state university

Arizona State University (ASU) is the largest public research university in the United States under a single administration, with total student enrollment of 67,082 as of fall 2008. It has four campuses across the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The university is governed by the Arizona Board of Regents.

ASU first opened as the Tempe Normal School for the Arizona Territory in Tempe, Arizona in 1885—the first institution of higher learning to open in the territory. It subsequently was renamed Arizona State College, but by 1958, steady growth and expanded academic offerings resulted in a statewide ballot initiative in which the voters of Arizona, by a two-to-one majority, mandated that the institution be given university status. On December 5, 1958, Arizona State College was renamed Arizona State University, the only institution of higher education to have achieved university status by popular mandate.

In addition to the original campus in Tempe, ASU comprises three additional campuses: West campus was created in 1984 in northwest Phoenix, Polytechnic campus was opened in 1996 in Mesa, and the Downtown campus in Downtown Phoenix was opened in August 2006. All four campuses are accredited as a single university by the Higher Learning Commission.

In the 2007–2008 academic year, 14,535 students graduated from the university's four campuses. In 2008, 168 National Merit Scholars chose to attend ASU. Many are part of Barrett, The Honors College, which has produced numerous grant and scholarship winners since its founding in 1988. Under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, ASU is classified as a "RU/VH" (very high research activity--formerly "Research 1") university.


Originally named the Tempe Normal School, the institution was founded on March 12, 1885 after John Samuel Armstrong first introduced House Bill 164, "An Act to Establish a Normal School in the Territory of Arizona to the 13th Legislative Assembly of the Arizona Territory. Instruction was instituted on February 8, 1886 under the supervision of Principal Hiram Bradford Farmer. Land for the school was donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson, allowing 33 students to meet in a single room.

Early years

At the beginning of the 20th century the schools name was changed from Tempe Normal School to the Normal School of Arizona, and President Arthur John Matthews brought a 30-year tenure of progress to the school.

Under his tenure the school was given all-college student status; before becoming a college the Normal School enrolled high school students with no other secondary education facilities. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. He envisioned an "evergreen campus," with many shrubbery brought to the campus and the planting of Palm Walk, now one of the feature landmarks of the school. His legacy is being continued today: the main campus is a nationally recognized arboretum.

During the Great Depression, Ralph W. Swetman was hired as president for a three-year term. Although enrollment increased by almost 100% during his tenure due to the depression, many faculty were terminated and faculty salaries were cut.

Gammage years

In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years.

Like his predecessor, Dr. Gammage oversaw the construction of a number of buildings on the Tempe campus. Dr. Gammage oversaw the development of the university, graduate programs, and the renaming of the Arizona State College to Arizona State University.

Years of growth and stature

During the 1960s, with the presidency of Dr. G. Homer Durham, Arizona State University began to expand its academic curriculum by establishing several new colleges and beginning to award Doctor of Philosophy and other doctoral degrees.

The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn, 1969–71, John W. Schwada, 1971–81, and J. Russell Nelson, 1981–89—and Interim President Richard Peck, 1989, led the university to increased academic stature, creation of the West Campus, and rising enrollment.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lattie F. Coor, from 1990 to June 2002, ASU grew to serve the Valley of the Sun through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. His commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development underscored the university’s significant gains in each of these areas over his 12-year tenure. Part of Dr. Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fund-raising campaign. Through private donations, primarily from the local community, more than $500 million was invested in targeted areas that significantly impact the future of ASU. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of the Barrett Honors College, the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts, and the Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management at the Polytechnic campus; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

The Crow Era

On July 1, 2002, Michael Crow would become the university's 16th president. At his inauguration, President Crow outlined his vision for transforming ASU into a New American University—one that would be open and inclusive. As the only research university serving the metropolitan Phoenix area, Crow has stated that ASU is in a unique position to evolve together with the city into one of the great intellectual institutions in the world.

Under Crow's leadership, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, ASU has embarked on its most aggressive capital building effort in more than a decade. The university is adding one million square feet of world-class research infrastructure, and is continuing its development and expansion of the West, Polytechnic and Downtown campuses.


Arizona State University comprises four campuses: the Tempe campus, which is the original and largest campus, the West Campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic Campus located in Eastern Mesa, and the Downtown Campus in downtown Phoenix. Although there is some redundancy in undergraduate academic offerings across the campuses, each campus was designed to host a unique set of colleges and departments. All four campuses award Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, and Doctorates.

Unlike a university system, the ASU campuses are all part of a single university, with a common administration presiding over the faculty, staff, and students. Indeed, the campuses do not have separate admissions, and students receive the same diplomas regardless of which campus they primarily attended. As the original ASU campus in Tempe has nearly reached build-out, the university is reorganizing its colleges and schools, moving some to the newer campuses.

Tempe Campus

ASU's Tempe campus lies in the heart of Tempe, Arizona, about eight miles (13 km) east of downtown Phoenix. The campus is considered urban, and is approximately in size. ASU Tempe Campus is arranged around broad pedestrian malls and is completely encompassed by an arboretum. Sitting next to Tempe Town Lake, it crosses University Drive and is defined by its borders on Apache Blvd, Rural Road, and Mill Avenue. Against the northwest edge of campus is the Mill Avenue district, which has a college atmosphere that attracts many students to its restaurants and bars. The Tempe campus has expanded to Mill Avenue with The Brickyard, which is a part of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. ASU's Tempe Campus is also home to all the schools athletic facilities.

The Tempe Campus is the original campus, and Old Main, the first building constructed on the campus, still stands today. Not only is it the oldest but also the largest campus, with 52,734 students total. There are many notable landmarks on campus, including Gammage Auditorium, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Other notable landmarks include Palm Walk, which is lined by 111 palm trees, Hayden Library, Old Main, the University Club Building, and University Bridge.

The Tempe campus comprises the following schools and colleges:

West Campus

The West campus sits on in northwest Phoenix, bordering the city of Glendale, Arizona; however, much of the campus is undeveloped land, with only of it fully-developed. The West campus lies about northwest of downtown Phoenix, and about northwest of the Tempe campus. The West campus focuses on liberal arts and interdisciplinary programs, enrolls 9,572 students and offers 54 degree programs in five colleges. The campus originally focused on undergraduate education, but now offers numerous programs leading to masters degrees and doctoral degrees. As the campus continues to grow, additional graduate programs will be offered.

The West campus comprises the following schools and colleges:

Polytechnic Campus

Founded originally as ASU East, the campus opened in fall 1996 on the former Williams Air Force Base in eastern Mesa, Arizona. The campus opened with nearly 1,000 students enrolled in one of the eight degrees offered. The small campus started with two schools -- School of Technology and School of Management and Agribusiness. East College was added in 1997 as an incubator for new professional programs.

Today nearly 9,614 students are enrolled in 40 degree programs. ASU shares more than in eastern Mesa with Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a United States Air Force research laboratory, a Veteran's Administration Clinic and the Silvestre Herrera Army Reserve Center. These entities make up what is known as the Williams Campus.

The Polytechnic campus comprises the following schools and colleges:

  • School of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation
  • Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness
  • College of Technology and Innovation
  • School of Engineering

Downtown Campus

ASU's Downtown is located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. It is the newest of the four ASU campuses. Classes began there in August, 2006, with students from the College of Public Programs and College of Nursing. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication recently moved to ASU Downtown. Public Television station KAET is expected to move to ASU Downtown in 2009. As of the fall 2008 semester, 8,431 students were enrolled on the downtown campus.

The Downtown campus comprises the following schools and colleges:


ASU offers over 250 majors to undergraduate students, and more than 100 graduate programs leading to masters and doctoral degrees. These programs are divided into over a dozen colleges and schools, the largest of which is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which houses nearly 30 programs and departments. Degrees awarded include the B.A., B.S., B.S.E., B.I.S., M.A., M.S., M.F.A., M.B.A., L.L.M., M.M., M.Eng., Ph.D., J.D., Ed.D., and D.M.A..

Reputation and ranking

Undergraduate program

ASU is ranked 121st in the top tier of "national universities" by the US News and World Report ranking of US colleges and universities. Barrett, The Honors College serves as a virtual university-within-a-university and maintains strict admissions standards while providing a more rigorous curriculum with smaller classes and increased faculty interaction. This honors college is largely responsible for the 168 freshmen National Merit Scholars, and 16 Fulbright scholars who entered ASU as freshmen in 2007. In addition, US News named ASU as the #4 "Up and Coming" university in the US, for substantial improvements to academics and facilities.

ASU has had a reputation as a "party school," and has been highly ranked in party-school lists published by Princeton Review and Playboy Magazine (in addition to being joked about on such shows as The Simpsons and American Dad!). In recent years, even though ASU's academic rigor has increased, ASU still regularly appears in several of the "top party school" rankings.

Ranked graduate programs

In the US News and World Report guide to graduate schools:

  • The W. P. Carey School of Business MBA program was ranked 22nd and the undergraduate business program ranked 25th. Many of the individual programs rank in the top 25 nationwide, including the 4th ranked program in Supply Chain Management and the 11th ranked program in Information Systems.
  • The Mary Lou Fulton College of Education was ranked 35th in the nation in 2005. Its program in counseling was ranked 12th in the nation, and its Education Policy Studies doctoral program was ranked 15th. Six out of nine of the College's specialty programs were ranked in the top 20.
  • The Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, was ranked 41st and the graduate program ranked 47th. Many of the individual programs within the college rank in the top tier of over 300 nationwide programs, including five graduate programs ranked in the top 30 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is ranked 51st out of 197 ABA-approved law schools by US News in 2007. The Academic Educational Quality Rankings identifies the college of law as having one of the top 30 law faculties in the nation "based on a standard 'objective' measure of scholarly impact and ranks the college of law as a top 40 law school based on overall academic reputation. The College of Law was established in 1967 and is one of three ABA-approved law schools in Arizona.
  • The ASU School of Public Affairs Master of Public Administration program was ranked 26th overall in the nation (out of 250+ schools).
  • The College of Design is reputedly rigorous and highly ranked. The Interior Design program was ranked 2nd and the Architecture Master's Degree ranked 10th in 2005 by America's Best Architecture and Design Schools.
  • The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is ranked #16 in the nation by US News & World Report.
  • The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is consistently ranked in the annual Top Ten Hearst Intercollegiate Journalism Competition, often called the Pulitzers of college journalism. An annual event for the Cronkite School is a visit from Walter Cronkite himself to award the distinguished Cronkite Award.
  • The Hugh Downs School of Communication is nationally ranked for undergraduate and doctoral programs in the study of rhetoric, interpersonal, intercultural and organizational communication by the National Communication Association. Hugh Downs visits the school often and plays an integral part in the school’s success.

In addition, ASU maintains several programs that are ranked among the top ten nationally according to the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index: Ecology & Evolution, Accountancy, Marketing, Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Leadership, Industrial Engineering, Speech & Hearing Science, Spanish, Physical Anthropology, Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Social Psychology.

International Programs

ASU is currently collaborating with several world class institutions in several countries such as China and Mexico. In Mexico, ASU collaborates with Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in the ITAM/W.P. Carey School of Business Executive MBA Program.


Arizona State University's Division I athletic teams are called the Sun Devils, which is also the nickname used to refer to students and alumni of the university. They compete in the Pac-10 Conference in 20 varsity sports. Historically, the university has shown great athletic dominance in men's, women's, and mixed archery; men's, women's, and mixed badminton; women's golf; women's swimming and diving; and baseball. In 1987, the football team won the Rose Bowl, and they have been to the Fiesta Bowl five times.

Arizona State University's NCAA Division I-A program competes in 9 varsity sports for men and 11 for women. The Sun Devil mascot is a devil named Sparky. The university is a member of the Pacific-10 Conference in all varsity sports. ASU's current athletic director is Lisa Love, who was the former athletic administrator at USC and in her tenure is responsible for hiring new coaches Herb Sendek, the men's basketball coach, and Dennis Erickson, the men's football coach.

ASU won national championships in men's archery 15 times, women's archery 21 times, mixed archery 20 times, men's badminton 13 times, women's badminton 17 times, mixed badminton 10 times, baseball 5 times, women's tennis 3 times, men's gymnastics once, men's track and field once, women's indoor track and field twice, men's indoor track and field once, wrestling once, men's golf twice, women's golf 13 times, women's softball three times, and women's swimming and diving 7 times, for a total of 136 national championships.


The Arizona State Sun Devils football team was founded in 1897 under coach Fred Irish. Currently, the team has played in the 2007 Holiday Bowl, 1997 Rose Bowl and also won the Rose Bowl in 1987 as well as the Fiesta Bowl in 1982, 1975, 1973, 1972, and 1971.

The team currently competes in Sun Devil Stadium, a 73,379 seat outdoor football stadium on the Tempe campus. The current football coach is Dennis Erickson who led the Sun Devils to a 10–2 record and Holiday Bowl berth against the Texas Longhorns in his first season with the team. ASU's archrival is their intrastate opponent in the Pac-10, the University of Arizona, with which it competes for the oldest trophy in college football, the Territorial Cup.

Fight Song

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation and athletic games is: Maroon and Gold and Arizona State Alma Mater.

Fight, Devils down the field
Fight with your might and don't ever yield
Long may our colors outshine all others
Echo from the buttes,
Give 'em hell Devils!
Cheer, cheer for ASU
Fight for the Old Maroon(and Gold)
For it's hail, hail, the gang's all here
And it's onward to victory!

Alma Mater

Where The Bold Saguaros
Raise Their Arms On High
Praying Strength For Brave Tomorrows
From The Western Sky
Where Eternal Mountains
Kneel At Sunset's Gate
Here We Hail Thee, Alma Mater
Arizona State!

Student activities

Extracurricular programs

Arizona State University has an active extracurricular involvement program (Sun Devil Involvement Center) with over 500 registered clubs and organizations on campus. Located on the 3rd floor of the Memorial Union, the Sun Devil Involvement Center (SDIC) provides opportunities for student involvement through clubs, sororities, fraternities, community service, leadership, student government, and co-curricular programming.

ASU Cares is the largest community service project sponsored by the university. It is an annual event that allows students to give back some time by helping residents and communities clean up, rebuild, and/or serve each other. Faculty, staff, alumni, members of the community and their families and guests are also invited to be part of this large ASU effort to help residents of the various communities surrounding the metropolitan area.

The Freshman Year Experience (FYE) and the Greek community (Greek Life) at Arizona State University have been important in binding students to the university, and providing social outlets. The Freshman Year Experience at Arizona State University was developed to improve the freshman experience at Arizona State University and increase student retention figures. FYE provides advising, computer labs, free walk-in tutoring, workshops, and classes for students. In 2003, U.S. News and World Report ranked FYE as the 23rd best first year program in the nation.

Student media

ASU Student Media includes The State Press (student newspaper), the Web Devil (online news site) and Sun Devil Television (television station broadcast on campus and in student residence halls). The State Press is a daily paper published on Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters, and weekly during the summer sessions. ASU Student Media is independent, with a Student Media Advisor employed by the University. 18,000 copies of the State Press are printed every day other than Thursday, when 20,000 are printed. More than 96% of ASU students on all four campuses read The State Press at least once per week, and 65% read it every day or most days. There are an average of 2.5 readers per each copy of the State Press, resulting in more than 45,000 readers across all four campuses. In addition, the State Press Magazine, a weekly arts and entertainment publication, comes out on Wednesdays. The Web Devil, the online arm of the State Press, publishes the paper's daily content online, as well as independent news/editorial content.

The campus has two radio stations. KASC The Blaze 1260 AM, is a broadcast station and is not an official part of Student Media - it is owned and funded by the Cronkite School - but is completely student-run save for a faculty and professional advisor. The Blaze broadcasts local, alternative and independent music 24 hours a day, and also features news and sports updates at the top and bottom of every hour. W7ASU is an amateur radio station that was first organized in 1935. W7ASU has about 30 members that enjoy amateur radio, and is primarily a contesting club.

Student government

Associated Students of Arizona State University (ASASU) is the student government at Arizona State University's campus at Tempe, Arizona. It is composed of the Undergraduate Student Government, the Graduate & Professional Student Association, and the Supreme Court. Members and officers of the ASASU are elected annually by the student body.

The Residence Hall Association (RHA) of Arizona State University-Tempe is the student government for every ASU student living on-campus. The purpose of RHA is to enhance the quality of residence hall life and provide a cohesive voice for the residents by addressing the concerns of the on-campus populations to university administrators and other campus organizations; providing cultural, diversity, educational, and social programming; establishing and working with individual hall councils. In 2008, the RHA of ASU-Tempe was voted "Best School of the Year" out of over 400 higher education institutions.

Notable alumni and former students

Notable faculty and staff

Points of interest


External links

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