Bravo to weathering the budget storm. No one is a stranger to the ill effects of our current economy, least of all ASU and the state of Arizona. The past two semesters have been miserable, but, during this fall semester, we’ve been able to quietly persevere. With major changes in funding (the stimulus taking effect, the addition of surcharges), ASU has managed to escape the semester without mass furloughs, layoffs or closings. School names might be a little longer, and the Legislature has been sluggish to come up with a definitive budget, but when compared to the crisis California is facing, we’ll take what we can get. Hopefully spring will bring an upswing.
Boo to a disappointing fall sports season for ASU athletics. We all know about the gut-wrenching losses for the football team — four of them by a combined 13 points — but the heartbreak extended to other sports as well. The volleyball team got off to its best start since 1992 when it began the season with an 11-2 record, including a sweep of then-No. 14 UCLA, but the Sun Devils won just two of their final 15 games to finish the season in a tie for last place in the Pac-10. The soccer team was ranked as high as 19th in the nation at the end of September before losing star goalkeeper Briana Silvestri to a season-ending knee injury and then failing to win a conference game until the final weekend of the regular season. The Sun Devils still made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, but that injury possibly prevented a special season in Tempe. But there is much to look forward to in the spring semester. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have shown promise despite losing marquee players from last season, while the softball and baseball squads, even without former coach Pat Murphy, are still among the nation’s elite. And, oh yeah, the women’s golf team is the defending national champion.
Bravo to research at ASU. The University topped $300 million in research expenditures in the 2009 fiscal year, setting a University record and putting ASU on the map for its notable work. All you ever wanted to know about black-widow behavior, effects of a smoking ban and cowpox is being studied in labs around the campuses. Putting the icing on the cake is ASU research professor Elinor Ostrom, who won the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. There was even a study on the ill effects of binge drinking with some shocker results: Two-thirds of ASU students do not drink in excess, said social sciences Dean Linda Lederman, an expert in alcohol use in college students. So long to the party-school-only image for ASU.
Boo to the swine flu. Not only has it pulled off one of the biggest heists on our national consciousness (be honest, you freaked out about it), but it also led to a far too common usage of doctor’s masks. The grippe had an unwavering grip on everything, leading to the beginnings of mass panic and hysteria. At least ASU was able to make it through the semester without shutting down campuses, although some departments extended the number of excused absences to make concessions for sick students (we won’t complain). With health care reform on everyone’s mind, the swine flu made sure it didn’t get overlooked by the media by sticking its piggy snout in everyone’s business. The semester might be over, and the holidays are on their way — just don’t eat too much ham, you never know what kind of retribution the swine will send.