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Welcome to the Office of University Initiatives Blog, an online journal that allows our office to share and reflect on our work at ASU.
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I’ve always been an ambitious kid with big dreams. Passionately Ambitious Hustler is the informal title I’d given myself, based on my initials. I find myself eternally curious... ideating meaningful solutions to solve problems and acting on them. I never limit myself by thinking that I’m just a student and this mindset is what brought me to the Office of University Initiatives (UI) at ASU as a Strategic Research Analyst.
When I came out to Arizona State University to serve as a UI Fellow, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had never even been to the university when I accepted my offer and wasn’t even sure what my day to day would look like. Yet, after 13 months of a roller coaster experience, I can definitively say that this has been the most gratifying professional experiences of my life. I've grown more during this short period of time than I ever thought possible.
As the conduit for university-wide initiatives at Arizona State University (ASU), the Office of University Initiatives (UI) is like an island of generalists in a deep sea of specialists. As an R1 university, ASU is a breeding ground for pundits, from professors like Dr. Sha Sin Wei, who studies ethico-aesthetic improvisation and topological approaches to morphogenesis and process philosophy, to researchers like Dr. Diego Mastroeni, who studies genetic and epigenetic changes within single classes of cells in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease using laser capture microdissection.
"Effective leaders are like sophisticated viruses: they fool the immune system and are able to inject new DNA without destroying the host." - Michael Watkins
Within the first hour of my first day as a University Innovation Fellow, I met with my direct supervisor, Luke Tate, and the leader of the UI Office, Jacqueline Smith. I was handed a paper with my initial assignments and explained that these would be ongoing projects. What I didn’t know was that these projects would take months of research, dozens of meetings, and countless reports -- just to scratch the surface.
My first two assignments were:
Often times, our office must communicate with internal and external stakeholders about the efforts ASU has taken to operationalize the charter and design aspirations. Such assignments to do so can be both rewarding and frustrating. With thousands of students, faculty staff and community partners across five campuses, there is no shortage of programs and initiatives that can be featured. One of best aspects of my role is learning about these efforts and how they have made a positive impact.
ASU’s Social Embeddedness Network Monthly Brown Bag Lunch Series kicked off on Friday, September 21st on the Tempe campus. The topic of discussion was based on the work of Weerts and Sandmann (2010), “Community Engagement and Boundary Spanning Roles at Research Universities.”
At Arizona State University, you will be hard-pressed to find a group or department discussing education without simultaneously discussing scale. If we are reaching one hundred learners with a product or course offering, can we reach 200? What about 500? At EdPlus, the division which houses Education for Humanity, scale is deeply embedded in our DNA.
Energized about conversations regarding the role of the public university, I find myself reflecting on the role of institutions of higher education more broadly, and commitments to postsecondary access, diversity, and inclusion. There are currently 3,026 four-year degree-granting institutions in the United States. Amongst these institutions are minority-serving institutions (historically black college and universities and Hispanic serving institutions), women’s colleges, small liberal arts colleges, work colleges, and public research institutions to name a few.