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Coronavirus Information for the Butler Community

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PUBLISHED ON Mar 20 2020

The University’s incident response team is meeting regularly to assess conditions and develop response plans for a variety of possible scenarios. New or increasing outbreaks of COVID-19 are being reported on a daily basis and strict travel restrictions have been put in place for those countries with the most severe outbreaks (including China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea). Fortunately, most individuals who have contracted the virus have recovered without requiring significant medical treatment. We are reminded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no reason to panic—the key is to be prepared.

Butler Communications on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Coronavirus
Campus

Coronavirus Information for the Butler Community

Butler remains in communication with local and state health departments and has been taking guidance from the CDC

Mar 20 2020 Read more
COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 30 2020

Butler University has donated remote use of some of its powerful technology to a global effort to combat COVID-19.

A supercomputer and Butler Esports computers are now part of Folding@home, a project focused on disease research that utilizes help from computer owners around the world. Based out of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the work has shifted from researching numerous infectious diseases to investigating the structure of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Using molecular protein folding computer simulations, the Folding@home project aims to discover drug pathways that can cause a dysfunction in the folding of one or more proteins in the COVID-19 virus, therefore killing it. Extra computer power from around the world is needed for faster, more precise simulations. 

“It takes huge amounts of computing power to try them,” Butler Computer Science Professor Jonathon Sorenson says. “The more they try, the better the chances of finding one that works.”

Protein folding is the process that determines a protein’s structure, and therefore its functionality. The shapes protein subunits form fit together like LEGOs to create new cells. Sometimes, when you are trying to build something specific, only one particular shape of LEGO will work. If the body’s proteins aren’t folding into the necessary shapes, this can have detrimental health effects. For example, in the case of sickle-cell anemia, the protein inside red blood cells—hemoglobin—is not capable of transporting oxygen due to a single amino acid change in the hemoglobin protein structure. Now, Folding@home is seeking similar weaknesses within the coronavirus’ proteins—looking for structures that could be altered to inhibit the virus’s ability to infect the body.

Computer owners who want to help with the project can download software that allows Folding@home to use the computers to run simulations. The simulations are usually timed for when the user sleeps, but with universities relying on distance learning during the pandemic, on-campus machines are left on and idle all day. More than 700 universities worldwide have lent their computer power to help run simulations around the clock.

Sorenson learned of the ongoing research project’s new focus on the coronavirus from an Association for Computing Machinery article and alerted IT of the potential of joining the project. A day later, IT Senior Systems Analyst and Computer Science Adjunct Professor Nate Partenheimer got the University’s newest supercomputer online to run Folding@home simulations.

“By lending our computing power to this huge project,” Sorenson says, “it’s a small way of helping that overall effort.”

Supercomputer specs

While Butler’s first supercomputer, The Big Dawg, is being utilized for current Butler research projects, a new system was to be used for artificial intelligence courses and other research. Those projects have been postponed, which opened up use for Folding@home. 

Thanks to Partenheimer, Folding@home is now benefiting from:

  • Four NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics processing units, each of which is capable of about 13 Tera-FLOPS. FLOPS, or floating point operations per second, is a unit of computer performance measurement in scientific computations. Just one of these graphics processing units can execute 13 trillion operations per second.
  • One NVIDIA GP100, which is capable of more than 10 Tera-FLOPS.

Now online, Butler has helped boost the project to 1.5 quintillion operations per second worldwide.

Esports scores an assist

Butler Esports donated its own NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics processing unit and an Intel i7 central processing unit to the Folding@home cause. Machines meant for powering spirited games of League of Legends and Rocket League are now dedicated to saving lives.

Student Activities Coordinator Doug Benedict had known about Folding@home since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but after a meeting with Butler IT, he decided to download the software and link the Esports machines to the cause. Benedict says the Butler Esports and Gaming Center’s mission is to be a source for community engagement, outreach, and philanthropy between esports events.

“We want to show the benefits of having this kind of space and this kind of technology to society as a whole,” he adds. “Technology has changed our lives time and time again, and clearly it’s going to continue to do that.”

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

A supercomputer and Butler Esports machines are linked to a COVID-19 research initiative focusing on proteins in the virus

Mar 30 2020 Read more
taskforce
Student-Centered

Student Voice Shapes Sexual Misconduct Prevention at Butler

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Mar 27 2020

On a college campus, students are the ones who know better than anyone else what’s going on in their world. Whether that means having heard the buzz about the latest hit TV show or holding a deep understanding of the everyday challenges young people face, students can often relate to other students better than most staff and faculty ever will.

So, when it comes to preventing sexual misconduct, it’s essential to listen to what those students have to say.

At Butler University, campus leaders are inviting students to join conversations about this issue at monthly meetings of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Taskforce. The group has been around for years, including a few student members who were directly invited based on previous involvement in prevention programming. But when leaders opened student membership up to a general application process last spring, the group gained a brand new life and momentum. The taskforce received 62 applications from students across the University, accepting about 10 student members plus representatives from key organizations such as the Student Government Association (SGA) and PAVE (Promoting Awareness | Victim Empowerment). Now, applications are open for the 2020–2021 academic year.

“The meetings this semester have had so many students present,” says Jules Arthur-Grable, Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Specialist. “I think that really indicates how important these issues are to them, how much they care, and how much they want to make a difference.”

Co-chaired by Arthur-Grable and Title IX Coordinator Maria Kanger, the taskforce works to unite prevention efforts already happening across the University, as well as to develop and promote new education programs that meet the needs of Butler students. Welcoming more student members who represent a broader range of the campus community has helped Arthur-Grable and Kanger learn more about what those needs are, which kinds of events might resonate best with students, and how to effectively spread the word about those events and other programming.

“Our students really care about this, even if they aren’t directly involved in student organizations or other groups that are focused on this all the time,” Kanger says. “They really do want to make a difference, and they feel like they can.”

This academic year, that student voice has led to the creation of a lot more programming based on pop culture and the things students see every day across all kinds of media. During welcome week, peer-facilitated workshops under the name “Sexy, Can I?” covered the basics of consent. In October, the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention (SARP) Office recognized National Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a discussion about the role social media can play in promoting unhealthy relationship behaviors. Another program analyzed the Netflix show You to talk about how students can recognize stalking, and a “bad date dinner” right before Valentine’s Day invited guests to think through specific situations and how they would respond.

“I’ve seen students on the taskforce take ownership of these programs and really get excited about them,” Kanger says. “They feel connected to this. The work of prevention is the work of the entire campus community.”

One recent TV-inspired event used episodes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, pointing out examples of the contestants’ unhealthy behaviors—things like gaslighting, manipulation, isolation, or sabotage.

“We talked about the role this popular show has in how people perceive relationships in real life, and how it normalizes unhealthy behavior,” Arthur-Grable explains. “Afterward, some of the attendees asked for a list of healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors to take with them, so they could use it to continue the conversation while watching the show with their friends.”

As a student member of the taskforce, junior Ben Traverso feels like his input has been truly valued during program planning over the last few semesters. He says student involvement on the taskforce helps other students feel more comfortable asking for the help they need.

“We are there to say, ‘this is how students feel, this is why, and here’s what we can do to try to change that,’” says the Political Science and History major. “We are there to help build a bridge between the SARP Office, the Title IX Coordinator, and the student body.”

Junior Health Science major Lauren Lippert agrees, saying the taskforce is meant to be a central place for the Butler community to gather together, share ideas, and stay informed about the resources available on campus.

“I think it’s really important for students to be a part of that,” she says, “especially for the other students who feel more comfortable seeking help from someone their age—someone who could maybe relate a little more on their level.”

Kanger says that, while changing culture in ways that prevent sexual misconduct is a years-long project, providing a safe space where people can seek help is a vital first step.

“At the end of the day,” she says, “the goal for all our prevention efforts is to create a culture where consent is sought and received for every sexual activity, healthy relationships are the norm, and where everyone steps up and says something if they see something isn’t right.”

 

If you are a Butler student interested in joining the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Taskforce, you can apply here by April 13. Contact Jules Arthur-Grable (jearthur@butler.edu) or Maria Kanger (mkanger@butler.edu) with any questions.

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

taskforce
Student-Centered

Student Voice Shapes Sexual Misconduct Prevention at Butler

Student members of this taskforce have transformed how University leaders approach prevention programming

Mar 27 2020 Read more
Guy holding rolls of toilet paper
Innovation

COVID-19 to Affect Global Supply Chains for Years to Come

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 26 2020

The image of shoppers desperately filling their carts with toilet paper has become a go-to representation of the COVID-19 outbreak. In grocery stores across the nation, panic buying has also emptied shelves of other necessities and staples, such as bread, eggs, dairy products, and meat.

But the supply chains that put food and home products in your grocery aisles are still strong—for now.

Matt Caito
Operations Instructor Matthew Caito

Matthew Caito, Butler University Operations Management Instructor and expert in the field of global supply chains, does recommend stocking up for your family in order to limit trips to the store. Still, he says you shouldn’t buy more than you actually need, as hoarding can have a negative impact not only on your community, but on the efficiency of industries worldwide. Hoarding leads to inefficient distribution of scarce products, making scarcity more of a problem, like with toilet paper being a rare sight in stores. If we want to avoid long-term consequences, consumers must be rational in the months ahead.

“I’m confident that we will have enough toilet paper,” Caito says. “We’ll have enough toothpaste. We’ll have enough food.”

Consumers should still be vigilant, Caito adds, as the COVID-19 pandemic is making new headlines every day. The strength of supply chains can be altered at any time with policy changes or civil unrest.

Before his tenure at Butler, Caito helped manage food production and distribution for businesses and was used to dealing with “snow scares” in the Midwest and “hurricane scares” in Florida—temporary spikes in buying to ensure consumers’ families had plenty of food to weather out storms. But the COVID-19 pandemic is “uncharted territory.”

Caito says aisles will refill, but the crisis will affect global supply chains for years to come.

Question: What has been the biggest operational challenge during the pandemic so far?

Matthew Caito: If you look at the problem from an operational perspective, what we’re really fighting for is capacity. Do we have enough capacity in our healthcare system? If we don’t have enough capacity in our healthcare system, what can we do about it? We can increase our national capacity, which is going to be really hard to do as soon as we would like.

This is what we hear the politicians talking about now—that we don’t have enough respirators, don’t have enough masks, don’t have enough hospital beds. Alternatively, we can work to decrease the demand, which is exactly what we can do if we come together as a country and practice social distancing by working remotely and sheltering in place.

I’m a little bit surprised the government hasn't pulled the trigger faster on trying to increase the production of essential medical devices, but I think it’s just a matter of time before that comes along, and industries will find ways to meet the challenge.

Q: What are some best practices for Indiana consumers right now?

MC: At some point, people will have bought enough toilet paper. That demand will stop. What I watch as a consumer, and because I have a large family, is what’s happening in places like New York and Washington state. If there’s a shortage of products in those areas, Indiana is just a couple days behind it. So we need to really pay attention to what's going on around the world to help us anticipate what our needs are.

Q: Just how well are grocery stores doing?

MC: The grocery markets are doing an outstanding job. The food supply chain is doing an outstanding job. But what you need to keep in mind with food is that roughly 45-55 percent of all meals are typically eaten outside the home—at restaurants, schools, offices, convenience stores, and on the road. When you shut down all of the restaurant channels, where are people going to get their food?

There’s going to be an instant and dramatic increase in consumer demand at retail grocery stores for months to come. People have got to eat. I think the grocery chains have been understandably caught a little by surprise, but to their credit, nobody could have predicted this.

As retailers try to get back on balance with their inventories in the midst of higher demand over the next several months, we’re going to have to ask the question, “Where’s that food going to come from?” The capacity of the retail grocery industry is going to be strained. But frankly, this is going to make grocery stores a lot of profit because they’re going to see nearly twice the amount of sales for almost the same fixed cost. Fortunately, I don’t believe retailers are gouging consumers, and I don’t think they will.

Q: Are there concerns over the movement of goods in the supply chain?

MC: From a transportation perspective, we’re going to run into problems because, even though companies want to move things, even though trucks don’t know if there’s a pandemic, drivers at some point are just not going to take the risk. They don’t want to be away from their families, and there’s just no guarantee that they can remain healthy on the road. At some point, the distribution chain is going to get really strained. When that happens, you’ll see freight rates skyrocket.

Q: How long will it take for operations to get back to full-strength after this pandemic dies down?

MC: If I were a betting person, I’d say years. You’re going to have a lot of companies that just don’t have the cash on-hand to sustain business. There’s going to be massive unemployment, unfortunately. There’s going to be a massive realignment of the economy. There isn’t going to be enough cash to save every business.

But once the dust settles after months of rational hindsight, I think you’ll see a much more robust supply chain. There’s going to be a strategic rethinking about how much medicine we want to import. Strategically, how many vital electronics do we want to import? Strategically, how many auto parts do we want to import? It’s going to make a significant difference for large companies as they work to protect their supply chains from future disruptions. 

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Guy holding rolls of toilet paper
Innovation

COVID-19 to Affect Global Supply Chains for Years to Come

Toilet paper will return to aisles, but the pandemic will cause industries to rethink operations, says LSB’s Matthew Caito

Mar 26 2020 Read more
$100 with medical mask
Innovation

Butler Professor: U.S. Economy Shifting to Help Businesses, Citizens

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 25 2020

As COVID-19 presents a public health crisis, the U.S. economy has reacted in kind.

Economics Professor Bill Rieber says the nation’s economy is enduring hardships it last experienced during the 2008–2009 recession. But instead of the recession starting in the economy and real estate sector, this downturn is the side effect of a global health pandemic.

“This is so different,” he says. “In 2009, we wanted people to go out and spend, spurred by government fiscal and monetary measures. Here, we don’t want people to go out. We want them to stay at home and be safe.” 

In times when there is no health crisis or recession, Rieber says the nation relies on a market economy that combines cooperation—industries producing products—and competition—consideration of price, product, place, and promotion—along with some aspects of a sharing economy, such as welfare, Medicaid, and social programs.

Now, borders are closing, businesses are on hold, and some workers are laid off. The longer the COVID-19 crisis extends, the longer it will take for the economy to return to normal. Until then, Rieber says, the United States will strive to ensure its citizens are taken care of.

Question: What steps are being made to keep the economy afloat?

Bill Rieber: Banks will be sensitive to businesses, allowing them to miss some payments. There are also many people and organizations sharing their wealth with those hurt most by the pandemic. We can do that, in my view, because of the mix of a free enterprise economy, democracy, and cooperation and competition that has led to some Americans having high incomes that they can now share.

Q: What about smaller businesses? What will happen to them during the COVID-19 crisis?

BR: The central bank—the Federal Reserve—can inject reserves within the commercial banking system. Most of our businesses were quite healthy. The economy was strong, but businesses don’t have the funds in a liquid sense—the revenues and the cash to keep going in some cases. That’s where the central bank could put more reserves with local commercial banks, who then will have more reserves and funds to help local business. 

Q: How is the federal government helping?

BR: At the federal level, we can deficit spend, which means spending in excess of revenue. That is fine. There’s nothing wrong with deficit spending during emergencies. That’s always been the case during economic downturns. But how do we do that here, and how do we get the funds to the people who need them the most?

Since the Great Depression, Americans have agreed that deficit spending during recessions is warranted, but exactly what that looks like is more open for debate. That’s always difficult. That’s what Congress and the president are negotiating now. 

Q: When will we rise out of this sharing economy status?

BR: Fundamentally, it’s our health that’s most important. That’s what we have to be concerned about first. So, if it’s not healthy to go out and spend, we should stay at home and stay healthy. When the public’s health improves, things like the economy will improve, too. That’s the real connection here.

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

$100 with medical mask
Innovation

Butler Professor: U.S. Economy Shifting to Help Businesses, Citizens

COVID-19 pandemic has government making steps it hasn’t made since the 2008 recession, Economics Professor Bill Rieber says

Mar 25 2020 Read more
working from home
Innovation

Butler Management Researcher Offers Advice for Productive Telecommuting

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 20 2020

As millions transition from the office to working from home, certain practices can boost productivity, reduce distractions, and establish a separation of work and home life under the same roof.

Craig Caldwell, Associate Professor of Management and Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Programs for the Lacy School of Business, says working from home effectively takes dedication to not only the physical space, but also to the worker’s mental space—especially during a time of uncertainty as the world shifts to telecommuting and social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Craig Caldwell
Associate Professor Craig Caldwell

As people scramble to keep up with the pace of new information about COVID-19, practicing mindfulness in the home is a good first step. Practitioners of mindfulness concentrate on the present moment while acknowledging their feelings, thoughts, and surroundings.

“Mindfulness can help you self-identify the main issues you are struggling with,” Caldwell says. “This entire field of mindfulness is something I find increasingly helpful for working at home. For example, folks inclined to procrastinate will tend to procrastinate even more without a boss or peer pressure. Mindfulness can help you explore why you procrastinate and offer solutions to overcome it.”

Many industries have been disrupted, but limiting the disruption from affecting job performance at home can be achieved with thoughtful efforts to understand the nature of the work, the emotions of the employee, and the work space requirements.

‘Latitude’ adjustment

Caldwell says current circumstances require patience from supervisors and workers alike. Deadlines may be more difficult to meet. Suppliers may be unavailable. Productivity could wane, at least at first. Supervisors must give latitude to their workers, and the workers must give themselves the same as they get used to a new work routine.

Workers may not have the same administrative, IT, or peer support that they had at the office, but the work will get done if people utilize more patience and commitment on projects. Now is not the time to eliminate workers who are struggling with productivity. Developing existing employees is cheaper and faster than hiring new ones, Caldwell says.

Save the home environment

For many, working from home isn’t foreign. Caldwell says Fortune 500 companies and small start-ups have effectively worked outside of the traditional office for years. Small companies with fewer than 10 full-time employees often utilize coworking spaces for their rare, face-to-face meetings, but working from home is most common.

But even these workers must make adjustments as family members that used to go to an office or school are now working from home. The house is getting crowded with telecommuters and online students. Caldwell says setting parameters early on is key.

“You may need to have substantive conversations with your family,” he adds. “‘Here is what is happening: When I’m at this particular desk, when my headphones are on, when the pink Post-it Note is on the door, it means I’m not available.’ What was once a person working from home, now it’s four people all working at home on their projects and school work.”

And working from home doesn’t mean sweatpants 24/7. Grooming and dressing as if you were heading into a professional setting helps with home productivity and mood, Caldwell says.

Extended hours

The 9-to-5 concept didn’t apply to many workers before COVID-19, but working from home now should come with the mindset of being available and online for a wider range of times, according to Caldwell. Factoring in breaks to prepare kids’ lunches, walking the dog, or being online late to handle that teleconference with Japan will spread out the work day more.

Caldwell recommends relying heavily on keeping that Outlook calendar full with work-related tasks and projects. Don’t just log your meetings: Log the independent tasks, too. A busy calendar will maximize productivity and reduce distraction.

“Any device, tool, and app that keeps track of what you're doing as opposed to allowing a black hole of a day is good,” Caldwell says. “Literally schedule your day so you have a full day of work at the office. The mentality of being productive in that particular space is really important. Set hours for when you are going to to be ‘in the office.’”

New tools, new skills

Working from home should still include the development of new skills, as well as the exploration of new programs and applications.

“Maximize downtime,” Caldwell says. “Self-development can be highly motivating. Skill up with a new certification of some kind. Pursue continuing education online for that skill you always wanted to acquire. Why not dig into it now?”

Caldwell recommends working in Trello, an online management tool, to keep track of projects with your remote team. Slack is an app that allows for smoother communication between colleagues, particularly for more casual interactions.

The norm, for now

Already, “crisis management” should be added to resumes worldwide. Work has continued for many industries, and workers being nimble in this transition are keeping businesses afloat. The dramatic shift to work life at home will continue for months.

“If there’s a silver lining at all, it’s this: You’re developing a new skill in how to effectively work remotely with a high level of productivity,” Caldwell says. “Since we can’t control it, get comfortable. Be in tune to how you are feeling and how others may be reading you. There’s still a lot of connecting taking place, and that should continue.

“We need to be extraordinarily charitable right now, and I think we’re going to get through this and be a stronger society for it. This will be one of those things that pulls us together and unifies us.”

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

working from home
Innovation

Butler Management Researcher Offers Advice for Productive Telecommuting

Efficient work from home starts with the right mindset and physical space, Associate Professor Craig Caldwell says

Mar 20 2020 Read more
Brooke Kandel-Cisco
Campus

Kandel-Cisco Named New College of Education Dean

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 19 2020

Professor Brooke Kandel-Cisco has been appointed as Butler University’s new Dean of the College of Education. She had served as Interim Dean for the College since May 1.

While developing scholarship focusing on adult learning and professional development, Kandel-Cisco has excelled in leadership opportunities since joining the Butler Education program in 2009. Her roles have included Director of the Master of Science in Effective Teaching and Learning program, Chair of the College of Education graduate programs, and Program Coordinator for COE graduate programs. 

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on the COE’s legacy of high-quality educator preparation,” says Kandel-Cisco, whose research also explores educator collaboration with immigrant and refugee families. “We will continue to refine and enhance our existing preparation programs while also developing new pathways, pipelines, and partnerships to prepare equity-minded educators who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to serve schools and communities.”

Kandel-Cisco has taught courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) and works closely with teachers in Washington Township Schools’ ESL and Newcomer Programs. She recently completed a term as President of the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

“I see my experiences as a teacher and as a university educator as key preparation for my role as Dean,” Kandel-Cisco says. “Academic leadership requires an ethic of care, a collaborative approach, and the ability to make decisions in the short term while creating conditions and building systems that help us move toward long-term goals—all things that strong teachers do every day.”

Provost Kathryn Morris says keeping Kandel-Cisco in the Dean’s office was a natural choice.

“Brooke has done a phenomenal job of leading the College during the interim period. I am confident she will continue to do so into the future,” Morris says. “Indeed, the current public health crisis demands effective leadership at all levels of the University. Brooke has been an integral part of our efforts to protect members of our community while also supporting our institutional mission.”

Butler President James M. Danko says Kandel-Cisco’s tenure at Butler has earned her the trust and support of her colleagues and students inside and outside of the classroom. 

“We know she will continue to provide outstanding service to the College of Education and the Butler community in the future,” he states.  

Kandel-Cisco earned her PhD in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. She was a fellow of the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice.

“I am incredibly proud of my colleagues in higher education and in schools,” Kandel-Cisco says, “who continue to find creative and meaningful ways to support the growth of their students—even with the significant challenges and uncertainty of our current circumstances. Our current Butler student teachers and interns continue to support teaching and learning in local schools and community agencies as they work virtually alongside practicing educators.”

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Brooke Kandel-Cisco
Campus

Kandel-Cisco Named New College of Education Dean

Brooke Kandel-Cisco was Interim Dean since May 1, has held leadership roles in numerous Butler Education programs

Mar 19 2020 Read more
Levenshus home office
Student-Centered

Butler Faculty Put Students First in Switch to Online Learning

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Mar 19 2020

While the suspension of on-campus classes in response to COVID-19 has been a letdown for students and educators across the nation, Butler University faculty are working hard to create new learning opportunities in the midst of crisis.

“It is deeply disappointing for many, if not all, members of our campus community that we will not learn and work together in person in the coming weeks,” wrote Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathryn Morris in a recent message to students, leading up to today’s launch of online learning. “Yet, by and large, people in our community are coming together virtually to make the best out of a truly challenging situation—with YOU, our students, at the heart of our efforts. Faculty have just spent three intensive days preparing for this transition. They are working harder than ever to provide you with the same high-quality educational experience you are accustomed to at Butler.”

For Abbey Levenshus, an Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, that means drawing on the current crisis to provide an up-close and personal case study for her students who are studying issues management.

Even before COVID-19 began to affect all of us in some way, Levenshus was using the outbreak as an example for how issues evolve over time. At first, the class looked at this as an early or “emergent” situation. Over the last several weeks, students watched as the issue progressed to “current,” and then “dominant,” and, now, “crisis.”

Even in emails to students regarding the logistics of switching to online learning, Levenshus has offered mini-lessons on how the pandemic is a living model of the concepts they have been learning all semester.

“But then I also remind them that this issue, too, will pass,” Levenshus says. “Eventually, this will be dormant. Right now, it’s very real, it’s very present, and it’s having a serious disruptive impact on our lives. But we’re going to be okay—we will figure this out.”

 

 

Levenshus records her first video message for students in the transition to online learning. She explains how she's adapting to this new normal, and she shares a tour of her new "office" in the basement of her home.

 

To move class content online over the last week, Levenshus started by inviting students to join the process. An email survey gathered data about the students’ living and learning situations: What technology can they access? Do they have textbooks? Have they ever taken an online class? She used the answers to those questions while deciding how to move forward with the semester.

“That really helped me because I felt like we were doing it as a team, even though we’re separated right now,” she says.

And Levenshus says it’s that separation—not the workload of moving online—that’s the hardest part.

“You know, you love these students,” she says. “I think one of the strengths of Butler is that you have these smaller classes where you really get to know one another. There is a deep sense of loss in terms of that classroom community. But part of my job is helping students gain perspective: If we can grieve our own losses while also looking for opportunities to be thankful, I think we will get through this even stronger together.”

Shelly Furuness, an Associate Professor of Education, is also grieving the loss of face-to-face interaction. Still, especially for the Butler seniors currently serving as student-teachers in K-12 schools, Furuness says students are gaining valuable experience in adapting through disruption.

“This is not about perfection,” she explains. “It’s about modeling how to teach in the face of the unexpected.”

For example, Butler students will continue supporting teachers at a Zionsville middle school with the design and creation of e-learning content. Furuness says the digital space can actually give educators more time to experiment with presenting the same material in a variety of ways, making the experience more accessible to students of all learning styles—something teachers don’t normally have the opportunity to do with face-to-face lessons.

“It is absolutely a challenge, because this is a personal disruption, too,” Furuness says. “But I think this gives us a good opportunity to show that the platform is less important than having a high-quality, flexible instructor. Even as we are modeling how to handle a crisis, we have the resources we need to help Butler students meet the same learning objectives we set back in January.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Levenshus home office
Student-Centered

Butler Faculty Put Students First in Switch to Online Learning

Coronavirus pandemic forces cancellation of in-person classes, but professors make the best of a difficult situation

Mar 19 2020 Read more
Terri Jett
Innovation

Butler Professor Lends Expertise to Indy PBS ‘Simple Civics’ Series

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 16 2020

Terri Jett’s pledge to PBS is lending her expertise on politics and American history to WFYI’s video series Simple Civics.

An Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity, Jett hosts the videos that have tackled topics such as Freedom of Speech During Times of War, How Does the Draft Work?, and Can You Run for President from Prison?. Usually about three or four minutes in length, Simple Civics debuted in October on WFYI’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

With 2020 being a presidential election year, WFYI producers developed the series for viewers to better understand U.S. policy and history. Looking for a host with a political science background, producer Kyle Travers discovered Jett through Butler University's College of Communication produced videos as well as Jett’s work for Founder’s Week. The collaboration has been successful as Simple Civics season two tapings are underway.

On an afternoon in early March, Jett took her place in front of a gigantic green screen, under the bright studio lights, to record about a dozen new episodes. With Travers and fellow WFYI producers Scott McAlister nearby, she completed upcoming videos including Women as President, How Primaries Work, and 19th Amendment.

Jett has the commanding voice of an educator, the confidence to speak in front of large groups, and decades of research and writing experience. Still, she says hosting a web video series is a new challenge she wholly welcomes.

“I have a new, profound admiration for people who do this on a daily basis—speaking in front of a camera. It’s exhausting. But I really do enjoy that it’s actually difficult for me to do,” says Jett during a short break between episodes. “It’s like something you're struggling with, and you finally achieve it. You have a sense of pride about it. I’m really honored to be a part of it.”

The full-length Simple Civics videos will be posted online, but one-minute versions—and 30-second versions produced for children—are expected to air on WFYI this summer.

The scripts are first written by McAlister and Travers, but Jett contributes her thoughts and edits. The collaboration makes for a mix of content based on history and political issues that hit home today. Recorded before Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, the Women for President episode discussed female candidates who have pursued the nomination throughout history, from Victoria Woodhull in 1872, to Shirley Chisholm in 1968, to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“It shows how things we are talking about today have been talked about historically—how they evolve and change,” Jett says.

Originally from Oakland, California, Jett arrived at Butler from Auburn University in 1999. She adopted Indianapolis as her own, quickly establishing a presence on campus and in the city. Jett serves on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Public Library, and Indianapolis-Marion County Land Improvement Bond Bank. Now, she is building even stronger bonds to the city through Simple Civics.

Simple Civics goes to school

After releasing the first three Simple Civics episodes in the fall, Jett and WFYI received the feedback they needed to know the series was heading in the right direction.

Jett gets ready for another take
Political Science Professor Terri Jett, right, prepares for another Simple Civics take.

“We received some notes from teachers, saying they could see themselves using this series in the classroom as a supplement to what they’re talking about in their civics lessons,” McAlister says. “That’s really encouraging. One of the goals of this series was for it to be a resource for teachers.”

The WFYI producer and social media manager says the timing of Simple Civics is important.

“With it being an election year,” he says, “people have so many questions about how primaries work, how the election works, how the electoral college works, why we even still have the electoral college—all of which we are hoping to address in this season of episodes.”

And Jett is happy to help. She wants Simple Civics to educate and create discussion.

“I think it’s important to do this kind of work,” Jett says. “I’m really hopeful for children of all different backgrounds to see me talking about politics and history in this way. It’s accessible, and hopefully they will see it as kind of fun, and they will develop some curiosity.

“For me, if there is one child out there who says ‘Wow, I want to pick up a book and read about that. That’s interesting,’ I’m good. That’s it for me.”

 

Photos by Tim Brouk; videos by WFYI and Tim Brouk

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Terri Jett
Innovation

Butler Professor Lends Expertise to Indy PBS ‘Simple Civics’ Series

Terri Jett’s political science background makes her an ideal host for the WFYI videos, with new episodes to drop this summer

Mar 16 2020 Read more
Trip last game
Campus

CBS Evening News Features Kaltenmark, Butler Blue III at Last Game in Hinkle Fieldhouse

BY Raquel Bahamonde

PUBLISHED ON Mar 11 2020

On March 4, 2020, history was made one more time at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, and a CBS Evening News crew, with legendary network television reporter Dean Reynolds, was there to cover the story.

No, we’re not talking about the nationally ranked Butler men’s basketball team’s 77-55 dismantling of St. John’s. Although that was a fun one to watch. We’re talking about the last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse for Butler Blue III (Trip), and the celebration of Michael Kaltenmark’s 16-year run as the University’s live mascot handler—a run that spanned the careers of much-loved English Bulldog mascots Butler Blue II and Trip.

In the location some might call the cradle for Hoosier Hysteria, the roars from the Hinkle crowd that night were just as deafening for Kaltenmark and Trip as they were for the thrilling basketball action on the floor.

As Kaltenmark and Trip finished one more run for the bone, took their last lap around the Hinkle court, and made an emotional final stop at the Dawg Pound, the crowd chanted, “Michael! Michael! Michael!” The TV camera was there to capture the entire scene for a nationwide broadcast.

In the college basketball world, the Butler mascot carries a lot of celebrity, and Trip’s appearance is a favorite part of any event. Kaltenmark has dealt with health issues for years. In January, he underwent a kidney transplant and has overcome an enormous challenge to be able to return to duty so quickly.

The CBS crew visited with Kaltenmark, his wife Tiffany, their two sons Everett and Miles, and—of course—Trip, to catch their pre-game routine. They talked about what is involved in being part of Trip’s family, as well as the transition toward retirement at Butler’s May 9 Commencement.

And in case you thought Trip’s appeal is just an Indiana thing, after an exhaustive day of taping, the reporter, producer, videographer, and sound man reflected on the day. One member of the crew was overheard to say, “That was a fun one.” 

WATCH VIDEO

 

Media Contact:
Raquel Bahamonde
317-319-6875
raquel@bahamondecommunications.com

Trip last game
Campus

CBS Evening News Features Kaltenmark, Butler Blue III at Last Game in Hinkle Fieldhouse

Butler Blue III (Trip) and handler Michael Kaltenmark celebrated on national television

Mar 11 2020 Read more
Neil deGrasse Tyson on-stage
Campus

Famed Astrophysicist to Talk Science and Hollywood at Butler

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 05 2020

*This event has been postponed from March 17 to October 6 due to the rapidly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis.*

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an expert in explaining mysteries of the universe to a general audience. Host of the rebooted Cosmos series, he is the 21st century’s Carl Sagan. Tyson’s passion for promoting celestial wonderment is only rivaled by his love for film.

Tyson will present An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies at 7:30 PM October 6, at Clowes Memorial Hall. The event will center on science in movies, from science fiction to Disney classics. Tyson will screen short clips of more than 30 movies from the past 80 years before dissecting what is going on in each scene. It’s the melding of two passions on one stage.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson

When watching a movie about outer space, Tyson puts down the popcorn and starts taking notes. His Twitter account is full of criticisms for movies that include silly portrayals of space travel, exploration, or phenomena. But, if a film accurately captures these marvels, he gives credit where credit is due.

And sometimes, Tyson’s reviews have an impact on new stories in the works. One of his favorite compliments came from The Martian author, Andy Weir.

“While he was writing that novel, he said he imagined I was looking over his shoulder the whole time,” says Tyson with a laugh. “He didn't want to mess up a calculation and have me tweet about it. People think I’m nit-picking. ‘Well, I don’t want to take you to a movie,’ they say. Well, I assure you, I’m very silent during movies.”

Tyson knows his tweets carry weight. But he says he’s just pointing out the portrayal of science in movies, for better or for worse. It’s like a costume designer pointing out that the style of gown worn by a character in a Jane Austen movie didn’t come from that era, or a car enthusiast spotting a Ford from the 1960s in a movie that’s set in the ‘50s, Tyson says.

In recent years, some studios have hired on-set scientists to help make sure things are correct. Movies like Gravity have impressed Tyson in terms of their effort and execution.

“People assumed I didn’t like the movie because I pointed out some things it got wrong in about a dozen tweets,” Tyson says about the 2013 film starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, “but I only gave it that much attention because of how much science they got right. I loved the movie, so I had to go back and tweet that I did love the movie overall.”

The Martian fared even better in Tyson’s eyes—mostly.

“The one flaw was the windstorm scene,” he says. “The air pressure on Mars is 1/100th of that on Earth, so high-speed wind on Mars is like someone gently blowing on your cheek. But they needed some premise to create the drama of the storm.”

Stage and screen

Along with his many media appearances, Tyson’s résumé includes roles as an academic, a researcher, a planetarium director, a podcast host, and a member of the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. Yet, appearing on-stage to talk about the universe’s wonders will always be something he fits into his schedule. He calls it “a founding pillar” of his current career.

Tyson says An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies is an example of how he reaches out to the public, which he finds has an “underserved appetite of science and science literacy. There’s an enlightenment that comes to you thinking critically about the world.”

Butler’s astrophysicists go to the movies, too

Prof. Gonzalo Ordonez holds a book.
Physics and Astronomy Chair Gonzalo Ordonez holds a book about Interstellar.

Tyson isn’t the only scientist who watches movies with a critical eye. Gonzalo Ordonez, Butler Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, says Interstellar is his favorite film.

“They do a good job respecting the physics,” Ordonez says of the 2014 movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. “The plot and visual effects are interesting. Their use of the theory of relativity, as well as the physics of how time slows down near a black hole, are well done.”

Physics Professor Xianming Han cited Star Trek as his favorite sci-fi series, but on the silver screen, he was most impressed with Contact starring Jodie Foster.

“Scientifically, it’s probably the most rigorous,” says Han, adding that he especially enjoyed the 1997 film’s take on space and time travel.

Han and Ordonez both look forward to Tyson’s visit to Butler.

“I think students will have a blast,” Ordonez says. “Tyson has made astrophysics more popular and more accessible to nonspecialists.”

Tyson’s take on cinema has proved popular—so much that An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies: The Sequel is in the works. Yes, Tyson is reaching franchise status. Move over Marvel.

“My goal is to enhance people’s appreciation of what a movie is—or what it could have been if the science had been accurately reckoned,” he says.

 

Photos by Tim Brouk and provided by Delvinhair Productions and Roderick Mickens

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Neil deGrasse Tyson on-stage
Campus

Famed Astrophysicist to Talk Science and Hollywood at Butler

Neil deGrasse Tyson explores science in movies at ‘An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies,’ October 6 at Clowes

Mar 05 2020 Read more
C. Patience Masamha
Experiential Learning

Butler Researcher Explores New Approach to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 02 2020

C. Patience Masamha has dedicated her research to fighting cancer by discovering new drug deliveries at the molecular level. The Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences’ new project will tackle ovarian cancer and its tendency to return after initial, successful chemotherapy.

The project is based on preliminary ovarian cell research done by Masamha and two graduate students, Zach Todd and Bettine Gibbs ’19.

“Patients who usually respond to chemotherapy drugs will, at some point, develop resistance to those drugs,” says Masamha, who chose to study cancer after her grandfather passed away from mantle cell lymphoma. “Once the patient is diagnosed, they usually go through surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy. Patients usually respond well to treatment, but the cancer often comes back. And when it comes back, it’s resistant to the original chemotherapy.”

Todd and Masamha
Graduate student Zach Todd, right, and Professor C. Patience Masamha work in the lab.

In January, Masamha received a $10,000 New Investigator grant from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy to fund the work. The project will explore why ovarian cancer is so drug-resistant, especially compared to other cancers. The goal is to develop a new drug that will make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy, lowering the chance of relapse.

Masamha is looking at drug transporter proteins, which are the body’s natural way of removing toxins from healthy cells. But cancer hijacks this system, repurposing those toxin-removing proteins to pump chemotherapeutic drugs back out of cancerous tumor cells—reducing the treatment’s effectiveness and resulting in a drug-resistant disease. Masamha wants to know how these drug transporters are produced in order to later develop drugs that target these transporters to stop refluxing drug molecules in the cells of ovarian cancer patients.

Masamha says there is conflicting information in her field about these proteins. Some papers state the drug transporter concentrations are high in ovarian cancer patients, while other researchers say the same proteins are too low in the patients. Masamha’s research aims to provide more understanding of how these proteins behave under the influence of cancer.

Masamha’s research focuses on messenger RNA (mRNA), which reads DNA codes from the drug transporter genes to help the body create proteins. Different forms of mRNA can be made from the same DNA sequence. When cancer is present, the cells overproduce shortened mRNAs, which behave in a way that leads to the spread of cancer. Masamha is trying to figure out how short and long mRNAs can be made from the same DNA sequence, with the goal of creating a drug that would help prevent production of short mRNA.

The shorter mRNAs in cancer cells—which would need to be destroyed to prevent chemotherapeutic drugs from being kicked out of the cell—aren’t always detected by current treatment methods. Masamha’s group is working on ways to better detect those affected molecules, and to figure out how cancer cells generate these shorter mRNAs in the first place.

“If we are able to detect those short mRNA messages, that would clear up conflicting information in the field about these proteins,” she says. “We want to develop drugs that prevent the shorter mRNA from being produced in cancer cells. This will reduce the amount of drug transporter proteins that are made by tumor cells, allowing anti-cancer drugs to work.”

Zach Todd has been working in Masamha’s lab since fall 2016. He says focusing on the mRNA activity within cancer-affected cells could lead to a new way to treat cancer—helping healthcare providers stay a step ahead of the disease.

“Sometimes cancer has the annoying habit of figuring things out faster than we can,” Todd says. “We have to work around it, and this project is very promising.”

 

Photos by Brent Smith

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

C. Patience Masamha
Experiential Learning

Butler Researcher Explores New Approach to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

The disease’s drug resistance could be explained by its effect on cell proteins, Prof. C. Patience Masamha says

Mar 02 2020 Read more
Butler Blue IV receives ceremonial collar
Campus

Collar Handoff: Butler Blue IV Takes Next Step Toward Being Big Dog on Campus

BY Raquel Bahamonde

PUBLISHED ON Mar 01 2020

In a February 29, 2020 “changing of the collar” ceremony, Butler Blue III, also known as Trip, relinquished his collar signifying Butler Blue IV (Blue) as successor to the official live mascot of Butler University.

Prior to the Butler, DePaul University men’s basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Trip’s handler Michael Kaltenmark and his wife Tiffany along with their two sons, Everett and Miles, watched as Butler President James M. Danko removed the collar from around Trip’s neck and placed it around the neck of Blue.

Brian Kenny representing Reis-Nichols Jewelers, creators of the custom-made mascot collar, looked on.

After donning the collar, Blue’s handler and owner Evan Krauss lifted him into the air to cheers from the crowd—before he and his wife Kennedy escorted the mascot-to-be from the floor.   

Trip and Kaltenmark accepted more cheers from the crowd before Trip did his traditional running of the bone as the team entered the court.

“This event ushers in the next chapter for the Butler mascot program,” said Krauss. “I just want to thank Michael (Kaltenmark). He has taught me so much over the past seven years I’ve worked with him.”

Trip will remain in his current role as official live mascot until the end of the 2019–2020 academic year. In the meantime, Blue IV and his handler are training side-by-side learning their new responsibilities, which recently included a graduation for Blue from the Bark Tutor School for Dogs.

When asked how the puppy is adjusting to his new role, Krauss smiled.

“Blue has been a dream dog and is taking to his training like a champ,” he said.  “But speaking for both of us, the support from the Butler Community has been overwhelming and has meant the world to us.”

“Do the job, do it well and don’t forget to have fun doing it. That would be Trip’s advice to Blue,” said Kaltenmark. “Trip loves the job—loves to work—but he never takes things too seriously.”

After eight proud years on the job, Trip has earned his retirement. Plus, his energetic heir to the throne is ready for the very physical demands of leading the Butler faithful.

An American Kennel Club-Registered English Bulldog like his predecessors (Blue I, II, and III), the equally adorable Blue IV is described by those involved in finding the new mascot as “super cool”—an important quality to have when representing the “Butler Way” to the world.

The changing of the guard (dog) means the younger Blue will soon be leader of the pack.

While welcoming the next Blue and saying goodbye to number III could be a bittersweet time, fans of the much beloved Trip can rest assured, following his farewell tour, he moves on to an even more essential role in life—providing love and affection to his fur dad Kaltenmark who underwent a kidney transplant earlier this year.

“Thanks to Evan we’ve been able to manage and keep him (Trip) working,” said Kaltenmark. “However, I will say that because of my kidney transplant, our return to action together is just going to make Trip’s last months on the job that much more poignant and special.”

With the official change in May, Kaltenmark will step aside from his live mascot handling duties but will continue as the University’s Director of External Relations and plans to stay involved in the live mascot program. Don’t be surprised if you see mascot emeritus Trip around campus from time to time.

If Trip could talk, Kaltenmark believes he would let the entire Butler family know; “You’ve made me the luckiest dog on the planet. In return, I hope I have brought you joy during my years as your mascot. It’s truly been my honor and pleasure. Thank you for making me feel loved as I wind things down this year.”

 

Media contact:
Raquel Bahamonde
317-319-6875
raquel@bahamondecommunications.com

Butler Blue IV receives ceremonial collar
Campus

Collar Handoff: Butler Blue IV Takes Next Step Toward Being Big Dog on Campus

Butler Blue III relinquished his collar signifying Butler Blue IV as successor

Mar 01 2020 Read more
Confession
Butler Beyond

Butler Researcher Battles Coerced Confessions During Interrogations

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 26 2020

Fans of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit remember the scenes well: Detective Elliot Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) grows frustrated with a despicable suspect in a dimly lit interrogation room. The brawny lawman grabs the suspect by the shirt, throws him against the wall, doing anything he can to get a confession.

While it makes for great TV, Assistant Professor of Psychology Fabiana Alceste says such scenes are rare during real interrogations. But some police officers use quieter tactics that might still cross the line.

Alceste’s current research project, It’s Not Your Fault You’re a Criminal: Casual Attributions in Interrogation Tactics, looks at the use of minimization during interrogations—when police officers empathize with suspects in a way that seems to justify the alleged crimes. Alceste’s previous research has found that this can cause suspects—often young—to agree to confess even if they are innocent.

Fabiana Alceste
Fabiana Alceste

“Minimization tends to morally excuse the suspect for having committed the crime,” she says. “It just toes the line legally.”

Alceste received a $5,000 grant from the American Psychology-Law Society to help fund the project, which is in collaboration with colleagues at Duke University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The work will extend through the year before submitting for publication before Dec. 31.

After reading mock cases and listening to examples of interrogations, participants in the study will be asked how severe they think the suspect’s punishment will be, how blameworthy the suspect is, how much pressure the police used to get the suspect to confess—among other questions. The project will identify the minimization tactics that would have the most potential to coerce false confessions, with the goal of eliminating them from the interrogation playbook. The work will also identify the difference between how minimization techniques are viewed by lay people and law enforcement. Alceste hopes the findings will be ready to publish by the end of the year.

Question: What is an example of a minimization theme in your study?

Alceste: Some interrogators might call the alleged crime “an accident.” This could lead study participants to believe that it’s not this person's fault, so even if they confess, they would get a lower sentence because they didn’t mean for this to happen.

There are a lot of people sitting in prison right now for crimes they didn’t commit, based on confessions that they themselves gave.

Q: How are you collecting data for this project?

A: We will be showing participants different types of minimization “themes” and having them rate whether they believe that the crime the suspect is accused of was in control or not. Was it internal, like under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or external like peer pressure or financial struggles?

Q: What is your take on interrogations in TV and film?

A: I really appreciate what documentaries are doing for the field—shows like Making a Murderer, When They See Us. As long as they are accurately portraying what interrogations really look like and what really happened in those cases, as well as providing at least some background of what research has to say about these topics, I think it’s great to inform people about what is allowed in the interrogation room and what isn’t.

Q: What do directors and writers get wrong most often during interrogation scenes?

A: A lot of times, interrogations are portrayed as really hostile and almost violent—police officers flashing their guns, throwing chairs across the room, or cursing and slamming their fists on the table. Real interrogations are a lot more insidious than that. They are almost conversational, and I think that's why minimization themes are potentially so dangerous. Those more subtle techniques can make you think, “The interrogator isn’t coercing the suspect: They’re empathizing with them.” The interrogators are basically saying, “I would have done the same thing if I was in your shoes.”

The sneaky part is that this kind of real-life coercion doesn’t feel coercive to the suspect. Instead, it implies a sense of leniency that can make people feel more comfortable confessing to crimes they never committed. 

 

Photos by Tim Brouk and provided by iStock

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Confession
Butler Beyond

Butler Researcher Battles Coerced Confessions During Interrogations

Some tactics can lead to false confessions and innocent people in prison, says Psychology Professor Fabiana Alceste

Feb 26 2020 Read more
Kelsey Burton with Bella the Newfoundland dog
Alumni Success

Butler Alumnae Dominate United Way ELEVATE Nominations

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 24 2020

Each year, United Way’s ELEVATE Awards recognize the next generation of philanthropists, volunteers, and activists in the Central Indiana community. After receiving nearly 100 nominations, the organization has selected 15 finalists for the 2020 awards.

A third of them are Butler graduates. Five alumnae are among the nominees, and winners will be announced at ELEVATE on Saturday, February 29, at Crane Bay Event Center in downtown Indianapolis.

Kelsey Burton ‘06 is one of three nominees for the Nonprofit Professional of the Year. As executive director of Paws and Think,  she is always promoting the benefits of dogs. Since joining the local nonprofit in 2016, the Chemistry and Biology graduate has developed numerous programs for her organization’s 130 therapy dogs all over Indianapolis.

 

“Paws and Think focuses on improving lives through the power of the human/dog connection,” says Burton.

One day a week, she stops by a small office at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital to catch up with some of her star canines. A recent visit saw one of Paws and Think’s top dogs, the 100-pound Bella. The shaggy, 10-year-old Newfoundland specializes in encouraging children to read. For children who are shy or don’t like reading out loud during school, reading to Bella can help calm the nerves. The pages turn as Bella takes in every line.

Burton says she is honored to be among the 15 ELEVATE finalists because the recognition shows her work has been meaningful to the community.

“We want to bring love, happiness, and comfort to those who need it most,” Burton says, “We know dogs are amazing. They’re non-judgemental and offer unconditional love. So, what better tool than dogs to be able to do those things.”

Sarah Myer ‘06, also among the award nominees, says she’s grateful she decided to stay in Indianapolis after graduating from Butler.

Sarah Myer
Sarah Myer '06 helped attract the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis.

“Indy is a city where you can get connected quickly and make an impact if you are willing to hustle,” says the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Indiana Sports Corp. “Not many cities have that kind of opportunity for young people starting their careers.”

In her role, Myer works to make sure those career opportunities stay in the Circle City. Since 1979, Indiana Sports Corp has helped attract major sporting events to Indianapolis in the form of NCAA basketball tournament games, U.S. Olympic team trials, and, of course, Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Events co-produced by the nonprofit sports commission have led to more than $4 billion in direct spending in the city.

“Our team helps execute events from start to finish,” Myer says. “And while these events are here, they not only elevate civic pride and have a huge economic impact on our city, but we always find ways to include our youth.”

Emily Shrock ‘09 is nominated for Board Member of the Year for her work with Coburn Place, a local nonprofit that works to empower and house victims of abuse. A Marketing major when she was at Butler, Shrock credits her time at the University for helping her realize “the power of community."

“While I was on campus, I had the opportunity to take a number of leadership roles through organizations that not only taught me how to lead but instilled in me an even stronger sense of compassion and desire to serve those around me,” she says. “My heart has forever been in serving others, and Butler truly enhanced that longing that has led me to a career in public service.”

As Director of Public Engagement and Programs at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Shrock wanted to maintain that balance of servitude with her professional life. She started at Coburn Place as a student volunteer, and a decade later, she is helping lead the nonprofit into a strong 2020. 

Shrock says Coburn Place houses 70 people daily in its Midtown building, but its programming and services reach all over Indianapolis.

Also nominated are Lisa Glavan ‘19 and Molly McDonnell ‘17, who will represent the Roche Diagnostics Young Professionals group for the Employee Resource Group of the Year award.

Burton wasn’t surprised to see so many fellow Butler Bulldogs on the ELEVATE program.

“We all got really good groundwork in college to learn how to make things possible in our community,” she says. “All the time, I find myself very honored to be part of that group—to say I’m a Butler alum.”

 

Photos and video by Tim Brouk

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Kelsey Burton with Bella the Newfoundland dog
Alumni Success

Butler Alumnae Dominate United Way ELEVATE Nominations

Five alumnae are among finalists at the February 29 award ceremony honoring philanthropy, volunteerism, and activism

Feb 24 2020 Read more
strat comm
Student-Centered

Butler’s College of Communication Launches First Master’s Degree

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Feb 20 2020

As new media platforms rise and fall nearly every month, offering fresh avenues for organizations to communicate with audiences and one another, it can become more and more complicated to make sure every message stays true to key values and goals. It can be daunting, in an age that emphasizes traffic and engagements, to cut through the noise and find the feedback that matters most. And it can be tricky, especially in times of crisis, to make sure information is shared responsibly and in a cohesive voice.

That’s why Butler University’s new Master’s in Strategic Communication builds on the idea that lifelong learning is a must. Now open for applications, the online-only degree invites both up-and-coming communicators and seasoned professionals—creating a group of students who can learn from one another.

“In collaboration, our faculty and students will be exploring new practices, new vantage points, and new ideas,” says Strategic Communication Department Chair Mark Rademacher. “We really want to empower them to co-construct that learning experience. They’re the ones out there working in the field and bringing in real-world challenges to help us understand how these concepts work, not just in theory but in practice.”

The 30-credit-hour program prepares students for careers in a range of fields, from public relations, to advertising, to nonprofit work, and more. After five core classes covering the foundations of ethical, strategy-based communication—and how to use research and data to inform decisions—students can customize the program through five elective courses. These electives offer a deep dive into areas such as Crisis Communication, Branding, Media Relations, Social Media, and other timely topics.

Rademacher says strategic communication is about using research-based insights to understand the needs of key stakeholders, to communicate with them in an authentic way across a variety of channels, and to build trust and mutually beneficial relationships. Professionals in this field must be able to understand the process of how ideas are developed and received. It’s not just about advertising, or just about public relations—as professional organizations see increased crossover between these roles, Butler’s program reflects that shift.

The curriculum was developed based on market research that Rademacher and other Strategic Communication faculty began pursuing several years ago with the support of Butler’s Office of Academic Program Development and Innovation. They discovered a great deal of demand and excitement for this kind of program across the communication industry, among both employers and potential students. According to EAB, a company that collects data about trends and challenges facing the education industry, regional demand for degreed strategic communication professionals increased by 80 percent from September 2016 through February 2019. This growth is expected to continue over the next several years.

With the rise of new technologies and media platforms, some professionals without academic backgrounds in communication are finding themselves in communication-heavy roles. Others who have been in the field for years—or even decades—have watched those technologies change around them, and they are seeking opportunities to grow their skills while learning the most up-to-date strategies. And in a time when we have the ability to collect and analyze more information than ever before, communicators want to know how they can sort through all that data and use it in ways that will help them better serve their audiences.

“Increasingly in our communication environment,” Rademacher says, “we have access to so much data. We have so much insight into how people are using websites and how they are engaging via social media. That old adage of ‘I know what worked before, so let’s do that again’—that’s out the window. Using data and research isn’t just a crutch for communicating to executives that what you’re doing is a smart move: It really pervades everything we’re doing.”

Each class module lasts for seven weeks, allowing students to focus on one topic at a time, with week-long breaks between courses. If continuously enrolled, this means the program can be completed in as little as 20 months.

“We don’t want students to think this is a program that drags on, or that it will be a challenge to your ability to work full-time and balance family obligations,” Rademacher says. “We want you to come in, focus, and really invest in this experience. We believe that when you can do that in intensive, short bursts, that’s the most engaging way to do it.”

This is a degree for working professionals, with the goal of helping them do what they do better. Rademacher wants students to apply what they are learning each day, having an immediate impact in their workplaces or other spaces they are passionate about.

Even though the classes are entirely online—a feature meant to provide more flexibility—the program emphasizes learning through connections with peers, faculty, and industry professionals. Rademacher calls this the Butler online experience.

“For us, that means tapping into this idea that you can be online but not alone,” he says. “We’re working on elements of the program that help build a cohort mentality. We want students forming relationships with one another through group work and conversation.”

The Master’s in Strategic Communication will be truly hands-on. Classes will be project-based, focusing on the application of theory to the practice of strategic communication, which will allow students to pursue topics related to the challenges that are most relevant to their personal or professional goals.

“Butler’s Strategic Communication faculty provide that ideal balance of theory and practice,” says CCOM Dean Brooke Barnett. “They have created a graduate program that plays to their strengths. Students will benefit from the dynamic, relevant, and engaged learning techniques that are a hallmark of a Butler education.”

Classes for the program’s first cohort begin August 26, 2020. There are three application deadlines: April 1, June 1, and August 1. You can learn more or submit an application here.

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403 (cell)

strat comm
Student-Centered

Butler’s College of Communication Launches First Master’s Degree

The Master’s in Strategic Communication offers flexibility, professional networking, and project-based learning

Feb 20 2020 Read more
Midwinter Dances
Campus

Butler Commissions New Music From Composer Behind 'Get Out' and 'Us'

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Feb 18 2020

When Michael Colburn first saw the movie Get Out, a 2017 film directed by Jordan Peele that captures themes of racism through lenses of horror and comedy, he thought it was all-around fantastic. But what stood out most to the Butler University Director of Bands was the music behind the dialogue.

“I knew nothing about Michael Abels as a composer until I saw that movie,” he says. “The freshness of the score caught my attention. It was very unusual, and it got me wondering if Michael had ever written anything for band.”

So Colburn tracked down the critically acclaimed composer on Facebook, asking if he would be interested in writing a piece for Butler’s Wind Ensemble.

Abels replied almost instantly. The composer has become known for his work in orchestral music and film score (especially for the Jordan Peele movies Get Out and Us), but he had never written for concert band. He was intrigued.

As the conversation went on, Colburn mentioned Butler’s nationally known ballet program. Abels had already considered trying his hand at writing for dance, and a collaboration with Butler’s annual Midwinter Dances event meant he could create music that would be performed by student-musicians, alongside choreography by student-dancers. The piece, Falling Sky, made its world debut during the performances in Clowes Hall earlier this month.

Leaders from Butler’s Dance department recommended world-renowned Patrick de Bana to lead the choreography, and the two men joined on campus last year to start talking about what they wanted to create.

Colburn asked that the piece focus on some kind of social issue because “one of the more intriguing places we approach these topics is through the arts.” Together, Abels and de Bana realized they both cared deeply about the current humanitarian crisis at the United States’ southern border.

“What really impressed me was how open-minded they were,” Colburn says. “They were making very strong points—and making them adamantly—but they were both receptive to what the other person had to offer. It was truly collaborative.”

The artists also discussed how dance differs from film: Movies have strong narratives—with music that supports certain scenes and actions—while dance is more representational.

“Patrick encouraged Abels to not think about a specific plot or narrative,” Colburn says, “but to think more in terms of representational images that convey emotions, or that capture the general experiences of people who are caught up in this crisis.”

 

 

Working together, the artists created a 20-minute performance packed with themes of innocence, terror, diversity, and hope.

Falling Sky is really a unique score,” Colburn says about the work. “I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say there’s nothing like it in the band world. Some parts are very traditional, but the second movement is based entirely on hip hop. One of Abels’ overall goals is finding ways to fuse classical music with more popular, contemporary reference points.”

A few basic themes pop up throughout the piece, Colburn says. A youthful exuberance toward the beginning reflects the spirit of the children involved in the border situation. Darker, more sinister elements come in during the second movement, representing the forces working against families.

“Then the third movement is the most angst-ridden,” Colburn says. “It seeks to capture what these families are going through when they are incarcerated and the kids are separated from their parents—and the incredible difficulties that presents.”

The piece concludes in a final movement, hinting at the optimism that comes with moving toward a better place.

 

Butler's Wind Ensemble will perform music from Falling Sky in concert on March 1 as part of the Music at Butler Series. This event is free and open to the public. 

 

Photos by Brent Smith

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
(260) 307-3403

 

Student Access and Success
At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Midwinter Dances
Campus

Butler Commissions New Music From Composer Behind 'Get Out' and 'Us'

Butler Ballet and Wind Ensemble teamed up to perform the world premiere of Michael Abels' 'Falling Sky'

Feb 18 2020 Read more
Sam Varie in Iowa
Student-Centered

Butler Student Embraces Campaign Trail

BY Meredith Sauter and Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 17 2020

Getting stuck in a snowbank in rural Iowa didn’t freeze Sam Varie’s passion for politics in this presidential election year.

In January, the Butler University senior and former Student Government Association (SGA) President put his final semester on hold to volunteer for Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg. With only 12 credits left to graduate, Varie arrived in the Hawkeye State on January 20 to help canvas and phone bank for the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor.

Thanks to some kitty litter under his dad's car tires, Varie was able to escape the snow to continue his first foray into politics, a passion he developed during his years at Butler.

“In one of my classes, we studied marketing tactics in a political campaign. That was one of my first inside exposures to how a campaign operates,” says Varie, who will return to Butler next year to finish his senior year and receive his degree in Strategic Communication. “Mayor Pete’s entire marketing strategy is relational. He connects with people through empathy. That immediately grabbed my attention and was something I wanted to be a part of.”

Buttigieg team’s long hours and dedication were fruitful as Buttigieg narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders to win the Iowa Caucus. The results were delayed, but the outcome was savored. The momentum had Varie in good spirits while en route to the New Hampshire primary, which featured another strong showing from Buttigieg.

Varie’s role has now changed from a volunteer in field organizing to a staff member on the Advance Team. As an advance team member, he assists in event execution and management of town halls and rallies for Buttigieg’s campaign appearances. He is currently travelling across the United States.

Buttigieg talks to Iowa voters
Sam Varie is helping with Pete Buttigieg's campaign events. 

As expected, the first few weeks of campaign work felt like “drinking out of a firehose,” Varie says. He went door-to-door talking with potential voters, and he attended events to drum up support for Buttigieg. His main mission was to connect with voters. 

“Iowan voters take the job as an early state very seriously,” Varie says. “We would knock on a door and be welcomed into the voter’s home for 30 or 40 minutes. Although some voters had one too many volunteers knock on their door, they really listened to everyone.”

A crashed smartphone app and the delayed results overshadowed the Iowa Caucus, but in the end, Varie was a part of the winning movement.

“More than anything, having a gay mayor from Indiana on the leader board was the victory,” he says. “The major takeaway from the beginning has been that we can envision love and support for Pete beyond Indiana, and we hope to build momentum going forward.”

Strategic preparation

Varie, an Indianapolis native, says his three-plus years at Butler have served him well so far during his first month on the campaign trail—especially his courses in Strategic Communication.

“Strategic Communication is all about developing relationships and communicating in a meaningful way,” Varie says. “I have to do that every day on the campaign.”

Varie is also leaning on his nearly two terms as SGA president to help him during the long campaign hours.

“My time at Butler was all about connecting with students and understanding what they love about Butler or what the challenges they face. I worked with them to ensure that they are having a positive experience,” Varie says of his service as SGA President. “That's essentially what I'm doing on the campaign trail—connecting with community members, understanding their experiences, and talking with them about Pete's vision for the America that we need. That relational aspect has been crucial to my success here.”

Experience right now

Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Ross got to know Varie through the student’s work with SGA. Ross believes that experience is serving Varie well.

“Sam is incredibly passionate about making positive change in the world,” Ross says, “and he worked tirelessly as SGA president to help students learn about issues and become civically engaged. He has taken this passion and what he learned at Butler to the national level in joining this campaign.”

Abbey Levenshus, an Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, only taught Varie in her introductory Promotional Writing course, but she has been the student’s advisor since Varie declared his major. Having previously worked as a staff assistant for Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington on Capitol Hill, Levenshus supported Varie’s decision to work on a political campaign and offered her advice.

“You get this one life, and you have to decide how you’re going to spend it,” she says. “You can come back to campus. This place will be here if that’s the way you want to do it. That is the Butler Way. Go and get experience right now.”

Varie is unsure if politics will be a part of his career after graduation, but he plans on soaking up this campaign experience as much as possible.

“Right now, I'm really enjoying it—the fast-paced lifestyle, the people I'm meeting, and supporting a presidential candidate I believe in,” Varie says. “But I also really enjoy the higher ed experience. I’m not sure where my future will take me, but I’m enjoying all of the experiences right now.”

 

Photography provided by Sam Varie

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Sam Varie in Iowa
Student-Centered

Butler Student Embraces Campaign Trail

Senior, former SGA President Sam Varie took the semester off to gain experience on Pete Buttigieg’s staff

Feb 17 2020 Read more
Butler Beyond
Butler Beyond

Board of Trustees Commit More Than $43 Million to Butler Beyond Campaign

BY

PUBLISHED ON Feb 17 2020

INDIANAPOLIS–Current and former members of Butler University’s Board of Trustees have so far collectively committed more than $43 million to the University’s $250 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, Butler Beyond: The Campaign for Butler University.

The Board’s generous gifts represent nearly 24 percent of the more than $181 million that has been raised to date for the campaign, which is focused on three campaign pillars: Student Access and Success, Innovations in Teaching and Learning, and Community Partnerships. Philanthropic support from the Butler Beyond campaign will fuel the University’s new strategic direction of the same name, which was unveiled to the public in an event in Clowes Memorial Hall on October 5.

“The leadership of our Board of Trustees has been tremendous,” says Butler President James Danko. “Their guidance and direction have elevated Butler to an unprecedented position of strength, and their generosity has impacted every part of the Butler student experience. As we work together in achieving our bold vision—one that emphasizes tradition combined with innovation—I am extremely grateful for our board’s demonstrated service and leadership.”

The $43 million total represents gifts to 119 different funds, signifying the group’s widespread philanthropic support across the University’s various academic, athletic, student-life, and infrastructure initiatives. Along with nearly $14 million in unrestricted estate commitments to be made available for future University priorities, the group also committed nearly $8 million toward construction of the new building for the Andre B. Lacy School of Business, which opened last summer. Along with providing space for all business classes to take place under one roof, the new building also houses the University’s Career and Professional Success office, which is utilized by students of every major in pursuing internship and career opportunities.

“The Lacy School of Business allows students, faculty, staff, and businesses to come together to collaborate,” says Maria Scarpitti ’20. “I love seeing the different groups of people interact. I am so thankful for the Board of Trustees and for their extremely generous donations to make this happen. Their continued commitment to Butler is truly inspiring.”

Trustees also provided significant lead gifts to the Sciences Expansion and Renovation Project and the Hinkle Renovation Project, which inspired others to join in investing in these two critical infrastructure projects. The second phase of renovations to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse was completed last year. An official groundbreaking ceremony for the sciences project took place last fall as Butler embarked on a $100 million investment aimed at attracting and developing new talent for Indiana’s growing life sciences industry.

“In so many ways, our Trustees embody The Butler Way,” says Vice President for Advancement Jonathan Purvis. “We are extremely fortunate to be led by a group of individuals that is completely committed to our students and to the responsibility we have at this moment to usher Butler into its next great chapter. The financial commitment demonstrated by our Board of Trustees to the bold vision for Butler Beyond speaks volumes about their confidence in the future of Butler University and in the value of a Butler education.”

Scholarships have been another noteworthy area of investment, with more than $4 million of the $43 million total going to student aid. Trustees have supported 33 different endowed scholarship funds, many of which they established personally. These gifts are in keeping with the University’s strategic efforts to increase student access by enhancing the scholarship endowment and thinking creatively about how to put a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it, regardless of financial circumstances.

“Butler is an extremely special place to me and to my family,” says Board Chair Jatinder-Bir “Jay” Sandhu ’87. “Every time I step foot on this campus it feels like coming home, and I remember the feeling of acceptance I found here as an 18-year-old student. My wife Roop and I are passionate about making sure that future students have access to that same experience. That’s why we’re committed to supporting Butler Beyond.”

Butler Beyond: The Campaign for Butler University is the University’s largest-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign with a goal of $250 million. The campaign will conclude on May 31, 2022.

“We believe so strongly in the value of a Butler education and in the impact Butler graduates go on to make in their communities and workplaces,” says Trustee Keith Burks MBA ’90, who is serving as Butler Beyond Campaign Co-Chair along with his wife, Tina. “Our hope is that Butler’s many alumni and friends will be inspired to join us in investing in the lives of future generations of students through their own gifts to Butler Beyond.”


Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
317-940-9742

Butler Beyond
Butler Beyond

Board of Trustees Commit More Than $43 Million to Butler Beyond Campaign

The Board’s gifts represent nearly 24 percent of the more than $181 million that has been raised so far

Feb 17 2020 Read more
Experiential Learning

Triple Threat: Dancer, DJ, Chemistry Instructor

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 11 2020

It’s almost showtime for Carl DeAmicis.

The Chemistry Lecturer has the music cued, the camera about to roll, and some dance moves at the ready. But this isn’t his demo reel for the next season of America’s Got Talent. It’s another online lecture filled with a lot of organic chemistry and showmanship.

When DeAmicis hits record on the desktop computer inside Irwin Library’s Lightboard Studio, he gets down on all fours—out of camera shot. He crawls under the lightboard, where a complicated chemistry problem is scrawled in bright green pen. Then DeAmicis dramatically rises into view as Ed Sheeran’s Beautiful People echoes around him.

DeAmicis doesn’t think his dance moves are particularly good or special, but the music-filled introductions get his students to log on and watch the online lessons.

“I think the idea of an Organic Chemistry instructor in his 60s who is willing to get up there and dance is what makes it special,” he says. 

For the class that also includes lab sessions and in-person lectures, the videos are more like focused tutoring sessions. DeAmicis saves his main lectures for in-class, but both formats are high-energy. 

DeAmicis realized early on that his students’ musical tastes are different from his, so he takes recommendations from his kids—who are in their 20s—and finds other songs on pop playlists. But the dancing comes naturally, and the moves are as organic as the chemistry he teaches. 

Beyond the dancing, DeAmicis’ class is notoriously difficult. About 80 percent of the students are majors in the College of Pharmacy and Health Science, and Organic Chemistry is often the last hurdle before they move on to graduate work.

“My goal is to kind of make it light-hearted so that it’s a little bit fun—not just torture,” DeAmicis says. “Unfortunately, it’s still really difficult. It’s a little more fun, but no one says it's any easier.”

Story Fridays

Among DeAmicis’ class traditions, Story Fridays have become a hit. The lecturer pulls from his 30-year career at Eli Lilly and Company and Dow AgroSciences, as well as his time as a Ph.D. student at Stanford University. His stories lend insights into the kinds of careers or advanced studies that await his class of undergrads, often relating to what the class is learning that week.

“I find the students like to hear about real-world applications of the stuff we’re doing,” DeAmicis says. “My first Story Friday was about a 15-year project on a molecule discovery and development called Spinetoram. The entire class applauded after my story, and I was floored. Ever since then, I start every Friday class with a story, unless we have an exam.”

Carl DeAmicis
Carl DeAmicis gets animated during a recent Organic Chemistry class.

A recent class began with DeAmicis’ take on studying under and researching for Eugene Earle van Tamelen, a pioneering bioorganic chemist and an imposing figure by the time DeAmicis enrolled in his lab in 1983. He spoke about being thrown into teaching van Tamelen’s chemistry course in front of 250 students. He did well enough to earn two crisp $50 bills from the intimidating professor’s wallet. 

“My opinion of van Tamelen prior to that day was down here,” quips DeAmicis, stooping down to the classroom floor before rising to his tiptoes. “After that day, it was up here. He turned out to be one of the nicest people I ever met. He even let me use his office to write my dissertation.”

Turning to his students, DeAmicis drives home the moral of his Friday story.

“During your career, you will hear horror stories about certain people,” he says. “And then when you meet them, you’ll develop a relationship, and it just might be the best ever. It happens, and I want you to remember this story.”

The chance to make a difference for even just one student a semester is why DeAmicis continues to teach after retirement.

“For me, it’s the pinnacle of fulfillment,” DeAmicis says. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

Twitter sensation

Dustin Soe, a junior studying Biochemistry, says the Organic Chemistry class would be more difficult if it wasn’t for DeAmicis’ passion and creativity toward the challenging material.

“He’s quite different from everyone else, but that works for me. I like it,” he says. “It can be hard to come to class on Friday, but he loves pop music and dancing around. He makes it more entertaining.”

Pharmacy sophomore Reilly Livingston is one of many students who appreciate the instructor's energy in a difficult class. She has tweeted dozens of videos of DeAmcis’ dance moves, along with one clip of DeAmicis dressed as a wizard for Halloween. (He used “magic” to pull down a projection screen for that day’s lecture.)

“The dancing is something really fun,” Livingston says. “He puts in a lot of effort because I think he realizes it is a difficult class. I wasn’t looking forward to the class going in, but now it has become one of my favorites.”

 

Carl DeAmicis’ greatest hits

The Organic Chemistry instructor has entertained his students all year, but some of his top moments include:

  • Getting hit by a giant rubber ball to Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball,
  • Donning a blue wig and strumming along on a guitar to Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, 
  • And dressing up in the style of Jimmy Buffett for a lecture.

 

Photography by Brent Smith and Tim Brouk; video by Joel Stein

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Experiential Learning

Triple Threat: Dancer, DJ, Chemistry Instructor

Carl DeAmicis’ Organic Chemistry course is notoriously tough, but he finds ways to keep students interested

Feb 11 2020 Read more
Fulbright
Alumni Success

Butler Named a Top Producer of Student Fulbright Recipients

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Feb 10 2020

INDIANAPOLIS—Butler University has been named a Top Producing Institution of participants in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2019-2020 academic year. An international educational exchange experience through the U.S. Department of State, this program aims to increase understanding between the United States and other countries.

Four Butler graduates received Fulbright sponsorships over the last year:

  • Meredith Gallagher ’19 (Biology/Spanish) is conducting an independent research project in Bolivia and Peru. She is evaluating the effectiveness of a device used to patch holes in hearts. Read more about the device here.
  • Miren Mohrenweiser ’17 (History/English Literature/French) is the recipient of the inaugural Global Peace, Security, and Justice award. She is earning her Ph.D. at Queen’s University Belfast. Read more about the award here.
  • Matt Del Busto ‘19 (English/Spanish) was one of only five English Teaching Assistants selected to teach at the Universidad de Málaga in Málaga, Spain.
  • Tommy Roers ‘19 (Middle and Secondary Education/Spanish) was one of only six English Teaching Assistants selected to teach in Uruguay for eight months.

“By conducting research, earning degrees, or teaching English in local communities abroad, our students are the embodiment of Fulbright’s mission to foster mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchange,” says Dacia Charlesworth, Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships. “I am delighted that our students and alumni are able to participate in such a noble program as they truly represent the best of our University.”

Butler last received this honor during the 2015-2016 academic year, when three students received English Teaching Assistantships. Since 2004, the University has had a total of 19 student Fulbright recipients.

“The Fulbright experience is valuable primarily because it funds participants’ education and professional development,” Charlesworth says. “Moving beyond the financial rewards, though, the cultural engagement recipients experience is invaluable. Fulbright recipients are true ambassadors for our nation.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Fulbright
Alumni Success

Butler Named a Top Producer of Student Fulbright Recipients

The University had four program participants over the last academic year

Feb 10 2020 Read more
Iowa caucus action
Innovation

Iowa Caucus Debacle Could Affect Voter Turnout Come November, Says Butler Political Scientist

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 06 2020

In a presidential election year, the Iowa Caucus is usually the first momentum push for a candidate, but what if there is no clear winner until days after the event?

The confusion and technology glitches following the February 3 Iowa Caucus will likely result in a lot more than just delayed final results, Dr. Gregory Shufeldt, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Butler University says. The failure to announce a winner during the caucus could impact the November 3 presidential election.

Greg Shufeldt
Dr. Gregory Shufeldt

“People need to have confidence in the election to participate. If you don't trust the process, you might not participate,” says Shufeldt, who has published research on voter confidence and electoral integrity. “The things that happened in Iowa aren’t good. Even if it was from honest mistakes, it could affect the efficacy and enthusiasm in voting, and when a winner is announced, some might question the legitimacy of the results.”

After about five days of delay, Pete Buttigieg was announced as the Iowa Caucus winner on February 9, narrowly defeating Bernie Sanders. The candidates were in a virtual tie for the week as the final votes were tallied.

Following the 2016 Iowa caucus, which saw Hillary Clinton narrowly win over Bernie Sanders, candidates wanted more transparency in the process. The Iowa Democratic Party decided it would now announce three sets of results: initial head count, final viability headcount, and delegates allocated. What was supposed to be the clearest route to a winner slowed the process down as the data did not line up, says Shufeldt, who is teaching a U.S. Presidential Nominations course this semester.

In each of the precincts, caucus leaders collect “preference cards” from attendees, showing which candidate each participant favored. These exist in case a recount is requested, but they also provide a backstop for any technical reporting issues.

“Every four years, everyone updates their process on what they learned last time,” Shufeldt says. “In 2016 and before, they normally only released the final delegate results, which is all that matters for winning the nomination.”

Shufeldt says the media attention could be squandered for the winner as the focus will be on the flawed process, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address February 4, and pending impeachment vote on February 5. It could also bring the end to the early caucuses and change how we nominate presidential candidates in the future.

“Iowa’s role as first in nation for caucuses will be revisited,” Shufeldt says. “That’s bad news for Iowa and then New Hampshire might lose some of their privileged status. There’s a whole host of concerns—how representative and inclusive they are—and that will affect the process of future elections.” 

An issue after the muddied process in the 2020 Iowa caucus is that it will cause voters to stay home on November 3. The combination of a flawed process and the lack of the voter’s preferred candidate could affect voter turnout. Shufeldt says a streamlined, accurate voting process is crucial, especially with political pundits debating the accuracy of the Electoral College versus the popular vote.

“The concern is if you feel your side lost the primary due to mistakes, will you support another candidate or stay home?” Shufeldt asks. “The Democratic candidate needs every vote, especially in states that have history of going back and forth between Republican and Democrat, like Iowa.”

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

Iowa caucus action
Innovation

Iowa Caucus Debacle Could Affect Voter Turnout Come November, Says Butler Political Scientist

Delayed results will make some voters distrust the election process, says Assistant Professor Gregory Shufeldt 

Feb 06 2020 Read more
scholarships
Butler Beyond

Recent Gifts Push Butler to $32M for Scholarship Support in Butler Beyond Campaign

BY

PUBLISHED ON Feb 03 2020

Fueled by a surge of recent significant gifts, Butler University has surpassed $32 million raised for student scholarships as part of its Butler Beyond comprehensive fundraising campaign. Of its $250 million overall campaign goal, the University aims to raise $55 million for student scholarships before the conclusion of the campaign on May 31, 2022.

Seventeen new endowed scholarships have been established since the start of the University’s fiscal year on June 1; among them are two commitments of $1 million or more. Bolstering the University’s scholarship endowment is a central funding priority for the Butler Beyond campaign as the University seeks to increase student access and success.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the generosity of those who share our vision of making a Butler education accessible to all who desire to pursue it, and who have chosen to invest in the lives of current and future Butler students through scholarship gifts,” says Butler President James Danko.

Among the donations was a $1.5 million gift from an anonymous donor to establish a new endowed scholarship that will help to underwrite the University’s Butler Tuition Guarantee scholarship program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving graduates with financial need from Marion County high schools. The gift is a significant step toward the University’s goal to fully fund the Butler Tuition Guarantee scholarship program through philanthropic gifts, which would require $8.9 million.

The family is funding their scholarship commitment through a combination of cash, planned giving, and a corporate gift, allowing them to immediately begin witnessing the impact of the endowed scholarship, which will exist in perpetuity at Butler.

In December, the University also announced the creation of the Gregory & Appel Endowed Scholarship for Risk Management and Insurance Education at Butler. At $500,000, it was the largest corporate-sponsored endowed scholarship gift in University history.

Also among the recent scholarship gifts was a $1 million estate commitment from Randy and Libby Brown to establish the Randy and Libby Brown Endowed Scholarship. In his role as a Lacy School of Business Executive Career Mentor, Randy has witnessed the impact of loan debt on students as they complete their degrees and begin their careers. He was also the recipient of unexpected financial support while in college. The couple’s new endowed scholarship will extend the impact of their existing annual scholarship, which is currently awarded to high-achieving rising seniors who have financed their education largely with student loans. The scholarship aims to launch students into their post-graduation lives with less debt.

Scholarship gifts like these are central to the University’s efforts to examine new ways to make a Butler education more affordable. Focusing on Butler’s founding mission that everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, deserves a high-quality education, the University is exploring various pathways to address inequity in higher education. Funding the creation of new educational models while maintaining the University’s robust financial aid program will require significant philanthropic support.

Butler awarded more than $77 million in scholarships in 2019-2020. However, only $3.3 million of that total amount was funded by the endowment or other philanthropic support, resulting in nearly $74 million in student scholarship support being funded from Butler’s operating budget. Closing this nearly $74 million gap is a strategic imperative for Butler’s future. Last year, the University made a commitment that all gifts to its annual fund would be directed to student scholarships. All gifts to the new Butler Fund for Student Scholarship directly underwrite current student scholarships, making a direct and immediate impact on student success.

Along with endowed scholarships that exist in perpetuity, donors can also name an annual scholarship through yearly gifts of $2,500 or more for four years. Since the start of the Butler Beyond campaign, 48 donor families have signed on as annual scholarship donors, collectively pledging $576,000 in student scholarship support.

“Access to education changes the trajectory of an individual’s life, and I can’t think of a more meaningful gift to offer than the opportunity to pursue higher learning through a scholarship,” says Vice President for Advancement Jonathan Purvis. “We look forward to reaching our goal of $55 million for student scholarships through the Butler Beyond campaign and seeing many more lives changed through the gift of access to a Butler education.”

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

scholarships
Butler Beyond

Recent Gifts Push Butler to $32M for Scholarship Support in Butler Beyond Campaign

The University aims to raise a total of $55M for student scholarships by the end of May 2022

Feb 03 2020 Read more
Butler men's basketball action
Campus

Butler University Announces New Sports Wagering Policy

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 31 2020

Butler University announced the adoption of a new Sports Wagering Policy, effective immediately, in response to the legalization of betting on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I sports in Indiana.

The policy prohibits all Butler trustees, faculty, staff, students, and independent contractors from placing wagers on Butler sporting events since they may be afforded greater access to information that could impact the outcome of competitions. The goal of the policy is to foster a culture of honesty, integrity, and fair play in keeping with The Butler Way and to help protect Butler teams, student-athletes, and coaches from undue influence and improper conduct. Butler’s student-athletes and those providing support to the athletic program are already prohibited from engaging in sports wagering by NCAA rules.   

“We pride ourselves on providing our student-athletes an exceptional educational and athletic experience,” says Butler President James Danko. “Our Sports Wagering Policy, which is supported by our Board of Trustees, is a proactive measure rooted in our commitment to and support of our student-athletes and our athletic programs.”

Vice President and Director of Athletics Barry Collier commented, “I am pleased that our University’s leadership has taken this important step to live our shared values and protect the integrity of our campus community.”

For more information, please visit http://www.butler.edu/sportswagering to access Butler’s Sports Wagering policy.

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

Butler men's basketball action
Campus

Butler University Announces New Sports Wagering Policy

The policy prohibits all Butler faculty, staff, and students from placing wagers on Butler sporting events

Jan 31 2020 Read more
Prof. Chris Stobart and senior Benjamin Nick
Experiential Learning

Butler Researchers Work Toward Possible Coronavirus Treatment

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Jan 31 2020

As the coronavirus spreads globally and the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency, a team of Butler University researchers are working toward a potential virus vaccine and drug development.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor of Biology Chris Stobart, is focused on a protease named nonstructural protein 5 (nsp5) —an enzyme that cuts larger viral proteins into smaller proteins. Backed by a team of five undergraduate researchers, Stobart has found an important region in the structure of the protease in the mouse hepatitis virus, a coronavirus of its own that affects mice and is safe to study in a lab. It’s structure mimics coronaviruses that affect humans. They hypothesize that inhibiting the enzyme’s effects on the protein could stop the virus’ replication.

 

“Without the protein, the virus is dead,” Stobart says. “It’s a vital target that a lot of groups in the past have looked at to develop therapeutic options. What we’re doing is trying to mutate parts of this enzyme to figure out what regions are potential targets for the drug.”

As a microbiologist and virologist, Stobart finds new behaviors in viruses with the goal of biochemists or pharmacologists to then create medicines to fight the virus. Stobart says the research on nsp5 should be finished this spring and ready to publish in the summer.

By understanding the important parts of the protease, a drug can be developed to throw a hammer into the coronavirus’ machinations. Those regions of the enzyme that can’t be mutated without killing the virus are important to map on the protein’s structure. They are “hotspots” for biochemists to attack with therapeutics. The important area they identified is called the interdomain loop within the protease. The project began in 2018 but in 2020, the research has real-world applications.

The December emergence of the coronavirus, which has infected thousands worldwide and killed more than 80 in China, is serendipitous but the work can affect related coronaviruses like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and those that cause the common cold.

“This virus’ mortality rate is much less than SARS and MERS, closer to about 3 or 4 percent, but it’s spreading much more quickly,” says Stobart, whose last decade of research projects have included coronaviruses that affect humans.

Mansi Pandya in the lab
Senior Mansi Pandya is an undergrad researching coronaviruses in Chris Stobart's lab.

Benjamin Nick, a Biology and Chemistry major, has worked in Stobart’s lab since his first year at Butler. Well-versed in lab techniques, Nick’s work started out like the proverbial “needle in a haystack” but zeroing in on nsp5 has revealed exciting results. Using a serial dilution technique to work with manageable levels of virus, Nick helped identify key residues in the mouse virus samples that could translate to therapeutic targets against human coronavirus strains.

“We put progressively less virus into our racks, from 10 times as strong to 1/100,000th of dilution,” Nick says. “We grow the virus at different temperatures—37 degrees Celsius for normal homeostatic body temperature to 40 degrees Celsius to mimic a human spiking a fever.”

Nick found that mutating parts of the interdomain loop of the protease made the virus more unstable than usual at higher temperatures. These parts of the protease that would weaken under mutations are targets for the Stobart lab’s molecular research.

Nick says working on the coronavirus project has been fulfilling and he is looking forward to seeing his name on published research that could have major ramifications in coronavirus treatment.

“Over the last couple years, I’ve had the dream of developing a thesis and seeing it come to completion,” he adds. “Now that I've put in the work, done the things I need to do to prepare myself and gather the data, I can do that. It’s exciting to see how much of an impact my research time here at Butler can have. 

“The work I've been doing is relevant now. It matters. It’s literally impacting lives.”

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu

Prof. Chris Stobart and senior Benjamin Nick
Experiential Learning

Butler Researchers Work Toward Possible Coronavirus Treatment

Biology Professor Chris Stobart’s lab has focused on a protease in the deadly virus that could inhibit replication

Jan 31 2020 Read more
Founder's Week
Campus

Butler’s 2020 Founder’s Week Recognizes Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jan 30 2020

In efforts to focus on diversity and inclusion on campus, Butler University can look back to its roots. From February 2–8, the University will celebrate those ideals during Founder’s Week.

Every year, Butler observes the birthday of its founder, abolitionist Ovid Butler, with a slate of events that remind the campus community of his spirit and founding vision. Since opening in 1855, Butler has invited women and people of color to attend the University—an innovative position for the time.

“When people find out that Butler was founded by an abolitionist in 1855, open from the very beginning for African-Americans and women—and that we have the first endowed chair named after a woman in this country—they are kind of surprised,” says Terri Jett, Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity. “People don’t look to Indiana as being on the forefront of progressive ideas. But it actually was—at least at Butler.”

This year, in honor of the centennial of women winning the right to vote, the week will embrace the theme of “BU | Be Demia”—as in Demia Butler, Ovid’s daughter and the first woman to graduate from Butler’s four-year program. The University also established the first endowed chair in the country for a female professor in Demia’s name. After the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature was created in 1869, Catharine Merrill—the second full-time female professor in the nation at any university—became its first recipient.

Through the image of Demia, this year’s event will honor women through a series of events including a suffragist exhibit in Irwin Library, screenings of the movies On the Basis of Sex and Hidden Figures, a panel discussion about reproductive rights, and a Visiting Writers Series event with award-winning author Carmen Maria Machado. On Thursday, the week’s keynote presentation will feature Butler Speaker’s Lab Director Sally Perkins in a performance of her one-woman play about the suffragist movement, Digging in Their Heels. To wrap up the celebration on Friday, all staff, faculty, and students can receive two free tickets to the February 7 Women’s Basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“We need to keep recognizing our own history and tradition,” Jett says. “But the values that history was founded on are still in line with the things we focus on today: diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

To help emphasize those ideals throughout the year, the Founder’s Week Committee awards several $1,000 grants to help faculty develop course projects, assignments, or independent studies in ways that incorporate the themes of Founder’s Day. More than 40 faculty members have received these grants, and this year’s celebration showcases three recipients: Ryan Rogers, Peter Wang, and Erin Garriott.

 

  • Rogers, Assistant Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment, and Academic Coordinator of Esports Programs, used the grant to develop a class focusing on themes of diversity and inclusion in esports. Students learned about the relationship between harassment and competition, and that the mediated environment inherent to esports—not seeing your competitor face-to-face—can lead to more dismissal of the other person’s feelings. The class found that female participants were common targets of this harassment. Students then conducted original studies to search for solutions for making the esports industry more welcoming for everyone.

 

  • Wang, Lecturer of Art History, has added a section related to Founder’s Day to his class about American art and visual culture. The assignment asks students to research a female or African-American artist from the Colonial period through the 19th century. “The idea is to re-contextualize the barriers and challenges for these artists around the time when Butler University was established,” Wang says. “If students were in the second half of 19th-century America and were to collect a piece of art made by a woman or an African-American, what would they be looking at?”

 

  • Garriott, a Lecturer in the College of Education, used her Founder’s Day grant to support disability inclusion efforts around campus. She started with the café on Butler’s South Campus, working with staff there to help transform the space into “a place to celebrate people of all abilities.” Now, the café is decorated with artwork from Kelley Schreiner, an artist who has Down Syndrome, and it will soon host a larger exhibition. Garriott also led efforts to raise awareness for the Special Olympics members who take classes in Butler’s Health and Recreation Complex. “Kelley Schreiner now has a poster of her strong self getting ready to lift some weights, which is hanging outside The Kennel,” Garriott explains. “We will have another poster made this semester with Katherine Custer, who is taking the Wagging, Walking, and Wellness Physical Well Being class. Plus, we have created a documentation panel that will hang at South Campus to celebrate our collaboration with Special Olympics Indiana.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
(260) 307-3403

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Founder's Week
Campus

Butler’s 2020 Founder’s Week Recognizes Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

The annual event celebrates the University’s founding values of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Jan 30 2020 Read more
Ashley Altman in United Arab Emirates
Experiential Learning

Butler’s first Gilman Scholars embark for international study

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Jan 24 2020

Two Butler University students traveled a combined 15,000-plus miles to conduct research abroad, thanks to the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships. 

International Studies major Ashley Altman and Biology junior Dakotah Harris are the first Butler recipients of the nationally competitive scholarship, which enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad while gaining skills related to national security and economic prosperity. The program was established in 2000.

Dakotah Harris
Dakotah Harris

Altman left for Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 16. She is studying political science at the American University of Sharjah.

Harris is stationed in the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, where he’ll gain experience in public health. He will learn outside the classroom via one-on-one mentorships through April 4. Harris will also work with a volunteer group from the Human Sciences Research Council. Their mission will be to educate nearby populations about HIV while diagnosing and treating those with the disease.

“There’s a lot of very dangerous myths around HIV,” Harris says. “I’ll be working on getting information to the townships that don’t necessarily have all the resources they may need.”

Receiving $4,500 from the Gilman Scholarship, Altman’s trip is part of the International Student Exchange Programs. His time in South Africa will help pave a career path in epidemiology and the prevention of infectious diseases.

Harris says the opportunity will get him in on the “ground level” for his future work in public health.

“I’m excited for this life-changing experience. I’m ready to serve the people,” says Harris, who will leverage two years of research experience in Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Berry’s lab for his work abroad.

“Dakotah's drive and dedication to research will help him further investigate vaccines. Specifically from my lab, Dakotah has learned several skills and techniques—like animal handling—that will be useful for him in his future research endeavors,” says Berry, adding that Harris has become a student leader in her lab. “I think this trip will give Dakotah a chance to help a lot of people, and that's what he's all about.”

About 40 percent of Butler students take advantage of study abroad opportunities. For Harris and Atlman, The Gilman Scholarship has made that easier.

“To me, receiving a Gilman means that the students are motivated personally and academically to jump any hurdle in order to study abroad,” says Jill McKinney, Director of Global Engagement at Butler. “Not only are the students likely going abroad for the first time, but they’re also going to locations that have significant cultural and linguistic differences.”

McKinney expects Altman and Harris to benefit from their experience by improving language and communication skills, gaining intercultural agility, and making contacts from around the world.

“Study abroad is a great talking point in job interviews,” McKinney says. “In fact, we’ve anecdotally heard from our former students that they are asked more about their study abroad experiences than anything else they list on their resumes.

“For many Gilman Scholarship recipients, this scholarship is the reason they can make study abroad happen.”

 

Media contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu

Ashley Altman in United Arab Emirates
Experiential Learning

Butler’s first Gilman Scholars embark for international study

The awards will allow the students to complete research in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates

Jan 24 2020 Read more

Hi, I’m Blue!

Well, I guess I am Butler Blue IV, but you can call me Blue. I am Butler’s new mascot-in-training!

I was born the lone male in a litter of three on October 30, 2019, at Fall Creek Place Animal Clinic. My vet, Dr. Kurt Phillips ’92, delivered my two sisters and me. Then I went home with my breeders, Jodi and Cameron Madaj, and I have been living with them for the last 12 weeks while growing into this bundle of brown and white rolls you see today.

Oh, and don’t worry, I already bleed Butler Blue. I stuck my head out of the incubator at two weeks old to watch the Men’s Basketball team play on television. I even started barking when the announcer said the rival team’s name.

I was born for this.

I’d love to meet you! My on-campus debut for students, faculty, and staff will be on Friday, January 24. And later that evening, I’ll make my public debut at Hinkle Fieldhouse just before the Butler Men’s Basketball game against Marquette. Be sure you get to your seats early.

For the next few months, I’ll be training, interning, and following around Uncle Trip (Butler Blue III) to learn what it takes to represent Butler. Then, I’ll take over full-time mascot duties after Trip retires at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Other than all of that, I’m looking forward to getting settled at my new home, too. I moved in with my parents, Evan ’16 and Kennedy Krauss, about a week ago, but it feels like I’ve known them forever. They even got to be there when I was born, and they have visited me every week over the last couple of months.

I hope to see you all on Friday. I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet you! I’m so honored to be your next Butler Bulldog.

 

Go Dawgs!

 

 

 

 

 

Butler Blue IV
Butler University’s Mascot-in-Training

P.S.: Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @TheButlerBlue. Two words: Puppy Pics.

P.P.S.: I love you.

Blue IV
Campus

Hi, I’m Blue!

I am your new mascot-in-training. I can’t wait to meet you. 

blue
Campus

Butler Blue IV, next live mascot for Butler, revealed, ready to report to work

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jan 22 2020

It’s a cold December morning in downtown Indianapolis, and the Fountain Square Animal Clinic is about to open.

A red jeep pulls into the parking lot, and out hops a 14-week-old french bulldog. He trots with his owner into the Clinic. A few more cars pull in. Two cats head inside, followed by a lab mix.

Then, a white Toyota RAV4 pulls right up to the Clinic’s front door, bypassing the whole parking thing. A man and a woman emerge from the car, grab a plastic Bella Storage Solution 67-liter bin, and hurry inside. It’s impossible to see through the bin, as layers of blankets cover the sides.

No one knows it at the time, but about an hour later, it becomes official: The bin is holding the next Butler University live mascot, Butler Blue IV.

That day in December, Butler Blue IV was a six-week-old, five pound, American Kennel Club-Registered English Bulldog puppy in a bin with his two sisters. After full-body x-rays, shots, and a close examination by clinic owner Kurt Phillips ‘92, it was determined that the next live mascot would be this dog. Phillips, who delivered the three siblings on October 30, 2019, was in the room with breeders Jodi and Cameron Madaj, as well as current mascot handler Michael Kaltenmark (who owns Butler Blue III “aka Trip”), and the next live mascot handler, Evan Krauss.

The decision marked the end of a process much longer than a one-hour vet appointment. It was a journey that technically started in December 2018, when Kaltenmark, Krauss, and Phillips determined it would be best for Trip to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year due to his older age and long tenure on the job.

But it also marked the beginning of the next phase of preparations for introducing a new live mascot. Now, about a month later, the puppy who snuck into the clinic in a plastic bin has grown into a 12-week-old, 20 pound dog. He has experienced more of the mascot lifestyle—posing for photo shoots, growing out of two Butler jerseys, and listening to a cranked-up Butler fight song on repeat to simulate a raucous Hinkle Fieldhouse. He’s also been exposed to many different people, taken trips to Home Depot, and grown used to the sound of banging pots and pans.

But Blue has also been adjusting to, well, life. He moved away from his two sisters and mother into his new home at 10 weeks old. He’s learning to go to the bathroom outside, and how to walk on a leash.

Butler Blue IV has lived in near anonymity since he was born in October. But as the new mascot-in-training until he takes over full-time when Trip retires in May, the days of being toted around in secret bins are about to be long gone.

 

How it all began

It was December 2018, and Butler Blue III “aka Trip” had recently turned seven. Kaltenmark and Krauss took him to the vet’s office to see Phillips. Trip was in good health, but Phillips said it would be best if they didn’t push him past his eighth season.

“Trip has been great, and he had no chronic or recurring health issues, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t push him too far,” Phillips says.

In May, Kaltenmark and Krauss sat down and solidified a succession plan. But it didn’t exactly start with talking about Trip and the next dog. Instead, the plan focused on Kaltenmark—the man who has overseen Butler’s live mascot program for 16 years.

 

 

At first, Kaltenmark was excited to start again with Butler Blue IV. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized it might be best for him to take a step back.

“I have been married for 16 years, and I’ve been the mascot handler for 16 years,” he says. “My boys are getting older, and they have schedules that compete with the mascot’s schedule.”

Then there was the kidney diagnosis. Kaltenmark was first told in December 2018 that his kidneys were failing. He needed a transplant. He received one from his brother in early January 2020.

“It just made sense to get out of my own way and hand this on to someone who is extremely prepared and ready for this, and that is Evan,” says Kaltenmark, who still plans to stay very involved in the live mascot program after the 2019-2020 academic year.

Once the team settled on a handler, it was time to start looking for the next dog.

Kaltenmark and Krauss relied on Phillips to identify potential litters of bulldog puppies. Phillips interviewed several breeders. He also conducted pre-breeding exams that took health, temperament, and timing into consideration.

They went through about four or five litters, but none of the puppies quite fit what they needed in terms of health and timing. Then, the Madajs entered the picture.

 

How to find a dog

Jodi Madaj has always been a dog person.

Growing up in Danville, Illinois, she would find stray dogs and bring them to her grandparents’ house. At times there would be eight, nine, even 10 dogs there, all courtesy of Madaj.

That love of dogs has not waned. Madaj, her husband, and their two kids have had basset hounds, boxers, and german boxers, but her son always wanted a bulldog. So, in 2003, Madaj and her husband bought a bulldog puppy, put it in a box with a bow on top, and gave it to their son as a Christmas present. In 2011, they got another: Phoebe, also known as Trip’s sister. Phoebe had puppies in 2013, and the Madajs, of course, kept two of the puppies.

“I am more of a collector than a breeder,” Madaj says.

One of those puppies, Trixie, had a litter of seven in 2016. One of those puppies, Violet, would end up becoming the mother of Butler Blue IV.

Madaj also has a love for Butler. Her kids grew up going to camps at the University, and her son played soccer there. Sixteen years ago, her love of Butler and bulldogs led her to strike up a conversation with Kaltenmark, and she has been bringing pre-game treats for Butler’s live mascots ever since.

When Madaj heard that Trip was retiring, she thought about donating a puppy from Violet’s litter.

“I wanted to donate a dog if I had a healthy dog,” Madaj says. “I wanted to do it because I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Violet gave birth to three healthy puppies on October 30, 2019. But, it was not immediately clear if one would be the next Butler mascot.

The puppies were fed every two hours around the clock for the first three weeks. Madaj slept right next to Violet on the couch every single night. For the first six weeks, Madaj never left the puppies alone.

Then, there was the secret part of it all. Madaj told her kids, but not her mother, hiding Violet in the bedroom when her mother came over.

“She has a big mouth,” Madaj says.

All three of Violet’s puppies ended up being healthy. But during the six-week-old visit with Phillips is December, he decided that one of them stuck out. One of the puppies had a respiratory problem, and the other was a bit aggressive. The third was just right.

“There’s a lot to consider with bulldogs, and we looked at everything,” says Phillips, who has been involved with caring for the Butler mascot since he volunteered to give back to his alma mater in the form of vet care for the first bulldog. “He will be awesome. He is a super cool puppy. He is super easy going and not aggressive at all. Everything fell in line with this dog.”

Madaj agrees.

“He is special,” Madaj says. “When you spend basically 24 hours a day with a dog for three months, you get to know him really well. It will be really hard to leave him, but I know he is going to a great cause—to represent a wonderful institution.”

Madaj, who ended up keeping one of the three puppies, texts Krauss all the time, reminding him not to pick up Blue by the back legs. When Krauss came to pick up Blue in mid-January, she gave him a laminated binder full of instructions, and she cried. About 20 minutes after Krauss left, Madaj texted to see how everything was going.

 

Everything is new

Butler Blue IV isn’t the only one adjusting to a new life. Krauss, the new mascot handler, is adjusting, too.

Krauss has never owned a dog in his life. When he was growing up, the Krausses were—you guessed it—cat people. Krauss is allergic to dogs, which sometimes even causes him to throw up.

But that didn’t stop him. He would ask his parents for a dog for his birthday, Christmas, New Year’s—every single holiday. Then, when his older sister became a Butler  cheerleader and Krauss started going to every basketball game, the team he fell in love with had a dog as their mascot.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” Krauss says. “My Verizon flip phone background was Blue II.”

In his sophomore year at Butler, Krauss applied to join the Butler Blue Crew. The student group helped Kaltenmark with the mascot program, filming video of Trip or assisting at events. Krauss had to lie during his interview when asked if he was allergic to dogs.

After graduation, Krauss joined Kaltenmark’s team permanently to manage the day-to-day operations of the Butler Blue live mascot program.

Now, he is taking over handler duties. The spare bedroom of his apartment is stocked with dog toys, a crate, and food. He checked all his house plants to make sure they weren’t poisonous for animals.

And then there’s the whole new parent thing. Krauss called Kaltenmark when he thought Blue’s stool was a little soft. Kaltenmark assured him it was normal for a puppy, but he brought it to the vet to be sure. Then there was the time Blue’s face turned a bit red after some shots. So, Krauss called the vet, who assured him it was normal, and Kaltenmark brought benadryl over.

“This is my dream come true,” he says. “It is certainly an adjustment, but I couldn’t be more grateful and honored to have this opportunity.”

Butler Blue IV will officially be introduced to the community at his first basketball game on Friday, January 24. Until taking over as full-time mascot at the end of the academic year, he’ll be meeting students, adjusting to his home, and learning how to be the Butler Bulldog.

But behind the scenes, he will focus on going to the bathroom outside, socializing with other dogs, and the adjustment to life without his siblings. It’s an adjustment for everyone.

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

blue
Campus

Butler Blue IV, next live mascot for Butler, revealed, ready to report to work

12-week-old English Bulldog set to take the reins as Butler’s fourth live mascot

Jan 22 2020 Read more