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ASU breaks ground on Mirabella project

Curious about the new Mirabella at ASU? Get a sneak peek at the model here.
February 21, 2018

High-rise for seniors to advance a new concept in intergenerational living, providing an upscale home that links the residents to the ASU community and lifelong learning

Arizona State University broke ground Wednesday on a complex that will advance a new concept in intergenerational living and lifelong learning.

Mirabella at ASU is a 20-story senior living facility at Mill Avenue and University Drive on the university’s Tempe campus. The building, scheduled to be completed in 2020, will include 252 independent-living apartments and 52 health-care units, as well as an indoor pool, theater, art museum, spa, dog park and four restaurants.

The project will link the university community to the residents, who will be able to take classes, have access to the library and be near cultural and sports events.

ASU President Michael Crow called it “the world’s coolest dorm” at the groundbreaking ceremony and said: “There’s no reason everyone can’t be a college student and engaged in what this community has to offer for the entirety of their lives.”

A dozen dignitaries and Sparky toss a shovel-load of dirt at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Mirabella at ASU senior living facility on the Tempe campus Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Lifelong learning in urban, upscale setting

Crow said that ASU is reconceptualizing lifelong learning.

“How do we create this exchange? We’re excited that we’ll have on our campus several hundred new learners, new teachers and new experts.

“I’m 62 years old, and in my 61st year, I learned more than in any other year of my life. If I don’t learn more in my 65th year, I’ll be sadly disappointed.”

No state funding is being used in the high-rise, which will be developed by private, nonprofit developers University Realty and Pacific Retirement Services on land owned and leased by ASU. The Arizona Board of Regents approved the development in 2016.

The project is next to the closed Chili’s restaurant, which eventually will be torn down and become the site of a hotel.

Features of Mirabella at ASU include:

• More than 50 floor plans, some of which are spacious enough to accommodate a baby grand piano. Apartments vary from about 900 square feet to 2,700 square feet, with one or two bedrooms. Each has a balcony and a contemporary kitchen with quartz countertops.

• Concrete and steel construction with double walls between the apartments and acoustical matting under the floors to minimize sound transfer.

• Floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Camelback Mountain and Tempe Town Lake on the north side and the Superstition Mountains on the southeast.

• Environmentally friendly details, such as electric vehicle-charging stations, water-saving fixtures, photovoltaic panels and 50 percent construction waste reduction.

So far, more than 180 of the 252 apartment units have been sold, according to Paul Riepma, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Pacific Retirement Services, the Oregon-based company leading the development.

The project works like this: Residents pay a “buy-in” fee, ranging from $378,500 for a one-bedroom unit to $810,200 for a two-bedroom penthouse. When they die, 85 percent of that fee is refunded to their heirs. In addition, residents pay a monthly fee, ranging from $4,195 for a single person in a one-bedroom unit to $5,570 for a couple in a penthouse suite. That fee covers dining, housekeeping, utilities, shuttle service, activities and other amenities.

A few units are set aside for people who want to skip the refund plan, and those apartments range from about $297,500 to $499,000, with lower monthly fees.

Riepma said the concept of an urban, high-rise “home with a view” is still new in the Phoenix area.

“Everybody in the Valley lives horizontally, and we all drive everywhere,” he said. “In other major cities, there is a migration to where people want to live vertically, have a view and want to walk out their front door and go places and not sit in traffic.”

People who commit to Mirabella at ASU are able to stay there for the rest of their lives.

“The piece that is critical to people making this decision is that every one of them would say, ‘I’m a planner. If the good health I enjoy today changes, everything I will need the rest of my life is in my building.’"

The 52 health-care units include three tiers of assistance: assisted-living apartments, skilled-nursing suites and a secured memory-care section.

While Mirabella would appeal to alumni and retired faculty and staff, many of the “founding members” who have already bought in don’t have a connection to ASU, Riepma said.

“But they like the idea of being on campus and having an ID card that will come with privileges, where you can audit classes and have opportunities to pursue arts and culture,” he said. “I call it the anti-retirement community. It’s a lifelong-learning community.”

Many inaugural residents joined ASU, Tempe and Pacific Retirement Services dignitaries at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Mirabella at ASU on the Tempe campus Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

A boon for ASU programs and curricula

The facility will enhance ASU’s academic programs by creating opportunities to extend coursework and research in art therapy, Alzheimer’s treatment, nursing and online education.

David Coon is a professor and associate dean of research initiatives, support and engagement in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU. He designs interventions that focus on culturally diverse groups of midlife and older adults facing chronic illnesses, such as dementia, and shared his expertise with the planners of Mirabella.

“When you see a dynamic kind of enterprise like Mirabella emerge on the scene, with an environment that’s rich in the arts, social engagement, athletics, research opportunities, all of these different kinds of things, that definitely bodes well for ongoing healthy brain activity,” he said.

With the continuum of care in the building, residents and their families will have experts on site to discuss any questions about memory issues, he said.

“A community like Mirabella is going to encourage residents regardless of their cognitive capacity to stay engaged to the level of their abilities and to create new levels of engagement for folks who are starting to have memory problems. They will maintain their dignity and freedom in a safe space,” he said, noting that Tempe is part of Dementia Friendly America, offering information and support to families.

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts expects to have a close relationship to the residents, who will be near the ASU Art Museum, ASU Gammage and more than 1,000 cultural events per year, according to Steven Tepper, dean of the college.

“Mirabella residents will be regular audience members for our performances and exhibitions, helping to support a thriving arts scene and the next generation of artists and designers,” he said.

Students and faculty will be able to teach residents in a variety of creative disciplines — from dance to painting — as well as music therapy programs, movement workshops and art exhibitions in the facility, he said.

“Ultimately, I hope Mirabella residents will become patrons of our remarkable students — inspired by their work to invest and collect,” Tepper said.

Mary Patino has owned 16 homes in 11 states around the country, but she and her husband, David, are looking forward to settling at Mirabella at ASU. They are among the founding members who will move into the complex when it’s completed in 2020.

“We wanted a place that was full of energy and social interaction and opportunities to participate in the arts and classes,” she said. “We want to be productive and engaged.”

Patino, a retired professor and school administrator who lives in north Scottsdale, is eager to be in an academic setting.

“I’m looking forward to taking classes with an intergenerational group. I want those conversations between the generations,” she said. “I love to hear what young people have to say.”

She believes that Mirabella at ASU can be a model for other retirees and universities.

“I think it’s extremely innovative,” she said. “It’s a new concept where people are not herded into separate places because ASU sees that they can be part of a college community.”

For details on Mirabella at ASU, go here.


Top photo: A model of Mirabella at Arizona State University shows the Myrtle Avenue side, featuring views of the 20- and 13-story towers of the new life-plan community. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Global Launch continues contribution to ASU student enrollment, diversity

Global Launch alumni are thriving in 2017–18 school year

February 13, 2018

For over 40 years, Global Launch has helped students from more than 160 countries learn English and become a part of the American community. Many Global Launch alumni are accepted into one of Arizona State University's top degree programs after completing their English-language training.

Global Launch is proud to continue its contribution to the ASU international student community in the 2017–18 school year, providing Intensive English Program participants the opportunity to pursue their academic careers at the university. Global Launch student ambassadors. Download Full Image

So far in this academic year, Global Launch has served students from 33 countries. Additionally, more than 1,600 Global Launch alumni are currently enrolled at ASU across 170 degree programs including, business, civil engineering, economics, finance, computer science, supply chain management and more.

Prospective students can apply for the Intensive English Program and begin as soon as summer 2018. For more information on session dates, program costs and student sponsorships, click here or contact

Samantha Talavera

Senior marketing and communications specialist, Global Launch


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Discoveries abound at ASU Open Door at West campus

February 11, 2018

Science gurus, art enthusiasts and adventure seekers explored labs and classrooms and participated in hands-on activities

Arizona State University's Open Door continued at the West campus in Glendale on Saturday, where visitors learned about forensics, toured the biomedical research lab, played games, hung out with Sparky and more.

From the crime-scene lab to the science of neurons, the event gave hundreds of attendees a look at the colleges, schools, programs and student groups that help make ASU the most innovative university in the country.

READ MORE: The Polytechnic campus starts Open Door in style | Open Door shakes up Downtown Phoenix campus

If you missed the fun, don't worry: There is one more free Open Door event in February: 1–6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, 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. 

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).


Video by Krisanna Mowen/ASU

Top photo: Nadav Golden (right) gets a high-five after learning how to perform CPR during Open Door at ASU's West campus on Saturday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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ASU launches 'Thought Huddle' podcast with discussion on Hamilton

February 8, 2018

New series will tell stories, provide in-depth look at a range of compelling topics

In a just-launched podcast series, listeners will hear that "one of the reasons Alexander Hamilton is so interesting for the 21st century is that he was a communications genius."

This — from Professor Paul Carrese, director of Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership — is one of many intriguing observations in the first episode of "Thought Huddle," a new production from ASU Now.

Here's another from Yale Professor Joanne Freeman: Hamilton, born in the West Indies, "sort of beams into the North American continent, the new American nation, out of nowhere." Describing him as an upstart, she said he "operated on a very high wire without a safety net."

"Thought Huddle" will highlight thinkers and doers who are devoted to creating meaningful impact. Each episode will explore big ideas, tell stories and help make sense of our complicated world. Each will be composed of three segments.

The podcasts will offer a mix in approach. Some will be in-depth conversations with a single expert, while others will draw on a collection of different voices to explore a topic. In the first episode on Hamilton, timed for the musical's run at ASU Gammage, listeners will also hear from the theater's executive director, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, and Kirk Ellis, the writer of the HBO miniseries "John Adams."  

The first three episodes illustrate the range of inquiry: first, Alexander Hamilton — the man, the nation builder and the musical; then, innovative research into chemicals in the environment and opioid monitoring; and finally, a look at diverse sustainability efforts in urban settings.

Hosted by veteran radio broadcaster Mary-Charlotte Domandi, the podcast has been created to give listeners from both the ASU community and the general public insight into compelling subjects that deserve extended, thoughtful discussion.

Find this and future episodes at

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ASU joins UC3 coalition to tackle climate change issues

February 6, 2018

13 leading universities will work to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future

Arizona State University is part of a new coalition of 13 leading research universities that will help communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

The group, called the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, includes distinguished universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The universities have committed to mobilizing their resources and expertise to help businesses, cities and states achieve their climate goals.

Formation of UC3 was announced today at the Second Nature 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, being held in Tempe.

Original members of UC3 are: ASU; California Institute of Technology; Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; The Ohio State University; The State University of New York (SUNY) system; The University of British Columbia; The University of California system; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Maryland, College Park; The University of New Mexico; The University of Toronto; and The University of Washington.

Among initial specific UC3 goals are:

Cross-sector forums: Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and advocates. Forums will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives focusing on research-driven policies and solutions to assist various communities.

Coalition climate mitigation and adaptation report: A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

All UC3 members have already pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Under2MOU for subnational climate leaders. 

“While college and university campuses across the country are, in aggregate, responsible for only about 3 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions emitted in the U.S., we are educating 100 percent of our future political, business and social leaders,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “This fact alone places significant accountability on higher education and its leaders to take action.” 

UC3 was formed at the request of the University of California system and its president, Janet Napolitano. 

woman speaking on panel
Former Arizona governor and current University of California President Janet Napolitano raises a few issues her schools face at the announcement of the creation of UC3.

“The University of California system is thrilled to partner with this group of preeminent research universities on an issue that has long been a major strategic priority for all of our institutions,” Napolitano said. “No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions.”

Harnessing the unique resources and convening power of member institutions, the coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change. Coalition members will bring to these efforts a critical body of expertise in areas including advanced climate modeling, energy storage systems, next generation solar cells and devices, energy-efficiency technologies, biofuels, smart grids, regulatory and policy approaches, etc.

“The research university has played an important role in creating new knowledge, convening thought leadership, and serving as long-term community members,” said Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature. “By applying these strengths to locally relevant climate challenges, we see transformative potential for accelerating climate solutions in these locations in a way that couldn’t happen if the institutions and sectors continued to act on their own.”

Crow added Arizona State, which established the first freestanding School of Sustainability in the U.S. in 2006 and had the first degree program, has several other projects that focus on dealing with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and limiting future emissions.

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ASU President Michael Crow speaks at the announcement of the creation of University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, at the start of the closing plenary at the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit at the DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Tempe, on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

These efforts include:

• ASU is working to reach its commitments to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from building energy sources by 2025, and from all sources by 2035. Between 2007 and 2017, ASU reduced emissions per on-campus student by 46 percent.

• ASU has one of the largest university solar installations in the U.S., with 88 solar installations — more than 82,000 photovoltaic panels — that generate 24.1 MWdc, which, combined with ASU’s off-site solar fulfills 30 percent of ASU’s electricity needs.

• ASU has a power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service at the Red Rock Solar Plant near Picacho Peak, Arizona. The agreement allows ASU to secure solar power from the plant during a 20-year span and adds approximately 29 MWdc to ASU’s solar generating supply. 

• ASU researchers, led by Klaus Lackner in the ASU Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, are developing a device that removes carbon dioxide from the air for re-use or sequestration.

• The Center for Carbon Removal, in partnership with ASU and several other research institutions, launched a new industrial innovation initiative to develop solutions that transform waste carbon dioxide in the air into valuable products and services. The Initiative for a New Carbon Economy is focusing on rethinking the climate challenge as a new economic opportunity, and figuring out how to reuse carbon in real, valuable and lasting ways.

• ASU researchers have developed a software system called Hestia that can estimate greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, down to roads and individual buildings. The software provides high resolution maps identifying CO2 emission sources in a way that policymakers can utilize and the public can understand. Hestia can provide cities with a complete, three-dimensional picture of where, when and how carbon dioxide emissions are occurring.

Top photo courtesy

Associate Director , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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ASU President Crow speaks to community leaders at West campus

February 1, 2018

Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow met with Valley community leaders Thursday afternoon at the West campus to discuss what he called the “public enterprise” university’s progress, current state and future trajectory.

Executive Director of Government and Community Engagement for ASU West campus’ Office of Public Affairs Roberta Magdaleno introduced Crow, stating that “under his leadership, ASU has risen to the top of numerous rankings,” including U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of the “most innovative schools” in the country, which put ASU at number one for the third year in a row.

A number of factors contributed to that, Crow explained Thursday in a presentation titled “A New Era Public Enterprise Model.” A group of about 30 local school officials, business executives and political leaders listened as he outlined ASU’s meteoric rise from an underperforming public agency in 1985 to the model of A New American University today.

Just over three decades ago, ASU was almost wholly reliant on the government for funding, a model which doesn’t do very well, Crow said, “because it’s overwhelmed with politics.”

The four-year graduation rate was at 13.8 percent, with less than 2 percent of students who were Pell Grant-eligible and almost no investment in research.

“If I meet somebody who graduated from ASU in 1985, I shake their hand,” Crow said. “I say, ‘You’re a survivor. You made it through that highly bureaucratized system.’”

When Lattie Coor took over as president of the university in 1990, he made changes that took the institution from underperforming to performing, raising the four-year graduation rate to 28.4 percent, the number of students receiving Pell Grants to 22 percent and research expenditure to $123 million.

Then, in 2002, Crow made the move from Columbia University to the Valley of the Sun and put some radical ideas on the table: inclusivity instead of exclusion, and no more running the university like a government institution.

With this new public enterprise model in place, four-year graduation rates have increased to 51.6 percent. Crow pointed out that ASU actually graduates about 70 percent of “A” students in four years, and about 46 percent of “B” students in four years, the latter being a four-fold increase since 2002 and triple the national average.

Michael Crow
Earlier on Thursday, President Crow held a forum at the West campus in which he took questions from students. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Of universities that admit both “A” and “B” high school students, ASU has the highest four-year graduation rate in the country, ahead of Purdue and Michigan State. And nearly ninety percent of ASU graduates are in graduate school or employed full-time in 90 days of graduation.

Today, the university’s student body is made up of 35 percent underrepresented minorities, with roughly 34 percent receiving Pell Grants, and research expenditure is at an all-time high of $545 million — more than Stanford, Cambridge or Oxford.

ASU has forged a new path in online education as well, with 30,000 students currently pursuing degrees online.

“This public enterprise model has altered our performance, our outcomes, our achievements, everything,” Crow said.

But there are still obstacles to overcome.

ASU is number 15 in the country out of universities whose graduates go on to work in Silicon Valley. But that means that talent isn’t staying here in Arizona.

Going forward, ASU aims to increase its total enrollment to 125,000 students, 15,000 total degrees offered and $815 million in research expenditures. By 2025, the goal is to be producing four times as many college graduates as it does now.

Crow has proposed a new funding model to the state of Arizona, one that asks it to fund only half the cost of the education of Arizona students.

“For the last 35 years, the state has been paying between $40 and $50 thousand per degree,” Crow said. “Now it’s just $13,000 per degree. That’s a tremendous improvement. All we need [the state] to do is to invest in the students.”

Another issue of concern to Crow and those in attendance on Thursday included the relocation of the Thunderbird School of Global Management from its current location at 59th Avenue and Greenway Road in Glendale to a new building on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Crow told Valley leaders that ASU is currently working with the city of Glendale on a new master plan for the 140-acre site that aims to catalyze economic development in the West Valley and accelerate the pace of growth and diversification of economic opportunity.

ASU’s West campus is and will remain home to Thunderbird’s undergraduate program. Crow expressed hopes to grow the campus’ general student enrollment to 10,000 to 15,000 students in the coming years, with expanded degree programs and new learning pathways like the one offered by the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy.

“We’re continuing to expand our activities everywhere,” Crow said.

Catching up with ASU English chair Krista Ratcliffe

After a semester in a new role and a new building, Ratcliffe is hitting her stride

February 1, 2018

Krista Ratcliffe’s first semester at Arizona State University began in a cloud of dust.

The new chair of one of the largest English departments in the U.S. arrived on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe in late summer 2017. She took the helm just as renovations were being finalized on ASU English’s new administrative home, Ross-Blakley Hall. Formerly ASU’s law library, the building required a creative transformation from a book storage facility to a suitable people-centered one. ASU English chair Krista Ratcliffe / Photo by Bruce Matsunaga ASU Department of English chair Krista Ratcliffe. Download Full Image

One of Ratcliffe’s early tasks was to tour the in-progress space, so she set off across campus in the heat to don the requisite construction vest and hard hat.

“I was amazed by the cool architectural style,” she said. “I was equally amazed that the university had invested the financial and physical resources in the humanities and in the Department of English more specifically. I took that as a sign that ASU is interested in promoting the work of our Writing Programs, especially their role in the retention of first-year students, and also in promoting ASU as a leading place for discussing the importance of humanities and their interdisciplinary intersections in the twenty-first century. The latter is visibly represented by the Institute for Humanities Research’s being in the same building.”

With all these thoughts swirling, Ratcliffe tried to imagine the place as anything other than covered in drywall dust. She tried to imagine the different ways it would serve her colleagues and students — most of whom she had yet to meet. She tried to imagine herself in this space.

Aerial view of cubicles in the new English Department building
English's new space in Ross-Blakley Hall features soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and ample doses of color. Chair Krista Ratcliffe calls it "a lovely rendition of mid-century architectural style." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Then she stepped out into that sweltering July heat and got to work. 

Ear to the ground

The Department of English completed its move into Ross-Blakley Hall last September. Since her trial-by-construction, Ratcliffe has settled into a routine in the Department of English, handling issues large and small with a dose of Midwestern practicality.

Ratcliffe was previously head of the Department of English at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and before that, chair of the English department at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In her administrative jobs as well as in her scholarship, Ratcliffe continues to demonstrate a commitment to hearing others’ viewpoints. Ratcliffe cultivates what she calls “rhetorical listening” in order to move ideas forward most harmoniously.

“Rhetorical listening,” she explained, “is choosing to put your ideas alongside someone else's ideas in order to see where they may lead.”

“I'm basically a collaborative person,” Ratcliffe said. “I have a lot of faith in other people's intelligence and insights; consequently, I believe the best ideas and the best outcomes are generated collectively.”

Ratcliffe has authored two books on the concept: “Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness” (2006) and “Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts” (2011).

“My scholarly focus is on how this process may foster cross-cultural conversations in the public sphere,” she said, “in rhetoric and composition scholarship, and in the classroom, particularly in terms of race and gender and their intersections.”

Krista Ratcliffe and Patrick Kenney at Ross-Blakley Hall open house on Oct. 31, 2017 / Photo by Bruce Matsunaga
Krista Ratcliffe (left) and Patrick Kenney greet guests at the open house celebration for Ross-Blakley Hall on Oct. 31, 2017. Photo by Bruce Matsunaga

The dust clears

For her extensive rhetorical expertise, Ratcliffe is frequently engaged as a consultant. This past October, she traveled to Sweden, where a new national curriculum requires that rhetoric be taught in all secondary schools for the purpose of encouraging democratic deliberation. Ratcliffe was one of four experts in the field from the U.S. who convened at Örebro University with Swedish rhetoric scholars and secondary teachers as well as with other European scholars to discuss just what a “rhetorical education” might look like.

And of course, there are awards. This January, the National Council of Teachers of English announced the prestigious 2018 CCCC Outstanding Book Award in the edited collection category for “Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education” co-edited by Ratcliffe with Tammie Kennedy (University of Nebraska) and Joyce Middleton (East Carolina University). Essays in the book explore — and argue against — the notion that America has moved beyond issues of race in its political and social discourses.

This is Ratcliffe’s second time winning a CCCC Outstanding Book Award, the first for “Rhetorical Listening.”

In typical fashion, Ratcliffe was gracious in receiving congratulations for the honor but pointed out that several ASU scholars’ articles were also represented in her laudatory volume, including those by English faculty Lee Bebout, Ersula Ore and Keith Miller who co-authored with doctoral student Casie Moreland. Retired faculty member Sharon Crowley provided a provocative epigram.

Amidst her packed schedule, Ratcliffe answered a few questions about her award-winning book, her journey to ASU, and her goals for the ASU Department of English.

New ASU English chair Krista Ratcliffe talks with other ASU faculty and staff at the Ross-Blakley Hall open house on October 31, 2017 / Photo by Bruce Matsunaga
Krista Ratcliffe talks with other ASU faculty and staff members at the Ross-Blakley Hall open house celebration on Oct. 31, 2017. Photo by Bruce Matsunaga

Question: Your “Rhetorics of Whiteness” book, published in 2016, is certainly timely in its discussion of American race relations. What led you to that project? Did events over the past year make it seem somewhat prescient, and if possible, even more relevant?

Answer: In the early 2000s, my co-editors and I had been invited to co-edit a special issue of the journal Rhetoric Review, focusing on how whitenessThe study of “whiteness” is the study of the privilege and dominance associated with white racial identity. See “The Meaning of Whiteness” by Mikhail Lyubansky in Psychology Today (December 14, 2011). studies could inform rhetoric and composition theory and pedagogy. Since that time, we have continued talking about racialized whiteness.

When Barack Obama was re-elected president in 2012, we became fascinated by two paradoxes: (1) as whiteness studies was waning a bit in the academy, "white" was becoming an operative term in daily journalism, particularly in terms of reporting voter demographics and (2) while President Obama’s elections were being used to define the 21st century as “post-racial,” white was becoming a visible term in daily journalism, in movie titles ("Dear White People"), in award show speeches, etc. So we decided to put out a call for an edited collection about how whiteness haunts our lives in the 21st century and see what emerged. From our contributors we learned that whiteness haunts novels, films, TV shows with closed-captioning, TV shows starring black women, online dating sites, Facebook, state laws, textbooks, national testing, Rolling Stone covers, the Oval Office, and philosophy.  

As for the events of the last year, yes, they have generated an interest in the book. For the past three years, I have been invited to universities to talk about cultural logics of race in the U.S. (e.g., white supremacy, colorblindness, separatism, multiculturalism, critical race studies). People want to learn concepts and tactics for talking about race.

Q: Moving locally now, what was it about ASU and the job that drew you?

A: I love the beauty of Arizona, particularly the desert landscape. For several years I have visited friends here at Thanksgiving and during spring break. But what drew me to accept the job at ASU was the mission and the people. As for mission, I respect the dual focus on access and excellence ... and love the fact that these two goals are imagined at ASU as reciprocal, not opposing. I also like the innovative spirit at ASU — that is, that people are willing to try new things and that failure is imagined as simply a step toward success. As for people, I was impressed when I visited with how nice, smart, and energetic the people were in both the English department and in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far at ASU? Biggest surprise?

A: The biggest challenge was (and still is) learning all the people, policies, and procedures at ASU, while trying to maintain a research agenda that includes travel (I spoke in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Sweden last semester). But I must say that I've had wonderful support in the English department and in Liberal Arts and Sciences. I couldn't have asked for more supportive coworkers.

My biggest surprise was when I was called out of a visiting scholar’s talk thinking I had an urgent problem to solve and discovered the staff simply wanted to sing "Happy Birthday" to me.

Q: What are your short- and long-term goals for the ASU Department of English?

A: My first goal was to meet people in the department and find out what was important to them, which is no small task given the size of the English department. My first charges from our college were to review our online programs, to update our governance documents, to get a handle on our budget, and to move the department into a new building, Ross-Blakley Hall. (Because the planning for our new building had been in place for more than a year and was being run by a very efficient team of departmental members — thank you, Doris Warriner, Kristen LaRue, Kristin Rondeau-Guardiola, Bruce Matsunaga, and Sarah Saucedo — all I had to do was pack and follow their directions!). Those four items took up a large part of the fall semester, along with all the other regular chair duties such as promotion and tenure, hiring, etc.

As for long-term goals, I plan to survey the English faculty and staff this spring to determine their priorities. Some items to discuss might include considering curriculum design at the undergraduate and graduate levels, negotiating partnerships across units, and reviewing our promotion guidelines. I look forward to reading the feedback from this survey and then developing a three- or four-year plan, although as fast as things move at ASU we'll have to make sure the plan is flexible.

Q: How do you see English’s recent move to Ross-Blakley Hall impacting its mission and goals?

A: The building is beautiful, a lovely rendition of mid-century architectural style. Ross-Blakley's location across from the College of Liberal Arts and Science's new building, Armstrong Hall, with its new Future Center for students, will help create a hub for students who need to see teachers, advisers, and career specialists in a one-stop venue. Ross-Blakley Hall’s open concept is conducive to conversations among faculty, staff and students because we run into one another much more than we did in the Language and Literature Building. As such, the hope is that Ross-Blakley Hall will foster collaborative work and will help build community among these groups. But as with all moves, there are adjustments that we are all making to the new space, and it is important that going forward we attend to the adjustment issues that arise.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I am VERY grateful for all the support I've received, especially from the English department but also from the college; every new chair should be so fortunate as to have a dean like Elizabeth Langland, interim dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. And a side benefit of living in Arizona is: I now have a lot of friends who want to come visit me!

Kristen LaRue

communications specialist, Department of English


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ASU sending more first-generation students to study abroad

ASU works to send more first-generation students to study abroad.
ASU Study Abroad Office provides guidance, support to first-gen students.
January 31, 2018

Scholarship, workshops are preparation for a journey that many never expected

For some first-generation students, walking into a college classroom is the end of a long and complicated journey, and for them, traveling to another country for study can seem like an opportunity that’s too far away.

But Arizona State University has created a unique program to help these students find a way to study abroad, and it has been so successful that the university has won a national award for it.

The Planning Scholars program, which provides study-abroad funding and other support for young people who are the first in their families to attend college, has won the 2018 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award from the Diversity Abroad organization.

Adam Henry, director of ASU’s Study Abroad Office, said the university is honored to win the award, announced Wednesday, and that the scholarship was developed as a direct result of underrepresentation of first-generation students.

“After reviewing the research literature on first-generation students studying abroad, we also created the program around a model of support, and helping participants identify their particular support needs before, during and after their study-abroad experience," he said.

Since 2015, more than 150 students have received the Planning Scholars award from ASU’s Study Abroad Office. Funding is in place for three more groups of 35 students each over the next three years. Students who identify as first-generation on their FAFSA form and have financial need are invited to apply. In the fall 2017 semester, 26 percent of all enrolled students at ASU were the first in their families to go to college, compared with 18 percent a decade ago.

Cody Holt, a senior global studies and global health major from Mesa, didn’t think he would ever study in another country.

“I grew up in a low-income household so that was not financially feasible for us,” he said. “Even the thought of going to college was out … until I got a bunch of scholarships.”

Holt was in the first group of Planning Scholars and did an internship in Beijing in the summer of 2016 through the Study Abroad Office. It was the first time he had left the country, and dealing with homesickness and the language barrier wasn’t easy. But he now talks about his experiences to students at his alma mater, Skyline High School in Mesa.

“I talk about what it means to go to college as someone from a low-income community. How do you navigate things when no one in your family can help you?” he said.

“Study abroad is a microculture of a culture that’s already difficult.”

The Planning Scholars program not only helps pay for travel but also addresses issues that are important to first-generation students, such as not adding extra time to college and helping their families appreciate the value of the experience.

ASU student Catalina Lee had never been to Europe when she started her four-week marketing course in Prague in 2016. "I was blown away when I arrived in the city to see how beautiful and rich in history everything was."

ASU sent about 2,500 students abroad last year, an increase of nearly 40 percent from four years ago, and has been committed to widening access to students from all kinds of backgrounds.

“But within study abroad, unfortunately, the population going is very homogenous and does not look like who is enrolled in colleges today,” HenryHenry also is a faculty associate in the School of Politics and Global Studies and the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. said. “Our end goal is to make sure the population of students who go abroad looks like the same demographic as who’s enrolled at ASU."

The Planning Scholars program will be offering scholarships to 35 students every year, with 25 funded by the International Studies Abroad organization and 10 by ASU.

In the first few years, the ISA-funded scholarships provided $2,000 toward study-abroad costs for the semester or $1,000 for a summer trip, while the ASU awards were for $4,000.

But some students who received the smaller amounts were not using them, according to Kyle Rausch, assistant director of the Study Abroad Office, who launched the Planning Scholars program as part of his doctoral dissertation. So starting next fall, all the scholarships will be for $4,000.

The program provides more than money. All the scholars attend workshops covering topics such as how to find additional funding, choosing the right program and dealing with homesickness.

“We talk about the importance of finding a program that will fit within your major map because when I was doing my study focused on this population, I saw that they are concerned with getting in and getting out of college quickly,” Rausch said. “So we talk about how this can help them progress toward their degree.”

Most importantly, the Study Abroad Office now helps first-generation students to leverage their unique advantages. All of the scholarship winners go through StrengthsQuest, a personality assessment that highlights each person’s strengths.

Rausch said that in higher education, the assumption is often that first-generation students might need extra help because they lack skills or background knowledge because their parents didn’t go to college.

“This is a change from a deficit model to celebrating what they already have to succeed,” he said. “Because they do. They got to college on their own.

“We work with them to think about the challenges they’ll encounter and how they can rely on their strengths to get past those.”

Growth in self-confidence was a major outcome for the students who traveled, Rausch discovered in his research.

For example, students in the first group of Planning Scholars told Rausch that when tricky problems came up, they typically had to figure out the answers rather than relying on a call to their parents for help.

Catalina Lee said the sense of independence was hugely satisfying when she traveled to Prague in 2016.

ASU student Cody Holt
Cody Holt did an internship in Beijing in 2016 as part of the Planning Scholars program. He said he never thought he'd get to study in another country.

“The best part was the ability to take control of my time,” said Lee, a senior who visited Hungary, Austria and Poland, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, while based in Prague for her international marketing course. “There were a lot of choices, and I really enjoyed that freedom.”

The Planning Scholars workshops were key to getting the most out of the trip for Lee, who was encouraged to set goals before she left and to reflect on the experience afterward.

“I already had a program in mind, but other students had no idea and they supported us in finding the best fit,” said Lee, who was born and raised in Tucson and has a double major in marketing and supply chain management and a minor in anthropology.

“It was important to me the think about study abroad as something more than flying somewhere in the world and having fun.”

As she prepares to graduate in May, Lee said that employers have been very interested in her experience.

“Sometimes students don’t think about how study abroad can affect job hunting,” she said.

Holt said that his study-abroad experience in China also is influencing his job search.

“Ultimately I’d like to work internationally and use my language skills to make a difference,” he said.

The Study Abroad Office offers more than 250 programs in more than 65 countries, and the Planning Scholars initiative is just one way the office has worked to diversify the population of students who travel. Some other ways are:

• Encouraging students to apply for Gilman scholarships. These national awards fund young people who qualify for the Pell grant and who might not otherwise consider study abroad — such as first-generation students, those with disabilities and underrepresented ethnic and demographic groups, including veterans and online students. Last year, ASU had 19 Gilman scholars, the most ever.

• Shorter programs, including “global intensive experience programs,” which are seven- to 10-day trips that are embedded as part of a semester course and occur over break or just after the semester. Students can use their financial-aid packages to pay for them.

• Revised deadlines so students can know whether they have funding before they have to commit to a trip.

ASU's Study Abroad Office has several information sessions scheduled. For details, click here. For information on Gilman scholarships, visit the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement here.

Top image by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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Kern Family Foundation gives ASU $12.4M grant for character education

January 31, 2018

Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College to build character education into programs

Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has been awarded a $12.4 million grant by the Kern Family Foundation to develop and incorporate character education into its teacher and leadership preparation programs. These programs will include undergraduate programs, graduate programs, non-degree certificates and professional development programs.

Carole Basile, dean of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said the desire to address character education arose from the conviction that one core purpose of education is to support the development of citizens who have the habits of mind and disposition to maintain civil society and serve the public good.

“The great American experiment in self-government has always rested on our ability to educate citizens capable of reasoned argument, respectful discourse and the hard work of balancing individual ambitions and the public good,” Basile said.

While ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College prepares students to become successful and capable educators throughout its programs and courses, the investment from the Kern Family Foundation will support the college as it consciously articulates and builds character education into the school’s curricula and design. Basile noted that while the college’s curricula and programs have long emphasized service learning and social responsibility, the Kern grant allows the college to bring a “new level of intentionality and structure” to the work of integrating concepts of character and character development into the systems, norms, curricula and processes of the school. This would be the first effort of its kind and scale for a college of education.

“We are committed to deepening the relationship between the university and our surrounding community,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “Social embeddedness is one of our core principles, and we see this expanded emphasis on character education as an opportunity to enhance not only the quality of life for our students and citizens, but also the quality of engagement with our democratic process.”

As faculty and staff developed the college’s proposal, they engaged in spirited discussions about the meaning of character and the role of a college of education in nurturing it.

“We arrived at an approach to character education that aims to prepare our students to be effective educators and caring citizens,” Basile said. “Our conversations led to a view of character education based on ideas of equity and reciprocity. It embraces difference, multiple perspectives and the complexity of social life.”

“American parents say that the formation of strong character is their highest aspiration for their children,” Kern Family Foundation President James Rahn said. “Ninety percent of Americans say our democracy is only as strong as the virtue of its citizens. The Kern Family Foundation is impressed with the transformative vision for character education developed by Dean Basile and faculty and staff at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. We are confident in ASU’s ability to bring this vision to reality and to become the anchor of a national network of colleges of education committed to character education.”

The framework developed by the college identifies four kinds of character: moral, civic, intellectual and performance. It also identifies four social environments that the college’s approach to character education will address: interpersonal, university, PK-12 learning environments and the larger communities in which schools reside.

The college’s approach will integrate character education throughout its academic programs and co-curricular activities.  Among the practical activities the grant will support: 

• development of program materials and activities for existing and future degree and non-degree offerings that prepare future educators and education leaders
• integration of intellectual, moral, civic and performance character into the community design labs the college facilitates with schools to address challenges those schools face   
• research on the impact of character development in education
• an annual convening of scholars, education leaders, nonprofits, policymakers and others to further explore the role of character education in the preparation of teachers and education leaders

Basile emphasized that the commitment to character education is central to the college’s strategy and expanding vision.

“We asked ourselves: What are the qualities of our institution that render us most likely to succeed at redefining what a college of education can provide to students, the education system and society?

“Our answer is that we integrate character and what we call creative intrapreneurship in a distinctive manner. We think educators should be able to work within organizations and systems to ask the right questions, navigate uncertainty, and work in teams to design and create solutions to the toughest challenges. That’s what we mean by creative intrapreneurship. We view character as a vital complement to the innovative energy of creative intrapreneurship. It adds purpose to innovation.” 

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Arizona's universities need freedom to be run like a business, presidents say

Arizona's 3 university presidents ask: 'Let us be entrepreneurial.'
January 30, 2018

Crow, Cheng, Robbins want support in modernizing state's higher-education model

The presidents of Arizona’s three public universities were blunt in their request for support from the business community on Tuesday, explaining the need for the freedom to be entrepreneurial.

Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, said his institution responded to cuts in state funding by finding other ways to generate money.

“We adjusted, we adapted and we adopted other revenue sources — in our case, in round numbers, $300 million from the state and $2.8 billion from other sources this year,” he said in a talk sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

But state legislators are looking to limit the ways the state universities can find funding, and the business community should step up and support higher education, Crow said.

“We think the business community is and should be our strongest ally. In many individual cases and in the Phoenix Chamber’s case, they are. But not uniformly,” he said.

The business community was asked for support by the presidents of the state's three public universities. From left: Robert Robbins of the University of Arizona, Michael Crow of Arizona State University and Rita Cheng of Northern Arizona University. The talk was moderated by Todd Sanders (right), president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The presidents would like the state Legislature to provide enough funding to pay for half of an in-state student’s instruction — about $7,500 per student at ASU. Currently, after cuts during the recession, state funding covers about $5,000 toward instruction per student at ASU, Crow said.

Rita Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University, said that the resident-student-based funding model is key, and that decreased revenue has resulted in higher tuition. But any additional money from the state should not come with more regulation, she said.

“What’s important for us is the flexibility and the ability to bring partners on campus to work side by side with students,” she said.

Cheng said funding for the universities should not come at the expense of the K–12 system.

“Not pitting one against the other,” she said. “Because it’s about the pipeline.”

She would like to see a more broad commitment from the business community.

“We need industry partnerships that support our interns not just for finding the right employee but for creating the opportunity for young people to get the experience that suggests to them that Arizona is the place to spend you career,” she said. “Too many of our students start their jobs in Arizona and leave when they think about their next opportunity.”

Robert Robbins, who took over as president of the University of Arizona in June, said that businesses have an interest in seeing the K–12 system improve, noting that there are some high schools in Arizona that have never sent a graduate to a university.

“It’s hard to recruit someone to the Phoenix office if there aren’t good education opportunities,” he said.

“We have to do our job and produce more engineers. But as the digital sciences and biological sciences converge in this rapidly changing world, companies need people with leadership skills, communication skills, critical thinking and creative skills.

“It’s our job to be able to produce that flexible, lifelong learner.”

Robbins said the University of Arizona is making gains in creating more technology transfer.

“Over the past few years, we’ve had good success in spinning out companies, but we have to have a partner at the other end,” he said.

“The idea that the state will cut funding and then put handcuffs on us — there’s something wrong with that. The business community has to support us on this.”

Crow said that the old model of a public university that’s heavily funded by taxpayers and run like a state agency is dying.

“We abandoned the public-agency model and advanced a public-enterprise model,” he said.

That means the university’s relationship with the state should evolve.

“All we need is one half of the cost of their instruction, and that’s about $7,500 per student per year. The rest of the institution can be financed by allowing us to act in entrepreneurial ways, basically in the way private universities do, by leveraging all of our assets — our property, our technology, our ability to attract international students, our ability to design new programs, our ability to do research,” Crow said.

The return on the investment to the state is higher now, he said.

“At ASU, it costs the state, per degree we produce, 75 percent less than it cost to produce a degree 15 years ago. That’s a significant achievement.

“And the quality of the degree is superior to what it was 15 years ago. And the demand is higher.”


Top photo: ASU President Michael Crow makes a point during a talk sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday along with Robert Robbins (left), president of the University of Arizona, and Rita Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University. The talk, titled "Educate and Innovate," was held at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now