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Practically every on-campus student knows Arizona State University plans on becoming the euphemistic New American University someday.

This title signifies an enigmatic vision shared by the upper ASU administration of accommodating 90,000 students on all four campuses by 2012.

But for all the glamorous speechmaking about improvement and reform, what is actually being proposed? Obviously, with ASU’s obsession with building things, construction projects are in the works, but what buildings specifically are expecting improvements?

After a brief investigative search through Google, I discovered the “Comprehensive Development Plan for a New American University,” courtesy of ASU. Although the title seemed tranquilizingly dull, the Web site sounded promising. Side menus had motivational titles like “The Vision” and “The Beginning,” which sound like sermonizing excerpts from the Gospel According to Crow. I was prepared to be converted.

But after clicking on potential doctrines for changing ASU’s Tempe campus, I was bitterly disappointed.

Everything was told in sweeping statements without substance: the campus “will emphasize global and trans-disciplinary initiatives,” for example. Whatever that means.

And the newest information posted on that Web site is from 2005. Executive summaries and presentation slides have outdated information, showing pictures of the “upcoming BioDesign Institute.”

Apparently, “new” publicity for this New American University stopped being pumped out three years ago.

However, those outdated documents do promise large changes.

According to the Tempe campus’s Executive Summary, along with doubling research income, the New American University will have “6 percent gain in [student] population” and “35 percent of [on-campus] students,” up from 14 percent.

Although this proposal seems to overcrowd an already-overcrowded campus, this is simply untrue, said ASU representatives. Adding more students is simply a byproduct of an increasing population in Arizona. And more on-campus students will be accommodated through projects like the new Barrett Honors College facility.

Despite these reassertions, more students will be enrolling in the Tempe campus and more freshmen will be living there, too.

But this population challenge can easily be managed by the blessed miracle-workings of the New American University, right? Well, sort of.

The Web site does contain more specific information on construction projects, but they’re in presentations dating from 2004. Many feature slides of beautifully rendered computer images of buildings and cityscapes, like the proposed Arts and Business Gateway at Mill Avenue and University Drive.

However, the slides don’t have any descriptions of the structures or their proposed costs. Instead, from a publicity standpoint, it seems we’re supposed to feel satisfied about the New American University by gawking at cool-looking buildings.

Some slides even feature these artificial graphics. The proposal for the new Hayden Lawn, for example, is a splotchy watercolor with stick figures standing under something that resembles a carnival tent and strings of Christmas lights.

Again, I’m not outright criticizing the entire New American University project. I understand, without expansion, ASU may shrivel into a flaccid, pathetic reminder of a formerly robust institute of higher learning. (Here’s looking at you, UA).

I’m just saying it at least needs better publicity and something modern and substantial to replace the glittery CGI and watercolor paintings.

Bandying around a catchphrase like “New American University” is attention-grabbing only for little while. Eventually, curious ASU students will begin looking online for similar information with the all-important Walter Mondale question in mind: “Where’s the beef?”

And they should be provided something slightly more edible than the steaming pile of outdated visual magnificence currently on display on a University Web site.

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