We’re Number 1

Glenn Hamer

September 22, 2015

Arizona State University was just named the nation’s Most Innovative University by U.S. News & World Report. If college is about preparing for the future, ASU students couldn’t find themselves at a better institution.

This recognition matters. ASU topped the likes of Harvard, Stanford and MIT, which should make national opinion-makers stand up and take notice of the revolution ASU President Michael Crow is leading.

What’s happening at ASU is some of the most consequential research and scholarship in the world, and innovation is at the heart of everything the school is doing.

Consider Charles Arntzen, a Regent’s Professor at ASU’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, who helped develop ZMapp, a serum that saved the lives of U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola. For his groundbreaking work, Dr. Arntzen was named by Fast Company as the Most Creative Person in Business.

ASU’s work isn’t just constrained to this state, nation, or even this planet. Last month NASA tapped ASU to lead a satellite mission to orbit the moon and map its South Pole for water. The cutting-edge, 30-pound “cube” satellite will be designed and built at an ASU lab. This mission builds on the university’s record for space exploration, having already participated in previous missions to the moon and Mars.

And innovation is what is helping ensure that all of ASU’s students – even future ones – reach their potential. The university took over a struggling inner city charter school in Phoenix and in four years turned it into one of the highest ranked in the state. Last spring, ASU Preparatory Academy graduated 98 percent of seniors in the first graduating class and 76 percent of those students went on to enroll in a four-year college or university. ASU has also been recognized as having one of the best teacher preparation programs in the country. Their iTeachAZ program doubles the amount of time students spend in a K-12 classroom, which provides intensive student teaching experiences with a mentor teacher before graduation.

ASU’s dedication to the quality and diversity of the K-12 student pipeline is also seen in Me3, a new tool designed to help middle and high school students match their talents with a specific career and put them on a path to graduation.

And for top students who are looking to marry the resources of a large research institution with the rigor often associated with the Ivies, there is the Barrett Honors College, which boasts more National Merit Scholars than MIT, Duke, Brown, Stanford or UC Berkeley, and was touted in The New York Times as the “gold standard” of honors colleges.

Having the nation’s most innovative university in your backyard is an economic developer’s dream come true. At ASU, employers can find graduates who are forward-thinking and ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. And, importantly, ASU is committed to growing the pipeline of college-ready students so that every child in Arizona has the opportunity to benefit from its world-class programs.

ASU is in rare air right now. President Crow made an appearance on the Today Show last week to discuss ASU’s new Public Service Academy, which will train students across the university to tackle society’s toughest challenges. President Crow was joined by Tom Brokaw, who referred to President Crow as “one of the two or three greatest university presidents that we have in this country.” That’s high praise and it’s well deserved.