Mission: Core Component 1.D

1.D - Core Component 1.D

The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good.

  1. Actions and decisions reflect an understanding that in its educational role the institution serves the public, not solely the institution, and thus entails a public obligation.
  2. The institution’s educational responsibilities take primacy over other purposes, such as generating financial returns for investors, contributing to a related or parent organization, or supporting external interests.
  3. The institution engages with its identified external constituencies and communities of interest and responds to their needs as its mission and capacity allow.


1.D.1  ASU is committed through its actions and decisions to serving the public good, and this goal takes primacy over other concerns. As one of only three state universities in one of the fastest growing states in the country, ASU provides the external community with access to high quality educational, cultural, and informative opportunities through seminars, workshops, and exhibitions, to name a few, including:

  • Arizona School Services through Education (ASSET) is part of Eight/KAET, ASU’s public television station. ASSET serves as an educational liaison to students, educators, parents and the community by providing innovative educational technologies that enrich lives through quality programming, outreach efforts, and services that educate, inform, and inspire. ASSET takes great pride in collaborating with business and non-profit organizations to bring the best possible resources to Arizona educators, families, and the community.
  • A seminar series in the W.P. Carey School of Business, Department of Finance, brings together students, faculty and industry professionals at Department of Finance seminars to learn about state-of-the-art research, discuss ideas and share feedback with researchers from around the country. The events also provide faculty and students with forums for sharpening presentation skills, engaging in interactive collaboration, and networking to advance their professional and academic careers. These seminars are free and open to the public.
  • The ASU Art Museum serves as a laboratory for thinking about and enjoying art in innovative ways. Named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, the museum is an integral part of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Open to the public, it serves a diverse community of artists and audiences through innovative, interdisciplinary, educational, and contemporarily relevant programming.
  • Grant Street Studios epitomizes the idea of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Renovating a former cotton factory in downtown Phoenix, the ASU School of Art has created a community for its graduate studio artists, galleries for them to showcase work among Phoenix artists, and workspaces for them to experiment and flourish. Located in the Warehouse District in downtown Phoenix, Grant Street Studios houses over 60 studios for all of the School of Art MFA candidates in one location. Seminar areas are used for the School of Art’s Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series presentations, where student artists learn from and connect with nationally known visiting artists. The expansive structure also showcases student artwork and outside artists in two galleries which are a part of the downtown Phoenix First and Third Fridays.
  • Ask A Biologist began in 1997 in the School of Life Sciences as a biology learning resource tool for students, teachers, parents, and life-long learners. With University support, the site continues to develop and grow, and is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ask A Biologist is  visited by over 35,000 people every day and has answered more than 40,000 biology questions.

Beyond these types of outreach activities, ASU demonstrates its commitment to the public good through a variety of exceptional educational opportunities open to the community, including lectures discussing recent discoveries in science and technology, workshops and seminars in humanities research, and exhibits promoting artistic and creative design. These events bridge the ASU community to the larger local, state, national, and global communities. Examples of some of these opportunities are:

  • The ASU Origins Project is a transdisciplinary initiative that explores the most fundamental      questions: who we are and where we came from. Each year, the Origins Project hosts international workshops gathering the world’s top researchers from a variety of fields to consider and raise the profile of origins-related issues. The Project also hosts events for the public that bring outstanding scientists and public intellectuals – such as Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, Steven Weinberg, and Frank Wilczec – to present their ideas, views, and work at the frontiers of science.
  • ASU’s School of Music, within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, hosts a variety of public events throughout the year that bring visitors from across the region to campus. The annual Contemporary Music Series aims to present the highest quality performances of experimental music in the Phoenix metropolitan area and incorporates public lectures and discussions along with musical concerts. Its Lyric Opera Theatre presents four or more productions, both musical and operas, each academic year.

ASU has a physical presence not only within the metropolitan area surrounding its campuses but also around the state and nation. Arizona sites and programs outside of the physical campuses serve residents in communities all over the state, including:

  • Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offers many different site programs around the state. The signature component of the iTeachAZ professional teacher preparation program is the Senior Year Residency, where teacher candidates spend a full-year student teaching in a partner school district. The iTeachAZ sites (e.g., Gila ValleyParadise Valley School District) range from the far northeast corner of the state on the Navajo Reservation to sites on the Mexican/American border to the south, as well as throughout Maricopa County.
  • The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law responds to society’s needs by embedding faculty and law students in the community. The College offers 9 fully staffed clinics throughout the state that serve people who would not otherwise be able to obtain legal representation. An additional clinic is planned to open Spring 2018.
  • ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City is an example of an external constituency (the Lake Havasu City community) joining forces with ASU to address the need for higher education opportunities in rural parts of Arizona. ASU in Havasu began offering courses for high-demand academic programs in Fall 2012 to students in the Lake Havasu City area at a lower tuition rate than other ASU campuses but with the same high academic quality.
  • The ASU Washington Center, located on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., extends many educational opportunities and serves as a resource and a venue for high-level exchanges between national policymakers, opinion leaders, and ASU students, faculty and staff. It represents ASU’s vision for maximizing innovative partnerships with governmental and public agencies, private-sector organizations, and non-government entities to address the most pressing challenges related to education, health, economic development, the environment, social justice, and many others.
  • Arizona State University’s SkySong exists to make an economic impact in the local, state and international markets by driving economic development and global enterprise. ASU SkySong helps grow the economy by launching and accelerating new companies and promoting use-inspired research, in collaboration with local communities, state government, and business partners. 

1.D.2  As a public university whose operations are completely overseen by a governing board, ASU’s primary responsibilities are directly devoted to the educational programs it delivers. The centrality of educational responsibilities is seen in the ABOR mission statement:

“The Arizona Board of Regents is committed to ensuring access for qualified residents of Arizona to undergraduate and graduate institutions; promoting the discovery, application, and dissemination of new knowledge; extending the benefits of university activities to Arizona’s citizens outside the university; and maximizing the benefits derived from the state’s investment in education.”

The centrality of this educational responsibility pervades ASU’s foundational documents, academic programs, research and creative activities, and strategic planning, as shown by the evidence presented throughout this Assurance Argument. 

1.D.3  Community@ASU provides a gateway for ASU’s community outreach efforts to help fulfill its Charter to "assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, cultural, and overall health of the communities it serves."  Some of the outreach performed by ASU faculty and students include K-12 schools, advisory boards of (non-profit) and for-profit businesses, and by hosting a day of service together with one of ASU’s colleges or schools. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to engage with community boards, associations, and commissions in self-selected areas of expertise or interest such as the East Valley Partnership, and the West Valley Arts Council. For students, University Service Learning offers classes that give academic credit for working in a variety of areas of involvement in the community. Service learning empowers student interns to respond to community needs in such areas as: agriculture, business, health care, legal aid, teaching, and more, as discussed in greater detail in Criterion 3.

The Student Health Outreach for Wellness (SHOW) community initiative is a student-run, inter-professional team of volunteers from the three Arizona Universities, united in the mission to provide holistic, client-centered healthcare for those experiencing homelessness in the community. SHOW operates in collaboration with the ASU Foundation. More than 150 students from 16 professional programs across the three universities work together with faculty and community partners. SHOW operates out of Health Care for Homeless on the 12-acre Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix to combat the weekend gap in health services while giving students real-world experience. Services are free to any individual meeting the medical or social-service criteria.

The university also operates a number of research centers that examine issues and policies important to the ASU community and beyond. Some of these centers include:

  • The Center for Indian Education has a mission and vision to serve as a research and resource center in the field of American Indian, Alaskan Native, and indigenous education and related fields at local, state, national and international levels.
  • The Hispanic Research Center performs basic and applied research on a broad range of topics related to Hispanic populations, disseminates research findings to the academic community and the public and provides public service in areas of importance to Hispanics.
  • The Center for Urban Innovation is the focal point for research on urban affairs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, improving the quality of life in neighborhoods, cities, and urban regions by promoting innovation in governance, policy, and management.
  • The School for the Future of Innovation and Society (SFIS) explores the influence of science, technology and innovation on our lives, helping to assure a future for innovation that is good for all sectors of society. SFIS trains and informs leaders, decision makers, and members of the broader public to guide society toward a better future for everyone.
  • The Decision Center for a Desert City was established in 2004 by the National Science Foundation to advance scientific understanding of environmental decision-making under conditions of uncertainty. "DCDC II,"  launched in 2010 has expanded the research agenda to further engage the policy community. This second phase explores fundamental knowledge about decision-making from three interdisciplinary perspectives: climatic uncertainties, urban-system dynamics, and adaptation decisions. 
  • Founded in 2014, the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty is dedicated to serving students and the public through research, education, and community outreach on the most pressing economic national and international economic policy issues.

ASU also has a strong relationship with community colleges throughout the state. In recent years, ASU has streamlined the pathways for community college students to transfer to ASU. The Transfer Pathways Program is easily accessed by advisors at the community colleges and at each of ASU’s colleges and schools. The program allows advisors and students to understand course equivalencies and to chart a path for students to easily transition from the community colleges to ASU.

ASU has active programs for alumni engagement. The Alumni Association includes organized chapters based on academics, and geographic locations throughout the United States and around the globe (55 International chapters). The Arizona State Young Alumni (ASYA) program engages alumni under the age of 35. This program offers a number of social, career, and community service programming events. The Alumni Association’s ASU Magazine reaches over 340,000. 

Over one thousand student organizations across all four campuses serve the local communities and also address global issues. As an example, Global Resolve promotes social entrepreneurship through projects that directly improve the lives of underprivileged people and nations. Students collaborate with faculty, international universities, residents of rural villages, local governments, financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations to design projects that focus on implementing innovative technological solutions to alleviate socio-economic issues (poverty, hunger, sanitation, and inadequate access to potable water, etc.). Global Resolve aims to bring together people from a variety of disciplines to create a community that will increase the quality of these service projects.

Camp Sparky, an organization of ASU students who volunteer with at-risk youth in the greater Phoenix area, inspires fifth-graders to love learning and have confidence in their future success. Through unique learning experiences, students are encouraged to pursue higher education. In addition, Camp Sparky members develop commitment, awareness, leadership, and a sense of community. Another example, the ASU Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, is committed to serving the local community. The primary mission of the student organization is to raise funds to build houses, to volunteer to build houses, and to educate the community about the persistent lack of quality affordable housing.

Outstanding service by faculty members and staff employees is recognized with the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness, which acknowledges those who have worked in departmental, interdepartmental, or transdisciplinary teams demonstrating excellence in embedding ASU in the social and cultural fabric of surrounding communities. This community service is also highly visible and has been recognized at the national and international levels:

  • ASU has been honored with the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll many times, most recently in 2015. It is the highest federal recognition a university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement. In 2015 alone, more than 15,000 students participated in academic service-learning or co-curricular community engagement, while an additional 22,107 students engaged in service and volunteer work in the community. As a result, students contributed nearly 1.9 million hours of service during that year.
  • ASU’s commitment to higher education as an agent for positive social transformation earned the university a coveted place in the Changemaker Campus Consortium by Ashoka, a global non-profit network of more than 2,500 social entrepreneurs. The Community Changemaker Competition awards up to $10,000 to complete an innovative project or community partnership.
  • The Sanford Inspire Program (SIP) was provided an additional $5.9M investment from entrepreneur and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.  ASU, in partnership with Teach for America, is making major substantive changes to the way ASU recruits, selects, and prepares future K-12  teachers.
  • Internships within the community serve as a benefit to both ASU students as well as the      organizations within the community in which they serve their internships. On average, at least 50 percent of all students participate in an ASU-affiliated  internship during their undergraduate academic career.
  • Since 2003, ASU has supported United Way with an annual faculty and staff campaign. Held each fall, ASU strives to raise funds that support and ultimately address and solve the complex issues facing Arizonans. In 2016, ASU raised over $725,000 during the campaign. This annual drive gives faculty and staff an opportunity to support community needs. 

Intercollegiate Athletics provides numerous connections between ASU and the communities it serves. ASU is a member of the PAC-12 athletic conference. ASU has over 600 student athletes performing in 24 sports. Tens of thousands of fans from all the teams of the conference interact throughout the region to watch their students compete in events covered by national media. ASU has prospered during the past decade in the PAC-12 and has been recognized nationally as having one of the leading college athletics programs.

ASU Intercollegiate Athletics also makes a concerted effort to connect ASU athletes as representatives to the community through outreach efforts, such as:

  • Sun Devils Serve”: ASU’s student-athletes and Intercollegiate Athletics’ staff engage in several community service projects. Sun Devils Serve has hosted events to provide for disadvantaged children and teens in the community.
  • "Sun Devil Club”: For a ten-dollar membership fee, Sun Devil Club members attend special events, learn about the latest Sun Devil Athletics’ news, and support ASU Athletics. This organization is directed and supported by the community, and it provides another strong connection for the public to engage with ASU.

ASU has an extensive library system that contains a number of resources available to the public. The library's mission statement expresses ASU’s commitment to access, both within the ASU community and the public, to its virtual and physical environments. There are accessible facilities on all campuses, and although the libraries are open to the public during their operating hours, an expanded array of online resources are also available. Additionally, ASU has specialized libraries in law, music, and science/engineering. ASU has recently invested $100 million to improve services and better serve a growing online student body.

ASU features hundreds of collections of fine art, historical artifacts and natural specimens available to the public. Examples of the museums and galleries include the Arizona Historical FoundationASU meteorite collection, Bill and Judy Schaefer Sports Hall of Fame, Deer Valley Rock Art Center, Old Main, Kerr Cultural Center, the Nelson Fine Arts Center, and the Memorial Union Art Collection to name a few.

Gammage Auditorium is an architectural landmark designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright and home for many performing arts, events. ASU Gammage is among the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world, connecting communities through artistic excellence and educational outreach.

Finally, each of ASU’s Metropolitan Campuses provides a recreation facility open to students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding communities (Thunderbird shares ASU West’s facility). With intramural sports, exercise facilities, fitness and wellness programming and social activities, the campus recreation centers provide fitness and health-beneficial activities to community members.