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Local, national and global issues at Sedona Forum

McCain Institute's Sedona Forum brings together decision-makers, thought leaders
From humanitarian crises to presidential politics, a thought-provoking weekend
April 11, 2016

4th annual McCain Institute at ASU gathering brings together decision-makers and thought leaders

Top government officials, business leaders, humanitarian workers and U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle were among the featured speakers at the fourth annual Sedona Forum held this past weekend by the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

The forum brought together decision-makers, thought leaders and prominent figures from civil society to discuss such contemporary issues as cybersecurity, the threat to human rights and journalists around the globe, and the national security implications of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The Sedona Forum demonstrates the convening power of the McCain Institute and ASU’s commitment to a solutions-based approach to research and the free exchange of ideas,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow, who spoke at this year’s meeting about the evolution of research universities and the vital role they can play in addressing many of society’s most pressing issues. “By bringing together such a diverse and accomplished group, the McCain Institute reinforces the importance of character-driven leadership and makes an important contribution to the spread of democratic values.”

Every year, the Sedona Forum brings to Arizona influential military, political, humanitarian and human-rights leaders for a weekend of discussions about critical global challenges. Highlights from the 2016 session included a keynote conversation between Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and James R. Clapper, the director of National Intelligence; a panel on cybersecurity featuring Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Admiral Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command; as well as a discussion about the national security implication of the current political campaign among U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Sasse (R-NE).

The McCain Institute website has a list of the topics discussed and the participants.

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Students SHOW they care at homeless clinic

Clinic meets need for both health care and caring in homeless populatoin.
ASU students from range of fields — from finance to nursing — staff the clinic.
April 8, 2016

Student Health Outreach for Wellness offers range of medical services for the underserved and — for the month of April — their pets, too

Monique Greco and Garnett Johnson might go hungry sometimes, but they make sure their dog Codi never does.

The homeless couple was visiting the Student Health Outreach for Wellness clinic (SHOW) in the heart of downtown Phoenix, which for the month of April also features pet-health services thanks to an ASU student’s initiative.

“Codi is everything to us,” said Greco about her 8-month-old pit bull, who was getting an exam, micro-chipped and a full set of vaccinations April 2.

“He’s our kid and we always put him first. If we’re hungry, the dog eats first.”

That sort of attitude goes a long way with Amber Howarth, who spearheads Wandering Paws, a mobile veterinarian clinic that has partnered with the Arizona Humane Society and services animals for the homeless and underserved.

Howarth, a 22-year-old ASU senior majoring in biological scienceHowarth is a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., has a soft spot for animals. She’s developing a similar attitude towards the homeless population.

“I got involved with SHOW when my friend took me to one of their meetings and noting they serviced the homeless population. I thought, ‘Oh, I could add to this,’” said Howarth, who started the eight-week pilot program last month. “I’ve seen a lot of homeless people with pets and felt I could add a veterinary component to the clinic.”

A woman holds her dog at a pet clinic.

Shirley Gibson listens to veterinary advice during a free clinic on April 2 in downtown Phoenix. For the month of April, the Student Health Outreach for Wellness clinic offers pet-health services in addition to the human care it provides year-round. Top photo: Volunteer Lauren Meadows (left) examines Corry Stewart for an audiology checkup that same day. Photos by Ben Moffat/ASU Now

The addition is welcome, and may help bring more notice to the human side of the clinic.

SHOW is a student-run, interdisciplinary team of volunteers from Arizona’s three state universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Its mission is to provide holistic, client-centered health care for the homeless and underserved and operates in collaboration with the ASU Foundation. More than 150 students from 16 professional programs across the three universities worked together with faculty and community partners on the design, implementation and evaluation of the SHOW program.

The clinic, which has been open every Saturday since last August, has served more than 900 patients in its eight months of operation. Recent evaluations estimate that more than 27,000 Arizona residents experience homelessness each year.

SHOW operates out of Health Care for Homeless on the 12-acre Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix to combat the weekend gap in health services while giving students real-world experience. Services are free to any individual meeting the medical or social-service criteria.

Students are supervised by licensed clinical faculty from the university and community providers, which includes ASU’s Dr. Liz HarrellHarrell is a clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation., program director and psychiatric nurse.

“In 2001, The Institute of Medicine reviewed United States health care and reported that it needed to fundamentally change in order to provide quality health care,” Harrell said. “If you don’t have an employer that offers health care or you’re out of a job, you’re also out of luck. Those struggling with social disparities such as the homeless experience even poorer quality of care.”

Harrell said the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with three recommendations to improve health outcomes in this country: focus on the entire health-care population, improve cost and improve the patient experience. The WHO suggested interdisciplinary, or team-based care, was the best way to tackle all three.

“As educators we thought, ‘If this is the direction that health care is heading, then we need to teach that model,’” Harrell said. “The other question was, ‘How do you do that?’ SHOW really filled that practice place, and our patients are receiving a level of care they’ve never been privileged to have before and that’s incredibly meaningful.”

SHOW’s clinical health students range from nursing, social work, nutrition, medicine and pharmacy to audiology, speech pathology, physical therapy, business, journalism and computer science. They are responsible for the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care delivery for patients, and have implemented many innovative ideas in their program, including an electronic whiteboard filled with a patient’s information, combination of professionals from different medical fields, and a greeting from a “patient navigator.”

Medical personnel examine a man's hearing.

ASU clinical professor of audiology
Ingrid McBride (left) and volunteers
Lauren Meadows, Colton Clayton
and Ashley Geske consult with
Corry Stewart during a checkup
April 2.

“The navigator is the patient’s health advocate and stays with them through their entire visit,” said Sukhdeep Singh, SHOW student director and ASU senior in finance premedSingh is a student in the W. P. Carey School of Business and in Barrett, The Honors College.. “They are willing to get on a personal level with the patients. When I was a navigator, I bonded with patients by talking about my favorite food — Chinese. We don’t want this to be a demeaning environment because our goal is to treat them as human beings.”

That’s exactly how Taline Aydinian, a 21-year-old exercise and wellness junior, connects with her patients — on the human level.

“A lot of patients have told me they were abused when they were kids and other sad stuff that I imagine contributed to them being homeless and having health issues,” Aydinian said. “When they receive respect, they are more willing to open up to you because they don't get it that often. Everybody here in the clinic respects them and treats them as human beings.”

Twenty-two-year-old patient navigator Erika Alcantera, who is a public service and public policy majorAlcantera is a student in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. at ASU, said she was initially weary about interacting with the homeless but has overcome that fear.

“I know now they’re just human beings and won’t bother you or do you any harm,” she said. “They’re very grateful for what we do, even the littlest things.”

“When other providers come here on the weekends to check us out, it just clicks for them. I heard one health professional say, ‘I’ve been practicing for 20 years, and I’ve never seen it done this way. And when I go back to the hospital, I’ll think about doing it this way.’”
— Sukhdeep Singh, SHOW student director and ASU senior

Patient Corry Stewart was grateful for the service he received recently. He came in for a routine wellness checkup, and the four-member team detected something out of the ordinary.

“They checked my blood pressure, sight, vision and hearing, and all was good until a doctor came and put a stethoscope up to my chest,” said Stewart, who is a pawn broker in Phoenix. “They told me that I have an irregular heartbeat. But other than that, I think I’m pretty healthy.”

The future of the clinic is also looking healthy, and many health-care organizations are looking at SHOW as a pioneer model, including the National Data Repository, which is collecting information from the clinic and dispensing it to interested clients.

“We get calls from people in other states curious about what we’re doing here and what is working. When other providers come here on the weekends to check us out, it just clicks for them,” said Singh. “I heard one health professional say, ‘I’ve been practicing for 20 years, and I’ve never seen it done this way. And when I go back to the hospital, I’ll think about doing it this way.’ It’s interesting to see them buy into this model.”

Harrell said SHOW is succeeding because the clinic is a “flattened hierarchy” where the students’ opinions matter just as much as the supervisors.

“Part of the problem in health care is that it’s traditionally been physician-focused, with that physician as the head of the team. No one person knows all,” Harrell said. “Part of interdisciplinary care is decision making is shared equally amongst the disciplines allowing for a more holistic care plan, thus improved quality care and greater provider satisfaction. We work very hard to make sure everybody is equal.”

And all things being equal, SHOW is emerging as a new health-care model around the country.

“Because SHOW isn’t constrained with the typical red tape associated with health care, we can try new ideas when it comes to patient care,” Harrell said. “We all know the recommendation is for us to do this, but who else can do this?

“The answer is ‘We can do this!’”

Wandering Paws will operate 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through April. The human clinic, SHOW, runs 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays year-round. Both are at the Human Services Campus, 230 S 12th Ave., Phoenix.

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Adding up to fun

High school students have fun at ASU Math Day — no joke!
April 1, 2016

High school students play with numbers during ASU Math Day

Having more than 100 high school students excited about math sounds like an April Fool's hoax, but thanks to some creative workshops that incorporated candy, rope untangling and colored pencils, this scenario was no joke during ASU's Math Day on April 1. 

The students spent the day with Arizona State University's School of Mathematical and Statistical SciencesThe School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. attending free workshops and a panel discussion, as well as a screening of Navajo Math Circles, which included a Q&A with the filmmakers. 

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Getting girls into science

March 29, 2016

ASU, MET Professional Academy team up to show Peoria 8th-graders what it's like to pursue a career in science

It’s a great big world of science out there. And picking your own path is just part of the fun, a group of middle school girls learned recently at Arizona State University.

“Make sure that you’re always open to all kinds of things,” Arizona State University biogeochemist and oceanographer Hilairy Hartnett told the eighth-graders from the Peoria Unified School District. “You never know what might be more exciting than you think.

“So if you have a chance to take a class you never thought of, if you get a chance to do a weekend field trip in some topic you never thought about, go for it. You never know how it’s all going to fit together.”

The dozens of students — with their school district’s Medical, Engineering and Technology (MET) Professional Academy — were visiting ASU’s School of Earth and Space ExplorationThe School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. as part of an effort to get more girls interested in STEM fields, just in time for Women’s History Month.

“We are sponsoring this trip ... to create a pipeline for eighth-grade students who have expressed an interest in science, engineering, technology or math, to give them exposure and get them excited and empowered,” said Adriana Parsons, MET Professional Academy director.

The goal of that program is to prepare students for careers in high-demand industries.

Hartnett, who runs the CaNDy (Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics) Lab at ASU, talked to the girls about her experience in the science field, the type of research done at the lab and encouraged the students to seize opportunities when they present themselves. The students then toured her lab.

“These days there is a lot of different ways to do science,” said Hartnett, an associate professor. “Some of it is very specific. You can do chemistry or biology or engineering. Or you can be a more general scientist if get a degree in an interdisciplinary field.”

Later in a classroom, seven ASU undergraduate and graduate students — all women — shared with the girls what they study at SESE, from astrobiology and stars, to life on Mars. Each table of students was given a task: Out of eight areas of research, pick one and discuss how many scientists it would take to study this field.

It was then that a room full of girls who didn't know each other, from different schools within the Peoria Unified School District, began to brainstorm. A quiet room with hushed voices turned loud, with engaging conversations, head nodding, agreement and laughter. Each table had one of the seven ASU students asking thought-provoking questions of the girls.

“One of the main goals of the MET Professional Academy is to increase female participation,” Parsons said.

Nya Udengwu, an eighth-grader from Kachina Elementary School, became interested in technology, engineering and math from a prior visit to ASU. She envisions the world much different than past generations, when few women were employed in these fields.

“For me personally, I’m motivated and I know I can do it,” she said. “But in some places where people aren’t getting the motivation that they need, it’s kind of hard for them to push forward. They don’t have that help.”

During this visit, Udengwu wanted to see what ASU had to offer, and Hartnett summed it up perfectly: Because ASU is such a big university, it is a great place to not know what you want to do. It’s an opportunity to explore and find out what you like.

Parsons hoped the students felt empowered — especially during a time when “like a girl” can still have a negative connotation and women are still breaking down many barriers. So what do students tell people who doubt their intelligence and ability because you’re a girl pursuing a career in STEM?

As eighth-grader Lydia Barkel from Vistancia Elementary School said, “Bring it on!”

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Taking your passion to the classroom

ASU is working to address a critical shortage of educators in Arizona.
Non-education majors can become certified teachers with new ASU programs.
March 24, 2016

ASU Teachers College offers ways to turn almost any major into a teaching career

Noah Brown has always loved literature and is an avid fan of Shakespeare.

“I realized I didn’t just want to read it, I wanted to talk to people about it,” he said.

“I didn’t just want to write, I wanted to inspire other people to write and tell their own stories.”

So he decided to teach.

“It just saddens me that people come away from high school after studying these great works of literature and think it doesn’t apply to them,” said Brown, a senior at Arizona State University who started as an English literature major and later added history.

“Language has such terrifying power. I believe there should be more animation, more energy, more personalization in the teaching of English.”

Brown is in a new program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The secondary education certificate is a 30-credit program that allows students who major in such areas as science, math or the arts to become certified to teach in grades six through 12. The program can be added on to any major that would be teachable at a high school.

ASU is working to address a critical shortage of educators in Arizona by providing ways for non-education majors to become certified teachers, according to Jenna Kahl, the director of enrollment and outreach for the teachers college.

“If you’re passionate about science or math or dance or Shakespeare, those are all things you can teach,” said Kahl.

A student and an advisor talk at an education fair.

U.S. history sophomore Shawn Courson talks with certification program adviser Wendy Jabbour at the education fair by the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus March 22. Members of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College are encouraging students from other disciplines to follow their passion and discover a way impart it to others through the secondary education certification program. Courson would like to teach history. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Kahl said that advisers work with students to fit the 30 credits into their majors.

For seniors who are close to graduating or for people who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to teach, the college offers several master’s options, including one devoted to science, technology, engineering and math subjects. All provide student-teaching experience.

Earlier this week, the college held a fair outside the Memorial Union to spark interest in the secondary-education certificate and master’s programs. Brown dressed in costume to recite a speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” on the stage. Taylor Stephens, a future science teacher who’s in the STEM master’s program, performed science experiments.

Stephens graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in biomedical science. While at NAU, she worked for the athletics department, tutoring student-athletes in chemistry and biology.

“That got me thinking that I think I could teach this,” said Stephens, who will complete ASU’s 18-month master’s program this summer.

“I already know my content, and this program teaches you how to share your knowledge by teaching. I have a lot of passion about getting students to think and question,” said Stephens, who hopes to get a job in the fall in the Mesa Public Schools district, where she has been student-teaching.

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College was ranked 14th among 255 public and private graduate programs of education in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools report. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the college has risen in the rankings since 2012.

In Arizona, 26 percent of teachers will be eligible to retire by 2018, according to the state Department of Education. ASU President Michael Crow has set a goal of increasing the number of qualified K-12 teachers by 25 percent and also of having 10 percent of graduates in all colleges, such as engineering or math, certified to teach.

“We’re trying to meet that need for teachers, especially in math and science at the high school level,” Kahl said.

Top photo: Noah Brown recites a speech from Shakespeare's "Henry V" at the Memorial Union on Tuesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU hosts students on a path to higher education

ASU hosts Phoenix high school students who are prepping for higher education.
ASU is working to expand access to first-generation college students.
March 23, 2016

Phoenix high schoolers practice calculus and get a glimpse of campus life

Scott Blamer wants to be a doctor and is eager to develop the critical-thinking skills he’ll need for that demanding profession.

So Blamer, a senior at Camelback High School in Phoenix, took Advanced Placement calculus this year.

“It definitely gives you determination and critical-thinking skills,” said Blamer, who will start at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus in the fall.

“It’s not just the course work, but the challenge of AP that pushes you.”

Blamer was one of about 300 students from the Phoenix Union High School District who took a practice AP calculus test at ASU’s West campus on Wednesday.

The practice test, followed by a session in which the students reviewed their answers with an official AP scorer, was meant to sharpen their test-taking skills and give them a better chance of success. Students can earn college credit if they score high enough on the end-of-year AP exams.

High school teachers say that AP calculus readies the students for college work.

“In this class, they really have to think using all their classes. We do a lot of physics and we do chemistry, and that kind of thinking happens in college more than in high school typically,” said Debbie Hannum, who teaches AP calculus at Alhambra High School.

Alhambra has been holding the practice tests for a few years. The AP tests are different from other high-stakes tests, which are usually multiple choice.

“They don’t have to explain as much of their reasoning on the other tests,” she said.

“These questions are much more theoretical, and in the free responses they have to justify their answers.”

high school students at ASU tent

(From left) Bryan Garcia, Rodrigo Najera and Carlos Avila of Carl Hayden High School take a spin on the famous ASU alumni wheel on Wednesday at the West campus after taking their mock AP exam. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

John Pacho, the AP calculus teacher at Central High School, said that the AP calculus content is actually harder than a typical college calculus class, although the AP class is spread out over a full school year.

“There is more rigor to it,” he said, adding that the practice exam is important because it replicates the timing and other conditions of the real test. “It’s a sample of what they’re actually going to get. It won’t be all new.”

AP classes are one way to give students a jump on college. In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Doug Ducey proposed giving schools a financial incentive to offer more AP classes. The $6 million proposal would cover students’ testing fees and teacher training and would reward teachers who showed success. The Legislature has not acted on that plan so far.

Jeongeun Kim, an assistant professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, has studied what factors affect college choice among students. She said that ensuring broad access to higher-level courses like AP is an important consideration.

“We have to think about who has access and who is taking these courses before we discuss whether requiring these courses would be a good way to promote everyone to be college-ready,” she said. “Not every school has the resources to offer these classes.”

She said that research on the relationship between AP classes and college-going would have to exclude “selection bias” — the concept that students who are already motivated and have family and school support to go to college are more likely to take AP classes.

Kim’s own research found that students in Florida who took Algebra II in high school were more likely to go to college but not any more likely to earn a degree.

“It’s a timely question to ask and maybe we should continue that line of research,” she said.

Most of the students in the Phoenix Union district come from families whose incomes are low enough that they qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and many would be the first in their families to go to college.

ASU is working to expand access to first-generation college students, and hosting the students for their AP practice test was one way to inspire them. After the test, the students got a pizza lunch on the campus lawn, where they met Sparky, played games and met with students and ASU staff.

John-Pierre Antoine, a senior at Cesar Chavez High School, is considering applying to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said being on ASU’s campus was a motivator.

“It’s nice and green here, and it really helped to calm me down for the test.”

Video: What did the students think of the experience? Watch their reactions below.

Top photo: Students from the Phoenix Union High School District take a practice Advanced Placement calculus exam at ASU's West campus on Wednesday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Arizonans head to the polls

ASU professor Kim Fridkin on what to expect out of today's primary in Arizona.
March 22, 2016

ASU professor Kim Fridkin discusses Arizona's turn in the political spotlight during Tuesday's presidential preference election

Arizona doesn’t usually get this much of a voice.
In a typical presidential election year, voters in the Grand Canyon State go to the polls on the day of the Arizona primary — if they choose to vote at all — to concur with or dissent from a fait accompli. Our fellow citizens in the states with primaries preceding our own have usually already narrowed the field to a single contender on each the Republican and Democratic side.
But this, as has been noted by all manner of political pundit, is not a typical presidential election year.
And so the political circus is here in Arizona with three candidates still in the hunt on the Republican side and two Democrats still alive.
Yes, businessman Donald Trump made relatively quick work of what was an unwieldy Republican field and looks all but assured to have the most delegates when his party convenes in Cleveland for the nominating convention.
But Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) are sticking around to play spoilers, hoping to prevent him from mathematically clinching the nomination. If they succeed, their line of reasoning argues, then a vote in an open convention might pick someone other than Trump to be the GOP standard-bearer.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also the overwhelming favorite on her side of the aisle, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) is still drawing large and enthusiastic crowds of young voters attracted to his self-identified socialist political movement.
So this year Arizonans will get to weigh in on the inevitability of Trump and Clinton, and the extent to which they want the primary process to play out a little longer.
Kim Fridkin, professor in the School of Politics and Global StudiesThe School of Politics and Global Studies is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., has been watching this all unfold and keeping ASU Now honest on what’s important and what is just noise.
Welcome to presidential preference electionPrimary day in Arizona is officially called the presidential preference election. day.

Question: Arizonans are playing an unusually prominent role in the national primary process this year. So where are we now with this election?

Answer: Hillary Clinton is definitely the front-runner in the Democratic nomination race, and it is unlikely — but not mathematically impossible — for Bernie Sanders to win the nomination.  The Democratic Party has non-elected superdelegatesSuperdelegates are party leaders — elected officials, for example — who get a vote at the convention. They usually pledge their support to one candidate or another, but they are technically allowed to change their votes. Right now, Secretary Clinton has the vast majority of the superdelegates supporting her candidacy. so there will not be a contested convention.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is definitely the front-runner, but it is not impossible for Ted Cruz to win the nomination — though it is highly unlikely. Since Donald Trump is a very divisive figure in the Republican Party, if he does not obtain the majority of the delegates before the Convention, it is likely that the Republican Convention will be a contested convention. (The Republican Party does not have superdelegates).  

Q: Already election officials in Maricopa and Pima counties are saying that voter turnout could be as high as 60 to 65 percent. Do you get the sense that people are excited to vote for the current crop of candidates, or against them?

A: I don’t really have a sense of a great deal of excitement, but more than in past Arizona presidential primaries because the nomination is not over — although it is almost settled. So, I am not sure how high the turnout will be. However, the candidates have been spending some time in Arizona — which is also unusual — with visits this weekend by the front-runners as well as Bernie Sanders. And the candidates seem to spending a fair amount of money on television commercials. So turnout may be high, but I don’t think it will reach 60 percent. But we'll see. 

Q: Some in the Democratic Party have started calling for Sen. Sanders to drop out of the race and help Hillary Clinton gear up for a battle against Trump. Is there a risk in alienating his supporters?

A: I have done research recently on the 2008 campaign with some colleagues, and this research suggests that Clinton supporters were somewhat less likely to participate in the November election, controlling for a host of rival factors. This research suggests that divisive primaries can lead people to stay home in the general election. And, this is a potential drawback of an extended nomination campaign on the Republican and Democratic sides. However, neither of the leading candidates has secured the nomination, so I don’t think Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race and I don’t think John Kasich should drop out on the Republican side. 

Q: What remain the biggest issues for Republican voters? Does that give any particular candidate an edge?

A: In Arizona, I think the biggest issues are probably immigration and security (for Democrats and Republicans), and economic inequality and education (on the Democratic side). While Trump may have an advantage nationally on immigration, I think Arizona voters are more sophisticated on this issue, so I am not sure that Trump’s message on immigration gives him an advantage in Arizona. Instead, Trump’s outsider image and “tell it like it is” persona may be attractive to conservative and moderate voters. I think Trump has momentum and dominates media coverage, and these factors will give him an advantage today. On the Democratic side, I think the election will be closer, since Bernie Sanders is very popular with younger voters. So if there’s a high turnout on the Democratic side, that will be to his benefit.

Q: So who do you think wins the Republican and Democratic primaries?

A: I think Clinton will win and I think Trump will win, even though it’s a closed primaryA closed primary is one in which only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in their party's primary. Some states, including New Hampshire, have open primaries, where independents can choose which side they would like to vote in. Donald Trump has typically done better in states with open primaries. But it's all relative, because he's doing quite well. .  

Top photo by Kristen Price/Freeimages.com

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Remembering Nick Salerno, ASU professor and Valley changemaker

Late ASU professor Nick Salerno helped the rise of Arizona arts, film.
March 18, 2016

Who was Nick Salerno? Many would say: a generous soul who changed the Valley of the Sun and ASU for the better.

In the 1960s, he defused a confrontation between student protestors who had occupied Old Main at Arizona State University and the armed National Guard who surrounded them.

In the ’70s he launched Cinema Classics, which became a decadelong PBS institution in the Valley, foreshadowing the popular Turner Classic Movies (TCM) hosted by Robert Osborne.

And in the ’80s and ’90s, he introduced foreign and independent films to the Valley through a partnership with Dan Harkins of Harkins Theatres.

Salerno, retired emeritus professor at ASU, died on March 15. He taught at ASU for 33 years and in ways almost too numerous to recount, Salerno’s work intertwines with ASU history and the rise of Arizona arts, literature and, most particularly, film appreciation.

He published numerous scholarly and popular articles and, later, was celebrated as a local celebrity; however, his work with students is what Salerno always wished to be remembered for. Thousands of students in Arizona pursued British literature, film history and appreciation, the short story and composition with his mentorship.

“I was just an unread kid from a mining town,” said Karla Elling, one of his early students. “Nick rescued me as my adviser in English.”

Salerno also helped her obtain a fellowship for graduate study and urged her on when she was close to quitting: “I was writing the dissertation for my doctorate. I had a husband and two small children and just didn’t think I could do it,” she said. Salerno told her, “You’re almost to the finish line. Don’t quit now.” He met Elling at home at midnight after her marathon writing sessions at the ASU Library and gave her notes and ideas until she finished her dissertation and graduated.

Salerno was a first-generation American, born in Chicago to Sicilian immigrants. They moved to Arizona in 1948. At Phoenix Union High School he began his writing career and was published regularly in the Arizona Republic. Graduating as valedictorian, he was awarded fellowships to attend ASU (then called Arizona State College).

While an editor of the ASU student-run newspaper State Press, he later recalled being somewhat of a thorn in the side of the university administration. Kathryn Gammage, wife of then ASU President Grady Gammage, insisted her husband “wished there were more Nicks on campus” regardless of how troublesome Salerno could be in print.

"He was an amazing person. We’ll not see his like again.”
— John Ratliff, former ASU Shakespeare professor

While earning his bachelor’s degree in English, he began a 12-year commitment to the U.S. Army Reserves. After graduating summa cum laude in 1957, he toured on active duty as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, returning to ASU for his master’s.  

Salerno attributed his decision to become a university professor to his longtime friend and mentor, John Ratliff, then a Shakespeare professor at ASU. At Ratliff’s urging, Salerno applied to eight prestigious graduate schools and won fellowships to all of them, including Harvard and Yale; he chose to attend Stanford. After earning his doctorate there in Victorian literature and Latin language and literature, he returned to a permanent teaching position at ASU in 1961.

Ratliff, now 94, calls Salerno “a helper, a generous soul” who could always be relied upon to give whatever was needed.

“He had a large community of friends who he would do anything for. He helped faculty with health problems get to their doctor’s appointments and do their shopping; he helped students with their education and careers,” Ratliff said. “He was an amazing person. We’ll not see his like again.”

Salerno’s rapport with students was evident. In the student protests of the tumultuous ’60s, ASU students had occupied Old Main in a sit-in. Angry administrators tried various means to dislodge them, and then the Arizona governor called in the National Guard. Although this was pre-Kent State, Salerno worried about the students’ safety. Without permission from anyone, as he said in a later interview, he entered the building and negotiated with them. After they agreed to leave, he convinced administrators to not punish them.

As chair of the English Department from 1983 to 1988, Salerno helped create the Writing Center, the Humanities Computing Center and the MFA in Creative Writing. He was instrumental in helping two students become ASU’s first Rhodes scholars and coached the university’s winning college bowl team in 1964. He taught the first film-appreciation courses available at ASU.

Salerno’s love of film led him to a second career in television. He told friends he “grew up in the dark” because of the many films he viewed as a child. As the host of Cinema Classics on the local PBS affiliate, which ran for 10 years including three in national syndication on PBS, he became a household name in the Valley. He showed uncut classic films, gave commentary on them and interviewed hundreds of actors, including Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Dustin Hoffman, Charlton Heston and Robert Osborne, whose own show on TCM later resembled Salerno’s.

Phoenix New Times reporter Robrt Pela recently described Cinema Classics as “a lifeline” when he was a teenager.

At various times Salerno served as film critic for the New Times, the Scottsdale Progress, KAET and the local ABC outlet.

“Nick was a master, a genius. Film aficionados were treated to films they would otherwise never have been able to see in the Valley."
— Dan Harkins, Harkins Theatres

Dan Harkins met Salerno when he was 19, when he took a film-appreciation course from him. Salerno and Harkins later went on to create a new market for film buffs in the Valley, as Harkins expanded the chain of theaters inherited from his father. Harkins remembers that “without Nick, there would have been no Harkins Theatres.” When Harkins was unable to outbid larger theaters for major box-office films, he went to Salerno for advice. “He had an encyclopedic knowledge of films as well as ideas on how to make them marketable.”

Salerno suggested Harkins Camelview as a venue for the lesser-known independent or foreign films, by such filmmakers as Fellini, Truffaut or Kurosawa. Although Harkins had no trouble booking these films, he was banned from advertising them in the newspaper, because unrated films were assumed at the time to be X-rated or “smut” films. Salerno brought Harkins onto his popular Cinema Classics to help promote his films. Salerno and Harkins also hosted invitational screenings to invite movie goers to give them individual ratings and to promote the films by word of mouth.

“Nick was a master, a genius. Film aficionados were treated to films they would otherwise never have been able to see in the Valley,” Harkins said.

After Salerno’s retirement in 1991, he continued an active involvement in Arizona arts and the Arizona Film Commission, as well as serving on the board of directors for Phoenix Little Theatre, Scottsdale Community Players, Arizonans for Cultural Development, Desert Dance Company and other local arts groups.

Salerno was also an avid collector, reflected in the variety and number of valuable gifts he made to ASU Library Special Collections. These included materials connected to the “Star Wars” franchise, “Wizard of Oz,” film history, soundtracks, press kits, and personal papers and materials devoted to his many other personal enthusiasms, such as Victorian literature and the pre-Raphaelites, animal rights, and “pirate” Portland publisher Thomas Bird Mosher. Salerno was completing a book about Mosher at the time of his death.

Salerno also developed an interest in the Middle East and the city of Petra, which was one of the Jordanian locations for the film “Lawrence of Arabia.” A teaching assistant in the English Department, Lutfi Hussein (now a teacher at Mesa Community College) met Salerno and they formed a friendship. “He knew I was from Jordan,” said Hussein. “Knowing that I came to the U.S. as an immigrant, he was so kind to me. He was keen on showing me all the American things he loved in literature and the arts. I couldn’t have found a better tour guide to all things American.” 

Nick Salerno died peacefully in the early morning hours of March 15. A memorial service will be at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 7655 E. Main St. in Scottsdale on Wednesday, March 23, at 10 a.m., followed by a procession to graveside services at St. Francis Cemetery, 2033 N. 48th St. in Phoenix.

Before his death, Nick Salerno requested that contributions in his name be made to Roscoe Animal Retreat, PO Box 432, Roscoe IL 61073. They may be reached at RARARF@aol.com. All contributions are tax deductible.

Top photo: Nick Salerno interviews Natalie Wood in 1979 for his popular PBS show Cinema Classics. Photo by Diane Hawkey

Editor Associate , University Provost

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Powering up

March 17, 2016

ASU a partner in Red Rock solar power plant, one of the largest in Arizona, furthering the university’s role as a leader in sustainability

Construction workers this month are starting to turn several hundred acres of scrub desert near Red Rock, Arizona, into what will be gleaming fields of solar panels, one of the largest solar power plants in the state — with Arizona State University as a partner.

The project marks another milestone in ASU’s steep and aggressive rise in harnessing the sun’s power since 2004, when ASU first installed a Tempe campus solar array on top of a parking garage on Tyler Street.

Over a dozen years, ASU expanded its renewable-energy capacity multiple times over, debuting parking-lot “parasols,” innovative solar tracking systems, and solar panels that shade the fans at ballgames. ASU and its solar partners operate nearly 90 solar installations across university campuses, which total more than 24 MWdcMWdc stands for megawatts in the form of direct current., one of the largest on-campus university solar-energy portfolios in the nation.

In the Red Rock project, ASU is partnering with the power company APS and online-payment pioneer PayPal to build the plant. Through separate agreements with ASU and PayPal, APS will build, own and operate the plant. ASU and PayPal will purchase power from the plant.

As a result, this project will push the university past a new milestone of 50 MWdc of renewable-energy capacity. ASU will add an additional 150 percent of renewable energy (65,000 MWh, or megawatt hours) per year above and beyond its existing portfolio, furthering the university’s role as a recognized global leader in sustainability.

Solar panels atop Wells Fargo Arena.

Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe is just one of many ASU buildings and parking areas sporting solar panels. There are nearly 90 solar installations across the university.

The benefits, though, extend much further than ASU’s metropolitan campuses, explained Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. He said the project:

• Brings new solar-energy capacity to Arizona.

• Provides local construction jobs to Arizona citizens.

• Reduces ASU’s net greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Part of our charter mission is to take responsibility for the social, economic and overall health of the community around us,” Olsen said. “This endeavor also moves us toward ASU's commitment to become climate neutral for all activities except transportation by 2025, and for all activities by 2035.”

ASU’s leadership in sustainability spans research, education and practice, as home to the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the School of Sustainability, as well as the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar TechnologiesQESST, or the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies Engineering Research Center, is part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Engineering Research Center, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

ASU’s acceleration in capturing the sun’s rays includes:

• A parking lot next to Sun Devil Stadium was equipped in 2011 with the first deployment of PowerParasols, an elevated solar system that also shades parked cars and creates event space.

• In 2013, ASU installed a solar-panel canopy over seating at Farrington Stadium, one of nine athletic facilities with solar panels, the most in the nation at the time.

• That same year, ASU’s Polytechnic campus debuted the first use of a new SunPower C7 Tracker technology that concentrates the sun’s power seven times and converts it to electricity.

The Red Rock plant is expected to be online at the end of the year.

Top photo courtesy of SunPower Corporation.


Inspiration springs from engineering outreach effort

Saturday sessions introduce kids, teens to both engineering principles and the possibilities of higher education

March 15, 2016

Teacher Valerie Garcia-Denogean never imagined she would see young students so excited to get up early on six straight Saturday mornings for an extra day of schooling.

“They were there waiting for the bus every time. Almost no one was late or missed a day,” she recalled. Michael Thompson Micro Air Vehicle Club outreach program ASU mechanical engineering doctoral student Michael Thompson (center) started a small outreach project in 2012 to introduce kids and teens to the basics of engineering design. His series of Saturday instruction sessions have to date attracted more than 160 middle school and high school students — and drawn praise from their teachers. He is pictured with some of the students from the rural town of Superior who were involved in the most recent sessions of the program. Photo by Hayden Taylor/ASU Download Full Image

Those mornings began with a sunrise trip an hour away from their small rural mining community of Superior, Arizona, to the sprawling urban Tempe campus of Arizona State University.

Once at their destination, the group of about 20 students gathered with ASU engineering students and professional engineers for four hours of lessons and hands-on activities designed to demystify mathematics, technology and research.

Even with budget cuts in recent years, Superior school district leaders “saw the value of giving our students support for this experience,” said Garcia-Denogean, who teaches both junior high and high school classes and is the district’s career and technical education director.

Along with the district’s curriculum director and transportation supervisor, she volunteered her time to get the students to and from the instruction sessions at ASU.

Eye-opening impact

One group of Superior students completed the six-Saturday series of sessions last fall semester, and another group recently completed the sessions for the spring semester.

The results made the Saturday trips more than worthwhile.

“The impact has been absolutely priceless. Just being in a university environment and meeting college students and business people, and seeing research labs, has been eye-opening for our students,” Garcia-Denogean said.

“I think this will have lasting effects on them. They are learning the terminology of technology and the love of problem-solving, and they are now talking about their future and what they want to do in their lives,” she said.

Success attracting support

All of this is heartening to Michael Thompson, an ASU mechanical engineering doctoral student in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering who almost single-handedly launched the outreach program and has since led it over eight semesters.

Offered space and transportation for students in 2012, he spent hundreds of dollars of his own for two years to buy simple teaching materials.

An engineering student holds a bird made of paper and balsa wood.

ASU electrical engineering doctoral student Victoria Serrano displays a “Flapping Bird” made of paper and balsa wood. She and other instructors in the ASU Micro Air Vehicle Club engineering outreach program use the toy aircraft to teach young students about the principles of flight and aerodynamics. Photo by Michael Thompson/ASU

But in 2014 he got a big boost from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration though its NASA Space Grant program, which supports science and engineering education and public outreach. Two annual grants from the program have helped to fund purchases of classroom tools and other technology for instructing students.

The same year, Thompson founded and became president of the Micro Air Vehicle Club engineering student organization at ASU. He recruited club members to help out with what soon became the Micro Air Vehicle Club Outreach Program.

He also got the ASU and Phoenix chapters of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to partner with him.

Educating those most in need

His progress caught the attention of the director of the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center, Robin Hammond. She was impressed by Thompson’s enthusiasm and the hard work he put into growing the program.

“Most student outreach projects are one-time things,” Hammond said. “But Michael is engaging students in ongoing learning and building relationships with school districts, and he is focused on helping the underserved communities that are most in need.”

The Career Center awarded Thompson one of its student Professional and Career Development grants, which supplied him with more instructional technology.

In addition, Thompson got an Engineering Projects in Community Service grant from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Foundation. It has helped provide students with lunch during the Saturday sessions — something that makes it possible for some families to afford to have their children participate.

Adding high-tech teaching tools

In the beginning, Thompson’s effort was strictly low-tech — informally dubbed the Flapping Bird Outreach Program, since activities consisted almost solely of assembling the mechanical Flapping Bird from kits and using them to teach simple engineering principles.

Made mostly of balsa wood and lightweight paper, the small kite-like Flapping Birds have been used to introduce students specifically to basic principles of aerodynamics and flight — and to learn such things as how to calculate lift force and drag force, and to plot flight trajectories.

Small robotic toy cars were later added to the educational materials repertoire.

The Flapping Birds remain popular with the students. But now, with the support Thompson has obtained, the program provides the use of 3-D printers and 3-D pens for crafting models of various objects, along with technologies and computer programs to access and analyze data, do calculations and measurements, and perform computer-assisted drafting and design.

The high-tech additions enable students to design models of things such as small boats, cellphones, drill bits and drone-like flying machines.

Students see career possibilities

“All of this takes the scary out of math for them,” said ASU mechanical engineering student David Phelps, one of the instructors. “It’s cool to see them realize how they can apply math to solving practical problems and making things.

“I am amazed at how quickly they pick up on things. When the sessions are over, they’re asking us what they can do to learn to do more of this. That seed of desire has been planted in them.”

Victoria Serrano, an ASU electrical engineering doctoral student and vice president of the ASU Micro Air Vehicle Club, has been one of the key instructors for the past two years.

She said it’s rewarding to watch the students get excited about exploring things they had little or no knowledge of before participating in the program.

“They’re beginning to see that no matter how disadvantaged their families might be, they can think of the possibility of going to college and becoming engineers,” Serrano said.

Plethora of professionals offer guidance

In addition to instruction from ASU engineering students, Thompson has been recruiting more and more professional engineers to contribute to the cause.

Representatives of major companies such as Raytheon Corp., Honeywell, Ford Motors, General Motors, Caterpillar and Northstar Aerospace have shared their expertise with students.

Bird toys and robotic cars rest on a table for an outreach program.

Along with the “Flapping Bird” toys (right), the outreach program uses robotic toy cars (at left, decorated and accessorized) for hands-on activities designed to provide lessons on how math is used to create, test and improve technology. Photo by Michael Thompson/ASU

“Sometimes we now have almost as many ASU people and professional engineers in the classroom as there are students. So the kids are getting some real individual attention,” said Thompson, who has gotten professional experience working for Ford Motors in Dearborn, Michigan, for the past three summers.

He has also earned Ford Motors National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences (GEM) fellowship awards in 2013 and 2015 to support his graduate studies.

Personal experiences motivates outreach efforts

To date, more than 160 youngsters have participated in Thompson's sessions, and there are plans to draw as many as 80 or so more in total for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 sessions.

New contingents of Superior students are expected to enroll, along with additional students from the even smaller rural Arizona community of Hayden.

The education outreach success will look good on the résumé Thompson is building as he works toward earning his doctoral degree in 2017 and pursuing a career in research. But his motivation is more personal than professional.

Neither Thompson’s parents nor his three now-adult siblings graduated from high school, let alone college. The Phoenix native said that situation led him to realize how higher education could open a path to rising out of economic disadvantage into a world of opportunity.

He sees that realization dawning on students in his outreach program.

“The kids come in not really knowing what engineering is, or having any serious interest. By the end, some are talking about what kind of engineers they want be,” he said.

“That is all I want out this, to have that kind of impact on their attitudes about what they can do with their futures.”

Bringing about cultural change

He’s trying to have that impact closer to home, as well. His 12-year-old sister has been participating in his outreach sessions.

“I’m already pushing on her to go into mechanical engineering,” Thompson said.

His mother began coming along as well. She takes attendance and hand out snacks to students at the sessions.

Thompson “is reaching these girls and boys at the critical ages when they’re beginning to make decisions about the directions they will take,” said Career Center director Hammond, “and with students from these particular communities, what he is doing is helping to bring actual cultural change.”

Through his passion for education and what he’s accomplishing through his schooling in engineering, Thompson is connecting with the young students, Garcia-Denogean said.

“He’s told them about his family experiences and the lack of educational advantages, and they can relate to that,” she said.

“They see what he and the other college students and engineers are doing, and it is nothing less than inspirational.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering