Tuesday Energy Blogging: The role of our state universities.

26 Jan 2010 11:35 pm
Posted by: Donna

Mark and I attended ASU President Michael Crow’s presentation Rising To The Challenges: The President’s Community Engagement Presentation at the Tempe Center for the Arts this evening.

I felt really important just for being there. Okay, so it was free and open to the public, But whatever. They served appetizers in the lobby. And Hugh Downs sat in the row in front us at the lecture. That makes me important by default.

Dr. Crow, I must say, is an engaging speaker and definitely an effective champion of ASU. He’s also quite adept at shock and awe with facts and figures. Accompanied by a spiffy slide show, he showed us how diverse and accomplished ASU alums are. He described ambitious and inventive new academic programs, along with the new buildings and facilities that are about the only thing pumping life into the Valley’s moribund economy. (So stop telling that joke about how you get an ASU grad off your porch, okay?)* Then he lowered the boom on the audience. He clicked on a graph of state funding of ASU per student since 1990. Back then the state contributed roughly $11K per student. Today it’s around $5K. ASU has been successful at raising funds and forming business alliances to offset that drain but tuition has still risen exponentially, to the point where that quaint notion from the State Constitution that a college education here should be “as nearly free as possible” is a joke.

Still, Dr. Crow and the hard working staff and students of ASU are to be commended for what they’ve accomplished. ASU is doing some great research in the field of alternative energy. Here’s what Professor Bruce Rittmann, Director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute is working on:

His challenge: Find organic solutions to help end the world’s use of and dependence on fossil-derived fuels. Rittmann and his team are working on using photosynthetic bacteria to capture sunlight energy into biomass and convert it to liquid fuels, as well as developing several microorganism-based systems that will be able to convert waste into methane, hydrogen or electricity. Taken together, the research
could, at least in principle, provide enough energy to replace our society’s use of all fossil fuels

Crow emphasized the need for public pressure on politicians and institutions and wants input from the public on what you guys think is important. ASUChallenges.com

*(Answer: Pay for the pizza.)


  1. Comment by Timmys Cat on January 27, 2010 9:00 am

    That makes me important by default.

    Well if we’re doing osmosis, I appreciate you letting me have a voice here. It’s important to me.

    Kind of an indifferent fan, but I have to admit when the sports teams are hot, they do pull in the dollahs. However,some of these salaries, mens versus womens sports tends to make my back arch.
    BTW if you are not aware, ASU has an excellent dance program. My neighbors daughter went there and is now with a professional company in NYC.

  2. Comment by Timmys Cat on January 27, 2010 10:49 am

    Heads up to a post at Firedoglake about Raul Grijalva. (a bit below the fold)

  3. Comment by Debra J. White on February 7, 2010 8:52 am

    Michael Crow failed to mention the staggering amount of taxpayer money he spent to grind former Professor Kathryn Milun into the ground. Milun won her discrimination case with the EEOC and with ASU’s abritration committee. Crow refused to settle with Milun who is white but he settled with Adela Grasca who is Latina. Crow obviously wants to remain on Ernie Calderon’s good side. The Milun case and others still work their way through the court because Crow is an unapologetic bigot. Crow carried his bullish behavior from Columbia. See the case Chichilnisky vs Columbia to see what a creep Crow really is.

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