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Jimmy Carter accepts O’Connor Justice Prize at ASU ceremony

ASU honors Jimmy Carter for humanitarian work.
The Carter Center focuses on world peace, democracy and disease prevention.
January 27, 2017

Former president receives honor for humanitarian work focused on world peace, democracy and disease prevention

Former President Jimmy Carter said Friday that the U.S. should be “a champion of peace,” “human rights” and “generosity,” aspirations he said would stem worries over the country’s future.

“We should be the nation on Earth where anyone who has a conflict or potential for military conflict, they should say ‘Why don’t we go to Washington?’ ” he said shortly after accepting the O’Connor Justice Prize, administered by Arizona State University and named for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  

“The United States is a champion of peace. The United States is a champion of human rights. The United States is a champion of generosity … America reaches out to people in need because we are the greatest country. That’s the kind of super power the United States ought to be.”

Carter, 92, visited Phoenix to accept the honor for his post-presidency humanitarian work. Through his nonprofit, The Carter Center, he has focused on world peace, democracy and disease prevention. He became the first ex-president to win the honor, which recognizes O’Connor’s legacy and efforts on behalf of judicial independence and human rights.  

Previous winners include Ana Palacio, a former foreign affairs minister for Spain who worked to incorporate human rights into the fabric of the European Union, and Navanethem Pillay, a former South African judge who fought apartheid.

About 300 people attended the award ceremony at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

Patricia Wald, whom Carter appointed as a federal appeals court judge, presented the award while O’Connor applauded with the audience. 

“His achievements out of office is just as impressive as his achievements while in office,” Wald said, adding that his integrity and honesty restored trust in government in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

She also noted his international legacy, saying “he has sincerely earned his title as the ‘human rights president.’”

Palacio led a brief Q&A session with Carter, ranging from world peace to women’s rights.

“Peace, justice and human rights have been the guiding light of our organization from the beginning,” Carter said. He added human rights must be “fair, honest and vigorously pursued.”

Carter said one of his proudest accomplishments in office was appointing more women as federal judges than all previous presidents combined.

At the time, he said, “it wasn’t easy to find women who were qualified for their service in the judicial system, because there were not deans in law schools and not heads of law firms” who were women.

Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. During his time in office, he established diplomatic relations with China and forged an arms-limitation deal with Russia.   

Since then, he has used his Atlanta-based center to eradicate Guinea worm disease and mediate conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. He also supports human activists by appealing on their behalf to world leaders.

He said the idea for the center was seeded at Camp David in 1978 while negotiating a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

“We felt like we could offer our mediation services to the world, and we began to do that,” Carter said. “I soon realized that was just one aspect of it … later we expanded our horizons a little bit to fill all the vacuums in the world.”

Last year, the center focused on advancing the peace process in Sudan, fighting malaria in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and monitoring the presidential election in Zambia.  

Carter said he has observed and monitored more than 100 elections around the world.   

His center’s mission is “guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.”

The former Georgia governor, Navy veteran and peanut farmer won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development,” according to the Nobel Foundation’s website.

The 86-year-old O’Connor watched the ceremony from a wheelchair in the front row.

Carter thanked her, calling the former justice a “great hero” and one of his “favorite fly-fishing companions.”

“I didn’t always agree with everything that Ronald Reagan did,” Carter said, “but selecting her as a justice was one of the best decisions he ever made.”

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. 

ASU Fulton Schools outreach benefited thousands in 2016: What will 2017 bring?

January 27, 2017

Arizona State University was recently named to the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in all four categories: Education, Economic Opportunity, General Community Service and Interfaith Community Service. 

This award is among the highest honors a college or university can receive for volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement — and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has contributed to ASU’s prominence in these areas. Visitors at Night of the Open Door on the Polytechnic campus tour ASU labs and participate in hands-on activities organized by Fulton Schools faculty and students. Photographer: Nick Narducci Visitors at Night of the Open Door on the Polytechnic campus tour ASU labs and participate in hands-on activities organized by Fulton Schools faculty and students. Photographer: Nick Narducci Download Full Image

In particular, the Fulton Schools’ is a key player in the honor roll’s education category, which recognizes institutions for their strong commitment to improving PreK-14 educational outcomes. On the honor roll, ASU was named one of four finalists for the Education Award.

In 2016, Fulton Schools engineering students — many within the Fulton Schools’ 60-plus student organizations — shared their energy and passion for science, technology, engineering and math with more than 11,000 elementary and secondary students throughout Arizona in various educational outreach programs, including 24 camps with multiple sections, totaling around 45-promoted opportunities for students to engage.

“We are very proud of the significant contributions our faculty, students and staff are making to educate, excite and engage these young students to the opportunities available to them in engineering,” says James Collofello, vice dean for Academic and Student Affairs and computer systems engineering professor.

Programs continue to excel

In summer 2016, the Fulton Schools involved more than 500 students — elementary through high school aged — in various programs offered as part of the Fulton Schools Summer Academy. Offerings included coding, robotics, video game and app camps, the free and weeklong National Summer Transportation Institute, as well as SEE@ASU: a weeklong, overnight campus visit, in which students become familiar with the different labs and types of engineering available at ASU.

Students study the creation of asphalt as part of the free and week-long National Summer Transportation Institute, a program in the Fulton Schools Summer Academy.

Students study the creation of asphalt as part of the free and weeklong National Summer Transportation Institute, a program in the Fulton Schools Summer Academy. Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

The Fulton Schools are already gearing up to offer another stellar summer academy featuring dozens of programs. This summer a new intermediate coding camp for fifth- through seventh-graders has been added. Program registrations open in February 2017.

For the sixth year, the Fulton Schools are also supporting the upcoming February Night of the Open Door events on both the Tempe and Polytechnic campuses, which provides a yearly opportunity for faculty and their students to open their labs and share their projects with the community.

EPICS High, an extension of the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, also had another landmark year with 25 schools — 50 percent from low income or underserved areas — and more than 1,100 students participating. The program has also branched out to include middle schools and now has around 400 students participating. They’ve also launched a pilot program at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, Arizona.

Continually invested in First Lego League 

In 2015-2016, the Fulton Schools also continued to invest in Arizona FIRST LEGO League (FLL) programming. As part of the summer academy, the Fulton Schools hosted FLL Jr., Intermediate and Introduction summer camps, including a girls-only camp.

Donned in colorful eagle hats, members of the Eaglebots team, from Hope Christian Academy in Chandler, Arizona, prep their robot's first run at the FIRST® LEGO League state championship tournament on January 15, 2017.

Members of the Eaglebots team, from Hope Christian Academy in Chandler, Arizona, prep their robot’s first run at the FIRST® LEGO League state championship tournament on Jan. 15, 2017. Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

In December 2015, the Fulton Schools hosted the state FLL tournament, which brought together nearly 600 students on more than 60 teams along with team coaches, mentors, teachers, parents and competition judges to compete at the spirited event. Nearly 100 staff, faculty and students volunteered to support the effort.

The Fulton Schools kicked off 2017’s outreach efforts on Jan. 14-15, with this year’s state tournament, turning out even larger numbers for the event themed, “Animal Allies.” The tournament featured 96 teams, and both of the winnings teams were all girls’ teams.  

New additions to programming

For four years, the Fulton Schools also hosted DiscoverE Days, a yearly engineering open house that brought hundreds of students to the Tempe campus for hands-on engineering learning opportunities and lab tours. This year, the Fulton Schools switched their focus to promoting small-sized fields trips called “A Day in the Life Of…”, and expect to have twelve events throughout the year bring around 1,500 students to visit campus and learn about the different facets of engineering and engineering education.

The Fulton Schools are also launching the Young Engineers Shape the World program, which will be test piloted in seven schools and coordinated by Tirupalavanam Ganesh, a Tooker Professor and Assistant Dean, and Lauren Preble, a Fulton Schools Outreach Coordinator. The program offers scholarships, and aims to support young women in high school seeking to earn a degree in the Fulton Schools.

Through these outreach activities, the Fulton Schools further their commitment to the fact that engineering affects students, the community and the larger world, for the better, every day.

“We will continue to make this effort a priority in the Fulton Schools,” says Collofello.

“With millions of unfilled STEM jobs expected by 2018, it is incredibly important that the Fulton Schools continues to bring awareness, engagement, opportunity, interest and understanding in various pathways to PreK-14 students and their families from all backgrounds and areas in Arizona,” says Hope Parker, Associate Director for Engineering Education and Outreach.

All of these programs and efforts aim to inspire the next generation of critical thinkers and leaders by sparking their interest and providing mentors and role models.

“Kids need to see themselves in roles in industry and community, and this is where students, faculty and the community come in,” says Parker.

“The Fulton Schools’ dedication to taking an active approach to guiding and developing the next generation will help to ensure that our world is better for generations to come.”

Rose Gochnour Serago

Communications Program Coordinator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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ASU seeks to improve odds for future Native scholars

Nearly 500 Native students attend RECHARGE conference and learn about college.
Daylong RECHARGE conference at ASU aimed at increasing Indian enrollment.
January 25, 2017

Nearly 500 students attend RECHARGE conference, which prepares American Indian students for campus life

Statistically speaking, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the representation of American Indians in higher education: Such students make up less than 1 percent of all college students in the U.S., and only about 13 percent of all Natives have a college degree.

So ASU has made it a priority to improve those odds.

“Hearing those numbers only makes me more committed to my education,” said Holbrook High School junior Courtney Lee, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Lee traveled four hours by bus Wednesday with dozens of other students to attend the fifth annual RECHARGE conference at ASU’s West campus. The event drew nearly 500 Native students into a conversation about college readiness with topics ranging from financial aid and scholarships to wellness and careers.

Efforts to raise college enrollment among underrepresented groups are central to ASU’s goal of increasing the number of college graduates in Arizona.

ASU has sought to increase the number of American Indians on campus through specialized programs, including the SPIRIT orientation program, which helps Native students adjust to college life over a two-week period; INSPIRE, a one-week youth camp at ASU’s Polytechnic campus; and RECHARGE, which started in 2012 with 90 students.

Through these efforts, ASU has a growing Indian student body. Approximately 2,600 Native students attend ASU, which saw its largest graduating class of 362 in May.

The daylong conference, hosted by the Office of American Indian Initiatives and ASU Access, featured guest speakers, including former Congressman Matt Salmon, who became ASU’s vice president for government affairs in June, and Marisa Duarte, a professor in the School of Social Transformation and member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. It drew middle and high school students from around the state. 

“Students need to see themselves on campus, but they also need to see other Native Americans in leadership, faculty and staff roles,” said Victor Begay, academic community liaison director. “When they see others in those roles, it helps them achieve academic comfort.”

One of those role models at the conference was Kate Rosier, executive director of the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and a member of the Comanche Tribe. She made a plea for students to consider a career in law.

Rosier said there are 1.3 million attorneys in the U.S., but only about 2,600 are Native American.

“We’re the least represented group and yet most affected by the law because we fall under tribal, state and federal laws,” Rosier said. “Without proper representation, we have less of a voice than we should.”

Top photo: Students listen as a financial aid counselor explains options during the RECHARGE conference Wednesday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

ASU center to teach community about thriving in a desert

Partnership between ASU, Scottsdale's Desert Discovery Center to produce research, exhibits about local environment

January 25, 2017

There’s nothing new about Arizona residents looking for sustainable ways to live in the desert, but a recent United Nations report has made the matter a worldwide concern.

Because of climate change, the UN says that by 2030 almost half of the global population will be living in “areas of high water stress,” and that without intervention as many as 700 million people could find themselves displaced.  Artist rendering of exhibit window An artist's rendering of an exhibit at Scottsdale's Desert Discovery Center. Image Provided by Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale

Enter ASU and its partnership with Scottsdale’s future Desert Discovery Center, aimed at creating an expansive research center to teach “a global audience to value, thrive in and conserve desert environments.” 

“When people think of research they think of a classroom,” said Sam Campana, executive director of the center and former mayor of Scottsdale. “It is our goal to not have a classroom, but a living laboratory where people are out and doing work that is not only important to those who live here but anyone in an arid environment.”

Aside from research, the center will have a public face, and ASU has been working with design firm Thinc to create a series of exhibits to address “what I can see, what I can’t see and what does all of it mean?” Campana said. In total, it will create an experience that shows how we can be more in tune with our environment.

Thinc, according to its website, has become known for a “holistic approach” that “combines great design and execution with broad insight into the organizational, cultural and physical contexts surrounding a project.” The firm has worked with museums, science centers, zoos and aquariums.

The center’s research will come as the global population grows “mainly in regions that are already experiencing water stress and in areas with limited access to safe drinking water,” according to the UN in a 2014 study. 

Research collaborations could include water quality, use and supply, as well as climate-change adaptation and urbanization.

Other areas of focus will include soil-crust research, desert species, the intersection of open-space preserves and people.

“There are things going on in the desert that are in the deep in the crust, and they’re teeming with life,” said Duke Reiter, executive director of University City Exchange. “But without this research and a sophisticated guide, at both at a macro and micro scale, it would be impossible to see. Only the university could bring this component.” 

Campana said 10 laboratories are expected to be associated with the center. Researchers, brought in by ASU, will study desert-life sustainability, “an important step in preserving and understanding this land,” said Duke Reiter, whose exchange tracks university’s academic and research assets to apply them “for the greater good.” 

Desert Discovery Center leaders are clearing hurdles as they await approval from the city of Scottsdale.

“If you look at ASU’s design’s aspirations, this university takes its commitment to their community, applied research and sustainability very seriously,” Reiter said, “which is what makes this is a great venue and leaves no reason for us to not be involved in this.” 

Reporter, ASU Now

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Basketball czar bounces ideas into ASU Sports Law and Business Program

Czar of college basketball discusses business of hoops, NCAA Tournament at ASU.
Dan Gavitt at ASU: New media platforms will play role in future of NCAA brand.
January 24, 2017

Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president for basketball, discusses the business of college hoops and the logistics of the Final Four

Dan Gavitt, known as the czar of college basketball, said Tuesday that while the Super Bowl might be the largest sporting event in the world, the NCAA Tournament takes just as much effort.

“It’s complex and complicated because if anyone doesn’t do their job properly, we’re in big trouble,” Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, told a crowd of about 70 students at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on the Downtown Phoenix campus. “Planning the event is a yearlong process, and it really does take a village to put this on.”

His talk with students on issues surrounding college basketball and the NCAA Tournament was at the invitation of Glenn M. Wong, executive director of ASU's Sports Law & Business Program.

Gavitt was in the Valley for a monthly NCAA meeting to talk with local stakeholders in preparation for the Final Four at the University of Phoenix Stadium in early April.

“Many of the students in our program are interested in collegiate athletics, marketing and event management,” Wong said. “And Mr. Gavitt can provide valuable perspective on those topics and the many, many more that encompass an NCAA Final Four.”

The Sports Law & Business Program “strives to prepare its students for impactful careers in the sports industry, and the opportunity to meet, learn from and network with industry leaders such as Mr. Gavitt is an important component of our program,” he said.

Recognizing sports is big business, ASU Law partnered with the W. P. Carey School of Business and Sun Devil Athletics in 2014 to offer a Master of Sports Law and Business degree. It is the only graduate program in the U.S. that intentionally combines sports law, business and athletics.

Gavitt sets the strategic direction and oversees the operation and management for men’s and women’s basketball at all three NCAA divisions.

He said Phoenix was selected as a host site for the Final Four in 2014 because it’s one of 10 cities that meet several criteria: a domed stadium that can seat 60,000 fans; a convention center to accommodate a fan experience and a downtown area filled with full-service hotels, restaurants and other big-city amenities.

“For a weekend, downtown Phoenix will turn into a basketball village, and if you’re a fan, you might be able to bump into a player or coach and get an autograph,” Gavitt said. “It makes the fan experience that much more rich.”

Speaking of rich, Gavitt confirmed that the NCAA Tournament is closing in on becoming a billion-dollar-a-year business after a landmark TV extension with CBS and Turner that will take them to 2032.

“Currently, our TV rights have a value of $775 million and will reach $1 billion in 2025,” Gavitt said. “We are premium content for the networks, and there’s nothing that compares to those events.”

Gavitt said more than 700,000 people each year attend the NCAA Tournament, which has 14 venues in 10 cities and accounts for 90 percent of all NCAA revenue.

“All that money flows back to the universities in the form of student scholarships and programs,” Gavitt said. “It’s vital to everyone involved.”

He said his job priorities are to continue to improve the fan experience and expanding the global brand. He has made strides in that direction since his tenure started in 2012 by seating student sections closer to the court and emphasizing regular-season games. This year the NCAA took the first step toward improving tournament selection by releasing partial March Madness rankings in February.

“It’s another way of being transparent as possible and generating buzz for March,” Gavitt said.

Technology and emerging platforms will play a role in expanding the NCAA sports brand, Gavitt said. He said it was conceivable that one day Apple, Netflix or Twitter could be involved in streaming their product.

"We are very interested in the future of emerging markets," Gavitt said.

Gavitt took time to praise ASU's Sports Law and Business Program during his hourlong Q&A session.

“I wish I did have a law degree, so good for you for pursuing this,” said Gavitt, who holds an MBA from Providence College. “It will serve your well to have that background and grounding.”

“It’s also good to have a passion for sports.”

Top photo: Dan Gavitt (right), senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, talks with Sports Law & Business professor Glenn Wong in front of students at the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday. Gavitt talked about the high-dollar contracts with media outlets for coverage of the basketball tournaments and the logistics that go into running them. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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New ASU online school integrates high school, university courses

New ASU Prep online school will integrate high school, university courses.
January 24, 2017

ASU Prep Digital to offer Cambridge curriculum, accelerated degree path to remove barriers to higher education

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

Arizona State University is bridging the divide between high school and college with the new ASU Prep Digital High School, which will allow students to learn at their own pace and potentially accelerate the time it takes to earn a degree.

“This is truly a unique model that integrates high school through university, which is not something that currently exist in in the online space,” said Beatriz Rendon, vice president of Educational Outreach and CEO of ASU Preparatory Academies.

“It will be high engagement, and content will be adapted based on the pace of the learner.

“A lot of what’s out there in the online space is credit recovery, not college-going,” Rendon added. “The integration is the innovation in this model.”

The online school will join the network of ASU Prep charters, which include campuses in Casa Grande, Mesa and downtown Phoenix, with more than 2,000 total students.

Students can enroll in ASU Prep Digital High School full or part time, but the school also plans to partner with existing schools to fill in gaps — for example, providing advanced math or science classes that some schools can’t offer. In this way, ASU Prep Digital will be able to help more students become college-eligible.

The school will use the Cambridge International Curriculum, a rigorous and popular qualification system around the world. Students can achieve the Cambridge International General Certificate Secondary Education, potentially earning college credit based on their exam performance. ASU Prep Digital students can take Spanish, Latin or Mandarin. Students who are prepared can take ASU Online courses, including Human Origins or astronomy, to earn credit. Each student will be assigned a learning success coach and can participate in ASU experiences.

Julie Young

Julie Young is the deputy vice president and CEO of the new ASU Prep Digital High School.

The goal is to get students ready for their next step, according to Julie Young, the newly named deputy vice president and CEO of ASU Prep Digital High School.

“One of the things we’re most excited about is there’s such a focus on the opportunity to really prepare students in a very specific way for college and career,” she said.

Young has been involved with digital education since 1996, when access to the internet was via dial-up. She was the founding president and CEO of Florida Virtual Schools, which was the first online school district in that state.

“Initially, there was not a market for virtual education,” she said. “We had to convince parents, teachers and schools that this could be a high-quality way for a student to learn.”

Young spent a lot of time talking to students about their needs and asked schools to provide her with students to pilot a curriculum. The schools sent her 77 white male students who were already taking AP computer science and math.

“I like to say they gave us the kids they knew we couldn’t hurt,” said Young, whose school grew from those 77 to 2 million students in 50 states and 67 countries.

The biggest lesson she has learned is that all students can benefit from online courses.

“At the beginning, we really felt like there was going to be a certain type of student this would work for ,and we would have to screen the students and test them to make sure they were at a level to be successful,” said Young, who also worked as a classroom teacher and elementary school administrator.

“What we know now is that there are so many types of students that virtual education is appropriate for — students who are accelerated who don’t want to wait for the rest of the class to catch up, and those who are behind who need more time. If we can give them time to catch up without peer pressure or the pressure of the calendar, they wake up and say ‘I’m not stupid. I just need more time to learn this concept.’" 

James Rund, senior vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU, said that Young will bring a mastery of personalized learningAlso on the ASU Prep Digital High School team as national advisers are John Bailey, a former program officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Michael Horn, chief strategy officer with Entangled Ventures and co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a nonprofit think tank. . “At ASU, we share Julie’s sense of urgency to reinvent educational models and provide access to learning for every student when and where they need it," he said.

Young said she’s eager to prepare students for a changing world.

“I’m excited about ASU’s vision to make an impact on the community and the fact they see the world as their community. One of the things I think our country needs more than anything right now in this global society, is to understand each other.

“We have an opportunity for that through virtual education, connecting cultures and communities around the globe.”

For more information about ASU Prep Digital High School and to enroll, visit asuprepdigital.asu.edu

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


'Nothing' and the universe

Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek to talk about ‘materiality of a vacuum’ at ASU Origins Project event

January 24, 2017

Arizona State University’s Origins Project is hosting a lecture by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek, where he will discuss the “Materiality of a Vacuum: Late Night Thoughts of a Physicist” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

In modern physics, scientists have found that it is fruitful to regard empty space, or a vacuum, as a sort of material, which can have within it exotic properties like superconductivity. Conversely, materials can be viewed from the inside and the vacua of alternative worlds, which often have exotic, mind-expanding properties. These ideas suggest new possibilities for cosmology and bring to life the profound question: What is a universe? Wilczek’s lecture will be followed by a conversation with Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project. Nobel Laureat Frank Wilczek will discuss the role of nothing in our universe in an Origins Project-sponsored lecture on Jan. 31. Photo by Justin Knight Photography Download Full Image

“It is one of the most remarkable aspects of modern physics that the properties of our universe, with 100 billion galaxies each containing 100 billion stars, turns out to crucially depend on the properties of empty space,” said Krauss. “In this sense, ‘everything’ is determined by ‘nothing.’ Understanding how this comes about gives us a unique new perspective on our place in the universe. There are few people more capable of relating these new ideas than Frank Wilczek, who himself played a seminal role in discovering them.”

Wilczek is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he is an Origins Project distinguished professor at ASU. He received the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004 for his work on asymptotic freedom in the theory of strong interaction.

Krauss is an author, professor, physicist and public intellectual. In addition to being director of the Origins Project, Krauss is an ASU professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and in the Department of Physics.

Tickets for “Materiality of a Vacuum: Late Night Thoughts of a Physicist” are $7 and $17. ASU students can obtain free tickets (two tickets per student ID to be picked up the venue box office) for the event. A book signing and pizza will follow the event.

The Tempe Center for the Arts box office is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, or call 480-350-2822.

For more information on Origins events, please go to www.origins.asu.edu or call (480) 965-0053.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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Arizona Teacher of the Year still learning, after 23 years in the classroom

Arizona's Teacher of the Year, an ASU alum, says she's still learning the craft.
January 19, 2017

ASU grad ready to advocate for profession and spread the word about early literacy

Arizona’s Teacher of the Year for 2017 has been in the classroom for 23 years but is still learning the job.

Michelle Doherty, a first-grade teacher at Encanto Elementary School in central Phoenix, is a graduate of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.

“You can’t ever master the craft because it’s always evolving,” said Doherty. “When I’ve had interns come in, I’ve learned something new. I’ve had student teachers— I’ve learned something new. I’m constantly reading, I’m constantly doing professional development and taking classes. That has never stopped.

“I’m always learning myself.”

Doherty won the Arizona Teacher of the Year honor recently from the Arizona Educational Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for excellence in preschool and K-12 public education. It’s considered the most prestigious honor a public school teacher in Arizona can receive, and Doherty will be in the competition for the national teacher of the year.

In addition to receiving a cash prize and professional development classes, the Teacher of the Year honoree travels to the White House, meeting the winners from other states, and around Arizona advocating for the teaching profession.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Doherty wants to get the message out about early literacy.

“I’ve taught kindergarten, first, second and third grades, and in the early years, literacy opens up understanding of other subjects,” she said.

Doherty teaches in the dual-language program at Encanto, which is in the Osborn Elementary School District. Students learn half the day in English and the other half in Spanish.

“Our focus is for them to be bilingual, biliterate and bicultural,” she said. “Being part of this program since 1998, I’ve had kids in seventh or eighth grade just come up to me and start talking to me in Spanish. Sometimes I cry because I saw where they came from, struggling with it.

“The power of another language is amazing.”

With Encanto’s immersion model, Doherty teaches two classes with a partner teacher — a total of 52 first-graders. On a recent morning, her group was lively, focused and enthusiastic.

First-grade teacher Michelle Doherty congratulates one of her students during a lesson on weather. Doherty plans to address the importance of early literacy during her time as Arizona Teacher of the Year. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“Get into your learning positions, friends!” Doherty told them as they began a lesson on weather. A few minutes later, one first-grader correctly described cause and effect — a rainy day will require the use of an umbrella.

“Bingo! Kiss your brain!” Doherty exclaimed, as the little girl smiled, kissed her fingertips and then tapped her forehead.

It’s an action that reinforces retention, Doherty explained later.

“It’s a way to solidify their understanding. It’s difficult for kids to truly understand some things, but when they have that motion, that contact, it does something and they’ll remember it much easier,” she said.

Doherty earned her bachelor’s degree from ASU in 1994 and her master’s degree five years later. That was before the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offered the iTeachAZ residency program, in which teacher candidates spend a full academic year as a student teacher, taking their ASU classes at their schools.

“Having more on-the-job training time betters prepares you,” she said. “When I see the new teachers coming through, I think ‘I wish I had that opportunity to do that.’ ”

The first-graders realize that their teacher has been honored.

“I had them autograph my luncheon program. So now whenever I’m in the news they ask if I want their autograph again,” she said.

“I tell them, ‘I’m Teacher of the Year because of you.’ ”

Doherty is starting her year in the spotlight just as there has been heightened focus on the teaching profession in Arizona. Teachers are leaving the profession, and many schools have open positions. Teacher compensation has been an issue, with Gov. Doug Ducey using his “State of the State” address to declare, “It’s time for a raise for Arizona’s teachers.”

Doherty agrees.

“I’ve heard people say you don’t go into the field to make money. And that’s right. That’s not why we’re doing this. I’ve always felt that this was a calling,” she said.

“But I also pay for professional development out of my pocket to make myself the best I can be for the students. So some compensation would be wonderful, and pay raises would be great. There were eight years I didn’t have a pay raise. It’s not why I do the job, but it would be showing appreciation for what we do.

“Because what we do matters.”

Top photo: Michelle Doherty works with first-grader Nyiah Gomez on a lesson about weather at Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix. Doherty, an alumna of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, has been named the 2017 Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Educational Foundation. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU Law plays up athletics

January 19, 2017

Athlete-turned-attorney is latest addition to sports law program; here, she talks about industry and what it's like to be an agent

Recognizing that sports is big business, Arizona State University has moved to create the next generation of problem solvers for a global industry that Forbes says could soon exceed a trillion dollars annually.

The Downtown Phoenix campus has been particularly active, with high-profile hires that include media professionals, such as Arizona Republic sports columnist Paola Boivin, and sports executives, including former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

The push from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law also includes coursework, with a sports journalism major and a one-year sports law graduate program, which was unique when it was formed in 2014.  

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Attorney and sports agent Dana Hooper

The Super Bowl and baseball’s spring training are weeks away and the NBA season is turning toward its second half, giving ASU Now an opportunity to hear from one of the newest faculty members, sports agent Dana Hooper, a shareholder at international multi-practice law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

Hooper, who joined the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law last month, is teaching a three-credit class called “Professional Sports Law” in spring 2017. Recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine every year since 2012, the 2004 ASU grad is a certified athlete’s agent who provides legal representation to sports-oriented individuals and businesses.

She also played soccer in college at the University of California, Berkeley, helping shape her perspective on the multibillion-dollar industry. She spoke with ASU Now about her experiences in professional sports, what it’s like to be at the negotiation table and about her class. 

Question: Were you a sports fan or athlete before you became an agent?

Answer: Yes. Sports have always been a big part of my life. My father worked for the Phoenix Suns and that in turn also led to an opportunity for me to work for the Suns and Mercury. I was behind the scenes interacting with the players and working games. I believe that helped me to develop an approach that was different than the average person. I was also a soccer player in college and had the opportunity to work in the athletic department at the University of California, Berkeley. From the time I was a young child, I played sports and was exposed to a lot of athletes of several different calibers, and it made me a fan from a unique perspective.

Q: How did you enter the field?

A: I was playing soccer in an adult tournament, and I was placed on a team with some professional players. One of the players was a young woman from England who was getting ready to move to New York because she was offered a professional contract to play there after being with Arsenal since she was a teenager. She said, “I heard you’re an attorney. I’m from England, and I don’t know what I’m doing with this contract. I was wondering if you’d consider being my agent?” I told her I wasn’t an agent but would be happy to review her contract. I knew soccer and I knew the law, so I was happy to help her. I asked her to allow me to represent her pro bono because I had never done this type of work before and wanted to navigate the waters and be open about that. She also had a teammate who needed the same help.

From there, I visited them in New York to figure out what their lives were like, where they lived, what kind of challenges they faced, what their training was like. I met the owners of the team, the president, the coaches, and I then took the team out to dinner and got to know them as individual human beings.  From there, it started snowballing and people were contacting me, asking me if I’d represent them. That’s really how it started.

Q: One of the biggest finds in a new biography about a large Hollywood agency is that revenue from their sports division now dwarfs their film and television divisions. When, in your opinion, did this paradigm shift take place?

A: I think it took place about 10 years ago when sports and entertainment started melding together from a business perspective. It became prominent when athletes and agents started recognizing if they somehow get into mainstream television and media spots, that could be very lucrative. The agencies have done a good job focusing and capitalizing on athletes who have marketability and getting them into the entertainment space. That’s great because my sports practice has been able to cross over with the robust entertainment practice at my firm.

Q: The public’s perception of the sports agent is mostly formed through the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire,” starring Tom Cruise. Was it authentic?

A: Twenty years ago I wasn’t in the business, so I couldn’t really opine as to my specific knowledge base of that time period. But I can tell you when I was working with the Phoenix Suns years ago, the agent was not as visible or prominent. Nobody knew who the agents were. Their names weren’t on the ticker, and social media did not exist. The profession 20 years ago was a very behind-the-scenes concept, but now you do know the big names of the NFL and NBA agents. If you land one or two big names — a LeBron James or a Larry Fitzgerald — your name is also known as their agent. That can be both good and bad. If you’re doing what you need to be doing for your client, it should be done behind the scenes in my opinion. To me, it’s all about the athlete.

Q: When you take on a client, do you also vet him or her?

A: I do. I need for it to be a team effort, and I have to be on the same page as my athletes. I don’t take on every athlete that comes to me. I have to be very careful and vet them like they have to vet me. I look at it as we’re both hiring each other. It’s not just about business but about the relationship that you’re going to have with your athlete. I can’t have someone on the other end who is not responsible, or is not professional, or dishonest to me.

Q: Determining an athlete’s worth and compensation probably involves a lot of intangibles.

A: There are a lot of factors involved — the individual athlete’s experience, their position — a point guard is likely not going to compare well to a center in terms of monetary value. Positions matter. Their performance matters. If somebody is a rookie, for example, there are certain parameters that each league has. There’s minimums and maximums.

There’s also a salary cap, which is different for each league and different for each gender. Sometimes a prominent athlete is willing to take less if they are going back to their hometown. Or maybe there wasn’t salary-cap room for a player, but they’ve always wanted to play for a certain coach. Or it could be a trade and a team can’t go past their salary cap and you’ve got to figure something out. Some deals are struck very quickly while others take months and months and months to iron out. There are a lot of different factors.

My motto is if I’m not a little bit embarrassed about what to ask for then it’s too low. But you don’t want to be so outlandish that they don’t take you seriously. It’s a juggling act.

Q: How do you continue to maintain a relationship with a sports organization when you’re continually at the opposite end of the negotiation table?

A: Everybody’s approach is different, but my approach is, “You’re about to become teammates with this athlete. So if we enter into this negotiation in a negative manner, it is not going to go well.” I prefer to enter into negotiations in a very businesslike yet friendly approach if possible. Now, that doesn’t mean that this approach may need to turn on its head because it has. It can go awry if the athlete is being mistreated or if the ownership is stonewalling the athlete. There have been situations where the athlete has been retaliated against, and you have to be able to manage all of those things that come with it.

For the most part I have very good relationships with the teams I negotiate against, but there’s always going to be that rub. You’re supposed to negotiate against somebody, but then you’re all supposed to hug in the end and love each other and be on the same team. It’s a very bizarre situation.

Q: Can you tell me what your class will look like and what you want to convey to students?

A: The class I’m teaching is “Professional Sports Law,” and it will have a variety of different angles. It’ll cover anything from intellectual property to what it means to be an agent to gender and race issues in professional sports. I will try to approach it in a practical way. Students who will take this class will either be interested in the law, business or both environments.

I would like for them to be reading the text and the materials and discussing it from more of a practical perspective. It doesn’t mean there’s not that academic flow throughout the class, but I want students to move away from frantically reading the assignments because they’re afraid they’re going to get called on from a case in 1983. I want it to be more about, “Gee, I read this case from 1983 — how could this help me in what I do whatever branch of the law I choose to represent?” I want them to be able to sock that away in their tool kit and pull it out when they become a practitioner of some sort. I want students to be able to use this information in their practical, everyday lives after they graduate and move into the “real world.”

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ASU March on West lets youth experience history

Hundreds of youngsters at ASU West re-enact MLK's 1963 March on Washington.
January 18, 2017

Hundreds rally, wave signs, cheer for equality during annual re-enactment of MLK's 1963 March on Washington

Hundreds of young people rallied to re-enact Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark 1963 March on Washington at ASU’s West campus on Wednesday, where they waved signs, cheered for equality and listened to the “I Have A Dream” speech.

The 25th annual March on West featured speakers, a choir and educational workshops for middle school students from around the Phoenix area.

New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Dean Marlene Tromp said the event “gives her hope for the future.”

“You should all make a special effort to make your mark on the world, because you all having something to give,” Tromp said.

The West campus tradition dates back to 1991, when it began as a way to honor the civil rights leader before the state recognized MLK Day as a paid holiday. Every year since, said director of community relations Roberta Magdaleno, the event gives participants a chance to receive a hands-on experience to supplement what they learn in the classroom. 

“This event teaches students the history and purpose of the march and the importance of civil rights, even today,” she said.

The march began at 11 a.m. with the striking of the Bool Bell, immediately followed by a procession of more than 800 students and community members who were led by a trio of drummers south from the Paley Gates to the Sands courtyard reflecting pool.

Following remarks from Tromp and a performance of both the national anthem and the traditional black national anthem, James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies technical director Charles St. Clair delivered King’s famous speech.

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends,” he recited, adding later, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

At several moments throughout, St. Clair was drowned out by cheers and applause. 

ASU alum T.J. Jordan was in attendance as a volunteer chaperone for her daughter’s class.

“MLK Day has always been near and dear to my heart, culturally,” Jordan said, “and it’s important to bring my daughter to events like these that reinforce strong values.”

Small hands everywhere thrust posters high in the air with messages such as “We march for freedom” and “Equal rights for all.”

In closing remarks, associate professor Duku Anokye urged attendees to keep up the fight for freedom and to remember King’s words every day.

Dean Tromp similarly asked attendees to follow King’s example in exercising their democratic rights.

“I get to see people come through this campus and come out the other side and change the world,” Tromp said. “One day, that could be you.”

Top photo: Charles St. Clair recites Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech Wednesday during the annual March on West. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now