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ASU West students to spend ‘An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr.’

Award-winning artist to speak about "Hamilton," perform

October 12, 2017

The almost 600 freshman students who started at ASU’s West campus this fall will share in an unconventional experience this month: one of their first college-level discussions will include Broadway superstar of "Hamilton" fame, Leslie Odom Jr.

Each year, as part of the Summer Community Read program, incoming West campus freshman are required to read a selected book in preparation for analytical discussions in an academic setting. Then, someone with a connection to the reading material is brought in to speak with students. Broadway superstar of "Hamilton" fame, Leslie Odom Jr., will speak and perform at ASU's West campus. Download Full Image

“To me, it’s such an important event because it gives instructors, staff, students a way to talk to people initially, when they first get here and throughout the semester,” said Anne Suzuki, assistant dean of enrollment services for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. “And plus, we really like to bring in the community … and to bring different groups of people together to appreciate this particular (musical).”

This year’s required reading was "Hamilton: The Revolution," by Lin Manuel Miranda, and the special guest is Odom Jr.

The Grammy and Tony-award winning artist who played Aaron Burr in the musical’s original cast, will come to Glendale Oct. 16 to discuss the book and answer students’ questions. Odom Jr. will also perform a concert at the West campus. 

Suzuki said the program is designed to give students a common experience before they get to campus, and build community.

“We always hope that students can connect more with the person and bring what they read alive, and make it more real,” Suzuki mused. “And they can ask deeper level questions.”

"Hamilton: The Revolution," was co-written by Jeremy McCarter and Miranda, who also wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Hamilton" and starred in its original cast. It explores the background, music and making of the musical.

The musical's ability to attract students of different majors and perspectives is another reason Suzuki’s team felt it would be a good fit.

“I think it gives (students) a platform to be able to talk about difficult topics that might be in the news right now or historically, and it’s an okay, hopefully safe environment for people to have exciting conversations,” she added. “I think because it’s so modern, first year students may feel like it’s more exciting to read about it than if we just did something more traditional.”

Following the discussion, Odom Jr. will perform a concert showcasing the music from "Hamilton" and his own jazz album. “An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr.,” starts at 7:30 p.m. in the West campus’s La Sala Ballroom. Tickets are available here.

Several other educational opportunities are available to students and the community, including "Burr, Hamilton and the Drama of America’s Founding," a special night to explore the explosive relationship between Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the wider drama of America’s founding.

This discussion will feature acclaimed historian Nancy Isenberg, author of "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr," and Hamilton scholar Peter McNamara of ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

The free panel is at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 and registration is available at

"Hamilton" will run at ASU Gammage Jan. 30–Feb. 25. Tickets will go on sale in December. For more information visit

Marketing and Communications Assistant, ASU Gammage


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Q&A: How to help coastal communities build weather resilience

The time to talk about coastal resilience is now, says ASU professor.
October 5, 2017

ASU professor part of group of researchers charged with identifying sources of coastal resiliency, implementing them in Caribbean

As extreme weather events become more commonplace, regions of the world that get hit the hardest are often left scrambling to put the pieces of their homeland back together.

Sian Mooney, associate dean and professor at Arizona State University's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, researches the use of natural resources and the environment. She recently returned from a trip to Cuba, where the economist attended a tri-national workshop on the theme: “Enhancing Resilience of Coastal Caribbean Communities.”

It couldn’t have been more timely.

“This is certainly a great time to be looking at [coastal resilience],” Mooney said, “because the time we had the workshop was right after Hurricane Irma, and while we were there, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.”

The group of scientists and researchers gathered for the event have been charged with defining and identifying sources of coastal resiliency and then working to implement them in the region over the next few years. It was the first convening of the group and the project is still in the planning and discovery phase, but Mooney was game to speak with ASU Now about initial discussions and potential trajectories.

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Sian Mooney

Question: How urgent is it that we address the issue of coastal resilience?

Answer: The time is now to be looking at coastal resilience in the Caribbean. It’s time to find out what are the interventions or policies that make the most sense for each area, because it’s very diverse, so the same things don’t make sense from place to place. It’s a very complex issue.

Q: How is the region faring at the moment?

A: It really varies from location to location because in the Caribbean, you have small islands and large coastlines, like those along Florida and part of Mexico. So you can’t really define one state of coastal resilience, but one thing we can say is it’s certainly becoming much more of an issue of concern, with greater numbers of hurricanes, high winds and weather-related factors affecting the region.

When I was in Cuba, the country had just been hit by Hurricane Irma, and very fortunately for Cuba, it had not been hit by the high winds of Hurricane Irma. It was mostly subject to extremely high tides, which caused flooding and rain. But Havana showed very little evidence of the area having been hit by a hurricane, except for the boardwalk area, which was completely closed because it had been completely eroded away. But old town HavanaOld Havana is the city center and one of the 15 municipalities forming Havana, Cuba. and the surrounding areas showed very little evidence, at least to the naked eye, that anything untoward had occurred. In comparison, I had spent the evening before arriving in Cuba in Miami, and it looked like a war zone. There were trees down everywhere, piles of shrubs, power lines down, boats piled up on top of each other.

Q: What factors influence an area’s ability to be resilient?

A: We need to be looking both at communities and the physical nature of the land. One factor is topography, what does the land look like? Is it mountainous or low-lying? Also, human development and settlements. Have people located their homes right on a beach? Have they created instances where they have removed lots of vegetation so there is increased erosion and greater saltwater inundation or high tide?

One of the topics that came up really frequently [at the workshop] as having a big impact on coastal resilience, particularly in the Caribbean, was tourism. Tourism might encourage more development on coasts [which is not resilient], and it also creates a strain on resources in some areas because you need more water, more food, more infrastructure to support the tourism industry. And certainly, the Caribbean is very dependent on tourism for much of its income.

Q: Are there any efforts currently underway to promote coastal resilience?

A: In Cuba, they’ve already started to move the community away from the coast and resettle them in other areas. It’s really complicated because people become very attached to houses and areas where they grew up. So even when new housing was provided, people still had a tendency to keep going back and living in their old houses.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: One thing we talked about [at the workshop] was what does resilience actually mean? It can be viewed in many different ways depending on if you’re a physical scientist, a natural scientist, a social scientist. Also, communities might define for themselves very different definitions of resiliency. So I’ll be working with local communities and scientists to try and understand what does the local populace really understand about coastal resilience? What are their thoughts, what do they feel resilience might look like? And then come up with ways we can help them adapt to the future and have healthy, active and productive lives.

It’s a new area of research I’m looking forward to. We’re going to write two papers as a result of the workshop: one looking at resilience and adaptive capacity, and the other looking at the relationship between food, water and health systems, because they’re all related, and if you disturb one of those systems, it impacts the others. So those are the two areas we’re going to start with.


Top photo: A beach in Cuba. Photo courtesy of Sian Mooney

ASU Police Department to show support for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

September 29, 2017

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Arizona State University Police Department officers and aides will wear purple Velcro patches, bracelets and lapel pins throughout October to show support and create awareness of the subject.

"The Purple Patch is an outward expression of an inner commitment to connect with our community and serve them in every way possible," ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson said. "We want to support them and let them know we are here to help those who may be experiencing domestic violence, dating violence and stalking."   police officer in front of car ASU Police Department officers and aides will wear purple Velcro patches, bracelets and lapel pins during October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Download Full Image

According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner in the United States. In addition, the coalition says that one in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence by a partner within their lifetime.

"We want to increase awareness, educate community members about domestic violence and talk about the impact that it can have on individuals and communities," said Katy Harris, ASU Police information officer. "The Velcro patches, bracelets and lapel pins are designed to show support for survivors and a commitment to ending violence in our community." 

The department is also partnering with Educational Outreach and Student Services to collaborate at multiple domestic violence awareness tabling events throughout the month, starting with a kickoff event Oct. 2 at the Tempe campus' Student Services Lawn. See a full list of events below. 

The domestic violence awareness patches are just the department's most recent efforts. In 2014, the department became the first university to declare its commitment to the Start by Believing cause — a global campaign that aims to transform the way people respond to sexual assault. Thompson also led his agency in creating a Special Victims Unit (SVU), making ASU one of just four universities in the nation with an SVU dedicated to addressing sexual assault on campus. The ASU Police Department was also at the forefront of April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign

ASU Police domestic violence awareness events

Oct. 2: Domestic Violence Awareness Month kickoff, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Student Services Lawn, Tempe campus. Crime Prevention will be present.

Oct. 19: ASU Wear Purple Day, all campuses

Nov. 1–2: Clothesline Project, all day, Hayden Lawn, Tempe campus. Crime Prevention will be present.

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer, ASU Now

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More than half of adolescents experience online bullying.
ASU BullyBlocker app combines computer science with psychology insights.
September 20, 2017

BullyBlocker an interdisciplinary effort, goes beyond abilities of other apps by combining risk factors with keywords to alert parents

Last December, as other teens were looking forward to the holiday season and planning outings with friends and family, Houston-area high school student Brandy Vela was feeling so overwhelmed by online harassment that she held a gun to her chest and pulled the trigger.

Vela's death is an extreme example of what can happen as a result of cyberbullying, but a 2016 paper co-authored by Yasin Silva, associate professor of computer science at Arizona State University, cites a statistic that more than half of adolescents have been bullied online.

Just this month, Silva and his New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences team of faculty and students announced the public availability of BullyBlocker, a smartphone application that allows parents and victims of cyberbullying to monitor, predict and hopefully prevent incidents of online bullying.

The first version of the app is currently available for free in the Apple app store, and the ASU team has received a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue research and development of subsequent versions.

While there are other cyberbullying applications available, BullyBlocker is different in that it is the first and only application so far to do more than just flag potentially harmful posts and comments.

Existing apps comb through content on a person’s social-media profile looking for keywords or phrases that could indicate bullying and alert the user of the app — the user of the app can be a parent, guardian or even the victims themselves.

“We are going beyond that,” Silva said. “That’s just step number one in our process.”

BullyBlocker not only identifies those kinds of threats, it combines that information with risk factors (also called states of vulnerability) that have been shown to increase the probability of bullying, such as whether a person has recently moved schools, their socioeconomic status or their race. The app calculates the probability that an adolescent is being bullied based on keywords and risk factors, then alerts the app user — who most likely would be a parent or guardian, helping them to be aware of what is happening in their child's life.

“We’re trying to use a more holistic approach to really consider all the different signs and factors that might be involved in cyberbullying,” Silva said.

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Yasin Silva (far right), ASU associate professor of computer science 
meets with the BullyBlocker team. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


Doing so has been a truly interdisciplinary undertaking. When the idea for BullyBlocker came about in 2013, Silva quickly realized that in order to have the best, most accurate model, the application would need input from areas other than applied computing.

“From the computer science side, we are experts in terms of data analysis and creating computational models and so on,” Silva said. “But we didn’t know much initially, and I think still our understanding is limited, in terms of what is the nature of cyberbullying? How does it happen? And when it happens, what are the factors involved?”

So he approached Deborah Hall, ASU assistant professor of psychology, who was excited to collaborate. Hall and her psychology students were able to provide insights Silva and his computer science students may not have considered.

At a recent BullyBlocker meeting, the team was discussing the risk-factors portion of the app. They were considering adding sexual orientation to the list, as many LGBT youth experience a higher rate of bullying than their heterosexual peers. Hall pointed out that there could be an issue if the LGBT youth had not come out to their parents, who may be operating the application.

“With each meeting, my knowledge of the computer science and applied computing side of things is getting incrementally larger,” Hall said. “But what attracted me to the project in the first place … was the potential to take some of the research literature and findings from psychology that have been published in more traditional academic outlets and find a way to incorporate them in a meaningful way that will have some real-world consequences.”

Video by Lexi Dakin 

BullyBlocker came about from the desire to make a positive social impact through use-inspired research. More than one of the student team members have been supported by NCUIRE, New College’s Undergraduate Inquiry and Research Experiences program.

One of them, Rusty Conway, said that along with giving him real-world experience that has helped build his computing skills, working with the BullyBlocker team has been meaningful because “it’s going to have some kind of social impact that I can be a part of and hopefully be beneficial to people.”

The first version of BullyBlocker that is available now works in conjunction with Facebook. Future iterations are in development to incorporate other social-media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Funding from the NSF grant will be helpful to that end, Silva said, as well as making further interdisciplinary collaboration possible.

“I really enjoy watching the interactions and how [we all] grow in understanding of relevant theories,” he said. “I see the potential of even greater impact coming out of these collaborations.”

Top photo: Associate Professor Yasin Silva (center) of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences stands along with his team of students and faculty members from different disciplines during the BullyBlocker app's group meeting at ASU's West campus on Sept. 13. The team created an app that can detect bullying but also provides resources to the individual being bullied. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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September 18, 2017

ASU program director Kimberly Kobojek delves into the world of crime-scene analysis ahead of Tuesday event on the latest in DNA

Shows like “CSI,” “The First 48” and “Forensic Files” have captivated audiences, keying into a general fascination with murder, crime and forensics. In the world of make-believe, high-tech laboratories, fancy gadgets and instantaneous lab results solve a murder in 60 minutes (43 minutes with commercials).

But what really happens behind the scenes in a crime lab, and who are the real-world people who discover, examine and connect the clues left behind?

Kimberly Kobojek, program director of forensic science at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the West campus, worked for 17 years as a forensic scientist for the Phoenix Police Department before joining ASU as a clinical associate professor.

ASU’s forensic science program is more than savvy investigation. It emphasizes laboratory coursework in chemistry and biology, both essential to work in a crime lab. The program also features its own crime lab, where students begin to learn how to investigate scenes.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

To celebrate National Forensic Science Week, Sept. 17–23, the West campus is hosting Scott Rex from the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Central Laboratory at “One Step Closer to CSI — Rapid DNA Analysis.” Rex will discuss the latest breakthroughs and answer questions about the technology and what it means for Arizonans at the free public lecture Tuesday evening.

Here, Kobojek delved into the world of forensic biology with the ASU Now team.

Question: What is forensic biology?

Answer: Forensic biology, in its “purest” definition is the application of biological sciences to matters of law. In other words, it's the analysis of evidence that may contain biological material that is collected from a crime scene. Forensic biology includes both serological tests [testing and ID of body fluids] and DNA analysis.

Q: Why is forensic biology an integral part of a potential or actual crime scene?

A: Like other pieces of physical evidence, forensic biology evidence can demonstrate a link between a person and a location or another person. It could be a link between victim and suspect, suspect and location, or victim and location, or all of the aforementioned (and possibly more). Some forensic biology evidence may be “invisible” or latent, so a person may not know it's there. Examples of this include “touch DNA,” or the DNA from skin cells that may be left when someone handles an object.

Q: What is the role of a crime-scene investigator?

A: It is the crime-scene investigator's responsibility to document, preserve and collect evidence at a crime scene while working in tandem with other law enforcement and (if necessary) medical-examiner personnel. This includes recognizing what may or may not be potential evidence.

Q: How is forensic biology applied in a criminal case?

A: Forensic biology can be applied in a few different ways. An analyst may test evidence for the presence of biological material and then conduct DNA analysis to obtain a DNA profile for that person/biological stain. If there is another person to whom that DNA sample may be compared, a comparison will happen.

For instance, if a suspect's shirt is found to contain a blood stain, the blood stain will be tested and a DNA profile is generated. The DNA profile will then be compared to both the suspect and the victim. If the victim’s DNA matches the bloodstain on the suspect’s shirt, we now have a link between the victim and the suspect. Statistics are then calculated to determine how unique that DNA profile is.

DNA analysis can also be conducted on samples from missing persons, unidentified remains and biological samples belonging to family members of missing persons.

Q: You mentioned DNA, and we know it is a significant tool in a criminal case. Is there value in extensive DNA collection and storage?

A: DNA can be an extremely useful tool in a criminal investigation and has helped “crack” many a cold case. However, as with any forensic science, its use needs to be tempered with common sense and the notion that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. What I mean by this is that companies have advertised and collected a number of DNA samples from individuals all across America. I don't know how strict these companies’ rules are regarding allowing agencies such as law enforcement, immigration and insurance companies to access the DNA profile or the sample itself. 

Crime labs who participate in the national DNA database, CODIS, have very strict rules about what can and cannot go into the database. There are also expungement procedures in cases of wrongful entry or wrongful conviction. And while crime labs typically keep the whole reference standards from individuals who submit them for testing in a criminal case, the samples aren't subject to transfer without at least an order from a law-enforcement official if not a court order.

I believe this technology is amazing, and it will keep getting even more sensitive, which means the DNA evidence must be collected, analyzed and interpreted with even more caution.  

Q: One usually relates forensic biology to crime scenes and courtrooms. Does forensic biology exist outside the criminal justice field?

A: Yes, it does. DNA fingerprinting, first developed by Alec Jeffreys in the United Kingdom, was created in his university laboratory. It was only after the Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) technique was used in a criminal case that its use exploded outside of the academic environment.

Today, DNA/forensic biology is used by public and private crime labs, academic researchers, medical researchers and businesses who specialize in creating your ancestry profile.

Answers have been edited for clarity and length. Top photo: ASU Clinical Associate Professor Kimberly Kobojek uses an ultraviolet light to fluoresce certain biological fluids in the forensics lab on the West campus. Kobojek’s lab focuses on reconstructing an incident through discovery and forensic science. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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ASU Cybersecurity Education Consortium hopes to help fill industry talent gap.
September 18, 2017

'Evening of Cybersecurity' event at ASU West for students looking to become cybersecurity professionals and help fill field's talent gap

The recent Equifax data breach is just one in a growing list of businesses experiencing cybersecurity failures. So how are they dealing with it?

Professor of Practice and Director of ASU’s Cybersecurity Education Consortium Kim Jones doesn’t want to be cynical but feels businesses are “using a risk-versus-return attitude toward exposure of data.”

That said, Jones does believe they’ve made great strides in understanding the value of data and the threat posed by hackers. But with a 300,000-job talent gap in the cybersecurity arena, there’s definitely room for improvement.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, ASU West will host “An Evening of Cybersecurity” for students looking to become cybersecurity professionals and help fill that talent gap.

ASU Now spoke with Jones ahead of the event to learn more about how businesses are dealing with the threat and what students can expect from a career in the industry.

Question: How are businesses responding? Are they stepping up their cybersecurity defenses?

Answer: I hate to sound cynical … I do believe businesses are beginning to better understand the value and need of data on one end, which is better than when we talked one year ago. They’re spending a lot more time understanding the threat and ways people can get into their data. But, as much as I hate to say it, I think they’re also using a risk-versus-return attitude toward exposure of data. Name the last organization that went out of business because of data breach. [We couldn’t.] So from a reputation-risk standpoint, has this sort of thing become passé? Is the consumer going to respond in any sort of negative fashion? To date, unfortunately, consumers have become more accepting of the fact that their data is going to be out there. So in my opinion, businesses are beginning to look at security, instead of being something essential, as something that is a value add. We’re at the point where, if I’m more secure than my competitor, I might be able to draw more customers, but it’s still not seen as essential as one might hope it would be. And that’s being driven by the fact that the consumer has accepted that more of their data are out there and they’re continuing to put more out there in the name of convenience.

I’ve had friends approach me about the Equifax breach saying, "My data has been exposed so many times, I can’t even count anymore." In that sort of environment, where data has been compromised three or four times over, it depends on what the demand will be by the consumer to take additional action.

Q: What advice would you give to startups or businesses with limited resources?

A: The Cybersecurity Education Consortium is actually in the midst of putting something together for small businesses to give them practical skills. In Arizona, a majority of businesses are classified as small to medium, so we’re putting together some practical knowledge workshops for them that should be available in the next few months.

For me, it’s important to understand that you can’t create Fort Knox, but you can get to a heightened level of care associated with your network and data. And that mind-set of care will help. Think about it: A retailer looks at his or her foot traffic with that kind of care on a day-to-day basis. They look at things concerning availability of inventory, quality of inventory, how the inventory is positioned, how that affects foot traffic of the store. I’m not saying that it should overshadow everything else, but the care of understanding your data is an asset and a resource. And businesses usually meet about 80 percent of the threats out there. So I can’t give you Fort Knox; just because I have a sign out front saying I have a security system doesn’t mean someone won’t try to rob me, and they might succeed. But I can at least make it harder for them.

Many network providers have packages with basic security tools out there that are available as part of a business subscription, and there are small firms out there that provide different levels of protection, such as Terra Verde, an Arizona-based cybersecurity firm. And those will allow you to scale to certain levels of protection. You need to understand your data hygiene and treat your data and network as resources within your environment that need care and feeding.

Q: What can students looking to become cybersecurity professionals expect to be dealing with when they enter the field?

A: Two things: The term "typical day" is an oxymoron because every day is different. To quote the Navy SEAL team, the only easy day was yesterday. It won’t grind you into the ground, but it’s not just a career — a big portion of it is a calling. Cybersecurity people are absolutely the biggest optimists in the world. Every day, there is someone out there threatening to get access to resources and data you are trying to protect. And for every thousand of them, there is one of you. And you have to plug those holes. But you make people safer every day, and there are very few careers that are that rewarding. It’s also mentally engaging for me; it’s like playing three-tier chess. Every day you have to think like the bad guy, but you also have to think how to make something secure and work in an environment without just shutting the environment down.

There is a huge talent gap in cybersecurity of about 300,000 jobs in the U.S. Part of the reason it exists is because security technologists don’t really do a good job of taking about what we do and how we do it. When my kid was younger, he wanted to go into the gaming industry. Well, what does that mean? Coding? Design? He didn’t know. Lots of folks think it sounds sexy and cool, but they don’t know how to get in there.

Cybersecurity is the same way. There’s a lot more to it than hacking. It requires skills beyond just technical; it requires creative thinkers who know how to communicate, who understand business and policy. All these interdisciplinary things we teach at this university go into forming a great cybersecurity team. So a lot of what this event is about is showing kids, hey, the fact that you haven’t hacked by the time you’re 15 doesn’t mean you’re not good for cybersecurity. And we have lots of fun; we expose them to people from all walks of life who found their way into the field. It’s a good step if we’re going to try to close that 300,000-job talent gap.

Answers edited for clarity and length. Top photo: Professor of Practice and Director of the Cybersecurity Education Consortium Kim Jones at his office on ASU's West campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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September 13, 2017

New projects include Tooker House, Student Pavilion, stadium improvements

A new academic year brings a host of new buildings and significant facilities upgrades to the Arizona State University community. During summer break, ASU Facilities Development and Management completed 60 projects totaling $42 million of investment across all campuses.

“Summer is our busiest time of year from a building renovation and construction perspective, and this summer was no exception,” said Bruce Nevel, Facilities Development and Management associate vice president and chief facilities officer. “I encourage the ASU community to take notice of some of our newest buildings and renovated classrooms and lab spaces.”

New Tempe campus buildings this fall are Tooker House, the Student Pavilion and Sun Devil Stadium’s Student Athlete Facility. At ASU’s West campus, a state-of-the-art educational facility was unveiled as the new home for the Herberger Young Scholars Academy. Facilities Development and Management also made improvements to classrooms, laboratories, offices and grounds across ASU’s campuses.

Tooker House

This $120 million, 450,000 gross-square-foot, state-of-the-art residence hall for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering includes fully furnished rooms with 1,600 student beds, a 525-seat dining facility, recreation and fitness centers, student lounges and academic success space. The fully Wi-Fi-accessible facility also includes the following notable amenities:

• a new Amazon Echo Dot in each room, which represents the first voice-enabled, learning-enhanced residential community on a university campus

• Bluetooth-connected washers and dryers that notify students when cycles are complete

• collaborative maker space environments, including access to 3-D printers

• a beautiful courtyard with outdoor pavilions and covered terraces

Student Pavilion

The 74,653 gross-square-foot Student Pavilion was designed as a Net Zero Energy building, which means it uses no more energy annually than can be produced on site. The building’s sustainable elements include:

• chilled-beam and indirect evaporative cooling

• energy-efficient office, classroom and kitchen equipment

• exterior shading of windows and walls

• LED and energy-efficient lighting

• roof solar-ready for future photovoltaic installations

• Zero Waste strategies

The building hub is a new 1,200-seat event space for guest lecturers, musical shows, comedy acts and student productions. At the center of student traffic and activity near Hayden Library and the Memorial Union, the Student Pavilion houses office space for student government and organizations, university classrooms and other academic functions.

Sun Devil Stadium – Phase 2

Construction concluded this summer on the new Student Athlete Facility embedded in the stadium’s north end, club-level premium areas on the stadium’s west side and a massive video board.

• The Student Athlete Facility is equipped with offices, training facilities, locker rooms, counseling space, a players’ lounge, meeting rooms and other amenities to support Sun Devil athletes.

• The west side club level features air-conditioning, televisions, lounge areas and many other conveniences for fans, including food and beverage service.

• The new video board (seen in top photo) on the north end is 47 feet high and 113 feet wide and is among the 10 largest video boards in college football. The board will showcase replays, statistical updates, graphics and videos.

Phase 3 work on the stadium’s east side begins immediately after the 2017 football season and will lay the groundwork for a facility capable of hosting sporting, academic, and community events and programs throughout the year.

Herberger Young Scholars Academy

This 19,500 gross-square-foot building provides new, purpose-built program space for the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, designed for gifted students in grades 7–12. The ASU West campus building includes state-of-the-art classroom space and a maker space to enrich the teaching program. The building is linked to a dedicated landscaped area that provides opportunities for outdoor teaching and relaxation. The new facility was made possible through the charitable support of Gary and Jeanne Herberger.

Mall updates

Cady and Orange Mall improvements are among the first implementations of the Tempe Campus Hardscape Master Plan. These mall updates are significant to this program, as it sets the standard for future phases.

• Cady Mall now provides additional campus monuments at key points along the Tempe campus perimeter. This includes two campus identification monuments flanking Gammage Auditorium on Apache Boulevard and Mill Avenue as well as a new ASU Charter monument sign at the entry to Cady Mall near University Drive. These Cady Mall additions provide photo opportunities for students and visitors and strengthen the beauty and identity of the Tempe campus.

• A revitalization and extension of Orange Mall delivers an ecologically sustainable pedestrian walkway. The mall was designed to create a sustainable environment and green infrastructure that manages wet-weather impacts. The extension also provides an event space for the Student Pavilion and serves as an ASU community social gathering spot. Seating and a shaded palm court offer visitors an enjoyable outdoor space.

Additional capital projects

• Palm Walk rehabilitation concluded its second and final phase this summer with the replacement of 68 failing fan palms with new date palms, located between University Drive and Orange Street. The date palms will grow to a maximum height of 80 feet and deliver more shade for pedestrians and fruit for the university’s annual date harvest.

• Tempe campus Memorial Union renovations provide building enhancements and improvements for greater student accessibility and experiences. Renovations consist of approximately 13,000 gross-square-feet in lower-level improvements, which include a feature staircase installation from the first level to the lower level, meditation space, student recreation space, and collaboration and meeting areas. The project also includes restroom facilities modernization, a new elevator and floor tile throughout, as well as functional improvements to the facility.

• The Sun Devil Fitness Complex field on the Tempe campus received 151,100 gross-square-feet of new sod.

• Palo Verde East and West residence halls received updating in the elevators with new cabs, machines and controls. Roofing also was replaced around the perimeter of the mechanical penthouses.  Additional work is planned on these halls following the current academic year.

• Phase IV of Access Management continued to address conflicts among pedestrians, bicycles and cart vehicles on Tempe campus malls, and included:

- installation of bike valet shade canopies, additional bike racks, bike share racks, skateboard docks and cart parking
- new landscaping, screen fencing, benches, bike signage and site lighting

Classroom and laboratory renovations

The summer provides a brief prime opportunity to upgrade and refresh heavily-used classroom facilities, and this summer was no exception:

Tempe campus

Increased the capacity of two lecture spaces in Business Administration C Wing for W.P. Carey School of Business. Classrooms include all new finishes, updated audio/visual systems and improved accessibility features.

• A mid-size auditorium in College of Design North enjoys increased occupancy, new auditorium seats, finishes, LED lighting, an audio/visual package and improved ADA accommodations.        

• A large auditorium in the Bateman Physical Science H Wing includes all-new finishes, fixed auditorium seating, updated and upgraded LED lighting and audio/visual packages, as well as improved overall occupancy and accessibility features.

• A new traditional classroom was created in Computing Commons, including a new separate collaboration area for study.

• 2,400 gross-square-feet of classroom space in Coor Hall received improvements.

Downtown Phoenix campus

• 3,477 gross-square-feet of newly-leased space became three new classrooms and one small seminar space

• Updated furniture in an existing large, flat-floor classroom in the Arizona Center created a new active-learning classroom.

• First and second floor renovations at Grant Street Studios accommodate additional studio spaces, a print work area and photo dark room.

Polytechnic campus

• Sacaton Hall received two new classrooms, a new teacher resource room and staff restrooms.

• Two old classrooms converted into one 3,120 gross-square-foot active-learning classroom with all new finishes, furniture, an LED lighting package and an audiovisual system with distance-learning capabilities. 

West campus

• A new media-enhanced lab with multiple workstations and collaboration space was added to Sands Classroom and Lecture Hall.

• Two computer classrooms also were converted to teaching laboratory spaces in the Classroom/Lab/Computer Classroom (CLCC) Building.


These completed projects are only a part of the ASU capital projects now in some phase of planning, design or construction. These ongoing projects include Biodesign Institute Building C construction, Greek Leadership Village, renovations of Armstrong and Ross-Blakley Halls, and a new building for the ASU Polytechnic Preparatory Academy High School, among others.

Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, noted that this large volume of work completed in such a narrow window is critical to the ongoing success of the university and its people. 

“Congratulations and a thank you are in order for the many ASU personnel in FDMFacilities Development and Management and beyond, as well as our contractor, vendor and design professional partners, who made it possible to achieve all these great outcomes that advance the university in so many important ways,” he said.

Learn more about ASU’s past, present and future construction projects and follow Facilities Development and Management on Twitter @ASUfacilities.

Top photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

Peer mentors jumpstart ASU transition for former foster youth

Bridging Success Early-Start welcomes third cohort

August 25, 2017

Editor's note: Thirty new ASU freshmen and transfer students who started classes at the university last week took advantage of Bridging Success Early-Start. The six-day residential transition to college program, held Aug. 6–11, helps welcome alumni of foster care to the university and prepares them for success in their first–semester and beyond. ASU Now sat in on several afternoons of the program to get an inside look at the Early-Start experience and some of the ways that peer mentors help new students’ confidence unfold.

What was most challenging for you about starting college?  ASU Bridging Success peer mentor chats with new ASU students Bridging Success peer mentor Courtney Denton (center) a business law sophomore, talks to incoming freshmen Dawson Winslow (left) a biology major, and Kian Anderson, an exploratory student, as they explored the SunDevilSync site and researched potential ASU clubs and organizations to get involved with. Anderson said he’s looking into being a walk-on in track or cross country, and checking into intramural soccer and baseball. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now Download Full Image

What do you know now that you wish you’d known right from the start?

As ASU junior Cynthia Alaffa and sophomores Courtney Denton and Brittany Skaggs gave honest answers to these questions, as part of an opening panel for ASU’s Bridging Success Early-Start program, their audience in the Alumni Lounge of ASU’s Memorial Union grew exceptionally attentive.

The three, who would serve as peer mentors and program assistants throughout the six-day program, had up to now largely blended in with the new-student cohort, save for their maroon Bridging Success t-shirts and their social ease going from table to table to greet each of the participants. But from this panel forward, their role as trusted advisors was solidified.

Skaggs, a psychology major, commented first. She shared that all the paperwork to declare legal independence when she joined ASU and moving into a residence hall on her own was hard, as was learning to ask for help generally.

“Reaching out and asking for help is something that took me a while to do,” she admitted. “I’d struggle and struggle on my own, and then I’d finally ask for help and the problem would be solved so quickly. I learned not to wait. 

“Don’t be afraid to open up and make friends,” Skaggs also advised. “I’ve gotten to know people in the last year who are now better friends than some I’ve known since fifth grade.”

Alaffa talked about the difficulty of not having the family she had grown up with around for support.

“When I started at ASU, my aunt, who was my guardian, had just moved to California and I had moved in with a cousin, so part of my support system was gone. I wish I would’ve known the importance of using networks,” said the social work major. “I kind of secluded myself at first and didn’t have a balance between schoolwork and social. Finding a support system through Bridging Success and the Nina Scholars Program really helped.”    

Denton encouraged the new students to keep their minds open. “When I got here I kind of had a hard heart, you know what I mean? I thought I’d experienced everyone. Keep your mind open about people,” suggested the business law major. “Even people who didn’t experience the kinds of things we have are struggling to be here.”

She shared that while she’s always been really independent, being organized was not her strong suit: “Tutoring centers really helped,” she noted. “I should’ve set up a tent, I went there so much. It’s not like in high school, where there might be stigma for using tutors. At ASU, everybody goes. Students are just a little older than you, and it’s like talking to a friend.”   

“Getting insights like these from near-peers can be reassuring to any student who has jitters about starting college,” observed social work master’s student Kalah Polsean, the ASU University College management intern who helped organize and led the week of Early-Start activities. “For students who may not have much extended family support, seeing how other students have made it through foster care and to college can be encouraging.”

At the end of the panel session, students were invited to ask the peer mentors anything that might be on their minds. They were quiet at first, but then the questions came:

“What are the most important things to bring to the dorm?” (Toilet paper and medicine cabinet stuff that you take for granted will be there at home.)

“Will we use more hangers or will we put most things in a dresser?” (It depends. Wait to buy a lot of things until you really know your space and what will work.)

“Did you have a student job?” (Peer mentors and staff recommended working on campus, but waiting at least a semester if possible, and they explained the nuts and bolts of Work Study positions.)

Real, relevant, and valid  

Early-Start accounts for a big part of the responsibilities of students who sign on for the peer mentor role with Bridging Success, explained program coordinator Justine Cheung, who is also a doctoral student in social work and a foster mom herself. But mentors also provide ongoing support to students throughout the year.

“They are a trusted resource for the students when addressing barriers because they have a wealth of information based on their lived experiences here at ASU,” Cheung said. “A lot of times students just need to talk to someone who has been through what they are facing.” 

The peer mentors also play a key role in the program’s community outreach. 

“The peer mentors can speak truth to youth in care and to adult caregivers about what it takes to get to college and assure them that it is 100 percent doable. Again, hearing it from someone who has walked the path before them makes it feel much more achievable," Cheung emphasized. “They see that aspiring to go to college is a valid goal.” 

Peer mentors receive a $1,000 scholarship for their efforts.   

ASU launched its Bridging Success year-round support program and its Early-Start component for new students in 2015, in response to Arizona legislation that waives tuition for youth who were in foster care at age 16.

The university’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions oversees the year-round program, and University College coordinates Early-Start.

“Similar programs have been growing around the country to target the needs of this student population, but not much research has been done on the validity of the content,” observed University College director of community outreach Jeanne Hanrahan, principal investigator for the Bridging Success Early-Start grant project, which received support in 2017 from The Arizona Foundation / Women in Philanthropy and the ASU Sun Devil Family Association.  

But ASU is different, and a leader in this regard, she noted.

The Bridging Success team captures and analyzes quantitative and qualitative data from each cohort and makes programmatic changes in response to the data. They share their findings nationally in social science journals; their most recent article appeared in the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Social Service Research.

“In terms of our research, fall to fall retention data from first to second year is consistently 10 percent higher for entering, former foster youth who participate in Bridging Success Early-Start compared to those who do not,” Hanrahan said.

“In evaluations, students have expressed again and again the importance of making friends and feeling connected to others as one of the most important takeaways of the program,” she said, “which is why we continue to expand the role of peer mentors and involve other ASU Bridging Success students and alumni in Early-Start, to create overlap among cohorts right away.”

What does being a student look like at ASU?

Faculty and administrators from across ASU as well as community supporters get involved in welcoming and orienting Bridging Success students.

This year Duane Roen, dean of University College, formally welcomed students. Professor Karen Leong, from the School of Social Transformation, presented a mock class session and tips for being successful in lecture-based courses. From the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Mary Dawes, director of academic and career exploration, guided students through the fun Me3 career quiz, and English instructor Shillana Sanchez gave students a taste of First-Year Composition and helped them dissect a syllabus.

Representatives from ASU’s Counseling and Financial Aid offices spent several hours with students, conducting presentations and informal workshops, and students visited math centers, tutoring and writing centers, and libraries.

Debbie Hall and colleagues from Tempe-based Insight donated laptops to Early-Start participants and helped them get those set up before the end of their first day in the program. Later in the week Naketa Ross, founder of ResilientMe and a foster alum herself, led sessions focused on embracing responsibility and learning to be interdependent — engaging with others to achieve success.

On the third day of Early-Start, Alonzo “AJ” Jones, ASU associate athletic director for inclusion and championship life, led a wide-ranging session to get students thinking about their student selves and their social selves and the role that preparedness and enthusiasm play in success. 

“What does being a student look like? You have to put in the time, about 25 hours a week on top of class time, which still gives you about 80 hours of awake time to do what you want to do,” Jones observed. “It could be rugged at first, but eventually you’ll achieve kind of a ‘scholars’ high.’ You’ll realize, hey, I’m an intellectual. I’m in a student groove.

“You’re at a new beginning! You can bring in what you want of yourself from high school and walk in with some intentionality and pre-thinking,” he advised. “Think about how you can complement your studies with organizations that can give you a home away from home and experiences that will contribute to your preparation for life — not just at age 19 but you at 49, 79.”

After his session, each of the Bridging Success peer mentors talked about how getting involved with student organizations has added to their ASU experience, helping them to make friends and gain a greater sense of purpose and value.

As students then researched at least three groups they might want to look into joining, peer mentors went around the room to answer questions as students perused the Sun Devil OrgSync site, a one-stop site to learn about the more than 1,000 clubs and organizations at ASU.

Five days in: Confidence, connection

On the last full day of Bridging Success Early-Start programming, the focus was on resiliency: what science tells us about how to develop it as well as exercises and discussion to help students see the ways they can tap into their own stories.

Polsean asked students to work as teams to pool knowledge and brainstorm recommendations for each other about strategies that could help them make a good start to the year.

“Even through you’re worried about these new challenges, you’ve done these things before. You have so many skills already that you’ve practiced at other times in your life,” Polsean reminded participants, after they shared some super practical ideas for how to be organized, how to learn a new campus, and things to remember when taking tests and writing papers.

The exercise set the stage for the research presentation by social work professor Cynthia Lietz, principal investigator for the Bridging Success program and senior associate dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and ASU junior Breanna Carpenter, a social work major who was in the first Bridging Success Early-Start cohort.

Lietz and Carpenter engaged students in a discussion of 10 protective factors that empirical research shows support resiliency: social support, insight, creativity/flexibility, initiative, commitment, humor, communication, boundary setting, morality/spirituality, and appraisal.

Students talked insightfully about ways they’d drawn on these coping practices: “I grew up around bad influences, but I don’t practice any of them” (boundary setting); “I didn’t grow up that well but could laugh about situations” (humor); “I felt safer at school and built a sense of belonging there” (social support).  

“Our risk factors don’t determine us, and plowing through can make us stronger. I know that challenges in my life have made me who I am today. I’m glad of who I am and the part they played in my story. I wouldn’t want to take that out of my experience,” Lietz shared about her own life.

As a takeaway, she asked students to remember “We cannot and should not put an upper limit on what someone is capable of — instead, embrace what’s possible.”

Talking with students at the end of that afternoon about changes they saw in themselves over the week of Early-Start was revealing.

“That first day, honestly, I was kind of terrified,” freshman Emily Rose Vanbenschoten recalled. “I knew by the time I was about five years old that I wanted to go to college,” says the computer science major, who was legally independent and living on her own well before graduating from high school. “But the reality that college was happening for me didn’t hit me until I set foot on campus. Suddenly it was present tense; that’s a bit of a mental shift.

“Now I feel so much better! I have friends!” she exclaimed with joy and confidence, as she turned to her side and shared a laugh and fist bump with fellow Bridging Success participant Mona Artis. “I’m feeling so prepared and grateful to be part of a caring, supportive group.”

Artis, who is majoring in journalism and transferred to ASU from GateWay Community College, said she came into the program wondering about how things will work at ASU and whether it’d be more difficult academically. 

“This program was like having VIP access to all the resources ASU has to offer! I feel equipped and a bit more confident,” she explained. “Though the program is built around the needs of new freshmen, I got to review some things, and I got to know the Tempe campus, which I wasn’t as familiar with as Downtown.”

Did the peer mentors play a big part in that?

“The peer mentors were great! They are in the middle between an adult and a peer like you. The experience makes me want to be that peer mentor next year who helps somebody else out,”

Kian Anderson, an exploratory freshman interested in kinesiology, said he went into the Early-Start experience without really having expectations. 

“I was hesitant and a little shy at first but then enjoyed participating in all the discussion, and I really connected with my suite mate. Understanding that we have this supportive community and connections, it’s made me even more excited to start classes.

“I know the workload will be tough, but balancing that is what makes the best memories,” reflected Anderson, who as a student at Flagstaff’s Coconino High School juggled dual enrollment and AP classes, sports, a part-time job, and home life. “It was hard, but the challenge made it a good time.” 

Anderson was pumped that the night before he had gotten a ticket through devil2devil (a private social networking tool for incoming Sun Devils) to go with some other students to the Diamondbacks’ game — his first.

“I’m super excited for the nightlife of a big city. That was amazing,” he marveled. “I actually already feel like I belong here.”

ASU invites (and encourages) any enrolled students who self-identify as alumni of foster care — whether they’re new freshmen, transfer students, or continuing students at any level — to connect with the Bridging Success programs and community by contacting program coordinator in the School of Social Work.

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


Freshman foodie looks forward to learning about language, culture and business at ASU

August 21, 2017

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2017 incoming ASU students.

Growing up in Yuma, Arizona, Lourdes Barraza sometimes yearned for a bit more excitement than the small border town had to offer. Now, as a freshman at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, she has more than she can handle. Lourdes Barraza Lourdes Barraza meets Sparky during move-in weekend at ASU's West campus. Download Full Image

“I like to tell friends about all the fun events constantly going on,” Barraza said.

Now that she has settled in her dorm at Casa de Oro on Arizona State University's West campus, the self-proclaimed foodie is looking forward to trying out new dishes and learning about the cultures behind them. It’s part of the reason she chose global management as a major.

“[I]t encompasses everything that I love,” Barraza said, “culture, language and international business.”

Though she hasn’t made a firm decision on the career path she’ll be pursuing, she’s considering supply chain management, marketing management or even working in the field of translation.

ASU Now caught up with Barraza as the reality of becoming a bona fide Sun Devil — something she has wanted since middle school — sinks in to get her take on why she loves ASU, what she’s watching and listening to, and her predictions for this year’s Territorial Cup game.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I participated in the summer engineering program a couple of years ago and fell in love with the school. I saw there were vast opportunities and resources available for students here at ASU.

Q: What drew you to global management?

A: I was drawn to my major because it encompasses everything that I love: culture, language and international business.

Q: What are you most excited to experience at ASU?

A: I'm excited to experience everything that is university life. Since I'm a freshman, everything seems new and intriguing.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: There's lots to brag about when you attend a school like ASU, but I like to tell friends about all the fun events constantly going on.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I don’t have any particular talents or skills yet. I’m hoping to develop some during my four years here at ASU as a Sun Devil!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show right now?

A: Two anime series I’m enjoying at the moment are “Attack on Titan” and “One Punch Man.”

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your time at ASU?

A: Within my four years here at ASU, I hope I can accomplish my goal of learning both Mandarin and Korean.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at me, but I really enjoy listening to Korean music. Lately it's been R&B and hip-hop.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: With $40 million, I would like to fund a project to provide clean water to necessitous people around the world.

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: There's no need to predict. Every Sun Devil knows the cup is ours to take!

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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ASU's Arizona freshman class is the most diverse class to date.
Freshman enrollment in ASU's online programs up 60 percent over fall 2016.
August 15, 2017

Diverse freshman class includes a more than 60 percent increase in university's online programs

For the fifth year in a row, Arizona State University is enrolling more freshmen from Arizona than the year prior, the fruit of the university’s continued commitment to help educate the state it serves and to provide access to higher education for all students who meet the academic requirements for admission.

When classes begin Thursday, approximately 11,500 freshmen will represent the Class of 2021 across four of ASU’s five metropolitan campuses — Tempe, Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix and West — and the ASU location at Lake Havasu City. Of those students, 7,500 are Arizona residents.

The Arizona freshman class is the most diverse class to date, with approximately 53 percent of Arizona-based freshmen coming from underrepresented populations.

Related: Thousands of freshmen move into ASU residence halls

ASU has created a network of learning environments to serve students in ways that fits their needs and interests. Each of ASU’s Valley campuses has a different flavor and feel, and students are recognizing the options they have within the university. West campus saw a 30 percent increase in freshman enrollment this year, with 590 freshmen; the Polytechnic campus grew its freshman class 12 percent, with 620 freshmen; and the Downtown Phoenix campus is up about 3 percent, with 1,500 freshmen.

And freshman enrollment is up in ASU’s digital immersion, or online, programs as well, more than 60 percent over fall 2016. The total freshman class represents ASU’s largest incoming class ever.

ASU’s continued growth speaks to its pledge to create a new kind of university that operates at the scale to serve all who are qualified and choose to seek a higher education and does so at the highest levels of academic and research excellence while maintaining affordable access. After financial aid and scholarships, the average Arizona resident pays only $1,800 in tuition at ASU.

International enrollment at ASU has also remained strong. ASU hosts more international students than any other public university in the country as it continues to expand global partnerships and support high-level research for both undergraduate and graduate students.

ASU’s record freshmen enrollment follows the record of nearly 10,000 undergraduates receiving diplomas in May 2017.