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Experts see steady economy in 2017 under Trump

Experts predict stable economy in 2017 under Trump at ASU forecasting event.
December 5, 2016

ASU economic forecaster predicts that Arizona will see more jobs added

Despite a wild and unpredictable campaign season, three top economists predict a stable — and potentially positive — economic outlook for 2017 under Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president in January.

Unemployment and inflation will likely remain stable, and any policy changes wouldn't have big effects until 2018, according to experts at the annual Economic Forecast Luncheon on Monday, sponsored by the W. P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and JPMorgan Chase and Co.

James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, predicted that the most immediate economic changes could be seen with Trump’s promises to deregulate businesses, spend billions on infrastructure and reform taxes.

“If you think there’s been over-regulation of unwarranted regulations, you could see improvements in productivity, but regulation is a vast area that covers many different aspects of how businesses operate,” he said to the 700 people who attended the 53rd annual luncheon in Phoenix.

“The U.S. growthThe U.S. economy is growing at about 2 percent – a figure that Bullard predicts will hold for 2017. rate is low, but it could be influenced by those policy changes.”

But Bullard said that changes in trade agreements or immigration policy would likely take much longer to have an effect on the American economy.

He also said he was not concerned about remarks Trump made during the campaign that called into question the credibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy.

“Trump’s transition team has said they’ll respect the Fed, and I take them at their word that ultimately they will endorse the current Fed structure and that we’ll be able to continue to deliver good monetary policy under a new administration,” he said.

Another economic expert predicted that if Trump decreases the corporate tax rate, as he’s promised, it could drastically increase profits — though not right away. Anthony Chan, the chief economist for JP Morgan Chase and Co., said the current corporate tax rate is 35 percent — although the average rate that corporations actually pay is closer to 27 percent.

“If the corporate tax rate is lowered to 15 percent, it has the potential to boost corporate profits by 19 to 20 percent,” he said. “But I’ll be the first to tell you that it won’t happen in 2017.”

Chan also said that Trump’s plan to allow corporations to repatriate profits made abroad could potentially raise $160 billion in revenues, which could pay for his infrastructure plan.

“As investors it’s not our job to say ‘this is good or this is bad.’ It’s our job to set our portfolios to benefit from these things,” he said.

Lee McPheters predicts more jobs for Arizona next year, but he worries about long-term indicators.

The outlook in Arizona is positive for next year — with some ominous long-term economic issues, according to Lee McPheters, research professor of economics in the W. P. Carey School of Business and director of the school's JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center, which specializes in economic forecasts for Arizona and the Western states.

McPhetersMcPheters is editor of the Arizona Blue Chip Economic Forecast and the Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast newsletters, published monthly by the center. showed that of five economic indicator forecasts he made a year ago, three were better than predicted. There were 76,000 new jobs, compared with 68,000 predicted. The employment increase was more than expected — 2.9 percent increase in jobs compared with 2.6 percent predicted. And the unemployment rate was better than forecast — 5.2 percent compared with 5.8 percent.

The two indicators that were not better than McPheters predicted were population, which increased by 1.6 percent compared with the forecast 1.7 percent, and single-family housing permits, which increased 10 percent, not the 30 percent he forecast.

“If you look at Arizona’s numbers, we’re pretty certain as we wrap up 2016, we will definitely be in the top 10, and maybe the top 5, nationally for private job creation, and we expect that to continue in 2017,” he said.

Even with the positive projections, Arizona is below the national average in other measures of economic prosperity. The state ranks 42nd in per-capita income and 45th in poverty. The state also ranks last in per-student funding for universities.

“We need to look at policies that propel Arizona to look more like Colorado or our neighbors who have made the transition to using technology to increase income,” he said.

Top photo: James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, predicted that the most immediate economic changes could be seen with Trump’s promises to deregulate businesses, spend billions on infrastructure and reform taxes. He spoke at the Economic Forecast Luncheon on Monday, sponsored by the W. P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and JPMorgan Chase and Co. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU partnership advances nursing education in rural Arizona

December 2, 2016

Stephanie Ford was working full-time on the night shift at a local prison when she started taking the prerequisite courses for Eastern Arizona College’s nursing program. The 25-year-old single mother and full-time student learned to balance her job and school while volunteering two days a week at a local hospice.

After a full day at the prison, which started very early in the morning, she would come home, play with her daughter, make dinner, and then dive into her studies. Stephanie Ford, ASU-Eastern nursing student, at the Eastern Arizona College campus in Thatcher, Arizona. Download Full Image

“There are days when you feel like you can’t do it, but you remember you’re going to help people, and it keeps you going,” she said.

In May, Ford graduated with her associate degree in nursing from Eastern Arizona College and passed the NCLEX-RN exam. She is also on track to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree next May from Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation through Eastern's Arizona College's Concurrent Enrollment Program.

The new CEP program between ASU and Eastern Arizona College in the rural community of Thatcher allows eligible students enrolled in Eastern’s nursing program to pursue their BSN degree from ASU and their associate degree from Eastern concurrently.

Offered in a hybrid format, students learn through face-to-face and online classes taught by dedicated ASU and Eastern faculty from the Gila Valley. When they finish all components of the CEP program at Eastern, students will have earned a baccalaureate degree from ASU.

Ford said she wanted to encourage her daughter, who is now three years old, to follow her dreams. She believes that her influence on her daughter — watching Ford pursue her degree and stay focused on her goals — will teach her never to give up. “I hope she goes to college,” she said.

Ford initially had fears that she wouldn’t have time for nursing school, or that the cost would be too high. She now believes the CEP program, while rigorous, has been a great opportunity.

“The program removes barriers for students,” said Carolyn McCormies, Eastern's nursing program director. “ASU is a great partner to have.”

A graduate of ASU’s original RN-to-MS program, a recipient of the university’s Barbara Browne Connors nursing scholarship, and a board certified nurse practitioner, McCormies understands the value of an ASU education, especially in her role as the director of Eastern’s program.

While costs and other student concerns have always kept McCormies awake at night, the Concurrent Enrollment Program between the two institutions has addressed those concerns, she said.

“We share a standard of excellence, and an insistence upon excellence,” McCormies said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for students to meet their goals in an efficient way.”

Students finish their degrees guided by supportive local instructors from ASU and Eastern in less time than if they had pursued each degree at separate institutions.

McCormies’ personal touch has made a difference in Eastern’s program. She has developed mentorships to help Eastern’s students learn more about the benefits of the CEP program; she has arranged for advanced CEP students to help younger students stay committed; and she hosts barbeques for her students and their families.

That family atmosphere and support proved invaluable during Ford’s third semester. Just before starting block three, Ford’s father died unexpectedly.

“My heart was broken and I was devastated,” she said. “I met with EAC and ASU faculty and they worked with me. I had so much support from both colleges, and I am forever thankful.”

Relationships are important to Eastern’s faculty, students and community members, just as they are with ASU.

When ASU president Michael Crow and Eastern Arizona College president Mark Bryce began discussions about a possible partnership six years ago to make baccalaureate programs available for Eastern’s students, they thought the program should be 100 percent face-to-face.

But Eastern’s nursing students preferred hybrid and online classes because of their busy schedules.

The two institutions and program leaders took the feedback to heart and negotiated the format over time to fit the needs of their students. ASU hired Eastern’s nursing instructors to deliver the ASU courses, each of whom had relationships with Eastern students.

Students take classes in a variety of settings depending on whether the class is an Eastern or ASU course. Eastern’s classes are offered in the clinical setting and the classroom or lab. ASU courses meet in person once a week and online. Both institutions work together to help students succeed.

ASU’s mission as a public state university is to provide access to all students, including those who don’t have the advantage of living in the Phoenix area, said Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU.

“We serve the community in partnership, playing to the strengths of both institutions,” she said.

It also helps ASU meet its goals of preparing BSN students to be able to pursue advanced degrees, and meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, said Diann Muzyka, director of the RN-to-BSN program and the Concurrent Enrollment Program at ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

It’s also important that students can find access where it’s financially affordable, Muzyka said.

“We are able to prepare nurses at the baccalaureate level, and help meet the IOM recommendations (80 percent BSN-prepared workforce in place by 2020)," Muzyka said.  “Research shows that patient outcomes are better with nurses who have earned a bachelor’s degree. It’s a benefit to patients and the communities in which we live."

The idea of community got bigger this summer when a small group of nursing students from Eastern’s 2015 CEP cohort had an opportunity to travel to Honduras for a weeklong international community health experience. 

Coordinated by Eastern’s nursing faculty, the students lived with a host family and worked at local clinics.

In the crowded lobby of the Nacaome Valle Hospital where the students did intake and triage, it was over 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity. Patients waited patiently in line for up to three hours and were grateful to see a doctor and walk out with something as simple as ibuprophen or vitamins, said Sara Lemley, CEP nursing faculty.

“During their stay, students were able to better understand and experience a foreign health care system and care for patients alongside Honduran nurses and health care personnel,” Lemley said. 

Stephanie Ford was one of the students.       

“I was struck by how grateful and kind this community was,” Ford said. “I will take the teamwork I learned into my nursing career and have respect for other members of the team because we all bring something to the table, and together we provide effective care.”

Denise Kronsteiner

Director of Strategic Communications, School for the Future of Innovation in Society


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Public Service Academy hosts screening of 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'

Military film directed by Ang Lee helps start conversation about service.
Panel discussion starts at 6:30 p.m. at Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16.
December 1, 2016

Panel discussion on military service, combat and coming home will precede film

An Arizona State University academic and service program is leveraging a Hollywood movie about recent war veterans to start a dialogue on military service, combat and coming home.

ASU’s Public Service Academy will host a Friday screening of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a new $40 million war drama directed by Ang Lee to discuss when soldiers return to civilian life.

“It’s time we move the conversation beyond ‘thank you for your service’ and get to know who our veterans are and what shapes them when they come home,” said Brett Hunt, founding executive director of ASU’s Public Service AcademyThe Public Service Academy is a unit inside the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. .

“It’s an appropriate time to talk about this topic and how we can support our veterans who are coming home.”

The academy, which launched in 2015, boasts that it’s the nation's first undergraduate program “to integrate cross-sector and civilian-military experiences to develop collaborative leaders of character.”

Co-hosted with the military advocacy group Arizona Territorial Chapter Association of the U.S. Army, the movie will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. panel of military veterans at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16 theater. 

Based on the 2012 novel by Ben Fountain, the movie follows 19-year-old Billy Lynn, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, who become heroes after a violent Iraq battle and are brought to the States for a victory tour hosted by the Department of Defense. Through flashbacks, culminating at the halftime show of the Thanksgiving football game in Dallas, grim details are slowly revealed, contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions.

Hunt said more than a million military veterans will be coming back in the next five years from overseas deployment, and they’ll need support at every turn. Some may be dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, adjustment to civilian life, or a general lack of understanding by the public.

“So often when veterans come back, we only hear the negative aspects, but the fact is most veterans come home and go on to positive, productive lives,” Hunt said. “We also don’t want to shy away from talking about some of the jarring events that may occur while on deployment.”

Lt. Colonel David Clukey, Army recruiting commander for the Phoenix Recruiting Office, who will also serve on the panel, said only 1 percent of people in the armed forces who are deployed will actually see combat.

“There’s a misconception that if you serve, you’ll see combat,” Clukey said. “We have more than 150 jobs in the Army alone, and they range from X-ray technicians, to cooks, to chaplains, to mechanics, to media relations officers.”

Panelist Jeanne Blaes, president of the Arizona Territorial Chapter Association of the U.S. Army, said having an honest dialogue about some of the more negative aspects of military service is healthy.

“I don’t believe the military is trying to sweep anything under the rug these days,” she said. “We did that in Vietnam, and there’s not a desire to do that again. It’s not a negative to be aware, it’s a positive.”

Meanwhile, Clukey, who has seen 11 different military deployments, seven in combat, hopes the film will touch on certain themes. He wants to see if it addresses family and spousal support, post-combat services offered by the military, and the bond that soldiers share while in combat.

“That bond is real, and it’s lasting,” Clukey said. “I wouldn’t trade my experiences in the military for anything.”

Tickets are $8 and include the panel, movie admission, food and raffles. Proceeds will help fund a team of Next Generation Service Corps and Army ROTC cadets' trip to the annual Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, D.C., in October 2017.

Top photo: Actor Joe Alwyn stars in "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," which is based on a 2012 novel by Ben Fountain. Photo courtesty of IMDB.com

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ASU grad students reach out to troubled children with play therapy

ASU grad students reach out to troubled kids with play therapy in new program.
November 28, 2016

Counselors in training work at Phoenix elementary school in pilot program

The figurine of a bird in a nest looks like a little toy, but it’s also a powerful tool of expression for children who can’t talk about their worries.

“It’s called play therapy, but it’s very serious work for children,” said Jennifer Pereira, a clinical assistant professor in the Counseling and Counseling Psychology graduate programs in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.

This semester, six ASU graduate students were part of a pilot program that embedded their “Introduction to Counseling Children” course in a Phoenix elementary school. The students learned how to utilize play therapy and a dozen young children were able to have free sessions, all under the supervision of Pereira.

Figurines are part of the play-therapy items found at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School as part of an ASU pilot program for grad students who ar learning to be play therapists. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Pereira decided that the counseling course would be more effective if the students could actually work with children.

“On campus, they’re role playing with each other versus working directly with kids,” she said. “I wanted to get them out into the community and practicing what they’re learning in real time.”

She started calling area schools and the administration at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School in Phoenix jumped at the chance to have therapy sessions for a handful of students.

Principal Darcy DiCosmo said that a non-profit group used to provide support for students who had social and behavioral issues that was paid through tax credits, but those funds have dwindled and the service ended.

“We recognize that kids need social assistance more than we’ve ever seen before, such as learning how to like themselves and how to step into unknown situations and be confident and secure,” she said.

Cerritos gave Pereira and her students a classroom, and with funding from her department bought items that would be found in a play-therapy clinic — art supplies, dolls, dress-up clothing and figurines. Some toys are meant to help children safely express aggression, such as plastic swords, and others represent home life, including doll houses.

Play therapy is a structured, theoretically-based process that is used with children between the ages of 2 and 9. The kids use play to confront problems and find solutions.

“We allow the child to have space and to play out the issues they’re experiencing,” Pereira said.

“The trained therapist understands the themes and patterns in play, and the things they’re doing as the pieces of life that are distressing and concerning to them.”

The ASU students visited the school once a week, spending the first 90 minutes on coursework with Pereira and then working with the kindergarteners, first- and second-graders for half an hour. The children were selected by school staff.

During a recent class, the grad students discussed the therapeutic uses of sand trays, in which children create scenes with figurines in a tray filled with sand.

Students in ASU's Introduction to Counseling Children course were embedded at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School, where they worked with children in play-therapy sessions. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“You can say, ‘Show me what it’s like to live at Grandma and Grandpa’s’ or ‘What does the tree say to the bird in a nest?’ " Pereira told them. “Ask them, ‘Are you in here?’ Are they active or just watching, if you think about kids in a domestic violence situation.”

ASU grad student Kris Mastin said it was exciting to see his young clients make progress over the semester.

“We started with child-centered play therapy, letting them take control and getting used to not actively directing the child. I tried to understand what they were showing me, and I tried to interpret,” Mastin said.

“I had one child who was very timid at the beginning, and by the end of the last session he was having a great time without having to ask for permission or check to make sure it was OK,” he said.

The grad students also created modules to teach all the children on topics such as how to be a good friend and how to deal with bullying.

Pereira will have 12 ASU students in the spring semester cohortThe counseling program has another clinical project — the long-running Counselor Training Center, a community clinic on the Tempe campus in which graduate students provide low-cost counseling services while working with faculty who are licensed psychologists., and they will work with 24 Cerritos pupils, including the ones from the fall program. She’ll also start collecting data next term, with teachers filling out questionnaires on how the children are doing with emotions and behavior as a result of being in the program. She hopes to expand the program to include an advanced class.

Some of the graduates from the program will go on to become certified play therapists and others will go into general private practice.

“One of the neat things about the training in child therapy," Pereira said, "is that it doesn’t matter your area of interest, because in this field, you will end up working with children.”

Top photo: Jennifer Pereira, a clinical assistant professor in the counseling and counseling psychology graduate programs in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, launched a pilot program that had master's students working with children at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU history professor leverages downtown Phoenix with art tours, cemetery prowls

November 28, 2016

The energy of the city works like a magnet for many of the 11,000 students at Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus.

It also appeals to historian Pamela Stewart, senior lecturer in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, who builds out-of-the-classroom opportunities into her courses each semester to get students to “do” history with art museum tours and cemetery prowls.   ASU's Juan Carrola takes notes at grave as part of CISA history course ASU student Juan Carrola, a junior majoring in criminology and criminal justice at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus, takes notes at the grave marker of Sadie Thoma at the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park as part of his history course in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. Photo by Kelley Karnes. Download Full Image

“I like to get students out to discover the richness of Phoenix historical and cultural venues and engage them in activities where they can learn how to apply the historian’s skill set,” Stewart said, “and besides, it’s fun.” 

Fertile ground for discovery  

Less than 2 miles west of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus sits an 11-acre dirt cemetery that's become a history lab for Stewart’s courses. 

The Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, which opened in 1988 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007, is made up of seven small cemeteries that were the burial place for nearly 4,000 people who died between 1884 and 1914. 

More than 600 of the buried have grave markers of some kind, said Sterling Foster, the volunteer staffer at the park who was happy to field questions from the 83 ASU students who visited the park Thursday. 

Buried there are children who died of scarlet fever, appendicitis and morphine poisoning. There are mule-train drivers and wagon makers, gravediggers and gamblers, soldiers, shopkeepers and saloon women. People who came to Phoenix from Sweden, Japan and France. Public servants, including former U.S. congressmen and territorial governors; the first surgeon general for the territory, thrown to his death by his horse; the first fish and game commissioner, whose gun exploded in his face just days after taking out $27,000 in insurance policies. 

Further below the interred lie the ruins of a Hohokam village abandoned hundreds of years ago. 

“Not being from here, I’d never seen this cemetery before,” said Belinda Caballero, who’s taking "Women in U.S. History" as a junior criminology and criminal justice major. “I like getting away from the books and the computer … and it’s cool to find things out that you can share with friends and family.” 

ASU historian Pam Stewart with Cassandra Imperial and father at Phoenix memorial park

ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts history teacher Pamela Stewart talks with Cassandra Imperial, an undergraduate in the College of Health Solutions, and Imperial's father, Gilbert Ponce, as they explore the cemeteries in Pioneer and Military Memorial Park on Nov. 17. Photo by Kelley Karnes.

Freshman Cassandra Imperial, who is majoring in healthy lifestyle coaching, even brought her father, Gilbert Ponce, along for the tour.

“I’ve been wanting to visit it for a long time,” said Ponce, who has often driven by and tried to visit when the gates were locked (volunteers open the park on Thursdays and by appointment). 

Imperial had just visited the gravesite of Leticia B. Rice, who, according to the research on the park’s website, also went by the names Tessie Murray and Mrs. Wright and was accidentally set ablaze in a saloon lodging house. 

“None of that was mentioned on her gravestone,” Imperial said. “It was just her name and dates.” 

Stewart challenged the students to explore and assess the grave markers as historical documents. She had them choose one individual from each of the six sections of the cemetery and compare the information on their grave markers with the information about the person, which volunteers and preservationists have made available in the park’s brochure and online site.  

“I want students to think about and discuss what primary historical sources can tell us and what they can’t,” Stewart said. “Are there conspicuous absences on the marker or in the website descriptions? If you were to pursue additional information about this person, how would you learn more? These are skills they can apply to their own degree programs and personal interests.” 

Learning to really look 

In October, more than 100 of Stewart’s students from five different history courses signed up for 30-minute slots over two days to complete an assignment at the Phoenix Art Museum, which waived admission fees for the students. 

In 14 small groups the students engaged in close observation of selected artwork with Stewart, who also volunteers at the museum as a docent. 

“I reminded them that the exercise wasn’t about whether they liked art or wanted the artwork over their couch at home,” she noted. “This was about learning to observe closely.”

As students approached the art, Stewart asked them to discuss what drew their attention first. They added to their initial impressions as each group looked more carefully and longer. Then Stewart posed more questions, drew in historical knowledge, and then there was more looking and listening to what other students noticed, too.    

In their written reflections about the experience, many students shared that this was the first time they’d ever visited an art museum, and they hadn't known what to expect. Several said they initially felt real apprehension. 

Those same students used words like “amazing,” “awe” and “fascinating” to describe what they discovered and talked about wanting to come back on their own and introduce their families to the range of art they found, Stewart said.

“I loved this place and the peaceful way it made me feel,” wrote one student. “I was able to learn the difference between looking and truly observing with actual focus.” 

ASU history students explore Phoenix Art Museum

More than 100 ASU students from five history courses at the Downtown Phoenix campus participated in an assignment at the Phoenix Art Museum in October. Photo by Pamela Stewart.

“When I arrived at the gallery, I just wanted to get it over with,” observed another student, “but ... Philip Curtis’s ‘Mountain Village’ made me think about my transition into college and how cluttered everything seems, but if I slow down then there can be that peaceful space, which can bring me back to sanity. I found it profound that I was able to reflect on my own life thanks to these paintings that someone else created.” 

“For it being my first visit to an art museum, it was unexpectedly pleasant,” wrote a criminology and criminal justice major. “The art museum opened my mind a little bit more to curiosity. It’s good for the field I’m studying. ... The art museum really did change the way I felt about art.” 

Reading the responses to the assignment, Stewart learned how much the opportunity affected her students.

“I must say, it was one of the best, most universally appreciated assignments I’ve ever had students do,” Stewart said. “Not only did they get it, but I learned a tremendous amount.” 

She said she can’t say enough about the generosity of people in the arts and cultural community toward her students.

Stewart, for example, recently reached out to the Desert Botanical Garden about the possibility of students visiting an ASU-associated art exhibit there relevant to the course Immigration and Ethnicity in the U.S.

“The section meets late in the afternoon, after the garden buildings close, but that didn’t deter them from making it happen,” Stewart said. “They sent free VIP passes to the class to use any time in the coming year.”    

Maureen Roen

Manager, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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Healing a divided nation through service

Public Service Academy participants asked to explore opposing political views.
ASU’s Public Service Academy seeks to build connections.
November 23, 2016

Public Service Academy encourages emerging leaders to seek out differing perspectives to build togetherness

Following a contentious presidential election that has left many wondering how to heal a divided nation, an Arizona State University leader has hit upon a potential solution: service.

“Service inherently binds us to our citizenship as Americans, not to a political party or ideology,” said Brett Hunt, founding executive director for ASU’s Public Service AcademyThe Public Service Academy is a unit inside the College of Public Service and Community Solutions..

The academy was launched last year in part on the idea that “we’ve grown apart as a nation” and that we need to find ways to “get us back together,” Hunt said.

Through the program, he aims to develop leaders by leveraging and combining civilian and military experiences, and he recently assigned program students to learn about opposing political viewpoints and foster connections.

“My call to action is: Go this weekend and read articles from places you’ve never read before. Go this weekend and talk to someone whose ideology and agenda is different from yours. And then come not to debate, but to have a thoughtful discourse with that person.”

He wants it to become an ongoing process that will help reduce isolation and improve collaboration.

“We live in a society now where we can choose to consume whatever media we want,” Hunt said, adding later, “I can also unfriend people who I don’t agree with. That kind of thinking further divides us.”

Program participants got a jump-start on the process this month at an end-of-year networking event, “On Leadership,” when Hunt tasked them with locating 25 community leaders in the crowd of about 300 so they could interview them about their experiences and seek to establish professional connections.

Business major Rylee Dunkel saw the potential in the exercise. Networking builds relationships, and “it’s always easier to help out a friend than it is a stranger.”

It’s part of the academy’s strategy of training participants to bring others together.

“No matter who you voted for in this election, it was pretty clear that there was a lack of listening by leadership on both sides,” said Askshai J. Patel, an academy instructor. “Now is an opportunity to say, ‘A new group of leaders needs to do things differently.’ And we can and do teach them this at the academy.”

For opportunities to apply their leadership skills, academy participants volunteer and are encouraged to join organizations such as AmeriCorps, Teach for America, Vista, Peace Corps and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

Dunkel spent a semester helping Fresh Express, a mobile market that brings produce to food deserts in Phoenix. After that experience, he wants to create jobs for low-income people and veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.

“It’s certainly our obligation to help those less fortunate than us,” Dunkel said. “When people succeed, everybody succeeds.” 


Top photo: Students of the Public Service Academy partake in a networking event at their Nov. 18 "On Leadership" seminar at ASU's Memorial Union at the Tempe campus. Photo by Imani Stephens

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Tribal Nations Tour encourages college pursuit

Nearly 50 ASU students, faculty and staff take trip as part of outreach program
Tribal Nations Tour helps encourage Native youth to pursue college degrees
November 17, 2016

Team of ASU students, faculty and staff travels to Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation to encourage youth, perform community service

A team of ASU students, faculty and staff travelled recently to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation to give one-on-one attention to young people and to encourage them to seek a college education.

Nearly 50 students, athletes and staffers visited the reservation this as part of an annual outreach program called the Tribal Nations Tour, which brings ASU to schools with high populations of American Indian students throughout the state. Each year, the tour presents several topics related to wellness, college readiness, career preparation and the pursuit of academic degrees.

They also offered up a day of community service, performing cleanup and painting duties in preparation for Orme Dam Victory Days celebration, which starts Friday and runs through the weekend.

“It’s important to bring educational awareness to Native communities and be able to say, ‘This is where you could be, and this is how you can help your tribe to evolve and prosper in the future,’” said Zach Doka, a junior at Arizona State University who is involved in the Tribal Nations Tour.

Doka grew up on the Fort McDowell Reservation and says he was blessed with good parents who stressed education, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t aware of obstacles facing Native youth.

“Our young people face a lot of hurdles,” Doka said. “Loss of our language, and culture is dwindling because of outside influences. It’s important that ASU came here today to show they care.”

University students took a tour of the reservation to learn about traditional and contemporary Yavapai culture, history, activism, gaming issues, as well as a brief overview of the Orme Dam controversy that locked the nation in a battle with the U.S. government 40 years ago.

The proposed dam would have flooded a large portion of the reservation and forced tribe members to relocate. The tribe defeated dam proponents in November 1981, and this weekend they will celebrate 35 years of social and economic gains.

Annabell Bowen, director for the Office of the President on American Indian Initiatives, said the purpose of the trip was twofold — to show support to all of Arizona’s 22 tribal nations, and to repay a kindness to Fort McDowell.

“This is a way to give back to the community for recognizing their contribution and what they have given to ASU,” Bowen said.

ASU’s Wassaja Scholarship is part of a $1 million gift that was donated from the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. This scholarship is designed to support ASU American Indian students, and it ranges from $500 to $800 per student per semester.

Bowen said the tour first started in 2010 and has visited all of Arizona’s federally recognized tribal nations. She said these trips have paid big dividends to the communities and the university.

"I have bumped into many students on campus who have told me, 'I remember when you came to my high school, and you're the reason we're here,'" Bowen said. "That's an example of how the Tribal Nations Tour has impacted and inspired students in the past."

Amber Poleviyuma was one of the students on the tour.

“Our Native communities made us who we are and made it possible for us to be here today,” said Poleviyuma, a nursing major. “I also enjoy learning the history of other tribes and the issues they still face today.”

ASU has one of the highest American Indian populations in the nation with more than 2,000 students and is a leading university in the country for awarding graduate degrees to Native students.

The opportunity to engage with the Native American community, using ASU athletes as role models and allowing them to gain a cultural perspective, is why ASU Associate Athletic Director William Kennedy has participated in the Tribal Nations tour since it began in 2010.

"A lot of what we do involves elementary school children, and regardless of ethnicity, they certainly look up to and will listen to athletes," said Kennedy, who brought the entire ASU lacrosse team and ASU basketball player Vitaliy Shibel.

Shibel, who is a native of the Ukraine, said it was his first time on a reservation. He was fascinated by the Yavapai way of life and culture.

“Here people live as one community, and everybody in the Ukraine is all for themselves,” Shibel said. “They are not selfish and care for each other.”

Care was the one word that resonated most with 15-year-old tribal member Amanda Vanegas, who is a sophomore at Fountain Hills High School.

"I'm so happy everyone came today because it really inspires me," Vanegas said. "Hearing other Natives talk about their backstories and their struggles helps me feel more confident in myself. If they can make it, so can I."

Last year the tour visited the Navajo, Hopi, Yavapai, White Mountains Apache, San Carlos and Tohono O'odham nations. Bowen said next year they plan to expand their outreach outside Arizona in states such as California, New Mexico and South Dakota.

"Our goal is to maintain our relationships and continue outreach to students," Bowen said.


Top photo: Shaandiin Parrish, an ASU senior majoring in political science, talks to another student at the Fort McDowell Reservation on Nov. 5. Parrish was crowned Miss Indian Arizona in October and is part of the outreach effort to Arizona’s 22 Indian tribes. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

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Independents may bridge partisan divisions, say experts at ASU event

Independent voters may be bridge in partisan politics, say experts at ASU event.
November 16, 2016

Morrison Institute conference addresses how voters are turning away from 2 main parties

Independent voters, who resist being identified with either of the main political parties, could be a way for a deeply divided electorate to move forward, according to several experts at the annual “State Of Our State” conference on Wednesday in Phoenix.

“Independent voters can provide a bridge to close the partisan gap,” said Thom Reilly, director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, which sponsored the conference.

Reilly said the institute has new research, not yet complete, showing that Republican respondents were more likely to discuss politics with friends who were independents than with Democrats. Independents make up about a third of registered voters in Arizona and were the largest single bloc of voters until registered Republicans recently overtook them.

“But for years independent voters have been ‘the other’ and treated as invisible by think tanks and in studies and polls,” Reilly said.

The conference featured a panel discussion that addressed the importance of voters who are not aligned with either major political party.

Independents were the deciding factor in electing Republican Donald Trump on Nov. 8, just as they were the deciding factor in electing President Barack Obama in 2008, according to Jackie Salit, president of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party and its online affiliate, IndependentVoting.org.

“It’s important to understand that independents, now 43 percent of the national electorate, represent a force of motion that is crying out for a new kind politics in this country,” she said.

Some panelists said that the two-party system disenfranchises people who don’t want to choose either Democrat or Republican.

Chuck Couglin, president of AZ High Ground campaign-consulting firm based in Phoenix, said that partisan primaries are a Soviet-style system.

“Why can’t I have a ballot with everyone on it? Let me as a candidate access that ballot. It’s disenfranchising for any independent to run,” he said, criticizing the fact that taxpayers pay for elections, which support the entrenched two-party system.

Daniel Ortega, a civil rights leader and attorney, said that Latino voters are especially left out.

“More than 60 percent of Latino millennials are independent, and 43 percent of Latinos in this state are independent. The party structure does not work for the Latino community,” he said.

“Per capita, our voting percentage is down even though we have more registered voters because they can’t vote in the primary.”

And the two-party primary system has led to deep ideological divisions that hinder collaboration according to Paul Johnson, former mayor of Phoenix and an activist for non-partisan elections.

“In this election, many Americans felt like they were choosing between the lesser of two evils and they weren’t voting for someone but against someone and that’s part of the partisan primary voting system,” he said.

“You’re talking about 5 or 6 percent of people who are making the decisions in the primary and they are demanding candidates be ideologically pure. So the candidates are divisive and split the country up.

“So it’s going to be more difficult for elected people to cross the aisle and work with both sides. It will be a winner-take-all system.”

Not everyone believes that independent voters are left out. Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, said that engaged independents should be able to find out how to get information and cast ballots. “It shouldn’t be handed to them.”

Doug Chapin, director of the University of Minnesota’s Program for Excellence in Election Administration, said that the population changes affiliations back and forth over time.

“But there is a strengthening number of committed independents who really do follow politics, do have a worldview and the one thing they agree on is that they’re not Democrats and they’re not Republican.”

(From left) Former Sen. Jon Kyl, former Congressman Ed Pastor and moderator Grady Gammage Jr. discuss the future of politics after the presidential election at the "State Of Our State" conference Wednesday in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Two longtime politicians from Arizona said they see little chance of bipartisan collaboration immediately ahead after the brutal election.

Former Sen. Jon KylKyl is a Distinguished Fellow in Public Service in ASU’s College of Public Programs and a Distinguished Scholar in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He is the namesake of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy., a Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995 and then the Senate until 2013, said that pressure from the highly fractured parties will make compromise difficult.

“We’ve allowed politicians to get to the point where a candidate can take the populist, demagogue position to get elected and then they find themselves in a governing situation that’s very difficult,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed PastorPastor earned a bachelor’s and law degrees from ASU. He is the namesake of the Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, within ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions., a Democrat, said that politicians must develop personal relationships with each other. Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991 and served as the first Mexican-American congressman to represent Arizona, retiring in 2015.

“In 1994, when the Republicans won, I wondered what would happen, but I had developed relationships and we were able to bridge some of the problems,” he said.

Grady Gammage Jr., a senior research fellow in the Morrison Institute, moderated the discussion between Kyl and Pastor and said that talking with people from the other political side is what will preserve democracy.

“I have felt for months that it was incredibly difficult to talk to people about politics, and for me that was incredibly painful,” he said.

“I think society is advanced through intelligent argument.”

Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, praised the Morrison Institute’s mission of providing a space for conversations from differing points of view.

“There have been times that people have said that politics doesn’t matter and that it’s entertainment,” he said.

“It’s our job to underscore how much it does matter.”

Top photo: Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl discusses political gridlock with former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy's State of Our State Conference on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


A picture and a thousand words

ASU anthropology student is equipping the community to identify and preserve personal places of meaning through photography

November 16, 2016

Anthropology student Ryan Bleam is using photography to capture how the act of volunteering at local nature preserves can improve Arizona residents’ relationships with nature and the community by helping them identify what he terms a “sense of place.”

To demonstrate this concept, Bleam, a PhD candidate in Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, recently asked 18 volunteers at the nonprofit McDowell Sonoran Conservancy to each take 10 photos of places that were meaningful to them, including in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, itself, or anywhere else in their communities. photo of Sonoran Desert taken by study participant A photo of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve taken by project participant. Its accompanying quote is, "I feel like I am Paradise Trail… It's the trail that my new house—the property line—connects to. If I leave my house and come up here and my feet are on this trail, I feel good… Because I'm a steward. I feel like I have a responsibility, like it's a child." Download Full Image

Each volunteer picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but as Bleam explains, the stories behind the photos were the key ingredient of this project.

“Academically, we can understand the many different reasons why places are meaningful, but our lives are really full of stories, interactions and symbols, and they come together to make a meaningful environment,” Bleam says. “For example, one volunteer told me, ‘Some of my most meaningful places are just a pile of rocks. You want me to take pictures of that?’ And I said, ‘Yes! Absolutely! Try to get the best photo that captures that place, but the meaning behind it is most important.’”

That particular conversation inspired the eventual title of Bleam’s exhibit, “My pile of rocks,” which displays the volunteers’ photos and the accompanying stories behind them to reveal the surprising and personal relationships that Phoenix residents have with their communities.

photo of anthropology PhD candidate Ryan Bleam

Anthropology PhD candidate Ryan Bleam

Bleam’s ultimate goal with the project is to see how these volunteers’ sense of place changes over time as they engage with the land during their work and then use that information to identify best practices for use both in the preserve and by other conservation nonprofits nationwide.

One initial finding revealed so far is that, in many cases, people’s important places aren’t always tied to fixed locations on a map. Instead, they can also be areas that symbolize ideas that are significant to the person.

For example, several participants in Bleam’s project chose to take pictures of desert plants that, in their minds, represented the perseverance of life in the Sonoran Desert.

It may come as no surprise that Bleam’s own first experience in building a sense of place occurred through interacting with his local landscape. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he got a job through AmeriCorps to teach at an alternative high school in Oregon, where classroom learning was mixed with camping trips and conservation work projects. He and his students worked for a year to build a hiking trail, and on the last day of school they all hiked it together.

“It was really special to see the pride in the students and staff. I felt a deep connection there, and it inspired me to study how conservation volunteerism builds a sense of place,” he says.

After he completes his PhD, Bleam wants to either continue teaching and researching with a career in academia, or work with an organization like the U.S. Forest Service, where he could conduct more social science research on how park visitors interact with the environment. For those also considering a degree in anthropology, he has a few words of wisdom.

“Make sure you get involved in research projects and get experience in different kinds of data collection and analysis techniques,” Bleam says. “Then think about how to apply anthropological thinking and methods to issues in your own community.”

For Bleam, doing research that gives back to the community is at the heart of this project. In that spirit, he will give a public lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to discuss his research and examine some of the common themes in the meaning and geography of the places photographed by his project participants. Visitors will also be able to view the exhibit “My pile of rocks.” See below for additional information on the talk and exhibit.

In Scottsdale... 

What: “Exploring ‘Sense of Place’ Through Photography of McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Volunteers” lecture

When: Tuesday, Nov. 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Where: Scottsdale Mustang Library auditorium

Details: Free and open to the public. Visit the event page for more information.

See photos from Bleam's project ...

What: “My pile of rocks” exhibit

When: Now through the first week of January 2017

Where: Scottsdale Mustang Library auditorium

Details: Free and open to the public. Visit the event page for more information.

Mikala Kass

Communications Specialist, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


ASU named a top 20 United Way partner

November 10, 2016

Many children in the Valley who depend on school breakfasts and lunches throughout the week may go hungry on the weekends. This fall, as part of the annual Sparky’s Day of Service at Arizona State University, thousands of students lined up to make “WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks” that contained non-perishable food that children in need could take with them on Friday, supplementing their meals at home.

It’s just one of the many partnerships between ASU and United Way that helped the university be named one of the Valley of Sun United Way’s top 20 community partners.

United Way’s dedication to the Valley, and its mission as a whole, struck a chord with senior Nathan Baker, president of ASU Student United Way. Sparky Sparky gets ready for the fall 2016 Sparky’s Day of Service, where thousands of students filled "WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks" in partnership with the United Way for children in need. Download Full Image

“I chose United Way to end hunger, homelessness, and increase financial stability for families located within the Valley,” Baker said. “One in three kids do not know where their next meal is coming from, which is why we need to make the largest impact we possibly can.” 

The 20 organizations on the list play critical roles in helping communities around the metro Phoenix area. Other companies on the inaugural list include Target, Macy’s, American Airlines and Bank of America.  

“By working together, the top 20 help ensure kids have access to a good education, families have a roof over their heads, and a safe place to call home,” said Nancy Dean, chief development officer of Valley of the Sun United Way.

Since 1925, Valley of the Sun United Way has been bringing together donors, business supporters, nonprofits, government and faith-based communities and is the largest nonprofit investor in health and human-service programs in the Valley.

Currently, ASU is more than 80 percent to making its goal during its 2016 United Way campaign. To learn more or donate, visit unitedway.asu.edu.

Reporter, ASU Now