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Arizona State University honors the philanthropic legacy of Ellie Ziegler with permanent naming of street

Photo of Ellie Ziegler and her husband Michael
Ellie and Michael Ziegler are philanthropic champions of the Valley of the Sun. Ms. Ziegler passed away with her husband by her side last December. (File Photos/

Ellie Ziegler Way is now path to Sun Devil Men’s Basketball games

Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The road surrounding the Arizona State University Desert Financial Arena is now a permanent testament to a woman whose support has allowed the Sun Devil Men’s Basketball program, among countless others, to flourish.

To enter the arena, every fan will now cross over Ellie Ziegler Way, a fitting metaphor for someone who spent her entire life as a conduit to help connect people to what made them happy and helping those in need, reach those same goals.

The late Ellie Ziegler

Ms. Ziegler was an Arizona State University graduate who made some of her largest, most impactful contributions to her alma mater, according to a press release.

As a student, she was heavily involved in campus life, serving as vice president of student government. In 1999, she established the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and was inducted into the ASU College of Public Programs Hall of Fame, representatives of the Ellie Glazer Ziegler Foundation report. In addition, she was on the ASU Foundation Board from 1994 to 1998 and received numerous awards for her leadership and involvement around campus.

Ms. Ziegler passed away Dec. 21, 2021, with her loving husband Michael by her side.

Since that day, he has worked to honor her memory and the countless impacts she made across the Valley. Ms. Ziegler was recently the first person inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Bowl Division, largely for her role in chairing three national college football bowl games in one season.

This passion for the “Maroon and Gold” paired with her and her husband’s lifelong love of sport intersected with Sun Devil Men’s Basketball. As huge lifelong supporters of Duke University’s Men’s Basketball program, they have championed Coach Bobby Hurley throughout his tenure at ASU.

“Ellie has always been passionate about college sports, particularly ASU basketball! Her love for the program intensified greatly after Bobby Hurley, who she has known since his playing days in the early ‘90’s at Duke, became their head coach. She enjoyed attending home games with Bobby’s wife, Leslie.”

— Michael Ziegler

“It would be impossible for me to sum up how much Ellie Ziegler has meant to this program and to me personally with words,” Arizona State Men’s Basketball Coach Bobby Hurley said. “She was truly one of the most selfless individuals I have had the pleasure to know throughout my career and I’m glad she is being celebrated and recognized for her contributions in life.”

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Ellie Glazer Ziegler was the granddaughter of Ellis I. Levitt, who founded the first Boys & Girls Club in Iowa. Her mother, Maddie Levitt, served as the national chair for two separate campaigns that raised millions in support of the local Drake University. Giving back was in her genes, and even with such a high expectation to give, Ms. Ziegler managed to shatter all expectations as one of the most influential philanthropists the Valley has known.

In tandem with her husband Michael, Ms. Ziegler gave to causes close to her heart — from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, the Fiesta Bowl, the Arizona Science Center, Barrows Neurological Center and far beyond. Even more, Ms. Ziegler assumed numerous positions where she used her influence to take that impact even further. To herald her achievements, she was named Valley Leadership’s “Woman of the Year” in 2013.

“Ellie truly had a “way” about her, a very special way,” Mr. Ziegler explained. “It is very fitting that “Ellie Ziegler Way” surrounds Desert Financial Arena at ASU on the east, west and north sides. This brings me a level of happiness that is priceless.”

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