ASU Running $12.5 Million CDC Study on Flu, COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

ASU Running $12.5 Million CDC Study on Flu, COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) will complete a five-year, $12.5 million CDC study to gauge the efficacy of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. ASU’s Biodesign Institute will team up with Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Valleywise Health to recruit study participants.

In a press release earlier this month, ASU explained that the study would have two components: measuring the flu and COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness during the flu season, and vaccine-induced immune responses over time.

The first component will assess over 1,000 participants infected by the flu or COVID-19. In doing so, researchers will identify communities disproportionately impacted by the flu or COVID-19, as well as the genomic subtypes and variants present within the participants.

The second component will assess about 250 participants who received both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. ASU disclosed that the purpose of this second component of the study is to better understand the impact of repeated vaccination on vaccine effectiveness. 

The coalition’s clinical experts will be Joanna Kramer with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Jeffrey Curtis with Valleywise Health, and Mario Islas with ASU. There will also be a number of team members hailing from various ASU schools and colleges: Vel Murugan, a primary investigator; Yunro Chung, a biostatistician; Efrem Lim, a virologist; Matthew Scotch, a molecular epidemiologist; Leah Doane and Cruz Cruz, health disparity experts; Mitch Magee, a clinical researcher; and Craig Woods, a clinical site manager. 

Murugan said that the present state of the Valley makes it the perfect location for the study. 

“Phoenix is a very fast-growing area with a diverse population, which is changing economically and demographically every day,” stated Murugan. 

Arizona is one of a handful of states involved in the CDC’s Vaccine Effectiveness Networks

RAIVEN sites conduct randomized trials to evaluate flu vaccine efficacy on those aged 18-64 years old. This fall’s trial compares the efficacy of the recombinant flu vaccine versus a standard dose egg-based flu vaccine. Trial participants receive one of the two study vaccines over the course of two flu seasons: 2022-23 and 2023-24. 

The other Vaccine Effectiveness Networks are the Flu Vaccine Effectiveness (VE), Influenza and Other Viruses in the Acutely Ill (IVY), New Vaccine Surveillance Network, VISION Vaccine Effectiveness Network, Respiratory Virus Transmission Network (RVTN), and Randomized Assessment of Influenza Vaccine Efficacy Network (RAIVEN).

Arizona is also home to study sites for the VE, IVY, RVTN, and RAIVEN.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved over $2.4 million in salaries and bonuses for all three presidents of the state’s public universities — making them among the highest paid public employees in the state.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow received a pay raise of over $38,500, bringing his base salary to over $809,800, as well as a $90,000 bonus. Crow also receives perks: housing, a vehicle allowance, and retirement contributions. ABOR extended his contract through June 2027. 

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera received the largest pay raise of $61,800, bringing his base salary to $576,800, as well as a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025. 

University of Arizona (UArizona) President Robert Robbins received a pay raise of over $37,700, bringing his base salary to over $792,200. Robbins also received a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025 as well. 

The three presidents’ bonuses were contingent on the achievement of various at-risk goals. 

Crow met all three at-risk goals: a strategy to address educational gaps in the state, a plan for the launch of at least one of the five Future Science and Technology Centers in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and clarifying and documenting the expectations for relationships among ASU’s Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge Enterprises.

For Crow, an additional $150,000 in at-risk compensation goals were proposed for next year, each worth $50,000 if met: design and launch a premium brand for ASU online; develop and launch a plan to move the three core brands of the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the Barrett Honors College into three global brands; and design and launch a new Health Futures Strategy that includes a holistic approach around health sciences and launch preparations for the Public Health Technology School. 

Crow also has five at-risk compensation goals through 2024 worth an additional $160,000. These goals will require Crow to demonstrate increased enrollment and student success in adaptive learning courses by offering over 15 courses, with an increase in overall course completion to over 80 percent; increase enrollment of Arizona students and number of graduates by over 10 percent; complete the design of the Global Futures Library with engagement of over 700 faculty members, as well as merge the three schools of the College of Global Futures; build and document enhanced regional collaboration in research; and demonstrate substantial expansion of ASU Digital Prep to at least 150 in-state schools, predominantly rural and underperforming schools.

Cruz Rivera also had three at-risk goals, which he met: a leadership team for NAU, restructured pricing and financial aid along with marketing and recruiting, and a set of goals and objectives to rebrand NAU.

For the upcoming year, Cruz Rivera has $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals aligned with the rebranding and restructuring efforts at NAU, each worth $45,000. Cruz Rivera must develop and implement a “New NAU System” to encompass in-person, online, and hybrid learning modalities, branch campuses, community college partnerships, and engagement with the state’s K-12 system. Cruz Rivera must also transform NAU Online, as well as increase enrollments and enhance career preparation opportunities.

Through 2024, Cruz Rivera is tasked with $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals, each worth $30,000. Cruz Rivera must expand the number of students from working-class families, increase overall graduation rates, and narrow completion gaps for working-class, first-generation, and minority groups; expand the Allied Health Programs and traditional NAU programs into Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties as well as distributed learning centers outside these three counties; and increase NAU profile, visibility, and programs for both Latino and Native American communities throughout the state and nationwide.

Robbins also met his three at-risk goals for this year: a new budget model that reduced college and department overhead costs by at least $10 million, a strategy to raise attainment in southern Arizona, and progress toward creating a Center for Advanced Immunology at the PBC.

In the coming year, Robbins faces $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals: secure at least $200 million in initial funding commitment from the state, local government, or private donors by next June for the Center for Advanced Molecular Immunotherapies; develop a plan to centralize responsibility and balance local authority in the university-wide administrative functional areas of Information Technology and Financial and Business Services by next June; and complete the transition of the UArizona Global Campus as an affiliated partner to its final stage under the full authority and oversight of UArizona by next June. 

Then, Robbins faces $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals through the end of 2024: increasing retention by 85.5 percent; leveraging the Washington office of UArizona to increase federal research funding by 10 percent; progressing toward enhancing student experience and outcomes of the UArizona Global Campus; implementing an Information Technology security governance framework; and coordinating a collaborative relationship with ASU and NAU that raises the research potential of the UArizona College of Medicine Phoenix. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Katie Hobbs Distracts From Special PBS Treatment With Unproven Claims of Protests, Threats

Katie Hobbs Distracts From Special PBS Treatment With Unproven Claims of Protests, Threats

By Corinne Murdock |

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs issued unproven claims on Tuesday that Arizona State University (ASU) was required to shutter its campus due to protests and threats of violence incited by her opponent, Kari Lake. 

Hobbs accused Lake of inciting death threats and racial slurs against ASU staff, though it appears that the claims originated from one of her campaign staffers. However, no protest occurred and no threats were reported.

According to the Yellow Sheet Report, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Dean Battinto Batts said that they haven’t received any threats. Batts clarified that his directive for online classes were due to students and staff concerned  about a “potential” for protestors and fellow journalists outside campus buildings.

“[W]e haven’t received any formal threats at the Cronkite School/Arizona PBS,” stated Batts. 

It appears that the claim of threats and protests originated with Hobbs’ campaign. Last Thursday, an unnamed Hobbs staffer told CNN reporter Kyung Lah that their campaign’s security team met with ASU for Tuesday’s Q&A. According to the staffer, an unnamed, female ASU operator reported intercepting death threats and racist slurs. 

“A @katiehobbs staffer tells me Hobbs security met w/ ASU re: security for the town hall next week,” stated Lah. “A rash of death threats have come in since @KariLake’s presser last night and the ASU operator picking up those threatening calls has been called racist slurs (she is Black).”

State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) told the “Conservative Circus” that the Cronkite School’s cowardice would cause their namesake, Walter Cronkite, to turn over in his grave. Kavanagh declared that the Cronkite School twice violated one of the cardinal rules of journalism: not becoming the story. 

“I would not be surprised if his ghost rises up tonight with a can of spray paint and go to that school and spray paint out his name,” said Kavanagh. “First they became the story when they violated their agreement with Clean Elections and put their thumb on the elections scale in favor of Katie Hobbs, and now this absolutely ridiculous story that journalism students are threatened and afraid to go to demonstrations.” 

After her specially awarded Q&A session with AZPBS, Hobbs went on a Twitter rant lasting nine posts describing her vision for Arizona: increased diversity hires in state government, no limits on abortion, tax cuts for 800,000 families, a teacher salary raise averaging $14,000, border security, and immediate action on the water crisis. Several of her tweets called out Lake, arguing that Lake’s insistence on having a debate was a distraction from her inability to defend her policies. 

These other claims made by Hobbs also don’t appear to pan out. Lake has consistently agreed to a debate against Hobbs, and engaged in numerous interviews with a wide range of media outlets. 

Lake even invited Hobbs to debate her on Tuesday rather than do back-to-back Q&A sessions. She encouraged AZPBS to restructure their Q&A into a debate for Arizonans’ benefit. 

Lake also invited Hobbs to her Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (AZCCEC) interview on Sunday.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU President Accused of Favoritism For Katie Hobbs, House Republicans Pledge to Defund AZPBS

ASU President Accused of Favoritism For Katie Hobbs, House Republicans Pledge to Defund AZPBS

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (AZCCEC) accused Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow of playing favorites by giving Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs the interview she wanted. Normally, AZCCEC and ASU’s Arizona PBS station coordinate debates between candidates. 

Last month, AZCCEC rejected Hobbs’ proposed alternative to a debate with Republican opponent Kari Lake: two back-to-back, individual interviews of each candidate. Since only Lake agreed to the debate terms set forth by AZCCEC, she was scheduled to have an interview in lieu of a debate on Tuesday. However, hours before Lake’s interview was to take place, AZCCEC learned that Arizona PBS (AZPBS) went behind their back to schedule a special interview with Hobbs next Tuesday — moving them to postpone Lake’s interview.

In a statement shared with multiple news outlets, Crow claimed that he wasn’t involved in a policy-level decision concerning the debate. However, he disclosed that he advised AZPBS that giving Hobbs airtime was necessary. ASU owns AZPBS. 

“But I did indicate that we need to continue to fulfill our mission of unbiased and nonpartisan coverage of public figures and talk to important people in the public realm like Lake and Hobbs to have the public learn of their views, even if there is no debate,” stated Crow. 

In response to Crow’s remarks, AZCCEC Executive Director Tom Collins asserted to reporters that Crow influenced AZPBS editorial decisions. 

Collins also said that it wasn’t acceptable for the AZCCEC to be involved in the kind of behavior exhibited by AZPBS.

“The issue here is the way AZPBS went about soliciting this particular interview and then having one candidate announce [it] on the day that another candidate — who had followed a specific set of rules that ASU had agreed to as well — [had their interview, which] made it look like ASU was playing favorites with candidates,” said Collins. 

AZPBS’ special exception for Hobbs prompted the Arizona House Republicans to take action. State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) pledged in a press release to introduce legislation to sever all state ties and support of AZPBS if the station didn’t cancel Hobbs’ interview. 

“It would be inappropriate for the state to continue its relationship with AZPBS, given its sabotaging of the clean elections debates that were approved by the voters,” stated Kavanagh. “The clean elections rules are clear. If a candidate refused to debate, their opponent (who is willing to debate) is eligible to have a 30-minute question and answer session.”

Kavanagh added that AZPBS was wrong for essentially lifting AZCCEC’s penalization for Hobbs. He predicted that AZPBS was setting a precedent to encourage future candidates to avoid debates.

“I believe the station’s decision to reward a candidate’s refusal to debate, by giving them free television time, is tantamount to making a partisan political contribution to their campaign,” wrote Kavanagh. “AZPBS needs to keep its thumb off the election scale and not shortchange the voters.” 

AZPBS offered Lake an interview as well, one also not arranged or approved by AZCCEC. However, Lake formally rejected that offer in a letter sent to AZPBS, Crow, and AZCCEC on Thursday. The letter, written by attorney Timothy La Sota, said that Lake would only come to the interview if it was reformatted as a debate between her and Hobbs.

“PBS & ASU have betrayed not only the Clean Elections Commission, but every voter in Arizona by going behind the backs of citizens to allow Hobbs to continue dodging a debate,” read the letter. “Any other format [than a debate] will result in the complete destruction of a 20-year tradition.”

Hobbs claimed that Lake’s refusal to the alternative interview was her opponent’s way of making a “spectacle.”

Hobbs also skipped the debate against her Democratic primary opponent, Marco Lopez.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Liz Cheney to ASU Students: Stop GOP Officials Campaigning For Trump-Backed Candidates Like Kari Lake

Liz Cheney to ASU Students: Stop GOP Officials Campaigning For Trump-Backed Candidates Like Kari Lake

By Corinne Murdock |

Ousted Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) told Arizona State University (ASU) students to fight back and stop Republican leaders from coming to Arizona to campaign for Trump-backed candidates. Cheney suggested punishments for those GOP officials, as part of her remarks during the fifth installment of the ASU McCain Institute’s series “Defending American Democracy.” 

Cheney made an example of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), saying he should “know better” than coming to Arizona to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Cruz attended a fundraising event for Lake on Wednesday. 

Yet shortly after giving that advice, Cheney lamented that “too often, conservative views are canceled.” Cheney also advised the students to vote for Democrats even if they’re Republicans. 

Shortly after her loss in August, Cheney launched a $15 million initiative through her political action committee (PAC) to defeat Trump-backed candidates.

At the opening of the ASU event, McCain Institute Executive Director Evelyn Farkus explained that Cheney was their latest guest speaker because she’s the “epitome of American political courage,” having sacrificed her political career by standing up for her values.

The McCain Institute’s first-ever Democracy Fellow, Sophia Gross, interviewed Cheney. Gross said Cheney exemplified a courage and set of values that young men and women should look up to in order to better themselves and serve their country.

The McCain Institute stated that the goal of the series is to advance citizens “beyond politics” in order to make America a city on a hill. It’s partially funded by the Knight Foundation, a left-leaning organization.

The four prior events in the “Defending American Democracy” series focused on the dangers of the decline and disappearance of local journalism, implications of verbal threats to election officials, protections for election infrastructure against cyberattacks, and plans to counteract hate.

In this event, Cheney fixed her remarks on several general topics: former President Donald Trump, January 6, and the Russo-Ukrainian War. 

Cheney said that the main lesson of the January 6 invasion of the Capitol was that institutions can’t defend themselves, it takes individuals. Cheney insinuated that government institutions were the victims — not citizens. Cheney also commended those who testified before her January 6 Committee: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers. Richer and Gates were reportedly present at the ASU event.

“Arizona and our nation owes Rusty a debt of gratitude,” said Cheney.

Concerning the January 6 invasion of the Capitol, Cheney claimed that Trump didn’t take action to stop the trespassers. She quickly backtracked with a self-correction, noting that the former president did take action but complained that it took him “187 minutes.” Cheney stated repeatedly that Trump was attempting to destroy democracy. 

“No nation can have a leader who is so derelict in his duty,” declared Cheney. 

At one point, Cheney predicted that the nation was heading toward a future as similar and troublesome as the Holocaust. She issued that prediction as she relayed a recent conversation with a young woman from Wyoming whose grandparents escaped the Holocaust. That young woman reportedly expressed worry to Cheney that America would no longer be a place of refuge like it was when her grandparents escaped.

“I think that’s a very real and serious concern,” said Cheney.

Cheney also said that she’s proud of the January 6 Committee, assuring the audience that it was non-partisan. Cheney said she most respects her fellow select committee and other Democrats, especially those women on the armed service committee. 

“I never imagined that I would find myself spending so much time with Democrats. I’m sure they’re surprised to be spending so much time with me as well,” said Cheney “Everybody should be represented by the people that they know are going to do the hard work.” 

Cheney said that America needs to get involved in Ukraine’s war against Russia. She said that was a hallmark of patriotism. Cheney also indicated that anyone opposed to her beliefs belonged to the “Russian” wing of the Republican Party. 

Toward the end of the event, Cheney opined that true patriotism meant an allegiance to a fundamental sense of human freedom, of inalienable rights from God and not the government.

“Being a patriot means first and foremost loving our country more. We can say to each other ‘we’re Democrats, we’re Republicans, but we love our country more,’ and we’ll act in accordance with that. That means you’ll put your country above politics, your political career,” said Cheney. 

Watch the full event below:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.