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Last week, our university community gathered for numerous ceremonies honoring the progress and achievements of the ASU Class of 2018. Our graduates numbered 7,800, and represented an impressive spectrum of talent, diverse backgrounds and determination. They also embodied the incredible potential, creativity and energy that our nation has to offer.
Before conferring degrees and moving tassels, I urged our graduates to remember three important things. First, they need to prepare for a lifetime of constant change. Knowledge creation and progress is happening at a record pace, which will call for continuous adaptation. Second, prepare for life in a small world. Increased access and communication will continue to shrink the distances between us and open up new opportunities for collaboration at unprecedented levels. Lastly, I told them prepare for the acceleration of life-changing technology, which if advanced mindfully, will empower humanity in meaningful ways.
While bidding goodbye to a class of graduates is always bittersweet, it is equally exciting to acknowledge their successes and the people who helped along the way. I look forward seeing them begin fresh chapters in their lives and to sharing news about our newest alumni in the future.
Since 2002, ASU has long enjoyed a robust and dedicated partnership with the Virginia G. Charitable Piper Trust. The foundation of our alliance is our shared commitment to improving the communities we serve by making them stronger in the face of ongoing change. Earlier this month, I joined Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of the Piper Trust, to announce the newest collaboration between our organizations, the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) initiative.
In its initial endeavor, and with the support of a $15 million grant, KER will focus on the challenge of urban heat and embed itself in communities across Maricopa County to gather vital local heat-survival strategies and resources from area experts. With that data, we aim to identify areas of health and public safety that need strengthening and create a robust resource designed to support significant change and greater regional resilience.
With science suggesting the increasing intensity of our summer temperatures, it is imperative that we work proactively to understand our challenges and advance effective solutions. ASU is appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with the Piper Trust and our Maricopa County communities to move this effort forward, and I invite you to consider your potential engagement.
Following last fall’s visit to the ASU by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for our Congressional Conference on Space Innovation, I was pleased to be asked to present at a meeting of the NASA Agency Program Management Council in Washington, D.C. The APMC is comprised of the agency’s senior leadership, who are responsible for evaluating the safety, technical, programmatic performance and content of NASA’s programs. As one may imagine, communication and collaboration play a vital role in supporting success within an organization of such significant complexity, and that requires ongoing attention to best practices.
During my visit, I had a chance to explain the underpinnings of our charter, aspirations and innovation mindset, and to discuss how the evolution of our unique culture has shaped our commitment to transdisciplinary learning and research. The latter including the transformative expansion of ASU’s discovery performance, and the groundbreaking work of our School of Earth and Space Exploration.
On November 27, the ASU community was deeply saddened by the sudden passing of United States Congressman Ed Pastor. A native Arizonan and proud ASU alum, Ed Pastor served as a dedicated government and community leader for the majority of his life. As a steadfast education advocate, he worked tirelessly to advance access to quality learning, and whether he was championing the needs of underrepresented students, supporting the importance of university research, or working for greater environmental stewardship, he was ever focused on manifesting constructive progress for individuals, our communities and our nation.
Ed Pastor’s incredible and indelible record of achievement informed his selection to receive ASU’s most prestigious honor, the University Medal of Excellence, in 2014, and fueled the establishment of the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at ASU in 2015. However, these are only two examples of our efforts to acknowledge Ed Pastor’s far-reaching impact on his alma mater and his home state. Going forward, we will remember and carry on his commitment to service and the life-changing power of learning.