• 2017 Year in Review

    2017 Year in Review

    Highlights from another year of innovative breakthroughs

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ASU is a top knowledge engine with a rich diversity of highly ranked programs led by the world’s top minds that produces research that solves pressing global and local issues through powerful partnerships.


One of the fastest-growing research universities

Over the last 10 years, ASU has emerged as one of the country’s fastest-growing research universities among those with $100 million+ in annual research expenditures — ahead of Harvard, Yale, Duke and others.

Top 10 in U.S. for total research expenditures among institutions without a medical school, ahead of Caltech, Carnegie Mellon and Princeton

Top 5 in U.S. for interdisciplinary science total research expenditures
ahead of MIT, UCLA and Carnegie Mellon

Top 10 in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funding among all U.S. institutions without a medical school, ahead of Princeton, Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon

Top 10 in U.S. for NASA-funded research expenditures
ahead of Stanford, Columbia and UCLA


With the 2017 launch of Campaign ASU 2020, the ASU Foundation generates record-breaking philanthropic contributions from all sectors.

100k+ donors
including individual, corporate, foundation and other private gifts advancing ASU excellence

$220+ million in total support
representing a record year in fundraising, generating new opportunities at the nation’s most innovative university

$40+ million in scholarship support directly awarded to need- and merit-based ASU students


Chart: Degrees awarded

ASU annually graduates thousands of highly qualified innovators who excel in engineering, business, education, the arts and other professions. In 2017, ASU awarded degrees to 16,450 undergraduate and 6,884 graduate students.

Top 0.4 percent in the world

ASU is listed in the top 0.4 percent of 27,000 degree- granting institutions worldwide by the 2017 Center for World University Rankings, while eight academic programs, including business and anthropology, are recognized as top-10 programs internationally.

Hundreds of prestigious faculty
recognized by the National Academies are members and fellows in the most elite fellowships, earning the world’s highest awards, including:

5 Nobel laureates
6 Pulitzer Prize winners
3 MacArthur fellows

Top 25 in U.S.
U.S. News & World Report ranks more than 40 ASU programs — including engineering, business, science, public affairs, law and education — in the top 25 in the nation.

A top producer of Fulbright faculty scholars
ASU is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright faculty scholars and top 20 in the nation for students in the 2016–17 academic year, tying with Cornell, Georgia and Texas.
— 2017 Chronicle of Higher Education

The gold standard for honors programs
Barrett, The Honors College outperforms Duke, UC Berkeley and others in Fulbright Scholars success rates, while producing prestigious Marshall, Rhodes and Churchill scholars.

Best and brightest
ASU is a top destination for prestigious Flinn Scholars, nearly 60 percent of whom chose to attend ASU over the last 10 years.

A top-10 university
for graduate employability

Ahead of MIT, Columbia and UCLA
— 2016 World University Rankings, Times Higher Education

A top-10 university for Silicon Valley careers
among schools with the most undergraduate and graduate alumni hired by the 25 biggest Silicon Valley employers in the last year, ahead of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and UCLA
— Hiring Solved

A half-million ASU alumni
have positively impacted our global community, excelling and achieving after graduation.

#1 public university for international students for three consecutive years
— 2017 Institute of International Education report

A top U.S. STEM university

Segmenting the U.S. and Canada into seven distinct regions, Popular Mechanics lists ASU as the No. 1 university in the Southwest Region among its top “innovative and exciting schools best preparing students for tomorrow through STEM classes, academic clubs, undergraduate research and strong ties to industry.” Across America, PM ranks ASU ahead of Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, UC Berkeley and USC.


ASU women's golf

Best of the field

Among the top 2017 awards: NCAA titleholder for women’s golf: Monica Vaughn; NCAA titleholder for women’s hammer throw: Maggie Ewen; No. 1 in the country: women's triathlon; WGCA National Coach of the Year: Missy Farr-Kaye

Shown in photo: Coach Missy Farr-Kaye and Monica Vaughn led nationally in golf.

Graduating with success
Sun Devil Athletics ties its all-time high 87 percent Graduation Success Rate for its student-athletes in 2017, maintaining its upper-echelon status in the Pac-12 Conference. Three ASU teams lead the conference in GSR, with all three at 100 percent: men’s swimming and diving, softball and women’s tennis.

Highest-ever Academic Progress Rate
In May, the NCAA announces ASU has achieved Sun Devil Athletics’ highest-ever four-year Academic Progress Rate, second only in the Pac-12 Conference to Stanford.


Psyche Asteroid

Leading a NASA deep-space mission

ASU’s Psyche Mission, a journey to a metal asteroid, is selected for flight, marking the first time the school will lead a deep-space NASA Discovery Program mission and the first time scientists will be able to see what is believed to be a planetary core.

Researchers explore algae as renewable fuel
As part of a nearly $6 million collaborative project with three U.S. Department of Energy labs, ASU researchers work to pinpoint which algae is best-used as a source for renewable energy.

Rosemarie Dombrowski

ASU grad, faculty member is Phoenix’s first poet laureate
ASU doctoral graduate and faculty member Rosemarie Dombrowski begins a two-year term as Phoenix’s first community poet, serving as the city’s ambassador of literacy and art.

Campaign ASU 2020 launches
ASU embarks on a campaign to raise funds, accelerate its mission and support life-changing actions, such as developing an Ebola treatment, caring for the homeless and opening pathways to higher education. Donations will fund scholarships, research, labs, arts initiatives and more.

Campaign 2020 Logo


A top producer of Fulbright faculty and student scholars

ASU has six faculty and 15 students in the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Among research institutions for 2016-2017, ASU came in at No. 6 for awards to faculty members, and placed within the top 20 for producing student Fulbright scholars.

Biomedical engineers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute devise an early detection technique for pancreatic cancer that could save lives. The work may ultimately be used to detect a range of diseases.

An ASU discovery is central to the launch of iCarbonX, a diagnostic powerhouse that uses a single drop of blood to detect diseases that involve an immune response — like cancer, autoimmune and neurological diseases.


ASU elite scholars

Top producer of the world’s elite scholars

ASU joins the ranks of an elite group of universities with Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarship winners. Three students from Barrett, The Honors College put ASU in the company of Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago as the only U.S. institutions with all “Big 3” scholars.

Shown in photo:
Ngoni Mugwisi, Rhodes Scholar
Erin Schulte, Marshall Scholar
Christopher Balzer, Churchill Scholar

ASU alumnus and MacArthur ‘Genius’ fellow wins Pulitzer Prize
Matthew Desmond earns a Pulitzer Prize for his nonfiction work “Evicted,” detailing the plague of evictions among the nation’s poor. Desmond is a graduate of ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College.

A rapid test to stop the spread of tuberculosis
A TB test that takes just hours to complete and outperforms all others on the market is created by ASU scientists in collaboration with maverick scientists from Texas and Washington, D.C. A quick diagnosis is critical in reducing the risk of spreading this deadly, worldwide disease.

ASU jumps nine spots to No. 13 in the U.S. for producing Peace Corps volunteers currently serving around the world.

“It’s really exciting because ASU is also the most innovative school; the  potential here is unlimited,  and there’s a lot happening behind the scenes.”


Paralyzed student invents therapy device, launches company

Dan Campbell, a robotics engineering major, invents AmbulAid to help people with neurological damage — like himself — learn to walk. The “gait training” system helps launch his venture, DK Therapeutics, makers of affordable physical rehabilitation tools. For his groundbreaking therapy device, he is awarded $35,000 in the first-ever Glowing Minds Consumer Product Challenge, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

One of the nation’s top universities for commercializing tech
The Milken Institute lists ASU as one of the fastest-growing and one of the top universities in the country for tech transfer. ASU surges 20 spots in the rankings, vaulting ahead of Harvard, Johns-Hopkins, Duke, USC and UC Berkeley. Technology transfer success is measured by patents, licenses issued, licensing income and startups formed.

Wearable device for the visually impaired

The inaugural ASU Innovation Open unveils the first wearable device that communicates for the visually impaired through the sense of touch.

Faculty members collectively rank No. 2 in nation for NSF awards
ASU faculty earn 14 National Science Foundation early-career awards, ranking second in the U.S. among all universities and among the top three for engineering schools, ahead of Stanford, UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. The awards recognize the nation’s most promising junior faculty members and provide them with funding to pursue excellence in teaching and research.

Director of design and creative placemaking programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, Jason Schupbach joins ASU as director of The Design School at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.


ASU elite scholars

Starbucks’ Schultz addresses ASU grads, including first graduating class from partnership

ASU spring commencement honors more than 13,500 new grads, including more than 260 graduating through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. More than 7,000 Starbucks employees are currently participating in the program. Starbucks graduate Aristotle Jefferson says, “As a first-generation college student it’s been a dream come true. The program has allowed me to help break the cycle of poverty.”

Women’s tennis posts perfect Academic Progress Rate for 12 years
Women’s tennis is the only team in the sport among the Division I Power Five conferences to score a perfect 1,000 annually since 2006.

ASU researchers develop a linguistics test that could be valuable in assessing the effectiveness of treatments to prevent or slow the progress of cognitive damage because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).


adidas-ASU Global Sport Alliance is launched

Bringing together education, athletics, research and innovation, the alliance will explore topics that include diversity, race, sustainability and human potential – all through the lens of sport. The alliance awards scholarships to 100 adidas U.S. employees to pursue degrees through ASU Online. The partners plan to scale the program internationally in the coming years.

“adidas and ASU see  the world  as a place to be disrupted.”

adidas and ASU logos

ASU wins 6 prestigious awards for photovoltaics
ASU’s U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Awards total $4.3 million in grants. ASU ranks first among recipients in Photovoltaics Research for two years in a row, ahead of MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley.

ASU moves up eight spots in the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents report of the National Academy of Inventors, ahead of Duke, Yale and Carnegie Mellon.


Fiske Guide to Colleges names ASU a ‘best buy’ for excellence and value

The only Arizona university to earn this recognition, ASU is described by Fiske as an institution “where ‘massive innovation’ is the norm and where an interdisciplinary culture is seen as the best means of developing ‘world-changing ideas.’”

The Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care reaches a significant milestone when Mayo Clinic School of Medicine welcomes its first 50 students in Scottsdale, Arizona.


AZ Loop competition

ASU team among top-10 finalists in international SpaceX competition

ASU students join peers from Northern Arizona University and Embry-Riddle to form AZLoop, a team tasked with developing mass transit at speeds of up to 750 mph. The breakthrough would make the trip from Phoenix to San Diego possible in about 30 minutes. The team’s work space and hyperloop test track are located at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.


Researcher’s findings lead to FDA ingredient ban
Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, has long researched the detrimental effects of certain antimicrobials. After 15 years of studying triclosan and triclocarban, Halden has gained the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, which will now prohibit the sale of personal-care products containing these ingredients.

Tooker House brings innovation to engineering residential experience
Engineering students moving into the new Tooker House at ASU are part of the first voice-enabled residential community on a university campus. Amazon donates 1,600 Amazon Echo Dots, and students use the devices to immerse themselves in the growing field of voice-technology development.


‘Three-peat’: No. 1 in innovation
For the third year in a row, ASU earns the No. 1 position in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for “most innovative schools” in the country, recognizing the university’s groundbreaking initiatives, partnerships, programs and research. More than 1,500 universities are considered in the ranking.

Supporting patient-driven diabetes care
Dana Lewis, a type-1 diabetes patient and citizen scientist, develops a hybrid closed-loop artificial pancreas to automate insulin delivery, an effort supported by a half-million dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

ASU lands the No. 1 spot in the inaugural VisionHack in Moscow, winning the top spot in Best Presentation, Most Original Approach and Most Innovative among 242 entries.

“Our  pace of innovation  is not just continuing, it’s accelerating.”


Launching a tourism college ... in China
ASU opens its first permanent location in China, Hainan University-Arizona State University Joint International Tourism College. Its goal: enroll as many as 300 students annually in the program pairing ASU degrees and Hainan degrees.

The new Student Pavilion provides space for student groups, classrooms and studying — all while aiming to be a Net Zero Energy building.


Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy

New state-of-the-art academy at ASU West for young geniuses

The new home for the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy offers a modern teaching, learning and discovery environment for highly gifted students in grades 7–12. HYSA students participated in the design of the new building.

Building the world’s largest telescope
ASU teams with universities and science institutes to build the world’s largest telescope. The transformational “Giant Magellan” will produce images with 10 times the sharpness of the Hubble Space Telescope and is designed to look back further in time than ever before.


ASU alumna Reyna Montoya is honored as a Forbes “30 Under 30” for social entrepreneurship, and by NBC Latino 20 for her community achievements in the greater Phoenix area.

By the numbers