ASU recognizes 'Hearts of Gold'

Every fall at Arizona State University, a new class of Sun Devils is welcomed into a Community of Care: a place of learning and growth where everyone assumes responsibility for the health, happiness and safety of all.

As the university embarks on this new academic year, that ethos has taken on a special significance. Over the past 17 months, front-line workers have put themselves at risk, researchers and administrators have burned the midnight oil and students and faculty have displayed an extraordinary level of determination and commitment — all in the name of ensuring the promises of higher education are still attainable.

To recognize these valiant efforts and to honor the hardships endured along the way, ASU is launching the Hearts of Gold campaign this fall 2021 semester.

“There’s been a lot of heartache, but there’s also been a lot of courage and strength,” said Joanne Vogel, vice president of student services and a member of the team that has been working to design and roll out the campaign since spring.

“From the innovators at Biodesign to the people who made sure that when a student was locked out of a residence hall, they could get back in, or when the air conditioning broke or a pipe burst, they were there to fix it. Our police were still responding to emergencies, people were still showing up to deliver food or do temperature checks every day, just to make sure that the university remained open and everything kept going. This wouldn’t have worked without them.”

As part of the campaign, everyone in the ASU community is invited to share their own personal Hearts of Gold moment they experienced during COVID-19 — and how it has shaped them — at the campaign website,

Moments like when staff at the University Technology Office spent weeks equipping classrooms for ASU Sync, a new learning approach that allowed students to continue their studies through fully interactive remote learning.

Or when safety technicians with Environmental Health and Safety placed themselves in precarious situations to manage the necessary waste being produced by the Biodesign Institute.

Or when researchers at the same institute worked round-the-clock to develop the state’s first saliva-based COVID-19 test.

Vogel had her own Hearts of Gold moment when she realized a parallel between what she saw happening at ASU and what she had seen during post-hurricane relief efforts while living in Florida.

“I saw that happening here, where people that wouldn't have ordinarily interacted were joining together to solve a problem,” she said. “Those relationships and that trust that was formed gives us the ability now to better navigate other problems we might face in the future because we have done this together before.”

The ASU community can expect the campaign to have a presence on and around campus and at a variety of events as the semester progresses: Students moving into their dorms last week were greeted with Hearts of Gold decals, which many were quick to display in their windows; T-shirts featuring the gold heart logo will be available for departments to purchase for employees; plans are underway for the first football game of the season to feature a giant gold heart on the field; and much more to come.

exterior of ASU building in which students have affixed decals that read, "Hearts of Gold" to their windows

A view of the Palo Verde East residential hall with stickers from the Hearts of Gold campaign. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

The goal, said Vogel, is to foster an atmosphere of hope and positivity as the community continues to persevere together.

“When we think about the work we're doing at ASU around social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion, we’re using empathy to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes,” she said. “And we want to keep encouraging that mindset of empathy, courage, compassion and care as we go forward.”

Top photo: A "Hearts of Gold" decal affixed to the window at the Palo Verde East residential hall. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

Emma Greguska