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ASU Gammage proves to be economic powerhouse

ASU Gammage brings $100M in economic impact to Valley.
ASU Gammage theater-goers vital to Mill Avenue businesses.
August 9, 2016

Latest Broadway season brought $100M in economic impact to greater Phoenix metropolitan area

A few summers ago, restaurateur Julian Wright had been sweating out his latest business venture.

Consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures had slowed business at La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar on Mill Avenue to a near crawl. Then he received an unexpected windfall from down the street. 

“For years Gammage shows have brought additional patrons to my businesses,” said Wright, an Arizona State University alumnus who has delivered successful food-and-drink concepts to the Mill Avenue District since 2008, including his latest, Pedal Haus Brewery. “The second summer La Bocca was open, one of their Broadway tours practically saved us. We were packed every day for the run of the show.”

Wright’s story illustrates how the arts have evolved into a vital economic driver, a point underscored with the announcement Monday that ASU Gammage’s recently concluded Broadway season created an estimated $100 million economic impact on the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

“That’s a very impressive number,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and associate vice president of cultural affairs for ASU. “When people think of ASU Gammage, they usually associate us with entertainment and that’s fine. But we always try to emphasize what we do for the community. We not only bring exciting and relevant programming to the Valley, but we also present an economic bouquet to the state.”

For Jennings-Roggensack, the number represents a continued payoff of work that began 25 years ago when she took over operations of what she described at the time as a “fading beauty.” The Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure needed upgrades and Gammage operations were $2 million in the hole. It took a few years, but under Jennings-Roggensack’s direction ASU Gammage turned into a self-sustaining business model, driven by ticket sales and private support. Today, she says it’s run like a business, but with the heart of a nonprofit.

The Broadway season that wrapped June 30 included 10 weeks of productions, including “Book of Mormon” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The shows attracted 400,000 visitors, who spent an average of $91 each on their night out. The season also boasted 13,000 subscribers.

The 3,000-seat venue is the largest university-based presenter of the performing arts in the world, and it has generated more than $550 million for the local economy since 2006 according to research by the Broadway League, an entertainment trade group.

Those numbers deserve respect said Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper, who says the arts can be both culturally rewarding for communities and financially advantageous for businesses such as hotels, taxis and restaurants.

“Businesses and creative workers want to locate to places with thriving art scenes,” said Tepper, adding that artists start businesses at higher rates than most other professionals and create vibrant neighborhoods that increase home values.

“There is no silver bullet for economic development,” Tepper said, “but if there was one, the arts would be a contender.”

The community can expect bigger numbers next season, Jennings-Roggensack said. She estimates as many as 500,000 people will visit ASU Gammage and that about 15,000 will purchase season ticket subscriptions.

The 2016-2017 Broadway season at ASU Gammage kicks off with the Tony Award-winning production of “Cabaret” on Sept. 13. 

Reporter , ASU Now


Success is a ‘sherd’ thing

ASU archaeologist honored for groundbreaking contributions to field

August 9, 2016

David Abbott, associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, received not one, but two distinguishing awards this summer for his archaeological work in Arizona: the Arizona Archaeological Society’s 2016 Professional Archaeologist Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor’s Archaeological Advisory Commission.

Abbott, who specializes in researching the Hohokam who inhabited Arizona (including the area of ASU’s Tempe campus) until around 1450, is recognized not only for his many years of dedication to the field, but also for his method for sourcing ceramics, which revolutionized the study of ancient pottery in the desert Southwest. photo of Prof. David Abbott at Petra, Jordan Professor David Abbott at Petra, Jordan Download Full Image

“Over the last 25 years, Dave’s remarkable research has transformed our understanding of Hohokam society and continues to play a major role in setting the research agenda for Hohokam archaeology,” said fellow ASU archaeologist Keith Kintigh.

Others would agree. His projects “have greatly increased the understanding of prehistoric archaeology in the central Arizona region of the Southwest,” said Glenda Simmons, chair of the Arizona Archaeological Society.

Abbott originally chose his field because of his lifelong passion for the little details that make up history.

“I have always been interested in the past, largely because I want to know how we came to be as we are. And I am fascinated by the way material remains, like pieces of broken pots, can reveal the past to us,” he said.

Thanks to his innovative ceramic analysis methods, those tiny sherds can reveal much more than meets the eye.

By examining ultra-thin sections of potsherds, Abbott is able to get a close look at the different makeups of the temper — usually sand or small bits of rock — that was added to the clay to make it more stable during baking. Southern Arizona is so geologically diverse that he can track where a particular pot was made just by knowing what kind of temper it contains. When the place where he found the sherd is different from where it originated, Abbott knows there was a network of trade between the two regions.

“Abbott’s analysis of pottery transactions among Hohokam villagers, which has a precision unmatched across the globe, has — with amazing clarity — revealed networks of economic interaction and community structure,” Kintigh stated.

Since Abbott first pioneered this technique, other archaeologists have picked it up and used it around the world from Korea to Mexico.

The most surprising thing that Abbott himself has learned from applying this method is the degree of Hohokam economic complexity, which surpassed anything that archaeologists had imagined beforehand.

“The evidence is pointing to an economy that operated at a regional scale,” he said.

He painted a picture of thousands of ceramic products made each year by special artisans and sent out to hundreds of villages; agricultural surpluses that valley farmers traded for large game, crafts and goods from the uplands; ceremonial ballgames played in one of hundreds of stadiums and watched by crowds of locals and visitors; and marketplaces assembled regularly for the barter of goods from all over the Hohokam territory.

“This is the picture of vibrant and surprisingly sophisticated life in ancient Arizona that emerges from the pottery research,” he explained.

Knowledge about these people, Abbott pointed out, is not only interesting, but relevant to Arizonans today.

The Hohokam lived in their villages and towns for over a thousand years, built and managed the largest irrigations infrastructure in prehistoric North America, and turned the Salt River valley into an agricultural haven. Modern Phoenix, on the other hand, is just the opposite: it’s been here only one hundred years, yet already we have water challenges and other sustainability issues.

“Clearly, the Hohokam offer some lessons to be learned about environmental challenges, population pressure and water usage over the long haul,” Abbott said. “As we work to understand their success, we gain insight about who we are and where we are headed.”

For this professor, working with students is an integral part of discovering more about the Hohokam. He sees graduate education as an apprenticeship, where the student and faculty member work on a particular problem together.

“These collaborative undertakings are wonderfully productive, and it is especially gratifying as they contribute to our growing understanding of Arizona’s ancient past,” he said.

So, what advice does Abbott have for those inspired to pursue archaeology?

“Archaeology is an exciting business to be in. Field work is all about discovery — you never know what’s going to turn up. And the lab work is like putting a puzzle back together. But it’s also a lot of hard work and it takes a long time to become proficient. You really have to have a ‘fire in the belly’ in order to be successful.”

You don’t have to be a professional, however, in order to participate in archaeology. Abbott explained that he does a good amount of research with the help of what he calls “citizen archaeologists” — average people with a love for Arizona’s past and a willingness to get their hands dirty. In fact, he tries to interact with the community whenever he can, engaging volunteer groups in fieldwork, giving presentations for public audiences and offering site tours.

“I really like bringing together volunteers, students and professionals, while raising ASU’s profile to the public,” he said.

With a ceramic-analysis breakthrough to his name and a commitment to the people of Arizona — past and present — it’s no wonder that Abbott became the winner of two awards, including a Lifetime Achievement. He isn’t in it for fame, however; for him, the job is a reward in itself. 

“I love my job. I love working with colleagues and students to figure things out. It’s always a thrill when we learn something we did not know before about the remarkable people of the ancient past.”

Mikala Kass

Communications Specialist, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


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Relativity speaking: Teachers gain physics skills

ASU professor helps future teacher harness the joy of scientific discovery.
August 9, 2016

ASU professor improves hands-on science education for future teachers

Kids love to do experiments. When David Meltzer taught middle-schoolers, they especially enjoyed making a generator out of copper wire.

But nothing extinguishes that joy of discovery more than teachers who are unenthusiastic about teaching science because they don’t know the subject matter.

And that’s where Meltzer is working to make a difference, by teaching future teachers how to do experiments, so they learn the activity as well as the content.

“The method that has been followed for years is that you learn a little bit about the subject, you get an acquaintanceship, and you try to teach it,” said Meltzer, who started his career as a theoretical physicistMeltzer also is a consultant to the American Physical Society and the Physics Teacher Education Coalition and senior consultant to the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. and is now an associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“It’s a myth that students will learn very much if the teacher doesn’t know the material.”

Meltzer, who works at the Polytechnic campus at Arizona State University, just completed a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to improve science teaching in grades kindergarten through eight by using classroom activities. He said that typically, K-8 teachers aren’t required to have specialized science training, even though they're teaching physics concepts including mechanics, Newton’s laws of motion, electricity and magnetism, in physical science classes.

“You don’t teach physical science by standing at a blackboard and lecturing to students. That’s not effective. You get them involved in carrying out investigations, solving problems, doing experiments,” he said.

Some of the $300,000 grant was spent on equipment that students use for experiments. They mount little carts on tracks to study mechanics, use ultrasonic motion detectors to measure velocity and acceleration, and create magnets out of coiled copper wire.

Meltzer has taught physical science to the middle schoolers at the ASU Preparatory Academy on the Polytechnic campus, and he said all students love to see what they can build.

“We created a power generator, and you scale that up and it’s the Hoover Dam and you light up a city,” he said.

A one-semesterThe class is SCN 250, “physical science by inquiry.” class isn’t enough to completely prepare future teachers to teach physical science but they get good experience with how to incorporate the activities.

“They’re learning both how to teach, very hands-on, and they’re learning the science content so they aren’t trying to teach something they don’t really understand — which is the big problem in all science education, and we're behind other countriesAmerican 15-year-olds’ science scores ranked 24th in the world in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment..”

David Meltzer

David Meltzer won a grant to improve physics instruction for future teachers at the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Meltzer also is an expert in the historySome of the grant money was spent on adding material to a web site that chronicles the history of science education. of teaching physics. He said that dating back to the 1880s, when physics was called “natural philosophy,” teachers knew that students learned best when they did experiments.

“Teachers back then at the high school and college level made tremendous efforts to expand activity-based teaching but they largely did not succeed,” he said, because by the 1940s, many more Americans started attending high school and the demand for teachers exploded.

“The lecture method took over as the primary method of teaching and the experiments were very prescriptive, like following a cookbook,” he said.

The United States saw a burst of interest in teaching science after the Russians beat the United States into space with Sputnik in 1957 and again in the last few years with the focus on STEMscience, technology, engineering and math. But Meltzer said that eagerness has never translated to better teacher training.

“The Next Generation Science StandardsThe Next Generation Science Standards is an updated set of learning goals for kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards were developed by 26 states, including Arizona, but Arizona has not adopted the standards. are very ambitious but from my standpoint, it will fall short because it’s not linked to a realistic effort to improve the education of science teachers, or, critically, K-8 teachers, where the foundations are set.”

Top photo: David Meltzer shows how he teaches students to use an ultrasonic motion detector to measure velocity on a low-friction track. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Desert lifer earns prestigious award from hydrology group

Clinton Laulo gets Arizona Hydrological Society's Bouwer Intern Scholarship; will study key areas of water industry

August 8, 2016

Clinton Laulo grew up in Arizona visiting and learning about the state's natural water systems, such as Montezuma’s Well, and also many of the built water systems, including the dams.

“These excursions with my family and living in a desert made water one of the most exciting things to me as a child,” Laulo said. Clinton Laulo Clinton Laulo, an environmental engineering major at Arizona State University, has been awarded the prestigious Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship from the Arizona Hydrological Society. Download Full Image

Laulo,  It gives students enrolled in a hydrology-related discipline at any Arizona college or university the opportunity to gain practical experience.

The scholarship acknowledges Bouwer's extensive contributions to both the hydrological society and the science of hydrology. Bouwer was the chief engineer with the Water Conservation Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for many years, and his pioneering work in groundwater recharge with particular emphasis on the reclamation and reuse of sewage effluent through soil aquifer treatment was influential nationally and internationally.

The hydrological society arranged for Laulo to observe three areas of the water industry in Arizona: consulting, municipal and regulatory. He worked his first two weeks with Carollo Engineers, a water engineering consulting firm that has worked on projects in the Phoenix area for more than 80 years. He then spent two weeks with the city of Phoenix visiting wastewater treatment plants, potable water treatment facilities, and working with ground water systems and pumps. His final two weeks of the program was with the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Laulo did not go to college straight out of high school, but 10 years later the then-single father of three decided it was time to pursue his education.

“It was the best use of my time with the least impact on my boys,” Laulo said. “I decided I wanted to work as an engineer, and I love the outdoors. As a result, I chose to pursue environmental engineering and later realized my desire was hydrology.”

He started his secondary education at South Mountain Community College in 2012. After five terms at SMCC he transferred to the Civil Engineering program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

During the 2016 spring semester Laulo was enrolled in CEE 361, an introduction to environmental engineering class taught by Bruce Rittmann, Regents’ Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Rittmann encouraged him to apply for the scholarship and also taught him about public water needs, risks and processing methods.

“Clinton was among the top students in terms of a grade,” Rittmann said. “But what made him special was his exceptional degree of engagement with the topic and the class. He brought in information he found outside. He usually had good questions or answers in class. He clearly was a leader whose activities enriched the experience for everyone.”

Laulo wants to be an innovator in Arizona hydrology. “There is great disparity in the world today, and securing systems in deserts in developed areas such as Phoenix will be the trend-setting solution globally,” he said. “Sustainable water sourcing is a must for humanity. Here in Arizona, because of past policy, we have the ability to experiment on behalf of much of the deserts around the world. The potential we have here excites me.”

The need for continued work in hydrology in Arizona is at an all-time high, and Laulo earnestly desires to work with agencies, government and most of all people to solve problems for the community.

“I want an Arizona like the one I grew up in for my sixth-generation grandchildren, and for all generations after,” he said. “The challenge, that I am willing to rise and meet, is connecting private agency, government and the people that are served. This passion I have for Arizona and for people is why I will build relationships that will be maintained and leveraged for the future development of our great state.”

Erik Wirtanen

Web content comm administrator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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ASU Prep Casa Grande debuts

ASU Prep Casa Grande debuts with maroon-and-gold spirit, innovative learning.
August 2, 2016

Charter high school is the future of education with personalized, blended learning

Arizona State University has expanded its innovations in education to its K-12 charter schools, and the newest one opened this week.

ASU Preparatory Academy Casa Grande started classes Monday with 50 students in grades 9-12.

Every student gets a laptop and learns at an individualized pace, said Art Lebowitz, the head of schools.

“Interestingly enough, in Casa Grande, which seems far away from the big city, this is an incubator of what the future of learning will look like: the personalization, the blended learning, the students working at their own pace, the technology-driven education with faculty involved,” Lebowitz said.

In the old days, students would walk into a classroom and the daily goals would be on the blackboard, the same for everybody, said Deborah Gonzalez, chief academic officer for the ASU Prep network, which is supported in part by a grant from the Sullivan Foundation.

“Now, when you come into the classroom, you open your laptop and your learning objectives are personalized to you as an individual as opposed to everyone has to be on the same page on the same day at the same time.”

Students spent the first day of class learning to sign into their accounts, getting to know each other and learning about the four pillars of ASU Prep: academics, partnership, leadership and innovation.

Sylvia Mejia, director of blended learning, helps ninth-graders on the first day of school Aug. 1 at ASU Prep Casa Grande. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Casa Grande is the third ASU Prep campus, and like all charter schools, there is no tuition to attend. The ASU Prep campus at Seventh and Fillmore streets in downtown Phoenix houses a preschool, elementary and middle schools, and ASU Prep High School. The university’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa is home to a preschool, a K-8 STEM academy and ASU Prep High School Poly. The Phoenix and Poly schools, with about 2,000 total students, graduated 100 percent of the class of 2016, and about two-thirds of the graduates went on to attend ASU.

All the ASU Prep high schools use the internationally benchmarked Cambridge International Curriculum, which focuses on getting students ready for college. In some cases, end-of-course exams can be converted to university credit.

“It’s a high-level preparatory program designed to help every student graduate from a university,” Gonzalez said. “Because the learning is personalized, the students are able to find areas of interest and go in depth into those areas.”

Juniors and seniors will get to partner with faculty at the ASU Polytechnic campus for advanced study, take ASU Online courses and have hands-on internships in the community.

ASU Prep Casa Grande is housed on the grounds of the Francisco GrandeThe Francisco Grande was developed in 1959 as a spring-training camp for the San Francisco Giants and, later, the California Angels. The hotel was popular with Hollywood stars and once hosted John Wayne. The resort’s pool is shaped like a baseball bat. Hotel and Golf Resort, about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. The school took over the resort’s conference center, and the students will walk next door to the hotel restaurant for lunch every day.

ASU Prep Casa Grande also is unique because of its partnership with Grande Sports AcademyMore than 60 of Grande Sports Academy’s players have been chosen by their home countries to compete for their national teams during the past five years, and two players have signed contracts with Liverpool and Manchester United football clubs in England., an elite soccer-training center for boys ages 14 to 18. The soccer academy shares a campus with the school and the resort, and about 60 student-athletes will have the opportunity to attend ASU Prep next year.

Like the other ASU Prep sites, the Casa Grande school is decorated with Sun Devil banners, pennants and posters, and the students wear maroon polo shirts. Everyone wears gold on Fridays.

That college-prep focus was what drew 10th-grader Alejandro De La Cerda to the new school.

“It was a great opportunity, and I couldn’t pass up on it,” De La Cerda said. “I knew it would be different, but at orientation I realized it was a whole different experience from other schools.

“To have something like this come to Casa Grande is pretty big.”

Top photo: Raylene Lerma (center) shows her schedule to fellow ninth-grader Elaysia Colts on the first day of classes at the new ASU Preparatory Academy in Casa Grande. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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New ASU dean ready to take on the system

New teachers' college dean wants to harness energy of entire ASU community.
August 2, 2016

Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College's new leader is a 'boundary spanner'

Carole Basile took a circuitous route to the dean’s office in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.

After a degree in education and a short time student-teaching, she got her master’s degree and entered the business world. She worked for the Amoco Oil Co., doing training and organizational development.

"I woke up one day and said, 'These are the kinds of things we should be teaching kids at a much younger age — problem-solving, communication skills, leadership skills, team-building, all those kinds of things.' ”

After earning her doctorate, she spent years in higher education, while at the same time pursuing her avocation of teaching kids at nature centers. She was most recently dean and professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education.

“I talk about myself as a boundary spanner who can deal with different populations of people and stakeholders because I’ve had various experiences dealing with them,” said Basile, who takes over Aug. 2.

Basile is eager to harness the entire ASU community to improve education.

“For a very long time, I’ve said that education has to move away from thinking about programs, projects and activities and really move toward thinking about systems and structures and culture.

“The real trick to sitting in a deanship where you have this entire university, this entire intellectual capacity and community, how do you bring that together to better our education system and structures?”

Learn more about Basile here:

Top photo: Carole Basile is the new dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now.

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A global experience from Phoenix's West Valley

New camps seek to engage the West Valley community with ASU.
Thunderbird camp gives West Valley students a global experience.
July 28, 2016

High school students engage in hands-on projects at ASU's Thunderbird summer camp

While other teenagers were playing the latest smartphone game, a group of high schoolers came to Arizona State University earlier this month to create business plans.

The students were in the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience camp and during the first of three weeklong sessions, they learned about sports marketing by creating a mock product and a plan to sell it.

“I know everyone says this, but ours really is the best,” Nihal Aradhymath, (pictured at top) a student at BASIS Phoenix High School, said during the presentation to market his team’s product — a natural energy supplement.

“Support your joints, and they’ll support you!” said Darby Watters, who created a proposal to sell compression braces for injured knees and ankles that can be custom decorated. Watters, who goes to Madison Highland Prep in Phoenix, excelled at a business class in school and was inspired to learn about marketing, so she decided to attend the Thunderbird camp.

The Thunderbird Summer Global Experience is new this year. The day camp is run at ASU's West campus in Glendale by Global LaunchGlobal Launch is the ASU organization that provides intensive English courses for international students and other kinds of global outreach., and includes low-cost or free initiatives that are intended to engage the community with ASU, according to Linda Hill, program coordinator for Global Launch.

“It’s a campaign to increase programs that ASU offers in the Glendale area and to give prospective students a chance to experience the ASU campus in a way they wouldn’t otherwise,” Hill said.

Sejal Shanbhag works with her partners, Justin Rudick and Bradley Lehmann, on their presentation at the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience at West campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Some of the Thunderbird programs have a global flavor. Children who are already attending the Sun Devil Fitness Camp at West campus have had weekly Thunderbird sessions in flag-making and Peruvian music and dance.

Another program is called “Passport to Brazil,” in which Thunderbird Summer Global Experience staff are offering two-hour cultural activities to kids in camps run by the Boys and Girls Clubs.

The day camp for high school juniors and seniors featured guest speakers and hands-on projects, such as developing a social media campaign.

Sejal Shanbhag, who attends Desert Mountain High School, said her school canceled a business class she wanted, so she signed up for the camp, where she worked on marketing a football helmet that scans the head for injury. Her partners were Justin Rudick, who goes to Pinnacle High School, and Bradley Lehmann, a student at Boulder Creek High School.

“I realized that during the summer I would probably get a little stir crazy,” Lehmann said. “It was good to work with other people.”

Top photo: Nihal Aradhymath, a student at BASIS Phoenix, gives his sports marketing presentation at the Thunderbird Summer Global Experience camp at West campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Legally speaking, we're almost home

ASU Law transition is nearly complete; will open in time for fall semester.
ASU Law grand opening will celebrate new era of access, community connections.
July 26, 2016

ASU Law settles into new building on Downtown Phoenix campus, capping most significant move in its history

Arizona State University’s law school dean was candid about the transition into his $129 million new digs.

“There is no easy move,” said Doug Sylvester, head of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, checking off the complications of going from a squat, tan building in Tempe to a sparkling state-of-the-art facility in downtown Phoenix. “There were a lot of hiccups. No power. Some of the computer systems weren’t running. And issues with lighting, heating and cooling.”

But it’s almost over, he said.

On Aug. 15, ASU Law plans to celebrate the grand opening of its new home at the Arizona Center for Law and Society, capping a decade-long relocation project aimed at making the school more accessible to top lawyers, government officials and everyday people.

“The goal is to create a single point where students, educators, political leaders, the legal community and the public can interact and connect,” Sylvester said. “That is different than any other law school in the country.”

'Pardon my dust'

A few stragglers remain at Armstrong Hall, ASU Law’s home since its inception in 1967. The overwhelming majority of the college’s faculty and staff, meanwhile, are already settling into their new 280,000-square-foot, six-story space, which is “still a bit of a mess,” Sylvester said, as crews finish their work.   

It’s been a bustling scene recently. As Sylvester spoke, a worker jackhammered a sidewalk, a loading dock filled with shipments and movers hauled furniture and equipment past “pardon my dust” signs.  

In a few weeks, ASU Law, one of 12 occupants inside the Center for Law and Society building, will be home to 900 students. The group will be closer to the state Capitol and legal district, providing them with better access to internships and professional opportunities, Sylvester said.

The school’s location and design mark a departure from traditional law school “fortresses,” as Sylvester called them, that refrain from community and civic engagement. ASU Law’s new home features open spaces, retractable walls and glass-enclosed classrooms to encourage interaction and transparency, Sylvester said.

“If you put up doors and guards and security, members of the general community are not going to come in because they feel unwelcome the minute they arrive,” Sylvester said. “It was more expensive to build this way, but we felt that was necessary and think it is part of our mission.”

Finding a new home

The move has been a priority for ASU President Michael Crow since at least 2003 when he and Phoenix’s mayor at the time, Phil Gordon, met for breakfast and sketched — on a plain, white napkin — a downtown campus that could enhance the creativity in the city’s core.

The sketch became a blueprint for ASU’s vision of the urban college experience: a campus geared toward city-minded students drawn to professional development and service-oriented careers in government, media, nonprofit, medical and legal work.

Phoenix voters approved a $223 million bond plan about three years after Crow and Gordon’s meeting to pay for ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, which includes several colleges serving about 12,000 students. The measure passed easily with two-thirds of the vote. What wasn’t so easy was finding available land for the building that would become home to ASU Law.

In 2010, a vacant motel came up for sale and the city of Phoenix purchased it for $5 million, using the last of the bond funds. ASU and city officials celebrated, but a contingent of preservationists pushed back.

The former Sahara Motor Inn, built in 1955, had been a mid-century marvel with period-style materials that included red brick, mosaic tiles and floor-to-ceiling glass. Marilyn Monroe stayed in one of the inn’s two penthouses during the filming of “Bus Stop.” But the sentimental push, led by the Downtown Voices Coalition, fell short for a building that had most recently been a pink-stucco Ramada Inn.

Work started in 2014 after the city provided the land and an additional $12 million to start construction.

Some say it was none too soon.

“We were bursting at the seams,” facilities manager Allan B. Crouch said. “We actually had to put file cabinets out in the hallways because of the school’s growth.”

Armstrong Hall, ASU Law’s home on the Tempe campus, went through two major renovations and an expansion over its five-decade history, but still had an array of problems that included a leaky roof and faulty plumbing. 

Also, there were stacks of legal and research papers at every turn.

In addition to the hallway file cabinets, professor Zachary Kramer joked that one of his colleagues had “piles of papers larger than the size of me.”

That won’t be an issue downtown. Law school faculty and staff, including the Ross-Blakely Law Library, were told to go digital by purging most of their books and papers before the move.

Victoria Trotta, the law library’s assistant dean, was put in charge of shedding nearly 240 tons of material. That much paper, laid end to end, would stretch between New York and Los Angeles more than three times.

The process took five years and contractors had to install a special trash chute to accommodate the work, Trotta said. Most of the books were recycled or sent to other institutions, she said.   

Reflecting growth

The new building reflects the growth of ASU Law, which bucks a national trend, Sylvester said. Law schools across the U.S. have cut staff amid declining enrollments over the last five years, he said.

Not so at ASU. Aside from increases in students and staff, the law school has also secured a top 25 ranking from U.S. News and World Report and has been recognized as the top school in the state for graduates successfully passing the bar exam.

Sylvester is looking to build on that momentum in the Arizona Center for Law and Society, which also has spaces for think tanks, several legal aid clinics, a first teaching law firm and a permanent office for retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“It’s a place where if you think you need a lawyer, we can help you find one or refer you to a firm,” Sylvester said. “That feature is really unique among any law school in the country and advances the ASU mission across the board.”

As with any exciting move, some are experiencing bittersweet feelings as well.

Dawn Lee, director of the law school’s career services division, attended ASU’s law school more than 20 years ago and feels an attachment to the Tempe building.

But, “I’m really excited about the move. It’ll be an amazing experience for all of us to be in that environment.”

Top photo: Volumes of microfilm are among the items that had to be moved in order for ASU Law to transition into its new home in downtown Phoenix. Library assistant Andrew Story helps pack up in Tempe on on Monday, June 13. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


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How to turn a stadium into a year-round cultural hub

Sun Devil Stadium vision: A 365-day cultural mecca with a few football games.
Graduate students propose year-round uses for Sun Devil Stadium.
July 22, 2016

ASU student team proposes ideas for using newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium every day

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

For about seven Saturdays every fall, Sun Devil Stadium is a paradise of Arizona State University spirit as thousands of screaming fans cheer on the football team, but on any given weekday it sits quiet and practically vacant.

ASU wants to change that and hopes to create a year-round cultural hub that draws people of all ages every day of the year after the stadium's $250 million renovation is complete next year.

A team of five graduate students took on the challenge, called Stadium 365, in a consulting internship this summer. The group, which recently gave its final presentation, envisions Sun Devil Stadium filled with fitness classes, alumni gatherings, conferences, dinner parties, academic classes, running events, concerts, pop-up stores and a weekly farmers’ market.

Right now their proposals are just ideas, but ASU has made clear that it is serious about transforming the stadium's role in the community.

“The potential of what this project could be is unbelievable because no one has done what we’re trying to do — 100 percent utilization 365 days a year,” said A.J. Higgins, one of the team members, who earned an MBA in May from at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

The proposals could earn revenue for ASU and promote the university's brand in the community while deepening its ties with students, who would be running many of the events.

'It's important to get this right'

ASU held an open house last fall to gather stadium ideas from community members, who came up with everything from Rolling Stones concerts to yoga classes.

The MBA students spent 10 weeks calling other venues, talking to alumni, analyzing costs and revenue projections and weighing variables in order to support their proposals.

Some of the pitches would generate a lot of money, but be complicated to implement. For example, a big-name concert could potentially, according to the students' proposal, earn more than $2 million in one day in ticket, food and beverage profits, but it would require costly security and clean-up.

ASU wants a lot of people to use the new stadium, so free or low-cost events that wouldn’t make much profit still would be desirable. For example, the graduate students estimated that free movie nights might earn only $60,000 a year from food and beverage sales but could draw a non-football-fan crowd and fill a need for family-friendly entertainment. Likewise, fitness classes could generate $52,000 annually, but they also would utilize the stadium for more than 200 days a year. Those kinds of uses would strengthen ASU's community connections.

One idea that would make money from currently unused space is pop-up stores — tents set up on the stadium concourse. The student team estimated that ASU could make about $144,000 a year leasing these spaces. More importantly, the pop-ups could be low-cost sales venues for student or community entrepreneurs.

The students had to figure in variables such as competition. For example, stadiums at other universities make money by hosting high school sports tournaments. ASU could potentially host high school soccer or football events, but the University of Phoenix Stadium has a profit-sharing agreement with area high schools for playoff games and NCAA rules prohibit ASU from that kind of a deal.

Most of the ideas focused on using the field and concourse, but the student team saw big potential in leasing the club and suite spaces — estimating earnings $2 million a year and drawing more than 760,000 people. These spaces would be attractive for meetings and conferences, with views of the field. However, suite owners might not go for it.

Food and beverage sales are the crux of the plans, and the group spent a lot of time researching possibilities.

“From a fan perspective, it’s important to get this right, but it’s also important to get food and beverage right form a business perspective,” said Moose Fritz, one of the team members.

“Every year, fans spend more than $1 million on concessions at Sun Devil Stadium, and the university gets almost $400,000 just from concessions from the main part of the stadium,” he said. 

The Stadium 365 student team toured the stadium earlier this month while analyzing proposals to use the venue year-round. Contributed photo

ASU could make a lot more money by eliminating the third-party vendor it hired to run all the stadium’s concessions, according to the group. (It's important to remember that this is just a proposal in the student project — there is no indication from the university that this is under consideration.)

If the university were to take over running the food and beverages itself, the profit could be $4 million according to the estimate.

Fritz said that few universities do this because it’s complicated and might require a lot of money to be spent on renovating the kitchens and concession stands.

One important element to keeping the stadium student-centric is allowing students to spend their “Maroon and Gold Dollars” — their pre-paid food-service accounts.

“We estimate $2.50 per capita on food and beverage but that will go to zero if they can’t pay us,” Fritz said.

Giving back to ASU

The students said they had almost no limitations when they began their project — except they couldn't use the field during football season.

“I think that speaks to the innovative nature of ASU that there was no solution that was off the table from the start. If we can show it will work, they’re willing to listen and give it some consideration,” Fritz said.

They faced questions about whether their plans would really be implemented. The students are optimistic, and Colleen Jennings-RoggensackJennings-Roggensack also is associate vice president for cultural affairs for ASU., executive director for ASU Gammage who is overseeing all programming at the new stadium, told them that they should give their presentation to the university’s top administrators.

“The level of detail that you’ve gotten will be a great guide for us,” she said.

Team members Ying Zhang and Lida Amini Shervin are international students who have never been to a football game. When they think about the stadium space, they hope for cultural events that draw families and young professionals.

Fritz said he saw the internship as a chance to give back to ASU.

“I came back to school because I wanted a management position in the Foreign Service. So if I’m going to be a public servant the rest of my life, I’m probably not going to make enough money to donate enough to get them to name a building after me. But this gives me the opportunity to have a lasting effect on the university,” he said. 

Todd Runyan, another team member, said that working on a stadium was special to him because he was a college football player at Brigham Young and Cornell universities.

“This could be a great place to for students to get real-world experience running a stadium. That would add to their ASU degrees that they actually did this at a major venue,” he said.

“As a football player it was a special place for me," he said. "But if we could make it special for everyone, that would be a success in my eyes.”

More stadium ideas

ASU Design School students drew on faculty research and their peers’ creativity to rethink the idea of what a stadium can — and should — be. Read their ideas here.

Top photo: Sun Devil Stadium is undergoing a $250 million renovation. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Tribal Radio Summit at ASU unites Native talent

Radio remains vital form of communication for many remote, tribal communities.
Tribal leaders, federal officials discuss way to expand Native radio ownership.
July 22, 2016

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn emphasizes media diversity

Remember when AOL became mainstream? That was two decades ago. Since then we have evolved from dial-up to high-speed internet, from flip phones to smartphones. At a swipe of a finger, we can take pictures, stream video and chase Pokémon.

Meanwhile, our neighbors in tribal communities are determined to keep pace with technology and enhance communication methods across remote areas. For many, especially those in rural communities, radio remains essential for news and alerts.

This week, radio producers, station managers, hosts and media experts from Native communities gathered in downtown Phoenix at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for the Tribal Radio Summit hosted by the Federal Communications Commission, in partnership with Native Public Media, the National Federation of Public Broadcasters and ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute.

The summit has allowed people from across the country to share ideas, learn important policies and collaborate, delivering advice about what can be done to propel Native radio forward and make this medium of communication more pronounced in their communities.

The summit brings together key players, including FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Geoffrey Blackwell, vice chair on the Board of Advisors for ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute and chair of Native Public Media.

“Summits like these are critically important for tribal nations because working with the federal government and the intertribal organizations brings together all the players in a particular industry, creating an opportunity for tribal nations,” Blackwell said.

He added such conferences help Native leaders understand laws, regulations, opportunities and risks associated with mass communication and closing the digital divide.

“Our nation is the largest in land mass after Navajo and because of that we don’t have full coverage with the stations we have,” Sial Thonolig, from the Tohono O’odham nation and station manager of KOHN, said.

“The reason we are here is to find out about the tribal allotment process because we still have, in spite of the fact that we’re looking at four radio stations we still have unserved areas,” he said. “We’re hoping to use the tribal allotment process to serve the unserved areas. So that’s why we’re very interested in coming up here and hearing from the commission staff, how to do that.”

Through a series of guest panels, attendees received information on what it takes to build and run a successful radio operation. The panels also covered the FCC's Tribal Radio Priority and how that makes it easier for tribal applicants to obtain broadcast station licenses.

two people talking at conference

Loris Taylor, Native Public Media president and CEO, and Lyle Ishida, acting chief of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy, address attendees during the Tribal Radio Summit panel at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, July 21. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The highlight of the summit was Clyburn's keynote address on the importance of station ownership and diversity.

“I wish for you what I wish for myself, and I work for you in a way that I would work for the communities in which I nurtured,” she said, emphasizing that she is committed to examine the unique communication challenges in tribal lands, rural communities and poor urban neighborhoods.

“We started this journey together, and it is critical that we continue to collaborate and develop those next paths forward,” Clyburn said.

Antonia Gonzalez is the host and producer for National Native News, an entity of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. Her passion for radio radiated as she sat in the audience during Clyburn’s speech. She is excited about her work and what it means to the Native community.

”Our mission of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation to be a leader and bringing indigenous voices to the air in Alaska and across the nation,” she said. “Often times in the mainstream media there is a lack or a nonexistent view from tribes, of tribes, from the Native perspective so it’s our jobs to bring the Native perspective in stories to the nation.”

Top photo: FCC commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn addresses the first Tribal Radio Summit hosted by the FCC at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Wednesday, July 20. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now