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ASU alum Ricky Araiza joins new AZ Creative Communities Institute

Teatro Bravo artistic director to engage with Arizona communities through creativity and the arts

July 20, 2017

Theater artist Ricky Araiza has devoted much of his artistic time to working in his native Arizona, from studying his craft at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, to entertaining audiences as an ensemble member of Childsplay theater company in Tempe, to serving as artistic director of Teatro Bravo — a Latino theater company in South Phoenix. He hopes to contribute even more by taking a new position with the Herberger Institute, where he will work with the AZ Creative Communities Institute, a new program that explores how creativity can make a positive impact on communities.  

“What drew me to this position was the opportunity to engage with various communities all over the state of Arizona,” Araiza said. “I wanted to expand my understanding of the place that I call my home state.” Ricky Araiza Download Full Image

The AZ Creative Communities Institute is a partnership between ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, with guidance from Southwest Folklife Alliance. Small teams representing nine Arizona communities were selected for the inaugural AZ CCI. Team members, including community and business leaders as well as local elected officials, will receive intensive training over the next year from local and national experts in creative engagement as they look for creative solutions to address needs, challenges and opportunities within their communities. In the latter half of the year, each community will host an embedded artist residency to put what they have learned into practice. 

The Herberger Institute was awarded a $250,000 Surdna grant to help fund the program, and Araiza was recently named coordinator senior.  

“It felt like a great opportunity to work with communities who want to make a long-lasting positive impact through arts engagement,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of that conversation.”

Araiza will be responsible for coordinating activities and functions of the program, including gathering data, managing events and ensuring that program goals are accomplished.

"Ricky has been deeply embedded and engaged in the Arizona community as an artist and community changemaker for a long time — his whole life, in fact,” said Jake Pinholster, associate dean of policy and initiatives for the Herberger Institute. “With his training and expertise — in addition to that personal connection — he is the ideal person to coordinate and drive this program forward."

Araiza has already started work on the program and is excited about its potential.  

“There is so much possibility when you are at the birth of a new idea,” he said. “We can make this one of the most important collaborations in the state of Arizona, and I believe that we all see that. And that concept alone demands that we treat this with the greatest care.”

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


'Most connected woman in Silicon Valley' to help launch ASU Innovation Network Council

Ellen Levy specializes in building bridges between Silicon Valley and rest of the world

July 19, 2017

The most innovative university in the country didn’t achieve that distinction by working alone. Arizona State University is constantly building partnerships and creating alliances around the world, and one of the newest initiatives is being launched in the state next door.

The ASU Innovative Network Council will build and enhance the university’s links to high-tech companies and thought leaders in Silicon Valley and around the country. Ellen Levy Ellen Levy, a consultant who has been called “the most connected woman in Silicon Valley,” will co-chair the ASU Innovative Network Council with ASU President Michael M. Crow. Download Full Image

ASU already has gained a foothold in Silicon Valley, recently making Business Insider’s list of the top 20 universities for landing a job in the high-tech mecca.

The new council will be designed and launched by Ellen Levy — a consultant and innovator who has been called “the most connected woman in Silicon Valley.” She will co-chair the council with ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“The spirit of Silicon Valley is to both think through how things can be done differently, and how to amplify the things that work well,” said Levy, who specializes in building bridges between Silicon Valley and the rest of the world through the company she founded, Silicon Valley Connect.

“If we apply that lens — of both challenging the status quo at times and preserving the status quo at other times — to higher education, there’s a lot that can be done. One thing Silicon Valley is really good at is concentrating effort and experience in how to do these things at scale, in large part by leveraging technology and relationships.”

The initiative is a work in progress, with Levy starting out by focusing on building a deeper understanding of what ASU has to offer and meeting the key players at ASU, although she has been familiar with the university’s innovative mind-set for quite some time.

A little over a decade ago, Levy was running an interdisciplinary program at alma mater Stanford University called MediaX, which fostered relationships between the various university constituents and the industry at large. Besides the day-to-day facilitation efforts, she was particularly interested in the role universities could and should play in society.

“I had been reading books, papers and proposals about how 21st-century universities would have to change to address new societal needs, and very quickly came across Dr. Crow and his early efforts to transform ASU,” said Levy.

“I thought, ‘His approach is truly inspired.’ I also thought, ‘I doubt he’ll ever make it [since universities are notoriously slow, and resistant, to change].’ Usually, the status quo antibodies have a way of shutting these things down before you can prove they work.”

Fast-forward several years later. Levy had moved on from Stanford and was a member of the executive team at LinkedIn as vice president for strategic alliances when she met Crow in person at a summit on organizational innovation at the Aspen Institute.

“I remember being struck all over again by President Crow’s vision, but this time it wasn’t just hypothesizing that a bold new approach would work. He now had evidence and data to support his claims, and had a remarkable command of the data,” she said. “I also started to better understand his broader motivation and underlying philosophy. For example, instead of saying [to a student], ‘Here’s a challenge; can you clear the hurdle or not,’ ASU has said, ‘What does it take for us to help you clear the bar?’”

The two shared a perspective on finding new ways to advance the university’s mission.

“Given all the work already invested in ASU to get it to where it is today, there’s now an opportunity to say, ‘How can it be leveraged? How do we grow, extend, and launch new efforts?’ But even before that, there’s a lot that can be accomplished simply by spreading the word and evangelizing what ASU has been doing to those who are as of yet unaware.”

Levy said that simply viewing the university through different lenses makes you realize just how unique and impressive an undertaking it is.

“I can describe ASU as an academic institution — using typical academic metrics — and you’ll see all the numbers and stats going up and to the right,” she said.

“If I describe ASU in terms typical of talking about a nonprofit, in terms of its mission and societal impact, it would be up there with the great nonprofits, hitting on major issues that need to be addressed in our world today.

“I could equally describe ASU as a large, complex, self-sustaining business.

“And even if I were to describe ASU to you as a city, people would find the scope and the efforts around sustainability, infrastructure and general efforts to integrate the broader community quite compelling.”

In Levy, Crow sees a partner who is fully understanding of, and invested in, the success of ASU’s new model for higher education.

“Ellen has all the characteristics of a world-class thinker and connector: a connector of people, of ideas and of structures,” Crow said. “Her ability to identify who needs to know whom, and what they have in common and can partner on is unparalleled. Her unique skill set is an exciting advantage for the university.”

Levy said that partnerships go both ways, and Silicon Valley can learn a lot from ASU. For example, she knows that many high-tech companies are intrigued by the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, in which Starbucks reimburses tuition for employees who take ASU Online classes.

“It lit a fire under other companies who say, ‘We should be thinking about how the workforce should be educated.’ ” 

Levy will be thinking of ways to get the message out about what ASU is doing.

“There so much raw goodness here that you start to show people what’s doable and it just keeps going.” 

Mary Beth Faller

reporter, ASU Now


NY Times correspondent named ASU Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor

July 18, 2017

Fernanda Santos, an award-winning author and Southwest correspondent for The New York Times, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as a Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor, Arizona State University has announced.

Santos, who covers Arizona and New Mexico for the Times, has reported extensively on border and immigration issues as well as wildfires in the Southwest. Her recent book, “The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots,” covered the deadliest wildfire in Arizona history. Fernanda Santos New York Times Southwest correspondent Fernanda Santos is joining the Cronkite School as a Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor. Photo by Nick Oza Download Full Image

Santos, who starts Aug. 16, will teach short- and long-form narrative journalism to undergraduate and graduate students. She will hold the rank of professor of practice.

“I’m a firm believer in sharing my knowledge, and I can think of no better way to do that than to work with the next generation of journalists at Cronkite, a school that believes in diversity of culture, background and point of view — diversity in its true form,” Santos said. “This is an amazing opportunity to help students become better writers and to mentor them.”

Since joining the Times in 2005, Santos has covered New York City’s public school system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s City Hall and the New York borough of Queens as well as rural and suburban communities in the state of New York. Her story on the first year of freedom for a wrongfully convicted man won awards from the Associated Press Media Editors and the Society of Silurians.

As Phoenix bureau chief, she has reported on the ongoing issues surrounding President Donald Trump’s plan to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as on a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Phoenix that was once targeted for demolition.  

“Fernanda’s stories for the Times have brought national and international attention to the important issues of the Southwest through skilled reporting and powerful narrative,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are thrilled she will be sharing her passion for storytelling with our students and are excited for her to be an integral part of our school.”

Santos, who speaks four languages — English, Portuguese, Spanish and French — got her start in journalism in her home country of Brazil, where she found a passion for storytelling in Rio de Janeiro. There, she said she witnessed “violence, inequality and immeasurable hope.”

In 1998, she came to the U.S. and started reporting for newspapers in Massachusetts. At the Eagle-Tribune, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, she was part of the reporting team that won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service for a multipart series on racial relations in New England. 

She went on to work at the New York Daily News and People Magazine before joining The New York Times.

Santos also was a fellow at the International Reporting Project, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., in 2005. For the fellowship, she traveled to Colombia to explore the reasons behind a steep decline in the rate of violent crimes in Bogotá.

“I've been a journalist for 20 years, 12 of those at The New York Times, where I learned from some of the best editors and reporters in the business,” she said. “This was the perfect time in my career to step away from daily newspapers. Cronkite gave me a home when I took a leave of absence from The Times to write a book about the deadly wildfire of 2013. I’m honored to be joining the full-time faculty at the school, and I can't wait to bring my passion and skills to the classroom.”

Published in 2016, “The Fire Line” provides a narrative of the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, which killed 19 firefighters. The book received the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book.

At the Cronkite School, Santos will be part of the ASU Southwest Borderlands Initiative. The borderlands initiative, created in 2001 to enhance research and teaching focused on the Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border, has more than two dozen faculty members across a wide array of disciplines.

Santos will join Cronkite’s Southwest Borderlands Professor Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors. Santos, Rodriguez and Vanessa Ruiz, a former lead anchor on 12 News Phoenix and an award-winning bilingual correspondent who also starts at Cronkite next month, are part of a growing cadre of faculty members specializing in coverage of the border and Latino issues.

Santos is a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a board member of the Arizona Latino Media Association and a member of the Journalism and Women Symposium.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology from Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro.

“Joining Cronkite is truly an honor,” Santos said. “This is an incredible opportunity to be part of a stellar faculty in one of the best journalism schools in the country.”

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


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ASU a 'best buy,' according to 2018 Fiske Guide to Colleges

Fiske guide names ASU a best buy for academics, value.
July 17, 2017

Guide annually ranks schools with the best combination of academic excellence and value for the cost of tuition

Students seeking a quality education at a reasonable price can look to Arizona State University as a "best buy," according to Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018.

The guide, which annually ranks schools with the best combination of academic excellence and value for the cost of tuition, included ASU on its list of only 20 public universities designated this year. 

ASU shared the distinction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Maryland, the University of Florida and the University of Washington, among others. It was the only Arizona school on the list.

The Fiske guide describes ASU as a university “where ‘massive innovation’ is the norm and where an interdisciplinary culture is seen as the best means of developing ‘world-changing ideas.’ ASU’s stated goal is to serve any Arizona student qualified for college-level work and, in the process, it has become a national model of how to deal with the emerging demographics of U.S. higher education.”

Fiske reports ASU’s tuition for in-state students at around $11,000. In fact, very few resident students pay that amount: with gift aid and scholarships, the average Arizonan pays $1,800 in net tuition per school year.

RELATED: ASU tuition estimator

ASU’s commitment to access and affordability has created an influx of students from a diverse socioeconomic range, expanding ASU’s reach beyond many similar schools.

And it’s not just Arizona students benefiting from the high-value proposition presented by ASU.

Students from all states have access to the world-class education of the No. 1 most innovative university in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report, for a reasonable cost. 

“The scholarship I got from ASU made my out-of-state tuition about equivalent to what it would have cost in California to go to school,” said Lauren Gooch, a senior studying marketing. “Also, being able to graduate in four years was important to me — ASU guaranteed that, while the California schools I was considering could not.”

The Fiske guide is not the only ranking in which ASU excels. In addition to the No. 1 in innovation ranking — ahead of No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 MIT — the university ranks in the top 10 for graduate employability ahead of MIT, Columbia and UCLA, according to Times Higher Education. 

ASU is the No. 1 public university in the U.S. as chosen by international students according to the Institute of International Education.

And it’s home to a top 25 law school, a top 25 graduate business school and a top 20 fine arts school in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

And like the Fiske “best buy,” it has been designated a “Best College Value” by Kiplinger’s.

ASU lecturer receives national engineering teaching award

Enriching educational experience springs from ASU teacher's rapport with students

July 17, 2017

Casey Ankeny has taught almost 2,500 students in 28 classes — in multiple versions of five different courses — since joining the faculty of Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering as a lecturer only four years ago.

Often about 100-plus students have been in those classes, which all together cover subject matter spanning nearly the entire range of the undergraduate biomedical engineering curriculum from introductory classes to rigorous upper-level courses. Ankeny wins national teaching award from American Society of Engineering Education Lecturer Casey Ankeny (center) has demonstrated “dedication to addressing the individual needs of every one of her students,” says a recent ASU biomedical engineering graduate. Ankeny is pictured at a “Feast With Faculty” gathering with students in ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Photographer: Rose Serago/ASU Download Full Image

That is “absolutely remarkable” enough in itself, said Associate Professor Jeffrey Kleim, associate director of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. But also consider that in those four years Ankeny’s teacher evaluations have scored at or close to the highest possible rating.

“To obtain such a high rating across such a diverse set of large courses is unheard of in our program,” Kleim said.

Recent string of teaching awards

Over those years, Ankeny has won the program’s undergraduate teaching award — an award decided on by students — and the Rookie of the Year teaching award from the local chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Her faculty colleagues also recently gave her a Top 5 Percent Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding instructors across all six Fulton Schools, and she also won the Fulton Schools Outstanding Lecturer Award this year.

Those accomplishments figured into the mix of what the American Society of Engineering Education considered in selecting Ankeny as winner of its 2017 Biomedical Engineering Teaching Award. She received the honor at the ASEE’s recent annual national conference.

The 12,000-member organization of faculty members, students and leaders from more than 400 educational institutions, along with representatives of government agencies, professional associations and more than 50 corporations, is one of the world’s most prominent advocates for quality in engineering education.

Colleagues praise commitment to students

ASEE officials had plenty of testimony to the quality of Ankeny’s teaching in the comments by fellow faculty members and students in letters nominating her for the annual teaching award.

Kleim emphasized her teaching approach that “allows her to establish a rapport with her students that I have rarely seen at the undergraduate level. To put it simply, they love her classes.”

Sarah Stabenfeldt, associate professor of biomedical engineering, points to her collaboration with Ankeny on revamping curriculum for biomaterials studies as evidence of Ankeny’s “dedication to innovative pedagogy” and “unwavering pursuit of advancing the classroom experience to a more student-centric mode.”

That project, for instance, transformed Introduction to Biomaterials “into one of the most engaging courses in our entire curriculum,” Stabenfeldt said.

She also notes Ankeny’s relatively prolific authorship of engineering education research papers and conference research presentations, produced while she handled the demands of her full teaching load.

“I cannot overstate the positive effects that her teaching and leadership styles have had on me and my peers,” wrote Kandace Donaldson, who received her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering this past spring and says Ankeny has motivated her to pursue a doctoral degree.

 “It has been extremely rewarding for me to witness the growth of students’ problem solving skills in a classroom that is constantly evolving to benefit their learning,” Donaldson wrote, further pointing to Ankeny’s commitment to creative teaching methods and “dedication to addressing the individual needs of every one of her students.”

Captivating educator, inspiring role model

More than a teacher, Ankeny is “a caring role model” and “an amazing mentor” to many students, wrote Aldin Malkoc, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees as one of Ankeny’s students and research assistants.

Malkoc also credits her with the ability to create “a new and better version” of courses she teaches for the first time.

Ankeny is able to “captivate her students and ensure each one had a comprehensive understanding of the material,” wrote Mikayle Holm, a 2016 graduate who completed her undergraduate honors studies thesis under Ankeny’s supervision.

At one time, Holm wrote of herself, she was “questioning my abilities to be a competitive scientist,” but Ankeny’s mentorship “has inspired me as a young female researcher to pursue a graduate degree.”

Jake Packer, a senior biomedical engineering major serving as a teaching assistant to Ankeny, has been especially impressed with her “exceptional ability to connect with students.”

He wrote that “she makes a concerted effort to learn and remember students’ names, a rare trait” among professors who teach classes of a hundred or more students.

He also likes Ankeny’s method of guiding students in “creating their own experiments, instead of providing a ready-made lab procedure to follow. This allows the students practice to create, innovate, and question more, instead of simply ‘completing the assignment.’”

Poised to have long-term impact on teaching methods

There is little doubt all these multiple talents led to Ankeny’s upcoming positions as an assistant professor of instruction and biomedical engineering master’s degree program director at Northwestern University.

She will still be able to make a long-range impact on ASU students through her role as a co-principal investigator for a research project supported by the National Science Foundation and led by Fulton Schools Professor Stephen Krause.

The endeavor aims to prepare more than 80 ASU engineering faculty members to implement a variety of new evidence-based strategies and techniques designed to produce more effective teaching.

Ankeny is exploring the potential of interactive platforms for improving teaching methods. Specifically, she is investigating “cyber-based student engagement strategies” to enhance learning — using online lectures and instruction, smartphone apps and other cyber resources.

Of her contribution to the project so far, Krause said, “She has encouraged the uncertain and made believers of the skeptics in helping faculty members bring inspiring new innovations into their own classrooms.”

“My true passion is teaching, so once I learned about the work Stephen Krause is doing, I was hooked,” Ankeny said.

“Working with students is my favorite thing. Seeing them develop and become capable of doing wonderful things, and helping them figure out what they want to do in their careers,” she said. “This is what is the most rewarding for me.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU's Cronkite School receives high praise from journalism accrediting council

July 14, 2017

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a “model for retention, transformative education and inclusion,” a national council said in re-accrediting the Arizona State University program for another six years.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering excellence and high standards in professional journalism education, found the Cronkite School in compliance on all standards on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. An exterior photo of the Cronkite School. ASU's Cronkite School was recently re-accredited The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The accreditation report said "the school has built a global institution of learning, innovation and career development that serves working journalists, media businesses, students and society at large.” Download Full Image

The ACEJMC action followed a review by the ACEJMC Committee, which voted in a public meeting held in Chicago to re-accredit the Cronkite School’s bachelor’s and master’s programs. Both the council and committee agreed with the recommendation of a five-member site team, led by Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, to re-accredit the program.

The site team, which conducted an on-site review of Cronkite’s program in January 2017, assessed the school’s progress over the past six years. In its 55-page report, the team offered effusive comments on virtually every dimension of the Cronkite School and cited no weaknesses.

“The school has built a global institution of learning, innovation and career development that serves working journalists, media businesses, students and society at large,” the report states. “True to the university’s charter, the unit takes ‘fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.’”

The Cronkite School, accredited since 1973, received high marks across all nine accreditation standards, which cover mission, curriculum, diversity, faculty, scholarship, student services, resources and facilities, public service, and learning outcomes.

“The school is never satisfied with the status quo,” site team members wrote. “Faculty and administrators are constantly reviewing, tweaking and discussing ways to improve the education delivered to students as well as ways to ensure students are especially well prepared and competitive in newsrooms.”

The Cronkite School has dramatically grown since its last re-accreditation in 2011, which was its first as an independent unit at ASU. During the six-year review period, Cronkite assumed operations of Arizona PBS, launched four new degree programs and expanded its professional programs from three to 13, which includes a Washington public affairs reporting bureau, a Los Angeles sports bureau, a borderlands reporting program and a public relations lab, among others.

The school also grew its full-time faculty from 35 to 48 — a 37 percent overall increase.

“The praise for Cronkite faculty was universal,” site team members stated in their report. “Students are not only satisfied but are enthusiastically grateful for the quality of the education and mentoring they receive.”

The site team also called the Cronkite School “one of the nation’s great leaders in diversity and inclusion in journalism and mass communication,” noting the school had managed to “substantially improve on an already impressive record in this area.”

Diversity among the student body increased from 31 percent at the beginning of the review period in 2010 to nearly 40 percent in 2016. Faculty diversity also improved, with people of color representing 27 percent of full-time faculty. During the accreditation period, the school hired 15 new faculty members, more than half of whom are people of color and two-thirds of whom are women. Diversity and inclusion also play a significant part in the school’s curriculum and community outreach efforts.

In April, the Cronkite School was named the recipient of one of the highest honors in journalism education for diversity and inclusion, the Equity & Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

The site team also commented on Cronkite School’s facilities and equipment. “The school’s resources, facilities and equipment would be the envy of most other programs, anywhere in the world,” the report states. “Students, faculty and professionals all rave about the beauty and quality of what is available.”

In addition to Norton, the site team consisted of Hubert Brown, associate dean of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications; Jackie Jones, assistant dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication; Heidi de Laubenfels, vice president of operations at Nyhus Communications; and Diane McFarlin, dean of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications.

Prior to their visit, team members reviewed an extensive self-study report prepared by Cronkite faculty and staff. During the on-site review, they visited classes and met with faculty, administrators, students and media professionals in the community as well as ASU leadership.

For more than 70 years, the ACEJMC has been dedicated to excellence and high standards in professional education in journalism and mass communications. The organization, which accredits more than 100 journalism and mass communications programs in the U.S. and abroad, encourages educational innovation by programs in their efforts to meet accreditation requirements and standards to prepare students for careers in journalism and mass communication around the world.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


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ASU Foundation sets fundraising record, generates more than $220M for university’s programs, services

Support from private donors funds ASU scholarships, public services and more.
July 13, 2017

Record amount of private support follows public launch of Campaign ASU 2020

In the months following the launch of Campaign ASU 2020, a comprehensive resource-raising effort to sustain and grow Arizona State University’s educational activities, the ASU Foundation has announced the completion of a record year in fundraising for academic programs, research and services at the university.

At the close of the 2017 fiscal year, early estimates show private donors from across Arizona and the world contributed more than $220 million for ASU to enable access and excellence within higher education. The previous record of $215 million was set in fiscal year 2016.

“We’re trying to build something that the university needs going forward, which is a culture of philanthropy,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “All great universities in the United States are built around philanthropy.”

“This strong momentum indicates that our model is working and that our community is growing in its understanding of the value of private support to the university — and of the value of the university in society,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., chief executive officer of ASU Enterprise Partners, the parent organization to the ASU Foundation.

Campaign ASU 2020 focuses on six priorities — student access and excellence, student success, the academic enterprise, discovery, creativity and innovation, our communities and Sun Devil competitiveness — but donors are able to choose from 5,000 specific areas to make an impact. Those areas range from support for faculty developing space instruments for NASA to travel grants for undergraduates at Barrett, The Honors College to bringing Broadway shows to campus at ASU Gammage.

“I believe ASU is a major life force in our community, and I want to do my part to help it thrive,” said Jeremy Meek, Class of ’09, a donor and President’s Club Young Leader. He is one of more than 100,000 individual, corporate and foundation supporters to give to ASU this year.

Though private support is not a replacement for public funding, it provides the margin of excellence that allows scholars’ experiences to transform from good to great.

Around 8,000 students each year receive scholarships — perhaps the best-known category of support — provided by private donors.

Other beneficiaries include the reinvented Sun Devil Stadium; mid-career professionals hoping to transition to teaching; and the student-run, free health-care clinic for the homeless in downtown Phoenix.

One gift made international headlines when it was announced that Charlie and Lois O’Brien, two of the world’s foremost entomologists, would donate their collection of insect specimens and an endowed professorship to maintain them. The gift is valued at $12 million.

“We are so genuinely grateful for our donors,” said ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig. “Because of them, ASU is able to start closing the gap between jobs in Arizona that require a college degree and the number of Arizonans that have one. What’s more, they are genuinely doing good in the world through the research they enable and the programs that help our students who might not otherwise attend or graduate from college.”

The ASU Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the mission of ASU as the New American University. It has consistently received the highest ranking for efficiency and transparency from Charity Navigator, the largest independent nonprofit evaluator, and was named a “Top Company to Work For in Arizona” by

To learn more about supporting ASU, visit


Top photo: Sun Devil Giving Day, an annual event each spring, raised more than $3 million in donations large and small from more than 1,000 supporters across the country. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Beth Giudicessi


ASU professor helps students learn, lead and innovate

July 13, 2017

Mike Tueller has many talents. He completed an academic conference paper in high school, served in the U.S. Navy and studied at Harvard University. He also landed his childhood dream job: professor.

“Of course, there’s no way I could have known as a preschooler what a university professor really did,” said Tueller, associate professor of ancient Greek in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. “So, I have to consider it the sheerest luck that I’ve actually found this job suits me.” Mike Tueller, associate professor of ancient Greek Mike Tueller is an associate professor of ancient Greek in the School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

Tueller started programming computers for a research project at a local university while in high school. The project’s aim was to develop high-powered space-based lasers as part of former President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, more commonly known as the “Star Wars Defense” plan. 

“I’ll admit this may sound more impressive than it is, but you should remember it was the '80s. A university research project couldn’t have a grad student do the work because the only people who knew how to program computers were high-schoolers,” he said. “But this means I delivered my first academic conference paper when I was 17, and in a completely different field from the one I find myself in now.”

As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Tueller first majored in astrophysics for his love of science. He said he hadn’t heard of the Classics as an academic field until he met one of his roommates. He switched his major to Classics and received his bachelor’s degree in 1992.

“I still love science, but I really wanted to try something different,” Tueller said. “And, like a lot of people who make similar switches, I was hooked.”

Tueller took a Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps scholarship at Harvard. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for four years in between his undergraduate and graduate years, most of which was spent in Puerto Rico. In 2003, he completed his doctoral program in classical philology at Harvard. He taught for five years at Brigham Young University before joining the faculty at ASU in 2008.

Tueller teaches courses in ancient Greek language and literature. His research focuses on Greek epigrams, which began as inscriptions on objects but soon turned into very short, ancient poems that often feature witty turns of phrase or thought. He is currently re-editing the Loeb Classical Library’s standard English edition of “The Greek Anthology,” an ancient collection of about 4,500 short poems.

“These poems are tricky: they’re so short that they omit all context. In fact, they make a game out of forcing the reader to guess what their original context would have been,” Tueller said. “In my research, I have attempted to determine how ancient readers would have processed these poems – from discovering the reader’s starting point to how the nuance of individual words would play out across the poem, and where the surprises lie.”

Tueller said many people criticize forms of speech that are known for being short, such as the “tweet” or “sound bite,” because they believe it’s a diminution of public discourse. Tueller disagrees with this opinion, saying brevity is suitable for some kinds of expression.

“I think the Greek epigram can give us an example of how a rich literary tradition adapted to circumstances that favored brevity,” Tueller said. “Every new thing I discover in my research, no matter how small, feels like a jolt of electricity. And in my teaching, I get to see students have that same experience — a sudden flash of insight can redirect a life.”

While many students come to professors with very specific job-related worries, Tueller said it’s our responsibility as a university to raise their sights beyond the workforce.

“An undergraduate education should give its graduates the skills not just to do what they’re told but to forge their own paths, to innovate and to lead,” Tueller said. “This requires a much broader education in the world and its ways, and the cultivation of some very hard-to-pin-down skills in incisive observation and critical analysis without boundaries.”

Tueller teaches in a field with a long tradition of paying very close attention to words. He said a student who has acquired a precise ability to question the meaning behind words is less likely to be deceived and more likely able to address any need. Further, rigorous habits of reading, writing and speaking make clearer thinkers and more effective leaders.   

“Learning involves a leap into the unknown,” Tueller said. “You have to take the risk of being wrong and looking foolish if you’re ever going to make any progress.”

Amanda Stoneman

Copywriter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Graduate College appoints Brian Smith as associate dean of graduate initiatives

Smith will lead international initiatives at the college to enhance ASU’s global presence

July 12, 2017

Brian H. Smith, an accomplished researcher in behavioral neuroscience and professor at the School of Life Sciences, has been named associate dean of graduate initiatives in the Graduate College at Arizona State University.

In his new position, Smith will lead international initiatives at the Graduate College to enhance ASU’s global presence. Brian Smith Brian Smith will lead international initiatives at the Graduate College to enhance ASU’s global presence. Download Full Image

“Dr. Smith clearly has the skills necessary to deepen the quality and scope of ASU’s graduate academic programs, while advancing graduate initiatives,” said Alfredo Artiles, dean of the Graduate College. “I’m thrilled he has agreed to join the leadership of the Graduate College.”

Smith joined ASU as faculty in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University in July 2005, after having spent 15 years as faculty at Ohio State University’s Department of Entomology. In 2006, he led the development of a new doctoral program — Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, in partnership with Barrow Neurological Institute. He then served as director of the School of Life Sciences for three years and as a leadership fellow in the Office of the Provost, where he has worked to help advance development of online programs at ASU. Under direction of the provost, he recently completed work on a new undergraduate program in neuroscience, set to launch this fall semester.

During his research career, he has mentored many undergrads, 15 graduate students and more than 20 postdoctoral researchers who have gone on to teaching and research positions in the United States, France, Germany, Argentina, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Collaboration with researchers from disciplines as diverse as mathematics, chemistry, engineering and art has been central in his research and administrative work: “I find collaboration allows me to ask questions at different levels,” Smith said.

“By 2030 the number of people in the world that will require a university education will more than double. This presents an opportunity for ASU to address a growing demand for graduate programs by actively engaging with other programs in the U.S. and across the world,” Smith said.

As associate dean, Smith will foster initiatives to advance strategic graduate program development.

Smith’s own research has been continuously funded since 1991 by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Human Frontiers Science Program out of the European Community.

Additionally, Smith serves as a fellow in PLuS Alliance, which is a consortium between ASU, King’s College London and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and he is a senior fellow of the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

An author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications, Smith is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received a Fulker Award from Behavior Genetics Association and a National Institute of Mental Health Nation Research Service Award.

Smith’s appointment took effect July 1.

ASU professor teaches students to become experts on happiness, leadership

July 12, 2017

Sarah Tracy, professor in Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, believes in the importance of discovering different methods and approaches for encountering the world. She teaches students to become experts on personal happiness and leadership.

Tracy exemplifies human communication on all levels. She has the rare ability to connect with and impact the lives of all students — from undergraduate to graduate — as well as colleagues in her field of research. Sarah Tracy, professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Download Full Image

She has created insightful and relevant undergraduate and graduate classes; designed workshops and created research opportunities for graduate students; traveled abroad teaching classes to summer study abroad undergraduate students; and shared her research, articles and books among colleagues.

In the classroom, Tracy is focused on how her teaching can educate students on being experts in the areas of compassion, kindness, listening and leadership.

She has created several undergraduate and graduate level “Communication of Happiness” and “Leadership” themed classes, and a graduate level "Qualitative Research Methods" class based upon her book.

Tracy’s “Communication of Happiness” classes help students think about ways to build happiness in their life — to see skills and activities that they already possess that they should continue to utilize.

Susana Valenzuela, Dean’s Medalist and Hugh Downs School of Human Communication alumnus, first came to know Tracy through her qualitative research course textbook. On the recommendation of another instructor, she became Tracy’s classroom apprentice in fall 2014 and worked with Tracy while she developed the first Happiness course.

“It was very evident that she was more than a professor, so it was no surprise she also became my mentor,” Valenzuela said. “Knowing her has become a crucial piece to the many pieces that make up who I am today. She is my professor, still — outside the classroom and in life."

Even with her busy teaching and research schedule, Tracy finds time for students —sometimes to just walk around campus and listen.

“She gave me more than anyone ever cares to give another person,” Valenzuela said. “She listened to me when I myself did not know I needed someone to simply listen. She encompasses compassion, authenticity, and actual communication, in every shape and form.”

Tracy also believes in teaching students and colleagues to follow their dreams and just “do it”.  She strives to touch the lives of each one of her students and demonstrates genuine enthusiasm to be amongst her peers.

“Because of the many ways in which she has generously shared her advice with me, I am about to conquer the next chapter of my graduate academic career in communication,” Valenzuela said.

Tracy has also been highly involved with the school’s summer study abroad program to the British Isles and has spent seven summers traveling abroad teaching undergraduate students.

Hugh Downs Hugh Downs School of Human Communication alumnus Lillian Thompson first met Tracy in 2015 when she studied abroad the summer of her sophomore year as an undergraduate student.

“Sarah was the light at a very dark time in my life and she didn’t even know it,” Thompson said. “When I first enrolled in her “How of Happiness” course, I was at a very low point and was suffering from depression. With her coaching and knowledge, she took me on a journey to acceptance and I took responsibility for my own sorrow. I left that course with the tools to pull myself out of depressive states in a timely manner.”

Her “Being a Leader” classes teach students about ‘Life Sentences’ — a concept that guides students to think about what caused them to be the way they are today.

Another turning point in Thompson’s life came while attending Tracy’s “Being a Leader” course.

“I was faced with the reality that I had been hiding a huge secret most of my life,” she said. “I suffer from a chronic illness and I have always been so scared to share that fact in fear of judgment or the chance that people would treat me differently because of it.”

“I am no longer a victim to my illness, and without her coaching I’m not sure I would be able to say that,” Thompson said.

Besides teaching, Tracy was the school’s doctoral program director from 2007-2011.

Ragan Fox, professor at California State-Long Beach and former doctoral student under Tracy, has known Tracy for 15 years. “She is, hands down, the best teacher I ever encountered,” stated Fox.

“She puts a tremendous amount of thought into her pedagogy and research. Being her teaching assistant was a master class in how to instruct a graduate seminar,” Fox said. “She is an exemplary professor: rigorous but fair, kind but not a pushover, and expects students to work but works harder than anyone I know in academia.”

“She has been a constant source of affirmation and inspiration in my career,” added Fox, who was Tracy's first teaching assistant in qualitative methods. “More than any professor, she taught me about the relationship between theory, method, data, and argumentation. After taking her class, a literature review, for instance, was no longer simply a must-do part of a research paper. I started to see the 'why' behind each part of an essay. She used a cocktail party analogy that I now use in every writing-intensive course I teach.”

In her research, Tracy tries to shed light on and address problems such as organizational burnout and bullying, and examining the communicative dynamics that make for especially compassionate communication.

Along the way, she has immersed herself in qualitative research methods.

“I'm passionate about analyzing qualitative data myself and helping others learn how to make sense of the rich contextual stories and interactions that surround us in life,” Tracy said.

Rahul Mitra, assistant professor at Wayne State, has known of Tracy since being a graduate student at Purdue — reading her work, and thinking she must be such a marvelous scholar and person to do the kind of work she did.

Their professional relationship began when he later met her at a "Scholars Meet and Greet" at the National Communication Association conference. Tracy is currently writing a chapter for a book Mitra is editing.

“Sarah Tracy is a wonderful scholar and human being, a tremendous asset to the entire field of Communication,” Mitra said. “Not only does she do cutting-edge research on human wellness, emotion labor, and organizational communication, she is also a skillful teacher who is constantly striving to become better at her craft. Her series of web videos about qualitative research have been very helpful for me in my short workshops, and I think they are a great testament to the kind of broader outreach that all social science scholars should be doing — going beyond academia to broader audiences to talk about why our research is important, and how it can help so many people.”

Mitra describes Tracy as a wonderful professional mentor, ever ready to help with advice, ideas and feedback. He was using Tracy’s 2013 textbook in his qualitative research methods seminar with graduate students and asked agreed to Skype in and chat with his students. 

“In her book, she has a wonderful way of talking novice students through the intricate and complex ways of qualitative research, with plenty of personal thoughts and reflections based on her long career,” he said. “Over Skype, she talked us through the 'behind the scenes' of many of the concepts and stories she narrated in the book, and my students loved interacting with her. They were amazed at how warm and convivial she was, for someone they had never met, and had long held in awe.”

On another occasion, Tracy invited Mitra to join a small interdisciplinary research gathering she was attending with her students and colleagues to talk about his own research.

“It was a wonderful occasion to witness, first hand, her openness to transdisciplinary collaborations and her steadfast belief in the role communication scholarship can play in helping address some key social problems.” he said.

Tracy is also co-director of the Transformation Project, a research initiative of the school. She was the director of the former Project for Wellness and Work-Life, a consortium of researchers studying the overlap of private, domestic life with work life, and the Sunshine for Sun Devils campaign.

“Throughout my graduate work, I read and reread her work on work-life balance, compassion, and qualitative research,” said Elissa Adame, research assistant professor with the school. “I was quite nervous to finally meet her at NCA in 2013 — not just because I idolized her, but also because I’d heard of others’ experiences of meeting their own “academic crush” to be disappointed by the scholar’s response.”

Since her first interaction with Tracy, Adame has felt even more inspired by Tracy’s work - both the work she does that appears in academic papers and the work she does to invest and support those around her every day.

Adame shared Tracy’s definition of leadership as "creating a future that would not have occurred without the leader’s influence." Tracy and Adame are currently involved in a mixed-method research project that illustrates Tracy’s dedication to creating a better future.

In fall 2017, Tracy developed two leadership classes with the goal of exploring how, if at all, the way we teach students leadership influences students’ leadership performance.

“Though the data is still being compiled, students in both classes reported feeling inspired and motivated by Tracy,” Adame said.

Tracy has given graduate students involved in the project an opportunity to learn about research design, data collection, and data analysis and continues to work closely with the students to ensure they learn valuable lessons that interest them.

Her work revolves around how people can relate to one another in meaningful and kind ways — treating others as multi-faceted crystallized selves with a variety of concerns and needs. 

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication