird,” Bennick said. “There’s a real sense of belonging” on the campus that emphasizes high-level business management.

Chris Barton, Mariah Alexander and Griffin Gosnell, all global affairs and management students, had already developed a rapport, talking and laughing as they walked to their global institutions and actors class.

Barton completed his undergraduate degree at ASU in sustainability. At Thunderbird, he says he’s “looking forward to learning the practical skills of life.”

Professor Okechukwu Iheduru welcomed the class with a warning: “If you mispronounce or spell my name incorrectly, you lose 10 percent of your course grade.”

The room went silent until he let out a laugh and the students joined in. Iheduru gives them a brief overview of his personal and professional background, then gets right down to business — literally.

Colleges at Lake Havasu City: Gone batty

At ASU’s small, low-cost extension location students started the semester as they have for several years: They went and counted bats in a nearby forest to document the number of different species.

Kimberley Rome, ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City community outreach specialist, said that for each of the last four years students have gotten involved in the field exercise, which is hard to replicate elsewhere. They also held their annual "Beach Bash," where students paddle boarded, kayaked and played volleyball.  

The colleges opened in 2012 about a mile from the large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River. The locations offers degrees including in sociology, political science, communication and life sciences. This year, students can take kinesiology and business administration.

Unlike the Valley campuses, it was “hot as heck” near the California border. “It’s 114 degrees,” Rome said. 


Check in with ASU Now on Twitter: @asunews, Instagram: @asunow and Snapchat: asunow.


Reporters Marshall Terrill, Emma Greguska, Scott Seckel and Mary Beth Faller contributed to this report. Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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A new Palm Walk arises

New palm trees along iconic ASU pathway to provide Medjool dates and more shade.
Students over next three years will see the gradual transformation of Palm Walk.
July 29, 2016

First phase of 35 date palms being planted along southern portion of iconic walkway



Whatever you call the new Palm Walk — revitalization, replanting or replacement — it’s a continuance.

This week Arizona State University began replacing the 110 Mexican fan palms lining iconic Palm Walk with date palms, which provide more shade plus an annual crop of Medjool dates.

The choice was made with an eye toward sustainability, emblematic of the New American University approach to practical problem solving. The work will be done in three phases, with the central and northern sections being replanted in the summers of 2017 and 2018.

Students over the next three years will see the gradual transformation of Palm Walk, in much the same way the Territorial Normal School at Tempe eventually morphed into the university they attend today.

“Freshmen will go through the entire transformation process,” said Byron Sampson, ASU landscape architect. “The freshmen of (2019) will never know it wasn’t this way. It’s kind of cool.”

Landscapers are planting 35 date palms along the southern portion of Palm Walk between the Computing Commons and the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. The first phase of replacement will be complete before students, faculty and staff return in mid-August.

“We have records that date the original palms were planted along Palm Walk to 1917,” Sampson said. “This project is intended to set the tone for the next 100 years.”

Sampson traveled to the Coachella date groves in Southern California earlier this year to hunt for perfect trees that matched.

“It worked out very well,” he said. He went to Coachella and found a perfect grove. “It was almost as if they were grown for this project. ... We know that we can go back to this grove in the future when we do the second and third phase. ... We’re pretty well set to find what we need."

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU network provides career development for university trainers

July 21, 2016

Sun Devil staff now have the opportunity to join the Learning, Training and Development (LTD) network group, which supports professional development for learning professionals at Arizona State University.

The group aims to gather university staff members to collaborate and share ideas to streamline the training process. Download Full Image

Kiersten Gjerstad and Julie Binter started the group over a year ago while they were working in the Offices of Human Resources; however, the LTD is directed through a steering committee so that it may exist out of any particular department.

One of the key members of the committee, IT services analyst Mindy Trittipo, wants the group to create simpler access to people who do training at the university — whether formally or informally — so they can exchange ideas to further strengthen the staff of the university. 

“A lot of people do training as part of their job, but perhaps not their job title,” Trittipo said. “We already have so many people who can come to the table with different experiences, so it makes sense we would try to put together a group of people where we could collaborate.”

The collaboration includes discussions on determining when to use a certain database, program, or method to improve upon the resources the university already provides. 

“We’ll answer questions like, ‘when do I use online learning or in class learning?’ When is it effective?” Trittipo said.

The LTD meets regularly throughout the year and plans hold a conference at ASU in January.

In the meantime, the group relies on a grassroots effort to get the word out and uses Blackboard as a main communication hub. There, various members post updates and maintain connections made over the course of the year. 

“We know a lot of people who might not know about the network, and they might enjoy it,” Trittipo said. “We’re interested in training in development, and we’re hoping this also helps for career development.” 

For more information and to learn how to be involved, contact the LTD at Those interested in joining are invited to complete this survey by Aug. 12 so they can be invited to the next meeting.

Reporter, ASU Now

ASU receives innovation honor

Named an an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University for its strong commitment to economic engagement

July 18, 2016

In recognition of its strong commitment to economic engagement, Arizona State University has been designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

The designation recognizes public research universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.  Download Full Image

“At ASU, we believe that university research and innovation should serve as an engine for economic growth and societal benefit,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “Being recognized as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by APLU is a testimony to the efforts by our faculty, staff and students to advance ASU as an intellectually vibrant environment focused on outcomes.”

ASU received the designation after an independent panel reviewed the school’s application, which included a 360-degree review and analysis of its economic engagement activities that were conducted with internal and external stakeholder input. It is one of 54 public schools in North America to be designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University and now qualifies to compete with other North American public universities for APLU’s 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards.

“It is central to our mission to devote the university’s talent and resources to revitalize and advance the region’s economy,” said Todd Hardy, senior economic development advisor at ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development. “Inclusion on this list of Innovation and Economic Prosperity universities will only strengthen our ability to advance the social, economic, cultural and overall wellbeing of the communities we serve.”

Focused on developing a robust and diverse workforce for the state of Arizona for sustainable economic growth, the university has doubled the number of degrees awarded to minority students since 2005. It is also providing aspiring college students in Arizona and beyond a direct pathway to college through innovative programs, including the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and the Global Freshman Academy.

ASU has developed key regional economic development partnerships, including ones with the City of Phoenix for its Downtown Phoenix campus, the city of Mesa for ASU Polytechnic campus, and Mayo Clinic, to connect talent and innovation to place-based development. The development of SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, has been responsible for the creation of 1,500 jobs and an economic output of more than $588 million to the Greater Phoenix economy. SkySong’s economic impact is estimated to grow to $32 billion in the next 30 years.

“Public research universities such as Arizona State University serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting-edge research that yields breakthroughs that improve life well beyond the confines of campus,” said APLU president Peter McPherson. “Equally important, these institutions cultivate the talent necessary to help fledgling business take flight and ensure existing enterprises have the human capital they need to maintain their dynamism.”

To learn more regarding ASU’s economic development efforts and partnerships, click here.

ASU School of Social Transformation welcomes new director

July 18, 2016

Elsie Moore has taken a new leadership position as the director of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Prior to her appointment, Moore was the faculty head of the African and African American studies program at ASU.

Founding school director Mary Margaret Fonow stepped down from the role after many years of service and dedication. Dr. Elsie Moore Download Full Image

“Dr. Fonow has done an excellent job of building the infrastructure of the school since its inception,” Moore said. “It is my intention to continue the initiatives she set while expanding upon them.”

Moore’s goals include building up enrollment in general studies courses offered by the school, increasing the number of majors at the school, and expanding the availability of scholarships for students.

In conjunction with these goals, Moore wishes to facilitate further mentoring and career development for students. She also plans to continue mentoring faculty, including associate professors on track to become full professors. 

Moore’s leadership experience is not limited to students and faculty. As a longtime administrator, she values the many roles that staff members play in their collaborative support of education. 

“As director, I will continue leading the school as a focused enterprise in education that recognizes the humanity of every participant and to do the best job we possibly can for the betterment of society.”

Moore earned her doctorate at the University of Chicago in Human Development, with specializations in Child Development and Psychoeducational Assessment. Her research examines school, family and community factors that influence the cognitive test performance, academic achievement, educational attainment, and career choices of female and male ethnic minority youth.  

Founded in 2009, the ASU School of Social Transformation brings together diverse scholars, students, and communities in African and African American studies, Asian Pacific American studies, social and cultural pedagogy, justice and social inquiry, and women and gender studies. The school focuses on transformational knowledge, including creative research approaches to themes and questions embedded in broader historical, social and cultural contexts.

Bryan Beach

Communications specialist, School of Social Transformation


ASU reaches new international heights

University lands near top of global rankings list

July 11, 2016

Arizona State University has been rated in the top one-half of 1 percent of institutions of higher education worldwide, according to the Center for World University Rankings.

The ranking is in part a reflection of the university’s continuous expansion of its global reach through research and education. ASU is a knowledge enterprise that spans multiple subjects, interests and locations around the world. Arizona State University

The Center for World University Rankings says it compiles the largest academic ranking of global universities through measures such as the quality of student education and the quality of faculty members and their research. The center weighs in factors including, but not limited to, research publications, patents and broad impact.

ASU outranked institutions such as Michigan State University, Georgetown and Florida State University.

This year, the partnership between ASU and Vietnamese universities to boost training in science, technology, engineering and math was recognized by President Barack Obama who lauded ASU as an “academic and technological leader.”

As the most recent ranking indicates, the university has become a global center for discovery and development, imparting solution-oriented research to solve national and international issues facing society. 

ASU has received numerous honors in the past year, including being ranked the most innovative university in the country (U.S. News & World Report), the top U.S. producer of Fulbright scholars, the top public research institution of choice for international students (Institute of International Education) and one of the top 10 best colleges for veterans (College Factual).

Center for World University Rankings graphic

ASU Foundation receives Charity Navigator’s highest rating for fifth consecutive year

July 11, 2016

For the fifth consecutive year, the ASU Foundation for A New American University attained Charity Navigator’s coveted four-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. The rating, the highest possible, is reserved for organizations that exceed industry standards, adhere to sector best practices and execute their missions in financially efficient ways.

“Only 6 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least five consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that ASU Foundation outperforms most other charities in America,” wrote Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher. “This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets ASU Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.” Charity Navigator 4-star rating Download Full Image

The ASU Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions to benefit Arizona State University. In recent years, it has seen dramatic increases in the number of individuals who support ASU research, scholarships and programs; new gifts and commitments surpassed $200 million in fiscal year 2015 and are projected to set a new record in 2016.

The ASU Foundation is one of the highest ranked educational fundraising organizations evaluated by Charity Navigator.

Among other indicators of excellence, the ASU Foundation was named a “Top company to work for in Arizona” by Republic Media and the Arizona Commerce Authority — the third year in a row it received the honor.

It is one of more than 8,000 charities analyzed through a data-driven process by Charity Navigator, which is considered the leading charity evaluator in America and seeks to provide donors with information to inform their charitable decisions. Only around one in four rated charities achieve the four-star distinction.

ASU Foundation’s full rating profile is available here.

White House appoints ASU VP to key administration post

Beatriz Rendón named member of President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

May 10, 2016

President Obama announced his intent to appoint four individuals to key Administration posts and Beatriz Rendón, vice president of Educational Outreach and CEO of ASU Preparatory Academy, was among the list of well-respected professionals.

Rendón was sworn in as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in April.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was originally established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic communities across the country.

The initative, in partnership with the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, will advance a strategic policy to tackle critical educational challenges such as, increasing the number of Hispanic high school graduates and ensuring more Hispanic students enroll and complete a post-secondary education.

“There is no greater equalizer than a college degree,” Rendón said. “I am honored to be a member of the Commission and welcome the opportunity to share the great work ASU is doing toward this end and contribute to policy discussions that assist with advancing this goal.”

Hispanics have the lowest education attainment levels of any group in the country despite being both the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States. The primary goal of the Commission is to provide a platform in which to think through ways to improve academic achievement of Latino students.

Rendón has first-hand experience and with helping students achieve academic success. As CEO of ASU Prep, she leads a team that continues to raise the bar in terms of high school graduation rates and increasing the number of students who pursue a college education across student populations from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

ASU Prep is an innovative K-12 charter school, offering students an optimum environment for learning, helping them achieve their potential and ensure the appropriate level of college readiness. ASU Prep serves over 2,000 students across its sites and nearly half identify as Hispanic. In 2015, the first graduating class at ASU Prep realized a 98 percent four-year graduation rate and 100 percent of the students were admitted to a post-secondary study. ASU Prep’s class of 2016 is on track to graduate 100 percent of its seniors.

Through her leadership and commitment to closing the attainment gap, Rendón, in her current roles at ASU, is part of a team that will expand the reach and impact of outreach efforts and launch ASU Prep’s new online school in fall 2017.

Rendón noted that ASU Prep’s talented teaching faculty, staff, students and families have made tremendous progress, but there remains much to be done.

“We look forward to the future ahead, which will continue to build on the great work to date,” she said.

Much like the goals of the university, Rendón’s forward-thinking endeavors and commitment to increase Arizona’s college enrollment make her an invaluable asset to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

“I am grateful to be part of a team of talented professionals committed to student success and college attainment, and am privileged to work for a leading university like ASU, to advance access and excellence for all,” she said.

More about the president’s announcement can be found here.

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Two-thirds of prestigious Flinn scholars chose #ASU in 2016.
The #ASU Flinn scholars will make you feel inadequate. In a good way.
April 21, 2016

Two-thirds of this year's elite Flinn Scholars will call ASU home

Maggie Zheng performed her first surgical procedure when she was just a preschooler.

Granted, it was on one of her stuffed animals.

But in hindsight it was a relevant precursor to where she finds herself today: one of an elite group of winners of this year’s Flinn Scholarship, who will be attending Arizona State University in the fall.

Zheng, who will study biomedical sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has loved the idea of being a doctor since she was child watching medical shows on public television.

Flinn Scholar and future Sun Devil Maggie Zheng“I just always found it really fascinating, so I want to become a surgeon,” said Zheng (left).

She is a member the 31st class of Flinn Scholars. The award, which started in 1985, is offered to outstanding Arizona high school students on the condition that they attend one of the state’s three public universities: ASU, which will have 13 Flinn scholar enrollees this fall; the University of Arizona, which will have six Flinn scholars; or Northern Arizona University, which will have one.

Flinn scholars are chosen based on merit and receive more than $115,000 to use towards tuition, room and board, and study abroad expenses. They also get support for off-campus internships and are paired with faculty mentors. 

The Flinn scholars coming to ASU will attend Barrett, the Honors College.

“The Flinn Scholarship is an important investment in keeping Arizona’s finest and most highly qualified students in-state,” said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, the Honors College. “We are pleased to welcome them to ASU.”

Zheng’s passion for (and early foray into) medicine is not the only thing that caught the attention of the Flinn Foundation — or, for that matter, the attention of Yale, NYU, the University of Chicago and Rice, some of the other schools to which she was accepted.

The high school senior has composed three full orchestral pieces working with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra (“I play the piano, but I can compose for basically the whole orchestra.”) and is active in the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and has been involved with the Metropolitan Education Commission since the seventh grade.

She’s not alone in her exceptionalism.

One of her future classmates is Yisha Ng, who has been hooked on space as a result, at least in part, of growing up near the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

She wants to work in space exploration — whether it’s NASA or one of the other new space-based companies that have appeared in recent years.

“But NASA is my dream job,” she said. 

Future Sun Devil Yisha Ng with a rocket she built in high school.She has chosen ASU to help her get there. She’ll enroll this fall as an aerospace engineering student. She may have a little bit of a head start, having built a rocket (picture left) as part of a capstone project in high school.

She also plays violin, earned a black belt in a Hawaiian mixed martial art called kajukenbo, and switched to diving after an injury sidelined her from gymnastics — getting her high school to reinstate its diving program in the process. She also helped resurrect her school's speech and debate team and travels next week to a national tournament.

This year’s Flinn class at ASU also includes future astrophysicists, high-level accountants and musical theater majors like Vaibu Mohan.

She’s finishing up her senior year at the BASIS Scottsdale high school, a charter school focused on the STEM disciplines. And although her school has had an intense focus on science, technology, engineering and math, Mohan has continued to grow her love of the arts, founding the school’s first a cappella club, becoming an accomplished violinist, and performing and teaching Indian classical dance.

Flinn Scholar and future Sun Devil Vaibu MohanMohan (left) chose ASU because she’ll be able to be “completely immersed in this wonderful performing arts program while also being a business major,” something that other schools to which she was accepted would not have made so easy.

“The other schools are fantastic, but none of the other programs had the ‘anything you want, anything you need, and it’s here for you to use’ mentality here at ASU,” she said.

Mohan hopes to someday open and run her own theater company that tailors to performers of color, like her.

Many of the incoming Flinn scholars share a desire to make the world better for those around them.

Martín Blair spent a portion of his high school career getting his classmates and teachers excited about sustainable transportation — like carpooling and riding bikes to school or work.

But he took it a step further.

Flinn Scholar and future Sun Devil Martin Blair“I built a hybrid electric vehicle that they could use as inspiration,” said Blair (left). “... The students are having a lot of fun with it, and it’s being used as a teaching implement.”

Blair, a rock climber, snowboarder, surfer, archer and Eagle Scout, will study to be a mechanical engineer in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, which he hopes will lead to further work as a systems engineer.

“I’d like to get a PhD in systems engineering at ASU,” he said, “and consult with different businesses and spread my efforts to help design the best products we can so we can have a better world.”

A lofty goal, but he and his Flinn cohort see ASU as a good place to start.


The Flinn Scholars headed to ASU:

Aidan McGirr is going to study astrophysics in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He attends Anthem Preparatory Academy.

Martín Blair is coming to ASU from the Phoenix Union Bioscience High School. He’ll study mechanical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Rohini Nott, currently at BASIS Chandler, will major in biology and society in the School of Life Sciences.

Maeve Kennedy, from Westwood High School in Mesa, plans to study chemical engineering in the Fulton Schools.

Ivette Montes Parra, also from Westwood High School, will also go to the Fulton Schools, to study mechanical engineering. 

Cameron Carver at Sabino High School in Tucson will be a mechanical engineering student in the Fulton Schools.

Anagha Deshpande, currently at Hamilton High School in Chandler, will study genetics, cell and developmental biology as a biological sciences major in the School of Life Sciences.

Andrew Roberts will study electrical engineering in the Fulton Schools. He’s finishing up at Westwood High School.

Margaret “Maggie” Zheng will study biomedical sciences in the School of Life Sciences. She attends University High School in Tucson.

Yisha Ng wants to be an aerospace engineer. She’ll study in the Fulton Schools. She’s currently at Flagstaff High School.

Enrique Favaro, in high school at the Tempe Preparatory Academy, is going into accountancy at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Vaibu Mohan, focusing on the STEM subjects at BASIS Scottsdale, will immerse herself in performance and musical theater in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

Tina Peng, from Chandler Preparatory Academy, will study computer science in the Fulton Schools.