Construction is well underway for the Arizona Center for Law and Society, the new home for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Downtown Phoenix. In anticipation of the move from Tempe, we met with Dean Douglas Sylvester at the Valley Overlook lounge in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown to talk about what the new campus will mean to students, faculty and the downtown community.
Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, the Overlook provides an expansive, birds-eye view of downtown and looks directly into the site where the new law school building is rising out of the ground. As we looked over the progress below, we talked with Dean Sylvester about both the opportunities and challenges of relocating to this more urban environment and how this new site signals a new era of increasing public engagement.
Sylvester joined ASU as an associate professor in 2002 and has watched the university grow and evolve during the last decade of change under Michael Crow’s leadership. He moved to the metro Phoenix area from Chicago, and talked a little about his early first impressions of downtown.
“I remember coming down here on my first week. I was coming from Ahwahtukee, so I gave myself an hour and a half to get here. Of course, I ended up getting here about an hour early,” he said, laughing to himself. “I went, ‘well that’s no problem, I’ll just find a Starbucks.’ But, I couldn’t find a Starbucks, so I literally spent the next hour just walking around this entire area where ASU is now. At that time, it didn’t seem like a place you would seek out, but now…now it’s unbelievable.” With a sweeping gesture, Sylvester points to all of the ASU program buildings that permeate our core, saying “All of this is clearly the biggest change since I’ve been here.”
We asked him to reflect on the key opportunities that having the law school downtown will offer to students and professors. “I think for students and alumni, it’s an unequivocal improvement in a lot of different ways. At the moment Tempe is great and part of a larger research institution, and you have all the things that a great university has to offer. What you don’t have is courts, businesses, and the political center of the state and the city, right down the street. Getting our students as close to employers and getting the law school as close to alumni as we can is going to make a huge difference in the level of connection we have and the level of connections are students can make to everybody else.”
From the faculty’s perspective, it’s a bit more challenging because, as Sylvester points out, there are a lot of people who’ve been in Tempe for a long time. They’ve built relationships on the Tempe campus, and many of them have organized their lives around being in Tempe. Yet, now that the building is going up, he’s already seen a growing interest in the downtown location from previously uncertain faculty.
“I do believe that what will end up happening is that we’ll forge new connections,” he added. “Additionally, we’ll hire new faculty that have never been in Tempe, who’ve only been in downtown, and they will look to different groups and constituencies.”
Dean Sylvester emphasized the opportunities the downtown campus will provide for community engagement. “As a public law school, we have a real commitment to the public and to be engaged in the community wherever we can. I think we already are incredibly engaged, but the idea that a lot of our faculty in their work and in their research are looking more to the public sphere rather than just to fellow academics is not ultimately a bad thing. When you start to adjust your thinking you start to see all the opportunities that downtown will provide.”
In Sylvester’s view, timing has been a significant plus for the law school moving downtown. “One of the things that would have made it a lot more difficult back in 2006 or 2007, was that almost nobody else [from ASU] was down here. I think Public Policy was here, but now the campus itself is so much more alive. And it’s not just an urban downtown feel here, there is a bit of a campus feel, so you have that duality, which is awesome.”
Now is a challenging time for law schools overall throughout the country. Sylvester pointed out that applications to law schools nation-wide are at their lowest level since 1973 and there are almost thirty percent more law schools now. So, on one hand it could seem like an odd time to build such a large facility, when law schools could be perceived as having less relevance than they’ve had in the past. But Sylvester sees it as a tremendous opportunity to rethink law school to make it even more relevant to today’s world.
“We don’t need to educate as many lawyers as before, but what we need to do is educate the very best lawyers. We need to educate them in a way that their value is not just in large firms, representing large institutional clients, but rather in public engagement and service. So, the challenge is really an opportunity to become more relevant.”
And how does Sylvester define “relevance” for the school?
“A relevant law school is basically defined by three concepts. One is it has to be incredibly student-centered. You can’t be purely focused on faculty and research. These are incredibly important things, but if you’re not focused on students of all kinds – not just those who are there to become lawyers but master students, people interested in the history of the law – then you’re not relevant to the very people you’re there to engage. That’s your mission…to educate.”
The second concept that defines relevance for Sylvester is the law school’s ability to “engage this community in issues that matter to them.” He hastens to add, “That doesn’t mean that our phenomenal faculty who think about deep concepts of jurisprudence or legal history are somehow irrelevant, they’re intensely important, but you need to be conscious about how you engage the community.” Sylvester is proud of what ASU already does and believes it will only do more.
“Our students and faculty donate over 100,000 hours a year to free legal services to the Valley,” he said. “It’s about a 10 million dollar economic benefit and once we move downtown, we’ll see those opportunities grow. That will make us relevant.”
The third element to make this new downtown school relevant is the building itself. It was a foundational question in creating the appropriate design to engage and inform the surrounding community. “So the building is wide open in a lot of ways,” said Sylvester. “Entire walls basically disappear, so that people can come in, enjoy the shade, have a cup of coffee, and while sitting there perhaps watch our video screens and become informed about the news of the day in law, or the history of law, or the importance of law in their lives.” He adds, “I think the real problem that lawyers ran into is that we stopped thinking about how law is such an incredibly positive role in everybody’s life, every day. Law is ultimately structural. It provides the framework 99% of the time for people to move forward in their lives. We make the law relevant by revealing to people how we help, as lawyers , in your life, every single day.”
In line with ASU’s belief in grounding the school in the community has been the creation of the ASU Alumni Law Group, a groundbreaking program modeled on a teaching hospital structure, where you have permanent employees who supervise young associates with real clients. He’s quick to point out that these are not student lawyers. Associates have graduated from law school, have been admitted to the bar, and have to apply to work at the firm for a two to three-year stint. It’s a nonprofit law firm that serves paying clients. The services aren’t free, but they are considerably less than the going rate. This one-of-a-kind program provides legal services to everyday Arizonans in family law, estate planning, criminal defense, civil litigation and small business, which underscores ASU’s commitment to community engagement.
As we looked down at the new school taking shape below, Sylvester noted that construction is on schedule to be completed in May 2016, with move-in scheduled for that summer in time to be open for 2016 fall classes. The underground parking lots are nearly done and next we’ll be seeing the steel framework rising out of the ground. We look forward to seeing how the move to downtown will make ASU’s respected law school even more relevant for the 21st century.
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The Arizona School for the Arts‘ 7th Annual NHS Fashion Show will raise money to support Free Arts of Arizona, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at risk children and their families. Free Arts employs 11 staff members and has more than 550 volunteers serving more than 7,000 children each year in four core programs on a budget of $970,000. Over the past six years, the fashion show has provided more than $15,000 to help their cause.
If You Go:
What: The 7th Annual NHS Fashion Show to benefit Free Arts of Arizona
When: February 7th, 7pm
Where: Church of the Beatitudes, 555 W. Glendale
Cost: $10 admission, tickets purchased at the door. All proceeds go directly to Free Arts of Arizona.
Images courtesy of Arizona School for the Arts.
On Saturday, January 31, Downtown ASU is inviting everyone to their Night of the Open Door with events and open houses scheduled throughout the downtown Phoenix campus. From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m downtown visitors have the opportunity to step across nearly two dozen welcome mats and experience what’s happening in science, medicine, law, public service and more.
With two dozen don’t miss opportunities, we’ve highlighted three that will showcase the way in which the ASU is integrating into our urban core.
Visit this artful addition to the downtown ASU campus. Located just south of the urban core in a converted warehouse (formerly known as Levine Machine). Check out the cool space and peek into the vibrant, creative studio spaces of ASU graduate students. The Warehouse District is in the midst of a renaissance and this space is one of the jewels in the district’s crown.
Students and staff will lead tours of the Cronkite School, a 225,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art media complex, which is home to Arizona PBS and the Cronkite’s competitive professional programs in broadcast, multimedia and sports journalism, entrepreneurship, new media and public relations.
Tours will begin in the Cronkite School’s first floor lobby at 4:15, 5:15, 6:15, and 7:15 p.m.
Design your own paper football and kick field goals! Join University Academic Success Programs on the first floor of the University Center in Suite 171. Using force and angles to make field goals from different distances and positions. Can you kick the game winner?
And for good measure…
Arizona Center for Law and Society Building Showcase
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 4:00pm to 8:00pm
The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law invites you to view renderings of the new Arizona Center for Law and Society set to open Summer 2016.
These activities are just a sampling of everything that will be happening on the ASU Downtown Night of the Open Door. Check here for all the details.
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Works by Leonardo da Vinci Will Be On Display in Arizona for the First Time Through New Phoenix Art Museum Exhibition
Shown alongside Leonardo’s Codex Leicester will be 31 works by acclaimed artists who demonstrate his practices of observation
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation will open at Phoenix Art Museum on January 24, 2015. The exhibition is focused around the Codex Leicester—comprised of 18 double-page and double-sided sheets (72 pages total). This is the only manuscript by Leonardo in a private American collection and one of the world’s most important intellectual manuscripts.
Focused primarily on Leonardo’s study of water and the moon, the codex pages display his creative process, the way he reasoned through a concept, and how he influenced artists throughout centuries. Along with the Codex Leicester will be 31 additional artworks by artists ranging from Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, to Ansel Adams and Bill Viola. Included will be paintings, photographs and a video installation, depicting a broad range of subject matter including water, waves, shells, peppers, milk, geysers, leaves, sand, oceans and the moon. The oldest of the accompanying artworks included will be Jacopo de’ Barbari’s massive View of Venice (1500), the first printed image to receive a copyright, and the most recent will be Devorah Sperber’s After the Mona Lisa 8 (2010), a work comprised of more than 1400 spools of thread. The exhibition as a whole will help visitors better understand how Leonardo da Vinci’s observational skills have continued to be practiced by modern-day artists. Leonardo’s in depth study, notes and illustrations on the movement of water are especially relevant to the people of Arizona.
There’s no question that Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the most intriguing people to ever live. Brilliant in the arts, sciences and engineering, he was driven by a deep sense of curiosity about the world around him, recording his observations on scores of paper sheets that were later gathered and bound as manuscripts, or codices. Leonardo’s active mind and working method are defined in this exhibition by three primary characteristics: curiosity, direct observation and thinking on paper. These characteristics are vital parts of the creative process and they pave the way toward great discoveries and inventions. “This exhibition of Leonardo’s Codex Leicester will be groundbreaking in its approach, bringing Leonardo into a broad artistic context that explores his continuing influence on artists into our own time,” said Jerry Smith, curator of American and European art to 1950 and art of the American West at Phoenix Art Museum.
Making Leonardo da Vinci and the Codex Leicester relevant for today’s audience is the goal of this exhibition. Visitors and academic institutions will participate in programs developed around ideas expressed by Leonardo in the Codex Leicester. “Leonardo was a true Renaissance master and we are able to celebrate his genius through the Codex Leicester,” said James K. Ballinger, The Sybil Harrington Director at Phoenix Art Museum. He added, “This will be the first time original work by the hand of Leonardo will be presented in Arizona, and we are pleased the Museum can create a platform for our community to better understand the challenges we face regarding water resources in the future. This is exactly the kind of project we should be presenting for our visitors.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation will be on view at Phoenix Art Museum from January 24 to April 12, 2015. Support was made possible through the generosity of The Dorrance Family Foundation, SRP, J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation, Margaret T. Morris Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Virginia M. Ullman Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, Friends of European Art (a Museum support organization), Herbert H. and Barbara C. Dow Foundation, and The Phoenician.
Images Credit: Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519, Italian), Codex Leicester, c.1506-10 (detail). Ink on paper. Each double sheet 11 ¾” x 17 5/8” Image Courtesy ©bgC3.
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Students serve their community at Day of Service in downtown Phoenix
Students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered at the Human Services Campus in central Phoenix for a Day of Service, organized by Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs.
It is the second time that the daylong event has been held at the campus. Last year, the group helped in a number of areas on the 12-acre campus – from general cleanup and organizing, to working in the community garden.
David Bridge, managing director of the campus, notes that volunteer efforts at last year’s inaugural event made the pilot of the Brian Garcia Welcome Center possible – and since then, more than 5,000 people have come through the welcome center and been assessed and directed to needed resources.
“This event brings together students, faculty and staff for a special, invigorated recognition of the work that is being done on the Human Service Campus, and also showcases opportunities and needs for student volunteer service, applied research, student internships and many other forms of college support throughout the entire year,” says Dale Larsen, director of community relations for the College of Public Programs.
The Human Services Campus is a unique collaboration of over a dozen service agencies and community partners. Each day, clients coming to the center find shelter, medical, employment and housing resources. The campus is also home to a community garden, which provides over 2,000 pounds of food and valuable training to clients on the campus.
Bridge noted that the campus is working with its partners to implement evidence-based best practices, including collaboration and housing solutions that make it possible to “end homelessness in our community.” Phoenix has already demonstrated the effectiveness of these strategies by becoming the first city in America to end chronic homelessness for veterans. Bridge was excited to have ASU be a part of these community efforts.
“The solutions are there,” says David Smith, COO, St. Vincent de Paul. He told students that they “are the cusp generation to take knowledge gained of homelessness and recidivism, and actually solve them.”
Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs, says that the work during Day of Service touches on every aspect of the college.
“The campus connects the substance of our programs – social work, criminology, nonprofit management, public administration – to the actual challenges and solutions in our community,” he says.
“No matter what you are studying, this is an opportunity to apply those lessons to real life,” he told students at the event. “Your work contributes to the success of the campus and has an impact on the lives of the people here.”
This year, the event was planned by students in a PRM 486 class taught by college events manager, Michelle Oldfield.
Michelle Green, a general studies student in the School of Letters and Sciences, said, “Not only did I get to participate as a volunteer, but I got to assist in planning this Day of Service that reached so many people.
“The Day of Service is an awesome opportunity for college students to get out into their community and really give back. I believe events like this are extremely beneficial; they help those less fortunate, and allow for students to get out of their comfort zone and gain a sense of purpose,” she said.
“I’ve been a part of a few ASU Day of Service events in Tempe before, but this was my first time doing one based out of the Downtown Phoenix campus,” says Ellyse Crow, a management and business communication major in the W. P. Carey School of Business. “It was unique because the location that we were serving was so close to campus, and the facilities serve a population that I see regularly when I’m downtown. So it was cool to know who I was helping.
“I want to work in university administration one day,” Crow explains. “Sharing with others the importance of giving back to your community is an important life lesson, and one that is especially powerful in college. University students have so much influence that is never realized. I think being active in the community and opportunities like this bring some of that out.”
Editor’s Note: If you are inspired by the service of these students and would like to volunteer, please visit VolunteerMatch.org.
Photos courtesy of Bryan Mok/ASU.