ASU will continue to evolve under the New American University initiative - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

ASU will continue to evolve under the New American University initiative

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Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:15 am

As the New American University initiative will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, it is apparent that most of what was envisioned is falling into place.

The New American University, a vision from Arizona State President Michael Crow to transform not only ASU as a university, but the communities surrounding it, has been under way for almost 10 years now. Although there have been many accomplishments, the initiative does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

In his 2002 inaugural speech, Michael Crow said, "I believe that Arizona State University is uniquely poised to become such an institution. Not only can Arizona State University surpass its existing excellence in teaching, research and public service, I believe it can break the mold of the current model for the American research university and serve as a bellwether in its re-conceptualization."

Not only have two colleges been revamped, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, but the university has also grown to have four complete campuses.

With the completion of the Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic and West Phoenix Campuses, and the Lake Havasu City campus making its debut in fall 2012, the university has gone through some of the most drastic changes a public university has ever seen.

In August of 2008, Newsweek recognized the university's success and said ASU was "one of the most radical redesigns in higher learning."

Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College receives face-lift

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College was once comprised of three separate schools, but in June of 2011 all three were formally combined to what is now known as the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

"It was a lot of work, each college had their own program, and students were not able to transfer within the different programs without losing credits," Associate Dean Sally Hurwitz said. "Michael Crow saw that it didn't make sense."

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College now has a presence on all four campuses and several of the programs within the school have been nationally recognized for their excellence.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the Teachers College 25th among public graduate schools of education in 2012, and 35th among all public and private graduate programs in the field.

Several individual programs were singled out for top 25 rankings among public graduate schools of education. Curriculum and Instruction was ranked 17th, Educational Policy was ranked 10th, Elementary Teacher Education came in at 16th and Secondary Teacher Education was 13th.

"We have been trying incredible new things," Hurwitz said. "We are now offering one year of undergraduate student teaching. It has been hard, but it is remarkable."

Along with implementing the iTeachAZ program, which expands the student teaching experience to a full academic year, the college is preparing to implement a full curriculum redesign, which will eliminate some courses, adds new ones, and revises the rest of the courses.

Engineering schools trying new teaching methods

The Ira A. Schools of Engineering have also been nationally recognized for their superior quality as programs, professors and students continue to innovate themselves.

The Ira A. Schools of Engineering were ranked in the top 10 percent of all undergraduate engineering programs, and U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate programs in the top 50 in the nation.

Paul C. Johnson, professor and dean at The Ira A. Schools of Engineering, said that the school will be successful if students are engaged, motivated, feel a sense of community, are provided a foundation of knowledge in their majors, can build unique and competitive resumes, and have support from faculty.

"Like most engineering schools we have historically emphasized a sound foundation of knowledge in their majors," Johnson said. "Unlike others, we now invest much more effort and resources in accomplishing a sense of community, competitive resumes and faculty help."

To build a better sense of community for students, the school created E2 camp. Before the fall semester started, a group of about 200 engineering freshmen head up to Prescott in northern Arizona for three days of team building activities, design challenges and networking.

"The magic is that E2 Camp is run by our peer mentors, who are other sophomore, junior or senior engineering students, and who live with the students and lead them through the activities," Johnson said. "In the course of that, (peer mentors) communicate their excitement for engineering and provide them advice on success at ASU."

The students at The Ira A. Schools of Engineering, whom the school refers to as "Engineering+," now have opportunities to participate in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, Engineering Projects in Community Service, student competition teams and partnerships.

Dean Johnson refers to all of these opportunities for students as the "Fulton Difference."

Madeline Grade, Barrett Honors College and biomedical engineering senior at ASU believes that "The Fulton Difference" helped her win the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which she was recently rewarded.

"Beginning with the Barrett-Mayo Premedical Scholars Program, I was able to make connections with physicians and eventually research at Mayo Clinic Arizona," Grade said. "The incredible amount of information that I have learned from my mentors, coupled with the research accomplishments I was able to achieve, have been instrumental in my subsequent endeavors, including attaining the Marshall Scholarship."

Grade, a Gilbert resident, didn't plan on attending an in-state school, but after realizing that she could get just as great of an experience and education for a fraction of the cost, in comparison to out-of-state and private schools, the choice became clear.

"There are many opportunities here that I could not have gotten anywhere else," Grade said.

Along with innovating schools and programs within Arizona State, the university is continuing its expansion to fulfill Crow's vision of The New American University to transform society.

ASU will continue its expansion

Lake Havasu City, located 209 miles northwest of Tempe, will be joining the ASU family of schools this coming fall.

Lake Havasu City is extremely excited for this new addition because it will impact the city economically.

"(The) college campus will be an economic driver," Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark S. Nexsen said. "For so long our economy has been dependent on tourism and we have been trying to diversify our economy for awhile, the university campus will help in endeavors."

Nexsen said that Lake Havasu City, along with the nonprofit organization, The Lake Havasu Foundation for Higher Education, who Nexsen said was the true catalyst for the partnership, approached ASU about a campus a little more than two years ago.

"ASU said if we could get the money, we could have the campus," Nexsen said. "The community raised $2 million in private donations, one donor put in $1 million on his own."

The eight design aspirations for the New American University not only include expanding Arizona State University, but growing the community in which all of the campuses reside.

"This will not only create more jobs, but it will help sustain our economy in tough times," Nexsen said. "The campus has been very well received and everyone is excited."

Mayor Nexsen is hoping that out-of-state students, specifically California students who vacation there, will be attracted to this area, not only for the great location but for ASU's prestigious name.

"The quality name of Arizona State University will make a huge impact," Nexsen said.

"It's almost like every city in Arizona now wants their own campus because it is truly such an economic developer," said Virgil Renzulli, vice president for public affairs at Arizona State University.

Renzulli also mentioned that the rumored Payson campus is definitely a possibility, even with all of the recent setbacks in acquiring the desired land.

As the New American University continues to grow, more of the design aspects will continue to be fulfilled.

"The transformation of Arizona State University will transform the state of Arizona, enriching it economically and culturally. But let us not limit our vision because the development of a new American university here in Arizona will have impact beyond the borders of our state," Crow said during his 2002 inaugural speech.

And he has played a key role in the transformation of the university.

"Michael Crow is one of the transitional figures of the university, he is a builder, not just a care taker," Renzulli said.

In 2010, Time magazine named Crow one of the 10 best college presidents in the U.S., based on the academic achievements of ASU under his leadership.

"I think President Crow and ASU's marketing team have done a fantastic job publicizing the many accomplishments of students," Grade said. "We are really making a name for ourselves in a very positive way, and I expect this to improve even more over the next few years."

In 2002, Crow said that the New American University would cultivate excellence in teaching, research, and public service, providing the best possible education to the broadest possible spectrum of society.

The university is on track to fulfill all of the qualifications for the New American University as it continues to innovate itself and expand.

As far as the next 10 years go, Renzulli says that the university will continue on the path of The New American University, but that there will be a new 10-year plan revealed sometime next year.

• Haley Buntrock is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.

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