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ASU’s Wilkinson to be inducted to Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame

March 22, 2017

Christine Wilkinson, senior vice president and secretary, honored for her contributions to education, community

There are few people you encounter who believe wholeheartedly in a cause and who have dedicated their entire life to one organization or one community. Christine Wilkinson is a model for that distinction. WilkinsonWilkinson also holds the position of president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association. is ASU’s senior vice president and secretary, the first female minority to hold that title. She has an unwavering commitment to the betterment of Arizona.

Wilkinson’s career at ASU and achievements span decades. Throughout the years she has inspired generations of educators, leaders and creators. She has collaboratively worked to solve problems and find ways to better our society, her reach extending into surrounding Arizona communities. 

Because of her contributions to education and her community, Wilkinson is being inducted Thursday to the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame as a Living Legacy. Living Legacies are exceptional, inspirational women who have reached a high level of professional accomplishments in their chosen endeavors. She took a moment to chat with ASU Now about this honor. 

Question: What do you think is your most significant contribution to ASU or the Arizona community?

Answer: I think most people don’t have a singular achievement that probably made the difference. I hope that what I have done — and always with other people, always with my colleagues — is prepare future leaders, improving lives, improving the welfare of our community and making it a better place to live. I’ve had the absolute fortune and opportunity to be at a place where the focus has been on preparing future leaders in all parts of society. All of which I have been involved touches on that, including my involvement in the community, my involvement with nonprofit organizations that I do believe are making a difference.

Q: What led you to choose a career in education?

A: My father and mother were significant role models. My father was a professor and coach at the university for many years, before I ever arrived. Having grown up here, I felt I wanted to be in education. I initially thought it would be in secondary education so I prepared to be a high school English teacher and high school counselor.

Q: Who were your role models, both toward the beginning of your career and now?

A: My parents were clearly my role models and mentors very early on and both by what they did, how they raised my sister and me and what they did professionally and in the community. All of that really made a difference. I think now, the people who influenced me have a strong positive value system and are grounded. It could be someone who is being the face of the university at the front desk or those who are developing programs or are in senior-level roles. You are really influenced by the people you’re around, and I have been absolutely blessed by those who I work with daily and they clearly make the difference.

Q: On a similar note, did you have mentors that help shape your career?

A: “Mentors” is an interesting term because I think for some individuals you can form a relationship, of mentoring somone or being mentored by someone, but I often see where over a career you can actually watch individuals and in a different way be mentored by them and they may not even know it. You watch how they administer. Do leaders, by their action, follow what they say? Do they take the time to listen? I think, for as long as many of us have been in administration and a leadership role, we sometimes don’t listen as much as we should or more carefully than we should so that decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Listening allows you to bring people along with you in a collective decision and advance.

Q: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: You know we can be proud of a number of achievements that we have worked on as a team with other people. If I were to say the areas in which I have a personal feeling of perhaps helping somebody, it’s those individuals come back. I just had someone come up to me today and say I gave them an opportunity to go to college. She knew that I probably didn’t even know that — how I met with her and her family and gave her an opportunity has made the difference in her life. That always takes me aback because I think that’s part of what we do. To have someone remember that 30 years later, just absolutely made my day.

The same in the community — there’s over 1,000 nonprofits in the metropolitan area and I think they’re all doing very hard, very serious work, and the ones I’ve chosen I hope are ones that, in each case, we’re trying to impact individuals directly and not through multiple organizations but directly. Whether it’s the Red Cross and helping with disaster relief or the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization or Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, which I have been or am currently actively involved in now, I can see what difference they make and see a number of different challenges that continue. We need a lot of people to help in those areas, but wherever we can make a difference is terrific.

Q: You’re being inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. What do you see as the biggest issues for Arizona women in the next few years?

A: I think as Secretary Clinton said it best, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” I think for everyone we have to realize how important education is and that we’re challenged by a pipeline that we have to broaden every day, even now. I see at commencement when we ask how many [students] are the first ones to finish college in your family, and we still have the majority standing up. I get chills because I know it’s making a difference. So that’s men and women working on that.

I think for women there’s still much to be done, advancing women throughout organizations and in leadership roles and to understand one woman or one minority is not really representative of a whole. To ask them to be in that position is probably a bit unfair. If you have more diversity in your boards, in your departments, in your organizations you’ll hear different perspectives and you’ll have a better conversation and discussion before making a decision, but it’s just a broader discussion and it’s a richer one. I think there’s still room for improvement. Women need to be in more leadership positions and in many different areas. I think it’s good but … more. More diversity in general, beyond gender, is important.

Q: You are the first Living Legacy awardee in the field of education. What does this honor mean to you?

A: I was absolutely astounded. I understand now, I didn’t know at the time, the vast majority of the recipients are historical figures. I am the one of four people that’s living and I’m very happy to be in that category [laughs]. Happy to be in the living! To be selected for education, which I’ve always believed in and I believe it’s my life script, is really heartwarming. The fact that my community leadership was noted along with my role as an educator took me aback because I just think that’s part of what we do, it’s what my family has always done. I was very honored and humbled by the fact they had community leader and educator.

Q: What wisdom would you impart on women who want to emulate your success?

A: I don’t think there’s any one recipe for success. I have said that leadership involves many shapes and sizes and voices. By being soft-spoken doesn’t mean you’re soft-headed. Most of us are goal-directed, but we have to realize there are many paths to get to that goal. Sometimes when there’s a detour, you can still get back to it. Other times you find that detour leads you into another amazing opportunity. Above all, many voices and keep advancing.


Top photo: President and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association Christine Wilkinson speaks at a community dialogue put on by Los Diablos, a chapter of the ASU Alumni Association, in August 2016. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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ASU Provost's Office helps potential Fulbright scholars navigate tricky process.
March 17, 2017

Only four schools in the nation boast Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholars

Fulbright Day on Tuesday allows Arizona State University to bolster the reputation it’s earned as a top producer of such scholars, but it’s not the only award that puts the school in elite company. ASU, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago are the only institutions with Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarship winners. 

“It’s a really potent and clear statement about our breadth and the excellence of our programs that students with such different backgrounds and goals can demonstrate not just at a national but at a global level their competence and vision,” said Kyle Mox, director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement at ASU and associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College.

ASU has maintained its position as a top producer of faculty and student Fulbright scholars, with six faculty members and 15 students currently in the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. ASU ties for No. 6 in faculty awards with Cornell, Georgia, Texas, Washington and Western Michigan. ASU ranks No. 11 for student awards, aligning with Boston College, Cornell, Northwestern, Louisville and Maryland. 

The overall elite company is "really exciting because ASU is also the most innovative school, and it goes to show that the potential here is unlimited and there’s a lot happening behind the scenes,” said Ngoni Mugwisi, an ASU student and 2017 Rhodes Scholar, referencing the U.S. News & World Report distinction that ASU has garnered two years running, ahead of Stanford and MIT. “We three are fortunate to be taking center stage at this point, but this is just the beginning.”

All three of the elite scholarship winners are in Barrett, The Honors College, and will graduate in May. They are:

• Erin Schulte, a global studies major, the 18th ASU student to win the Marshall ScholarshipThe Marshall Scholarship, which selects up to 40 winners every year, was created to express the gratitude of the British people to America after World War II. The most recent ASU winners were in 2014 and 2012. since it was established in 1953. Schulte will attend King’s College in London and pursue two degrees, in conflict security and development and in big data in culture and society. She hopes to work in international security and development. At ASU, she was co-founder of the All Walks Project, a student-led non-profit that educates people about human trafficking.

• Ngoni Mugwisi, an electrical engineering major, ASU’s first Rhodes ScholarThe Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and perhaps most prestigious international graduate scholarship program in the world, established in 1903 by empire builder John Cecil Rhodes. ASU has had a total of five Rhodes Scholars, and the most recent, Philip Mann in 2001, is currently the conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. since 2001. A native of Zimbabwe, he is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar and will pursue a PhD in engineering science at the University of Oxford. At ASU, he started Solar Water Solutions, a hybrid non-profit and business venture to retrofit water wells in Zimbabwe with solar-powered pumps.

• Christopher Balzer, a chemical engineering major, ASU’s first Churchill ScholarThe scholarships, the brainchild of Winston Churchill, were first awarded in 1963 and select 14 people annually for a year of graduate study in science, mathematics or engineering.. Balzer will study advanced chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge. At ASU, he participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and won a Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes excellence in science, math and engineering.

ASU's top international scholarship winners are (from left) Erin Schulte, a Marshall Scholar; Ngoni Mugwisi, a Rhodes Scholar; and Christopher Balzer, a Churchill Scholar. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

This convergence of top-level winners could not have happened until recently, as ASU students have only been eligible to apply for the Churchill Scholarships since 2013.

In all three of the international scholarships, only about 25 percent of the American winners are from public institutions such as ASU.

All three students credit the national scholarship advisement office with preparing them for the grueling application process. Schulte said she sat for 12 nomination, practice and finalist interviews.

“They helped me think through my story and think critically about what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it,” Mugwisi said.

Mox, the next president of the National Association of Fellowship Advisers, said that ASU has one of the oldest and best fellowship advising offices in the country.

“One thing we do is find the students. It’s a large school, and we have to get the right information to the right students at the right time,” he said. The staff also works with students during the spring and summer before the fall Fulbright application deadline, rewriting essays, refining goals and coming up with project ideas.

ASU’s Provost’s Office works with faculty members who are seeking Fulbright Scholar positions, including offering a mentor application review, where Fulbright alums review faculty applications, according to Karen Engler-Weber, program director in the Office of the University Provost.

She said it’s no surprise that ASU is a top producer of faculty Fulbrights, because the program’s goals align closely with ASU’s charter and mission.

“Fulbright is looking for three critical things when they review Fulbright Scholar applications: impact, inclusion and innovation. These are things our faculty are already doing in their work,” Engler-Weber said.

While some faculty may hesitate to seek out an opportunity that would take them out of the country, Engler-Weber said there are new types of awards that allow the time abroad to be broken up into multiple shorter stays, and some packages include financial support and benefits to support bringing a family.

Mox said he would like more ASU students to apply for Fulbright positions.

“They don’t see it as something achievable, and we’re here to tell you it is.”

Fulbright Day will be held Tuesday at the Memorial Union, with workshops and information for faculty from noon to 1:30 p.m., and sessions for students from 3 to 4:30 p.m. A networking reception with current and former Fulbright award-winners will follow at 4:30. Click here for more information.


Top photo courtesy of

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU community invited to make a difference on Sun Devil Giving Day

Small gifts can make a big impact for Sun Devil Giving Day campaign.
March 16, 2017

5th annual fundraiser focuses on small donations that add up to big results, university looks to top 3,000 donors

You can’t turn around at Arizona State University without finding a building, school or professorship named for a generous donor who’s invested millions into the mission.

But some of the most vital work done at ASU is sustained by tiny donations that, added up, transform the lives of students, faculty and community members. Small sums of money can keep students who face hardship from dropping out, advance ground-breaking research and pay for programs that send students and faculty into the community to help people who need it most.

The theme of many individuals joining forces to help ASU is especially relevant for the fifth annual Sun Devil Giving Day on Friday because the university is in the midst of Campaign ASU 2020, an effort to raise $1.5 billion with the motto, “Together, Our Potential is Limitless.”

“The day is about continuing that tradition of generosity by asking alumni, family, friends, students and faculty to get involved in giving back to ASU,” according to Tiffany Khan, director of Sun Devil Giving, a division of the ASU Foundation for a New American University.

Rather than setting an amount goal, the university is hoping to increase the number of donors — no matter how much they give, Khan said. Last year, 2,548 donors raised $4,038,081.

“Last year, we wanted 2,000 pledges and we crossed that 2,500 line, so this year we’re hoping to pass 3,000 donors,” she said.

Donors can choose to donate to any part of ASU, such as college units, research centers, scholarships or athletics. Gifts can be designated to an area most in need or to a specific area, such as the Center for Meteorite Studies.

Private donations have a wide impact:

• Andrea Valentin-Hickey, a speech and hearing sciences student, doesn’t have a car but was able to work on her thesis for Barrett, The Honors College, thanks to the Jose Franco & Francisca Ocampo Quesada Research Award. The gift pays cab fare for Valentin-Hickey to travel to different schools for her research project on a reading program for English language learners.  

• Three students in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law were named Sun Devil Giving Scholars — receiving scholarships made up entirely of donations of less than $100. One of the students, Cara James, is a first-generation college student who hopes to represent poor people in the area of family and housing law.

• Elizabeth Garbee, a doctoral student in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, received a $2,200 Advancement Award to fund part of her dissertation, which is exploring the value of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. This is the first time the award was given, and she said it’ll be a “huge jump-start” on her project. The grant will pay for a student to help her gather a survey sample of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students.

“What we’re finding now is that students who are earning STEM PhDs are struggling to find careers in their fields, or even adjacent fields,” she said. “I’m trying to identify those areas of value disconnect that are preventing these students with these high-value degrees from getting jobs.”

Garbee said that besides the actual dollar amount, the Advancement Award is important because it represents recognition.

“It’s really important to tangibly demonstrate to students that we matter,” she said.

Sun Devil Giving Day runs from midnight to 11:59 p.m. and donations are made on the website. Last year, the site ran a real-time dashboard displaying which units were collecting the most money.

“This year, because of ‘Together, Our Potential is Limitless,’ we wanted to focus less on competition and focus more on what happens when we all come together,” Kahn said.

So the site will have interactive tiles that show the number of donations to some of the units, a real-time map of where people are donating from across the nation and the total amount donated.

One part of Sun Devil Giving Day will be “Student Select.” Tables will be set up at the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses, and students will be asked, “If you had $500 to give to one cause, what would it be?” They’ll write their answers on index cards, and 10 will be chosen randomly to be funded, thanks to corporate support, Khan said.

“We have student donors and we’re grateful to them but we know that not all students can donate while they’re in school,” she said. But by asking them to write down their ideas, “We want them to think about what giving will really look like when they graduate.”

Khan said that donors will have a huge choice of initiatives.

“If you care about cancer research, we’re doing it. If you care about first-generation students, we have one of the largest populations in the nation.

“The beauty of this is that no matter what you’re passionate about, ASU is doing it.”

For information or to donate, click here.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU's MBA, education graduate programs jump in US News rankings.
W. P. Carey, Thunderbird programs rank among top five in their fields.
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College ranked 11th out of 256 schools
ASU's full-time MBA program ranked 25th out of 129 schools
March 14, 2017

U.S. News & World Report rankings show business programs in top five, significant jump for Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Two of the largest graduate schools at Arizona State University jumped significantly in the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report, with two business programs ranked among the best in the country.

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College ranked No. 11 out of 256 schools evaluated by U.S. News, climbing three spots from last year. The college's graduate program moved up 24 spots since 2012 in the news magazine’s "Best Graduate Schools" annual survey for 2018. ASU's Teachers College was tied with the education school at the University of Texas at Austin and was ahead of those at New York University, Ohio State University and the University of California at Berkeley.

The supply-chain management program in the W. P. Carey School of Business was ranked thirdMichigan State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were ranked first and second in supply-chain management. in the country, ahead of Stanford University, while the full-time MBA program ranked 25th out of the 129 schools U.S. News evaluated, improving 10 spots.

The Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU was ranked fourth in the country among internationalThe top seven were the University of South Carolina, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Thunderbird, Stanford, Berkeley and the University of Michigan. Columbia, Georgetown and New York University tied for eighth place, followed by the University of Southern California. programs, higher than Stanford, Columbia and Georgetown.

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, meanwhile, retained its ranking of 25th place from last year. That's out of 197 law schools ranked by U.S. News. It is the 8th highest ranked law school at a public university, ahead of the law schools at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ohio State University.

The widely touted set of annual rankings was released Tuesday by the news magazine, which compared hundreds of graduate programs on a variety of metrics.

Carole Basile, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said that rankings are only one indicator of quality and progress.

“But our trend line makes a strong case that our college has done outstanding work for a considerable period of time. A trend line like that is signal, not noise. It’s worth recognizing and celebrating,” she said.

Melissa Woodward, a graduate student in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said she chose the higher and postsecondary education program because she knew she wanted an immersive experience and saw the rankings improving every year.

“It’s been a great fit for me, and the faculty associates who teach the courses work in all different areas of the university, so I’ve really seen how higher education functions,” said Woodward, who also is the communications director for ASU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association.

Woodward is enjoying her position as an intern in ASU’s Education Outreach and Student Services department and is interested in student services as a career, possibly as an administrator.

“The rankings place a value on our degrees, are a great way to recruit students and show ASU’s commitment to academic excellence,” she said. “And it’s great to be part of a college that continues to do so well.”

One measure used by U.S. News & World Report to rank the education colleges was research funding, and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College tied with Columbia for second-highest research funding at $60.1 million — behind only the University of Wisconsin, which spent $78.6 million.

This year’s full-time MBA students are the first cohort in W. P. Carey’s Forward Focus MBA — an initiative to draw highly qualified students who might not otherwise seek an advanced degree, such as entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders.

Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business, said it’s an honor to be in the top 25.

“This ranking confirms the quality of our full-time MBA, but it also reinforces the access to a great education we’re providing with our Forward Focus curriculum and scholarship,” she said.

“By opening the door to talented students from so many different backgrounds and with so many different goals, we’re not only elevating the program and the W. P. Carey School, we’re elevating the future of business.”

Among the top 25 full-time MBA programs, ASU was in the top five for highest percentage of graduates employed three months after graduation — 95.1 percent, good for fourth place.

Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, said the school’s ranking is a testament to the quality of the students and the support from the community.

“Despite the tremendous challenges facing legal education, ASU Law continues to thrive and we are honored to be recognized for this achievement,” he said.

U.S. News & World Report did not rank grad schools in public affairs or fine arts this year. Last year, ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions ranked 13th overall, and its city management program was rated fourth in the country. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts ranked 20th overall, with the print-making program rated fifth.

The magazineThe top five education graduation programs were Harvard, Stanford, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin. The top five full-time MBA programs were Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT. evaluated the graduate programs on measures including surveys of deans and hiring recruiters; student selectivity; faculty resources, including the ratio of full-time doctoral students to faculty, for education programs; research activity, including expenditures; overall rank and specialty rankings.

U.S. News & World Report releases several higher education rankings throughout the year, most recently rating ASU’s online bachelor’s degree program fourth in the nation. In 2016, ASU was named the most innovative university for the second year in a row.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU honors alumni, staff innovators for Founders’ Day

This year's Founders' Day honors innovators who are helping shape the future.
March 14, 2017

Alumni Association's traditional event honors individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School

Update: Friday, March 17

Even at the country’s most innovative university you can find innovation in places you might not expect.

Take Sun Devil Stadium, for example. Conceptually, stadiums haven’t changed all that much since the Romans built the Coliseum. But the future of Sun Devil Stadium may change the way we think about stadiums and their role in the community.

And when that happens, it will be in large part due to Jack Furst.

Thanks to Furst’s involvement as a lead donor on what will be called Sun Devil Stadium 365, more than $80 million has been raised toward the stadium reinvention project, which aims to create a “community union” to make use of the stadium every day of the year. For his contribution he was named ASU’s Philanthropist of the Year at a ceremony Thursday. 

Furst took the opportunity to focus on the future of Sun Devil Stadium 365.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this team and the work that we’ve done since 2014 to really rethink what you can do with a football stadium…” Furst told the crowd at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. “We’re going to go where no other university has gone.”

Renovations on the stadium are underway and conceptualization and planning for the space is in place. Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU’s vice president for cultural affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage, will manage Sun Devil Stadium 365 going forward, utilizing her years of work connecting ASU to the communities it serves.

Along with Furst, the following individuals were honored: ASU alumnus Michael Burns, for his role in building Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. into a multi-billion dollar global content leader; ASU faculty members Joshua LaBaer, for his groundbreaking work in the emerging field of personalized medicine; Manfred Laubichler, for his multi-faceted research in tracing the role of gene regulatory networks in development and evolution; and Sharon Hall, for her commitment to teaching, particularly as it relates to incorporating innovative pedagogical methods and championing the education of underrepresented groups in science.

Read the full preview story below the slideshow.


When renovations are complete, Sun Devil Stadium will be a year-round cultural hub for the surrounding community, and W. P. Carey School of Business alumnus Jack D. Furst can say he had a guiding hand in it.

Thanks to Furst’s involvement as a lead donor, more than $80 million has been raised toward the stadium reinvention project. His vision, leadership and philanthropy embody just the sort of character that ASU praises on Founders’ Day.

For fostering innovation, excellence and the evolution of Arizona State as the New American University, the ASU Alumni Association will honor Furst and other alumni, faculty and university supporters at its annual Founders’ Day Awards Dinner, which will take place at 6 p.m. March 16, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

Alissa Serignese, vice president of programs and constituent relations for the Alumni Association, said Furst and the others being honored “go above and beyond.”

“Furst is spearheading this effort and even enlisting others,” she said, “which is really unique.”

Along with Furst, the following individuals will be honored this year: ASU alumnus Michael Burns, for his role in building Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. into a multi-billion dollar global content leader; ASU faculty members Joshua LaBaer, for his groundbreaking work in the emerging field of personalized medicine; Manfred Laubichler, for his multi-faceted research in tracing the role of gene regulatory networks in development and evolution; and Sharon Hall, for her commitment to teaching, particularly as it relates to incorporating innovative pedagogical methods and championing the education of underrepresented groups in science.

The award ceremony has been a signature event for the university for decades, and calls attention to individuals who “exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona,” ASU’s predecessor institution, which received its charter from the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1885.

“Founders’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate the best of the best as far as ASU alumni, faculty and philanthropists,” while also paying homage those who “put ASU on the map” in the first place, Serignese said. “If it wasn’t for those people, ASU would not exist.”

The celebration is also a chance to reflect on ASU’s history as an institution founded by and for the people of the community it serves. At Thursday’s dinner, ASU President Michael M. Crow will provide an update on the university, which has progressed with that intention in mind and expanded considerably.

When Hiram Bradford Farmer, John Samuel Armstrong, Charles Trumbull Hayden, Joseph Campbell, T.J. Butler, A.C. Baker and R.L. Long proposed the establishment of the Tempe Normal School in 1885, they envisioned a school that provided “instruction of persons ... in the art of teaching and in all the various branches that pertain to good common school education.” Under subsequent leaders in the more than hundred years that followed, ASU has become a highly regarded prototype of the New American University and a leading research institution.

The journey from simple schoolhouse to revered university is a testament to the vision, tenacity and hard work of its founders, leaders, faculty, students and alumni through the years, according to the alumni association.

“Without a doubt, ASU helped me achieve my dream,” Furst said.

Tickets to the Founders’ Day event are $150 for Alumni Association members at the Sparky, Maroon or Gold contribution levels and $200 for other alumni and guests. Table and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available. For additional information about Founders’ Day, or to RSVP, visit

The following individuals will be honored by the Alumni Association at the Founders’ Day event. (Read their full bios via the links below.)

Faculty Achievement Awards

Faculty Research Achievement Award
Joshua L. LaBaer
, interim executive director, Biodesign Institute at ASU; director, Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics; Virginia G. Piper Chair of Personalized Medicine; professor, School of Molecular Sciences; adjunct professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

LaBaer is being honored at Founders’ Day for his groundbreaking work in the emerging field of personalized medicine. His efforts involve the discovery and validation of biomarkers — unique molecular fingerprints of disease — that can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. Much of his work concerns proteomics, a branch of biotechnology concerned with analyzing the structure, function and interactions of the proteins produced by the genes of cells, tissues or organisms. His research is recognized as extremely relevant and impactful for a number of chronic health conditions, with direct application from bench to bedside. 

Gitta Honegger, professor in ASU's Herberger Institute’s School of Theatre and F

Faculty Service Achievement Award
Manfred D. Laubichler
, distinguished sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; President's Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; director, ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems; director, ASU-Leuphana Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation; director, Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative, associate director, Origins Project; professor, Santa Fe Institute.

Laubichler, a theoretical biologist and historian of science, is being honored for his service to Arizona State University and to his profession. Laubichler's multi-faceted research involves tracing the role of gene regulatory networks in development and evolution, as well as studying the conceptual structure of modern and historical biology. He also studies the theory of Complex Adaptive Systems, focusing on complexity as a unifying principle in the social and life sciences, including applications in biomedicine, sustainability and the study of innovations. He is recognized as a positive “disrupter” in his work, identifying scientific and intellectual trends years before others do and working with others in a transdisciplinary manner to translate these insights into use-inspired solutions and collaborations. 

portrait of woman

Faculty Teaching Achievement Award
Sharon J. Hall
, senior sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; associate professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Hall is being honored at Founders’ Day for her commitment to teaching, particularly as it relates to incorporating innovative pedagogical methods and championing the education of underrepresented groups in science. As an ecosystem scientist, she and her students are exploring the many ways that people are changing the natural world – and in turn how nature changes us. She shares the results of her work in the many courses she teaches to undergraduate and graduate students. The topics she explores with her students focus on the intersection of nature and society, ranging from classes on the conservation of biodiversity, to  courses on ecosystem ecology, “grand challenges” in environmental science, and peer mentoring for environmental majors.

Alumni Achievement Awards

portrait of michael burns

Alumni Achievement Award
Michael R. Burns
, ‘80 BS, vice chairman, Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.

Burns is being honored at Founders’ Day for his role in building Lionsgate into a multi-billion dollar global content leader. Since becoming vice chairman of Lionsgate in March 2000, he has played an integral role in building the company into a $6 billion operation with a reputation for innovation. He recently helped spearhead Lionsgate’s $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz, the biggest deal in the company’s history, as the studio continues to grow into a diversified global content platform.

portrait of Jack Furst

Philanthropist of the Year Award, presented by the ASU Foundation For A New American University
Jack D. Furst
, ‘81 BS, founder, Oak Stream Investors

Furst is being honored as the 2017 Founder's Day Philanthropist of the Year for his vision, leadership and philanthropy at Arizona State University. Due to his noteworthy and strategic involvement as a lead donor in the Sun Devil Stadium reinvention project, ASU has raised more than $80 million dollars toward that effort. In addition to enlisting others to support the project, Furst has contributed significantly to fulfill his passion and commitment to the role of athletics in higher education.


Top photo: Jack Furst accepts his Philanthropist of the Year award at the ASU Founders' Day dinner. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

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Exploring value of print in the digital age

ASU project aims to create new ways of engaging with library print collections.
ASU, MIT partnership to find sustainable solutions for the management of print.
ASU a trailblazer in preserving a library for the future.
March 14, 2017

ASU, MIT to develop new approaches to library print collections

ASU professor Devoney Looser is leading a group of students through the stacks of Hayden Library, in search of old books that bear traces of the past.

They’re looking for unique markings and remnants from previous owners — inscriptions, book plates, prize notices, marginalia and even letters — in American and British literature books that were printed before 1923 and are now out of copyright. 

The items found in the books, Looser said, provide important information about circulation and authorship, and are of interest to critics, historians and biographers.

“We’re finding fascinating stuff,” said Looser, a professor in the Department of English and organizer of ASU Book Traces, a project with ASU Library that aims to highlight the value of library print collections — as well as new ways of engaging with them — precisely at a time when many are being reduced in size.

“One of the clearest trends in academic libraries is the rethinking of print collections,” said Lorrie McAllister, who was recently appointed associate university librarian for collections and strategy at ASU Library, and is helping to facilitate projects such as Book Traces in addition to a new partnership with MIT on the future of academic library print collections.   

“Professor Looser’s project demonstrates that there is still interest and passion for the many technologies used in book design over many centuries, its utility and historical significance as a format and preservation mechanism, and the physicality of the medium as an engagement and research tool,” McAllister said.

The future of print

Exactly how libraries will be transformed by the digital age has yet to be answered — but it’s a question ASU Library is tackling with gusto.

The current reinvention of Arizona State University’s library system already has led to a suite of new services and facilities that were nearly unimaginable a decade ago — everything from makerspaces to a geospatial data lab — all providing inclusive support to a research community driven by innovation. 

Now, through the partnership with MIT and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ASU Library is looking at new approaches to the sustainable and meaningful management of library print collections in a landscape immersed in digital.

“Books on shelves are not a library until users approach and begin to use them.”

— Jim O'Donnell, university librarian at ASU

ASU’s Jim O’Donnell, university librarian and principal investigator on the grant, says this disruptive moment presents a key opportunity for ASU Library.

“Like many of our peers, ASU Library and MIT Libraries are forced to rethink and possibly reduce our open stack print collections due to an increasing reliance on digital services and in favor of added space for students to study and collaborate,” O’Donnell said. “Our charge, now, is to continue to deliver vital resources but in new ways in which they can make the greatest impact.”

Establishing a fresh philosophy about collection development is at the heart of the ASU-MIT partnership, formally kicking off this week on the ASU Tempe campus, where librarians, faculty and key participants in library architecture are gathering for a two-day, hands-on workshop to discuss major issues and new design strategies for the future of print.

The results will directly inform ASU and MIT plans for library renovations, as well as produce a whitepaper on the future of local print curation in academic libraries.

“Books on shelves are not a library until users approach and begin to use them,” said O’Donnell, who sees the shift in library design as a way to cultivate more intentionally designed collections that are socially embedded, use-inspired and community-driven.

Rather than thinking of large print collections as mountains to be gradually reduced in size, O’Donnell said, “we ought to think of those mountains as a resource to draw upon,” in an effort to create and develop more meaningful, “outside-the-box” collections that add value to the community, maximize student and faculty engagement, and are a point of pride for the university.

“There is an emerging emphasis on defining libraries not simply by what we have but how it can be used,” McAllister added. “We are really looking at how collections might best engage the diverse communities in which we live, study and work. To do this, we need to make information resources more visible and accessible than they are now.”

Print and digital working together

The ASU Book Traces event was inspired by a project at the University of Virginia to find, document and digitize unique copies of 19th- and early 20th-century books while they are still visible on library shelves. 

In addition to the valuing of the material objects found in the books, Looser and her students also want to make the knowledge of these objects digitally available, with help from ASU Library, by adding digital images of some of the most interesting items collected into the ASU Digital Repository.

“We want to open this information up to a wider audience and help make these items discoverable and accessible,” Looser said. “We are helping future historians.”

Having led two successful Book Traces events at ASU Library, Looser says the student response has been excellent, particularly with undergraduate students who typically have limited experience engaging with library collections.

“Students want to know when we’re going to do this again,” said Looser, who hopes to highlight the event in an exhibit at Hayden Library after its renovation. 

“I think it’s great to expose students to special collections, to show them how much interesting stuff is right here at the library and also all the things they can do with it.”

When it comes to the future of print, Looser believes there is reason to be optimistic.

“It’s important for anyone to understand that every medium was once a new medium,” she said. “I’m grateful for the intersection of print and digital and what that means for discovery and new research.”

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist , ASU Library

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Seen Google camera backpacks and self-driving Uber cars on campus? Here's why.
March 10, 2017

In separate projects, tech firms acquire images, data that have a range of possible uses in fitness, business, civic planning

Arizona State University has been more of a tech hub than ever, with tricked-out cars cruising under the Tempe campus' University Bridge while young men nearby lug gadget-heavy backpacks past Old Main.

In separate projects, Uber and Google have been mapping a school that has become known for jet packs, robot swarms and NASA missions.

Uber’s work involves self-driving cars with sensors and gadgets on the roof of a small SUV that otherwise don’t give any indication of what makes them unique on Tempe roads. The cars have a human behind the wheel.

Google, meanwhile, is expanding its Street View feature, capturing close-up images of all of ASU’s campuses. The feature on Google Earth and Google Maps allows users to zoom in and see accurate depictions of buildings and sidewalks, anything a pedestrian could see walking down the street.      

Each relies on mapping technology that seems poised to expand.

“It is quite an amazing system,” said Stewart Fotheringham, a professor of computational spatial science in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Fotheringham teaches a class called Geographic Info Technologies (GIS 205), which introduces students to modern geographic information technologies, including cartography, GIS, remote sensing, global positioning systems and statistical analyses.

He explained how the technology works. 

“The video recorders Google people carry around with them record 360 degrees and are linked to the U.S. GPS satellite system, which consists of 24 active satellites about 12,000 miles above the Earth,” Fotheringham said. “Distances to four or more of these satellites give location on the Earth, plus elevation, so when you type an address into Google Earth, it looks up the coordinates of this location in a huge database and retrieves the imagery associated with this location.”

The imagery consists of satellite photographs and pictures taken from planes for Google Earth. Video recordings are taken by people on foot or bike and by cameras mounted to cars for Google Street View.


Andrew Ortiz is one of the field operators who troops around under the weight of a nearly 70-pound pack to get the shots the technology relies on. He and Daniel Quach took turns under the Google Street View Trekkers, a backpack outfitted with a camera system that’s used where vehicles can’t go.

It can be a tough task. “Our tolerance has been building,” he said. “I could probably walk about 2½ miles (before taking a break.)”

Google’s field operators worked around Tempe campus on March 6, starting in the middle of an area and walking out in concentric circles snapping pics with about a dozen cameras on a ball array at the top of their packs. In a mile the array will take about 500 to 600 shots, according to Ortiz.

Before coming to ASU, Google personnel worked with the university to come up with a priority list. They will shoot interiors in certain buildings, like ASU Gammage, but not every building on campus.

Uber cars have rolled past the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gammage and ASU’s School of Music, affectionately known as the “birthday cake building,” and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering countless times since their program introducing the vehicles to the Valley began in February.

Driverless cars need far more detailed digital maps than cameras and radar alone can provide, and Uber is recording every curb, stop sign and building to ensure their system works effectively. The cars include a pair of engineers in the front seats as safety drivers, according to a report in the tech-focused publication The Verge.  

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has hailed Uber’s self-driving pilot, releasing a statement saying his state’s participation “is paving the way for new technology and new businesses.”

The emerging mapping technology has a range of uses and applications.

“It's used by Realtors and house buyers, in in-car navigation systems, and by planners,” Fotheringham said.

Google, for example, takes a constellation of images that anyone could access from GPS satellites, then applies 360 camera technology and manages the the logistics of capturing video imagery on every road and street it can access, Fotheringham said.

Google’s data sets are turning out to be useful, as well, said Trisalyn Nelson, director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

“Google Maps was developed originally so people could figure out where to go, and find their roots, and maybe check out an area before they arrive, but because these data sets are wall-to-wall — you have continuous data that maps a whole area with a lot of detail — we’re starting to see new, unintended uses,” Nelson said.

One example is fitness apps. Strava is a website and mobile app used to track athletic activity via GPS. If you’re biking, it tells you how far you rode, how quickly you got there and other similar information.

The people who run Strava realized they had their hands on a huge amount of data on where people were riding bikes. They repackaged it as Strava Metro and now sell the data to cities. More than 70 cities and organizations use Strava Metro to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“Getting data on where people ride their bikes in traditional forms is quite hard, because you have to stand at a corner to count people,” Nelson said. “Now we have this data that’s continuous through time, it’s continuous through space, and we can use it for urban planning to figure out where we should put in bike lanes. So this is a really good example of how new map technology starts off with one purpose — for tracking my fitness — and now we can use it to better understand cycling infrastructure.”

The expansion should be rapid, with tech and auto companies planning to share mapping data and trucking companies installing scanning systems. Next year, Volkswagen, which Uber uses in its self-driving vehicle pilot fleet, and BMW will install front-facing camera systems to detect obstacles. The systems will also passively map and send the data back. With millions of vehicles recording and relaying mapping data, there will be a geometric progression of data acquisition.

Unintended uses of mapping data will continue to balloon, Nelson said.

“We’re excited in our school about it, because on the one hand we do a lot of geographic information science, so we are the people who develop new technology to analyze map data,” she said. “On the other hand, we have all these people who are planning cities — the urban planning community — who are finding huge opportunities to use these new kinds of data sets to better understand what’s happening in a city, to inventory what’s there, to look at how it’s changing over time, to simulate future environments. Having access to these kinds of data opens up a lot of potential.”

It’s also opening up a new career field. A recent Forbes list of the top 10 growing jobs included two that fell in the category of working with maps and another technology. Computer science, statistics and geography are all taught at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

“We’ve seen this huge explosion in jobs for people who can work with maps, because maps are no longer something you draw,” Nelson said. “There are a lot of jobs associated with digital mapping technologies. In order to be really awesome, you need to combine it with something else. … These are very smart areas for ASU students to look for degrees.”


Top photo: As part of Google's mapping project, field operator Daniel Quach treks along the western part of the Tempe campus carrying the nearly 70-pound pack on March 6. He and Andrew Ortiz used the pack to help create pedestrian maps of all the ASU campuses last week. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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February 26, 2017

Tempe campus wraps up annual open house with music, creatures, cultures and learning

For five evenings over the course of February, the public was invited onto Arizona State University's campuses for Night of the Open Door to see what each has to offer in the form of interactive games, informative displays and plenty of fun. This weekend was the big finale, with scores of activities across the Tempe campus. 

Scroll down for video and photos of the fun.


Learners of all ages found animals, art, meteorites, medieval swordfights, science and spectacles as they explored the largest of ASU's campuses.

Check out the Night of the Open Door at the earlier events this month: 

The fun and learning aren't over

Night of the Open Door may be finished for this year, but ASU's campuses still offer lots of talks, demonstrations, film screenings and more — many of which are free and open to the public. Visit the ASU Events site at for more information.

And each autumn, ASU's Homecoming celebration welcomes the public onto the Tempe campus, where more than 100 departments and organizations offer interactive fun and learning. See scenes from the 2016 event here

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Day at the Capitol showcases ASU's impact for state legislators

February 21, 2017

For over 30 years, ASU has hosted lawmakers and elected officials on the grounds of the Arizona State Capitol for ASU's Day at the Capitol, an event designed to showcase the very best that the university's colleges and schools have to offer.

Day at the Capitol is both a thank-you to the legislators who support ASU and a form of outreach and education to the community the university serves. Here's a look at this year's event, held Tuesday, Feb. 21.


Video by Jordan Currier/ASU

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Check out video, photos from Night of the Open Door at Polytechnic, Thunderbird.
Visitors explored the globe, soared high at Night of the Open Door this weekend.
Missed the fun? Next Night of the Open Door is Feb. 25 at ASU's Tempe campus.
February 19, 2017

Visitors explore aviation, robotics and more at ASU's Polytechnic campus and get a taste of the world under rainy skies at Thunderbird

Visitors got a double dose of Arizona State University's Night of the Open Door fun this weekend as the free open-house event took place on the aviation- and robotic-heavy Polytechnic campus in Mesa and the globally minded Thunderbird campus in Glendale. 


High-flying fun at Polytechnic campus

At ASU's Polytechnic campus on Friday, trolleys carried families around the grounds, where they got to experience a range of flight simulators, learned about cars being built or modified in the labs, climbed walls with robotics, explored physics and chemistry lessons and put themselves inside giant bubbles.


Explore the world at Thunderbird

On Saturday, the rain didn't stop the fun as activities moved under cover at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Visitors got to try on clothes from different cultures, watched dances from around the world, learned about different countries, explored map activities and more.

Check out the Downtown Phoenix campus' Night of the Open Door event on Feb. 3 here and the West campus' event on Feb. 11 here.

If you missed the fun, don't worry: There is one more free Night of the Open Door event this month, 3-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Tempe campus.

Read more about what's in store at each campus here, including information on the free app that can help visitors map out the activities they want to visit.

Get free tickets in advance online and enter to win a gift package. Tickets also function as an express pass to collect the free glow wand and event programs at the registration booths once on campus.

Check ASU Now after each event for photo galleries and video, and follow along as our crew shows all the fun on Snapchat (search for username: ASUNow). 


Top photo: Kate LeCheminant, 10, completes a pull-up with the help of an ASU Army ROTC member in front of the Memorial Union at the Polytechnic campus' Night of the Open Door on Friday. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now