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Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 04 2019

A trio of Butler Software Engineering and Computer Science students are developing a fantasy adventure computer game with the goal of helping Indianapolis children with autism.

As part of Butler University's Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program, Matthew O’Hern, Maya Sanchez, and Parker Winters will deliver the game, which mixes in communication cues along with classic battle play similar to the classic Nintendo Entertainment System games The Legend of Zelda, to Sycamore Services, Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Matthew O'Hern and Parker Winters
EPICS student developers Matthew O'Hern, left, and Parker Winters went old-school for their project.

With Winters creating the maps and environment design, Sanchez and O’Hern developed the main character as well as the artificial intelligence code that drives the baddies—skeletons, zombies, goblins, and evil knights. Along the way, the hero interacts with shopkeepers, travelers, and allies that change facial expressions during these digital conversations. The students and Sycamore Services believe that video gaming can reach an autistic child in augmenting behaviors for face to face interactions away from screens.

Children will play the yet-to-be-named game on computers at the Indianapolis center, located in St. Vincent Hospital. The game contains battle modes, more than 40 world maps, and 600 portraits of characters within a dialogue system where characters in the video game converse—the driving force behind the game’s creation.

“When the opportunity was presented, I couldn’t say ‘no’ to it,” says O’Hern, a Software Engineering sophomore. “We’re developing it as an instructional source to help children grow their social skills.”

Established almost 20 years ago, EPICS classes provide free information technology services to nonprofit organizations and Butler programs. The class started with just four students as an elective, but it has since quintupled in enrollment, growing into a required class for Computer Science and Software Engineering students. Students get early experience working with clients on developing a website, app, or videogame. The fall 2019 class features five student teams working on projects on and off campus. The students selected their preferred project after organizations presented their needs in the beginning of the semester.

O’Hern has already taken the EPICS class twice. His first experience was leading the development of an interface that helps doctors share and gather data for the InVascular project at IUPUI. And this fall’s project has been even more fulfilling, leading to potential internship opportunities.

Most EPICS projects will allow future students to update them. O’Hern said his video game will be left open for future developers to add levels, characters, and more facial expressions for the children to learn from.

Using the cross-platform game engine Unity, O’Hern and his team created a fantasy world with swords that light up to vanquish skeletons and zombies. While helping children is the ultimate goal, adding the retro spin has been fulfilling for the students. The simple, old-school Nintendo vibe of the game also ensures that gameplay will work on almost any computer.

The battles, the interactions and dialogues with the characters, and the movement of the main character, which the player will be able to name, were all created to be easy yet engaging. O’Hern says the gameplay “disguises” its educational aspects.

Digital costuming

The Department of Theatre’s costume shop is brimming with thousands of hats, dresses, suits, and shoes to clothe actors and actresses. A paper-based system has successfully organized the garments for decades, but an EPICS team led by senior Maya Grandstaff is making strides in digitizing the process. 

The Marketing and Management Information Systems major and her classmates are developing a website where users can search for specific garments by size, color, and style while finding the garments’ locations in the tall hanging racks. Directors, show designers, and outside clients looking to rent costumes can access the massive inventory from the comfort of their couch.

Team members Eromo Algibe and Kameron Leisure spent weeks creating the framework of a database to be filled by Theatre staff and faculty members. By the end of the semester, the frontend user application will feature forms to filter searches. The team is testing basic queries from the front end, which will reach back to the huge database.

“They can just click submit and see what they have,” Grandstaff says. “It’s really cool now to go to a show and see all the costumes, components, and changes that go into it. It really helps you understand how diverse the program is.”

Eromo Algibe works on a project.
EPICS student developer Eromo Algibe works in the Butler Theatre costume shop.

Sam Royal didn’t think sifting through old Renaissance-replica gowns and 1930s-style men’s suits would help his career at first, but a recent job interview proved otherwise. The senior says the job recruiter was particularly interested in his EPICS work.

“It’s all about getting that experience but helping someone out at the same time,” says Royal, a senior studying Management Information Systems.

Panos Linos, Professor of Software Engineering and Computer Science, is pleased to see the program that he is coordinating continue to grow.

“Students need to have a platform to use the skills they learn in their classes, and to apply them in a real setting,” Linos says. “The value of a Software Engineering education comes from applying it to real life. And EPICS is a great platform for that.”

Other EPICS projects in the works this fall:

  • Working with Indy Hunger Network, a team is developing an online calculator for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Users will be able to track their available credits for the most efficient and nutritious ways to feed their families.
  • Participants in Butler’s Healthy Horizons program will receive a new digital process to keep track of activities, points, and incentives. The online component will be more interactive than its print and PDF predecessors.
  • A team of EPICS developers are creating an online memorial for Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, who died July 4 at 85. An active public speaker until just months before her death, Kor gave the Butler Spring 2015 Commencement address, promoting messages of forgiveness, strength, and survival. The website will allow users to “plant” digital flowers in a garden. Each purple flower will contain the name of the person being remembered, the date, and a message. 

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

Through collaboration and strong partnerships, Butler Beyond will unleash the potential of our brilliant faculty and students on the complex issues facing our community. Support for this pillar will expand Butler’s reach and roots in the Indianapolis community and beyond by cultivating deeper integration with local organizations and businesses, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, nurturing new ventures, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Experiential LearningUnleashed

Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

As part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, students provide free IT work to the community

Dec 04 2019 Read more
Lloyd Wright
CommunityPeople

Lloyd Wright, WFYI CEO and President, to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Butler University

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 26 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Lloyd Wright, CEO and President of WFYI, will be the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and will deliver Commencement remarks at Butler University’s 2019 Winter Commencement.

Winter Commencement will take place Friday, December 20, at 6:30 PM in Clowes Memorial Hall. About 150 students are expected to receive their diplomas.

“In choosing honorary degree recipients and speakers, Butler selects individuals whose lives reflect our University’s core values and whose message can positively impact our students,” President James M. Danko says. “Lloyd Wright embodies not only the calculated risk-taking we encourage in our students, but our values of innovation and visionary leadership.”

Wright, who retired from WFYI in July after 30 years as President and CEO, led the station through incredible transformation and growth. He anticipated the impact that technological advances would have on the broadcast industry and embraced change, guiding the station into the era of high-definition.

He was responsible for Indiana’s flagship PBS and NPR stations, which include six 24/7 broadcast services, WFYI Productions—a full-service media production facility, WFYI Learning Services and Community Engagement, Indiana Public Broadcasting News Service, and Indiana Reading and Information Services—a free service for Indiana’s print impaired.

Under Wright’s leadership, membership at WFYI increased to 25,000, and annual revenue reached a record high of $12 million. In addition to its primary content, WFYI runs PBS kids’ content on digital channel 20.2, how-to programs on 20.3, mobile content, and two digital radio stations.

Wright’s career includes more than 120 regional Emmy Awards, WFYI's physical move in 2008 to its modern facility at 1630 N. Meridian St., and three capital campaigns that raised a total of more than $34 million. Wright also served as founder and President of the WFYI Foundation.

“I’ve been a Butler University fan nearly my entire life, and WFYI has enjoyed numerous collaborations over the years,” Wright says. “I am humbled and honored to be recognized by Butler and to be associated with The Butler Way.”

A Beech Grove, Indiana native, Wright graduated from Indiana University in 1976. He started his career as Director of Instructional Broadcasting with the Indiana Department of Education. Wright then served for six years as Broadcast Operations Manager at WTTW in Chicago before returning to Indiana.

Butler’s selection of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients is a result of a nomination process, and subsequent review and vetting process.

 

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

Lloyd Wright
CommunityPeople

Lloyd Wright, WFYI CEO and President, to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Butler University

Lloyd Wright will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during Butler's Commencement on December 20.

Nov 26 2019 Read more
The Farm at Butler
Butler BeyondCampusCommunity

Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part one of six.

 

On the west side of Butler University’s campus, nestled between a leafy stretch of the Central Canal Towpath to the southeast and Butler’s athletic fields to the northwest, a one-acre farm sits in stillness. If you walk along the narrow plant beds, the sun on your neck and the songs of house finches fluttering in your ears, you’ll probably forget you’re still in the heart of Indiana’s capital city.

Today, The Farm at Butler (previously called the CUE Farm) is an ongoing sustainable agriculture project that serves a wide range of roles on campus and in the Indianapolis area. The Farm teaches people about growing produce in a way that’s healthy for both humans and the Earth. It promotes research and place-based learning for faculty, staff, students, and members of the community, and it connects food to a variety of careers through recruiting student interns to help keep things running.

But back in 2010, it started as just a place to grow food. A student-run group called Earth Charter Butler broke ground on the space with help from the young Center for Urban Ecology & Sustainability (CUES), an academic center at Butler that celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year. But the effort was mostly student-driven.

Julie Elmore, a 2010 graduate from Butler’s Biology program who helped launch The Farm, first learned about an ethical framework called the Earth Charter in an honors class. The global sustainability movement, which formed in the late 1990s with a mission of uniting Earth’s cultures to work toward protecting the planet and bringing peace to the world, inspired Elmore and a few of her classmates to grow more connected with nature.

“One of the things that kept popping up regarding how you can relate the planet to people was food and where our food comes from,” she says. “We wanted to see more local food, and how much more local can our food get as students than being produced on campus?”

When the students graduated, the CUES took over. The Farm became one part of the Center’s mission to educate and empower Butler and Indianapolis in following best practices of urban ecology.

After funding from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust helped the CUES hire Tim Dorsey as full-time Farm Manager in 2011, Dorsey worked to expand the project from one-third of an acre to its current one-acre plot. The Farm now grows more than 70 different kinds of plants—closer to 200 if you include the different species of each crop. In just one acre, the space fits onions, garlic, bell peppers, cabbage, hot peppers, tomatoes, peach trees, apple trees, berries, and way more.

“The mission of The Farm, at first,” says CUES Director Julia Angstmann, “was to be a model for other agriculture projects in the city—to show what can be done on an acre, and to show how to do it in an ecologically sound way.”

And while The Farm still stays involved across Indianapolis, recent years have seen a return to its roots of focusing on Butler.

“We still have that original motive of being an educator in the city,” Angstmann says. “But we have renewed our commitment to the Butler community.”

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

Media Contact:

Katie Grieze

News Content Manager

kgrieze@butler.edu

260-307-3403 (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.

The Farm at Butler
Butler BeyondCampusCommunity

Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Since 2010, The Farm at Butler has been a place for people to connect with the world and one another.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Farm Manager Tim Dorsey
CampusPeople

Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part two of six.

 

Tim Dorsey first started gardening because he wanted to become more self-sufficient—to give something back to the world around him. He wanted to become more connected with the Earth and its people, and he wanted to learn something. So he got his hands in the soil and taught himself to create something from it.

Dorsey never had much exposure to farming growing up in suburban New Jersey, and he says he didn’t really start paying attention to anything seriously until after college. But that’s when he realized most of his newfound interests—from environmental issues, to rural communities, to local economics, to health and nutrition—all converged in the concept of agriculture.

“My mind started slowly reeling, and I had some ideas for the future,” he says.

He’d recently graduated from Taylor University, where he studied philosophy.

“So, like all good philosophy students—unless you’re in the 0.1 percent of those who go on to become a professor or something—I ended up doing other random things afterwards,” Dorsey says. “But I don’t think that’s wasted. I think it kind of shapes you.”

Between shifts at a local health food store, Dorsey spent his post-college years practicing sustainable farming in his backyard and a few other spots in his Indianapolis neighborhood. As gardening grew into a little more than a hobby, he started meeting more urban farmers and reading every book he could find on sustainable food. He started a small community-supported agriculture (CSA) program—a sort of produce subscription service—and sold a few vegetables to local chefs. He dreamt of eventually finding a few acres where he could scale up.

Then, he found out Butler University was looking for someone to take over the farm that a group of students had planted.

Dorsey started as Butler’s Farm Manager in 2011. For the first three years, he worked as long as the sun was up, teaching himself the job. Now he’s making due with fairly regulated hours, but he always wishes he had a little more time. It’s rare for him to leave The Farm with a completed checklist.

Still, he says The Farm is “an ongoing attempt and demonstration at what can be done on this small parcel of land. And I think in that regard, we surprise a lot of people with what can come out of an acre that’s not even fully utilized.”

For Dorsey, the need to experiment with sustainable, organic farming methods is a no-brainer.

“We have to do something different,” he says. “We can’t think we just know all the answers. And we’re getting an even clearer sense of how locally-based, small-scale agriculture can actually meet the challenge of production.”

 

The Life of a Farm Manager

Every day on the farm brings something new, but here’s a glimpse into some of the tasks you might find Dorsey working on.

  • Watering and harvesting crops
  • Filling produce orders for local restaurants and Butler Dining
  • Prepping for the weekly Farm Stand (Thursdays, 4:00-6:00 PM)
  • Planning and establishing new growing areas
  • Hand-weeding crop beds
  • Cleaning harvest crates
  • Mowing grass
  • Installing electric fences, flash tape, and other pest-control methods
  • Teaching Butler classes
  • Leading community tours
  • Supervising farm interns
  • Facilitating student research projects

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

Farm Manager Tim Dorsey
CampusPeople

Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Butler’s self-taught Farm Manager brings a fresh perspective to growing food.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
CampusExperiential Learning

A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part three of six.

 

The Farm at Butler probably looks different from any you’ve seen before. It’s not a wall of corn or wheat, the same crop filling miles of fields along the highway. Instead, the one-acre space—nestled on a floodplain between the White River and the Central Canal—looks more like a backyard garden. Plenty of space separates each of the long, narrow plant beds growing more than 70 kinds of plants, and woody shrubs crawl up the sides of a wood-plank fence. You won’t see a tractor here, or even a plough—all the work is done by hand. And with just one full-time farmer and a handful of student interns, there aren’t that many hands to do the work.

Still, The Farm produces about 10,000 pounds of food each year.

That’s because Farm Manager Tim Dorsey and other leaders in Butler’s Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES) have decided to let nature do the heavy lifting. Below, learn more about how nearly every aspect of The Farm at Butler draws from other ecosystems for guidance on how to make the most of organic growing.

 

Agroecology:

The Farm is built on the idea of agroecology, a way of farming that looks to natural ecosystems for inspiration. Dorsey uses the forests and prairies surrounding The Farm as a guide, mimicking what he sees to create a diverse environment. For example, he tries to plant in a variety of layers, and he grows a mix of perennial and annual plants.

Dorsey has recently focused on adding more perennial permaculture elements, such as sturdy trees and shrubs, which live for years instead of requiring replanting each season. In addition to layering the canopy and providing shade as they grow, these more stable, low-maintenance plants minimize soil disturbance. Dorsey says this sort of farming is even healthier for the ecosystem than basic organic growing.

 

Caring for the soil:

A key element of sustainable, organic farming is protecting soil health. The more stable the soil, the less erosion and run-off will occur, the less pollution will take place, and the healthier the plants will be. At The Farm, Dorsey protects the soil in a variety of ways. For example, The Farm is on a nine-year crop rotation plan, which means a plot of soil grows a different plant each year for nine years. This gives the soil time to replenish itself with specific nutrients that were drained by previous plants. Some deep-rooted plants also serve the purpose of capturing the nutrients that have sunk to the lowest layers of the soil, then redistributing them to the upper layers, which helps make sure every nutrient gets used. And between plantings of different crops, they don’t use chemicals to kill remaining plants—they just lay down straw to smother out sunlight and conserve moisture.

During the winter, or when there is any gap in the regular rotation, Dorsey plants cover crops to keep the soil in shape. For example, as soon as they finished harvesting the onions this summer, they put in oats. Oats will grow a lot before winter, and they also have an extensive root system. Onions get the most fertilizer (from compost), and oat roots scavenge what’s left so that nothing is wasted. Then when the oats die in the winter, they easily become automatic mulch, making it easy to handle in the spring.

 

Making the most of bugs:

Most people understand the importance of pollinators such as bees and butterflies when it comes to growing a garden, and The Farm is always looking for ways to put nature’s workers to the task. Two bee hives on The Farm are home to many of its buzzing friends, and a plot of flowers—which are later sold at the market—attract several graceful butterflies at a time. When deciding which new crops to try, Dorsey often focuses on choosing ones that serve a secondary purpose of bringing in more good bugs. “If we can get things to perform more than one function,” he says, “that’s ideal.”

But some critters making their way onto the acre aren’t so friendly—some pests gnaw at the leaves and plant their eggs on the stems. So Dorsey also makes sure to use “companion planting,” incorporating flowering plants that attract the right predatory insects to kill the pests. You might think of a wasp as a nuisance—or just plain evil—but on the farm, it serves a useful purpose.

 

 

What grows on the farm?

Apples Cilantro Lemongrass Raspberries
Arugula Collard Lettuce Rhubarb
Asparagus Corn Melons Rosemary
Basil Cucumbers Mint Rutabaga
Beans Dill Mustard Sage
Beets Dwarf Korean pines Onions Scallions
Bok Choy Eggplant Oregano Spinach
Broccoli Fennel Parsley Squash
Brussels Sprouts Flowers Peas Strawberries
Cabbage Garlic Peaches Sunchokes
Carrots Gooseberries Peppers Sweet corn
Cauliflower Hazelnuts Peppermint Thyme
Celery Honeyberries Potatoes Tomatoes
Chard Kale Pumpkins Turnips
Chives Leeks Radishes Watermelon

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

CampusExperiential Learning

A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

The Farm goes beyond just sticking to organic methods, taking cues from nature to create a diverse space.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
The Farm at Butler classes
AcademicsExperiential Learning

Sustainability on the Syllabus

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part four of six.

 

Some of the classes held at The Farm might seem obvious—a biology course about soil health, an environmental studies course looking at urban food systems, or a chemistry class studying contaminants. And yes, all of those happen at The Farm. But especially since the CUES received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) last June—totaling almost $600,000—its curriculum has placed a new emphasis on weaving The Farm into a wider range of classes across campus.

Led by CUES Director Julia Angstmann, the NSF-funded project aims to promote scientific literacy by integrating STEM-related topics into non-STEM courses at Butler. Based on the idea that all people would benefit from a basic understanding of science before working together to solve societal challenges, these courses use the power of place-based experiential learning to connect students with science. Down on The Farm, where you can watch things grow and help make it happen, the class content comes alive.

As the project unfolds over the next three years, Angstmann will evaluate how campus farms and other green spaces can become centers of learning for all students. The NSF often tries to develop ways for non-STEM majors to continue engaging with science in their careers and personal lives, and by bringing religious studies, communications, health, and other disciplines down to The Farm, Butler is doing just that.

 

Having Faith in Nature - RL 384

Brent Hege says Christians usually interact with nature in one of two ways: as a resource for humans, or as an equal being.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity in the Christian tradition about the relationship between Christianity and the environment,” explains the Lecturer of Religion. “Some Christians think the environment is ours to use as we see fit—that we can exploit it because it’s not really as important as human beings. Other Christians think that’s totally misguided—that stewardship means respect, care, and love for the environment.”

In the ecotheology class he teaches at Butler, Hege focuses on that second part—how can humans use religion to see nature through a “loving eye,” caring for the earth and treating all things equally?

For the next time the class meets, Hege has added more place-based learning to the syllabus. In a new unit at The Farm, students will study how farmers think about their relationships with nature. Through interviews with workers at The Farm and with people who buy food from it, they’ll see how urban agriculture highlights a range of perspectives about the environment.

Hege’s research on the relationship between environmentalism and Christianity hasn’t touched directly on sustainable farming. But growing up in Pennsylvania, he spent a lot of time working on family farms and eating local produce. It wasn’t always as easy to find small-scale, sustainably-grown food when he first moved to Indianapolis, so he’s excited for the chance to work with the CUES.

“I think one of the things about farming—or even about gardening—that I find so compelling is that it keeps us connected to rhythms, cycles, and patterns,” he says. “It reminds us that, as hard as we try, we’re not really in control of everything.”

Hege wants to show students how Christianity can be a resource for addressing environmental problems. He hopes they learn to be present in their surroundings, noticing more of what they walk past every day and considering the role they play among it all.

“All of us are part of this natural world,” he says. “So no matter where we’re coming from, we have an obligation to think about how we live impacts all these other things.”

 

From Farm to Twitter - ORG 358

Lindsay Ems knows social media can be destructive. She knows it can be used to tear people down and target minority groups. But in her service learning class that has partnered with Indianapolis organizations every semester for more than four years, Ems focuses on how social media can empower communities. 

In the course, the Assistant Professor of Communication pairs student groups with local organizations to help solve digital-media-based problems. Whether through live-Tweeting an event or developing a new campaign strategy, students help tell stories about the organizations.

The class has worked with a variety of Indy-based groups, including Cancer Support Community Central Indiana, Heartland Film, and Damien Center. They’ve partnered with The Farm at Butler about four times, and other food-related partners such as Indy Urban Acres, Keystone-Monon Community Garden, and Garcia’s Gardens.

As part of the NSF grant, the course will soon start working exclusively with farming-based groups. Ems says empowerment often comes down to food access, so it’s important for agricultural organizations to tell people what they do. She says there are so many places in Indianapolis trying to provide fresh, organic produce, but it won’t make a huge difference unless they can get the word out.

Social media can make the whole food experience more efficient. But posting on Instagram isn’t always a priority for farmers who just love being outside, so Ems says college students make a perfect match.

“When you get these organizations who are resource-strapped to begin with,” she says, “they see [social media] as something they don’t have time for. And we have students who are so good at it—so fluent and literate in the technologies.”

Erin Underwood, a senior majoring in Human Communication & Organizational Leadership, worked on The Farm team when she took ORG 358 last fall. Before the class, she knew The Farm existed, but she says she didn’t know much about it. That was exactly the issue her team worked to solve.

The group spent the semester building a social media plan for The Farm’s channels, dedicating each month to promoting a different value. They created content highlighting topics from how The Farm benefits individual and community health to how the methods used there help care for the earth. For each theme, they explained the importance of the value and told the story of how The Farm is living it out.

Erin says the chance to work with a real organization taught her to collaborate, instead of just building a plan without understanding what it needs to accomplish.

“You need to be there to learn about them, listen to them, and hear what they need,” she says. “You need to spend time understanding them so you can effectively make a social media plan in their voice. We could post the best content in the world, but if it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from The Farm, then I think it loses some of that spirit of what they really want to do with social media.”

Erin says there’s some value in classes that stick to hypothetical projects, building mock content and strategies for the sake of practice.

“But the fact that we were trusted as students to get experience with something like this made all the difference,” she says of ORG 358. “It felt like the work we did was valued and really appreciated by our community partner, which was a cool thing to see.”

Ems hopes the course helps students think more critically about their own social media use. She wants them to see that the same tools they use for posting memes, sharing animal videos, or chatting with friends can provide valuable ways to reach people in need.

 

Cultivating Well Being - PWB115-BI

Growing a garden does more for your health than convincing you to actually eat all the fruits and vegetables you spent weeks watering and weeding. Working in the sun and digging in the soil can improve overall well being in a variety of ways, and Butler students can earn class credit learning how.

In Cultivating Well Being, Farm Manager Tim Dorsey challenges students to think about where food comes from, how to grow healthy foods, and the role gardening can play in a lifetime of well being. After a few days of readings and discussions, students get their hands in the dirt right down on The Farm.

“We’re always looking for ways to be more a part of Butler’s academic life, so this was a good step into that for us,” Dorsey says about the class, now in its fifth year. “We’re able to engage students in a course that fills a requirement while exposing them to our space. They can see right where the food is coming from.”

Zach Madere, a senior Pharmacy major taking the class this fall, makes the most of that experience by visiting the Farm Stand each week to buy some of the produce he helped grow. Back in his kitchen, he cooks his own meals using cilantro, arugula, onions, and spinach that couldn’t be much more local.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he says. “I think it’s so cool that The Farm is literally in our backyard. I think it’s awesome to be a part of that—to grow something—then to actually use what we grow.”

But the class content goes beyond just a how-to on home-grown vegetables. Students also learn about broader societal issues in agriculture and food production, considering ways they can help face global challenges.

“I’d like to see them consider how the ways we answer questions in society—specifically relating to food systems, consumer choices, and government policies—not only affect society,” Dorsey says, “but have an impact on communities, families, and individuals.”

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

The Farm at Butler classes
AcademicsExperiential Learning

Sustainability on the Syllabus

As The Farm shifts to a primary focus on education, classes across the Butler curriculum find ways to use the space.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
The Farm at Butler FFA tour
CommunityUnleashed

A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part five of six. 

 

On a frosty morning in early November, about 50 high school students from across the nation visited Butler University to learn about a different kind of farming—a kind that can meet the needs of humans and nature alike.

The students traveled from as far away as Maryland and California to spend the day in Indianapolis for the 2019 National FFA Convention & Expo, an annual celebration of student accomplishments within the organization for young people who are interested in agriculture and leadership. Throughout two hours of exploring The Farm at Butler and hearing from staff at the Center for Urban Ecology & Sustainability (CUES), they learned how the chemical-free, planet-friendly growing methods used on Butler's one-acre space could be applied at a larger scale.

These annual tours first started several years ago, when FFA was on the hunt for powerful examples of urban agriculture. As part of the yearly FFA convention in Indianapolis, the organization’s leaders wanted to help teach members about the variety of ways they could approach food production. With a focus on agroecology and sustainability, and a mission based on education, The Farm at Butler became a lasting match.

But the FFA tour is just one of about 30 educational sessions the CUES staff lead each year. Even as The Farm’s main focus shifts to serving Butler students through internships and classes, the urban agriculture project still holds down its role as a community model of all that can be grown on just one diversified acre.

Roughly half of The Farm’s tours each year are for elementary school students, teaching young people how farmers grow the ingredients for pizza and other favorite foods. Another 10 or so tours are for groups on Butler’s campus, who usually learn about the role of local agriculture in the food system or how everyday food choices can influence the environment. The CUES also leads a handful of farm tours with other Indianapolis organizations.

 

 

For a more in-depth experience, The Farm hosts workshops through a science education network called Purdue Extension, helping train the next generation of gardeners and farmers to grow food in ecologically sound ways. Butler is also working alongside three other local farms—Mother Love’s Garden, Fitness Farm, and Growing Places Indy—to explore urban mushroom production. The project, which was funded by a USDA-SARE partnership grant in 2017, has helped these groups understand and share their findings on the most effective ways to grow mushrooms in Indianapolis.

“Overall, we want to educate the public about healthy eating, how food is grown, and the implications of different food production methods,” says CUES Director Julia Angstmann. “We want to help people understand how they, as individuals, can make food choices that benefit themselves, the environment, and society.”

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

Through collaboration and strong partnerships, Butler Beyond will unleash the potential of our brilliant faculty and students on the complex issues facing our community. Support for this pillar will expand Butler’s reach and roots in the Indianapolis community and beyond by cultivating deeper integration with local organizations and businesses, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, nurturing new ventures, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

The Farm at Butler FFA tour
CommunityUnleashed

A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

The Farm at Butler leads educational tours for local organizations, up-and-coming farmers, and students of all ages.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Farm Stand Butler
CampusCommunity

So, Where Does All The Food Go?

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

This story is part of a mini-series exploring The Farm at Butler, its methods, and its mission. Part six of six. 

 

The Farm at Butler grows nearly 10,000 pounds of food each year, all by hand. There’s watermelon, always-popular strawberries, bok choy, electric fence-protected squash, peppermint, hazelnuts, and, after The Farm’s staff finally won an ongoing battle with the nearby finches, swiss chard. Just to name a few.

Some of the food goes to weekly grab-and-go boxes for subscribers to The Farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture program (if you stick out the two-year waiting list). Some goes directly to the Thursday-afternoon Farm Stand. Another portion, sold to Butler Dining, ends up on plates around campus.

But explore Indianapolis enough, and you will find The Farm on a table near you. That’s because local restaurants, such as Public Greens, Cafe Patachou, Napolese, and Good Earth Natural Foods, rely on The Farm to keep their meals as fresh as possible.

 

Sourcing Indy’s Food Scene

Tyler Herald doesn’t cook tomatoes in the winter.

In July, the Patachou, Inc. Executive Chef won’t put butternut squash on the menu. Instead, Herald reads the seasons—or, the texts he gets from local farmers—to build meals from the freshest ingredients he can find.

When it comes to the original Napolese, Patachou’s artisanal pizza joint at 49th and Pennsylvania, it’s tough to get more local than a few blocks away from Butler. Herald still remembers the day about 10 years ago, shortly after the restaurant’s launch, when two Butler students walked in and asked if he wanted to buy some vegetables. Ever since, he’s bought as much produce as The Farm at Butler is ready to sell.

Just last week, Herald bought nine pounds of parsnips to roast up for a seasonal side dish. He’s simmered soups with The Farm’s sunchokes, topped off cakes with sliced strawberries, and sprinkled basil on his pizzas. He buys local foods in pursuit of the quality that comes with using produce at its peak, so he’s able to let the fruits and veggies speak for themselves.

“There’s not a ton of manipulation,” he says. “I think you want to let the ingredients be the star.”

Except for during the few deep-winter months when Indiana can only grow pine trees and nearby farmers have emptied their storage, Herald shops local for nearly all the food he cooks. The closer the farm, the less time it takes vegetables to get from vine to kitchen, and the longer they can spend ripening out in the sun. Avoiding cross-country trips also means steering clear of preservatives or other chemicals that often reduce the food’s overall quality.

But Herald understands why buying local might not appeal to everyone. It takes time, planning, and usually a little extra cash.

“It’s really easy to pick up the phone at 11:00 PM, call a produce company, and magically have all your stuff the next morning,” he says. “Instead, a farmer texts me on Sunday and I have to tell them what I will need on Wednesday. That’s harder: You have to plan because the farmer still needs to harvest the food, wash it, package it, and drive it to you. But for me, it’s worth it to have the best stuff.”

Herald was attending culinary school in Portland, Oregon, when he first noticed restaurants highlighting local farms on their menus. He thought it was the coolest thing to know exactly where his carrots came from. And after interning with a farm-to-table place in Chicago, he knew he wanted to join the rising movement of supporting local growers.

Sometimes, that calls for a bit of extra creativity—like when customers want a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter day. Ingredients for the standard tomato-based dish only grow here in the summer, so Herald’s cold-weather version counts on rutabaga and squash.

Luckily for Indianapolis chili lovers, he can find both at a farm that’s right down the road.

 

 

Subscribe to Local Produce

For Courtney Rousseau, opening a box of fruits and vegetables from The Farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is like opening up a season of hard work.

“You’re opening a box of love,” says the Butler Career Advisor.

Rousseau first joined the CSA wait list in 2013 after she noticed during her after-work Farm Stand visits that some guests were picking up pre-assembled boxes instead of buying individual items. About two years later—after moving to Oregon for a few months and ultimately coming back home to Butler—she received an email saying it was her turn to join the program.

That’s the typical wait time for The Farm’s CSA, which is capped at about 20 members each year. The program, a bit like a food subscription service, allows members to pay up-front for a weekly share of produce from July through October.

Farm Manager Tim Dorsey creates the boxes each week based on what’s available. He always includes some familiar items like cucumbers and tomatoes, but a big appeal for most members is trying out things they don’t typically eat.

“I hadn’t eaten beets in 30 years until this summer," Rousseau says. “Now that’s my new favorite thing.”

Inside each box, Dorsey includes a note with updates on what’s been going on around The Farm that week. Maybe he finished planting the garlic, or maybe the rain made it hard to keep up with the mowing. The note also lists everything inside the box, with descriptions for the more obscure items (like those turnips that are best eaten sliced into salads), and tidbits about how they were grown (like how that rain kept your cabbage healthy without the need for irrigation). And in case you aren’t sure what to do with your new box of veggies, a weekly recipe provides one tasty option—perhaps in a swiss chard galette or a batch of kale jalapeño hummus.

Rousseau sometimes follows the recipes, but she often prefers to create something of her own. She likes making nontraditional summer salads, for example, like one filled with green beans, rainbow beets, and cherry tomatoes. She might sauté some eggplant to eat over oven-dried tomatoes, chop radishes and carrots into a coleslaw, or pickle up some cucumbers with help from her son.

“Cooking, for me, is a way to spend time with my husband and my son instead of on a screen,” she says. “It lets you know where all of your energy is going to come from. What can I create this week that is going to sustain me?”

Cooking is just one part of the farm experience for Rousseau. It’s not even all about the food. She visits The Farm every chance she gets, taking time to cherish the walk and take in what’s happening around her. Over the summer, she even schedules walk-and-talk meetings at The Farm so she can help introduce people to the space.

“It just goes back to following the seasons and following nature, and being in tune with where you are,” she says. “It’s very grounding to go down to that space, to watch the seasons change, to see the leaves turn colors throughout The Farm Stand season, and to see everything bloom and flourish in the middle of the summer.”

If you are interested in joining The Farm at Butler’s CSA program, sign up for the wait list here. The program lasts 21 weeks, and boxes typically feed two people. Cost: $420, with half due by April 15 and the other half due at pickup on the first Thursday of June.

 

 

Discover Something New

“Will you be open again next week?” the woman asks, handing her vegetable haul to the intern who’s running today’s Farm Stand.

Yes, she’s glad to learn: The Farm is open every Thursday afternoon from June through October. As she pays and walks back toward the Central Canal—where a sign along the path had pointed her down to The Farm Stand—a regular customer bikes up the road to take her place. He glances over the tables covered with bell peppers, beets, jalapeños, and kale before filling his slim backpack with deep green cucumbers and the last of the tomatoes.

The Farm Stand features a different selection of produce each week, depending on what’s most in-season. Whether you want to add a Thursday farm visit to your weekly routine or just pick up a few veggies for a new recipe, you can follow The Farm on Instagram or Twitter for the latest updates on what’s available.

 

 

Butler’s Backyard Garden

For Butler Dining’s chefs, produce from The Farm makes food taste more alive.

While Bon Appétit can rarely buy enough Farm at Butler produce to build a meal that feeds a campus, Executive Chef Brandon Canfield takes all he can get to sprinkle into menus across the café. He might not be able to buy the 100 pounds of carrots he needs to prepare one side dish for a station in the Marketplace at Atherton Union, but purchasing five pounds of a dozen different vegetables lets him add finishing touches to spice up his dishes.

“When you get things from a quarter-mile away, there’s this inherent quality—there’s this life that you get when you eat vegetables straight from the garden,” Canfield says.

The Farm was a natural partner for Bon Appétit, the national food management company that took over Butler Dining last spring. Bon Appétit cooks all its food from scratch, and at least 20 percent of ingredients come from within 150 miles of campus.

At Butler, chefs source food from about 10 different local farmers and artisans. In addition to The Farm, these partners include Fischer Farms, Local Farms Harvest, Dandy Breeze Creamery, and Julian Coffee Roasters. Whenever meals feature local ingredients, daily menus highlight where the products came from.

Beans and tomatoes from The Farm often serve as accents, and Canfield sometimes crafts meals around what’s available right on campus. Mid-sized, light green peppers from Butler’s backyard? Ideal for stuffing with whole grains and campus-grown greens. Just add a scoop of beans from The Farm, and you’ve got a whole lunch that traveled less than 10 minutes to your plate.

 

READ MORE:

Part 1: Getting To The Root of It: How Butler’s One-Acre Farm Has Evolved In a Decade

Part 2: Farming Full-Time: How Tim Dorsey Discovered the World Through Agriculture

Part 3: A Crash Course on Nature-Focused, Hands-In-The-Dirt Growing

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

Part 6: So, Where Does All The Food Go?

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

Through collaboration and strong partnerships, Butler Beyond will unleash the potential of our brilliant faculty and students on the complex issues facing our community. Support for this pillar will expand Butler’s reach and roots in the Indianapolis community and beyond by cultivating deeper integration with local organizations and businesses, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, nurturing new ventures, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Farm Stand Butler
CampusCommunity

So, Where Does All The Food Go?

Selling produce across campus and the nearby community, The Farm promotes healthy eating and top-notch flavor.

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

After Facelift, Plum Market at C-Club Opens With Endless Options

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 18 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—In a hurry, but hungry? Just in the mood for a quick snack? Looking for coffee from a local roaster? Want to order a freshly made sandwich and stay awhile?

The new Plum Market at C-Club meets all of those needs in one bright, newly renovated space. The latest dining option at Butler University officially opened on Monday, located at Atherton Union in the former C-Club location, and it aims to be all things to everyone.

“We conducted a campus dining study a year ago that was heavily influenced by student feedback,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross III. “We learned a lot, but one thing became clear: We needed a place on campus that was versatile. Our campus community is busy, and everyone has different schedules and needs. We wanted a space that allowed for more flexibility.”

Plum Market at C-Club is definitely flexible. Open weekdays from 7:00 AM–midnight, and weekends from 11:00 AM–midnight, the location accepts flex dollars, Dawg Bucks, cash, and credit cards.

In addition to the longest hours on campus, Ross says the variety of food options sets Plum Market apart.

“We have worked closely with Bon Appétit to make sure we are being really responsive to the needs and wishes of the Butler community,” Ross says. “Between the chef-driven menus, the new comfortable and inviting physical space, and the array of options, we have taken dining up a notch.”

There’s coffee and tea served by local roaster Hubbard & Cravens. Freshly made donuts are sold from local craft donut company General American Donut. There are fresh fruit smoothies with various protein mix-ins available. An extensive salad bar features various vegetables, as well as a section for prepared signature salads. Then there’s the sandwich and wrap menu. Options include grilled cheese, Impossible burger, grilled chicken sandwich, Nashville hot chicken tender sandwich, and a beef burger. There are cage-free egg sandwiches, all-natural chipotle chicken burritos, chicken tenders, and crinkle-cut fries.

And that’s just one area.

To serve the needs of all community members, there’s a variety of options from Bon Appétit’s go-program. Think prepackaged snacks or sandwiches. Go-program items are prepared each morning and delivered across Butler’s campus to each dining location, says Butler Dining General Manager Joe Graves. The difference is, Plum Market has nearly triple the to-go items than other locations around campus.

“The vision is always about fresh and on-trend foods,” Graves says, “and this allows us to do that but in a way that also accounts for people’s schedules.”

There’s watermelon, hummus and chips, a turkey and bacon greek wrap, and a yogurt parfait, to name a few.

Plum Market also features various chips, energy bars, Chobani yogurt, local eggs, Dandy Breeze milk, local apple cider, and frozen foods, such as Amy’s bowls and Caulipower pizza.

Deciding which items to feature took a combination of researching the most popular items, looking at other universities, and realizing adjustments will be needed as time goes on.

“We always rely heavily on student feedback,” Graves says. “As time goes on, we will see what sells. We also look forward to hearing what our students and community members like and maybe want to see that they aren’t seeing. We will adjust as we go.”

After construction started in June 2019, the former C-Club space was completed gutted. At one point, the space was just dirt. But now, Plum Market has really come to life, Graves says, fulfilling the vision of providing a variety of food options for a population on the go, as well as space to sit down and study or hang out.

“We wanted this space to do many things, and I think we achieved that,” he says. “It was well worth the wait.”

 

 

Plum Market is hardly the only new or updated option when it comes to dining on campus this year. Here’s a look at some of the other options available:

 

  • Chatham Tap offers craft and import beers, along with a menu focused on a wide range of sandwiches and starters. Offerings include soup, salad, wings, pizza, burgers, and fish and chips.
  • The Butler Brew is located in the new building for the Lacy School of Business and features local Julian Roasters coffee, Illinois Street Emporium pastries, and breakfast sandwiches.
  • ResCo Dining Hall has four stations featuring locally sourced burgers and chicken.
  • Trip’s Corner Market at Apartment Village has products you can cook back at your apartment, dorm, or house.
  • Nutrition Cafe at the Health and Recreation Center features a grab-and-go setup with an emphasis on protein-heavy items.
  • Marketplace at Atherton Union is an all-you-care-to-eat cafe that offers menus inspired from cuisine found around the world.

 

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.

Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

After Facelift, Plum Market at C-Club Opens With Endless Options

The grab-and-go dining space in Atherton Union offers flexibility in hours and variety.

Nov 18 2019 Read more
GuideDawg 2.0 icon on a phone
Experiential LearningUnleashed

New App to Help Blind, Visually-Impaired Butler Students, Visitors

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2019

Haley Sumner’s first few weeks at Butler University were spent navigating campus—learning routes between buildings,figuring out where to go for coffee, and learning how to use her student ID card. Most new students could always use a head start but Sumner, who graduated in May 2019, is blind. She needed three weeks before the start of classes to feel comfortable with her new academic environment.

Sumner admits there were challenges as construction changed her routes every year. The young graduate had to be mindful of twisting sidewalks, changes in ground surfaces and certain doors being made unavailable, again due to construction.

“Having a guide dog was an asset,” Sumner remembers. “It was incredible to work with a guide dog. I thought campus was very accessible.”

Haley Sumner on campus
Haley Sumner '19 was instrumental in GuideDawg 2.0's development.

But not all blind or visually impaired people have access to a guide dog, and those that do use guide dogs may not have weeks to learn Butler’s campus. What if a visually impaired prospective student wants to find their way around? What if a blind person wants to attend a concert at Clowes Memorial Hall?

A team of undergraduate software developers are working on an answer. Led by Computer Science and Software Engineering Professor Panos Linos, the team is creating a digital guide for the blind and visually impaired. Inspired by its four-legged predecessors, GuideDawg 2.0 will be a mobile prototype application available in time for fall 2020 classes. The app will work on any smartphone.

Initial coding started in fall 2018 and Linos says the students will have enough of GuideDawg 2.0 complete to present at conferences next semester. The app will vocally tell users the best route to take from class to class or the cafeteria to Starbucks in Atherton Union. Custom digital mapping installed in the software combined with GPS location will serve as guidance but with features that stretch beyond Google Maps.

“They are eager to push the envelope,” he says. “Throughout this project, it wasn’t just about finding the answers but also finding the questions. We are really figuring out what it means to have people differently abled than us. These students are all here because of their willingness to learn, to explore, and to communicate.”

Serving the community

GuideDawg 1.0 was developed by Linos and other students for the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2015. Blind students at the school were assisted by navigation instructors to get around, but they weren’t getting detailed directions once outside the classroom and on their own. GuideDawg helped them get from classroom to classroom as it gave directions step by step.

Linos and his students had to develop a completely different user experience than typical apps they developed in class. They also had to factor the cadence of the app’s vocalizations with voice-to-text and text-to-voice development, while eliminating as many touches as possible.

“They can hear—and prefer—much faster speech for their apps,” Linos says. “We had to speed up the voice for the app.”

For GuideDawg 1.0, Linos had his students wear blindfolds in early meetings.

“Everybody was wearing them while holding their phones,” Linos says. “That experience reminds us of who the actual user will be. We had ideas that would work for you and me, but not for someone who is differently-abled. Would a blind student be able to use this?”

Tech details

A major key to GuideDawg 2.0 will be data collection by Linos’ students. They are in the process of gathering the latitude and longitude of every door on Butler’s campus—every classroom, every entrance to Atherton Union, every bathroom. The data will be entered into a database that GuideDawg 2.0 will pull from via Microsoft Azure cloud. A pre-existing database of every room at Butler that contains technology was also utilized courtesy of Butler Information Technology.

Bluetooth-activated, weatherproof sensors were purchased and will be placed at construction sites and other “hazardous” areas on campus. The sensors work as beacons to trigger GuideDawg 2.0 and are designed to blend in with walls and doorways.

“It’s an interesting challenge,” says Ryan Graham, a senior studying Computer Science on the GuideDawg 2.0 team, “to try to make it so users can understand where buttons are very efficiently and effectively without seeing them. It can’t be clunky with a billion buttons on the front. It has to be very minimal but extremely functional."

Prof. Linos and student
Professor Panos Linos, left, shows Bluetooth-activated beacons to student Gabbi Forsythe.

GuideDawg 2.0 must be nimble and able to change with a growing campus. In just the last year, the new building for the Andre B. Lacy School of Business and the expansion and renovation of the sciences buildings were added to maps.

“I think Butler is really big on inclusivity and this is just another step in becoming more inclusive,” says Gabbi Forsythe, a Software Engineering senior developing the web interface of the app, “so everyone can get around campus.”

Michele Atterson, Director of the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS), concurs that GuideDawg 2.0 will only improve a campus that has received favorable accessibility feedback, even at active construction sites. She says, “I had many conversations with the project managers for the (sciences complex construction) to ensure the color contrast, font, and size of the detour signage was also accessible to people with vision impairments—as well as those with mobility impairments.

“Raising disability awareness is a mission of SDS. Overall, we have a community that is committed to welcoming people with disabilities.”

The students presented their progress on GuideDawg 2.0 at the October 25 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee meeting and were met with enthusiastic, positive feedback. The project was given a $500 donation from committee chair Michael Swarzman ’74 and his wife, Barbara Grier, on the spot.

“You can’t help but respect the innovation a project like that demands,” Swarzman says. “It is an obvious commitment for the professor and the students. Expanding on need of inclusivity and diversity is applaudable and the broader application to it is exactly what my family wants to support.”

‘Very beneficial’

During her senior year at Butler, Sumner served as a consultant for GuideDawg 2.0’s early development. She took the developers on her campus routes and pointed out landmarks like a loud air conditioner near Jordan Hall. Sumner noted doors that were difficult for her to open. The GuideDawg team implemented these details into the app to alert users when they approach potential problem areas.

“I think this will be very beneficial for step-by-step routes between buildings,” Sumner says. “Hopefully it will have a very smooth transition.”

Sumner adds that apps like Google Maps don’t have enough spatial awareness for blind users. Like the young students at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Sumner couldn’t rely on Apple Maps for which doors to use and what hallways to take to reach her Communications Sciences and Disorders classes on time.

But accessible technology has come a long way and is improving rapidly. Sumner has noticed a marked improvement in the quality of apps and screen-reading software. GuideDawg 2.0 will be part of the further advancement in technological accessibility. Sumner still lives around Butler and she is excited to download the app next year.

“Technology has come a long way,” says Sumner, who is pursuing certification as a life coach. “It needs to continue to be equal and inclusive for everyone. It will cultivate empowerment and diminish stigma.”

 

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.

GuideDawg 2.0 icon on a phone
Experiential LearningUnleashed

New App to Help Blind, Visually-Impaired Butler Students, Visitors

Launching in fall 2020, the GuideDawg app measures steps between classrooms and warns of construction sites

Nov 14 2019 Read more
Students get a tour on the Detroit Trek
Experiential LearningUnleashed

LSB Treks Allow Students to Get Inside Peek in New York, Detroit

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 11 2019

Detroit, Michigan, has gone by many names: the Motor City, Hockeytown, and The D, just to name a few. Comeback City is its latest, and that moniker was witnessed by Butler University students.

With the help of alumni like Steve Hamp ‘70, Detroit caught the eye of the Andre B. Lacy School of Business’ Trek program. During Fall Break, nine Business students took part in the second annual Detroit Trek. Hosted by Butler grads, the students met professionals and toured national companies and venues like Quicken Loans, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Ford Field, NYX Inc., and the Detroit Empowerment Plan, where homeless women craft specialized coats to combat global homelessness.

“Trips like this are exciting and fun and advertise Detroit as a destination for graduates to participate and be a part of its renaissance,” says Hamp, who coordinated the Ford Field and Ford Motor Company visits.

The Detroit Trek is the second such trip of its kind within the LSB. A New York Trek has enjoyed a successful five-year run. It concentrates on Wall Street and the world of finance. The 2020 New York Trek will take 10 more Business students to the Big Apple in March.

Both Treks were funded by alumni donations before Michigan native Amy Wierenga ‘01 and her husband, Luis Felipe Perez-Costa, established a $100,000 endowment to ensure the Treks’ continuation.

“It’s so valuable for students to be able to experience the culture of several different firms first hand—to directly interact with people in different kinds of roles in a low-pressure setting,” says Wierenga, who is a Butler Trustee. “Many students don’t realize how diverse the potential opportunities are within and across firms, how many different ways there are to apply their talents and plug into a career. Thanks to the Treks, students get exposed to, and can explore seeing themselves in different seats. They can say ‘I could see that being me in five or 10 years.’”

From trains to electric autonomous vehicles

Hamp, who earned an American History degree from Butler before spending the last four decades in Detroit, introduced Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative, to talk about entrepreneurialism with the students over lunch before a behind-the-scenes look at Ford’s development of the old Michigan Central Station. The 105-year-old landmark will be the new home of the car manufacturer’s electric autonomous vehicle research and development.

At Ford Field, the students experienced a rare glimpse of the inner-workings of an NFL franchise in midseason. They met Detroit Lions President Rod Wood, and took a tour of the stadium, which included the opportunity to walk on the turf and stand in the end zones where Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 141 touchdown passes and counting.

Whether picking professionals’ brains or conversing with alumni over dinner, almost every interaction had a common thread for the students.

Bradley Herzog in Detroit
Senior Bradley Herzog stands inside Michigan Central Station, a future home to Ford vehicle research.

“Everyone we talked to was very passionate about the city and the direction it’s going,” says Bradley Herzog, a senior studying International Business and Spanish. “It was great to see people moving back into the city and finding jobs there. There’s a lot of positive things to say about Detroit.”

Herzog and sophomore Emma Ryan cited the visit to the Empowerment Plan as especially impactful. CEO Veronika Scott was studying fashion design in college when she came up with the idea to create coats that convert to sleeping bags. More than a decade later, the Plan has grown into much more than coats. Ryan was impressed with the tremendous social impact a young entrepreneur has made in a major city.

“Many of the people making the coats were domestic violence victims,” says Ryan, a Finance and Marketing major. “It was a safe place for them with a full kitchen and supportive environment. They were paying them to make coats, but also to unwind and recharge. There was yoga and classes to earn their GED. They could stay for two years and get back on their feet.”

Ryan was also impressed at the number of young women represented at major companies at every level. Two recent college graduates at GM spoke to her about finance and what their job paths have consisted of. In the two young businesswomen, Ryan found inspiration and confidence in her own career path, which now might include Detroit.

“After graduation, I was planning on moving to Chicago or New York,” says the Evansville, Indiana, native, “but after this trip, I saw a different side of Detroit: I saw the booming business side.”

Next Treks: Windy City? Bay Area?

Graham Honaker, Executive Director of Principal Gifts for Butler Advancement, revealed the Trek program could extend to Chicago and the Bay Area. Applications for the New York Trek number in the dozens and Detroit is not far behind. Not bad for a program that started with a cup of Starbucks coffee. Honaker met up with Michael Bennett ‘09, then an analyst with JP Morgan Chase & Co., in Manhattan. The young alumnus spoke about bringing Butler Business students to New York to get an early taste of what working on Wall Street is like.

“It’s so competitive to get into the financial sector in New York,” Honaker says. “From that Starbucks, we outlined the program and launched it a couple years later.”

Bennett is thrilled to see the Treks grow. Only 10 years removed from his own Butler graduation, he is happy to help bring Butler students to the Big Apple for the Trek and, later, as professionals.

“It’s how to get your foot in the door; you have to be there to make that happen,” says Bennett, now director of investment counseling for Citibank. “During these Treks, they have proximity to companies and alumni. It’s engaging and fun, and there’s some elements of excitement around it. It’s a major recruitment tool.”

Whether it’s Detroit Rock City, the City That Never Sleeps, or any other market brimming with Butler alumni, LSB Treks are worth every mile.

“I would highly recommend attending as many as you can,” Herzog says. “There’s no downside. You get the opportunity to see so many companies inside the city. We were really privileged to see and talk to so many successful professionals. It’s an opportunity you don't get at a lot of colleges.”

 

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.

Students get a tour on the Detroit Trek
Experiential LearningUnleashed

LSB Treks Allow Students to Get Inside Peek in New York, Detroit

Business students tour companies and network with alumni

Nov 11 2019 Read more
Butler in Asia (Singapore)
AcademicsExperiential Learning

Renewed Grant to Butler in Asia Sets Total Funding at More Than $1 Million

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 07 2019

When Su-Mei Ooi first started teaching at Butler University, she never imagined she’d have the chance to travel with students back to where she grew up in the city-state of Singapore.

“Indianapolis just seems so far away from there,” says the Associate Professor of Political Science.

But in 2017, Ooi joined the Butler in Asia study abroad experience as a Faculty Director. The program, which places students at six-week internships in Asian cities, had just developed a Singapore option to add to the China trips it first launched in 2015.

Now, the program is growing again. The Freeman Foundation has renewed its grant to Butler in Asia, awarding $400,000 that will fund the internship experience for the next two years and support new trips to Tokyo starting next summer.

About 40 percent of Butler students travel abroad by the time they graduate—making the University ninth in the nation for undergraduate participation. More than 700 students studied abroad from summer 2018 through spring 2019, an increase of 34 percent from the year before. And with continued support from organizations like the Freeman Foundation, those numbers are only continuing to grow.

The Freeman Foundation is dedicated to strengthening relationships between the United States and nations in East Asia. It has provided grants to Butler in Asia since 2014, with the most recent award setting Butler’s total funding from the foundation at more than $1 million.

“Finances continue to be the largest deterrent for students to be able to go abroad,” says Butler Director of Global Engagement Jill McKinney. “The Freeman Foundation has helped remove this barrier to make this culturally complex region of the world more accessible to more students.”

Since the start of the relationship, 146 Butler students have participated. A total of 72 more students are expected to travel with the program over the next two years.

The Freeman Foundation aims to provide U.S. college students with experiences in East and Southeast Asia, locations that aren’t typical study abroad destinations.

“These countries have rich histories and are also important contemporary influences in the world,” McKinney says. “With their ongoing financial support, the Freeman Foundation has literally opened this part of the world up to our students.”

But just going to these places isn’t enough: Freeman Foundation members want students to really engage in the cultures and interact with the people. That cultural engagement is a core part of the program at Butler, one of just 23 U.S. universities that receive funding from the Freeman Foundation.

Through Butler in Asia, students are placed in workplace experiences relevant to their majors. But that’s not the only selling point. The program also pairs students with faculty members who travel with them, teach them about the complexities of local culture, and mentor them through the first few weeks of their trip.

“This structure has allowed more students to envision themselves taking on a study abroad location they might not have otherwise considered,” McKinney says.

As a Faculty Director, Ooi takes groups of 10 to 15 students back to her home country every summer. She leads a week of regional travel before the internships begin, teaches students about the social issues affecting Singapore, and provides moral support as students acclimate to the culture and workplace.

Kelly Stone, a sophomore who traveled to Singapore with Butler in Asia last summer, says she learned a lot from Ooi that she wouldn’t have otherwise understood.

“She was able to tell us about the behind-the-scenes context on things,” Stone says. “She had so much to teach us, and she was also really helpful in preparing us for the trip.”

Stone, who studies Marketing and Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Butler, spent her internship with a local Singaporean marketing firm called ENCE Marketing Group. She’d been itching to travel again since first going abroad during a gap year after high school. She says actually having the chance to work in another country rounded out her other international experiences, which she had mostly spent volunteering or just exploring. Plus, it gave her a taste of what it might be like to move abroad later in her career.

At her internship, Stone worked mostly with the public relations team. Beyond providing her first-ever internship experience, the time in Singapore helped Stone grow more confident in working through cultural barriers or differences. With the goal of starting her own business one day, she also valued the chance to be part of a small company, where she worked closely with the person who had launched the firm.

Like Stone, roughly half of the students who travel with Butler in Asia each year are from the Lacy School of Business (LSB). Bill Templeton, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in LSB, says he works to promote the program among business students as a way to complete one of their two required internships in cities that are central to the business world.

“Most of our graduates will likely encounter doing business with Asian counterparts,” he says. “The opportunity to actually go to Asia, and to get a sense of the economic and business climate there, is a huge advantage for our students.”

Applications for the Summer 2020 Butler in Asia trips are due December 4, 2019. Students can apply here for Shanghai, here for Singapore, or here for Tokyo. Feel free to contact Jill McKinney (jsmckinn@butler.edu) with any questions.

 

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

Butler in Asia (Singapore)
AcademicsExperiential Learning

Renewed Grant to Butler in Asia Sets Total Funding at More Than $1 Million

Support from the Freeman Foundation helps Butler place students at internships in East Asia.

Nov 07 2019 Read more
Tom Mould
ResearchUnleashed

Butler Professor’s Research Dispels Myths of the ‘Welfare Queen’

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 04 2019

Recipients of welfare and other government aid are unfairly scrutinized and even demonized as “welfare queens,” according to Professor of Anthropology and History Tom Mould and his several years of research on public assistance.

Mould dispels numerous myths while humanizing people that rely on welfare. He and his students recorded more than 150 interviews with not only welfare recipients but politicians, grocery store clerks, aid providers, and members of the general public in North Carolina. Mould says his findings go against the grain of what most Americans think of the welfare system.

“Official government documents are clear that the food stamp fraud rate has been between half a percent and one and a half percent over the past decade, way lower than most federal programs,” Mould says. “What we have with stories of so-called ‘welfare queens’ is an incredibly unfair narrative and an incredibly negative light that is unfair. This work is trying to rectify that.”

Mould’s book Overthrowing the Queen: Telling Stories of Welfare in America focuses on the broad picture of welfare in America while weaving in riveting narratives of aid recipients and the overwhelming lengths people go through to provide for their children and to keep a roof over their heads. The title will hit shelves this summer from Indiana University Press.

Mould says the stereotype of the “welfare queen,” someone who is believed to work the welfare system to gain wealth, was mostly fabricated in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It infuriated people, but, of course, the stories, by and large, were not true,” Mould says. “There doesn’t appear to be any more fraud in the welfare system than any government system. Why are we singling out the poor to demonize?”

While all of his research was in the Tarheel State, Overthrow the Queen appeals to readers nationwide, Mould says. The book documents how recipients came to need public assistance and the current challenges they are facing.

“The stories show people putting in a lot of hard work, a lot of ingenuity, a lot of commitment to their children,” he adds. “Parents were unwilling to give up on trying to make a better life for their kids.”

 

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.

Tom Mould
ResearchUnleashed

Butler Professor’s Research Dispels Myths of the ‘Welfare Queen’

Professor of Anthropology Tom Mould’s research shows food stamp fraud rate is lower than most federal programs

Nov 04 2019 Read more
A woman casts her ballot
ResearchUnleashed

Republican Delegates More Likely to Disagree, New Butler Research Shows

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 04 2019

Within any political party, there’s a multitude of views and approaches to campaigning. Some members want to advance specific policies, others just want to do whatever it takes to win.

Recent research co-authored by Greg Shufeldt, Butler University Assistant Professor of Political Science, found that at the 2012 conventions, Republican delegates were not only much more polarized within their party than Democratic delegates, but they were much more divided than in previous years.

While published results are from 2012, they shed important light on internal party processes that shaped the conflicts evident in the 2016 presidential primary contests.

Greg Shufeldt
Greg Shufeldt

“This was before President Trump,” Shufeldt says, “but this might inform some of the things that allowed President Trump to rise to power.” 

Shufeldt culled his data from surveys sent to every delegate that attended the Republican and Democratic conventions. The Butler researcher helped draft the questionnaires in 2012 and 2016, which the delegates filled out online.

“We’re looking at fault lines within the parties,” Shufeldt says. “Congress is more polarized than it's ever been. The parties are farther apart ideologically but also more homogenous. Delegates or party activists are what connects these polarized elites with the general public.” 

Shufeldt writes that delegates are classified as more pragmatist, or wanting the party to win elections at the expense of advancing specific policies, or classified as more purist, believing that advancing specific policies is the way for the party to win elections.

The research found not much variation between 2012 Democratic delegates, which offered more balanced pragmatic and purist tendencies. Shufeldt says the Democratic party is more used to navigating inner faction conflict because that is the nature of the Democratic party. Through group identities, they become Democrats. While Democrats internally balance these competing pragmatic and purist tendencies, Republican delegates are more divided into a clearer pragmatic wing and purist wings.

In fact, his research found that the 2012 Republican delegates were more internally divided than the infamous 1972 McGovern Democrats. Based on how delegates responded to questions about group membership, key policy areas, and attitudes toward key party groups, the study organized delegates into factions. On the Republican side, three factions were developed from the Republican delegate data—“contemporary conservatives,” “establishment Republicans,” and “Libertarians.” Among Democrats, the study identified factions of “cultural liberals,” “all-purpose liberals,” and “centrists.” 

Looking back on 2012, the rise of the Tea Party and support for Rep. Ron Paul, who campaigned for the Republican candidacy, were influencers to Republican delegates within the “Libertarian” faction. Shufeldt reveals that those factors were less crucial in 2016, but new groups formed four years later within both Republican and Democratic parties. 

“These studies inform our politics,” Shufeldt says. “We’re so evenly divided into red and blue states. It’s a really unique time to be talking to people that are at these conventions.”

 

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

A woman casts her ballot
ResearchUnleashed

Republican Delegates More Likely to Disagree, New Butler Research Shows

Research sheds light on what led to internal conflicts during 2016 presidential primary contests

Nov 04 2019 Read more
A Sparki robot used in the Analytical Reasoning course
Experiential LearningUnleashed

Robots Enhance Coding Prowess, Passion in the Core Curriculum

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 01 2019

Getting Butler University Dance majors to learn computer coding was as easy as a plié in first position, thanks to robots.

In Computer Science Professor Panos Linos’ pilot Analytical Reasoning course in 2010, part of the Butler Core Curriculum, the goal was to give students not majoring in Computer Science or Software Engineering some experience in coding. So, Linos employed robots, something he thought would get non-majors excited about using things foreign to almost everyone in the class, such as the Python language. The class, now in its ninth year, teaches students to program robots to do small tasks like drawing shapes, making a sequence of noises, and flashing lights in a pattern.

A recent final project saw a group of Dance majors choreograph their robots to “dance” a routine, something they could all relate to. The students had a classical music score to back up the bots.

“All five robots performed a ballet together,” says Linos, with a laugh. “It’s very challenging to synchronize all of these robots to do the same routine.”

Adjunct Professor in Computer Science Jeremy Eglen now leads the course with a new robot—Sparki. Each student gets their own small robot, which is equipped with motorized wheels, an LCD screen, and little arms for gripping small objects. They also have sensors to help them see light, identify objects, and follow the lines of a maze or edge of a table.

Most of the work is done in groups. The students help one another on assignments with colorful names like Back-Up Bot, Episode 1: The Phantom Obstacle—one that involves writing a program that makes the robot move backward for two seconds without crashing into an obstacle.

The robots have been effective in getting students hooked on coding. Linos says the students treat their bots like their pets, carrying them around and celebrating new tricks that took hours to compute. While some students might have taken a coding class in high school, Analytical Reasoning is more hands-on. They can see their hours of meticulous coding create action for Sparki.

“You can sense the excitement of the students,” Linos says. “The motivation and passion I saw in the students was a great measure of this class’ success.”

Coding encoded in most careers

Whether future teachers or rising anthropologists, students in Eglen’s class realize the importance of basic coding

Jeremy Eglen instructs his students.
Computer Science faculty member Jeremy Eglen, second from left, helps his students code.

Journalism sophomore David Brown already knows the need for coding experience in a competitive job market. He found Analytical Reasoning as an ideal fit.

“Coding seemed so inaccessible to me,” he says. “But it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. If you put your time into it, it’s doable.”

Despite taking a coding class in high school, first-year Journalism major Brook Tracy admitted feeling intimidated by early coding assignments. But after early success in getting Sparki to move around in response to her coding, that changed.

“I thought learning how to code was way out of reach. There was no way I could do that,” Tracy says. “But it is something that’s attainable. You don’t need to be a crazy genius to learn how to do it, but my family and friends are still amazed at what I can do now. You just have to be detail-oriented and listen to instructions, and you can figure it out.

“And If you’re the person at the office who can code, your human capital goes up. Whatever field you go into, this experience will boost your resume even higher.”

Eglen agrees. He says there aren’t many jobs that don’t require computers and the ability to work them.

“Knowledge of programming is going to help you, no matter what your career is,” Eglen says. “And some of the students find out they actually like it.”

‘Still Alive’

Students program their robot.
Students program their Sparki robot in the Analytical Reasoning course.

First-year student Hannah Goergens, a Creative Writing and Computer Science major, enjoys the creative atmosphere in the Analytical Reasoning class, which serves as an appetizer before her Computer Science main courses.

In her spare time, Goergens programmed her robot to “sing” a tune called Still Alive from the video game Portal. She downloaded sheet music for the song, which is sung from the perspective of a robot, and got to work scripting every note, pitching Sparki’s bleeps to match the melody.

“This took me a week,” Goergens says, “right after we learned we could make it learn music. I’m just a big Portal fan, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Inspiring the coder within

The Sparki robots used in the class run about $150 a piece, and they are covered by Core Curriculum grants. The Core Curriculum covers a broad student educational experience, which includes getting STEM students into art classes and vice versa. Analytical Reasoning has been especially effective, says James McGrath, Faculty Director of the Core Curriculum. He has seen positive results when students are taken outside of their comfort zones.

“Lots of students think they’re not good at math, music, or writing,” McGrath says. “One of the purposes of the Core is to foster students to be well-rounded, no matter their focus of study. In these classes, they’re actually approaching the subject in ways not thought of. They may find they’re good at something they didn't know. They’re using a whole other part of their brains.”

Linos says programming drones would be a natural next step for the course, but whether they fly or dance, the robots are making some former Analytical Reasoning students change majors to Computer Science or Software Engineering. The class gave them the confidence that they can—and should—code. 

“It was very gratifying to me—as an educator, as a facilitator of their learning—to see them learning how to write code in a fun way,” Linos says.

 

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.

A Sparki robot used in the Analytical Reasoning course
Experiential LearningUnleashed

Robots Enhance Coding Prowess, Passion in the Core Curriculum

Designed for humanities majors, the Analytical Reasoning course teaches coding with an assist from robots.

Nov 01 2019 Read more
sandeep das percussion ensemble Butler University
Arts & CulturePeople

Seeing Yourself On Stage: Students Dance and Play Alongside Guest Artists

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 31 2019

 

 

“Whatever is written is just a suggestion,” Sandeep Das, a world-renowned Indian tabla musician, tells the small group of Butler University percussion students during their Wednesday-afternoon rehearsal. “You have to make it dance. Make it breathe.

And let’s try it one more time.”

Das visited campus in late October as part of the JCA Signature Series, an artist residency program organized through Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts. Featuring guests from the worlds of art, theatre, music, and dance, the series is designed to serve the Indianapolis community through high-quality public performances, while also providing opportunities for students to interact with and learn from artists in the classroom.

For Das, the three-day visit to Butler felt like coming back home. He first performed at the University in 2017, and JCA Dean Lisa Brooks says students haven’t stopped talking about Das and his joyful teaching style ever since.

“He’s so giving,” Brooks says. “When he sits and talks with students, it’s not like, ‘I am so successful. I played with the Silkroad Ensemble—one of the most famous music groups in the world.’ There’s none of that. He is just this incredibly warm human being.”

This time around, Das didn’t just bring his tabla—a traditional Indian hand drum resembling a pair of unattached bongos, but ringing with a more vibrant, melodic sound. He also brought along two fellow Indian performers: sitar player Rajib Karmakar and Kathak dancer Antara Bhardwaj.

Beyond a main performance featuring all three guests, the artists spent time working directly with students through rehearsals and master classes—a key element of the JCA Signature Series. The performers led classroom-based demonstrations and interactive lessons, playing and dancing right alongside students.

“They come and work with you in your class, and then you go watch them perform, and you are going to see yourself on that stage,” Brooks says.

Sometimes, you’ll actually be on that stage, soloing in an Indian song about the creation of the universe while standing just a few feet away from the person who wrote it. 

 

Forget About the Paper

For the night, Robby Buetow is Shiva. As part of a concert from Butler’s Percussion Ensemble, Das has left his front-row seat to join students for a performance of Shristi, a piece he created during his time with Yo Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble. From Buetow’s spot holding down the beat on tom-toms—a role based on the universe-creating Hindu god Shiva—the Percussion Performance junior can’t help but smile every time he looks over at Das drumming on tabla and nodding along to the complex rhythms.

And Das never stops smiling back.

“Shabash!” he shouts—an Indian term for “bravo.”

He’s glad to see the students looking up at him instead of down at their music. It’s a change from the day before, when he’d asked them during rehearsal to forget about the paper and just feel the groove. And they listened, approaching Das before the concert to leave all the sheet music in a pile at his feet.

“When Das is on stage with students, there is just this feeling of, ‘We did this together,’” Brooks says. “It’s not just a gig for him, and the kids pick up on that. He inspires them with the sheer force of his love for music.”

Das first started teaching when he began to feel like just playing music wasn’t enough. He feels responsible for passing what he’s learned on to younger generations, and he sees music as a way to help students learn more about people who are different from them.

“We might play different instruments,” he says. “We might sing different songs. But at the end of it all, we are humans first.”

 

Not an Everyday Experience

“The body that dances on this earth is for the divine,” translates Antara Bhardwaj.

She’s teaching a class of about 30 Butler students how to consecrate their dance space—common practice within Kathak, a classical Indian dance style. The poem she chants matches the choppy but powerful stomps of her feet, which just barely leave the floor with each step.

 

 

As she goes on to demonstrate a storytelling dance about the flute-playing Hindu god Krishna dancing on the banks of a river, the fluid waves of her arms offer contrast to the strength of her legs. She explains the sounds of the dance, from a flat-footed slap on the ground to a heel stomp that brings out a deep echo from the floor.

Combining those rapid foot rhythms with the intricate hand movements is the hardest part for senior Dance Pedagogy major Elizabeth Labovitz, who has never taken an Indian dance class before now. But the students catch on fast, learning in an hour what Bhardwaj usually teaches throughout a semester.

“I’m really glad Butler provided this opportunity for us, and that they are trying to bring in dancers outside of what we normally do,” Labovits says. “I thought the teacher was fantastic. She broke it down very easily and made it accessible to people who don’t have any background in this. It was super cool to explore a different dance style and culture from what I do everyday.”

Creating these out-of-the-ordinary experiences for students is a main goal of the JCA Signature Series, but the program also serves and inspires community members through a full lineup of performances. See below for details about upcoming events.

 

Remaining performances, 2019-2020 JCA Signature Series:

 

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

sandeep das percussion ensemble Butler University
Arts & CulturePeople

Seeing Yourself On Stage: Students Dance and Play Alongside Guest Artists

World-renowned musician Sandeep Das and dancer Antara Bhardwaj visit Butler classrooms for JCA Signature Series.

Oct 31 2019 Read more

Butler's Move-in Day Experience

By Meredith Sauter

Jeanette Collier remembers arriving at Butler University to move her son, Cedric, into his first-year residence hall. The whole family was nervous, she says. Would things go according to plan?

Then the movers arrived, greeted the Colliers at Cedric’s residence hall, started unloading belongings out of their car, and delivered the things right to Cedric’s room.

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was,” Jeanette says. “There’s a lot of stress leading up to this day—the day you leave your child for the first time. I’d say I was at a stress level of about 100 when we arrived on campus, but Butler took it down to probably a two. Everything was taken care of, and we were able to relax. It was a great first impression.”

The Colliers were far from alone in their feelings of anxiety leading up to move-in day. In August, Butler welcomed 1,125 new students into three different residence halls. On top of the logistical tasks of moving into a new place, students face the stress of leaving home, meeting new people, and adjusting to a new schedule.

The goal of move-in, of course, is efficiency, but also to ease the nerves of new families like the Colliers, says Meg Haggerty, Director of New Student and Family Programs at Butler. But things weren’t always this seamless. It took one infamous move-in day to get to the systematic approach Haggerty says now appears to be second nature.

“It was pouring rain,” she says. “People were carrying their things around campus, and everything was wet. Everything was taking forever. It was sort of that moment you realize, ‘This is not working. This has got to change.’”

Now, families are assigned a specific time to arrive at the residence hall. They drive up to the unloading space, open the trunk of their car, and sit inside while a team of movers unload their belongings.

The movers then put all the items—pre-labeled with the student’s last name and room number—into a large rolling cart and deliver everything to the student’s room. Meanwhile, families leave the residence hall and drive a short distance to an assigned parking lot. By the time they take a short walk (or take a golf cart shuttle) back to the residence hall, all of the items are waiting in the student’s room.

Now, moving belongings from the car to the dorm takes minutes. The process also takes contingencies—like bad weather—into account.

In addition to implementing this new move-in process, Butler has planned the entire day around the first-year student and family experience. While moving into the residence halls is the highlight, there’s also a resource fair set up in the middle of campus where students and families are connected with campus offices, religious organizations, banks, and other entities. Food trucks visit campus, and student orientation guides serve as leaders of Welcome Wagons. The wagons are filled with temporary tattoos, bubbles, first aid kits, water bottles, maps of campus and Indianapolis, and schedules for the rest of the week.

Cristina Veraza, Family Council member and parent of Butler sophomore Jorge Veraza, has fond memories of her family’s move-in day one year earlier.

“It was very organized and very quick, especially when compared to my older daughter’s move-in experience at a different school,” Veraza says. “We spent the better part of the day unloading and carrying my daughter’s things to her room, but at Butler, that was all done for us in a matter of minutes. With Jorge’s move-in experience, we were able to enjoy the day and go out for dinner. It was a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience.”

Future prospective Butler families can expect to receive the same level of service—if not better—on their own move-in days. The University is evaluating its processes to see how else it can be improved.

“We know that this is already a time of heightened stress and great transition for families,” Haggerty says. “If we can help alleviate elements of this stress to make families feel like they're leaving their student in a safe place, that is what we want to do.”

Butler Move-in Day
CampusStudent Life

Butler's Move-in Day Experience

At Butler, there's no need to stress about move-in day. We make it easy, giving families more time together.

youth and community development Butler
AcademicsAlumni Outcomes

Butler Education Alumni Inspire New Major

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 28 2019

When faculty in Butler University’s College of Education started hearing the stories of the many trailblazing graduates who have pursued youth-focused careers outside the classroom, they saw those paths forming a map for how to better serve future students.

“We really began to think, ‘How do we create a purposeful, intentional program to offer a valid and useful pathway for students who want to pursue careers working with young people in the community, but not within a traditional classroom setting?’” says Angela Lupton, a Senior Lecturer of Education. 

This fall, COE launched the new non-licensure Youth and Community Development major as an answer to that question. Students in the pathway share foundational curriculum required for all COE majors, but they also choose from one of five interdisciplinary, community-focused intensive areas: Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work; Recreation and Sport Studies; Human Communication and Organizational Leadership; Arts Administration; or Entrepreneurship and Innovation. To finish out the major, all students complete full-time internships within youth-focused organizations related to their concentrations.

“We don’t see this at all as an alternative pathway for those who decide not to become teachers,” says Shelly Furuness, an Associate Professor of Education who worked with Lupton to develop the new major over the last four years. “It’s a pathway for you to see yourself as an educator, but not in the context of a traditional classroom.”

Furuness says each of the five intensive areas was inspired by the career paths of former students, from entering the field of social work, to pursuing student affairs roles within higher education, to serving youth through nonprofit work. Others have gone on to roles as professional school counselors, museum educators, and a variety of other youth-focused positions.

“We want to help broaden the concept of what educators do,” Furuness says. “Our vision for the COE is that we imagine a world where we are trying to push the status quo and help students see schools and communities as they could be.”

Building the curriculum involved listening to voices from across disciplines, and Lupton has already received ideas for ways to add more concentration options. It took a University to raise the major, and Lupton believes the program is all the stronger for it.

“I think the opportunity to work with colleagues across campus was a really powerful process,” she says. “I was amazed at the number of people who kept saying, ‘Oh my gosh, where was this when I was an undergrad?’”

 

Making Meaningful Connections

Amanda Murphy loves education. She loves working with young people. But she has never loved being in a classroom.

Murphy first applied to Butler as an English major, then switched to Exploratory before move-in day. From there, she bounced around to political science, communication, and education until the start of her Sophomore year. She knew she needed to settle on something soon, but nothing seemed to fit.

Then in fall 2018, Lupton visited one of Murphy’s COE core classes to announce the new Youth and Community Development major.

“I thought, Woah, this is exactly what I want,” Murphy says. “You have the ability to work with young people, to study educational theories and practices, while not having to be in a classroom.”

Now a student in the Human Communication and Organizational Leadership area of the Youth and Community Development major, Murphy says her favorite thing about the program is the freedom it allows for personalization, which let her satisfy most of her required credits with classes she’d taken before switching.

While Murphy still isn’t sure exactly what she wants to do after graduation, she knows she wants to work with high school students.

“I just think that’s such a cool age for young people,” she says. “They make these huge bounds in social and emotional development. But when I was in high school, I didn’t like any of my classes. I still did well in them, and I enjoy learning, but the most meaningful connections I made were with people outside the classroom.”

She says high schoolers need people who are dedicated to being there for them and guiding them, and she wants to be one of those people. She’s passionate about educational advocacy, especially when it comes to fighting for equitable testing practices or LGBTQ and gender rights within schools. She wants to advocate for these things, but she mostly wants to help young people become leaders in advocating for themselves.

“Once you give them a little taste of leadership, that’s going to stick with them throughout their entire lives,” she says. “It’s a stepping stone that they’ll remember and will actually use to make a change within their own lives and communities.”

 

From Camp to Career

At a recent Butler admissions visit, Lupton met with a high school senior who was interested in the COE. He said he planned to become a classroom teacher, so Lupton explained some details about Butler’s licensure programs.

And while I’ve got you here, she told him, let me tell you about the new Youth and Community Development major.

As she talked, Lupton watched the wide-eyed expressions of the student and his mom. They looked at Lupton, and then they looked at each other, and then they looked back at Lupton.

“I thought, ‘What is going on here? I clearly hit a button,’” she recalls.

Okay, I need to confess to you, the student said. Part of the reason I like working with young people is that when I was younger, I had the chance to be involved in an amazing camp program. Throughout high school, I’ve gone back every summer to be a counselor. I always thought teaching would be a good fit for me because I could work with young people during the school year but still have my summers to go back and be a part of that program.

He stood in shock because, for the first time, someone was telling him that working with youth in recreational settings could be a viable year-round job.

“It was just such an ‘aha’ moment for him and his mom,” Lupton says. “They were both like, ‘That’s what you are meant to do.’”

Lupton says people too often think that whatever they enjoy doing most can’t be a career.

“This major stands in the face of that and asks people to think about those experiences they have adored and would love to keep doing,” she says. “It’s very possible that this pathway could lead you there.”

 

 

Revealing a Path

Through launching a nonprofit organization and following his passion for working with youth through sports—all after realizing a traumatic brain injury would prevent him from teaching in a classroom—College of Education graduate Mark Spiegel helped inspire curriculum for Butler's new Youth and Community Development major.

As a soccer coach in Indianapolis and founder of the nonprofit organization Make Your Own Ball Day, Mark Spiegel gets to spend his days with kids who are just as excited to be there as he is. Back when he was student teaching in English classrooms, asking high schoolers to read the next chapter of Shakespeare, that wasn’t always the case.

Still, a career outside the classroom wasn’t always the plan for Spiegel, who graduated from Butler University in 2013 with majors in English and Secondary Education.

He first came to Butler from Lee's Summit, Missouri, not quite sure what to study. He just knew he wanted to play soccer and volunteer with kids—the rest would work itself out, he figured. So he took “the money route,” declaring majors in Business and Mandarin while spending the rest of his time either out on the field or mentoring youth in the community.

But everything changed during a soccer practice his sophomore year. A ball struck the back of his head, leaving an injury that has caused him daily headaches ever since. After another hit during a game the following season, Spiegel had to quit soccer and drop out of school.

“The head injury knocked me off this automated, sleepy track of what many people consider to be the American Dream,” he says. “But I was faced for the first time with figuring out what I was really passionate about.”

It took years—and a challenge from his therapist to find life through giving life to others—but Spiegel eventually went back to coaching soccer and volunteering with organizations that let him work with kids outdoors. He came back to Butler to finish his degree, this time in Education. And he graduated, but only after realizing while student teaching in his last semester that the chronic headaches would prevent him from ever working in a classroom.

“I was finding myself in situations where I had 32 kids looking at me, when I was in pain to the point where I needed to remove myself, but I didn’t have that ability,” he says.

He needed flexibility. He needed to take care of his health. But he also needed to follow his passion for making an impact on kids' lives.

Today, Spiegel works with the Indy-based youth soccer club Dynamo F.C., where he mentors kids and develops curriculum. He spends his evenings coaching young athletes from around the city.

“Coaching soccer has been the most appropriate and purest platform for me to advocate for the kids I want to reach,” he says. “I get to teach kids how to play soccer, but I also get to teach them important lessons of character and integrity.”

Whenever he’s not coaching, Spiegel works on Make Your Own Ball Day, the event-turned-nonprofit he first launched in 2012. The program serves children in two important ways, Spiegel says, helping kids in the United States appreciate what they have while providing resources for those in need.

At events where young people build their own soccer balls from materials like duct tape and crumpled newspaper, the organization teaches kids about thankfulness through showing them part of what it’s like to live in a developing nation. Spiegel also works to build soccer fields and establish youth camps in communities around the world, where he collaborates with schools and orphanages to promote mentorship, leadership, education, and gender equality.

The organization not only allows Spiegel to work with kids in his own way—it will change lives for students at Butler, where Education faculty say Spiegel’s story helped inspire the Entrepreneurship and Innovation track within the new Youth and Community Development major.

“It’s cool to hear that the College of Education is moving toward a broader view of impacting kids through any means necessary,” Spiegel says, “whether that’s through sports, mentorship programs, or teaching in a traditional classroom. When I heard that, I was like, ‘Yep. That’s what I would have done if I was at Butler right now.’ I would have eaten that up.”

 

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

youth and community development Butler
AcademicsAlumni Outcomes

Butler Education Alumni Inspire New Major

Youth & Community Development major offers path for students who want to work with youth outside the classroom.

Oct 28 2019 Read more
esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

Butler Ready to Launch First Esports and Gaming Space, but Much More to Come

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 24 2019

 

 

A new space on Butler University’s campus dedicated to esports and gaming is in the works. But it will be about much more than one of the world’s hottest industries.

The Esports and Gaming Lounge is set to open in late November. It will be located in Atherton Union, adjacent to the newly designed Plum Market at C-Club, which will open around the same time. Open to the campus community, the space will have stations dedicated to esports, or competitive, organized video gaming. There will be 16 gaming PCs, an area of gaming consoles, and an area for tabletop gaming.

But this is just the beginning. Plans for a much larger, 7,500-square-foot multi-use space in the Butler Parking Garage are in the works, says Eric Kammeyer, Butler’s new Director of Esports and Gaming Technology. The space is slated to open fall 2020, and it will build upon the Atherton Union space, featuring 50 gaming PCs, an area of gaming consoles, and room for technology-infused corporate trainings and events or youth STEM and esports camps. It will also have broadcasting production capabilities for live events such as podcasts or esports competitions, a coworking space, a cafe, and a small office space available for lease to support new ventures.

In addition to the Butler esports team that competes in the BIG EAST and will start practicing in the new space, gaming and innovative technologies are being incorporated into the wider Butler curriculum, as the new spaces will enable campus to serve as a sports hub for the greater Indianapolis community. These new spaces will foster student access, community partnerships, and innovations in teaching and learning—all key aspects of Butler’s new strategic direction.

“While competitive and recreational esports is a key driver of this new space, our vision is larger,” says Butler’s Vice President for Strategy and Innovation, Melissa Beckwith. “Our goal is to create a space that will ultimately support curricular innovation, serve the K-12 community, and align with two of the city’s economic engines—sports and technology. Integrating these efforts is the key to creating maximum impact for our students, faculty, and broader community.”

 

Future Esports & Technology space in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage, expected to open in fall 2020

 

Why invest?

In 2014, more than 70 million people across the globe watched esports on the internet or television, according to Newzoo, the leading provider of market intelligence covering global games, esports, and mobile markets. That same year, a single esports event retained viewership that surpassed the NBA’s Game Seven.

Newzoo expects that esports viewership will increase to 427 million people and top $1 billion in revenue in 2019.

“Gaming is extremely popular among students, and its popularity will only continue to grow,” says Butler’s Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross. “Universities must be responsive to students’ changing needs and interests, identifying innovative and meaningful ways to engage them on campus. This investment in Butler students is important as we continue to enhance the student experience.”

It is also an area exploding with job opportunities. 

Butler Assistant Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment Ryan Rogers just published a book on esportsUnderstanding Esports: An Introduction to the Global Phenomenon. The book explores the rise of the esports industry and its significance, and is the first comprehensive look at an industry that has risen so quickly.

Because of that accelerated growth, the industry needs employees.

“It is incumbent on us, as an institute of higher learning, to prepare students for jobs and get them thinking about new jobs they may not have previously thought about, or may not even know exist,” says Rogers, whose research has explored the ways video games influence their audiences and users. “It is imperative to serve students, and this is a growth field. There are opportunities for students in this field, from competing, to working, to conducting research. As a higher ed institution, we should work to understand why, like anything else, this is happening and how it is happening.”

 

Curriculum

Rogers teaches an esports class. He also teaches a class that works with FOX Sports. This semester, that class is working closely with Caffeine, a new broadcasting service that is mostly geared toward streaming video games.

But it is about much more than just integrating esports into the Butler curriculum. There is a much broader, cross-disciplinary effort being made toward integrating gaming into pedagogy across campus.

James McGrath, Professor of Religion and Classics, says: “There is real educational value in the mixing of gaming and learning because, I remember at one point in my life, learning was fun.”

McGrath says as educators, it is easy to fall into old habits such as talking at people, or doing “other boring things like that.” But, he says, there is a reason that students spend hours playing video games. These games give people the freedom to fail and try again.

“We often forget the need to incorporate failure in any educational experience that is ultimately going to lead to success and learning,” he says. “The only way to become good at something is to do it repeatedly, and fail, and if you get penalized for failing, you will never get the chance to ultimately get very good at it.”

Incorporating game-like elements, such as a point-based system, into higher education sparks learning, McGrath says. This is the gamification of higher education. 

For McGrath, this started when he was teaching a course on the Bible. The second day of class, he knew he had to teach his students, essentially, a history lesson about why Bibles are different and where the table of contents comes from, for example. He decided to create a card game, Canon: The Card Game

“People like to game,” McGrath says. “Faculty are starting to recognize the value of these types of things as part of culture and things we can harness for good in terms of learning outcomes. The fact that institutions such as our own are being more aware that people need to be well-rounded and that involves different things, even gaming, is a huge step toward true innovation.”

Jason Goldsmith, Associate Professor of English, quite literally studies video games. 

He offers a course called Video Game Narrative, which looks at how video games tell stories and what they can do differently from a standard novel or film. One iteration of the course studied Lord of the Rings. The students read the novel, watched the film, and then played online with people all over the world. The class looked at how the narrative shifted based on environment.

“These kids grow up playing video games much more than watching movies, so it is vital that we teach them to think about this medium critically with the same attention we ask of them when reading Shakespeare,” he says. “If they are playing these games, and if they will one day produce these games, we must encourage them to think more deeply about the relationship between story, game, and what players want out of a game.”

Goldsmith has also gamified aspects of classes he teaches, such as a course he recently taught on Jane Austen. Austen played many games when she was younger, and games play a crucial role in her novels. Students had to create a Jane Austen game, complete with a character sheet that reflected the characteristics Austen valued in her main characters.

Goldsmith says he looks forward to studying the broader cultural significance of gaming, while also making sure Butler continues to evolve and prepare students for emerging career opportunities. 

Butler is working University-wide to do just that. 

 

Future Esports & Technology space in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage, expected to open in fall 2020

 

Competition

When John George ‘18 started at Butler, he had two passions: sports and video games. But he had never heard of esports.

He was watching ESPN one morning and heard something about competitive video games and esports. His mind was blown. He started Googling like crazy, and he found there was this whole world out there with teams and leagues. He started playing League of Legends and was hooked.

By the time he was a senior, he heard about Rogers and his esports class. After the first class, he ran up to Rogers, and the two decided to start the Butler esports student organization. There wasn't much interest that first year, and George was the only senior at the meeting. There were a handful of others.

“I can’t believe we went from having some interest, to now being on the brink of an actual space on campus,” says George, who worked for Echo Fox, an esports organization in Los Angeles, running a podcast and producing video after graduation. “We used to all practice in our dorm rooms apart, so the chance to all be together will be amazing.”

Interest has grown quite a bit, too. In 2018, the esports team started competing in the BIG EAST. The team competes in two titles in the BIG EAST now—Rocket League and League of Legends

“The BIG EAST Conference and our members have been formally exploring the esports space since 2017,” says Chris Schneider, Senior Associate Commissioner for Sport Administration and Championships at the BIG EAST. “It’s exciting to see growth on each campus, and Butler University is certainly one of the leading programs in the conference.”

Growth on Butler’s campus over the last few years has really skyrocketed. There is discussion around Butler-sanctioned scholarships, Kammeyer says.

“Interest on campus has mirrored the explosion of this industry at the global level,” he says. “We continue to work with our partners at the high school level to develop advancement opportunities much like traditional sports. We want to provide an end-to-end solution for those that want to pursue anything that falls under the umbrella of esports and innovative technology, from music and production, to competition, to developing the games they are playing.”

 

Community

Butler is not the only member of the Indianapolis community active in the esports and gaming space. 

Ryan Vaughn, Indiana Sports Corp President, says esports is no longer an emerging phenomenon, but rather something that the wider community is very much engaged in. However, Indianapolis lacks the physical space to bring this sport to life.

“With basketball or swimming, for example, it is easy for us as a city to demonstrate we have the infrastructure here to compete with other cities to host major events. But for esports events, it is different,” Vaughn says. “It will be a game changer for us to now have a community space and a University to partner with.”

Esports also differ from other sports in their clear connection to STEM fields and tech, Vaughn says. To continue to grow in these areas as a state, it is important to recognize and develop that connection.

Scott Dorsey agrees. Dorsey, Managing Partner at High Alpha and Past-Chair of the Indiana Sports Corp, sees Butler’s new esports and tech space as key to developing Indiana’s workforce.

“Esports is an excellent example of the collision between sports and technology in Indianapolis,” Dorsey says. “We are a city that embraces our sports legacy and is well positioned to leverage our explosive growth in technology and innovation. Butler’s planned esports and technology park will be an important asset in our city as we build on our unique strengths and further develop, recruit, and retain top tech talent to the state.”

Potential partnerships with professional sports teams, other universities, K-12 schools, and start-up companies are all part of Butler’s larger plan, says Kammeyer. 

This past summer, for example, Butler partnered with NexTech, an Indianapolis-based organization committed to elevating the technical, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills of K-12 students, to host their Explorers Camp and provide programming for the Catapult Program—an intensive summer experience for high school students interested in exploring careers in technology.

“The investment Butler is making in innovative and transformative technology will be a tremendous asset for our city as we work to open doors for youth to explore opportunities in related fields,” says NexTech President Karen Jung.

Partnerships could lead to potential internship opportunities for Butler students, summer camps for community members, and mentorship programs for the esports team, for example.

Take the Indiana Pacers, for example. In 2017, Cody Parrent was hired to be their Director of Esports Operations. That year, they were one of 17 inaugural teams in the NBA 2K League. The league drafts players 18 years old or older from all over the world. 

Since that inaugural year, the league has added six new teams, including one from China. 

“We have seen interest grow exponentially,” says Parrent, who coaches the team, serves as the general manager, and works on partnerships.

As part of his partnership work, Parrent has spent time guest lecturing in Butler’s esports classes. And that has led to the Pacers having multiple Butler interns—a multimedia intern and a business operations intern.

“A lot of people know about the gaming side of esports, but there is a whole other side, which is the business side of things, and that is what I see as the most exciting part of what Butler is doing,” Parrent says. “The sport itself is open to everyone, as is the business side of things. We are ecstatic about finally having a hub that will bring everything together. The possibilities are endless.”

 

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.

esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

Butler Ready to Launch First Esports and Gaming Space, but Much More to Come

The new space in Atherton Union will open in late November, with a second Parking Garage space planned for 2020.

Oct 24 2019 Read more
Students visit IU Health warehouse
Experiential LearningUnleashed

From Beer to Cars to Medical Supplies, Students get a Broad Look at Business

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Oct 23 2019

Instructors of the Operations and Global Supply Chain Management course within Butler University’s Andre B. Lacy School of Business realized no PowerPoint presentation could compete with sending students out to explore 300,000 square feet of industry.

The goal of the class is to expose Business students to operations concepts by giving them opportunities to tour the facilities of companies and soak up the knowledge of professionals first hand at their workplace.

Led by Assistant Professor Janaina Siegler and Faculty Lecturer Matthew Caito, the class has taken students on site visits of companies all over Indiana. These trips help students understand concepts of distribution, profit maximization, and waste minimization. They also help students see what life is like inside some of top corporations by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at what makes these businesses truly function.

Students walk in IU Health warehouse.
Business students walk in the huge IU Health Distribution Center warehouse in Plainfield, Indiana.

A recent visit to the Indiana University Health Distribution Center in Plainfield, Indiana, found Caden Castellon and some classmates in a warehouse of the 300,000-square-foot facility, where medical supplies are prepared for shipment to 17 Indiana hospitals. From hospital beds to tongue depressors, the supplies were organized on palettes, conveyor belts, and bins, all of which were moved around by robots the size of Butler Blue III. Shelving soared at least two stories tall, and the facility was cooled by ceiling fans larger than helicopter blades.

“Actually going to the site and seeing how things work is always eye-opening,” says Castellon, a junior studying Finance. “It just broadens the picture of business.”

By the end of the semester, the students will have seen how seven different companies organize their logistics with the ultimate goal of saving time, labor, and money.

Whether Finance, Marketing, or Accounting majors, all Business students take the Operations and Global Supply Chain Management course.

“Marketing people find the money, the finance people count the money, and it’s up to operations people to save the money,” Caito says. “This is an easy class to get engaged with because so much of it is experiential.”

Before the students toured the facility, Derrick Williams, Executive Director of Supply Chain Logistics for IU Health, explained how investing in a distribution center has saved millions of dollars in just two years by consolidating operations in a one-stop-shop. The facility’s AutoStore robots help keep things organized, making the most of available technology. Students were able to see that efficiency first-hand.

A student watches an AutoStore robot.
Finance junior Caden Castellon watches IU Health's AutoStore robots prepare hospital shipments. 

“I personally love having the opportunity to go out and visit somewhere like this,” says Ben Greenblatt, a junior studying Finance. “It gives you a lot of new information that I had no idea about.” 

Opportunities everywhere

Like the clockwork of a well-run facility, Caito says students start seeing operations and supply chain management concepts everywhere they go. They see why certain products are placed along the perimeter of the grocery store (consumers tend to buy more from those areas) or how concession stands at Indiana Pacers games are staffed to meet fans’ hunger and thirst demands.

“After they go to the tours, they’ll come back impressed at all the details that have to happen in order to be successful,” Caito says. “It makes sense, and I hope in five, 10, 15 years, a student can reflect back on the class and say, ‘that’s where I learned where theory is important, but also that doing things that makes sense is really important—anticipating what the needs are going to be.’”

The variety of companies that have partnered with the course are diverse in product, service, and size. Tours of Sun King Brewery had to be divided up to fit all of the students interested in how the popular Indianapolis brewer makes its beers and ships bottles, cans, and kegs all over Indiana. A visit to the UPS World Port started at 11:00 PM on October 4 and extended into the early morning of October 5, when the airport was at its busiest.

Other Indiana visits this fall have included the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Jeffersonville, Subaru Indiana Automotive in Lafayette, and Cummins in Columbus.

Join the club

The course’s popularity has led to the formation of the Butler Global Supply Chain Club. The student-run organization’s meetings often consist of case studies, guest speakers, and networking opportunities. 

Club President Tim Evely took Operations and Global Supply Chain Management a year ago. The experience inspired him to lead the club, which allows members to take Caito and Siegler’s class tours without being enrolled in the class. 

“Supply chain is applicable everywhere, in any business,” says Evely, a senior majoring in Finance and Accounting. “In any decision-making process, supply chain opportunities must be considered.”

Evely’s class also visited sites around the Hoosier State. A tour of the Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing plant in Columbus, Indiana, was especially impactful. Like the IU Health Distribution Center, the sheer size of the Toyota facility astounded Evely and his classmates. They encountered a complex that measured 10 football fields long, which would take a full hour to walk around. Watching the assembly line in action and getting to see a finished product was something he could not have experienced in the classroom.

“We got to see what we’re working on in school translate in the industry,” Evely says. “It’s a good feeling to get out of the classroom and see the real-world applications.”

Upcoming Operations and Supply Chain Management events

  • III International Symposium on Supply Chain 4.0, October 24-28, Lacy School of Business Building
  • Guest speakers Clay Robinson, Co-Founder and CEO of Sun King Brewing Company, and Cameron Panther of Celadon Logistics will discuss entrepreneurship, distribution, and manufacturing processes from 5:00–7:00 PM November 7 at the new building for the Lacy School of Business.

 

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.

Students visit IU Health warehouse
Experiential LearningUnleashed

From Beer to Cars to Medical Supplies, Students get a Broad Look at Business

Students experience operational techniques up close during visits to Amazon, Sun King Brewery, and more.

Oct 23 2019 Read more

Dear Bulldogs

Dear Bulldogs, 

After eight years of greeting potential students with the news of their admission to Butler University, running down bones at Hinkle Fieldhouse to officially get basketball games started, and serving as Butler’s all-around ambassador, I will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

There comes a point in life when it’s time to move on to the next chapter and now such a milestone is upon me. So, on account of my increasing age, long tenure on the job, and eagerness to enjoy life outside of the spotlight, I’ll soon be wrapping up my official mascot duties. It turns out, I am a lot like humans in that regard.


However, before I hang up the leash, I will be embarking on a farewell tour dubbed, One Last Trip. Throughout the remaining academic year, I will be appearing at Butler games, various events on campus, and even following the men’s basketball team to a handful of destinations around the country to surprise prospective students and to see alumni. Not to mention, several items of One Last Trip merchandise have been commissioned and will be available in the Butler Bookstore and The Shop so that fans can commemorate the occasion. 

So, I hope to see you around campus, Indianapolis, and elsewhere as we set out for Chicago, Washington DC, Milwaukee, and New York before the close of the academic year. First up, however, is Butler’s Homecoming celebration THIS weekend. I look forward to seeing you at Butler’s Biggest Tailgate, including the 19th annual Butler Bulldog Beauty Contest, as well as at various other events.

Oh, and to address the 65-pound bulldog in the room, I know right where your head is going here, and yes, there is a puppy in the works. 

My humans, Pops and Evan Krauss ’16, are working hard with my vet, Dr. Kurt Phillips ’92 to identify my successor, Butler Blue IV. And speaking of Evan, for the past six years Pops and I have been grooming him as a secondary “Dawg Guy,” which is perfect since Blue IV will be going home with him and his wife, Kennedy. This will relieve my Mom and Pops, after devoting 16 years to the care of Butler Blue II and me. 

In the meantime, I can’t wait for Blue IV to arrive so that I can personally show him/her the ropes! Don’t worry I’ll keep you updated on when that is coming. 

And finally I want to thank you, Bulldog Nation, for eight remarkable years. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Butler Bulldog. 

President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” 

Representing you, the best students, alumni, faculty, and staff in the world was without a doubt work worth doing.

So thank you, and as always, GO DAWGS!

 

 

 


Butler Blue III (Trip)
Official Mascot, Butler University

Follow my  #OneLastTrip experiences on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

 

AthleticsCampusCommunity

Dear Bulldogs

A message from Butler Blue III: "I will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year." 

Trip - Butler Blue III
#ButlerBoundCampus

Butler Blue III To Retire At End of 2019-2020 Academic Year

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 22 2019

 

 

After eight years of greeting potential students with the news of their admission to Butler University, running down bones at Hinkle Fieldhouse to officially get basketball games started, and serving as Butler’s all-around ambassador, Butler Blue III will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

It turns out Butler Blue III, also known as Trip (short for Triple), is a lot like us humans. The American Kennel Club-registered English bulldog is hanging up his mascot duties because of his older age (for bulldogs), long tenure on the job, and desire to start the next chapter of his life.

“While he loves to work and enjoys being the Butler Bulldog, it's time,” says Trip’s caretaker and Butler’s Director of External Relations, Michael Kaltenmark. “The average lifespan of an English bulldog is 8-to-12 years, and now that Trip is entering that range, we want to make sure he gets to enjoy the simple pleasures of life as just our family dog.”

Kaltenmark and his colleagues will be working closely with Butler graduate and local veterinarian Dr. Kurt Phillips to identify Trip’s successor, Butler Blue IV. Upon arrival of Blue IV, Butler graduate and current Marketing Specialist Evan Krauss ‘16 will take over caregiving and training duties. Kaltenmark, who has devoted the last 16 years to the care of Butler Blue II and III, will still work closely with Krauss, but will primarily focus on his external relations work.

Trip has been part of Kaltenmark’s household since he was adopted in early 2012 at 7 weeks old. He will remain with the family during retirement. Kaltenmark has been on staff at Butler since graduating from the University in 2002, and he cares for Trip along with his wife Tiffany and his sons Everett (9) and Miles (5). 

But before Kaltenmark and Trip hang up the leash, they’re embarking on a farewell tour, or One Last Trip. Throughout the academic year, Trip will appear at Butler games and various events on campus, and he will even follow the Men’s Basketball team on the road to surprise several prospective students and to visit graduates.

“This year is really an opportunity for the Butler community and our fans to celebrate Trip and his service as mascot,” Kaltenmark says. “He has served Butler so admirably all of these years, and we want to send him off with a proper farewell.”

Some of Trip’s remaining highlights include stops in Chicago, Washington DC, Milwaukee, and New York. But first up is Butler’s Homecoming weekend, including Trip’s role as host of the 19th annual Butler Bulldog Beauty Contest on Saturday, October 26.

Further announcements about the arrival and debut of Butler Blue IV will be forthcoming. In the meantime, fans can continue to follow Trip and his #OneLastTrip experiences on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

 

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

Trip - Butler Blue III
#ButlerBoundCampus

Butler Blue III To Retire At End of 2019-2020 Academic Year

After serving as the official mascot for eight years, Trip will hang up the leash to spend more time with family.

Oct 22 2019 Read more
Business Building dedication
CampusCommunity

Butler to officially dedicate new business building

BY

PUBLISHED ON Oct 21 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Butler University is set to dedicate the new building for the Andre B. Lacy School of Business.

After nearly two years of construction, the 110,000-square-foot building officially opened in August to support a growing student population, along with the local, regional, and national business community.

The LSB has grown its enrollment by 60 percent in the last five years. As a result, the new building is about six times larger than the business school’s previous home in Holcomb Building. LSB will serve 1,198 undergraduate business students this year.

The $50 million building is complete, but fundraising efforts are ongoing as the University seeks to name the building. Support for the project has come from both the Butler community and beyond. Four of the top donors to date are not Butler graduates, but they invested due to their belief that LSB is making a strong impact on the Indianapolis business community.

Who: Mayor Joseph Hogsett, M.A. ‘87; President James Danko; LSB Dean Steve Standifird; Provost Kate Morris; Indiana Economic Development President Elaine Bedel, M.A. ‘79; Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Stephanie Fernhaber; Cameron Alford ‘16, MSRI ‘20; Chair of the Board of Trustees Jay Sandhu

What: Official dedication for the new building for the Lacy School of Business

When: Friday, October 25 at 1:15 PM

Where: Butler University campus in the new building for the Lacy School of Business – Business Building Atrium (please call Rachel Stern at 914-815-5656 if you have any trouble finding the location or parking)

Why: Though the building officially opened in August, Butler is officially dedicating the building with partners from the community, in an effort to demonstrate the impact the building has already made

 

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

Business Building dedication
CampusCommunity

Butler to officially dedicate new business building

On Friday, October 25, Butler will dedicate the building alongside partners from the community.

Oct 21 2019 Read more
Fall scene at Butler University
CampusCommunity

Finally: Campus Trees Pop with Peak Fall Colors

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Oct 21 2019

Fall foliage fans rejoice: Peak season has finally hit Butler University.

After a dry summer, the leaves were late to turn this autumn, but those yellows, reds, and oranges on the diverse collection of trees around campus should be visible for most of the rest of October.

“The change is a little late,” says Marcia Moore, the longtime assistant at Butler’s Friesner Herbarium. “You usually see that when you have summer drought. You need that regular rain in the summer for the sugars the trees are making for nourishment. When it’s dry, they’re protecting themselves and hold onto the leaves a little longer.”

Marcia Moore looks at specimens in the Herbarium.
Marcia Moore examines some old maple specimens in the Friesner Herbarium.

The Herbarium tree walk concentrates on select trees on the main campus marked with nameplates displaying the tree’s English and Latin names, along with the species’ area of origin. An example, a flowering dogwood in front of Robertson Hall, is identified as dogwood, Cornus florida, eastern and central U.S.

To extend the walk, Moore recommends taking in the trees within the 15 acres of woods north of campus, which are popping with color as well. These woods can be accessed at 49th Street and Lake Drive or through Holcomb Gardens.

“It’s a good representation of an old-growth forest,” Moore says. “Some of the beech trees in the Butler woods are thought to be 200-300-years-old. They are probably original growth.”

Native species, mostly

Moore says most of the trees on campus are native to central Indiana and some are more than 100 years old. Some include the red oak in front of Atherton Hall, the sugar maple east of Robertson Hall, and the tulip poplar near Jordan Hall.

Indiana’s state tree, tulip poplars get their name from their leaves and flowers resembling tulips, and they are well-represented at Butler. Every fall, a handful of Indianapolis elementary schools contact Moore for guided tree tours and to collect leaves.

“They learn about the top native trees, their Latin names, and how to draw the leaves,” says Moore, who has welcomed local garden clubs and conservation groups for tree tours as well. “It’s always fun to have them. We want to speak to the community, get more involvement that way, and get more people coming to campus. It’s a resource not only for students and faculty here, but for the community at large. It’s a good feeling to know we’re reaching people.”

Gingko tree by Jordan Hall
The gingko tree by Jordan Hall turns bright yellow before quickly shedding its leaves.

While gingko trees are not native to Indiana, Moore calls them noninvasive. Despite the smelly fruit that grows on some, the trees fit into the landscape well. They tend to rank high with the brilliance of their leaves—while they last.

“They’re not a problem tree. They’re very pretty,” Moore says. “After they turn that beautiful golden color for a couple weeks, they drop their leaves all at once. There’s no other tree that does that on campus.”

The color of the leaves are affected by sunlight and cold temperatures at night. The colder the night and the sunnier the day all dictates the brightness, according to Philip Villani, Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biology.

The science behind the changing leaves involves the lowering or halting of chlorophyll in the leaves, which makes way for chemicals like carotenoids in yellow and orange leaves. Anthocyanins for red leaves are formed by glucose left from the fading chlorophyll.
 

A taste of the tree walk

Tulip poplar near Jordan Hall

 

Tulip poplar tree

This large tree represents Butler and Indiana well. Its strong, distinctive bark makes it eye-catching even in the winter.

Osage orange behind Gallahue Hall

Osage orange tree

Despite its name, the Osage orange turns yellow-green in the fall, but the tree is producing its distinct and inedible fruit—nicknamed “monkey brains.”

Flowering dogwood in front of Robertson Hall

Dogwood in front of Robertson Hall

This dogwood has some of the reddest leaves on campus.

 

Tagged

Every tree on Butler’s campus—including those on the tree walk—have circular tags on them courtesy of the Department of Biology. Villani says the numbered tags are part of an inventory of campus trees, fueled by an Indiana Academy of Science grant. There’s more than 2,000 from 109 different species.

While tagging, Villani measured every tree’s diameter at chest height and noted the global positioning of each. This database is utilized for multiple sections of Botany, Natural World, and Ecology and Evolution courses.

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

Through collaboration and strong partnerships, Butler Beyond will unleash the potential of our brilliant faculty and students on the complex issues facing our community. Support for this pillar will expand Butler’s reach and roots in the Indianapolis community and beyond by cultivating deeper integration with local organizations and businesses, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, nurturing new ventures, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Fall scene at Butler University
CampusCommunity

Finally: Campus Trees Pop with Peak Fall Colors

Worth the wait, take an in-depth look at the autumn foliage with help from the Friesner Herbarium’s tree walk

Oct 21 2019 Read more
Megan Franke helps a girl with an experiment.
CommunityUnleashed

Butler Biology and Chemistry Students Inspire Future Scientists at Celebrate Science Indiana

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Oct 16 2019

From lattes to scented dog shampoo, pumpkins are everywhere this time of year—even starring in science experiments led by Butler University students.

In a take on the classic potato electricity experiment, students of Chemistry Lecturer Paul Morgan brought mini pumpkins to their tabletop station at the annual Celebrate Science Indiana event, October 5 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. At the event that brings hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics displays under one roof, Butler Chemistry and Biology students led 10 interactive science experiments designed to help children learn about simple scientific reactions and concepts, like how pumpkins can be wired up to make an LED light glow.

“I didn’t know if the pumpkins would work, but lo and behold, they did,” Morgan says. “The wire is one medium to carry the electricity. The pumpkins themselves have different-charged particles inside of them that will allow the current to flow through.”

Benjamin Nick leads an experiment
Biology and Chemistry Senior Benjamin Nick, center, leads a pumpkin experiment for children.

By volunteering at Celebrate Science Indiana, the Butler students worked toward fulfilling their Indianapolis Community Requirement while gaining experience talking about science in plain language to the hundreds of potential scientists in attendance. The event included science-based companies, nonprofit organizations, and university programs from all over the state.

Morgan’s Chemistry in the Community students were joined by students from the Biology Indianapolis Outreach course, taught by Biological Sciences Senior Lecturer Erin Gerecke.

A steady stream of families checked out the experiments throughout the day. Guests made slime while learning about slugs, tried to pick up golf balls with tongs to simulate how birds eat, and marveled at a tiny motor consisting of an AA battery, copper wire, and magnets.

The experiments will be reprised for several more upcoming events. Morgan’s students will wow future chemists November 2 at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, while Gerecke’s Biology students will share their knowledge for the general public again November 16 at the Indiana State Museum.

“Just getting the children interested in science is the best thing,” Morgan says. “It’s about pulling them in and having something to talk about, to spur that interest, that curiosity. I even learn a few things from doing this every once and a while.”

Science communication is key

Gerecke says the ability to explain science to different audiences without dumbing it down is a skill students will need as they enter the field.

 “This is a very interesting audience because you have children of different ages, and adults,” adds Gerecke while watching her students interact with families at Celebrate Science. “Every person that comes up, you have to start over and figure out how to engage with them.”

Melissa Evans and her classmates chose to promote neuroscience in their display about the four lobes of the brain: That’s the occipital for vision, temporal for speech, frontal for high-level cognition, and parietal for coordination. A plastic model of the human brain fascinated parents and older students while younger children colored pictures of brain halves, attached them to construction paper, and wore them as brainy headbands. 

“We’ve had kids who already know the lobes of the brain and kids who don’t even know what a brain is,” says Evans, a Psychology and Critical Communication major with a Neuroscience minor. “We also had a freshman in high school talk to us about our program because she’s interested in coming to Butler.”

Biology senior Kristen Spolyar believes events like Celebrate Science can only give young students a headstart in their STEM classes.

“I never experienced anything like this,” Spolyar said during a short break from running a booth on recycling and sustainability. “I think it’s really cool to have the opportunity for kids to go around, have fun, and experiment with things.”

Sparking scientific interest

Beyond the Butler stations, the entire Celebrate Science event corralled an energetic atmosphere of discovery.

Butler students show a girl experiments
Butler Chemistry students show a future scientist experiments in magnetism and simple motors.

Cody Carley might be a senior studying Biology and Chemistry at Butler, but he felt like a kid again at Celebrate Science. 

“Walking around, I’m enthralled by all of this stuff, too,” Carley says. “It’s still exciting for people my age… It’s nice to see what we’re learning does have some applicability and some meaning outside of an academic sense.”

Jenny Luerkins of Indianapolis and her young daughters, Etta and Helen, were among the hundreds who visited the Butler tables, and among the thousands at Celebrate Science 2019. It was their third time attending the event.

“What I really enjoy is that each time we come here, they get to see kids that aren’t much older than them interested in science,” she says. “It’s different than a teacher talking to them or a parent talking to them about science. They’ve got good role models to make science fun in a lot of different ways.”

 

Community Partnerships

Through collaboration and strong partnerships, Butler Beyond will unleash the potential of our brilliant faculty and students on the complex issues facing our community. Support for this pillar will expand Butler’s reach and roots in the Indianapolis community and beyond by cultivating deeper integration with local organizations and businesses, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, nurturing new ventures, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Megan Franke helps a girl with an experiment.
CommunityUnleashed

Butler Biology and Chemistry Students Inspire Future Scientists at Celebrate Science Indiana

As part of their Indianapolis Community Requirement, students engaged with children through hands-on experiments.

Oct 16 2019 Read more

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

Nine Butler University alumni and one professor emeritus who have demonstrated extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Recognition Program on Friday, October 25, at 6:00 PM in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, part of Homecoming Weekend festivities. Registration for the awards ceremony and all Homecoming activities can be made online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 
  • Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon
  • Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 
  • Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 
  • Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04
  • Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07
  • Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88
  • Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

 

Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 

Craig Fenneman graduated from Reitz High School, where he served as student council president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Butler University and attended Indiana University School of Law for two years before pursuing a career in commercial real estate.

Mr. Fenneman founded two Indiana-based businesses: Fenneman and Associates, a real estate development company, and Southern Bells, Inc., one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees in the country. He has given back to his community in many ways, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the YMCA Camp Carson and Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America National Foundation. He also sits on the Board of the YMCA of greater Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Community Foundation of Morgan County.

In addition, Mr. Fenneman has been a loyal alumnus and friend to Butler University. A former member of Butler’s Board of Trustees, he held the position of Board Chair from 2011 to 2014. He also served on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, the Hinkle Campaign Cabinet, and the ButlerRising Campaign Cabinet. Craig and his wife, Mary Stover-Fenneman, are honorees of Butler University’s premier philanthropic giving community, the Carillon Society, and are recognized on Cornerstone Plaza for their generous lifetime giving to Butler University. Their philanthropic support has benefitted the Butler Fund, the Campaign for Hinkle Fieldhouse, the ButlerRising Campaign, the Craig Fenneman Endowed Scholarship, the Butler Business Consulting Group, and, most recently, they have joined the Founders Circle as donors to the new Lacy School of Business building and as lead donors to the Science Expansion and Renovation project.

Mr. Fenneman has received the Sagamore of the Wabash, YMCA Camp Carson Outstanding Volunteer Award, YMCA of Southwest Indiana "James Orr Award" as Outstanding Volunteer, Boys Scouts of American Silver Beaver, Award of Merit, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, Distinguished Eagle and 2007 Ernst & Young Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The Butler Medal is the highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association. It recognizes individuals for a lifetime of distinguished service to either Butler University or their local community while at the same time achieving a distinguished career in their chosen profession and attaining a regional or preferably a national reputation. Since 1959, it has recognized individuals who have helped immeasurably toward perpetuating the University as a great educational and cultural institution and have had, during their lifetime, a profound influence on the course of Butler University.

 

Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon

Marshall Dixon was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Southern Maryland, where he was a professional fur trapper at age 11. After receiving a PhD in physics from the University of Virginia, he served on the faculties of Tulane University and New Mexico State University, and also worked for Westinghouse Research Laboratory and White Sands Missile Range. Along the way, he served a term of duty in the U.S. Army.

He joined the faculty of Butler University in 1957 and taught physics, electrical engineering, constitutional law and the history of law for 53 years. Early during his tenure at Butler, the University hosted “scientifically minded” high school students in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Dixon taught physics to these students, and, when the NSF grant ran out, continued the program on his own in his third-floor laboratory in Jordan Hall. No one was invited or turned away and news of the class was spread by word of mouth. By 1972, The Indianapolis Star reported that over 100 exceptional youngsters had passed through the program, many of them eventually attending Butler. 

In addition, Dixon housed and fed Butler students free of charge for decades, introducing them to a wide range of international cuisines (he did all the cooking himself) and mentoring them in their study of physics. As a result, close to 50 of his students went on to earn PhD’s.

Dixon retired from Butler in 2010, but continues to stay involved in physics education. Dixon and his colleagues developed a four-year, university-level physics program at Cathedral High School that prepares approximately 100 students each year for advanced study. Dixon has also gone on to publish Natural Philosophy: The Logic of Physics, a three-volume textbook series for Amazon.

The Butler Service Medal, established by the Alumni Association in 2001, is the second highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association and is reserved for recognition of emeriti faculty or retired faculty and staff (graduate or non-graduate). The recipient will have achieved a lifetime of distinguished service to Butler University and/or the community. Recipients will have helped to shape the past and future successes of Butler University and therefore shown a profound influence.

 

Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 

A native of Indianapolis, Michele McConnell graduated from Butler University in 1993 with a degree in Music Education, minoring in Speech Communication and Theater. She has since launched a performance career spanning musical theatre, opera, cabaret, professional choral work, and touring productions. 

McConnell made her Broadway debut in The Phantom of the Opera, starting in the ensemble, and then taking over the starring role of Carlotta for a record-breaking six years. McConnell also has the privileged distinction to be the longest running Carlotta in Broadway history, with over 2,200 performances in the role to her credit. Her other extensive credits include performing in the national tour of Camelot alongside Robert Goulet, appearing with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players at City Center, in Montreal and Las Vegas productions of Beauty and the Beast, and in Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt.

McConnell has given back to Butler by teaching master classes on campus and by her active participation in the NYC Butler Community. She’s also taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Indianapolis, and the Berklee College of Music. Since 2010, she has been an adjunct faculty member in voice at New Jersey City University.

McConnell actively serves as the President of the Board of Trustees for Skyline Theatre Company in Bergen County, NJ. She had the distinction of being recognized in 2018 by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance for her “dedication to and impact on arts education.” In addition, she has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation (her high school alma mater in Indiana).

The Robert Todd Duncan Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. This award honors the spirit and accomplishments of Robert Duncan, a 1925 graduate, noted opera singer, and educator who in 1945, became the first African American to sing with a major white opera company, the New York City Opera Company.

 

Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 

James M. Bagnoli ’75 is an enthusiastic Butler volunteer and comes from a family of fellow Bulldogs—his father, aunt, and brother are all Butler University alumni. A member of the Butler University Alumni Association Board from 2013 to 2017, he served as Vice President from 2016 to 2017. He has been an Athletic Department volunteer since 2013 and has worked on special projects for the Cross Country and Track and Field team. Bagnoli is also a frequent Bulldogs Into the Streets (BITS) participant and can regularly be found at events hosted by the Central Indiana Butler Community, including the annual Bulldog Crawl and basketball viewing parties.

Bagnoli retired from a four-decade career in banking in 2015. He began his career as a bank teller with Bank One in 1975 and worked his way through the ranks to become Senior Vice President – Business Banking. Later, as an Executive Vice President at USA Financial Services, he created a nationwide network of funding sources for commercial loan requests and marketed to residential brokers in the Midwest. As a Vice President at CU Channels, he coordinated the sales and marketing efforts for Indiana and Kentucky, located funding sources to supplement conventional mortgage programs, and coordinated efforts to generate new credit union relationships in the region.   

Bagnoli received his bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Butler in 1975. A member of Phi Delta Theta, he learned early in his time at Butler of the importance of volunteer work. That commitment to volunteerism and community engagement continued throughout his career and personal life.

The Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and has displayed and recognizes a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University. The recipients of this award have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. This award honors the memory of Katharine Graydon who graduated from Butler in 1878, and was a Professor of English Literature at the University from 1907 to 1930, receiving an honorary doctorate of literature in 1928. Graydon served as the Alumni Secretary and Editor of the Alumnal Quarterly from its first edition in 1922 until her retirement in 1929, when she was named Professor Emerita.

 

Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04

Since graduating from Butler University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Jennifer Cockrill has committed her professional career to advancing medical science and public health globally as a dedicated public servant and Commissioned Officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Her civilian service to the United States has included investigating the mechanisms of anthrax toxin at the National Institutes of Health, working toward the development of a malaria vaccine at the Naval Medical Research Center, and conducting epidemiological health surveillance of critical medical outcomes for members of the U.S. military at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

As a quarantine officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LCDR Cockrill was repeatedly hand-selected to lead challenging missions critical to protecting global public health, from aiding in the Ebola Response in Liberia in 2016 to fighting Zika in Puerto Rico to assisting in the responses to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael, to name a few.

She is currently a Regional Emergency Coordinator for Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in Region 10, where she works closely on public health preparedness and response efforts with the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Jennifer holds graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Georgetown University, and is currently appointed as the Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect of the advisory group to the Surgeon General on matters affecting LGBT officers in the Commissioned Corps.

The Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award honors a recent graduate whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. Hilton U. Brown gave a lifetime of service to his career and Butler University, including serving on the Board of Trustees for 71 years. He was an award-winning newspaper journalist and Managing Editor at the Indianapolis News for more than seven decades.

 

Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07

Marc A. Williams is a 2007 graduate of Butler University, where he earned his degree in Media Arts: Recording Industry Studies. Williams is the second Butler graduate in his family; his older sister, Danielle, graduated in December 2004. Danielle is responsible for introducing Marc to Butler and encouraging him to attend.

After graduation, Williams embarked on a career in education, earning his master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Ball State University in 2015. He currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Fall Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana. In this role, he is committed to serving his school community by focusing on creating and sustaining a joyful and healthy school environment and experience. Williams is also an adjunct professor at Butler University, where he teaches “A World of Hip-Hop” in the Honors Program.

Williams uses the pseudonym “Mr. Kinetik” as a professional musician, DJ, and emcee. At the start of the 2009-2010 season, Marc began to volunteer as the on-court promotions emcee for Butler Men’s Basketball games, a role he still fulfills to this day. This passion for creativity and performance has given him opportunities to represent, serve, and remain connected to Butler as an alumnus.

Lindsey Martin ’05, Director of Athletic Marketing and Licensing for Butler, has this to say about Williams’ contributions to the atmosphere in Hinkle: “He has become such an integral part of our game day production that if he needs to miss a game for work or a family commitment, our Twitter feed is inundated with questions on his whereabouts—and the atmosphere in the arena is noticeably different.”

The Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award recognizes a recent alumnus who has demonstrated a significant commitment of outstanding service to the University. The award’s recipients have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. The award honors the spirit and example of Joseph Sweeney, a young student with a great deal of potential, whose life was tragically cut short.

 

Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88

Joseph Eaton received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Butler University in 1988 and earned his Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1991. He embarked on a career with Barnes & Thornburg as a Summer Associate in 1990, and was named Partner in 2000.

Eaton is a member of a number of professional organizations and has taken on many leadership roles throughout his three-decade career. His memberships include the American Bar Association, the Indianapolis Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, Trial Lawyers of America, and International Association of Defense Counsel. He was honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation in 2004 and has been named an Indianapolis Business Journal Super Lawyer (Civil Defense) every year since 2006.

His service to Butler has included membership on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the ButlerRising Capital Campaign. He has also been a member of numerous civic organizations in Fishers and has been involved in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation.

Florie (Theofanis) Eaton received her degree in Public and Corporate Communications from Butler University in 1988 and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She began her career in communications in 1987 at an Indianapolis-based commercial real estate firm and later started her own specialty sales business.

She is a long-time member of the Fishers YMCA Board of Advisors and president of the Fishers Tri Kappa Associate Chapter. A dedicated Butler volunteer, Florie has served on the University’s Alumni Association Board, the Kappa Alpha Theta Advisory Board, and as an alumni outreach volunteer. She is a past volunteer with a number of civic and cultural organizations in Fishers.

Joe, Florie and their children, Kailey ’17 and Zach ’20, established the Eaton Family Scholarship at Butler University in 2018.

The Mortar Award, created in 1995, honors one person or couple each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating great vision, leadership, and generosity to Butler University.

 

Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

Loren Snyder earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Butler University, where he served as the freshman class president, competed on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, and served as the Dawg Pound President. He has served on the University’s Young Alumni Board and was recently invited to act as an advisor for Butler’s student-managed investment fund.

Snyder is a Senior Vice President and managing partner of The Matthews/Snyder Wealth Advisory Team. In 2018 and 2019, he was named a “Top 40 Under 40” wealth advisor by On Wall Street magazine. He is a third-generation Rotarian and recently completed his term as President of the Bloomington Rotary Club.

Morgan Snyder graduated from Butler University in 2007. She is the Director of Public Relations at Visit Indy, the city’s official destination marketing organization. She previously served as the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel and as a member of the Hirons & Company team. An active member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, and Leadership Indianapolis, Morgan has been named a “Top 30 Under 30” by Destinations International and one of “Indy’s Best and Brightest” by Junior Achievement. She recently graduated from the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Program and was elected to the Travel & Tourism PR Professionals’ national executive committee.

Along with fellow family members, the Snyders established the Lippert and Snyder Family Scholarship at Butler University and they both serve on the University’s recently formed Board of Visitors. Loren, Morgan, and their son, Coleman, live in downtown Indianapolis with their English bulldog, Franklin.

The Foundation Award, created in 2011, honors one person or couple (age 40 and younger) each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating leadership and generosity to Butler University.

Alumni Awards
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

The annual awards program will be October 25 at 6:00 PM in the Schrott Center for the Arts.

State of the University
Butler BeyondCampus

Danko sees Butler as ‘stronger than ever,’ but ready for change

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 14 2019

The state of Butler University is stronger than ever—from the accomplishments of students and faculty, to important changes in the campus environment, to record enrollments—but the University is ready for the challenges ahead, President James M. Danko told members of the campus community on Friday.

“Overall, the state of our University is extremely strong,” Danko said during the State of the University Address. “Our student outcomes, such as placement rates and future career and life success, are excellent, and our community is making a positive impact in the world—both locally and globally. But the complex challenges ahead for private institutions like Butler—from shifting demographics to a nationwide focus on the cost of higher education—are greater than ever.”

On Friday, October 11, Butler faculty and staff gathered in the Schrott Center for the Arts to celebrate achievements from the past year while discussing ways to grow and overcome challenges moving forward.

Danko went on to explain that Butler is confronting those challenges with innovative goals through Butler Beyond, the University’s largest ever comprehensive fundraising campaign and new strategic direction. The strategy focuses on helping Butler embrace the inclusivity at its foundation while expanding educational opportunities for all kinds of learners, making a quality Butler education more accessible to everyone.

Also at the Friday afternoon event, Board of Trustees Chair Jay Sandhu announced that the contract of Danko has been extended through August 2024.

After highlighting several successes from students, faculty, and staff, Danko announced that this year’s University-wide budget surpluses will allow Butler to reinvest in the campus community, including changes such as the recently approved raise pool of 2 percent, the reduction of some health insurance premium rates, and the decision to waive Health & Recreation Complex membership fees for all full-time employees.

“Our progress is encouraging, but we can, and will, do even better as we make diversity, equity, and inclusion a deliberate and central aspect of our work across all areas of the University,” Danko said. “From the accomplishments of our students and faculty to the significant progress being made on our campus environment; from the strength of the Butler brand and enrollments to our sound fiscal management, I hope you can see the clear evidence—as I do—that the state of Butler University is stronger than ever.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to rest, Danko said. The University must remain nimble and open to change, which is why Butler Beyond is not a strict outline of specific projects for the next few years. Instead, it’s a flexible plan with room to breathe, Danko says—“a clear vision that ensures we’re pointed in the right direction when it comes to educational quality, expectations, and outcomes.”

To conclude the event, six Butler staff members were honored with Difference Maker Awards. These annual awards celebrate the talent, dedication, and care for students that staff members bring to Butler every day.

 

2019 Difference Makers:

  • Bonnie Danison, Senior Gift and Records Specialist
  • Priscilla Cobb, Assistant to the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Mary Hinds, Senior Instructional Designer
  • Margie Zentz, Administrative Specialist
  • Courtney Rousseau, Career Advisor
  • Tracey Mills, Teaching Lab Coordinator

 

NEXT STEPS

What: Strategy Discussion

When: Monday, October 14, 1:30–3:30 PM

Where: Business Building, Room 234

Who: Join Provost Kate Morris, President Danko, VP of Strategy and Innovation Melissa Beckwith

If you missed the State of the University, be sure to check out the full video here

 

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

State of the University
Butler BeyondCampus

Danko sees Butler as ‘stronger than ever,’ but ready for change

At the 2019 State of the University Address, faculty and staff celebrated achievements and discussed ways to grow.

Oct 14 2019 Read more