Mayor Greg Stanton and University President Michael Crow talk about ASU’s impact downtown


TED SIMONS: IT'S BEEN TEN YEARS SENSE THE DOWNTOWN PHOENIX CAMPUS OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY GOT UP AND RUNNING THE CRONKITE SCHOOL WHERE THE ARIZONA PBS STUDIOS WERE LOCATED WAS HERE FROM THE START AND THE NURSING SCHOOL THE LAW COLLEGE AND OTHER UNIVERSITY DISCIPLINES WITH PLANS FOR THE THUNDER BIRD SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT TO MOVE DOWNTOWN AS WELL. WE SPOKE WITH ASU PRESIDENT MICHAEL CROW AND PHOENIX MAYOR GREG STANTON WHAT THE UNIVERSITY HAS MEANT TO DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR JOINING US WE APPRECIATE IT HOW DO YOU QUANTIFY THE IMPACT OF ASU ON DOWNTOWN PHOENIX?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: I THINK THE WAY YOU QUANTIFY IT IS IN THE CHANGE OF CENTER MASS, WE NOW HAVE A CENTER MASS FOR THE METROPOLITAN AREA AND A VIBRANT DOWNTOWN PHOENIX AND ASU WAS A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR TO THE BUILDING OF AN ENERGY VECTOR IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX THAT COULD BE SUSTAINED.

TED SIMONS: IS THIS WHAT YOU ENVISIONED WAY BACK IN 2004 WHEN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THIS AND THE WHOLE PROJECT KIND OF GOT STARTED IS THIS WHAT YOU SAW?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: YEAH, WE SAW DOWNTOWN CAMPUS WITH GREAT PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS GREAT ENERGY GREAT CONNECTIONS THROUGH BUSINESSES AND THE GOVERNMENT IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX, GREAT CONNECTIONS TO SOCIAL ENTERPRISES THROUGHOUT PHOENIX YEAH WE SAW THIS.

TED SIMONS: HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO GET THIS PROCESS UNDERWAY? I MEAN THIS IS A HUGE TRANSFORMATION FOR DOWNTOWN PHOENIX.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: WELL, IT WAS HARD AT FIRST TO GET PEOPLE'S MINDS AROUND IT. REMEMBER THERE WASN'T MUCH OF ANYTHING IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX AT THE TIME THAT THE ASU PROJECT WAS THOUGHT ABOUT AND DISCUSSED. YOU HAD TO GET ASU WITH NEW LEADERSHIP WITH DR. CROW AND THANK GOODNESS HE CAME ON BOARD AND REALIZED HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS TO HAVE A TRUE URBAN PRESENCE AND GOOD STRONG LEADERS FOR THE UNIVERSITY. THAT WASN'T A PRIORITY FOR THEM SO TO REALLY GET THE VISION TO GET PEOPLE THINKING ADORNETTO IT BUT THE VOTERS OF PHOENIX ARE THE ONES THAT GOT THIS GOING IN THE BOND ELBOW ELECTION IN 2000. IS THIS WHAT HE ENVISIONED HE SAID YES AND IN MY MIND BECAUSE I WAS THERE FROM DAY ONE IT'S BIGGER THAN I EVER EXPECTED. NOT ONLY DID WE HAVE THE ORIGINAL ASU PROJECT BUT CONSISTENTLY GROWN IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PHOENIX IN TERMS OF THE LAW SCHOOL, IN TERMS OF THE NOW THE THUNDER BIRD COMING DOWNTOWN SO THIS THING IS GOING BIGGER AND BIGGER AND BIGGER AND FOR THE FUTURE I SEE IT NO WHERE BUT CONTINUING TO HEAD IN THAT DIRECTION.

TED SIMONS: WHY DID YOU ASU WHY DID YOU WANT TO MOVE DOWNTOWN?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: WHAT WE NEEDED TO DO IS BUILD THE NOTION THAT THE UNIVERSITY WAS NOT A SINGLE PLACE THAT YOU GO WITH WALLS AROUND THE INSTITUTION WITH IVY GROWING ON THE WALLS AND IVORY TOWER BEHIND THE WALLS WE WANTED TO BE WHERE PEOPLE WORKED AND LIVED AND BELT THE NOTION OF ONE UNIVERSITY IN MANY PLACES. IN ALL OF THOSE PLACES, WE ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE LOCATED WITH YOUR COLLEGE OF PUBLIC SERVICE, OUR LAW SCHOOL, THE NEW THUNDER BIRD SCHOOL NURSING A RANGE OF PROGRAM JOURNALISM A RANGE OF THINGS WE BROUGHT DOWNTOWN AND DOWNTOWN WAS THE PLACE TO BE AND FOUND PARTNERS IN THE CITY GOVERNMENT AND LEADERSHIP TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

TED SIMONS: HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO GET FUNDING? YOU HAVE A PLAN, YOU HAVE AN IDEA THEN YOU NEEDED FUNDING HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: STRONG SUPPORT FROM THE CITY COUNCIL AND LEADERSHIP AND TOOK IT TO THE PEOPLE AND 2-1 VOTE FOR THE BONDING AUTHORITY THAT GOT THINGS GOING AND FOUND MORE FUNDING FROM PHILANTHROPY AND HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF INVESTMENTS FROM A RANGE OF PARTNERS SO DIFFICULT YES BUT DOABLE.

TED SIMONS: TALK ABOUT THE BOND CAMPAIGN.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: I SURE WOULD BUT IN THE LARGER POINT THAT NEEDS TO BE MADE IS THERE IS NO BETTER AND BIGGER CITY, UNIVERSITY RELATIONSHIP OVER THE LAST 10, 15 YEARS THAN PHOENIX AND ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. WHAT HAPPENED IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX AND WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN NORTH PHOENIX NEAR THE MAYO CLINIC WHICH IS AMAZING PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE GREAT INSTITUTIONS DOESN'T HELP ELSEWHERE, YOU DON'T SEE CITIES STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE TO INCREASE THE HIGHER EDUCATION ATTAINMENT OF ITS POPULUS AS PHOENIX HAS DONE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ASU. ONCE PEOPLE GOT THEIR MIND, AROUND IT DID ULTIMATELY PASS AND I THINK THE VOTERS OF PHOENIX WOULD SAY THAT THEY HAVE PROBABLY NOT MADE A SINGLE BETTER INVESTMENT BOTH THROUGH THE BOND ELECTION AND SUBSEQUENT INVESTMENTS IN THE LAW SCHOOL AND THUNDER BIRD AND OTHERS THAN THEY HAVE IN THE ENTERPRISE OF ASU.

TED SIMONS: TALK ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN AGAIN BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW I REMEMBER THE CAMPAIGN AND I WANT YOU TO RECALL AS WELL WHAT WAS THE SELLING POINT, WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO CONVINCE PEOPLE? BECAUSE AGAIN IF YOU KNEW THE AREA BEFORE ALL THIS HAPPENED.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: SURE.

TED SIMONS: IT'S UNBELIEVABLE YOU CANNOT IMAGINE THIS HAPPENING.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: IT WAS MULTI PART FIRST WE NEEDED TO CONVINCE THE PEOPLE OF PHOENIX THAT WE NEEDED A HIGHER EDUCATED WORKFORCE IF WE WERE REALLY GOING TO COMPETE NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY AND IF WE WAIT AROUND FOR OTHERS TO FUND IT GUESS WHAT? WE ARE GOING TO KEEP WAITING. IT WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT ENOUGH PRIORITY THAT. EVEN THOUGH NORMALLY THIS WOULD NOT BE A CITY PRIORITY WE HAD TO MAKE IT A CITY PRIORITY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. THE LOCATION IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX LOOK ALL GREAT CITIES ACROSS AMERICA ACROSS THE GLOBAL HAVE AN INTELLECTUAL ENTERPRISE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY. PHOENIX DIDN'T AND WE HAD TO CREATE THE OPPORTUNITY AND HAVE DONE IT NOW AND THE PEOPLE OF PHOENIX SAW THAT OPPORTUNITY AND BY THE WAY THE INVESTMENTS WE MADE IN LIGHT RAIL AND OTHER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENTS WITHOUT THOSE INVESTMENTS ASU DOESN'T COME DOWNTOWN SO THE SMART INVESTMENTS CAME TOGETHER WITH THE PARTNERSHIP WITH ASU.

TED SIMONS: WAS THERE A LIGHT BULB MOMENT AND AH-HA FOR YOU WHEN YOU CAME HERE AND SAW THE LAY OF THE LAND AND LOOKED AT DOWNTOWN PHOENIX COULD IT HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX WAS IT THIS AREA IN PARTICULAR?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: IT NEEDED TO BE THIS AREA THE LIGHT RAIL CONFIGURATION THE CENTRAL AVENUE THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, THIS WAS THE PLACE TO BE. THE LIGHT BULB MOMENT FOR ME AND FOR US WAS THAT PHOENIX IS THIS GREAT EMERGING NEW MODEL OF A CITY; IT IS A MODERN CITY, HIGHLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICALLY. IT IS A MANY PEOPLE REFER TO IT AS A POST ETHNIC CITY. THAT IS EVOLVING IN A NEW KIND OF WAY THAT CITIES EVOLVE. THEREFORE, FOR US WE SAW THIS HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ONE UNIVERSITY IN MANY PLACES. WITH A FABULOUS 15-20,000 STUDENT CAMPUS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. THOUSANDS OF EMPLOYEES BUT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CONNECTIONS, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CONNECTIONS AND THAT IS REALLY, WHAT THE LIGHT BULB MOMENT WAS FOR US.

TED SIMONS: AS BEING AN ECONOMIC DRIVER FOR THE CITY OF PHOENIX TALK TO US ADORNETTO THAT.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: LOOK ECONOMIC DRIVER WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE JOBS CREATED. ET CETERA BUT AS AN INTELLECTUAL ENTERPRISE IT HAS CHANGED THE BUILT IN ENVIRONMENT OF DOWNTOWN PHOENIX AS A VERY POSITIVE WAY. NO ONE CAN DOUBT THAT BUT WHAT IS PROBABLY LESS OBVIOUS IS HOW ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. THE STUDENTS AND THE PROFESSORS THERE HAVE HELPED ADVANCE OUR EFFORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY, HELPING TO ADVANCE THE ISSUE OF DISCONNECTED YOUTH, YOUNG PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT CONNECTED THROUGH JOBS OR EDUCATION IN THE COMMUNITY. PARTNERS WITH ASU TO ADVANCE AND WORK WITH SENIORS IN THE COMMUNITY. THE STUDENTS THAT ATTEND ASU DOWNTOWN ARE THE TYPE OF STUDENTS THAT REALLY WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO THE LARGER COMMUNITY SO THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT OF CHANGE IN A POSITIVE WAY BUT ASU OUT REACH IN THE COMMUNITY HELPED US TO BE A MORE SMARTER AND COMPASSION CITY AND ADVANCING ECONOMICALLY HAS ALL BEEN SPURRED BY THIS PARTNERSHIP SO IT HAS BEEN A GREAT WIN FOR US FOR A LOT OF DIFFERENT REASONS.

DR. MICHAEL CROW: WE HAVE IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIXT HE NINTH HIGHEST RANKED SCHOOL OF HIGHEST AFFAIRS. THE CRIMINOLOGY AND SOCIAL WORK. NUMBER ONE JOURNALISM SCHOOL, A TOP 25 LAW SCHOOL THAT IS GROWING AGAINST ALL TRENDS, NUMBER ONE IN APPLICATIONS, INCREASE IN LAW SCHOOL IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THESE ARE FANTASTIC THINGS THAT RESULTED FROM BEING IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX.

TED SIMONS: OBVIOUSLY A SUCCESS STORY THAT IS WHY WE INVITED YOU BOTH HERE, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS ALWAYS GETTING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY TO BELIEVE IN THE FACT THAT THIS IS AN EMERGENT. NEW VERSION OF A FANTASTIC AMERICAN CITY, TO SEE THE POTENTIAL. THAT PHOENIX REALLY HAS TO BE A CITY THAT ENDS UP SOLVING SOME OF THE HISTORIC PROBLEMS THAT THE CITIES IN THE EAST HAVE HAD DIFFICULTY SOLVING, CITIES THAT ARE AFFORDABLE UNLIKE SOME CITIES ON THE COAST AND SO FOR US IT'S THIS NOTION OF HOW DO YOU MAKE ALL OF THIS WORK, HOW DO YOU CREATE OPPORTUNITY AND SO FOR US THAT IS THE HARDEST SELL IS GETTING PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT.

TED SIMONS: SPEAKING OF SELL HAVE YOU HAD OTHER CITIES, OTHER UNIVERSITIES HOW MUCH OF A MODEL IS THIS FOR OTHER AREAS?

DR. MICHAEL CROW: ORLANDO IS EMULATING WITH CENTRAL FLORIDA UNIVERSITY AND OTHER CITIES WE HAVE BEEN VISITED BY 50, 60, 80 UNIVERSITIES HAVE COME TO SEE WHAT'S GOING ON HERE IN PHOENIX WITH ASU.

TED SIMONS: OTHER MAYORS HAVE STOPPED BY HEY NOT BAD.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: LOOK WHEN I TELL THEM HOW MUCH WE HAVE INVESTED DIRECTLY IN HIGHER EDUCATION AND HOW THAT INVESTMENT HAS PAID OFF FOR US NOT JUST TO HELP CREATE THE DYNAMIC DOWNTOWN WE WANT AND ASU HAS SUCCESSFULLY WORKED WITH THE ART AND THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMUNITY AND NOT ALWAYS PERFECT BUT OVER ALL A GOOD STRONG THING. THEY WANT THAT EXACT MODEL IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, IN OTHER PLACES, IT IS KIND OF A TOWNS AND GOWNS RIVALRY IF YOU WILL, AND NOT IN PHOENIX WITH A-S-U WE NEED ASU TO BE SUCCESSFUL FOR THE SUCCESS OF PHOENIX ARIZONA.

TED SIMONS: WE GOT THE THUNDER BIRD SCHOOL OF GLOBAL MANAGEMENT MOVING DOWNTOWN GIVE US A TIMEFRAME HERE.

DR. MICHAEL CROW: UP AND OPERATIONAL OF THE FALL OF 2020. MOVING IN TEMPORARY SPACE IN 2018. WITH REEXCITED AND BRINGING A 70 YEAR BRAND OF THE LEADING SCHOOL FOR THE PLANET. MOVING IT TO A SIGNATURE FACILITY BRANDED THUNDER BIRD AND LINKED TO IT AND A HEADQUARTERS OF A TEACHING LEARNING AND DISCOVERY ENTERPRISE. WITH 40 THOUSANDS ALUMS SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND SEE IT AS A REALLY POSITIVE THING.

TED SIMONS: ASU PRESIDENT MICHAEL CROW AND MAYOR STANTON GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. BORDER MAYORS TALK ABOUT HOW A PROPOSED BORDER WALL COULD AFFECT THEIR TOWN.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and University President Michael Crow discuss the impact that ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has had on the area since it opened in 2006.

The campus is currently home to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the College of Nursing and Health Innovations, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and other university disciplines. The Thunderbird School of Global Management, currently located in Glendale, will soon be joining the downtown scene. It’s expected to be completed and ready to welcome students by January 2021.

“I think the way you quantify it [the effect of the campus] is in the change of center mass,” Crow says. “We now have a center mass for the metropolitan area. We have a vibrant downtown Phoenix, and I think ASU was a significant contributor to the building of energy vector in downtown Phoenix that can be sustained.”

Crow says that in deciding where to build a new campus, the leadership team saw Phoenix as a place where students could build connections to businesses, local government and social enterprises. He says the success of the campus is exactly what they envisioned, but Stanton says it’s better than he ever predicted.

“It was hard at first to get people’s minds around it. Remember, there wasn’t much of anything in downtown Phoenix at the time the ASU project was thought about and discussed,” Stanton says. “It’s bigger than I ever expected. Remember we don’t have only the original ASU project, but they’ve grown consistently in partnership with Phoenix in terms of the law school and the Thunderbird school now coming downtown.”

Stanton says the university was lucky to gain Crow as a president because he saw the necessity of the school having an urban presence. His goal was to expand a university that wasn’t trapped by walls and boundaries. He says he wanted the university to be where people worked and lived. With that in mind, he says it was obvious a campus needed to be downtown.

“The light bulb moment for me was, Phoenix is this great emerging new model of a city,” Crow says. “It’s a modern city and highly advanced technologically. It’s a post-ethnic city, it’s evolving in a new kind of way. We saw this huge opportunity to be a university in many places with a fabulous 15-20,000 student campus in downtown Phoenix.”

Luckily, ASU had strong support from the city council and city leadership to make this goal a reality. The decision was sent to the people for a vote and they voted in favor of the university. Once the ball was rolling, ASU received more funding from philanthropy and private sectors. Crow says he understood the difficulty of getting it done, but what kept him going was the understanding that it was doable.

“There is no better and bigger city-university relationship over the last 10 to 15 years than Phoenix and Arizona State University,” Stanton says. “What has happened in downtown Phoenix and what’s going to happen up in North Phoenix near the Mayo Clinic doesn’t happen elsewhere. I think the voters of Phoenix would say they have not made a single better investment.”

Having students in the downtown area has caused a cascade of positive effects from advancing the city’s efforts in climate change policy to helping advance the issue of disconnected youth. Stanton says the university’s outreach into the community has transformed the city to become smarter, more compassionate and empathetic.

Twelve years later, the downtown campus is home to the ninth highest ranked school of public affairs in the country, the fifth highest rank school of criminology in the country, the number one school of journalism in the country, a top two law school and many advancements in other disciplines.

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In this segment:

Dr. Michael Crow: President, ASU
Greg Stanton: Mayor, Phoenix

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