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Academics

Physician Assistant Program Among Best in Nation According to US News & World Report

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 14 2019

Butler University's Physician Assistant program continues to climb in the national rankings, moving up to 37th in the U.S. News & World Report ratings of the Best Physician Assistant Programs.

Since 2013, Butler's program—the longest-accredited program in the state of Indiana—has moved up 60 places in the rankings. The most recent report, released in 2015, had Butler ranked 40th.

"These rankings are based on reputation, a survey of other leaders in the PA field," says Butler College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dean Robert Soltis. "The fact that we've gone from 97th in 2013, to 70th in 2014, to 40th in 2015, to now 37th is really impressive."

PAs have many of the same responsibilities as doctors and work in collaboration with a physician or surgeon. A PA can diagnose a patient, order tests and procedures, and prescribe treatments.

Soltis attributed the boost in reputation to faculty members becoming more visible among their peers and colleagues.

"They're publishing, they're making more appearances at national meetings," he says. "Professor Jennifer Snyder's been President of the PA Education Association. So some is just the visibility—you get your reputation from people seeing who you are and what you do."

The Physician Assistant program also has a 99 percent pass rate on the PA certification examination over the past 5 years, a 100 percent job-placement rate within six months of graduation over the past three years, and a championship in the Indiana Academy of PA Student Challenge Bowl for three of the past four years.

As the profession has increased in popularity in the past few years, Butler's PA program has grown. In 2016, the program switched from three years to two years, and the class grew from 50 to 75.

Soltis says the PA ranking is another reflection of the many happenings in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Earlier this year, Butler moved up to fourth in the nation for the highest passing rates for Pharmacy students taking the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination.

"We've got good things happening in our programs in both pharmacy and PA," he says.

Academics

Physician Assistant Program Among Best in Nation According to US News & World Report

As the profession has increased in popularity in the past few years, Butler's PA program has grown.

Mar 14 2019 Read more
Community

Caring for Our Community at the Community Outreach Pharmacy

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 13 2019

The man’s blood pressure is 160/88, which is one reason Butler University Pharmacy student Michael Grim is sitting beside him on a folding chair, explaining why it’s important for the man to take his medicine and an 81-milligram aspirin as prescribed.

Grim sits with the man for a few minutes to make sure he understands. When he’s sure the man does, Grim hands over a bag containing his prescription.

It’s a scene that will play itself out a few dozen times on this particular Saturday, when Grim and five of his Pharmacy classmates are volunteering at the Butler University Community Outreach Pharmacy (BUCOP) on the eastside of Indianapolis.

From 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturdays, BUCOP volunteers are an integral part of the IU Student Outreach Clinic, which provides care for underserved people who live in the area near the Neighborhood Fellowship Church, 3102 East 10th Street.

Here, inside the church, Butler Pharmacy students join University of Indianapolis students studying Physical Therapy, and IU students training in medicine, dentistry, occupational therapy, social work, ophthalmology, law, and other areas, to get practical experiences in the field.

In 2018, 217 Butler Pharmacy volunteers filled 3,275 prescriptions for 1,047 patients—some were repeat visitors to the Community Outreach Pharmacy. Mostly it's preventative medicine—for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and acute sicknesses like strep throat.

BUCOP spent over $9,500 on medications and medical supplies. It also works with partners like CVS, which donated vials, and Walgreens, which donated flu shots.

"We’ve had some patients who are so happy with the students that they cried in gratitude," says Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice Kacey Carroll '12, who serves as BUCOP faculty advisor. "I think that’s meaningful for the students to see their impact. Some come just to  say 'hi' and 'thank you.' One patient didn’t understand what high blood pressure meant. Our student spent an hour with her to explain. No one had done anything like that with the patient before. Though it took a long time, it was time well worth it."

*

On this particular Saturday, there are no tears—just grateful patients. Grim and Kate Gordon, another P2 Pharmacy student, are the managers today. Their job is overseeing the operation and working with patients to explain their medicines.

"It's really cool being with all these other areas of practice," Grim says. "We communicate with the medical team all the time."

To their left is Alyssa Mason. She's training to be a manager, so she's watching what Gordon is doing. At the tables behind them, Tyler Kennedy is reading the prescriptions, instructions, and dosages written by the doctor so she can make the label. Rachel Robb is recording prescriptions in the database and printing their labels to pass on to fillers so they can fill them. And Lauren Schmidt is filling prescriptions and giving them to the pharmacist to check.

The pharmacist today is Bradley Carqueville Pharm.D. '17, who's in his second year of residency with Community Health Network, specializing in ambulatory care. Carqueville had volunteered at the clinic when he was a student; now he's the licensing professional, double-checking what the students are doing.

"I let the students run the show," he says. "They're supposed to do all the counseling, they do all the filling, and the documenting. I'm just here making sure everything is right, but I'm supposed to be in the background."

If the students have questions, they can ask Carqueville or the two Medication Therapy Consultants in the next room. Today, that's Chandler Howell and Nichole Barnard, both of whom are set to graduate in May.

"It's rewarding to be here, knowing that it's a great thing for the community," Howell says. "It's also rewarding to work with the medical team. You have so many opportunities to work with so many professions so closely. It gives you more experience working with the entire team, and I think it helps seeing what the other professions are doing, their thought processes."

"Rewarding" is a word that comes up often in conversations with the student volunteers. Grim tells the story of a patient on oxygen who was out of the inhalers he needed to breathe. He helped him fill out the paperwork to get the man what he needed.

"For me, what's most rewarding are the educational aspects—being able to talk to the patients after we fill the medications and counsel them on specific things," Gordon says. "For example, one time a lady picked up a medication for her cholesterol. I started asking her questions about it and she was like, 'I don't know why I have to have a cholesterol medication. Everybody has cholesterol.' I was able to explain that there's bad and good cholesterol, and this medication helps lower her bad cholesterol. It's rewarding to build connections with the patients."

*

The IU Student Outreach Clinic, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on February 14, was founded by Indiana University Dr. Javier Sevilla M.D., who wanted to create a free, student-led clinic in a neighborhood that desperately needed doctors. According to the clinic's website, among the 15,000 homes in the area, half live at or below the poverty level and report unmet health needs due to cost, lack of transportation, lack of a primary care provider, or unemployment.

At first, the clinic provided only medical care. The student-doctors would write prescriptions and church leaders would reach into their pockets and do the best they could to help the patients. Within a couple of months, Sevilla invited Butler's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to participate.

"Once that happened," says Sevilla, "there was a cascade of other partners who were waiting. Butler has been key to making this clinic the largest, most vibrant student-run clinic in the nation."

Jim Strietelmeier, the church elder who oversees the clinic, says Butler "has gone far and above what anyone would have expected."

"When I speak to the pharmacists," Strietelmeier says, "I tell them what Martin Luther King Jr. said: 'Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.' Pharmacists are by far the servants of the crowd. They take instruction and then give what's necessary."

*

Kacey Carroll was a Butler Pharmacy student when BUCOP started and has been the advisor since joining the Butler faculty in August 2017.

She remembers realizing as a student that there are so many barriers to healthcare — "unintended barriers," she says, "but it doesn’t mean that any person is any less deserving of receiving healthcare."

"If there’s anything I can do with the knowledge that I’ve gained to help people improve their life and improve their health, I want to do that. So it helped instill in me a need and a want to reach out to the community and use this skill that I have to give back."

What she often hears from students who volunteer through BUCOP is about how much they appreciate experiencing the practical application of what they learned in class. The common refrain is: "We talked about this in class, but once I did it, I see that it matters and it made a difference."

As Javier Sevilla says: "It is a beautiful, beautiful service learning opportunity for all of us."

Academics

Eleven Butler Students Selected for Elite Orr Fellowships

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 12 2019

In his three years as Butler University's starting quarterback, Will Marty '18 learned lessons that transcended the football field. He discovered that the ability to communicate with all different kinds of people is vital. You can't sweep issues under the rug. You've got to be upfront with people. And you have to be able to achieve in high-pressure situations.

"It's the same thing in the business world," says Marty, who graduated in December with a degree in finance and marketing. "You've got to make quick decisions. You've got to be able to communicate with people directly. And you can't be afraid to go forward."

Marty is seeing the parallels between football and business play out in his post-graduation role as an Orr Fellow. As part of the two-year fellowship, he's working as a growth analyst for Greenlight Guru, a downtown Indianapolis company that makes quality-management software for medical devices.

The Orr Fellowship program guarantees participants a two-year position at an Indianapolis host company as well as executive mentorship and training in areas like growing a strong network, entrepreneurial law, and personal finance.

With a 5 percent acceptance rate, the Orr Fellowship program is extremely selective. This year, 1,259 graduates from 48 states applied. The program accepted 68 from 19 universities. Of those 68, 11 were Butler graduates—more than any other school. (The full list of Butler students accepted is below.)These students will not only receive guaranteed job placement for their first two years out of undergrad, they will also receive executive mentorship, and participate in a unique curriculum intended to develop business and professional acumen in the real world. These combined factors fast-track students from college to career success as young professionals.

Marty, who threw for 5,550 yards and 30 touchdowns in three years, thinks teamwork is why Butler has been so successful in placing Orr Fellows.

"What Butler teaches you is how important your role is within teams," he says. "I'm doing such a small part of the bigger picture here at Greenlight, but I also see how valuable my little part is. I think Butler stresses collaborative work, communication, and overall group dynamics to bring out the best in the entire organization. The Lacy School of Business did a great job of that as well."

Jen Agnew, Director of Programming and Engagement for the Orr Fellowship, says Butler graduates have been successful in applying to the program in part because they make a commitment to the arduous two-month recruiting process. Orr Fellow alumni from Butler also do a great job of recruiting qualified candidates, she says.

In the end, "there's a real understanding and buy-in from the Butler students about what we're doing and what we're achieving in the Indianapolis community," Agnew says. "I think Butler students are interested in serving their community beyond their four years at Butler and finding unique opportunities that are going to help the Indianapolis community grow. I think that Orr does that."

Orr Fellowships are open to students from across all majors—not just business. Carly McCarthy '18 majored in Science, Technology, and Society at Butler and started her fellowship in January with Greenlight Guru. The Galesburg, Illinois, native is now working in product marketing.

McCarthy heard about the program from several friends who were business majors and wondered if there was a place for her. Everyone she talked to at Butler encouraged her to apply.

"They showed me that Orr was made for a diverse group of people with diverse educational background," she says.

Meanwhile, she says she felt ready and confident, thanks to Butler, which helped her develop the interpersonal skills and receive the interdisciplinary education needed to relate to people in different ways.

At Greenlight, McCarthy says, she gets to work with experienced professionals in healthcare, which is the field in which she ultimately wants to work.

"So working here has enabled me to learn other skills that will be applicable in my other education and career endeavors," she says. "And in my role here as a product developer and product marketer, I get to learn about a company and how a company works, rather than taking one position."

That's the kind of experience Kendall Povilaitis '19 is hoping for. Povilaitis, a Creative Writing major and Digital Media Production minor, will be working for Covideo, a video email communications company based in Broad Ripple.

Povilaitis heard about the Orr Fellowship through friends she had worked with in Ambassadors of Change, the Butler program that welcomes new students to campus. They were in the Orr program and encouraged her to apply.

"Our community looks out for one another," she says. "And I think when you have students who were part of Butler, they know what Butler students offer. We are reaching out to our own."

At Covideo, she’ll be working in several departments over the two years—sales, marketing, video—to see the business from all sides.

She says all the things she learned at Butler helped her land the fellowship.

"I think the experiential learning really showed through," she says. "I’ve had the internships and the real experiences—at The Children’s Museum, in Butler’s Marketing and Communications Department, and other places. I think that gave me more confidence going in: I’ve done this before, and I know I can take on a real job and be different than somebody else."

 

Class of 2019 Butler Orr Fellows:

  • Addyson Aiman, The Heritage Group
  • Alex Adams, Torchlite
  • Carly McCarthy, Greenlight Guru*
  • Kendall Povilaitis, Covideo
  • Lyndsey Isenhower, Apex Benefits
  • Olivia Schwan, Lessonly
  • Rachel Schafer, Sigstr
  • Sarah Burkhart, OneCause
  • Sarah Forhan, IU Health
  • Tanner Cline, enVista
  • Will Marty, Greenlight Guru*

*December graduate

 

 

Academics

Eleven Butler Students Selected for Elite Orr Fellowships

Teamwork is why Butler has been so successful in placing Orr Fellows.

Mar 12 2019 Read more
Arts & Culture

Quilt Show Enhances Visual Arts at Clowes

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 11 2019

Karen Dietz Colglazier ‘70, MA ‘74, attended the Butler University Alumni Creates art shows that were part of Homecoming from 2010 to 2012, and thought: It’s too bad her artform—quilting—couldn’t be part of the event. But at that time, there wasn’t a way to display quilts in Clowes Memorial Hall without risk of damage.

Now there is.

Hanging QuiltThanks to a gift from Colglazier and her husband, Bud, Clowes Hall Stage Tech John Lucas had the resources to devise a rigging system that will enable quilts, and other large visual art pieces, to be displayed against what previously had been blank walls.

The hanging system Lucas created, which is similar to the mechanism used to adjust Venetian blinds, can raise and lower artwork up to a height of 20 feet. There will be 10 systems placed throughout Clowes Hall, creating a potential 2,400 square feet of additional wall space for art.

“These innovative hanging systems enable us to display antique, as well as contemporary, art quilts out of reach, but still be fully viewed by visitors to Clowes,” Colglazier says.

Clowes Hall visitors will get their first look at the rigging system and how it functions March 19-June 7 at Imagine the Possibilities: An Exhibition of Quilts, a free, three-part exhibition that includes quilts and quilt-inspired fine art from Indiana based artists, showcasing many quilts from private collections.

The exhibition begins with Antique, Vintage and Traditional Quilts (March 19-April 12), followed by Transitional Quilts (April 16-May 10), and Contemporary Art Quilts and Fiber Art (May 14-June 7). Each exhibition will have a featured quilt that is representative of the genre being exhibited.

Quilt HangingMany of the quilts that will be displayed are more than 100 years old, and include styles such as Baltimore Album and crazy quilts--”all different genres of beautiful quilts,” Colglazier says.

The idea of a high rail hanging system grew out of the shared vision of Colglazier and Clowes Hall Community Relations Manager James Cramer, who were trying to determine how to hang quilts in Clowes in a way that made them inaccessible, but still viewable. Colglazier says Butler First Lady Bethanie Danko, who will have a quilt in the third exhibition, described the new hanging system as being “transformative for the visual arts at Clowes Hall.”

“This isn’t just a quilt exhibition,” Colglazier says. “This is the beginning of imagining the possibilities of the potential for the future of the visual arts and art education at Clowes.”

Cramer says Lucas’s invention “is expanding what we can do and how we can serve our visual arts community.” He says he generally agrees with Evans Woollen, the architect who designed Clowes Hall, who said that “the architecture was the art and the people were what brought the life to the building.”

“However," Cramer says, "what we are doing now is not so much covering walls but giving our patrons, young and old, an enhanced experience when they come to Clowes Hall.”

 

The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

 

Media Contact:
Marc Allan
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Arts & Culture

Quilt Show Enhances Visual Arts at Clowes

This is the beginning of the future of the visual arts and art education at Clowes.

Mar 11 2019 Read more
Arts & Culture

Famed Clarinetist Performs World Premieres of Butler Student Compositions

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 07 2019

Alex Shanafelt ’19 acknowledges being "a little nervous" when he and his classmates were asked to compose music for famed New York clarinetist Thomas Piercy.

"Dr. Schelle said this huge clarinet guy is going to play your pieces, and I thought, 'I don't have anything for clarinet right now,'" says Shanafelt, an Indianapolis native who's a music composition major. "But he kept pushing and pushing and I figured I might as well submit something because an opportunity like this doesn't come around very often."

Shanafelt's contemporary classical piece Overhearing will be one of four compositions by Butler University students that Piercy will perform—alongside the composers—on Tuesday, March 19, at 7:30 PM in the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

The idea to play students' pieces came together when Professor of Music and Composer in Residence Michael Schelle and his wife, pianist/composer Miho Sasaki, invited Piercy to perform at Butler. Schelle and Sasaki have written pieces that Piercy has performed as part of his Tokyo to New York concert series, which features new works composed for Western and Japanese classical instruments, and celebrates the connection between the two cities.

Schelle asked Piercy, "What if my kids wrote pieces for clarinet or clarinet and piano and you picked a few to do in the program?"

Piercy liked the idea. Schelle presented the opportunity to his students and four—Shanafelt and graduate students Matt Mason, Seth David, and Justin Hung—submitted compositions. Piercy decided he'd play all four pieces at the concert.

"That's what I hoped he'd say," Schelle says. "So four world premieres by four of our students. Then he'll take them back to New York, he'll play them in New York, he'll play them in Japan. So it gives my kids an opportunity to get outside of Butler. That's huge."

The Japan connection turned out to be serendipitous for graduate student Mason. He was reading a book called Japanese Death Poems, the last poetry of early Japanese haiku poets, when Schelle requested compositions. Mason wrote a piece called Reflections on Ichimu's Death Dream that will be played at the concert.

Piercy, he says, "seems like the kind of person who's really collaborative, and he's championing new music, which is great. As a composer of new music, we're battling not only other new composers, but we're also battling the classical masters. So to have someone come along who's really gung-ho for just the new music, it gives us the opportunity to get our work out there and show that we can do this, too."

Mason, a Lincoln, Illinois, native who did his undergraduate at Illinois Wesleyan, says he appreciates the opportunity "to write for Piercy, have him say it's good enough to play, and get to play it with him."

The March 19 concert also will feature Piercy performing a few pieces on a Japanese wind instrument called the hichiriki—including a new composition by Schelle called Jukai (named for the suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji), a new work by Sasaki written for bass clarinet and bayan accordion, and a John Cage composition that will feature Piercy with Schelle, Sasaki, and the four student composers.

"This is definitely a cool opportunity," Shanafelt agrees. "It's sort of like dipping your toe into the freelancing world, where you get a commission, you write a piece, it's performed, and you get more commissions from that. That'll be cool to have, because most of my performances are from student players and this will be the first time a professional musician will be performing a piece. So it's a really good experience."

Arts & Culture

Famed Clarinetist Performs World Premieres of Butler Student Compositions

Four Butler student composers will have their pieced played on campus, in New York City, and abroad.

Mar 07 2019 Read more
Academics

New Butler Research Shows Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Ability in Babies

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Mar 01 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—It is fairly typical for individuals with profound hearing loss to experience other cognitive issues. There could be issues with memory or paying attention, for example. But are those other problems related to a lack of experience with language, or is there something else at play?

That is the very question Butler University Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Tonya Bergeson-Dana wanted to answer. Does hearing loss have an effect on other systems of development?

According to new research Bergeson-Dana co-authored in the journal PLOS One, the answer is yes.

“When one thinks about hearing loss, they think about hearing impairment, hearing aids, or maybe American Sign Language (ASL). No one thinks about the cascading effects on other systems as the child is developing,” she says. “What we are really seeing here is that hearing loss certainly has an effect on other systems in development, and not only that, but it starts very, very early, when the individual is an infant.”

Individuals who have hearing loss have other cognitive issues separate from their hearing impairment, she says. The assumption, though, she says, has largely been that those issues are related to a lack of experience with language.

The bigger question at play is if hearing loss is connected to the larger cognitive system, and therefore has a cascading effect on cognitive development. This is important, Bergeson-Dana says, because that would mean hearing loss has a direct effect on cognitive functions.

“What we are really looking at is whether congenital hearing loss has an effect on other systems in development,” she says. “We wanted to know how early this might start, and how impactful hearing loss is on the rest of the whole system.”

Forty-three infants, half of them hearing impaired and half of them hearing, aged seven-to-23 months, were presented with the same image over and over again. Once they acted like they were bored of the image, a new image appeared.

The purpose was to see how quickly the babies tired of the photos. Previous studies show that babies who get bored quickly have increases in cognitive functions. So, this was used as a measure to see if deafness slows cognitive development.

The rate of habituation, or how quickly a baby got bored with an image, was different between hearing babies and deaf babies. Babies with typical hearing were faster to habituate than babies with hearing loss. It took hearing impaired babies an average of eight-and-a-half trials before they got bored, compared to seven trials for hearing babies.

These findings, Bergeson-Dana says, can have major implications on how hearing loss is treated.

“We definitely should be treating hearing impairments much earlier than we do because of these clear cascading effects,” she says. “But more than that, we also need to provide children with cognitive skill interventions, in addition to just treating their hearing impairment.

“Before, we have just focused on their hearing impairment, but this study shows we have to think about the baby as a whole child, not just as a child with a hearing loss. The ear is connected to the brain.”

 

Media Contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Academics

New Butler Research Shows Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Ability in Babies

Hearing loss is connected to the larger cognitive system, and has a cascading effect on cognitive development.

Mar 01 2019 Read more

Fait Muedini: Helping Half a World Away

by Sarah Bahr

For LGBTI individuals in Turkey, days revolve around these thoughts: How can I get food on the table? How can I walk down the street without being attacked? Where can I get medical treatment from a doctor who won’t discriminate against me?

It’d be easy for Americans to dismiss human-rights violations committed against citizens of a country 6,000 miles away. But Butler University Director of International Studies Fait Muedini, who published a book in December about LGBTI rights in Turkey, believes Americans must care about Turkish atrocities the same way they would if they’d occurred in the United States.

“If Americans were told we couldn’t live freely, we’d be furious,” he says. “We need to fight for the freedom of everyone.”

Muedini traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, in Summer 2015 to talk to LGBTI leaders and human rights activists first-hand about the issues he’d devote the next several years of his life to studying. It wasn’t enough to read about the taunts, slurs, and threats directed at LGBTI individuals half a world away. He wanted to know what he could do to help. Muedini’s passionate activism generated his critical work on the subject, and in December 2018, Cambridge University Press published LGBTI Rights in Turkey: Sexuality and the State in the Middle East. Muedini’s scholarship underscores the importance of research in generating new knowledge and shaping conversations that can have an important effect on people’s lives.

Born in America, with a Heart in the Middle East

Though Muedini grew up in Michigan, just outside Detroit, his parents are ethnic Albanians from southwest Macedonia, a southern European country with a history of ethnic tensions between Albanians and Macedonians over rights for the minority ethnic Albanians.

“My parents were progressive; many Muslim societies are not,” he says. “They stressed the importance of the American Dream and focused on the freedoms of being in the U.S.”

Just as in Turkey, homosexuality is not illegal in Macedonia. But, Muedini says, that doesn’t mean LGBTI individuals don’t face daily discrimination and other forms of retribution.

Even as a child, Muedini knew he wanted to make social justice his life’s work. Human-rights violations and social inequality tore at him.

“College only fortified that position,” he says.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, but was conflicted between a career in policy or academia. It was the Iraq War and conversations with a political science professor that made the now-37-year-old Muedini realize he wanted to be a professor himself.

“I started getting involved in protests [at Wayne State University],” he says. “I enjoyed having conversations about contemporary international issues in my classes, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to have these sorts of conversations with students and colleagues throughout my life?’”

After earning a master’s degree in International Affairs from the American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate in Political Science from the University at Buffalo in New York, he headed to Butler in 2014.

“Butler students are just absolutely fantastic,” he says. “They’re passionate about social justice, prepared, and want to keep learning.”

Lynn Alsatie, a senior International Studies and French major, who’s worked with Muedini on research about the politics of Ramadan, says Muedini’s discussion-based teaching format is key to his effectiveness as an educator.

“You know he isn’t going to judge you if you make a mistake,” she says. “He’s there only to teach you and encourage, not to put you down if you don’t know the answer.”

Katie Morford, a 2016 Butler graduate who worked with Muedini on his LGBTI Rights in Turkey book during her senior year, says Muedini was her favorite professor.

“He’s so nice, and so freaking smart,” she says.

Putting Pen to Paper

Before focusing on LGBTI rights in the Islamic community for the past few years, Muedini published a book in 2015 entitled Human Rights and Universal Child Primary Education.

“Millions of children don’t have access to basic elementary education, and I wanted to understand why,” he says.

His attraction to investigating the treatment of LGBTI individuals in Turkey was similar: If homosexuality isn’t illegal, why are LGBTI individuals treated so poorly?

He examined Turkey’s hate-crimes penalties, interrogated human-rights abuses against LGBTI individuals, and investigated the Islamist AKP party’s approach to LGBTI rights in the country. He focused on Turkey specifically, rather than Islamic countries more broadly, after noting a surprising statistic.

Less than 10 percent of the majority-Muslim country’s population found the idea of LGBTI equality permissible.

The other 90 percent believed homosexuality was a sin. Something didn’t square with Turkey’s otherwise liberal image among Middle East countries.

“Turkey is a very liberal society,” Muedini says. “But on the other hand, you have significant ignorance of the repression of LGBTI equality. You have a country that claims to be one thing, but isn’t providing rights for sexual minorities and making it more difficult to live faithfully and freely.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, as it is in many other countries (though same-sex marriage is). But the image of a progressive state is a sham, Muedini says.

“There’s no criminal penalty for identifying as LGBTI, but the constitution doesn’t specify LGBTI as a protected group,” Muedini says. “There’s no hate-crimes law [that specifically protects those targeted for their sexual orientation], and when an LGBTI individual is attacked in Turkey, they can be hurt severely or killed.”

There are also no laws in housing, health care, education, or employment that protect LGBTI individuals from discriminatory treatment.

Turkey currently ranks 47 among 49 European countries in the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association’s human-rights ranking for LGBTI individuals. The countries are ranked on a scale ranging from 0 to 100 percent, with 100 percent indicating full equality and respect for human rights, and 0 percent “gross violations of human rights and discrimination.” Turkey scored a dismal 8.6 percent.

Morford, the research assistant on the book project who often transcribed interviews for Muedini, says she’s inspired by the impact of Muedini’s work.

“It’s important that [his research] is on the international stage because of the perspective it gives,” she says. “LGBTQ individuals are still fighting for rights, so it’s important that there is research like Muedini’s out there so people can learn about it.”

Boots on the Ground

The statistics painted a depressing picture of life under an increasingly authoritarian regime. In 2015, Muedini traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for a week-and-a-half to meet with human-rights activists and draw his own conclusions.

Was he concerned for his safety?

No, he says, though his hope had been to make a return visit to conduct follow-up interviews with the LGBTI leaders and activists. But the political situation in Turkey grew more challenging, and the vitriol directed at academics and journalists more toxic. He elected to conduct follow-up interviews over Skype instead.

Despite only spending nine days in the country, Muedini was struck by the resilience of the activists. Facing threats from ISIS and government crackdowns on ‘Pride’ parades, the Turks refused to hide. After all, what was safety if they couldn’t be themselves?

“Nothing stopped them from risking their lives for human rights,” he says. “That stayed with me.”

Sufism and Tupac Shakur

After more than two years of writing and revising, Cambridge University Press published Muedini’s book LGBTI Rights in Turkey: Sexuality and the State in the Middle East in December 2018.

“It’s the first of its kind,” Muedini says. “There’s literally nothing else like it.”

But even with his third book under his belt, Muedini isn’t resting on his laurels. His next project?

“I’m thinking about the idea of freedom in art,” he says. “The notion of oneness and the beauty of the divine in Islam, and the commonalities with Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism.”

Now seems like a good time to mention one of his other research interests: mystic Sufi poetry. And a better time to mention one of his personal interests: hip hop.

Muedini pens Sufi poetry (he published his second book on Sufism and politics). He is also a big fan of artists like Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar.

“I try to find conscious rap whenever possible,” he says

But ask him what his favorite thing to do in his free time is, and after offering an immediate ‘spend time with my family’ response — he has two children, Edon, 8, and Dua, 4, whom he plays with “for hours” after work — his close second is:

Researching...for fun.

“I feel very privileged to go to work every morning,” he says. “I always tell my students I’m thankful for their conversation, and for the opportunity to learn from them.”

And they him.

Unleashed

Fait Muedini: Helping Half a World Away

Even as a child, Muedini knew he wanted to make social justice his life’s work.

Gateway to Success

 

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has a problem. With each passing year memberships— family, two-person household, and single—are declining. For an organization that relies on these fees to operate, reversing this nearly decade-long slide is critical.

So, when Gregg Hiland, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the YMCA, set out to address the issue, he was excited to have 27 helpers. Enter, the newest batch of Butler University MBA students.

This is MBA 505, the Gateway Experience—the first on-campus course in the program after they finish their online prerequisites—and it is a trial by fire. Meet new people, learn to work together, examine a problem, come up with recommendations, and deliver those recommendations directly to the leaders of the organization.

All in one day.

Over 800 students have gone through the class since 2006, helping more than 20 different businesses tackle a specific problem. The future MBAs are put through the wringer for a specific reason.

"Having only 24 hours helps students realize that time can't be the excuse for coming up with great solutions," says Marie Mackintosh '06, who is both the Chief Operating Officer of EmployIndy, which delivers workforce services and training to Marion County residents, and the professor who has taught the course for the past four years. "It simulates the pressures of the real world where you have to juggle many different priorities, and the trial by fire forces teams to gel quickly and leverage each other’s strengths. Or learn from their failures.”

They get a little preparation beforehand, in the form of a two-page background briefing on their issue and a session with Butler Business Librarian Teresa Williams to learn about conducting background research. Each team is assigned a facilitator who provides advice and feedback on what they did well and what they need to work on.

Then the rush begins.

The Butler University MBA promises that students get ample opportunities to apply classroom concepts to real-world situations—and that explains why 27 new participants in the program are spending their first day of class fanned out across Indianapolis.

For the next 24, breathless hours, they've been grouped in teams of five or six students—strangers to each other previously—and asked to help the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis reverse a nearly decade-long slide in family memberships.

*

The class starts at 5:30 PM on Thursday with a big dinner and introduction to the organization. Hiland, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, lays out the problem: Since 2014, the number of two-adult member households has dropped from 12,746 to 10,281. The number of one-adult households is down from 3,784 to 3,353.

This is a trend nationwide, not just in Indianapolis, he says.

"We want recommendations from you that will be actionable, something that will help us," Hiland tells the group.

For the next 45 minutes or so, the MBA students pepper him with questions: Are outside vendors allowed in? How are you marketing? Do you survey the people who quit? And so on.

"I'm enjoying the idea of getting to make a presentation to people who can really make a difference," says Taylor Cagle, a Financial Analyst with Roche Diagnostics. "It feels like you're putting in work and getting value out of that work. This isn't an academic exercise."

*

The teams are given more time that night and some the next morning to confer before they get into vans and head to one of five YMCAs in the city (there are 12 YMCAs in greater Indianapolis.)

They arrive at their locations around 10:00 AM, and then it's up to them how to use the next two hours. For Team Holcomb (each group is named for a Butler building), the six students spend that time touring the Arthur Jordan YMCA on the north side of Indianapolis. They interview staff and talk to members about their experience at the Y.

Team member Alyssa Rudner, a Client Success Manager for a software company, talks to a member-services representative and finds that one of their biggest challenges is that there isn’t a method in place to schedule exercise classes in advance.

"If I'm paying $80 a month, I want to know that if I show up to the Y, I'm going to be able to take the class that I want to take," says Rudner.

There's one recommendation for her team to share: explore a scheduling system that goes beyond physical passes.

Cagle, another member of Team Holcomb, finds it surprising that the Jordan Y sometimes turns away parents looking for preschool programs due to lack of space. He looks around the facility and sees plenty of places to add new preschool programs.

That becomes another recommendation for the team: expand preschool offerings.

"If you can do that here," he said. "You're really separating yourself from the Lifetime Fitnesses, the LA Fitnesses. I think it would be really beneficial."

Andy Starling agrees. He's the Senior Membership Director at the Y, and he thinks the perspective of these business-minded outsiders is going to help.

"I've worked at the Y for more than six years, and you get tunnel vision a little bit," he says. "We always try to be innovative, but they brought up some things I hadn't thought about.

*

The teams return to Butler around 1:00 PM. They adjourn to their respective "war rooms" and, over boxed lunches, get to work. They have about three hours to hash out their ideas and prepare both a sheet of brainstormed recommendations and a PowerPoint they'll use as part of a rigidly-timed 10-minute presentation.

They also need to prepare what they're going to say and how they're going to say it, and the deadline comes quickly.

"We were five individuals who didn't know each other 24 hours before presenting," Chancellor Collins, a Product Manager in Marketing at Roche Diagnostics and member of Team Lilly, says. "It's funny, because you quickly figure out roles and responsibilities, and strengths, and different ways to play off each other, and I think we did a great job of that in that 24-hour period."

At 4:30 PM, the teams assemble in Gallahue Hall 108, a lecture hall, where seven representatives of the Y—including retiring CEO Eric Ellsworth—are ready to listen. There's a notable buzz among the students.

"I love the energy in this room," says Mackintosh.

For the next 90 minutes, the teams take their turn presenting their findings and watching their counterparts.

If the students are nervous, they don't show it. The presentations go off remarkably well across the board. The Y comes away with a long list of useful ideas.

"I want to hire all of these people," says Ellsworth.

Hiland praises the group for their fantastic work and innovative ideas. He was impressed with how deeply the students dove into the issue in only 24 hours. In the future, he wants to put the students’ concepts into practice at local Ys.

“We're committed to implementing and trying some of these ideas—either in pilots at certain centers or potentially across the organization,” he says.

*

In the end, Team Lilly—Chancellor Collins, Danny Lawton, Davina Isaacs, James Pokryfky, and Swetha Vaddi—won Butler goodie bags and, more importantly, bragging rights. They made suggestions that included installing a kiosk, at a cost of $1,000, to allow members to give instant feedback, offering incentives for positive reviews on Google, and instituting a holistic approach to wellness.

"The judges appreciated Team Lilly’s focus on retention and their financial implications," Mackintosh says. "They thought they did the best job of telling the story of their problem-solving process and had good ideas of how to increase retention of family memberships in particular."

Collins says the team owed credit to its facilitator, Marcelle Gress, an Executive Coach at Butler. She advised them to make time to practice their presentation a couple of times. They listened, and rehearsed twice.

"If she had not held our feet to the fire to carve out 30 minutes before we had to turn in our presentation, I don't think it would have gone so smoothly," says Collins.

In the end, Team Lilly celebrated with high-fives, fist bumps, and some wine.

"This really was a good experience and exposure to what we'll be going through in the Butler MBA program in terms of looking at complex cases and having to think through ways to solve problems," Collins said. "I think that's what the Butler MBA is going to prepare us for the most—how to think differently about ways to solve real-world problems."

 

AcademicsCampusCommunity

Gateway to Success

This is MBA 505, the Gateway Experience—the first on-campus course in the program—and it is a trial by fire.

Confidence to Succeed: Leadership Coaches and the Butler MBA Program

By Jeff Stanich ’16

Just a few months in to the Butler MBA program, Natalie Johnson found herself in a pivotal professional moment. Newly assigned as a Product Data Manager at Delta Faucet, Johnson was asked to lead a team of colleagues for the first time in her career. Rather than panic or shy away from what could have been a daunting challenge, she found herself already prepared for the role, and she credits her leadership coach for giving her the skills and confidence to succeed.  

A critical element of Butler’s MBA program, leadership coaches like Brown are assigned to each student early on in their experience to help them navigate through the program and to provide invaluable guidance as they develop as managers and leaders. As experts in their own fields, coaches bring a rich combination of experience and wisdom in order to provide counsel for students who may find themselves in positions similar to what Johnson encountered.

“I had no manual on leading, no how-to-manage training, or prior experience to guide me in my new position,” Johnson says. “With a lack of experience, I also lacked confidence in my abilities as a leader. My coaching experience has alleviated the fears and given me the confidence to lead.”

According to Marietta Stalcup, Director of Graduate Programs for Butler’s Lacy School of Business, that’s exactly the kind of success story that Butler students enjoy time and time again.

“We aim to meet our students wherever they are in their career,” Stalcup says. “The key to our students’ leadership development lies in the distinction between a mentor and a leadership coach. A mentor typically has answers to all of your questions. A leadership coach has questions for all your answers.”

Butler MBA leadership coaches prep students for the inevitable moments in one’s career where there will not be anyone to turn to but themselves.

“I was never told what to do, but instead was asked questions. And I was encouraged to ask questions. More than anything, I realized that was how I (also) needed to lead,” Johnson says. “Not by commanding, but by influencing my team so that they feel confident in their own ability to head in the right direction.”

___

 

It all begins in the 510-course, which MBA students take early on in the program. A cohort of coaches, all experts in their fields and most certified through the six-month International Coaching Federation training program, enter the classroom and walk the students through what to expect. From there, each coach will take five or six students under their wing and begin to meet on a monthly or quarterly basis, with the frequency and depth of these meetings up to the student’s discretion. Once the 510-course concludes, some students choose to part ways or even switch coaches, but most continue the relationship with regular conversations over the phone or while getting coffee.

According to leadership coach Randy Brown, what separates Butler from other MBA programs that offer coaches is the confidentiality that is maintained between the students and the coach.

“We are asking these students to be quite introspective and often times vulnerable because that is the only way that we will be able to identify the true areas where a student needs the most attention,” Brown says. “By keeping the conversations between student and coach confidential, students won’t have to worry about any sort of blowback from their teachers or fellow students.”

Put simply, coaches are there to provide guidance, not grades.

Brown, like most of Butler’s leadership coaches, wanted to become a coach because he recognized the value of individual attention during his corporate career. “I knew the impact others had on my career when they helped me find the confidence in my own abilities,” says Brown.  “A little nudge in the right direction can truly make a huge difference.”

And as Director Stalcup has seen in her time at the University thus far, the students who realize the most growth and success from Butler’s MBA program are the ones who utilize their coaches the most.

“Students who really engage their coaches leave Butler more transformed than ones that don’t. That’s what we aim to do at Butler: transform our students into the best, most effective versions of themselves,” Stalcup says.

That’s exactly why career-minded individuals seek a graduate program like Butler’s in the first place. Not to be told what to do, but to learn how to follow one’s own instincts above all else.

 

Academics

Confidence to Succeed: Leadership Coaches and the Butler MBA Program

A critical element of the Butler MBA program, coaches counsel students and instill confidence.

Community

Cybersecurity, An $87 Billion Industry and Growing

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Feb 20 2019

Keny Ramirez and Linet Rivas visited Butler University on Tuesday, February 12, thinking they might be interested in some kind of computer career. They left feeling even more certain.

The 10th graders from Shortridge High School made the trip to campus to participate in The Alliance Cybersecurity Converge Tour, a three-hour exploration of potential jobs in computer security, along with lessons in how to protect themselves from scammers.

"I'm definitely thinking about it," says Ramirez.

The event was part of a partnership between Security Advisor Alliance (SAA), a nonprofit serving the cybersecurity industry, and Butler's Information Technology office. SAA approached Eric Schmidt, Butler's Chief Information Security Officer, who thought the session would be a good way to bring students to campus and give them information about potential careers.

Shortridge and Purdue Polytechnic High School brought about 40 students total to the Reilly Room, where they heard some startling statistics about the cybersecurity industry, played a game of Capture the Flag (on computers, of course), and heard from professionals about career options.

The students heard that cybersecurity is an $87 billion industry annually, and it's growing by 30 percent a year. Gaming, by comparison, is a $70 billion industry, growing by 5 percent a year. Not only that, but 1.5 million computer security jobs are currently open, as the industry tries to stop the $2 trillion in cybercrime that takes place each year.

The industry is looking for more women, and more people of diverse backgrounds. Diverse backgrounds, they were told, equals diversity of solutions for stopping hackers.

They also heard about scams like "vishing"—people who pretend to be from reputable companies and get their victims to reveal personal information like credit card and social security numbers—and were schooled in the benefits of "password hygiene"—creating a password that cannot be easily guessed.

Sidney Plaza, Executive Director of SAA, says her organization wants students to understand that hacking into computers is just one way thieves steal information. Sometimes, people unknowingly give away their information.

"It's the human element," Plaza says. "It's not just 1's and 0's; it's people making decisions."

Taft Davis, who teaches engineering and computer science at Shortridge, said the International Baccalaureate school is adding cybersecurity courses next year. He wanted his students to attend the session at Butler to give them an idea of what cybersecurity is and gauge their interest in a career.

"Like they said, it's a wide-open market out there, and it's just going to get bigger," Davis says. "Every company needs protection."

Community

Cybersecurity, An $87 Billion Industry and Growing

1.5 million computer security jobs are open, as the industry combats $2 trillion in cybercrime annually.  

Feb 20 2019 Read more
Academics

The MBA Class that Saved a Town

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Feb 19 2019

The story of how a Butler University Lacy School of Business instructor and his MBA students helped revive the small town of Atlanta, Indiana, begins in 2016, inside an 8,000-square-foot flour mill-turned-grocery store that had been vacant for 10 years.

Wall of model trainsThe instructor, Steve Nelson, needed a place to display his collection of 6,000 model trains. He bought the empty building on Atlanta’s Main Street, even though the floor had caved in and the furnace didn’t work, because he liked the location, and the price was right.

He fixed up the building and spread the word that his trains, which had been on display for several years in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, had moved about 35 miles north of Indianapolis. Soon, model railroad enthusiasts and families with kids started coming to Atlanta on Saturdays to see Mr. Muffin’s Trains, as the layout is called.

But once visitors had seen Nelson’s collection and watched his train wind its way around miniature cities, their visit to Atlanta was essentially over. Downtown was almost entirely vacant otherwise, with no place to eat or shop. Not only that, but Atlanta had gained nothing—admission to see the trains is free.

“We started talking,” Nelson says, “and we wondered: Is there a way to bring Atlanta back, to turn Atlanta into some kind of destination?”

***

Nelson and his wife, Liz, didn’t have an answer. But as a professor in Butler’s MBA program, he knew how to find one. He posed the question as a semester-long project for his Integrated Capstone Experience class—an assignment that would give his students valuable experience as they worked to figure out a real-world problem.

Jenn Truitt MBA '16 was one of the students who took on the challenge.

"I like the concept of taking a small town and trying to build a community around a business that would attract both families with children and train enthusiasts," she says. "That was my draw to the project."

On April 25, 2016, a group of students took a day trip to Atlanta to scout the location.

They found a small town in great decline—there was no one on the streets and nearly every storefront was empty—but they also recognized opportunity. Through subsequent research, the students found examples of at least four other small towns that reversed their declines by making themselves tourist destinations. One—Hamilton, Missouri—had turned itself into “the Disneyland of quilting.”

The students suggested using a train theme as a centerpiece for the town’s turnaround.

***

The Nelsons put the report into action. They bought a second building, where Liz opened the Choo Choo Café, and a third, where Steve’s son Jeff operates a workshop that buys, sells, and repairs trains.

Steve bought a light manufacturing business called Korber Models and moved it to Atlanta, upstairs from the train layout. Korber makes easy-to-build structures like power plants and grain silos that augment model railroad displays.

Atlanta Post OfficeBetween the train sales, Korber, and the seed company Beck’s Hybrids, which is also in Atlanta, they generated enough business to keep the post office open.

Meanwhile, others joined in Atlanta’s rebuilding. The Roads Hotel began offering ghost-hunting expeditions. The Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad took riders on train trips from Atlanta south. More than 10,000 people made the trip during fall 2018, and rides resume on Valentine’s Day 2019. The Monon Historical Society moved its historic Monon caboose to Atlanta.

In addition, the town received grants to build a public restroom, and another to renovate its park, including spaces for people to sit while waiting for the train, and build a fire pit.

The report the MBA students put together noted that turnarounds for small towns can take years, and that's true—downtown Atlanta is still mostly open only on weekends for visitors.

Still, the Nelsons’ businesses and the railroad have generated at least 30 full-time and part-time jobs.

“A lot of small towns think they need to bring businesses where the town is the customer, but that doesn't work,” Nelson says. “The town isn't big enough. In today's world, you can bring in ecommerce business to a small town. The real estate is very cost-effective. All three of these buildings we own cost us less than my rent in Carmel. Then there are people who will work for you there, and they're affordable, and you can organize synergy around it.”

***

The Nelsons plan to continue what the MBA students suggested. Steve has plans to add a speakeasy and an indoor train that kids can ride. He’s hoping Atlanta can attract another restaurant, too.

They’re not doing this to make a living. Steve, a former tech executive, has been teaching at Butler since the 1990s; Liz sells real estate.

Steve Nelson in Mr. Muffin's Trains“When we started doing this, success for us was knowing that we've entertained a family and when they go home, they're talking about what fun they had at Mr. Muffin’s,” he says. “I feel really, really good about it. It's meant a lot to people in Atlanta. The local people are very excited about it.”

Robyn Cook, the town’s former clerk-treasurer and a 26-year resident of Atlanta, confirms that. She says the Nelsons have been “a godsend” for the town.

“They were a perfect fit for what our community needed,” she says. “What's going on, whatever is needed, we call Liz and Steve and they just jump in, roll up their sleeves, and help in any way they can.”

Jenn Truitt, who was part of the MBA team that spurred the Nelsons’ plans, says she feels good about having a helping hand in Atlanta’s revitalization. She’s brought her 4-year-old daughter to Atlanta to see Mr. Muffin’s Trains, and she plans to go back again to see what else is happening in Atlanta.

“I felt like we did a really good job (on the MBA project), but I didn’t know how much it benefited them,” she says. “It’s awesome to see that it created this vision for him. He’s built upon it since then, but I feel like it helped validate their thinking. And it was a great experience for us, as students. I'm excited that our team had a small influence in the success that's coming, and will continue to come, to Atlanta.”

Academics

The MBA Class that Saved a Town

The students found at least four other small towns that reversed their declines by becoming tourist destinations.

Feb 19 2019 Read more

Shane Battier on Leadership and The Catalyst Effect

 

When most think about leadership, a CEO or All-Star athlete might come to mind. Think Bill Gates or LeBron James. However, according to recent research from two Lacy School of Business professors, we may have it all wrong.

Now, think retired NBA player, Shane Battier.

The book The Catalyst Effect highlights how the most successful organizations (or teams) are full of individuals who lead from wherever they are. In this interview exclusive to Butler University, Shane Battier shares his advice for leading from within with co-author and Butler MBA adjunct professor Jerry Toomer.

Ryan Tsai: An Unstoppable Problem Solver

by Sarah Bahr

The security alert scrolled across Butler senior Ryan Tsai’s computer screen on the first day of his summer internship as an actuary at Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance (IFBI):

“Error: User is not authorized to access database.”

The company’s system was disabled. Any time an IFBI employee tried to log in, they’d be met with an error message.

Oh, no, he panicked. They’re going to fire me.

Intern mishaps are typical on the first day. Some forget the creamer in the coffee; some jam the copier.

Tsai accidentally caused an all-day security shutdown.

“I was playing around in the security system, trying to figure out what data was stored in it,” the 22-year-old Actuarial Science major says. “I ran a command to return the names of everything in the system, and the system flagged it as risky. It was definitely my fault.” 

The puzzling part? Tsai’s supervisor had given him read-only access to the system, so he theoretically shouldn't have been able to mess anything up.

He outsmarted the security system.

Oops.

The company was able to fix his mistake—several hours later, at the end of the day.

It was a harmless error, Eric Skirvin, Tsai’s supervisor, says, but it clued IFBI staff in that Tsai knew more than the average intern.

“After that we knew that he was definitely savvy around a computer,” he says.

 

An Unstoppable Problem Solver

Long division was a Stonehenge-level enigma, the numbers swirling around in Tsai’s brain like a puzzle missing a crucial piece.

He came home from kindergarten in tears because he couldn’t intuit the second-grade math his two-years-older sister, Heather, was doing.

“I was crying because I couldn’t figure out long division,” he says. “I thought it was the hardest thing in the world.”

But he was hooked. Math became his addiction, life a series of problems to be solved.

When Tsai took Butler’s Introduction to Computer Science course his freshman year, he came across a challenge that both confused and consumed him: artificial intelligence (AI). He thought his final AI project needed to be perfect.

Just one problem: That isn’t currently possible.

He stayed up night after night trying to perfect his work. And his professor told him he came close.

“But I didn’t need to work that hard,” he says. “I got the assignment wrong—successful AI just means it’s able to work and make any move. But I interpreted that as perfect.”

 

Coding for Fun

Tsai settled on his major, Actuarial Science, because he found it challenging. No kidding: Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once called actuarial exams “just the hardest examinations in the world.”

Actuaries, who work in the insurance industry, perform statistical evaluations of the risks involved in hypothetical scenarios and then advise clients how to reduce financial losses.

Tsai wades through mountains of probabilities amid tight deadlines. But he thrives on pressure, which is more coffee than Kryptonite.

The same goes for coding—he took Butler’s “extremely difficult” Computer Science capstone course for fun, putting himself through long nights of frustration and failure.

He credits Butler professor Dr. Chris Wilson’s Actuarial Mathematics and Financial Derivatives courses and the Actuarial Science department for preparing him with the lingo, Excel and Access training, and programming experience he needed to blow the IFBI folks out of the water last summer.

But he’s made an equally strong impression on them. Actuarial Science professor Dr. Mary Krohn, who met Tsai as a junior, lauds both his work ethic—and his selflessness.

“He made an amazing computer program that would randomize the questions [from my Financial Mathematics for Actuarial Science class] and correlate the solutions,” she says. “Then he selflessly made these files available to students in the class.”

But Tsai isn’t just an IT whiz—Krohn says he also has the baking skills of Bobby Flay.

He whipped up homemade macaroons one holiday to share with the Actuarial Science department. After the department administrator raved about their tastiness, he made a second batch just for her—and now brings them in regularly, Krohn says.

But his cookie baking wasn’t going to give him the edge in the biggest coding competition of his life.

 

The Big Test

Tsai had always been a shy person, more inclined to absorb knowledge like a sponge than expel it like a T-shirt cannon.

So when he signed up for IFBI’s 24-hour Hackathon last summer—the only one of 25 interns to do so—he was decidedly out of his element.

“I was really worried I was going to be useless, because I didn’t know too much about Computer Science,” he says.

The goal of the Hackathon was for teams of five coders to devise an IT solution to a problem a business was having as quickly, efficiently, and ingeniously as possible.

Their first task? Tsai’s team was trying to program a smart outlet to determine the wattage used by a washing machine, but something was out of whack. The machine was drawing more power than it was supposed to, and was shaking and vibrating like the Gravitron. They had to find a way to shut it off.

Then a house burned down, and Tsai’s team had to determine what caused the fire.

‘Basically, something awful happens, and you have to figure out how to stop it—and maybe even prevent it,” Tsai says.

The challenges continued for 24 hours, stretching from Friday into Saturday, one problem after another.

“It was both the best and worst time of my life,” Tsai says. “I was miserable in the moment, but in hindsight, I realized how much I learned.”

At the end of the event, each team presented their ideas to a panel of judges, attempting to convince them that their “hacks” were the best solutions. Ingenuity, Tsai says, won the day—using drones to provide an aerial view of fires, for instance.

“But it’s also like gymnastics, so you earn more points if you solve a more difficult problem,” he says.

Tsai’s team didn’t win, but Skirvin, his supervisor, has no doubt Tsai held his own.

Tsai’s assessment is more humble.

“I’m just proud I wasn’t useless,” he says.

Far from it.

“He has very strong programming skills,” Skirvin says. “[During his internship], he took full control and gave us a very impressive set of outputs.”

Skrivin says Tsai was invaluable to the IFBI team. He reviewed the insurance coverage policies of companies, looking for potential issues, and overhauled IFBI’s Reinsurance Billing Process using Excel, Access, Java, and SQL.

Tsai couldn’t believe his luck: He’d scored his perfect internship on the first try.

“It wasn’t a set ‘Here’s what we want you to do; can you do it for us?’” Tsai says. “I had a lot of freedom to find problems and attack them using solutions I came up with on my own.”

 

“I’d Return in a Heartbeat”

While he says he’d be honored to be back at IFBI, it turns out Tsai may be strolling the Butler halls a little while longer.

“I’m thinking about coming back to Butler for my MBA [Master’s of Business Administration],” he says. “But I’m not sure my mom’s too happy about that—she wants me to have a job.”

But if IFBI comes calling, Tsai says he’d return in a heartbeat.

“The best compliment my boss gave me last summer was that he’d hire me if he had the space,” he says.

Unleashed

Ryan Tsai: An Unstoppable Problem Solver

The Computer Science major made a huge difference while only an intern at Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance. 

Discovering Myself while Discovering the World

by Jackson Borman ’20

I was weaving through cars on Calle de la Princesa in a taxi driven by a middle aged man to whom I was terrified to try to speak Spanish, especially over the noise of traffic and the shuffle of latin pop and AC/DC on the radio. Thirty minutes earlier, armed with only my suitcase and my limited knowledge of the Spanish language, I had arrived in Madrid - the city that I would call home for the next four months.

Jackson Borman abroadOnce inside the taxi, I was greeted by the driver with, what I would later learn to be the blunt, but typical Spanish command, “Dime chico.” (“Tell me, kid.”) I scrambled for the piece of paper in my pocket that had my host family’s address and gave it to him. For the next 20 minutes we sat in what would have been silence if it were not for the radio, him driving and me looking out the window so as to avoid eye contact. The lyrics of “Back in Black” pouring through the speakers were unexpected, but somehow comforting. We pulled up to my apartment and he helped me unload my bags onto the street. I handed him the 30 euros for the flat rate airport taxi fare, and he was on his way. I had successfully arrived without ever muttering a word of Spanish.

My journey to Spain actually started after attending a Butler Center for Global Education introductory meeting. I signed up to study abroad with an open mind. I knew that I wanted to go to Madrid. I saw it not only as one of the world’s leading cities, but also as a gateway to exploring the rest of Europe. I was excited to travel, to experience different cultures, languages and ways of living, and I hoped that I would come out of the semester as a more worldly version of myself.

While abroad I had the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to, the most diverse and unique cultures I have ever witnessed, as well as world renowned art, architecture, festivals, and legendary landforms. But, perhaps the aspect of studying abroad that I am most thankful for is the personal growth I experienced during my time in Europe.

Madrid

When I first arrived in Madrid I had no idea how to get from one place to another. Having always lived in suburban areas, I was reliant on cars to move around. Living in the city was a big change for me, and learning how to navigate the metro and exploring the city was an interesting and worthwhile challenge.

My campus in Madrid was made up of students from across the globe. In the classroom we learned about art, communication theory, history, and language in classes taught by professors from Madrid, London, Boston, and Valencia. Students from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, Montenegro, and a variety of other countries helped me learn concepts for myself, but with a global point of view that I would not have achieved here in the United States.

I lived with a host mom who only spoke Spanish. My roommate was from San Diego and only spoke English. At times it was challenging to communicate with my host mom, and it was even more difficult to translate between her and my roomate. Despite these difficulties, I survived, and because of these difficulties, my communication and Spanish skills increased tenfold.

Travel

While abroad I was able to check many cities off of my bucket list. I took weekend trips to Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, and multiple cities in different parts of Spain. Planning these travels forced me to be organized, to plan ahead, to take care of my schoolwork during the week, and to think logistically about timing and cost.

In countries outside of Spain it was often more challenging to communicate. I went to multiple places where I did not have any background knowledge of the national language. At some point my problem-solving skills kicked in, and luckily, I still was able to navigate and enjoy my experience.

On a trip to Portugal, some new friends from Madrid and I stepped into a taxi expecting to be able to speak to the driver in either English or Spanish, or some combination, but he spoke only Portuguese. Thanks to some quick thinking and the power of google maps, we were able to show him exactly where we wanted to be dropped off.

In an elevator in Paris, I accidentally bumped into the emergency call button with my backpack and tried to assure the dispatcher over the intercom that everything was alright by saying “accident” which is the same in French as it is in English. However, they stayed on the line, as I realized that accident can also be translated as “problem,” or “trouble.” After some back and forth in heavily accented English, we were on the same page and continued on our way.

Jackson in ParisIt was moments like these when I learned to think on my feet and roll with whatever unexpected events took place. Canceled flights and trains needed to be rescheduled so that I could be back in Madrid on time for class; sudden weather changes meant some trips needed to be rescheduled or altered.

When you hear stories of students studying abroad, you may think they sound fun, often times they are filled with blow-off classes, endless happiness, and a seemingly perfect life. In my experience, these were just stereotypes and exaggerations.

There were hard times, times when it was difficult to communicate, times when classes were challenging, times when I missed home. However, through those experiences, I was able to grow as an individual, become more confident in myself, and learn more in a semester than I ever have before. On that first day in Madrid, I was anxious, uncertain, and questioning my decision, but by the end of my study and travels, I had transformed. That anxious chico sitting quietly in the taxi was nowhere to be found.

AcademicsStudent Life

Discovering Myself while Discovering the World

Jackson Borman's semester in Spain taught him to be more self-suficient.

Study Abroad: International Lessons of a Lifetime

by Jackson Borman ’20

Upon graduation from Butler University, students are given a survey with questions like, “What was the best thing you did at Butler?” and “What do you regret not doing at Butler?” One of the most popular answers to both questions is the same—study abroad.

Around 40 percent of Butler students study abroad during their four years, but why is study abroad such a popular experience?

Calie Florek is the study abroad advisor in the Center for Global Education, and is used to explaining that question. Aside from learning languages and seeing new places, she sees study abroad as an invaluable opportunity for students’ personal growth and seeing new perspectives.

“Students are talking to people from other locations, or from their host country, and having conversations about hot topic issues, where maybe they hadn’t previously seen things from the perspective that one of their international friends does,” Florek says. “Being able to communicate with others, even internationally, is something that the world needs today.”

Alice Moore in PragueAdditionally, she says that many students return to Butler as more mature, worldly versions of themselves just by learning from their everyday experiences while abroad.

“If they are going on a weekend trip, and their flight gets delayed, they are learning flexibility and resilience just by going through that,” Florek says. “In something that they don’t think is teaching them skills, they are constantly learning things.”

While the majority of students choose study abroad locations in Europe or Australia, there are options for programs all over the world. Currently, Butler students are enrolled in programs in Iceland and Greenland studying climate change, on the island of Samoa studying Pacific Islander communities, and in Tanzania participating in service learning.

Senior Ari Gerstein is a Finance and Management Information Systems double major who studied abroad in Hong Kong last semester on an exchange program.

Gerstein says he picked Hong Kong because he wanted to experience a place where he may not be able to travel to after graduation. Gerstein says that his decision paid off, and that traveling around Asia to places like China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand was an amazing experience.

“I think I gained cultural awareness and a better understanding of Asian culture. It is so foreign to us, especially with the expansion of China today and how big a role they play in the world economy, it was interesting to be there and experience it first hand,” Gerstein says. “It was also amazing traveling and appreciating the beauty of the world; there are so many amazing places and it has really enhanced my admiration for traveling”

Gerstein was uncertain if he would be able to study abroad during the semester because he needed to take major-specific courses, and because he is on the tennis team and was unsure if he could remain on the team if he went abroad.

His exchange program allowed him to take finance and MIS classes, and he was even able to practice tennis with local players in Hong Kong and play in tournaments like the Hong Kong National Tournament.

“I would say you should 100 percent study abroad,” Gerstein says. “You have eight semesters in college, so to give up one of them to go do something incredible, I think everyone should go.”

And Butler has been working to make sure that it is a possibility. The Center for Global Education, as well as individual colleges, have been planning and networking to make sure that students will have opportunities to study abroad, no matter their area of study.

Students in the GALA program in Siena, Italy.Bill Templeton is a Professor and the Associate Dean of the Lacy School of Business. He says that when he was in school, study abroad opportunities were more limited to students studying the arts or studying language. During his time at Butler, Templeton has been responsible for the international efforts of the Lacy School of Business and has made connections with accredited business schools around the world so that business students will have opportunities to study abroad, something that he highly encourages.

“I think it is really important for business students, because nearly all business these days is global in nature,” Templeton says. “Students nearly always find that such an experience changes their perspective dramatically, and that they come to appreciate different cultures and different ways of looking at the world.”

Where previously it may have been difficult for students to stay on track with their major if they studied abroad later in their college career, now students can take high-level business classes at partner schools across the globe.

Thanks to open international doors, the Lacy School of Business alone sends over 60 students every year on study abroad programs. Templeton says he is excited for students who partake in study abroad, not only for the worthwhile addition to their college experience, but also for how it can help them after graduation.

“In the Lacy School, we have a rate of study abroad that is astronomical compared to national averages,” Templeton says. “When the interviewer has studied or worked abroad then the value of that in the student’s resume just skyrockets because they know what they got out of the experience and they know how important it is to their perspective of business and the world.”

Other schools within Butler also have programs for students eager to study abroad and learn within their discipline.

Jane Gervasio, Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Nutrition in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences,  leads a trip for a group of students studying nutrition to Florence, Italy, where they learn and observe first-hand the Mediterranean diet and the history, culture, and health benefits that are associated with it. Taking the classroom on-site to teach students is something that Gervasio always enjoys.

“We know that active learning is part of the experience,” Gervasio says. “[We have the] opportunity to introduce them to this world and to really focus on an area, because the experience is based on us studying it in a classroom, but now they have the opportunity to interact with it hands on.”

Siena Amodeo is a senior Development Management major who studied abroad during the summer after her first year through the Fulbright United States-United Kingdom exchange program at the University of London.

Amodeo says one of the most interesting parts of the program was the diversity that she experienced while in London.

“I was in a classroom with students from all around the world,” Amodeo says. “It wasn’t just English people, there were people from all over Europe as well as China and Latin America.”

Coming into college, Amodeo says that she knew she was interested in studying abroad, but that her summer program in London confirmed that interest. Now she has been accepted into the London School of Economics and will be moving back to London after graduation.

“I had that experience and it had such a big impact on me,” Amodeo says. “This is the best experience I have ever had.”

Amodeo is not alone in that excitement. Ask one of the 400 students each year who study abroad, and you’ll probably hear the exact same answer.


Read Jackson's personal account of studying abroad.

Academics

Study Abroad: International Lessons of a Lifetime

Around 40 percent of Butler students study abroad during their four years.

Academics

College of Education Named AACTE Global Award Recipient

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Feb 15 2019

Two Reggio Emelia-inspired Lab Schools in the Indianapolis Public Schools system, a Lab School created within Shortridge International Baccalaureate World School, partnerships with schools in Sweden and Australia, to name a few, and study abroad and faculty development opportunities outside the United States.

Those are just a few of the reasons that the Butler University College of Education was awarded the national 2019 Best Practice Award in Support of Global and International Perspectives. The award, presented by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), recognizes exemplary practice in the intercultural, global, cross-cultural, and international arenas.

“We believe that our students have to be globally informed,” says Kelli Esteves, College of Education Associate Professor and Global Coordinator. “Our students need to bring knowledge of diverse perspectives from around the world into their teaching. Intercultural knowledge and an expanded worldview enable them to meet the needs of their future students.”

The award will be presented to Esteves at the AACTE 71st annual conference February 22-24 in Louisville, Kentucky. It is sponsored by AACTE’s Committee on Global Diversity as part of its mission to assure that a global and international perspective is brought to policy and programs associated with the preparation of education professionals.

The College of Education was lauded for its programs in international student teaching, international partnerships, and teacher-preparation programs.

"We do a great job of preparing globally ready educators who go out into the world to educate students," Esteves said. "Our teachers understand the global dimensions of their discipline and are prepared to go into any classroom in any setting and succeed."

Academics

College of Education Named AACTE Global Award Recipient

The COE was lauded for international student teaching, international partnerships, and teacher-preparation.

Feb 15 2019 Read more

Find Your Passion

by Jackson Borman ’20

If you walk inside of Butler University’’s Learning Resource Center, you will likely run into Heather Lee, one of the academic advisors for students in the Exploratory Studies Program. Inside her office hangs a bulletin board covered in photographs of students: students she has helped pick an area of study through the program in the past year alone.

For some, deciding what to study in college can be one of the hardest decisions to make. Typically, Lee will meet with students to plan a schedule that includes classes that cover a wide range of the student’s interests before they even arrive on campus.

“What’s the number one question that people ask when you are coming into college? ‘What’s your major?’” Lee says. “Exploratory studies is a great place to fall if you have a couple of ideas or if you have 20 or 30.”

Lee teaches an exploratory studies class that is geared toward first-year students. The class isn’t like a typical seminar; students complete self assessments, shadow and observe classes, and do research on the types of careers that are available with each degree that they might be interested in.

Through the class, exploratory students can also job shadow and attend faculty panels where professors come and discuss every major and minor that Butler offers.

“This leaves them with a foundation where they get to learn about their strengths, what their interests are, and gives them an opportunity to see what [a certain major] is really like,” says Lee.

Lee feels that the program is extremely valuable to students because it can empower them and give them reassurance that they will find a major that they are interested in.

“Some students look around campus and feel that their peers have it all figured out,” Lee says. “You don’t have to have it all figured out. When [students] do come in as exploratory, I like for them to convey it to other people and say that they are an exploratory studies student; that it is a major, and that they are doing the research to make an informed decision on what their major is going to be.”

In recent years, exploratory studies has been one of the largest majors on Butler’s campus. Since the 2015-2016 school year, the program has grown by over 60 students. Currently, there are almost 200 students in the program.

Jen Mann is another academic advisor in the Learning Resource Center who also works as a student development specialist. She says that the exploratory studies major is essential because of the countless options that are available to Butler students.

“In high school, students are likely only exposed to around 10 areas of study,” Mann says. “Here at Butler, we have over 65 majors. There is no way that a first year student has any concept of what some of those areas are that they could potentially go into.”

Mann sees the exploratory studies program as a unique opportunity for Butler students.

“I think what this program has done is make [exploratory studies] a very real major,” Mann says. “It is a program that is intentional, planned,  and thoughtful, and is a space where you can come in and have some normalcy with the goal of students feeling confident in saying that they are an exploratory studies major.”

Corrin Godlevske is a junior marketing major who started her first year at Butler in the exploratory studies major. She said that coming into college, she was torn between studying business or going into the pre-PA program.

“I’m thankful that I fell into exploratory,” Godlevske says. “The amount of help that I’ve received, even after [declaring my major], with questions about prerequisites and classes and all of that, they are always so willing to help me out.”

During her first semester as an exploratory studies major, Godlevske felt a little nervous about choosing an area of study, but listening to professors talk about their majors during classes and taking a Real Business Experience class helped to guide her toward the marketing major. Now she is confident in her major and thankful for the program.

“I’m not behind and I don’t feel like I missed anything that any other first-year would have done,” Godlevske says. “If anything, it has added to my experience and now I have such a great support system in the [Learning Resource Center] because they are always there to reassure me.”

Godlevske thinks that the exploratory studies major is something that separates Butler from other schools because it can be comforting to a new student who is unsure about deciding a major.

“I don’t think that a lot of other universities offer the same experience,” Godlevske says. “You come in and get this reassurance that you are in the right place.”

Nina Bertino is a junior strategic communications major who started as an exploratory student. She said that originally she was thinking about studying psychology in college, but joined the exploratory studies program to hone in on her interests.

“I didn’t even know that [strategic communication] was an option,” Bertino says. “It has been such a great major for me and the exploratory class helped me narrow down what exactly I was interested in.”

Some may doubt that the exploratory studies major would work or that it is worth the time to go through. But for Bertino, it was well worth it.

“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘Oh, you are going to school and you don’t even know what your major is?’” Bertino says. “I am actually on track to graduate a semester early because I went into exploratory.”

Bertino said the biggest thing is to figure out what you are passionate about and to go from there.

“There are a lot of people who declare, but you shouldn’t let that scare you,” Bertino says. “A lot of people change their majors or go into a major that they don’t really like. Take the time and figure out what exactly you want to study.”

Academics

Find Your Passion

Discover your major through the Exploratory Studies Program.

Find Your Passion

by Jackson Borman ’20
Giving

$1 million Gift from Butler Alumni to Name Andre B. Lacy School of Business Investment Room

BY Jennifer Gunnels

PUBLISHED ON Feb 12 2019

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS -- Sean ’89 and Erin McGould ’93 have made a $1 million gift to Butler University to name the investment room of the new building for the Andre B. Lacy School of Business. The building will open in the fall 0f 2019.

The new McGould Investment Room will include state-of-the-art technology along with eight Bloomberg terminals. The space will serve as the home to the University’s Student-Managed Investment Fund, a real investment portfolio worth $3 million managed exclusively by students for the University.

“Regardless of your profession in life, you are going to have to save money and invest for the future.  Learning how to invest and allocate capital is important to everyone,” said Sean McGould. “We thought it would be great that students would have a dedicated space to explore investing.”

Sean, an Accounting major while at Butler, currently serves on the Lacy School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and is the CEO of Lighthouse Investment Partners, LLC in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.  As a student, he was a senior class officer and a member of the baseball team and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Erin is a graduate of the Jordan College of the Arts and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She is an avid volunteer for Butler University and the West Palm Beach community.

“Butler taught both of us how to think critically. In my opinion, the goal of an education is learning to think for yourself and being able to work through problems,” said Sean McGould.  “We will continue to contribute to Butler because we believe in the value of education and how Butler delivers the college experience in a unique format that prepares students for life after college.”

An influx of philanthropic support has aided Butler University’s dramatic growth in recent years. Pursuant to the Butler 2020 Strategic Plan, the University and donor partners have invested in new campus facilities, academic programs, and co-curricular offerings. In the past six years, Butler has built the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, the Sunset Avenue parking garage including a streetscape beautification project and renovated Hinkle Fieldhouse. In addition, the University partnered with American Campus Communities to build the Fairview House and Irvington House residential communities. The Andre B. Lacy School of Business will open the doors to its new 110,000-square-foot home in the fall of 2019, and fundraising is underway to complete a $93 million Science Complex expansion and renovation.


About Butler University
Butler University is a nationally recognized comprehensive university encompassing six colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Approximately 4,500 undergraduate and 541 graduate students are enrolled at Butler, representing 46 states and 39 countries. Ninety-five percent of Butler students will participate in some form of internship, student teaching, clinical rotation, research, or service learning by the time they graduate. Butler students have had significant success after graduation as demonstrated by the University’s 97% placement rate within six months of graduation. The University was recently listed as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, in addition to being included in The Princeton Review’s annual “best colleges” guidebook.

Giving

$1 million Gift from Butler Alumni to Name Andre B. Lacy School of Business Investment Room

The new McGould Investment Room will include state-of-the-art technology along with eight Bloomberg terminals.

Feb 12 2019 Read more

Dancing to the Beat of His Own Drum

In the eyes of Butler University Ballet Chair Larry Attaway, there likely won’t be another Jeremy Gruner in, well, forever.

“There’s never been another one like him before, at least in my time here,” says Attaway.

And that’s because Gruner, who is working on a Master of Music Composition, is also a sophomore-level non-degree student in Butler’s dance program. And Gruner is about to pull off a rare feat: He has written a 15-minute musical composition for this year’s Midwinter Dance Festival that he will also dance in.

The piece, titled Prophetstown, is about Tecumseh, the Native American Shawnee warrior and chief, and Tenskwatawa, his younger brother. Collaborating with Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Fernando Carrillo, who choreographed the piece, Gruner wrote a composition he describes as "rhythmically consistent and drum-heavy, with distinctive fast and slow sections."

To get the music right, Carrillo says, he talked to Gruner about the style of music he likes and sent samples of music that inspire him to dance or choreograph.

"We talked about tempo, dynamic, and the structure of the dance piece," Carrillo says. "Jeremy, being a dancer, understood what I wanted and has delivered a great piece of music that has made my choreography flow with ease."

Carillo says he's worked with composers who have a background in dance, which helps the choreographer during collaborations. But, Carillo says, it was a very rare experience to have a composer like Gruner who will actually dance in the performance.

Gruner, who is originally from Mahomet, Illinois, was more of a musician—he plays trumpet—than a dancer when he came to Butler. He danced briefly in high school musical theater, and as an undergraduate at Illinois Wesleyan University he collaborated with a faculty member to create music for a dance she choreographed.

But when he started looking at graduate schools, he wanted one that had strong music and dance programs, and also supported collaboration between departments.

"Butler was by far the most pro-collaboration," Gruner says. "That's why I came here."

He started at Butler by concentrating in both music composition and trumpet performance. He also enrolled in a 7:30 AM dance class with Liberty Harris, who is the rehearsal director of the Indianapolis company Dance Kaleidoscope and teaches dance for non-major Butler students. That was his first true ballet class.

On the first day, he was "completely clueless." The terminology and steps were new to him. But he wanted to keep going, and Harris encouraged him.

"I don't know if it's because it was so much of a struggle, but when I would accomplish something—when I would get even a little step further—I would feel such a sense of satisfaction that I never really got out of playing trumpet," Gruner says. "So I started to work more on dance and less on trumpet."

Gruner dropped the trumpet after his first semester and prepared to audition for the dance program. He's now doing the full technique course rotation of an undergraduate sophomore dance major while he finishes his master's with Professor of Music Composition Michael Schelle.

In place of the traditional graduate thesis recital expected of Music Composition students, Gruner will present an hour-long dance show comprised of music he has written in collaboration with Butler Ballet faculty, alumni, and current student choreographers. He will present that performance at Butler's Schrott Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 PM.

Gruner says studying music and dance simultaneously, along with teaching and holding two part-time jobs, is a lot of work. But he's up to the challenge.

"Dancing to music is completely different than writing it,” Gruner says, “so it's been interesting to separate myself from Composer Jeremy when I’m trying to be Dancer Jeremy. With just about everything, I either go full force at it or I don't even bother."


You can see Gruner piece in Program A of the Dance Department’s Midwinter Dance Festival, February 13-17 at the Schrott Center for the Arts.  Tickets for all shows are $15 for adults, $10 for 55-and-older, and $7 for children. For tickets and information, visit the Butler Art's Center site.

AthleticsGiving

Matt White Court Named Through Major Gift

BY Jennifer Gunnels

PUBLISHED ON Feb 12 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – Friends and fraternity brothers of 1989 Butler University graduate Matt White have made a major gift to Butler University toward the second phase of renovations to Hinkle Fieldhouse, set to begin in May 2019. With the gift, the donors have chosen to honor White, who passed away after a 19-year battle with ALS on Friday, Feb. 8, by naming the practice court in the Efroymson Family Gym in his memory. The practice court will hereafter be known as the Matt White Court.

White was a standout member of the track and cross country teams during his years at Butler and a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Throughout White’s life, and particularly throughout his battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he embodied The Butler Way, accepting the realities of a debilitating disease with grace while putting others above himself.

The donation to the Athletics Capital Improvement fund in White’s honor is a fitting tribute to a tenacious and loyal Bulldog who maintained a fierce devotion to Butler Athletics throughout his life, expressing in his final days a desire to watch one last Butler men’s basketball game. After White passed away Friday evening surrounded by friends and family, the Bulldogs posted a road win at Georgetown Saturday afternoon in his honor.

“Every Bulldog has a lot to learn about The Butler Way from Matt, his story and his toughness,” said Barry Collier, Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics. “Some have referred to Matt as Butler’s biggest fan. And while that might be true, Matt should also be known as one of Butler’s most inspiring Bulldogs for the way he lived his life.”

After earning his telecommunications degree from Butler in 1989, White went on to a successful career in advertising sales with Emmis Communications. White retired to Florida a few years after his ALS diagnosis in 2000, and despite being given a short and grim prognosis, White made the most of his remaining years with his wife Shartrina, his parents, and a large group of devoted friends.

Despite losing the ability to speak, eat and move, White found ways to continue enjoying many of the things he loved, including fishing in the Gulf waters off the west coast of Florida near his home with the help of his family and an innovative fishing pole he could control with his eye movements. He also remained devoted to following Butler Athletics. When Butler competed in the Final Four in Indianapolis in 2010, Coach Brad Stevens invited White to speak to the team before the semifinal matchup. White labored for days at his computer to type out a speech, which Shartrina read to the team.

“I try to live like you play,” he wrote. “You are my inspiration.”

White long outlived his original prognosis and inspired all who knew him, particularly his Butler family.

“I know I speak for a lot of former Bulldogs when I say we are thankful to have gotten a chance to know Matt,” said Stevens, Butler’s men’s basketball coach from 2007-13. “Despite all that he was battling, his spirits were always focused on helping others, and his words always were inspiring and encouraging.”

The Matt White Court will serve as a daily reminder of a beloved Bulldog’s grit, determination, and devotion to Butler Athletics. This legacy gift will continue to inspire future generations of Bulldogs in White’s memory and will support major enhancements to the Efroymson Family Gym. With new flooring, lighting, and air conditioning, the renovated gym will mirror the look of the main Hinkle Fieldhouse court. The renovations will also include installing air conditioning throughout Hinkle Fieldhouse and refurbishment of the Men’s Soccer locker room.

The Matt White Scholarship was previously established at Butler University in 2004 by White’s family and friends as a way to pay tribute to a great Bulldog. The scholarship supports Butler student-athletes with preference given to those who share Matt’s interest in the field of broadcast communications. On Saturday (Feb. 16), Butler’s men’s basketball team will host DePaul at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler is planning a “Matt White-out” and asks fans to wear white to celebrate his life.

“Matt White represented the very best of Butler University,” said Butler University President James Danko. “His courage, wisdom, and perseverance inspired us all. We are grateful that through this generous gift to name the Matt White Court, future generations of student-athletes can be inspired by Matt’s legacy as they train on the floor bearing his name.”

About Butler University
An influx of philanthropic support has aided Butler University’s dramatic growth in recent years. Pursuant to the Butler 2020 Strategic Plan, the University and donor partners have invested in new campus facilities, academic programs, and co-curricular offerings. In the past five years, Butler has built the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, the Sunset Avenue parking garage including a streetscape beautification project and renovated Hinkle Fieldhouse. In addition, the University partnered with American Campus Communities to build the Fairview House and Irvington House residential communities. The Andre B. Lacy School of Business will open the doors to its new 110,000 square foot home in the fall of 2019, and fundraising is underway to complete a $93 million Science Complex expansion and renovation.

Butler University is a nationally recognized comprehensive university encompassing six colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Approximately 4,500 undergraduate and 541 graduate students are enrolled at Butler, representing 46 states and 39 countries. Ninety-five percent of Butler students will participate in some form of internship, student teaching, clinical rotation, research, or service learning by the time they graduate. Butler students have had significant success after graduation as demonstrated by the University’s 97% placement rate within six months of graduation. The University was recently listed as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, in addition to being included in The Princeton Review’s annual “best colleges” guidebook

AthleticsGiving

Matt White Court Named Through Major Gift

The practice court in the Efoymson Family Gym will hereafter be known as the Matt White Court.

Feb 12 2019 Read more
Academics

Butler Professor Uses Past to Predict Sports Attendance

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Feb 05 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Everybody knows when the Golden State Warriors are in town.

There’s a buzz around the arena earlier than usual, as fans make sure to arrive at least 90 minutes before tipoff to catch a glimpse of Stephen Curry’s famous pregame ritual, complete with two-ball dribbling drills and circus-like shots from the tunnel. All of a sudden, a random Wednesday night in name-that-NBA-city is not so mundane. And game No. 24 on the drawn-out NBA schedule is not so meaningless. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize when the winners of three of the last four NBA titles comes to town, attendance will be up.

But, what about all those other random games packed into an 82 game NBA season? When Curry isn’t there to get the crowd excited? When the weather is bad? Or when the average person cannot name a single player on the opposing team? Turns out there is a way to predict attendance on those nights, too.

King’s findings were certainly accurate. Published in the Journal of Computer Science & Information Technology, King was able to predict attendance at every regular season game from the 2015-2017 NBA seasons, on average, within five percent. Enter Butler University Associate Professor of Operations Management Barry King. And enter his algorithm-based, machine learning approach to NBA attendance predictions.

“We were able to predict attendance by looking at home team popularity, Twitter followers, day of the week, home team winning percentage, home city’s total personal income, and other variables,” says King, who specializes in predictive analytics. “By taking those predictor variables, along with historical data, we were able to come up with an accurate forecast that can have many applications beyond just the NBA.”

King’s findings were certainly accurate. Published in the Journal of Computer Science & Information Technology, King was able to predict attendance at every regular season game from the 2015-2017 NBA seasons, on average, within five percent.

To get an accurate prediction, King explains, he trained a type of algorithm (Random Forest) to predict an outcome using historical data. This, he says, is machine learning. Machine learning leverages historical data to inform future forecasts.

So, King trained the machine. He plugged in attendance data from the 2009-2013 NBA seasons into the algorithm, along with predictor variables like home team popularity, popularity of the opponent, day of the week the game occurred, home team winning percentage, home city’s total personal income, and capacity of home venue.

“We are among the first to use machine learning to predict attendance,” he says. “That is unique because it takes historical data into consideration. We believe that training the machine on historical data enabled us to get a much more accurate prediction of future attendance. Taking history into account, and teaching the machine that history, enables the machine to come up with future forecasts.”

King has applied this method of predictive analysis to the NHL and MLS. And the accuracy remained. While he now has the ability to accurately predict the attendance for these professional sport leagues, he believes the application goes beyond the wide world of sports.

“This has carry over to the business world and how companies can run their enterprises better,” he says. “As a manager of a basketball team, I would certainly like to know how many people are likely to show up for a random February game so that I can plan to have more staff on hand, if needed, or start to think about amping up the promotions, if attendance looks low. This could also help teams determine ticket price levels.”

Machine learning, King says, is an important area when it comes to forecasting. In the future, he says, he would like to build his prediction tool into an app that industry people can use to easily access this information, and then make decisions based off the results, on their own.

King says the information can also be applied to coming up with scheduling at a hospital, crews on airlines, and those are just some examples.

“Real world solutions often start with having a good idea of what the future might look like,” he says. “We now have a way to make accurate future predictions, based on historical data. I see this being useful in many industries.”

Academics

Butler Professor Uses Past to Predict Sports Attendance

King was able to predict attendance at every regular season game from the 2015-2017 NBA seasons within five percent.

Feb 05 2019 Read more
Academics

Butler Researcher Shows Link Between Social Media and Happiness

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Feb 01 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—People flock to Facebook to see the latest wedding news, vacation photos, new baby arrival, or home purchase. Most people, research indicates, head to their newsfeeds to passively watch and compare, much more often than post their own news or updates.

But, it turns out, some of us prefer to look at and compare ourselves to certain types of individuals: those who make us feel better about ourselves. And that, in turn, can lead to an increase in happiness and life satisfaction.

That’s according to new research from Lee Farquhar, Butler University Associate Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism in the College of Communication. Humans continually observe those around them to see how they fit in, a process called social comparison theory. This innate concept holds true in the world of social media, according to Farquhar’s research. It not only holds true, but the more individuals engage in that type of behavior on Facebook—comparing themselves to others in various ways—the happier and more satisfied they were with their life.

“There is no secret that Facebook intensity has been associated with negative social consequences, such as anxiety, narcissism, and loneliness,” says Farquhar, whose own previous research has revealed those very things. “But this looked at something new. When individuals positively compared themselves to other Facebook users, they had higher levels of reported happiness. These findings nuance previous scholarship that largely indicated heavy Facebook use has a detrimental effect on one’s psychological well-being. It is not the amount of Facebook use that matters, but rather, how one feels they measure up in comparison with those around them.”

Farquhar’s research, published in the Journal of New Media & Culture, surveyed 406 college students and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Workers. The average age was 32, and 46 percent were male.

The participants went through a series of questions about their social media use, such as time spent on Facebook, how they would feel if the social media outlet was taken away from them, and how often they look at others on Facebook, for example. They also measured life satisfaction and happiness.

The average life satisfaction and happiness scores were about a five out of seven. And, the more frequently one engaged in Facebook activities, the happier one was, Farquhar says. This, he says, can most likely be explained by downward social comparisons.

When individuals positively compared themselves to other Facebook users, they had higher levels of reported happiness and life satisfaction. So, he says, it is likely that individuals were seeking out others who made them feel better about themselves.

“For example, if the user wanted to feel better about his or her career, they might compare to an individual who is unemployed, or had a less appealing job. That same type of comparison could be done for virtually every other aspect of one’s life, like intelligence, family life, the list goes on,” he says. “It is not simply the amount of social comparing one does that matters, but the type of comparison that predicts happiness and life satisfaction.”

This targeted, downward social comparison, was the predictor of happiness and overall life satisfaction, Farquhar says. Facebook is the ideal medium for this, he says, because it allows users to select particular people or elements to hone in on for comparison, while blocking out those elements, or people, that are unwanted.

What this study didn’t account for, Farquhar explains, is the long-term impact of this behavior.

“I wouldn’t encourage people to spend more time on Facebook looking for people to look down on,” he says. “Looking for peers to look down on to make oneself feel better is not the prescription here. We believe the more time spent on there, the less satisfied with life one will eventually be, as one is bound to run into unfavorable social comparisons.”

But, he says, the findings are important for adding a more nuanced understanding to the social media behemoth. For so long the conversation has focused on doom and gloom when it comes to Facebook. While that may still be true, it is important to understand the medium in a more detailed way.

Facebook lends itself to downward social comparison, and therefore, makes the user feel better. So, he explains, for some, social media can have a positive impact, even if it is fleeting. This study also helps us understand how users interact with the medium on a more intimate level.

“We assumed the results would fall in line with the body of literature that says social media interactions make you feel worse and were surprised to see any sort of uptick,” Farquhar says. “We assumed, you go online, look at others, and feel worse. We believe downward comparison is going on and this adds another dimension to the complex conversation about Facebook.”

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Academics

Butler Researcher Shows Link Between Social Media and Happiness

  Turns out social media can make you happy.

Feb 01 2019 Read more

Stephanie Fernhaber: A Butler Professor Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom

by Sarah Bahr

While visiting a friend 4,300 miles away in Morocco last fall, Butler University Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Stephanie Fernhaber came face-to-face with her first-world privilege.

She encountered a woman her age—43—who’d never attended a day of school in her life. The woman could neither read nor write.

“I’d read about the percent of women who are illiterate, but she wasn’t a number,” Fernhaber says. “She was an actual person.”

Fernhaber was inspired by the Moroccan mother’s determination to send her daughters to school, to break the cycle of illiteracy.

Back in Indianapolis, Fernhaber had a similar experience in 2017 when she discovered that the city she lives and works in was ranked last in the nation for food deserts, or areas where residents must travel a mile or more to reach a grocery store.

“I was shocked,” she says.

But, in both cases, she was also inspired. And she turned her shock into action.

All in the Family

Fernhaber grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin—Gresham, population 586 as of the 2010 census—as the daughter of community-minded parents.

“I was familiar with social justice before I ever learned the word,” she says.

She credits her father, who owned a construction company, for instilling her passion for community-conscious activism.

“I was always conscious of the balance between business, community, and social impact,” she says.

Fernhaber has now lived in Indiana for nine years—she moved after she took a teaching position at Butler in 2010—but her passion for social entrepreneurship, or using start-up companies to develop and implement solutions to community issues, transcends location.

A longtime dream came to fruition when she developed a social entrepreneurship course at Butler, which she inaugurated in spring 2014.

Nonprofits in Indianapolis were scrambling to address big-picture issues like food insecurity and refugee resettlement with limited resources.

She had a captive audience of 24 students for 16 weeks (and could have had even more, but she caps the class, which she says always fills, to ensure it remains meaningful for students).

What can we do to help?, she thought.

A Class of Dreams

Fernhaber calls the Social Entrepreneurship course her “dream class”—in more ways than one. Yes, it allows her to share her passion for utilizing entrepreneurship to create social justice solutions, but it also inspires students to exercise their creativity.

“I wanted them to have a chance to see what’s happening in the community and have the chance to dream, and this class allows me to do both,” she says.

This spring, her fifth semester teaching the course, her students will split into teams of three and partner with eight community organizations. Past partners have included the Indianapolis Canine Assistance Network, Exodus Refugee Immigration, and Indy Reads Books, but Fernhaber adds new ones each year.

Each team will assess their assigned organization’s business model based on the social enterprise concepts they’re learning in class, as well as provide recommendations for how the organization can better serve their target population.

They’ll also produce a short video that will highlight the impact the organization is having in the community. At the end of the semester, the videos will be shared on the Central Indiana Social Enterprise Alliance website.

Beyond the Classroom

Butler sophomore Jordan Stewart-Curet, 20, helped Boys & Girls Club Teen Council members develop youth empowerment initiatives as part of the communityINNOVATE project, an initiative Fernhaber developed in 2016 to inspire the community to co-create solutions for social issues.

“The best memories I have are from the group discussions that would take place with the teen groups,” Stewart-Curet says. “To see them transform from shy, reserved individuals to powerful, confident community leaders are experiences I will forever take with me.”

Stewart-Curet calls Fernhaber someone who “truly, truly cares” and “is full of passion and drive to better the community.”

“She is a phenomenal woman,” Stewart-Curet says. “She has a heart for not only the students she works with, but issues of justice and equality for the community around her.”

Case in point: Teaching a class on social entrepreneurship and empowering her students to better their community wasn’t enough.

Fernhaber does so in her free time as well.

She’s developed a myriad of social entrepreneurship initiatives in Indianapolis through her communityINNOVATE project, among them the 2018 Indy Youth Empowerment Challenge and the 2017 Indy Healthy Food Access Challenge.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could bring some of these processes from the class into the community?’” says Fernhaber.

Through communityINNOVATE, Fernhaber brings together a group of change-makers from Indianapolis businesses, nonprofits, and citizens to devise solutions to one social issue per year.

In spring 2017, she launched the Indy Healthy Food Access Challenge to facilitate discussions among businesses, church groups, and neighborhood residents to answer the question: “How might Indianapolis residents better access healthy and affordable food?”

She followed up the effort with the Indy Youth Empowerment Challenge in spring 2018, a four-month process designed to pinpoint the obstacles preventing youth empowerment in Indy — and implode them.

She worked with the Kheprw Institute, an Indianapolis nonprofit that works to empower young people through mentorship, to host workshops to teach young people about social capital—for instance, putting participants in groups and asking them to plan a trip to Florida in 10 minutes, including how they’d get there, where they’d stay, and what they’d eat.

The catch? They couldn’t use money.

Attendees instead had to think about how to leverage their existing relationships to make the trip happen, relying on social rather than financial capital.

As for 2019? She’s taking a hiatus from hosting a challenge to map out the initiative’s future, but with plenty of social problems left to solve—Indy’s increasing gap among the haves and have-nots, the race divide, and economic problems among them—she’s sure to be busy for the foreseeable future.

No Day But Today

Fernhaber’s Social Entrepreneurship students will soon dive into this spring’s projects with partner organizations ranging from Nine Lives Cat Café in Fountain Square to RecycleForce, a recycling company that employs formerly incarcerated individuals.

And some students, such as Stewart-Curet, might even come away from the class with changed career goals.

“I want to become a creative director for a nonprofit or minority-owned business that focuses on intercommunity efforts and youth empowerment,” she says. “This project definitely influenced that.”

Fernhaber is clever like that: Students think their work is impacting the Indianapolis community, but the greater impact may actually be on them.

AcademicsPeople

Stephanie Fernhaber: A Butler Professor Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom

Fernhaber brings together a group of change-makers to devise solutions to  social issues.  

PeopleCommunity

In National Survey, Butler Alumni Outshine Most Others

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 29 2019

For Jarod Wilson, work is much more than just a job. The 2008 Butler University graduate was a first-generation college student. He was able to attend Butler only after being named a 21st Century Scholar.

Now he works at the place that awards those scholarships.

Gallup Poll Results“It’s exciting to me to be able to work for an agency that helped me want to go to college and go to Butler, which was my dream school,” he says. “And the work that we do is so important and close to my heart, coming from a first-generation background. I have a close, personal connection to the work.”

Wilson is the Director of Post-Secondary Outreach and Career Transitions with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. He works with colleges to make sure they are providing support to students who receive financial aid. To him, his job and his mission is personal.

Through Wilson, it is easy to see why 78 percent of Butler grads say they are deeply interested in the work they do. That compares with 73 percent of college graduates nationwide, according to the Gallop-Purdue Index. The GPI is an annual survey of a representative sample of more than 70,000 U.S. college graduates who have obtained a bachelor’s degree. It measures overall well-being, workplace engagement, college experiences, and affinity and attachment to one’s alma mater.

Butler outperformed its peers by most GPI measures. For example, nearly nine in 10 Butler alumni are satisfied with the education they received, and 80 percent say Butler was the perfect place for them.

Mollie Thomas, a 2015 graduate, completely agrees.

Thomas majored in Arts Administration and minored in Art + Design. She now works as the Manager of Member and Donor Experience for Newfields, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s campus. For her, Butler provided the perfect combination of being challenged, yet also providing a place to figure out exactly what path to take after school.

“I was able to pursue my passion in an environment where people helped me grow,” she says. “It was ideal. I feel way more equipped to navigate our world and our culture because of the education I got.

It is not surprising, then, that 42 percent of grads said they had a job waiting for them when they graduated, according to the GPI. That compares with 31 percent of college graduates nationally. And 53 percent say that Butler’s Internship and Career Services office was helpful in their preparation to land that job. Nationally, 43 percent say that about their alma mater’s career services office.

Aaron Smith doesn’t know where he would be without Butler’s Career Services Office. The 2017 grad knew he was passionate about clothing design, but Butler didn’t teach that. He sought out Courtney Rousseau, a Career Services Advisor who teaches a course called Career Planning Strategies. Her course covers topics like resume writing, networking, and interviews. After talking to Smith, Rousseau connected him with a professional in the clothing design field who was able to share her experiences.

Now, Smith works as a personal stylist for Dia & Co., a plus-size women’s clothing subscription company. He selects outfits for customers and helps them style the clothing he picks.

“Courtney making that happen—that was just the best for me,” he says. “I’m now doing something that I love, which is working in the realm of fashion.”

Butler President James Danko says he is pleased that grads appreciate what they learned and the attention they received while on campus.

“I’m so happy to see that Butler graduates have found their education worthwhile, and that they’ve been able to have meaningful, fulfilling careers,” Danko says. “This is what we strive for every day.”

PeopleCommunity

In National Survey, Butler Alumni Outshine Most Others

Butler Grads excel in well-being, work place engagement, and college experience.

Jan 29 2019 Read more

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16

At Butler, fostering a student’s health and wellbeing goes way beyond the treadmill or a yoga mat.

Perhaps you’ve seen the BU | BeWell logo, which appears as a rainbow of principal pillars, across campus and online. Each of the eight components—Mind & Body, Career & Life Skills, Meaning & Purpose, Social, Environmental, Service & Community, Intellectual, and Diversity & Inclusion—are what the team behind BU | BeWell believe contribute to the complete and transformative experience that Butler University offers its students.

BU BeWell logoWhat happens outside of the classroom on a college campus is as critical as what happens inside to the future success of a student. Learning to navigate the challenges of adult life in a healthy way is fundamental to a fulfilled life after graduation. The tools and experiences critical to this essential process of “growing up” have always been available on Butler’s campus, but they have been scattered and, at times, perhaps disjointed. This year, with the launch of BU | BeWell, for the first time in the school’s history, all of the student resources available across campus have come together to make it more straightforward for students to make their time outside of the classroom as meaningful as it always has been inside of it.

“It’s a big deal,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Frank E. Ross. “Leading higher education associations NASPA and NIRSA have articulated the importance of wellbeing to student success, and a proactive, campus-wide approach to supporting the whole student. That is what we are doing at Butler with BU | BeWell.”

Ross is saying that not only as a fellow bulldog, but as a national leader in student affairs with more than two decades of experience. According to him, what Butler is doing outside of the classroom will be a leading example in higher education across the country.

Take it from Katie Pfaff, a senior who has been working closely with BU | BeWell’s collaborators. Since she’s only a few months away from graduation, she recognizes how much she could have benefitted had this framework been in place since her first year.

“While I got all the pieces I needed to have a well-rounded experience, I took a much curvier path to get there than what BU | BeWell will help Butler’s students pursue,” Pfaff says. “I know I’m only a short time away from a major transitional period after graduation. BUBeWell’s model is something I can look to while trying to make sure my life stays as balanced as it’s been on campus.”

That’s the key. BU | BeWell will not only help students make their time at Butler more fulfilling, but it will also guide those individuals toward healthy and meaningful lives beyond campus.

BU | BeWell has been a campus-wide, collective effort to organize. Two of its champions—Josh Downing, Director of Recreation & Wellness, and Beth Lohman, Associate Director of Fitness & Wellness—have spent the last few years applying national best practices in order to bring BU | BeWell to life. Now in its first year of rollout, their primary objective is raising awareness of its existence so that students know where many, if not all, of their questions will be answered.

Need help putting a résumé together? BU | BeWell will tell you where to go.

Need a tutor for that major exam coming up? BU | BeWell will help you find one on campus.

In need of a faith-based circle? Wondering when the next keynote speaker is coming? Want to get more involved in student government? BU | BeWell, BU | BeWell, BU | BeWell.

And this is only the beginning. While the framework is in place and the web portal has launched, in year two, software will be rolled out so that students can create a BU | BeWell profile to track their involvement and/or progress with the eight components of the BUBeWell umbrella. Even more, annual surveys will continue to be conducted to see how exactly BU | BeWell is meeting the needs of Butler’s students while also looking for ways to improve.

“That’s why we’re all so excited about this moving forward,” Downing says. “By enhancing what Butler already does so well, the potential for how exactly BU | BeWell will help our students is limitless.”

Student LifeCampus

Building Balanced Bulldogs

BU | BeWell is a campus-wide, collective effort to enhance the student experience outside the classroom.

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16

Joey Brunk: A Big Man with a Big Heart

By Sarah Bahr

JO-EY! JO-EY!

Twenty-one-year-old Butler men’s basketball center Joey Brunk has just checked into the game, and the cheers from the 9,100 fans packing Hinkle Fieldhouse are thunderous.

"He’s so likeable that people cheer like crazy just when he enters the game,” Butler Associate Athletic Director John Dedman says. “Luckily Nate [Fowler] understands that fans aren’t cheering that he is going to the bench.”

Brunk pushes a soft, loose wave of what Twitter users have called the “golden mane” and “the best hair in college basketball” away from his face, a grin peeking through his Matthew McConaughey-inspired beard and mustache, and steps to the line. Swishes the free throw.

Tonight, he can’t miss.

An hour later, he walks off the court, through the locker room …

… and heads back to his dorm, where he’ll strip off his size-17 sneakers, maybe read some poetry or a JFK biography (“He’s my favorite president”) before curling his 6-11 frame into a bed not made for a man who could nearly stand head to head with a small adult elephant.

In the morning, it’ll be time to teach poetry to second-graders.

 

In a Class of His Own

Brunk, an Elementary Education major and aspiring teacher, spent last semester student teaching in a second-grade class at the Butler University Laboratory School on Wednesdays.

His first full-class lesson was an introduction to emotion poetry.

“I was a little worried they might come in with negative attitudes, but they enjoyed it,” Brunk says. “I had them read a poem and then act out different emotions—I was the photographer, and everyone else was an actor.”

“It got lots of laughs.”

Brunk says there aren’t a lot of men in elementary education—last semester, he was one of only two guys in his elementary-education class.

“The kids thought it was cool that I was a guy teaching them,” he says. “I tried to be cool, whether it was talking ESPN, last night’s NBA games, or SportsCenter highlights.”

But as he rests his fist on his chin in a pose reminiscent of Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture, the mid-morning sunlight streaming into Hinkle Fieldhouse streaking his wavy hair, it isn’t hard to believe the hard-charging center whom Butler Director of Basketball Operations Brandon Crone calls a “gentle giant” is a poetry aficionado.

“He’s so patient,” Crone says. “He just has a presence. I have a 3-year-old son, and Joey’s always one of the first to give him high fives and hugs in the locker room.”

No one in Brunk’s immediate family is a teacher, but after volunteering in a fifth-grade class at Southport Elementary School a few days per week his senior year of high school, he was sold.

“I wanted the kids to be able to have a positive role model,” he says.

It’s a role Brunk also tries to play for his younger brother, Johnny, a sophomore guard at Roncalli High School, about 20 minutes south of Butler.

Being able to stay close to Johnny was one of the reasons Brunk, a four-star prospect out of Southport in 2016, chose Butler over offers from a bevy of Big Ten schools, including Indiana and Purdue.

“I went to Butler so I could see my brother play,” Brunk says. “I grew up in a family where everyone was at everyone else’s stuff.”

Which meant his Friday nights were never exactly, umm, wild.

“I was expected to be at every one of my brother’s Little League games and practices,” Brunk says. “And he attended all my practices and workouts.”

But supporting his younger brother has never been a chore for the Butler big man.

“He was there to support me, so I want to support him,” Brunk says.

Family first.

So it was never a question for Brunk to forego the remainder of his first-year season to spend time with his dad after Joe Brunk was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2016.

 

His Biggest Fan

Brunk has been to the Indianapolis Zoo no fewer than 500 times.

He would go with his family once or twice a week from age 2 on, always wanting to look at the same things—the lions, tigers, and his current favorite animal, the red panda. And the animal-lover also says his parents enabled a fearsome Zoobooks addiction.

“They paid for a monthly subscription, and it went on so long that I’d have three copies of the exact same issue,” he says.

He honors his dad by visiting a local zoo with Butler play-by-play radio announcer Mark Minner whenever the team travels for a tournament. It’s a way for Brunk to keep his hero with him.

Brunk and his dad, a two-time NAIA All-American at Hanover College, bonded over basketball from the beginning. They attended games at Hinkle Fieldhouse together, and Joe Brunk was his son’s first AAU coach.

“He was my biggest critic—and my biggest fan,” Joey Brunk says.

His dad would pick him up from middle school every day and drive him to the gym for workouts, a dedication that paid off when Brunk was a Top 100 recruit and one of the three finalists for the statewide IndyStar Mr. Basketball award as a high school senior.

“There were lots of mornings when—God bless both my parents—they’d get up at 5:30 AM to drive me to the high school for a workout,” Joey Brunk says. “My dad would rebound for me, and my mom would pack me breakfast, lunch, and something for the way home from school so I could eat again before going to the gym.”

Joe Brunk was there to watch Joey’s Southport team beat Ben Davis 60-57 for the sectional championship during Brunk’s senior year—and Joey hoped he’d one day get to watch Butler win an NCAA Championship.

Then, in November 2016, his dad was hospitalized while visiting friends in Las Vegas.

“It was completely unexpected,” Joey Brunk says. “I flew to Nevada right away.”

The diagnosis? A brain tumor.

Brunk stayed at his dad’s side in Southport for the next six months, foregoing the remainder of his first-year season to spend the last moments of his dad’s life with his hero.

“We laughed; we cried; we told stories,” Joey Brunk says. “There was never any dead airspace.”

Joe Brunk died April 15, 2017, at age 56.

But, true to his dad’s mantra of living with passion, Brunk made a vow: He wouldn’t be depressed.

He’d be the Energizer Bunny.

 

Butler’s Energizer Bunny

Drop in on a Hinkle Fieldhouse practice, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a happier guy than Brunk. He wears his dad’s No. 50 jersey, another reminder of the man who helped him achieve his dream of playing Division I basketball.

Brunk doubled down on his dedication to the sport this summer, using the offseason to transform his body with as many as four workouts each day, ranging from hot yoga to shooting with his brother at Roncalli. He dropped 10 pounds, from 240 to 230, and increased his maximum bench press from 230 to 260 pounds.

And it’s paid off: He’s averaging 8.6 points per game this season, compared to last year’s 1.3. His average rebounds per game are up to 4.4 from 1.8. And his average minutes per game have quadrupled, from five to 20.

The NCAA granted Brunk an additional season, awarding him a hardship waiver for his first year, as he only played in seven games before stepping away to be with his dad. That means he’s a redshirt sophomore this season, with two years of eligibility remaining.

Crone says that, despite his dad’s death, nothing about Brunk’s personality has changed.

“He’s the same Joey I’ve known for five years,” he says. “He’s the Energizer Bunny in the locker room.”

“Dad and I always talked about living your life in a way that you’re excited to wake up,” Joey Brunk says. “There are lots of people who would die to be in this position.”

Joey Brunk
UnleashedStudent Life

Joey Brunk: A Big Man with a Big Heart

The Butler Men's Basketball center is dedicated to achieving his dream and helping others do the same. 

Maria De Leon: A Lifelong Activist

By Sarah Bahr

Twelve-year-old Maria De Leon was on the phone with a doctor 40 years her senior.

She was translating a pain-pill prescription from English for her Spanish-speaking parents—but struggling with unfamiliar words like ‘hydrocodone’ and ‘acetaminophen.’

The language is rife with false cognates; each an opportunity for disaster.

‘Intoxicado’ doesn’t mean intoxicated, but ingested. ‘Embarazada’ means not embarrassed, but pregnant.

“That was something my parents didn’t understand,” she says. “Even though I do know English, I don’t know all the words.”

She would translate insurance claims, doctor’s appointments, sometimes even conversations with lawyers.

It was challenging, she says—her parents, who moved to the United States from Guatemala before she was born and have the equivalent of elementary-school educations, don’t speak enough English “to survive,” in her words.

Which meant that in high school, she was on her own to navigate the FAFSA, scholarships, SAT, and college application process.

But she didn’t end up a dropout.

She graduated salutatorian.

And won a full-tuition scholarship to any college in Indiana.

 

“Will Getting Arrested Keep me From Attending Butler?”

Except she almost didn’t.

Butler admission counselor Whitney Ramsay’s phone buzzed one morning last winter.

Will getting arrested keep me from attending Butler?

De Leon, then a senior in high school, was planning to participate in a sit-in protest in Washington, D.C. in January to lobby senators to approve a “clean” Dream Act, or one that creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without adding additional stipulations.

Would being arrested for civil disobedience, she wanted to know, affect her eligibility to attend Butler—and her Lilly scholarship?

Ramsay talked to her supervisor: De Leon’s admission decision wouldn’t automatically be rescinded, but any disciplinary infraction would be reviewed by a committee. (Butler later issued a statement reading: “Applicants to Butler University who respectfully engage in meaningful and authentic discourse regarding important issues within our society will not be penalized in the admission process”).

“I told her to be safe, be smart, and listen to her gut,” Ramsay says.

De Leon ultimately decided to stop short of being arrested—though some of her fellow protesters were.

“I felt like me going and protesting was enough at that moment,” she says.

De Leon’s passion for civic engagement started at Crispus Attucks High School on the northwest side of Indianapolis. She was a community ambassador for the Central Indiana Community Foundation, researching Indianapolis’ Hispanic and Latino communities to discover their biggest challenges. She interviewed student DACA recipients, as well as police officers who worked in the Hispanic community.

She also volunteered with the Domestic Violence Youth Network and became a leader of Crispus Attucks’ NO MORE Club, which raises awareness of teen dating violence and sexual assault.

But De Leon wanted to do more than just join a club. Why, she wondered, did Indianapolis Public Schools not have a teen dating violence prevention and response policy?

According to a 2017 Indiana Youth Institute Report, one in eight high school students said they had been “forced to do sexual things they did not want to do by someone they were dating or going out with.” That’s higher than the one in 10 national average.

De Leon worked with Lindsay Stawick, the Youth Program Manager at the Domestic Violence Network, and three other students to draft a policy. It took eight months.

When the policy was enacted at IPS schools this fall, it was the first teen dating violence prevention and response policy in Indianapolis, Stawick says. It holds school staff accountable for preventing abusive behavior and punishes students who participate in it. It also mandates training for teachers and places a teen dating abuse advocate in every IPS school. 

That policy was possibly De Leon’s most significant achievement at Crispus Attucks, but she didn’t wait until her senior year to get involved with organizations she was passionate about.

She began volunteering at TeenWorks, an Indianapolis college-and-career readiness and youth employment nonprofit serving at-risk Marion County teens, her freshman year of high school.

TeenWorks President and CEO Tammie Barney says De Leon can reach the students in a way the adult volunteers can’t.

“It’s rare to see that level of boldness and leadership in such a young person,” Barney says. “She seizes the day to get the most out of every opportunity.”

Her go-getter attitude is one the reasons De Leon says Butler has been a perfect fit.

“I’ve learned that Indy is a city where if an opportunity isn’t there, you can create it,” she says.

 

A DIY Education

Just because her parents didn’t speak English doesn’t mean they weren’t her fiercest academic cheerleaders, De Leon says.

They accompanied her to the many college preparation programs she’d enrolled in as a show of support—even though they couldn’t understand what her instructors were saying.

When De Leon graduated from Crispus Attucks last spring—the first in her family to graduate high school—her parents, two younger brothers, and younger sister were all there to see her walk across the stage.

She gave the second half of her salutatorian speech in Spanish to honor her parents. She was proud to be a role model for her siblings, and the ear-to-ear smiles on her mom’s and dad’s faces said it all.

Her mom’s mantra growing up—and one that De Leon included in her personal statement for Butler—was that her daughter’s U.S. citizenship wouldn’t matter if she didn’t pursue an education.

So De Leon networked like her life depended on it in high school, printing professional business cards and job-shadowing mentors. She knocked out a semester’s worth of college credits from dual-credit courses before ever arriving on the Butler campus.

But sweetest of all?

A full-tuition, four-year Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, which 143 Indiana students from the state’s 92 counties receive each year. Scholars must be leaders, civically engaged, and academic all-stars—all boxes De Leon checked.

But she didn’t think she had a chance at the scholarship after she found out the valedictorian had also applied.

“We thought only one of us was going to get it,” De Leon says. “But then we both got it, which is crazy!”

 

Look Out, Joe Hogsett

When former first lady Michelle Obama spoke in Indianapolis last February, De Leon was in the audience. The quote that stuck with her?

“If there’s not a chair at the table, bring your own.”

That’s what De Leon is trying to do at Butler; The Political Science and Critical Communication & Media Studies double major recently established a Latino chapter of Butler’s Leading Women of Tomorrow initiative, a group focused on empowering women to seek public service careers. She applied to be vice president or secretary.

She was asked to serve as president.

And De Leon continues to volunteer with the organizations that triggered her passion for activism four years ago.

She’s a mentor with the Domestic Violence Youth Network, where she volunteers twice per month and during breaks, and she plans to continue to help with TeenWorks events this summer, from conducting mock interviews to providing resume advice.

De Leon’s goal is to work in politics after she graduates in 2022. She’d love to be the president of a youth-focused nonprofit organization like TeenWorks, but she’s also considering a run for mayor of Indianapolis.

Look out, Joe Hogsett.

Maria De Leon
UnleashedStudent Life

Maria De Leon: A Lifelong Activist

As a daughter, student, and mentor, first-year Maria De Leon works hard for herself and others. 

Making a Career of Building Diversity

by Marc D. Allan MFA '18

In her first three years at Butler University, Valerie Davidson created the Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series, GospelFest, and the annual Volunteer-Study Tour Service-Learning Experience, which lets students do volunteer work and tour a major U.S. city.

She accomplished all of this while only working  part-time at Butler.

After she became full time in 1989, Davidson helped more than triple the number of African-American students on campus and helped the Black Student Union become a significant presence among student groups.

She had a hand in developing both the Dr. John Morton-Finney Scholarship Program—named for the alumnus who earned 13 academic degrees, served as a Buffalo Soldier in the Spanish-American War, and was a practicing attorney at the time of his death at age 108—and the Multicultural Resource Center, the forerunner to the Efroymson Diversity Center, which opened in 2006 and is home to seven diversity student organizations.

She assisted in creation of the Voices of Deliverance Gospel Choir, expanded the diversity lecture series to partner with the Office of the Mayor of Indianapolis (as well as the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and several prominent companies), and created or shepherded a long list of programs that made Butler a more welcoming environment for multicultural students.

But now, Davidson, Butler’s Director of Diversity Programs and Director of the Efroymson Diversity Center, is retiring. After 32 years at Butler, her last day is January 2.

"I didn't plan to be here 32 years," she said. "I just looked up and I'd been here 20 years, and then a few more years went by and in October of 2018 it was 32 years. Having been at the forefront of building diversity on campus, I can see how much we've progressed as an institution. And I'm proud of that. I can also see areas in which we continue to need to improve. Now it's time for somebody else to take things to the next level."

*

Davidson grew up a few miles from Butler, the daughter of a distinguished musician/music educator father (Larry Liggett, who recorded for the Chess Records label, and led the Indianapolis Public Schools Music Department) and a mother, Earline, who was his business manager and a licensed booking agent. Jazz greats Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Clark Terry were among the visitors to their home when she was a young girl.

She finished her undergraduate degree at IUPUI, where she studied to be a high school social studies teacher, and did her master's in student affairs administration at IU-Bloomington.

After graduation, she accepted a paid internship that turned into a full-time job with the Indiana House Democratic Caucus. She'd been there eight months when a classified ad in the Sunday Indianapolis Star caught her eye: Butler University was looking for a part-time coordinator of minority student affairs. The University wanted someone to provide support services for the minority student population and serve as advisor for the fledgling Black Student Union. All in 15-20 hours a week.

Davidson got the job—and kept her full-time gig with the legislature. She'd drive from the Statehouse downtown to Butler Monday through Friday at lunchtime and also work at night.

One of the first things she did was reach out to the minority student population, predominantly African-American students, and ask for a meeting.

"I needed to get to know them and figure out what they wanted and needed to see happen," she said. "I wanted to know what their experience had been and what I could do to support them, to create an environment in which they felt at home, in which they felt they could be successful, in which they felt valued and embraced, and see what they wanted to see happen."

One thing almost all of them wanted was a cultural center. That would take until 2006, when Lori Efroymson-Aguilera and the Efroymson Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation gave Butler $1 million to create the Efroymson Diversity Center.

In the meantime, Davidson kept building up the diversity lecture series—bringing ex-Presidents (Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush), secretaries of state (Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright) and other dignitaries to campus—and GospelFest, which grew from the Johnson Room (capacity 100) to Clowes Memorial Hall (2,100). The Volunteer-Study Tour Service-Learning Experience, which started as a one-day trip to Chicago with a small group, developed into an annual long-weekend-before-Thanksgiving trip to New Orleans.

Forty-six students took part this year.

*

What she'll miss most are the students.

"Students are like her second family," said Bobbie Gibson, who worked with Davidson from 2001–2018. "She came to work every day with a glad heart, and she always found the strength to come through for them."

Whether celebrating their achievements—like getting to sing backup for Stevie Wonder at Banker's Life Fieldhouse—or getting them through a rough patch, "Ms. Valerie," as she is known, is there.

"I've always tried to be as supportive as possible of students and their individual needs," she said, beginning to tell the story of a student who attempted suicide. After several days in the hospital, the girl was released and temporarily dismissed from the University. As the girl packed up her belongings to make the drive home, Davidson packed up her son, Jason, then in middle school, and they followed the girl back to the Chicago area to make sure she got home safely. (The story ends happily: The girl came back to Butler, graduated, and is healthy and successful.)

Davidson said her greatest achievement was helping change the culture for diverse students on campus.

"Most of the students on campus were pretty isolated and invisible when I got here," she said. "It was a polarized campus. There wasn't a lot of engagement between the various subpopulations on campus."

She helped the Black Student Union develop a strategic plan. Its numbers started to grow, and the organization developed a presence on campus. In 1992, the BSU won the Lamp of Wisdom Award for Most Outstanding Student Organization on campus for the first of eight consecutive years.

"I can remember watching the vice president of BSU walk up onstage and accept the award," Davidson said. "I had tears in my eyes. To see them go from this struggling, little, isolated organization to emerge as a leading organization on campus was one of the proudest moment that I had."

Khayleia Foy '19, President of the Black Student Union, said that even though Davidson has not officially been the organization's advisor since 2015, she "was a great support system for BSU whenever we needed her."

In addition, Foy said, Davidson's work in planning and running the pre-welcome week program Dawg Days has been invaluable because "without this program and the relationships that I have built over the years because of it, I may not still be a student at Butler."

*

When Davidson started at Butler full time in 1989, she planned to stay for five years. She'd hoped to accomplish a few things and then go back to government. But by that point, her son, Jason, was ready to go into high school, and he'd grown up around Butler, so she decided to stay.

Then he graduated from Park Tudor in 1997 and was admitted to Butler. She figured she'd stay around till after he graduated, then enter the job market. (Jason Davidson graduated in 2001 and is an instructor in the Lacy School of Business.)

Then Bobby Fong was named President in 2001, and "he came to Butler with a strong commitment to diversity." That fall, she was integral in getting Butler and the Mayor's Office to partner on presenting the diversity lecture series. Coretta Scott King was the first speaker in that partnership.

Then Butler made diversity a funding priority in its capital campaign and the diversity center, "a 20-year dream," became a reality. It also became vital to students—not only for meeting space but because of who ran it.

"The Diversity Center has been like a home for me for the past three and a half years," Foy said, "and it will not be the same without Ms. Valerie there. I will miss the support, advice, sacrifice, and genuine care that Ms. Valerie has shown for anyone (not just students) that has come through the Diversity Center over the years."

PeopleCampus

Making a Career of Building Diversity

"Having been at the forefront of building diversity on campus, I can see how much we've progressed."

Making a Career of Building Diversity

by Marc D. Allan MFA '18

Hinkle Magic in Unexpected Places

by Sally Perkins

As we celebrate 90 years of Hinkle, we asked professional storyteller and adjunct professor Sally Perkins to share a few stories from its illustrious history. Sally is the creator and performer of “Keeping Hinkle Hinkle,” a story commissioned by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and Indiana Landmarks in honor of Butler receiving the Cook Cup Award for its historically accurate restoration of Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2014.

* * *

What six-year-old wouldn’t want to see Hinkle’s center court from a bird’s eye view??

After all, from one of the 10 trusses that hold up the building, you could see so many “Hinkle Magic” moments: Bobby Plump’s famous last shot in the 1954 Milan High School championship game; the 1955/1956 Attucks High School back-to-back championship games; Butler’s buzzer beater win over Gonzaga in 2013; Butler’s upset win over Villanova in 2017.

And so many not-so-famous “Hinkle Magic” moments: when the women’s team had to fight for their fair share of court time in 1976; when a Butler cheerleader’s boyfriend proposed to her on the Bulldog on center court; when average fans and hundreds of their children got to play on the court, no questions asked, after basketball games.

So many “Hinkle Magic” moments have occurred on that legendary court. But “Hinkle Magic” moments have also occurred in other less expected spaces of the fieldhouse as well…

Up High

Tony HinkleCountless people can tell you they’ve run around that track on the second level of the fieldhouse. But not everyone can say that from that track they successfully distracted Tony Hinkle from his work.

Back in the 1920s, through the 1970s, when Tony Hinkle was the basketball coach … and the football coach … and the baseball coach … and the Athletic Director … and a teacher … he was un-distractible. After all, it takes a person of focus to manage all those roles.

But one day he got distracted.

In the 1930s, Tony Hinkle typically came to the fieldhouse on Sunday afternoons to review film from the previous day’s game. Often he brought his daughter Patty with him. She thought the fieldhouse was her private playground.

One particular Sunday when Patty was about 6-years-old, she roller skated up and down the ramps, got bored with that, then decided she wanted to see what center court looked like …  from a bird’s eye view.

So Patty went up to the track on the second level and started crawling up one of the trusses, getting herself half way to center court. That’s way up there.

Now every so often, Mr. Hinkle thought he should probably check up on his daughter Patty. So he started looking around the fieldhouse. When he couldn’t find Patty, he stepped into the arena.

Maybe he heard a sound; maybe he just moved his head the right way, but he looked up and there he saw his 6-year-old daughter, like a sloth crawling out to center court. Gulp.

Lucky for Patty, her father wasn’t, well, Bobby Knight. Mr. Hinkle knew that yelling at Patty would likely scare her to her death. So he called the fire department who raced over to the fieldhouse with a net.

But Patty thought to herself, “Eh, if I can get myself out here, I can get myself back.” So she started crawling backwards along the truss, sliding down its arc until she landed on her feet, on the track … right across from her father. Patty stared at her father’s feet.

They stood in silence for a long time.

Until finally Mr. Hinkle said, “You got guts, don’t ya, kid?”  

He never said another word. And he never told her mother. A secret “Hinkle Magic” moment Patty and her father shared for the rest of their lives.

But that wasn’t the only time something on that track distracted Tony Hinkle.

On Track

In 1946, Charlie McElfresh—a man who was tiny enough to be a horse jockey—came to the fieldhouse when Mr. Hinkle hired him to be his equipment manager. Frankly, it was a low-paying job, but Charlie knew it meant his kids could come to Butler tuition-free. So he took the job and spent the next 33 years of his life down in the bowels of the fieldhouse in the equipment cage, which isn’t so unlike a jail cell: crowded, dark, cramped … odorous.

But Charlie rather preferred life down there. He always had a 6-inch cigarette holder hanging out of his mouth as he washed and dried every football, basketball, and baseball uniform, game after game after game.

Now if you met Charlie, you might wonder if he liked the athletes. Or any humans, for that matter.

His rather crass nature was especially obvious one day in the 1970s when the men’s basketball team went to Omaha for a game against Creighton. On this rare occasion, Charlie got to travel with the team.

The coaches and Charlie stayed up a little too late on Friday night in Charlie’s room playing poker. The next morning, all the team members and coaches were gathered for breakfast in the hotel lobby as the players all stuffed themselves with scrambled eggs and bacon before the game. But Charlie was nowhere to be seen.

One of the players asked, “Where’s Charlie?”

Knowing how small Charlie McElfresh was, one of the tallest players on the team, John Dunn, joked, “Heh. Heh. Maybe he couldn’t figure out how to jump out of his bed this morning!”

They all laughed and hollered until John Dunn happened to turn around, and there he stood face-to-face (well, chest-to-face) with Charlie, who barked, “Wash your own damn clothes, Dunn.”

And John Dunn did have to wash his own clothes for the next three weeks until Charlie was ready to forgive him. Charlie was nobody’s servant down there in the equipment cage.

But Charlie McElfresh was looking out for those boys. Whenever he thought Mr. Hinkle’s practices had gone on too long or that Mr. Hinkle was being too tough on the boys, Charlie would put on a giant cowboy hat he had in his equipment cage. Then he’d hop onto an old banana seat bicycle that was hanging around in the fieldhouse. He’d ride that bicycle up the ramp to the second floor where he’d ride around and around the track, wearing that huge cowboy hat until everyone would look at him and laugh. Finally, Mr. Hinkle would say, “Alright, alright Charlie. I get it. I get it.” And practice would end.

So once again, the un-distractible Tony Hinkle was distracted by a “Hinkle Magic” moment on that track on the second floor.

Down Low

Charlie McElfreshThere are a lot of Charlie McElfresh “Hinkle Magic” moments. Most occurred away from public view, deep down in the equipment cage, in the depths of Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Back in 1976, when the United States was celebrating its bicentennial, Barry Collier was a student athlete at Butler, mourning the loss of his final basketball game his senior year. It was an away game. So when the team got back to Butler the bus pulled into the fieldhouse parking lot, and the boys were told to go turn in their uniforms.

The team members all trudged down, down, down to the equipment cage. Barry lingered behind the rest of the team. Finally, with his chin sagging to his chest, he tossed his uniform into the bin and took some melancholy steps out of the equipment cage.

Suddenly he heard a raspy voice behind him say, “Check the ice machine before ya leave.”

Barry spun around. “What? What, Charlie?”

CHECK THE ICE MACHINE BEFORE YA LEAVE,” Charlie growled.

“Uh, alright. Alright. Sure, Charlie.”

So Barry walked over and opened the refrigerator door. In the ice box sat a single item: a brown paper bag with a six-pack of Stroh’s beer.

Barry spun around to say, “thank-“ but Charlie was gone. He smiled, took out the six-pack, and went to find a fellow senior teammate to share it with.

A “Hinkle Magic” moment from Charlie McElfresh.

Four years after Barry Collier graduated, on a September Sunday in 1980, Charlie McElfresh was washing and drying football uniforms when he had a heart attack and died in that equipment cage. That cigarette holder hanging out of his mouth.

He wouldn’t have wanted to have been anyplace else.

Why? Because Hinkle Fieldhouse is filled with “Hinkle Magic.” If you look hard enough and listen to enough stories, you’ll find that magic not just on the court, but in the nooks and crannies, the bowels and cages, the tracks and bleachers … and mostly in the hearts of the people who dedicate their souls to one another in that special space we call Hinkle Fieldhouse.

PeopleCampus

Hinkle Magic in Unexpected Places

If these walls could talk…oh, the stories they would tell.

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

Jeff Stanich ’16

For five years, the #ButlerBound program has delivered good news to prospective students around the country. With a personal touch, and a lot of drool, Blue III (a.k.a. Trip), Butler’s live mascot, surprises future (human) Bulldogs with their acceptance letters or scholarship announcements.

More often than not, such a big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work behind the scenes with Butler to organize the surprise. We caught up with a few parents whose children had their acceptance letters paw-delivered by Trip to gain more insight on that moment and how their relationship with the university continued from there.

For Angela Buchman, she knows that getting the news directly from Trip could be one of the main factors in her son’s decision. Luke, now a high school senior, is still in the thick of his college-choosing process.

“If you saw Luke’s face, you saw how special that moment was, and how he’s continued to think about it,” she says. “In the last few years, he has really buckled down and worked hard at school, and Butler seemed to recognize that. It really vaulted Butler up his list.”

That’s right - Luke’s future as a bulldog is still up in the air. Some schools have his attention for the programs they offer, others because it’s where his friends will probably go. But no other school has pulled out the kind of stops that Butler has, which is exactly why the university does it.

As higher education becomes increasingly more competitive and the college decision becomes more pressure filled, Butler has a Trip up their sleeve.

Michael Kaltenmark, Butler's Director of Community and Government Relations and resident bulldog handler, makes anywhere from 40 to 100 admission visits with Trip each year. These visits demand lots of coordination and early mornings, but the payoff is worth it. Students who receive a personal visit from Kaltenmark and his loveable pooch are significantly more likely to attend Butler, and that’s what it’s all about.

And to be on the receiving end of such a visit is all the more memorable. Especially for Keelen Barlow.

“It was amazing - really, it was everything he could have hoped for,” says Keelen’s mother, Nicolette. “Given his backstory, and what Butler has always meant to him, it couldn’t have played out any more perfectly.”

Because even though no one in the Barlow family had ever attended Butler before Keelen started this fall, the university always held a special place in their lives.

After Keelen was born, Nicolette’s parents subscribed to season tickets for Butler basketball games and started to take him to every home game when he was only two. It’s how Keelen initially fell in love with Butler - and when his grandfather passed away, Nicolette believes going to the games became a way of keeping those memories alive.

“But even though he always wanted to be a student there, it wasn’t a sure thing given the costs,” she recalls. “That’s why Trip showing up at our door was so amazing. They didn't just come with an acceptance letter, it was also the first time we learned that Keelen had gotten the scholarship he needed to go.”

For Keelen, meeting Trip in a room full of his loved ones, including his grandma and fellow bulldog super-fan, all of his life seemed to be leading up to that moment. For Nicolette, it became one of many examples of how Butler often goes the extra mile to ensure its students feel a true sense of belonging on campus.

“It’s such a tight-knit community in so many regards, and I love knowing he’s not sitting in a lecture hall surrounded by 200 other students being taught by a T.A.,” she says. “Especially as a freshman, because all the changes are easy to get lost in. But when he came home for the first time he was a changed man. Definitely for the better.”

Angela is aware of those same obstacles that her son will face next year on campus as a freshman, wherever that might be.

“With everyone that Luke talks to at Butler, he can really tell how much they care about him as an individual already,” she says, “and I think that’s important to him. It’d be important to anyone. Butler’s people really are eager to help every student find their place there.”

So eager, in fact, that the Butler Bound visits become one of the hardest secrets to keep in town. For Angela, she couldn’t help but let it slip to the receptionist during one of Luke’s orthodontist visits.

With Keelen’s family, they all knew how significant this moment would be for him. And the more and more people were invited by his mother to witness it, Keelen started to know something was up. But even though he is a journalism major now and learning to chase leads, his instincts were a little off when guessing what everyone was so excited about.

“He thought I was pregnant!” Nicolette says. “Once I started telling him to be home on a certain day and time he got really suspicious, but he still didn’t expect the bulldog to be there on the front door. He was so shocked that I had to remind him to let them in.”

Because there, in his living room surrounded by family, dreams were coming true between two bulldogs. Nicolette used to fear that her son would get teased for wearing a Butler t-shirt every day growing up. But all those worries went away knowing her son would soon be right at home.

“Once he got his letter and that scholarship there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to let Butler happen for him,” Nicolette says. “He still pretended to look at other places just because they were on the table before. But his heart was already at Butler, where it still is now.”

AcademicsStudent Life

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

A big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work with Butler to organize the surprise.