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Grants smooth the way to train more science, math teachers

#ASU grant program aims to fill critical need of math, science teachers.
May 24, 2016

ASU students who get SEED funds, extra training during their residencies commit to working 2 years in high-need schools

Arizona State University will hit its goal of producing 200 new math and science teachers with the help of a federal grant that aids student teachers.

ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College just awarded 53 students the Supporting Effective Educator Development — or SEED — grant, bringing the total to 204 in the third year of the program.

The SEED grants give undergraduates $10,000 and master’s students $25,000 during their iTeachAZ residency, when they spend two semesters teaching full time in a high-needs school. Thirty-eight of this month’s new grantees are undergraduates, with 15 graduate students. They can use the money for anything they want, including tuition or rent, while they are student teaching during the 2016-2017 school year.

The iTeachAZ residency is the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College innovative preparation program in which students spend two full semesters as a co-teacher in the classroom. The students teach with a mentor teacher four days a week and then take their ASU classes one day a week at the same school they teach at.

Pam Harris, executive director of the SEED program, said that undergraduate student teachers are asked to not have outside jobs because the residency is so intense. It also is unpaid.

“The only time they could work would be the weekends, but we find that it’s too taxing,” said Harris, who also is the assistant division director for teacher preparation.

SEED grant recipients commit to working two full years after graduation as math or science teachers at a high-needs school, typically one that has a high number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Students who received the grant funding for the 2015-2016 school year found it invaluable. Hillary Golson (shown in the top photo at right) decided to make a career change when the health-care company she had been working for shut down.

“I knew it was the perfect time to do this, but the only way I could do it was to get some funding and there aren’t usually that many opportunities with master’s programs,” she said.

SEED teaching grant recipient.

Liza Heath gives an example of how to teach letters and pronunciation in Nicole Aveni’s class at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix on April 5. Heath is an ASU master’s student who received a SEED grant. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Golson has been a pre-service teacher at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix since last summer and will look for a job as a seventh- or eighth-grade math teacher.

“Coming from the working world, I know you have to be someone of value. My undergraduate degree was in theater and set design, and I loved it, but doing this is something that is much more marketable.”

The SEED grants also pay for training sessions for the students and their mentor teachers. In one engineering seminar, the teachers learned to make spinning tops from household items.

Another crucial component of the program is “induction” — sessions for first-year teachers to learn “soft skills,” such as how to deal with stress, being aware of emotional triggers, how to respond to students and parents in a positive way and how to live in a healthy way. That kind of training has been proposed as a way to boost retention among new teachers.

“Over time, we’ll track whether that kind of induction provided results,” Harris said. “The exit data show that they loved it.”

Increasing the number of math and science teachers is critical. A study by the Arizona Department of Education in 2014 found that 24 percent of the state’s public-school teachers will be eligible to retire by 2018, and that special education, math and science positions are the most difficult to fill.

Top photo: Nicole Aveni (standing) assists ASU students Melissa Sullivan (left) and Hillary Golson during their course at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix. Aveni is a clinical instructor for ASU and the site coordinator for the iTeachAZ program at Longview. Sullivan and Golson are master's students who received SEED grants this past year. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Promoting Hispanic education, recognizing achievement

More than 2,100 Hispanic graduates attain their educational goals this semester

May 12, 2016

A 32-year Arizona State University tradition continues as nearly 400 Hispanic students will take the Wells Fargo Arena stage on Saturday to be recognized for achieving their academic goals.

Local TV reporters Karla Navarrete and J.R. Cardenas will emcee the Spring 2016 Hispanic Convocation — an always festive celebration that draws the largest per capita number of graduation-ceremony guests and concludes ASU’s commencement activities for the semester. Download Full Image

ASU alum and former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor is also expected to attend this year’s convocation to present his namesake award, said Rhonda Carrillo, assistant director for the ASU Office of Community Relations.

“We’re very honored to have Mr. Pastor presenting the outstanding graduate award and proud of all the graduates’ academic success,” said Carrillo. “Our projection is that over 4,000 family members, friends and supporters will be on hand to celebrate their achievements.”

The convocation will also honor two outstanding students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence and leadership during their academic journey at ASU. 

The recipient of the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate award will be Katie Curiel, a master's in global technology and development major from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. The other honoree is Grace Ordonez, who will receive the Cecilia Esquer Outstanding Undergraduate award. She’s graduating with a bachelor's in accountancy from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

portrait of Katie Curiel

Phoenix native Curiel (left) made her mark at ASU through involvement in countless initiatives, to include being the founder of Women on the Move, an international network supporting Arab women to be empowered and find success in the U.S. and in their home countries. She also served on the advisory boards for ASU’s Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and DREAMzone — a program that helps undocumented students.

Curiel also interned with the U.S. Agency for International Development, helping to establish the world's first online platform for innovative global development initiatives. She mentored more than 20 of her sisters in Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority both locally and nationally. Through the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, she also mentored two Ugandan women. Despite managing work and school while sustaining significant community involvement, Curiel maintained an impressive 3.9 grade-point average and garnered various scholarships and awards during her time at ASU.

“As someone who works closely with Katie on several projects, I’ve seen the impact she has on the lives of students and community members,” said Davier Rodriguez, coordinator for the Downtown Phoenix Campus Dean of Students Office. “She is a living representation of all that ASU celebrates in its rankings and recognitions; a global leader, change agent and scholar.”

Scottsdale Community College transfer Ordonez (left) is the founding president of the Pre-Law Society at ASU. By working with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the W. P. Carey School of Business and various ASU alumni, the Phoenix native built recognition, support and connections for the group.

In addition to amassing numerous scholarship and awards, Ordonez maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and gave selflessly of her time by mentoring more than 100 students in rigorous accounting and economic courses. She also produced a series of YouTube tutoring videos to provide an around-the-clock assistance platform reachable by other students across the U.S. and abroad.

“Grace immediately distinguished herself as a superior student,” said Nancy Cassidy, senior lecturer with the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Grace’s strong commitment to academic excellence, an impeccable work ethic and high standards of personal integrity make her not only an outstanding individual, but also a student who has earned the respect of her peers and professors alike.”

Just over 2,100 Hispanic students graduated this semester, according to university statistics.

The ASU Hispanic Convocation is a signature event that honors the accomplishments and commitment of ASU’s Hispanic students pursuing higher education.  Participation is open to all students graduating in the current semester. This semester’s convocation begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 14, at Wells Fargo Arena on the Tempe campus. 

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Putting the humanity in nutrition

ASU prof Vaughan was the glue as nutrition school grew through many transitions.
Students not the only ones to benefit from Vaughan: Food bank, vets also helped.
May 12, 2016

Health Solutions' Linda Vaughan retiring after 36 years of helping ASU, students and underserved populations succeed

In her 36 years at Arizona State University, Linda Vaughan has overseen a lot of changes in the field of health and nutrition.

This summer, she has one more big change coming: retirement.

She has held a variety of positions — including her current one as directorSince 2011, Vaughan has served as the director of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, part of the College of Health Solutions. Prior to that, she was an associate dean in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (2009-2011) and the School of Applied Arts and Sciences (2008-2009). She attained the role of full professor in 2000 and is one of a handful of professors in the College of Health Solutions. of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion — has published more than 40 scientific peer-reviewed articles and one of the best-selling nutrition textbooks“The Science of Nutrition,” co-authored with Janice Thompson and Melinda Manore, has been translated in several languages and is now in its fourth edition., procured more than $2.2 million in grant funding and has received or been nominated for seven teaching awards throughout her career.

Her biggest role, however, won’t be found on her resume. Vaughan has served as the “glue” for the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and has seen transitions from a small department on the Tempe campus to explosive growth on Polytechnic to its latest home on the Downtown Phoenix campus. She has overseen the integration of several new programs into the school, including Health Sciences, Medical Laboratory Sciences and a return of Kinesiology faculty and programs.  During these transitions, Vaughan oversaw major expansions in the sizes of both faculty and staff hires and managed to unify the existing and new personnel into a collaborative, productive and supportive group.

“Linda was a valued and trusted adviser to me as the college was forming, is a beloved leader of the faculty and is highly regarded by students and staff,” said Keith Lindor, dean of the College of Health Solutions. “She has been innovative, creative, approachable and supportive in every way. She is the ideal colleague and has been a valued contributor in many, many ways to a large number of people.”

Faculty numbers were small when Vaughan was hired by ASU in the fall of 1979, when “nutrition” was just a small group, then known as the Department of Home Economics.

“We started out with four people in our area, but it had dwindled to one full-time faculty member and we were still on a 3/3 teaching load, thus my teaching duties were exhaustive,” Vaughan said.

“But I lived for those aha moments — the moment in a student’s face registered, ‘I get it now.’ That’s the big reward, and that’s what carries you through the years.”

A platter of muffins and baked goods.

Food banks often are given a lot of muffins, doughnuts and other bakery items. ASU professor Linda Vaughan worked with the United Food Bank to develop software that could track both the amount and the nutrient quality of the food being distributed.

Vaughan has taught a wide array of students, many of whom might be described as “non-traditional” — a 70-year-old retired Home Economics Chair, two professional chefs, a retired ballet dancer, dozens of women returning to school after raising families, military veterans, an engineer, a high school English teacher, a public relations manager and several student athletes, including three who competed at the Olympic games.

“I owe my entire career to Dr. Linda Vaughan,” said Tina Shepard, a former student and the current director of the Dietetic Internship program at ASU. “I served as her teaching assistant back in 1986, and she convinced me to become a registered dietitian, which was the best nutrition career advice I ever received.

“Then 10 years later, I returned to Arizona and she helped me get a position in our college. A few years later, she hired me to become the new Dietetic Internship director for our program. Through every step of my career, it was Linda Vaughan who encouraged me, believed in me, and helped me move forward in the nutrition field.”

Vaughan’s research explored how nutrition relates to chronic disease across a woman’s life cycle in Hispanic, Native American, pregnant and prenatal women, low-income elderly and other underserved populations.

“I came to learn that poverty was much more widespread than I ever thought and that you can never tell by looking at someone who was in poverty,” Vaughan said.

In addition to making significant impacts in research and teaching, Vaughan has been a consistent contributor in service. She served two terms on the ASU affirmative-action committee, was a member of the Havasupai Tribal Initiative and is a former board member and current volunteer for the United Food Bank and sits on the board of the Arizona March of Dimes. In addition, she also supports the MANA House, a facility in Phoenix that provides transitional housing to military homeless veterans.

“I came to learn that poverty was much more widespread than I ever thought and that you can never tell by looking at someone who was in poverty.”

— Linda Vaughan, director of ASU's School of Nutrition and Health Promotion

Vaughan’s work with the United Food Bank also spilled over into her research. She assisted the group in developing a computerized system to not only track the amount of food distributed, but the nutrient quality of food distributed to recipients.

“This was a big step because they had no idea if they were giving out nutritious food or foods with low nutrient value,” Vaughan said. “If you’ve ever been to a food bank, you will often see a lot of doughnuts, day-old cake and other perishable bakery items. The director knew intuitively these types of foods weren’t ideal in terms of supporting the health of their clients, but they didn’t know if they were successfully ‘balancing’ the total food packages with highly nutritious donations, either.

“So we helped them evaluate the nutrient distribution of the foods they received then distributed. As it turned out, the food bank was doing a very good job in providing their clients with key vitamins, minerals and protein.”

One might say Vaughan offered similar balance to ASU during her 36-year tenure, which is why in April she received the ASU Commission on the Status of Women Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award in the faculty category, and more recently why the ASU Foundation established the Linda Vaughan Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship is intended for nutrition students, undergraduate or graduate, and is based on academic merit and financial need. So far more than 70 individuals have contributed to this fund, including faculty, staff and former students.

Vaughan says the scholarship is important to her because it’s a gift that will keep on giving, pretty much what she’ll do in retirement. She plans to rejoin the United Food Bank board and work on specific projects there. Vaughan also wants to teach adults how to swim, so that their children are more likely to learn how to swim, and spend more time with her grandson, who is 5 months old.

“It’s been a great ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Vaughan said. “I’ll miss ASU, I’ll miss the faculty and staff I’ve worked with and the students, but it’s time for me and I’m ready.

“I’m happy with what I’ve done and happy how I’m leaving the school. They are going to do great things.”

Reporter , ASU Now


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Tippeconnic says farewell

ASU prof worked with schools and politicians to have impact on education.
Tippeconnic says Native graduates "have their head, hearts in the right place."
May 10, 2016

Director of ASU's American Indian Studies Program retiring after half a century of improving Native education

Quanah Parker was a Comanche leader and fierce warrior who sought and obtained peace for his people at a crucial point in their history.

The chief’s photo hangs above John W. Tippeconnic III’s desk in the office of Arizona State University’s American Indian Studies Program, where he serves as a professor and director. 

The 73-year-old educator, who is also a member of the Comanche tribe, is finding renewed inspiration in Parker’s life these days.

“Quanah Parker was one of the last great chiefs, and his rule coincided with the federal government’s colonization efforts by rounding up tribes, forcing Native Americans on reservations and moving them from their homelands,” Tippeconnic said. “He was a brilliant negotiator when it came to dealing with the federal government. This was not necessarily a good time for Comanches, but a difficult transitional time.”

Tippeconnic is experiencing a transitional moment of his own right now. The Phoenix Indian Center’s 2016 Leon Grant Spirit of the Community AwardHonorees of this annual award are noted for their service, commitment and dedication to the greater good of the American Indian community in Arizona. honoree is on the precipice of retirement, with 50 years of experience in teaching and educational leadership positions in organizations and programs serving American Indian populations.

“Professor Tippeconnic has profoundly impacted American Indian education at all levels and has supported countless Native scholars and educators over his decades in the field,” said K. Tsianina Lomawaima, a professor in ASU’s School of Social TransformationThe School of Social Transformation is an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.. “I personally have benefited, like many, many others, from his generous, astute, detailed and constructive peer review and mentorship. He exemplifies Native values of intellectual excellence, hard work and care for others.”

That excellence was molded at a young age by his parents, who both attended boarding schools. Tippeconnic said boarding schools back then were militaristic in their approach and highly structured, and they attempted to assimilate Natives into Western ways.

“The United States practiced the policy of, ‘Kill the Indian, save the man,’” he said. “In other words, eradicate who you are and make someone out of you that you aren’t. It was all a part of colonization by using education as a tool to assimilate, eradicate and force change. That definitely had an impact on them, so they pushed me towards education, but an education where I was valued as a Native person.”

ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III

ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III (shown here and above in his office at Discovery Hall on the Tempe campus April 26) said the 100 percent Native faculty in the American Indian Studies Program is "a strength that you don’t see at major universities in this country." Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

His parents led by example. His father, John, was the first Comanche to ever receive a master’s degree and was a principal and teacher at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. His Cherokee mother, Juanita, was a cook at the school.

“My parents instilled in me the importance of education because they lived it, modeled it, so I was right there with them,” Tippeconnic said. “It was never a matter of if I was going to go to college, but where I was going to go.”

Tippeconnic chose Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he majored in secondary education. His first job was teaching math and social studies at Hayes Junior High in Albuquerque. It was 1966, and that particular public school system wasn’t what he had hoped.

“The principal valued discipline and bulletin boards in the classroom,” Tippeconnic said. “I wasn’t very good at bulletin boards.”

Tippeconnic spent two years there before taking a job on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, teaching Navajo fourth- and eighth-grade students. He said the experience was much more meaningful than Albuquerque.

“The kids I taught were grounded in who they were as Navajo people, and all knew and spoke the language,” Tippeconnic said. “They were respectful, and discipline was not an issue so you could really focus on teaching students.”

His good work was noticed by an administrator at Navajo Community College in Tsaile, Arizona, where he became an assistant to the president. The institution is known today as Diné College, the first tribally controlled community college in the United States, in which Tippeconnic played no small part.

“When I got there, the tribe had control of the college. The (college's) board of regents could hire and fire the president,” Tippeconnic said. “They could also institute and approve curriculum and hire faculty and staff.”

He still considers tribal colleges the best example of tribal control of education.

“A good leader is someone who puts others first and doesn’t say ‘I’ but rather, ‘we.’ ... Leadership, like education, is about people. It’s a people business.”
— retiring ASU professor John W. Tippeconnic III

After Navajo Community College, Tippeconnic got involved in educational policy.

“Policy is a key part of leadership because if you examine the history of the U.S. government and Indian tribes’ relations, it’s one that’s based on treaties, Congressional acts, court decisions and legal definitions,” Tippeconnic said. “Not only is it important to develop policy but also to see how policy is implemented. Good Indian policy, based on tribal sovereignty, is key to the success of Indian nation.”

After he received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Penn State University, his focus turned to Washington, D.C., where he eventually held director positions at the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education; and the Office of Indian Education Programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Both jobs required work with Congress, tribes, states, local schools, professional organizations and with various departments of the executive branch of the federal government that had an impact on education nationally.

And it would take an act of Congress to get Tippeconnic to take credit for his work. He still insists others should be lauded for his success.

“A good leader is someone who puts others first and doesn’t say ‘I’ but rather, ‘we.’ It’s someone who respects other people, earns their respect and listens to them and not only hears what they have to say but values their input,” Tippeconnic said. “Leadership, like education, is about people. It’s a people business.”

Tippeconnic directed ASU's Center for Indian Education for a number of years, beginning in 1976. He returned to ASU in 2010, serving as professor and director of the American Indian Studies (AIS) Program. The program develops future leaders in Indian country that are grounded in cultural integrity, sovereignty and indigenous knowledge.

“Our graduates know what colonization and decolonization mean. They know our history and the policies. They’re grounded in our AIS paradigm that is based on the experiences of American Indian nations, peoples, communities and organizations from American Indian perspectives,” Tippeconnic said. “One hundred percent of our faculty is Native American. That is a strength that you don’t see at major universities in this country. People look at us and value our AIS program. We’re just at the start of doing great things.”

Tippeconnic sees that after dedicating 50 years of his life to education. On May 11, Tippeconnic will officially say goodbye at ASU’s 26th American Indian Convocation at ASU Gammage in Tempe. There he will see a record-breaking 361 Native students receive their degrees who represent the future leadership of Indian country with the knowledge to sustain strong identity and sovereign status of Indian nations.

“That gives me hope because these young people have their head and hearts in the right place,” Tippeconnic said. “I’m so proud of what they have accomplished.”

Reporter , ASU Now


5 things to know about Prop. 123

April 28, 2016

Arizonans will vote May 17 on Proposition 123, a measure that, if passed, would affect K-12 education funding and the state trust land permanent fund for the next 10 years.

On April 20, the first day of early voting, a panel of experts — from the Institute for Civil Dialogue, ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the ASU Participatory Governance Initiative — held a nonpartisan discussion about Prop. 123 to help increase voter understanding. Download Full Image

Proponents of the complex proposition believe it is necessary to get schools funding they need now, and that this is a positive first step so voters can make their voices heard on public education. Many opponents of the proposition, however, see this as a bad compromise that raids a trust fund that is supposed to be maintained for future needs of students, like taking money from savings now when you really need it for retirement. Many are undecided: They want to see more immediate funding for schools, but don't like that this is a stopgap measure that isn't intended to permanently fund schools.

Here are a few things the experts said that voters should know about the proposition:

It would mean more money for K-12 education, but how much more?

Prop. 123 would add about $300 million to the state education budget every year for the next 10 years.That evens out to about $300 extra per student per year, which is approximately a3 percent increase to total K-12 funding. The state will also increase its contribution from the general fund $50 million for the next five years, and then an additional $75 million in fiscal years 2021-2025.

Prop. 123 would take money from the state trust lands' permanent fund.

There is a permanent land endowment trust fund, which receives revenue from the sale of state trust lands. Approximately 90 percent of the funds from the saleof those lands are set aside for education. What Prop. 123 would do is increase the current 2.5 percent annual return from the permanent fund going toward public education to 6.9 percent for the next 10 years.

There are possible federal legal implications.

Because the state trust lands were granted to Arizona by the federal government upon statehood, there are questions as to whether this proposition can be solved at the state level. This is one of the main concerns for opponents of Prop. 123, that the state doesn’t have the power to possibly “deplete the corpus (body)” of the state trust lands. This means that the 6.9 percent going to education every year could dip into the total fund, which Arizona may not be allowed to touch without Congressional approval.

There are triggers that could limit the money that Prop. 123 affords.

There are built-in “triggers” that could prevent the full $3 billion from being allocated to schools over the next 10 years. In the case of an economic downturn, they can suspend the inflation increases, and they can also prevent the full funding if K-12 education reaches 49 percent of the state budget. Currently, K-12 spending is about 43 percent of the general fund.

Prop. 123 would settle a lawsuit; if it doesn’t pass, the lawsuit will go forward.

In 2012, the State of Arizona had a deficit of more than $1 billion, and the Legislature stopped funding schools according to a voter-passed law from 2000 that required the Legislature to increase public education funding in proportion to inflation. A coalition of school districts and various Arizona education groups has sued to restore the funds lost over the past four years because of that action. In the case that Prop. 123 doesn’t pass, the lawsuit will continue and will not settle. This lawsuit could take several years to complete, where a jury would determine how much money the state would have to pay.

Media: Do you have more questions about Prop. 123? Email Logan Clark at mediarelations@asu.edu to schedule an interview with an ASU policy analyst.

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Planting new roots

Community garden for refugees gets a makeover thanks to help from ASU students.
ASU students show their concern for Valley's refugees through service.
April 20, 2016

ASU students help refugees tend to community garden

Lindsay Dusard has a heart of gold.

Get the 20-year-old Arizona State University student to open up about the subject of refugees, and more likely than not a tear or two will be shed by the time she finishes her first sentence.

Refugees have an ally in Dusard, one of approximately 60 members in ASU’s Peace Corps Club. She says being a Peace Corps AmbassadorAmbassadors are interns who work closely with Peace Corps recruiters to raise the agency’s profile on campus and introduce the Peace Corps to new and diverse student groups. has been a life-changing experience.

“I’ve grown up here in Arizona and lived a very comfortable life. Working with refugees has completely changed my perspective on the things that really matter and what life is about,” said Dusard, who is a public policy and marketing major in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“Almost all refugees have been through some sort of trauma. They’ve seen their houses bombed, family members get shot and yet we’re still sometimes unwelcoming as a country. My mission is to get people to understand who they are, how thankful they are to be here in this country and why we should help them start a new chapter in their lives.” 

For about 20 refugee families in the Valley, their new chapter started in 2011 with the construction of a community garden at the southwest corner of Dunlap and 39th avenues. The 1.5-acre lot belongs to the West Dunlap Baptist Church, which has leased the land for free to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for the past five years. The IRC has a few other community gardens in the Valley, which it calls its New Roots program. The program allows refugees to grow food to eat and to sell to help support themselves.

While other Valley service groups and grants initially raised more than $100,000 to prep the once-vacant land into a community garden, ASU’s Peace Corps Club was able to make further enhancements to the property this year thanks to a Woodside Action Community Grant provided through ASU’s Changemaker Central.

The $1,500 grant allows service groups to carry out community-focused projects that are engaging, solutions-focused, sustainable and have long-term impact.

“The participation of ASU students this spring has not only added color to the garden but also creates an image that sends a good message to the community and the refugee families,” said Timothy Olorunfemi, the New Roots program supervisor with the Glendale-based International Rescue Committee. “The ASU students have really shown their love and passion for the refugees.”

On April 9, with the assistance of 27 ASU students, the Peace Corps Club put the grant into action with a day of service. Students pulled grass and weeds, collected trash, cleared out irrigation systems, painted murals and provided garbage bins to the site. A few of them picked up shovels and hoes and worked alongside the farmers, tilling the dusty crops, which include tomatoes, okra, pumpkin, corn, sweet potatoes, melons and beans.

Siang Neh, a farmer from Nepal, grows pumpkin leaves. It is considered a delicacy in many countries, including Nepal, Bhutan and some countries in Africa.

“We can only grow this for three months,” said Neh, who has lived in the United States for five years. “The cold is no good.”

About a hundred yards away, a handful of students were painting a mural of farmers working their crops, lead by Peace Corps Ambassador Miriam Carpenter-Cosand.

“Images are very powerful, and creating a mural in a place like this will help bring something to the farmers and the community,” said Carpenter-Cosand, a 21-year-old painting and Spanish literature major in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “I’ve had a couple of farmers thank me for making them feel more welcome. They know we care about them.”

Farmer Mohammed Mohammed definitely feels the love. It’s an emotion he savors after being driven away from his war-torn home in Iraq five years ago. He says being forced to move from his native land at his age — he appears to be in his mid- to late 60s — was difficult at first. Knowing people want him to succeed makes his life here easier to accept.

“The students are amazing and wonderful,” he said through an interpreter. “I am very thankful to them for coming to the garden, and I always have a nice time with them.”

man giving thumbs up in garden

Mohammed Mohammed gives volunteers the thumbs-up after
giving his directions for digging the irrigation canal at the
IRC's New Roots community garden in Phoenix on April 9.

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mohammed grows okra, tomatoes and eggplant. He feeds his family and sells the rest at various farmers markets in the Valley. He estimates he makes about $1,000 a month. He says the garden gives him more than money: It gives him a sense of purpose. 

“Back home there was no land for planting,” Mohammed said. “I like farming and am happy in the garden.”

His story doesn’t come as a surprise to Mohammed Alkhyeli, a 19-year-old finance major in the W. P. Carey School of Business who is from Dubai.

“Back home in Dubai there are twice as many immigrants than there are natives,” Alkhyeli said. “We try and help them with their issues, and I believe that’s a good thing. Other countries should be doing the same thing.” 

Dusard believes the reason why most Americans don’t want to help refugees is based on fear, not facts. She said there are approximately 60 million displaced refugees in the world, and less than 1 percent get resettled in other countries and even fewer enter the United States. She said refugees endure a strenuous international vetting process, which can often take years — but they never give up hope.

“I take it very personally when the media or whomever attacks them,” Dusard said. “The majority of those who are resettled are large families, and all that they want is to have the opportunity to put down roots again and to create a better life for their children. 

“Isn’t that what we all wish for?” 

Top photo: Double major in biochemistry and non-profit organization management junior Lissette Valle (left) tends to pumpkins in rows of the garden being farmed by Siang Neh from Burma at the IRC's New Roots community garden in Phoenix on April 9. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Balancing the tribal budget

New ASU program to specialize in tribal finances.
Native groups face additional financial requirements, complicating compliance.
April 19, 2016

ASU to help provide valuable financial training for Indian communities

Tax Day, despite being a source of frustration for millions of individual Americans navigating a morass of rules and regulations, is still a relatively straightforward process. And if you get stuck, there are tax-preparation experts who can help.

But for American Indian tribes and organizations, there are additional layers of regulations at the federal level — during tax season and throughout the year. And there are very few people who can help.

That's why ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute has helped to create the Tribal Economic Leadership Executive Education Program, a new effort that provides fiscal and economic training for tribal nations, tribal organizations and other entities working with tribes. 

The program provides training to help tribal government professionals implement sound fiscal and economic policies. It addresses a wide range of topics from how federal Indian law affects tribal financial management to how Native leadership can tackle emerging financial issues.

“[The American Indian Policy Institute] is glad to play a supportive role to tribal nations as they build their nations and grow their economic development enterprises,” said Traci Morris, the director of the institute at Arizona State University. Morris and her team partnered with the Native American Financial Officers Association on the program.

American Indian reservations, as government entities, deal directly with the federal government in a way similar to state and local governments. But many Indian organizations face additional financial requirements because of the unique way they are organized and make money. Compliance can get complicated.

According to Lacey Horn, the treasurer of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and a member of the U.S. Treasury’s Tribal Advisory Committee, these different requirements pose a problem for tribes when reporting their revenues and expenditures.

“It’s a little like fitting a square peg into round holes,” said Horn. “Tribes have to reverse engineer to comply with standards designed for local and state government.”

For many tribes, unintentionally failing to comply with federal requirements can have drastic adverse consequences on their budgets. Even if it is an accident, the federal government can fine tribes and strip organizations of their federal funding as well as force them to pay back any previous grants.

The Tribal Economic Leadership (TEL) program provides necessary information about tribal finances, a topic that is so specialized that many general accounting and auditing firms lack the necessary skills to work with tribes as they navigate federal regulations. The new program fills a need in developing expertise in the field to ensure full compliance with federal rules.

TEL is an expansion of the highly successful Tribal Financial Managers Certification training offered continuously at ASU by the American Indian Policy Institute since 2009. To date, the Tribal Financial Managers Certification program has trained 340 tribal CFOs, tribal accountants and other leaders from across the United States. The announcement of today’s partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) ensures more tribal leaders have the ability to learn important financial management tools.

In addition to the information provided by TEL, the program also will link tribal executives to each other and create a new network for leaders to share information about financial management.

“The program won’t just provide participants with information and tools; it gives Native leaders a peer network of tribal leaders,” said Horn. “People who go through this program can collaborate with tribal executives across the country to promote best financial practices.”

For NAFOA, the decision to partner with ASU for the program was obvious.

“We could not have asked for a better partner in building out meaningful professional development opportunities...” said Bill Lomax, NAFOA president. "ASU has a demonstrated a deep commitment and responsibility to the Native nations and Native peoples the university serves."

Media relations specialist , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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Uplifting the community

Celebrate Global Youth Service Day w/ ASU by building gardens, little libraries.
April 13, 2016

ASU students to install garden boxes, little libraries for Global Youth Service Day

Uplifting the community is a powerful way of giving back. On April 16, Arizona State University students will be celebrating Global Youth Service Day by giving back to the Phoenix community.

ASU’s Public Allies ArizonaPublic Allies Arizona is a chapter of the Public Allies program run through ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. program is collaborating with longtime partner Neighborhood Ministries as well as Hope House Farms to build, deliver and install garden boxes and “Little Free Libraries” in Phoenix neighborhoods. 

Program coordinator Jeffrey Hawkinson said the day’s activities align with the nonprofits’ goals of discovering and creating innovative programs to build community wealth. It is also a way for the organizations to promote intergenerational involvement.

“The goal of Global Youth Service Day is to get an intergenerational group together to address challenges that communities are facing. Bringing teams together is a good symbol of all the organizations come together,” Hawkinson said.

Everyone is invited to join the day of service at Neighborhood Ministries’ campus in downtown Phoenix. In addition to building garden boxes and the little libraries, volunteers can also help organize carnival games for the Neighborhood Ministries’ annual summer camp.

The little libraries and garden boxes are targeted to help specific Phoenix communities deal the issues of education and nutrition.

The libraries, which will stocked with books collected through book drives, will be placed in high-traffic areas — or places where youth tend to gather.

“With our first little library we couldn't keep books in it for a whole month. Families were just grabbing them and taking them home. That's a wonderful problem to have,” said Marco Perez, an alumnus of the Public Allies Arizona and current Neighborhood Ministries member.

Volunteers will be delivering 4- by 6-foot garden boxes to families who have elected to receive them through the Neighborhood Ministries. Families can decide where they want the boxes placed and can even plant donated seeds with the volunteers. 

“Education and nutrition are important pillars of any community. However, in poorer communities these two pillars are often very weak. With regards to food, there is often limited investment from grocers, and transportation to and from can be an issue as well,” Perez said.

Approximately 100 to 150 volunteers are expected to donate their time to the service day, according to Hawkinson. There will be Public Allies members and alumni, Neighborhood Ministries members, Hope House members, community members and ASU students. 

To register for the Global Youth Service Day, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/.

Top photo by Robin Filipczak (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Reporter , ASU Now

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Honoring innovation at ASU

Free online program for teachers wins ASU President's Innovation Award.
Other honorees are youth-fitness partnership, paint-reuse program and Starbucks.
April 11, 2016

Free online classes for teachers among several ASU initiatives to be honored by President's Awards

Classroom teachers are more crunched than ever, and many see time spent on professional development as inefficient and a waste of resources.

Arizona State University is working to help teachers build their skills through a series of free online modules.

The micro-courses — each an hour or less — have been created by the Sanford Inspire Program, part of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU.

The program, funded by the Denny Sanford Foundation, looks to remake professional development for teachers, who can log on any time they want and take courses in how to give clear directions on a task, integrating physical activity into a lesson, how to motivate students and dozens of other topics.

Sanford Inspire is so distinctive that it has won the President’s Award for Innovation for 2016. 

“It is a huge honor to be selected for this competitive award at an institution that is known for innovation,” said Ryen Borden, executive director of the Sanford Inspire Program.

“Earlier this year, ASU was named the nation’s most innovative university by U.S. News & World Report, adding to the depth and meaning of this university-wide recognition.”

Sanford Inspire is one of two winners of the President’s Award for Innovation this year. The other is the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a unique partnership to expand access to higher education. Under the initiative, Starbucks employees who work as little as 20 hours per week can finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement through any of ASU’s online undergraduate degree programs. There is no obligation for partners to stay at Starbucks after they graduate from ASU.

Other winners to be recognized at the President’s Recognition Reception on Tuesday, April 12, are:

President’s Award for Sustainability: The No Wasted Paint Program by Facilities Management. This initiative finds old paint throughout the campus, accommodates requests by departments and contractors to pick up leftover paint and accepts paint that has been delivered anonymously to their shop. The paint is cataloged by building, color and date and used for projects such as graffiti cover-up. The reclaimed paint is also given to students and departments for approved projects.

Since the No Wasted Paint Program began in 2008, 1,547 gallons of leftover paint have been used on campus, which has averted sending 28 55-gallon drums out of state as hazardous waste. This has saved the paint shop almost $31,000 in paint purchases and avoided $3,100 to $4,600 in hazardous-waste disposal fees.

President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness: FitPHX Energy Zones. This program offers free fitness and nutrition education to middle-school students at public libraries. It’s a collaboration among ASU’s Obesity Solutions initiative, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation, Phoenix Public Libraries, the Phoenix Mayor’s Office, Mayo Clinic, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and several ASU schools and colleges.

The program provides ASU undergraduates with a real-world internship, training the next generation of professionals and providing role models to youth.

SUN Award for Individual Excellence

  • Stacey Bales, coordinator for engineering student success, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Polytechnic campus
  • Haley Chapman, associate director for academic services, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, West campus
  • Brian McCarthy, University Registrar Services
  • Kate Opitz, academic success coordinator, College of Health Solutions, Downtown Phoenix campus


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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.