Home | Butler Stories

Home

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.”

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

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.”

 

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

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

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.

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

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.”

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

rstern@butler.edu

914-815-5656

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

914-815-5656 (cell)

rstern@butler.edu

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

Butler University

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.

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

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
President Danko
CampusPeople

Butler University Board of Trustees Extends Contract of President James M. Danko

BY

PUBLISHED ON Oct 11 2019

The Butler University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President James M. Danko through August 2024. The extension was announced to the University community today by Board Chair Jatinder-Bir “Jay” Sandhu ’87.

“Jim Danko exemplifies the kind of leadership that makes our University so special, with a style we have all become familiar with: extremely high expectations of himself and others, nonstop forward momentum, and the empowerment of others to develop new ideas and run with them,” Sandhu says. “It has been rewarding for the entire community to be part of the progress that Butler has made with Jim at the helm.”

Since his inauguration in 2011, Danko has strengthened the University’s academic and administrative leadership team, created incentives to encourage a culture of innovation, advanced diversity, equity, and inclusivity on Butler’s campus, improved and expanded the campus and its learning, residential, athletic, and performance spaces, and significantly increased the level of financial aid Butler provides to students and their families.

Under Danko’s leadership, Butler has seen the most robust fundraising years in its history, established new degree programs, majors, and minors, joined the BIG EAST Athletic Conference, and consistently climbed in national rankings—including being recognized as the No. 1 Regional University in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for the past two years.

On October 5, Danko announced the launch of Butler Beyond, the University’s new strategic direction and $250 million comprehensive fundraising campaign. Combining tradition with innovation, the new strategic direction will build upon Butler’s strengths in delivering an exceptional undergraduate education, while offering opportunities for lifelong learning and new educational pathways that are more flexible and affordable.

Butler Beyond also focuses on the ways in which the University will more actively strengthen the Hoosier State. For example, the University broke ground on its new Sciences Complex on October 3.

“This resource will not only directly benefit Butler students and community members,” Danko says. “It will play a key role in supporting ‘brain gain’ in our region.”

Danko, who earned his degree in Religious Studies from John Carroll University and an MBA from the University of Michigan, applied his entrepreneurial approach to academic leadership roles at institutions including Dartmouth College and Villanova University before his appointment as Butler’s President.

“I am honored to continue to lead this exceptional University at such a pivotal moment in our history, and I look forward to the work ahead as we pursue our bold vision for Butler’s future.”

President Danko and his wife, Bethanie, along with their dog, Daisy, live on Butler’s campus and welcome all members of the University community to their home. He also hosts office hours for students and attends campus events across academic disciplines, the arts, athletics, student life, and service.

“Jim Danko continues to be the right leader at the right time for Butler University,” Sandhu says. “I feel great optimism for the future and all that the Butler community is capable of achieving with the benefit of Jim’s guidance and expertise.”

 

Media contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

914-815-5656

rstern@butler.edu

President Danko
CampusPeople

Butler University Board of Trustees Extends Contract of President James M. Danko

President James M. Danko's contract has been extended through August 2024.

Oct 11 2019 Read more
Sally Perkins
Arts & CultureUnleashed

If Susan B. Anthony Had a Smartphone

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 10 2019

 

 

What would the fight for women’s suffrage look like in 2019—a centennial after women won the right to vote?

Sally Perkins, a professional storyteller and Director of Butler University’s Speaker’s Lab, imagines Susan B. Anthony would be texting her fellow activists. Ida B. Wells would be tweeting about the importance of the black female voice. Anna Howard Shaw would become Ellen DeGeneres, and the spirit of Sojourner Truth would shine through Queen Latifah. And no matter how hard the fight for voting rights became, none of them would give up.

In Digging in Their Heels, a one-woman storytelling performance that will hit the stage in New York City later this month, Perkins captures the complexities of this part of American history she’s found most people don’t know much about. Through modern references and comedic elements, she makes this 100-year-old story more accessible to audiences who don’t know much about what it took to win the vote.

The show races through 72 years in 60 minutes. But Perkins helps audience members keep track of the 16 characters by assigning each suffragist a modern alter-ego—a well-known woman who mirrors the suffragist’s personality and activism style. The characters use smartphones and social media to communicate, “in some ways pointing to the fact that they didn’t have that technology,” Perkins says. “It was so difficult what they did.”

And the performance doesn’t shy away from those difficulties, which emerged both from those outside the movement and between the women leading it. Instead, Perkins shows where black women experienced racism from their white counterparts, even as they all worked toward a shared goal.

“I’m doing what I can to bring that truth to the story,” she says. “We cannot talk about issues of gender without talking about issues of race.”

 

Sally Perkins

 

The show first launched at the IndyFringe Festival in 2018. Perkins has performed at several venues since, including a show for Indiana’s League of Women Voters and a few visits to out-of-state conferences. On October 17, she’ll take it to New York for the United Solo Theatre Festival, a 10-week international event dedicated to one-person shows.

When Perkins first applied to perform at the festival, she didn’t really think she had a chance. But she received her acceptance in April, and her October show is now listed as a bestseller among the more than 120 performances on the United Solo calendar. If the first performance sells out completely, Perkins will be able to schedule a second, and that process could repeat for up to eight total shows throughout the course of the festival.

Digging in Their Heels first started taking shape in late 2017, then it unfolded over about 10 months of research and writing. Typically, Perkins is more of an oral performer than a playwright. But to juggle the stories of 16 women over 72 years, sharing the narrative of women’s suffrage demanded a more robust script. And to help keep audience members grounded in the chronology, she called on the skills of Butler CCOM colleague Armando Pellerano, Lecturer of Strategic Communication, to design an interactive set.

“The audience should never have to be thinking, ‘Where are we in the timeline of all this?’” Perkins says. “So I have a huge set with a timeline and a map of the United States, which helps people keep track of which states have granted women the right to vote at different points along the way.”

In Pellerano’s 20 years of experience in the creative services industry, he had never designed a set piece. But on a late-April day when he saw Perkins rehearsing on campus, he stopped to see what she was doing. They chatted about the graphics on her old set, and after a brief critique from Pellerano, Perkins asked if he could help her design something that would tell a better story.

Pellerano chose colors and patterns that captured a Victorian-era mood, making sure the set would complement Perkins instead of drawing attention away from her words.

“I was trying to find something that fit her vision,” he says, “as well as accomplishing what I wanted from a visual standpoint, which was getting people to focus on what she was talking about without being distracted by the background.”

During a recent local performance of Digging in Their Heels, Pellerano had the chance to see the set design in action.

“To me, the coolest thing was seeing her actually use all the pieces,” he says. “There’s a little marker that moves down for the timeline, and we made velcro pieces so she can reveal information more gradually.”

But the show was even more interactive than Pellerano expected, and he was amazed at the way Perkins connected with the audience. Plus, it told an important story he didn’t know.

“What I really learned about was the politics of that time in history,” Pellerano says. “You can read about something, but you’re not really situated in what the conventional wisdom of the time was or what the cultural norms were. To me, it was revelatory that these women were as strategic as they were about when to dig in their heels and when to back off.”

While Perkins has spent the last few months focused on her upcoming trip to New York, she says performance is just one part of her career. At Butler, she teaches public speaking classes and runs the Speakers Lab, a group of tutors who provide students with one-on-one help in creating and delivering speeches or presentations.

In the community, Perkins works with professional clients, helping them effectively tell their stories. She trains organizations on the basics, explaining the power of storytelling when it comes to fundraising, sales, organizational development, recruitment, and more. She also offers individual coaching for a range of story-based projects. This professional service work, along with her commissioned performance experience, strengthens what Perkins does at Butler.

“All my storytelling work has deepened, improved, and impacted the way I teach public speaking,” she says. “Before I started doing all of this, I would never have talked about the importance of storytelling in public speaking class. Now I totally do.”

But it works the other way around, too, and she lets a love of education influence her performing. When audiences walk away from Digging in Their Heels, she wants them to have learned something.

“I want people to feel inspired not to give up, even though, as I say at the end of the story, many of these women went to the grave without ever casting a vote,” Perkins says. “But we need to not give up with whatever our battle is. It matters to me that people walk away feeling inspired by the longevity of the movement, and that they think about how we can be better in the future, no matter what the issue is at hand.”

 

Digging in Their Heels

Thursday, October 17, 7:30 PM

410 West 42nd Street, New York City

Tickets: $45 (purchase 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.

Sally Perkins
Arts & CultureUnleashed

If Susan B. Anthony Had a Smartphone

Celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage, Sally Perkins takes her one-woman storytelling show to New York City.

Oct 10 2019 Read more
Prof. Andrew Stoehr displays cabbage white butterflies.
ResearchUnleashed

Researcher Finds Environmental Clues on Butterfly Wings

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Oct 09 2019

The wings of a butterfly can give clues to the changes happening in their environments and, in turn, ours. At Butler University, Associate Professor of Biology Andrew Stoehr is using those clues to figure out if these wings can serve as early indicators to climate change. The wing patterns could serve as a warning flag for the overall health of the environment.

By measuring changes in the colors and patterns on the wings of the invasive cabbage white butterfly, Stoehr and his students are able to see how changes in temperature affect the butterflies’ health.

Prof. Andrew Stoehr analyzes butterfly wings.
Prof. Andrew Stoehr analyzes a photo of cabbage white butterfly wings in his lab.

The work measures the invasive butterfly’s phenotypic plasticity, which is when environmental factors influence how an organism looks or behaves. Changes in the butterflies’ wing coloration and patterns over time reveal how they are responding to temperature changes that took place while they were still caterpillars. The darker the wings, the colder the temperatures, Stoehr says, and the simple white wings with small flecks of black make the cabbage white butterfly an ideal test subject. Even just a short period of temperature change during development can have a noticeable effect on wing patterns: Just 48 hours of abnormally cool or warm weather, if it occurs at the right time for a caterpillar, can affect the wing pattern of the eventual adult.

Stoehr is an ongoing collaborator in the Pieris Project, a global effort to understand the spread of the cabbage white butterfly and, potentially, its reactions to increasing temperatures. Citizen scientists from as far as Russia, New Zealand, and Korea have shipped the butterflies to scientists involved in this project.

Much to the chagrin of farmers and gardeners of leafy greens, the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies feast on kale, bok choy, and cabbage. But their prevalence is better for researchers than it is for farmers, and Stoehr has studied butterflies from as close as The CUE Farm on Butler’s campus to as far away as Australia.

“They’re widespread and easy to study,” Stoehr says. “The butterfly’s life is very dependent on temperature. Temperature affects what they look like, and temperature affects what they’re able to do as butterflies, essentially controlling their own temperatures. Can they warm up enough to fly? They’re good ecological models for understanding the role of temperature and changing temperature in basic animal biology.”

With 90-degree heat in October, these little butterflies and their white wings are early subjects for animal behavior in unseasonal heat. If the wing development of these fluttering insects doesn’t match the weather outside, resulting in unregulated body heat, how would other animals react?

An ideal subject

The cabbage white butterfly is not only well-traveled—it can also be found around your garden as early as March and as late as November. The insect’s lifespan is short—probably no more than a week or two as a butterfly. Throughout the summer, each generation of butterflies has lighter wings as the weather gets hotter. 

“The population’s wings will change over the course of the year,” Stoehr says. “It takes many days for their wings to develop so they are trying to predict the weather weeks in advance. During those caterpillar stages, they’re receiving information about the temperature.”

These predictions give the butterflies an easier three-week life. As ectotherms, they rely on sunlight and temperatures to function. As a caterpillar and chrysalis, the insect is monitoring the weather so it can develop the most comfortable pair of wings, which are designed to soak in the preferred amount of heat.

Stoehr seeks anomalies in wing patterns — the amount of tiny black wing scales on the white wing background — to reveal unusual weather in a region. What’s a caterpillar to do if it's 85 degrees one day but then plummets to 55 degrees a few days later?

“In Indiana, there are seasonal patterns of predictability, but they’re not perfectly predictable,” he says. “Do the caterpillars ignore the temperature change and come out mismatched?

This is important knowledge, Stoehr adds, because it tells us that weather fluctuations might be enough to cause a butterfly to emerge mismatched to the temperatures it is likely to encounter. It may be that a cold snap or warm snap is enough to make a butterfly emerge with wing patterns that are not optimally suited for its ability to use those wing patterns to regulate temperature to the conditions it will be facing, compared to what it would look like if it had not gone through that cold or warm snap.

Methodology

In Stoehr’s research, each insect is photographed before the wing markings are analyzed through software that has collected more than 10,000 data points from the total butterfly wings, which include variations in areas of the wings that change with temperature. Each area is circled and analyzed with the lab’s computer software. The project’s findings will be finalized in 2020.

Initially, the local specimens were studied separately from the samples sent from abroad. However, combining the data could give clues to how the species will endure climate change.

“Do butterflies from different parts of the world develop in the same way in response to temperature and day length variation?” Stoehr asks. “In other words, how do butterflies from northern climates — like Canada and Finland — where the days are longer but also cooler, compare to butterflies from more southern places — like Mexico — where summer days are hotter but not as long?

To add further dimension, Stoehr hopes to eventually explore the use of museum collections of preserved butterflies from decades ago. How do butterflies collected in May 2019 compared to butterflies collected in May 1969?

“Given the way temperature and day length together affect the wing patterns,” Stoehr says, “we might be able to make predictions about how the butterflies look in the future as those two factors become uncoupled from each other. In other words, the temperature is changing but day length does not.”

Out in the field

Hundreds of the butterflies have come from Stoehr’s nets. He hunts them around his Hamilton County, Indiana, home while students set out across the CUE Farm, Butler Prairie, and woods around campus. 

“The cabbage whites are pretty easy to catch, and they’re very plentiful, especially by the Prairie,” says Makenzie Kurtz, a junior Biology major who has worked in Stoehr’s lab since January. “There’s usually five or six around in one small area.”

Kurtz’s role includes catching butterflies, freezing them, and preparing them for photos before logging each insect. It’s a mix that fortifies her pursuit of a career in research.

“It’s been an overall great experience getting in the field and helping with data analysis,” says Kurtz, who plans on pursuing entomology in graduate school. “It’s interesting to see it all come together.”

Stoehr’s upcoming spring sabbatical will be spent analyzing data and writing his findings from the white cabbage butterfly work. Each wing tells a story about the state of our environment, but just how cautionary will the tales be?

“Since we know something about how their appearance affects their ability to thermoregulate,” Stoehr says, “we might be able to eventually make predictions about whether climate change will increase or decrease populations in different places. It could make them pests in more places than they are now, or it might have the opposite effect.”

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

Prof. Andrew Stoehr displays cabbage white butterflies.
ResearchUnleashed

Researcher Finds Environmental Clues on Butterfly Wings

Biology Professor Andrew Stoehr analyzes the phenotypic plasticity of invasive cabbage white butterflies.

Oct 09 2019 Read more
JUUL research
ResearchUnleashed

New Study: Students Report Harmful Effects from Vaping, Don’t Use JUUL to Quit Smoking

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 07 2019

When e-cigarettes first hit the market, manufacturers sold them as a cleaner, safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. They targeted current smokers, touting vape as a good way to quit.

“But that is clearly not how they are being used,” says Amy Peak, Butler University’s Director of Undergraduate Health Science Programs. Her recent research about the harmful effects of vaping included a survey of nearly 1,000 college students.

research results Peak recently completed this large-scale study in collaboration with Sarah Knight, a senior Health Science major, and they presented their findings at the 2019 Indiana Life Sciences Summit on September 26.

They discovered that, while vaping was originally promoted as a safer alternative for existing smokers, most young vape users are brand new to nicotine. And it probably isn’t any safer, either, with most users experiencing a variety of harmful effects.

In data gathered throughout the past year, Peak found that almost 60 percent of college students had used a JUUL—the most popular e-cigarette in the United States. Of the students who vaped, 90 percent had never smoked a traditional cigarette. Only 3 percent of respondents said they used JUUL in an effort to quit smoking.

“Vaping is clearly an entry-level thing,” Peak explains. “It is not something that the college population is using as a smoking cessation product.”

And for pretty much everyone who vapes, even occasionally, there are consequences.

The most common adverse reaction found in Peak’s study was coughing, a symptom reported in about a third of all users. Other common harmful effects included nose or throat irritation (20 percent of users), headaches (18 percent), shortness of breath (16 percent), and difficulty sleeping (6 percent). For most of these effects, Peak found that the more often someone vaped, the more likely they were to experience these side effects.

Nicotine withdrawal was also common, affecting 72 percent of heavy users, 54 percent of moderate users, and 8 percent of occasional users. Reported withdrawal symptoms included cravings, headaches, mood changes, and the inability to think clearly. Peak explains that the form of nicotine used in JUUL pods provides a faster, harder hit than combustible cigarettes, which makes vaping more addictive per use than smoking.

“There is no doubt that this is an addictive substance,” she says. “It is something that people are going to have substantial trouble coming off of if they are using it regularly.”research results

The study also found that almost all college students who vaped had done so in a social setting, sharing e-cigarettes with others, which could contribute to the spread of infectious disease. Of the respondents who used vaping products, 95 percent had put a JUUL in their mouths immediately after it was in someone else’s mouth. Peak says this could spread any form of bacteria or virus that is transmitted via saliva, including some forms of herpes, mononucleosis, influenza, norovirus, or strep throat—just to name a few. This risk of spreading infectious disease is not typically seen with combustible cigarettes.

“That, in and of itself, I think is a public health hazard no one is talking about,” Peak says.

Going forward, Peak plans to partner with Butler Biological Sciences Lecturer Mike Trombley to look deeper into that infectious disease potential.

Before collaborating with Peak on this research, student Sarah Knight had noticed many of her college-aged peers starting to use JUUL without knowing much about it. She wanted to help fill gaps in existing research about the risks of vaping, and she enjoyed the chance to be part of something that has such an immediate impact on public health.

“There is a misconception that vaping is a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes,” Peak says. “My hope is that, as this data comes out, we have mounting evidence that changes this idea.”

She explains that most people assume that just because you don’t see smoke or smell tar when using JUUL, it must be safer than a combustible cigarette. This has created an environment where vaping is a lot more socially acceptable than smoking.

“But this is just a different delivery device for an incredibly addictive substance—and a substance that is mixed with flavorings and colorings that have no business being inhaled,” Peak says.

Those candy-like flavors—now facing a potential ban—have made JUUL especially appealing to young people. And as new lung illnesses have brought vaping products under more nationwide scrutiny in recent weeks, Peak hopes this study will join the conversation in a way that helps teens and college students understand that adding an “e” doesn’t make cigarettes any safer.

 

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.

JUUL research
ResearchUnleashed

New Study: Students Report Harmful Effects from Vaping, Don’t Use JUUL to Quit Smoking

Professor Amy Peak and student Sarah Knight surveyed nearly 1,000 college students about experiences with JUUL use.

Oct 07 2019 Read more
Butler Beyond
Butler BeyondCommunityGiving

Butler Announces New Strategic Direction, Historic $250 Million Campaign

BY

PUBLISHED ON Oct 05 2019

 

INDIANAPOLIS—Butler University today unveiled its new strategic direction and largest ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. Butler Beyond: The Campaign for Butler University seeks to raise $250 million by May 2022 to deliver transformative change to the University, region, and the world.

To date, the campaign has raised more than $171 million from more than 27,000 donors.

“Our strategy for Butler Beyond acknowledges the reality that the higher education landscape is changing, and we must change with it,” President James Danko says. “We intend to hold firmly to the traditions and values that have always defined a Butler education, while evolving to meet the changing needs and expectations of learners, employers, and society in the 21st century. Philanthropic support will be absolutely essential to achieving this vision.”

Combining tradition with innovation, the new strategic direction will build upon Butler’s strengths in delivering an exceptional undergraduate residential education, while expanding to offer opportunities for lifelong learning and new educational pathways that are more affordable and flexible.

These new opportunities include growth in customized corporate education programs, non-degree certificates and credentials, and community-focused talent development programs. Butler’s founding mission that everyone deserves access to a high-quality education regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status will be the guiding light for Butler Beyond as the University aims to reimagine a Butler education that is accessible to all learners.

The Butler Beyond campaign is organized around three pillars aimed to fuel this new strategic direction: student access and success, innovations in teaching and learning, and community partnerships.

“These Butler Beyond campaign pillars represent areas for philanthropic investment that will fuel our vision for the future,” Vice President for University Advancement Jonathan Purvis says. “These priorities were developed with input from donors, alumni, faculty, staff, and community partners who helped to identify the areas where Butler University is uniquely positioned to ignite positive change. Support for these strategic initiatives will propel our vision of transforming lives through education at Butler and beyond.”

Campaign funds will empower students by expanding donor funded scholarship support and other resources needed to ensure student success, elevate learning by further investing in high-impact practices and faculty development, and engage communities through innovative partnerships and collaborative programs.

 

Student Access and Success

As Butler works to solve the problem of higher education affordability, growing the University’s financial aid program through donor funded scholarships will be essential. And, welcoming students of all ages, life stages, and backgrounds will require robust student support services.

In 2018-2019, the University provided more than $78 million in scholarships to students. Of that total, only $3.2 million was funded through scholarship endowment or other philanthropic support. Closing this nearly $75 million gap in annual scholarship costs is essential to removing financial barriers for all students.

To address the challenge of affordability, growing the scholarship endowment and the annual Butler Fund for Student Scholarship will be key funding priorities during the campaign.

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

Recruiting, developing, and retaining the nation’s top educators and scholars is another chief goal of the campaign. State-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research, as well as funding to support ongoing training and development, are crucial for recruiting and keeping top talent.

Among the key funding priorities in the category of innovations in teaching and learning are the growth of Faculty Opportunity Funds, the Sciences Expansion and Renovation Project, and the new building for the Andre B. Lacy School of Business.

“The work our faculty do with students on a daily basis—teaching, mentoring, and student-faculty collaborative research—makes up the very foundation of a Butler education,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kate Morris says. “One of the most effective ways to support Butler students is to invest in the ongoing development of our faculty.”

 

Community Partnerships

Strengthening community partnerships is a particular point of emphasis in the new strategic direction. Increasing Butler’s engagement with businesses, community organizations, educational providers, and government entities will lead to new academic programs, ventures, and experiences for Butler students. These mutually beneficial partnerships will enable faculty, students, and community partners to work together in tackling complex issues facing the region.

These collaborations will also provide experiential learning opportunities for Butler students, while responding to the educational needs of our communities and corporations through the co-creation of new education and talent solutions.

To this end, a key funding priority for community partnerships is the newly established Transformation Fund, which is aimed at fueling the development of new educational models and advancing projects that contribute to the long-term vision of the University. The Transformation Fund will also provide a means to invest in new ventures supporting Butler’s desire to think differently about the future of higher education.

“Great universities have great responsibility for positively impacting the communities in which they reside,” Vice President of Strategy and Innovation Melissa Beckwith says. “Butler is committed to developing talent that meets workforce needs, offering programs and experiences that contribute to the city’s vibrant culture, and encouraging creativity in solving some of our community’s most pressing challenges.”

 

Unprecedented Philanthropic Support

Butler has been the recipient of unprecedented levels of philanthropic support during the campaign’s quiet phase, which started June 1, 2015.

“Investing in Butler’s future at this pivotal moment will result in lives changed in our community and around the world through expanded access to a Butler education and through the meaningful work Butler graduates will go on to do with their lives,” says campaign co-chair Tina Burks.

“We are convinced that every gift to this campaign will have ripple effects beyond our imagination for years to come,” added Campaign Co-Chair Keith Burks MBA ’90. “We are thankful for the many generous donors who have already made a lasting impact through support of Butler Beyond.”

Many noteworthy gifts have been previously announced during the campaign quiet phase, including the following:

 

  • In 2016, Butler received its largest gift ever from an individual or family—the $25 million commitment from Andre B. Lacy and his wife, Julia, resulted in the College of Business becoming the Andre B. Lacy School of Business. The Lacy gift inspired 11 additional families to give $1 million or more toward construction of a new building for the School, which opened in August.

 

  • With lead gifts of $13 million from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, $5 million from alumnus Frank Levinson ’75, $2 million from emeritus trustee chair Craig Fenneman ’71, and $9.5 million collectively from other alumni and friends, the Butler Board of Trustees approved a $100 million investment in the renovation and expansion of the University’s sciences facilities. To date, more than $29.5 million has been raised toward a total philanthropic goal of $42 million for the project.

 

  • Restoration of Hinkle Fieldhouse was another key infrastructure project of the past decade at Butler, costing a total of $46.5 million over two phases. With help from the Efroymson family’s leadership contributions totaling $2 million, more than $32 million in philanthropic support has been raised to date for the effort, which has enhanced the student-athlete and fan experience.

 

  • The Hershel B. ’52 and Ethel L. Whitney Chair in Biochemistry was established through a $2 million gift from the estate of Hershel B. ’52 and Ethel L. Whitney, making it the first new endowed chair established during the Butler Beyond era. Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. R. Jeremy Johnson was selected as the first to hold the endowed position, which provides support for critical research he is conducting alongside undergraduate students into halting the spread of tuberculosis.

 

  • In 2017, Butler announced a $5 million commitment from Old National Bank to create the Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business, which provides privately owned businesses throughout Indiana with training, education, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help them succeed. The Center, located in Butler’s Andre B. Lacy School of Business, places special emphasis on serving the unique needs of this core segment of the Indiana economy, which employs more than 2.5 million people.

 

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

 

Media Contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

914-815-5656

rstern@butler.edu

Butler Beyond
Butler BeyondCommunityGiving

Butler Announces New Strategic Direction, Historic $250 Million Campaign

Butler Beyond seeks to raise $250 million by May 2022 to deliver transformative change.

Oct 05 2019 Read more
Sciences Groundbreaking
Butler BeyondCampusCommunity

Butler Holds Official Groundbreaking for Historic $100 Million Sciences Renovation and Expansion

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 05 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Butler University is set to hold the official groundbreaking for a new, state-of-the-art science complex.

The $100 million renovation and expansion is the largest capital project in the University’s history. Consistent with the University’s new strategic direction, which is set to be unveiled at a historic celebration at Clowes Memorial Hall Oct. 5, the new complex will promote learning by doing through new high-tech classrooms, will feature labs that mimic top research companies, and will encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration through work spaces. The facility will reflect the interdisciplinary nature of science, and eliminate labs designed for a single purpose. Classroom spaces will allow faculty to step away from a podium, and move among students in a more hands-on approach to instruction.

Phases I and II of the project are underway, with a predicted 18-month timeline. To date, $29.5 million has been raised for the project. The goal is to raise $42 million of the $100 million total cost through philanthropic support.

Butler Chair of the Board of Trustees Jay Sandhu will preside over an official groundbreaking ceremony on the Gallahue Hall Academic Quad. Here are the details:

Who: President James Danko; Chair of the Board of Trustees Jay Sandhu; Provost Kate Morris; President & CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation Claire Fiddian-Green; College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Jay Howard; Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Sean Berthrong; Sophomore Biochemistry Major Madison Unger

What: Official groundbreaking for the $100 million sciences renovation and expansion project

When: Thursday, October 3 at 4:45 PM

Where: Butler University campus on the Gallahue Hall Academic Quad (please call Rachel Stern at 914-815-5656 if you have any trouble finding the location)

Why: Though work has already started on this project, Butler is holding an official groundbreaking to celebrate this historic renovation and expansion

The project starts with the creation of a connector building—linking Gallahue Hall and the Holcomb Building—that will house classrooms, study areas, and research labs dedicated to Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, and Psychology. Phase I will add nearly 44,000 square feet, as well as a nearly 13,200 square-foot atrium. This additional space will create a science corridor to house all of Butler’s undergraduate science programs in a central complex.

Phase II of the project will include renovating and repurposing the Holcomb Building. Phase III will involve a complete renovation of Gallahue Hall, which currently houses several science departments and has not been renovated since its construction in 1973.

Sean Berthrong, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, says the new sciences complex will change the way he teaches. He will be able to do more innovative projects with his students in the classroom because there will no longer be physical barriers separating classrooms and lab spaces. That will enable him to literally bring his research into his classes.

“We will quite literally and metaphorically break down the walls between disciplines, between classwork and research, and between discovery and teaching,” Berthrong says. “It will be amazing to have a building that is as ambitious and as interdisciplinary as our students and faculty.”

Madison Unger, a sophomore Biochemistry major, says everyone at the University will benefit from this project, not just science majors like herself.

“This building will be a place where everyone will come to study, collaborate, hang out, and work together,” says Unger, who plans to go to medical school after graduation. “There is so much excitement around this project because everyone knows it will give students the best chance to flourish.”

 

Media Contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

rstern@butler.edu

914-815-5656 (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.

Brent Rockwood
CampusPeople

Butler names new Vice President, Chief of Staff

BY

PUBLISHED ON Oct 02 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Brent Rockwood ‘00 has been named Vice President, Chief of Staff at Butler University, the University announced today. He will begin his duties November 4.

Serving as a member of the President’s Cabinet, Rockwood will be responsible for leading a range of initiatives intended to advance the University with internal and external stakeholders. He will represent Butler in the community, serve as a liaison across campus, and work with the Board of Trustees, President’s Office, and leadership team on a variety of significant University projects.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Brent back to Butler as a key member of our leadership team,” Butler President James M. Danko says. “Brent’s passion for Butler and his wealth of leadership experience will serve as a great benefit to our institution. I look forward to his continued leadership and contributions as our University embarks on a momentous time and works to build even further on our successes.”

Rockwood will also oversee the University’s Marketing and Communications Division. Vice President for Strategy and Innovation Melissa Beckwith, who currently oversees Marketing and Communications, will now shift her full attention to the implementation of the University’s new strategic direction, as well as new initiatives and advances in innovation.

In his current role as Senior Vice President of Corporate, Community and Public Relations for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Rockwood is responsible for strategies involving communications and external relationships for the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Pacers Gaming, Pacers Foundation, and operations of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena and its more than 500 annual events.

“I am ecstatic about and thankful for the opportunity to serve my alma mater in this new role,” Rockwood says. “I look forward to working with many talented colleagues, faculty, students, and partners to advance the University’s mission. Butler has a strong foundation with a bright future and I’m excited to help share it with the world.”

A graduate of Butler, Rockwood played on the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame basketball team in 1996-1997. He worked for Eli Lilly and Company in a variety of sales, brand, and marketing roles after graduation. In 2007, Rockwood earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and proceeded to serve as a director in the areas of communications, community partnerships, government affairs, and investor and media relations for Fortune 500 companies.

Rockwood serves on the Board of Directors for the Indianapolis Urban League, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, and the Pacers Foundation.

 

Media Contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

rstern@butler.edu

914-815-5656 (cell)

Brent Rockwood
CampusPeople

Butler names new Vice President, Chief of Staff

Brent Rockwood to serve as a key liaison across campus and in the community

Oct 02 2019 Read more
Understanding Esports
AcademicsArts & Culture

Butler Prof Explores Rise of Esports in New Book

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01 2019

When Ryan Rogers was writing the syllabus for a new esports class at Butler University, the required reading section glared back at him. He needed to find books that covered the rapidly growing competitive video game industry, but there weren’t many to choose from. 

So Rogers, Assistant Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment, decided to create his own.

Understanding Esports: An Introduction to the Global Phenomenon hit the shelves in late September. Containing chapters written by 30 contributors from a variety of backgrounds, the book explores the rise of the esports industry and its significance within media, culture, education, and the economy.

But, what exactly are esports?

You’ll probably get a different answer from everyone you ask, says Rogers, whose research has explored the ways different forms of media—especially video games—influence their audiences. That’s why he wanted to build a conversation through an edited book with multiple authors. But he says a professional, competitive element generally sets esports apart from other video games.

Almost any time you play a video game, it can be competitive. But with esports, there’s something deeper than just trying to beat your friend’s score in the latest version of Super Mario Bros. Esports have an organized structure, with leagues, tournaments, and governing bodies setting standards and overseeing competition.

“I felt like there was really a need to understand this phenomenon and build a body of knowledge around it,” Rogers says. “Ultimately, I think it provides a broad view of the esports industry so that academics and industry professionals alike can wrap their minds around it.”

While Rogers solicited and edited all of the book’s chapters, he credits the other authors for making it possible—including Butler Journalism and Sports Media Associate Professor Lee Farquar, who wrote a chapter about the fighting genre of video games.

Rogers says the general lack of research on esports has to do with how quickly the industry has grown.

“As gaming culture evolved, esports became a thing that couldn’t be ignored,” he says. “It’s truly an international phenomenon with tons of money flowing in and more attention being paid to it each day.”

The role of esports within culture isn’t all that different from traditional sports, Rogers says. And esports are also similar to things like football or soccer when it comes to why so many people want to play—and watch—them. Whether on a field or on a screen, humans desire competition. People want to belong to something. They want to bond over common interests, and they want to have something to root for.

“People are arranging their media landscapes in order to gratify those needs,” Rogers says. “Video games and esports—whether you’re playing them or watching them—are serving those needs for a large population.”

And even beyond the people playing or watching the games, esports provide economic opportunities for the people creating, promoting, and reporting on them. 

“To me, esports represents another whole industry that our students can find jobs in,” Rogers says. “Traditional sports media is a competitive industry, but it is fairly stagnant in terms of growth. Meanwhile, the esports industry is growing exponentially. I see that and say ‘wow, that’s an opportunity for our students.’”

 

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.

Understanding Esports
AcademicsArts & Culture

Butler Prof Explores Rise of Esports in New Book

Edited by Ryan Rogers, the book collects chapters from 30 contributors to provide big-picture view of esports.

Oct 01 2019 Read more
A scene from a Butler Improv practice
CampusStudent Life

Butler Improv Troupe Specializes in Unscripted Laughs

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Sep 26 2019

Sometimes there’s a payoff to not thinking.

For members of the Butler University Improv Troupe, not thinking tends to get the biggest laughs. The student organization—inspired by Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Second City, and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre—specializes in bringing the funny through off-the-cuff jokes in scenes and games on stage. The premises are fueled by audience suggestion.

“To me, at least, improv is not thinking too hard about it,” says Kitty Compton, a junior Theatre major. “If you think too hard, it won’t be as good. Every improv teacher ever will tell you, ‘Get out of your head. Don’t think about it too hard. Just say what comes to your mind.’ The worst thing you can do is try to be funny.”

Weekly practices help students relieve stress through creative performing. Formed in 2017, the all-female group of about 10, hosts shows on-campus at the end of every semester.

Kitty Compton gets laughs at improv practice.
Kitty Compton, second from left, brings the funny at Butler Improv practice.

Already, the improvisers have benefited from the chance to see touring and local acts that visit Butler stages. Performers from ComedySportz Indianapolis, Indianapolis’ only professional improv comedy group, offered expertise as guest mentors at past meetings. Members attended the August taping of the Hello from the Magic Tavern improv podcast at the Schrott Center for the Arts, and Clowes Memorial Hall will host a live performance of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with comedy actor Joel Hodgson, who made a living from using improv when riffing on bad movies.

Successful improvisations do require some thinking, of course. It just has to be lightning quick. Not all of the jokes land, but members provide one another with helpful feedback. Inspired by Tina Fey’s improv insights within her book Bossypants, the troupe’s first rule is to agree. Their “Yes and … ” mantra creates wide-open scenes and fewer trainwrecks on stage.

The experience of thinking on the fly has helped with the students’ academics. Kait Wilbur, a senior studying Strategic Communication and the troupe’s co-leader, says even bad ideas can inspire her academic work. Her years of improvisation have assisted in writing ad copy at her internship at Young and Laramore, a downtown Indianapolis advertising agency. The exploration has enhanced her creativity. Ideas flow easier. 

“This has been helpful in the generative process,” Wilbur says. “I’m not ditching any ideas because they’re dumb, but just letting them exist. You do that in improv because you have to think really fast.”

Funny women

Since its formation, the troupe has had an all-female cast, but not on purpose. Male improvisers are always welcome.

Wilbur believes the strong female cast members of Saturday Night Live and other comedy shows have inspired young women to take the stage, from Butler and beyond.

“I idolized Tina Fey,” Wilbur says. “I did a deep dive into comedy in junior high, and improv was a part of that. I saw it as a good way in.”

Compton is the only theater major in the troupe. Among the founding members, the Evansville, Indiana, native has honed her improv skills over the years. She considers improv an essential weapon in her performance arsenal.

“I think every actor needs to be able to improvise,” Compton says. “You need to at least be able to recover if something bad happens, and if you’re able to improvise, you can add a lot of personality to a role.”

Mae-Mae Han is a first-year Pre-Pharmacy student. Since middle school, she has successfully balanced theater, comedy, music, and STEM studies, and Han will continue to do so at Butler.

Mae-Mae Han leads a scene at improv practice.
First-year Pre-Pharmacy student Mae-Mae Han, center, leads a scene.

“When it comes to comedy and acting, it’s very energizing for me,” she says. “At the end of the day, being able to have fun, laugh, and bounce off of other people’s energies is super beneficial for my mental health.”

‘Bologna danger’

Troupe co-leader and senior Composition major Jessie Lause joyfully orchestrated a recent Monday night group meeting in Jordan Hall. During the “Conducted Story” game, Lause pointed to a performer to start telling a story using the phrase “bologna danger” for inspiration. After a few lines, Lause would point to another troupe member to continue the story, which included a man named Jack Danger and his crimes involving processed meats. Aliens were somehow in the mix, too.

“It helps me let loose,” says Lause, who is also studying Arts Administration. “I get really caught up in the sophistication level of my collegiate work. This is a way that I can step out of that.”

Another game saw the women giving their best impressions of The B-52’s Fred Schneider while singing about mowing the lawn and going grocery shopping.

Wilbur says she’s proud to have performed unscripted in front of friends and strangers, just like her heroes Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Catherine O’Hara did years ago.

“This is something that bonds me to the people I look up to,” Wilbur says. “We’re all participating in a similar tradition. It makes me feel self-actualized, in a sense. Sometimes it can be hard to have goals that you aspire to accomplish. Then you actually accomplish them. I’m engaging with that part of myself.”

And that is no bologna.

 

Great moments in improv, according to BuzzFeed.com

These iconic lines and actions are entrenched in pop culture, thanks to improvisation. 

  • Willy Wonka’s entrance, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — Gene Wilder walks like an old man before tumbling into an acrobatic somersault. Wilder said the stunt was meant to set up the mysterious nature of the character. Is the candy magnate lying or telling the truth throughout the film?
  • Jewelry box close, Pretty Woman — Richard Gere’s snap of the necklace box wasn’t planned, which drew the famous laugh from Julia Roberts.
  • “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Jaws — Roy Scheider’s cryptic line was not in the script.
  • “I’m walking here!”, Midnight Cowboy — Dustin Hoffman’s reaction was in real New York City traffic. The cab got in the way of the shot and Hoffman delivered the line your dad always says when crossing a busy street.
  • “You talking to me?”, Taxi Driver — Robert DeNiro’s intense scene was given with just the note “speaks to himself in the mirror.”
  • “Here’s Johnny!”, The Shining — Jack Nicholson tossed in the line, which made it perhaps more famous than Ed McMahon’s call for the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at the time.
  • “Tears in the rain” scene, Blade Runner — Rutger Hauer’s largely improvised delivery defined the late actor’s career.

 

Media Contact

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

A scene from a Butler Improv practice
CampusStudent Life

Butler Improv Troupe Specializes in Unscripted Laughs

At meetings and shows, the student organization’s all-female cast thrives in creating comedy instantaneously.

Sep 26 2019 Read more
Venue Management students get a tour.
Arts & CultureExperiential Learning

The Show Must, And Will, go on Thanks to Butler Venue Management Students

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Sep 19 2019

Despite graduating in just three months, Drew Soukup’s final bow at Butler University won’t take place until fall 2020.

The Arts Administration major and his six classmates in Assistant Professor of Arts Administration Brenda Lee Johnston’s Venue Management course are already working on their final group project — select a show that will be presented as part of next season’s Jordan College of the Arts Signature Series in Schrott Center for the Arts.

Patrons will purchase tickets just like any show at the Butler Arts Center. The only difference is the show will be discovered, booked, and marketed by Johnston’s class of juniors and seniors.

“It’s going to be wild to come back and see it,” Soukup says. “I’ll be able to say ‘This is something I was able to start from the ground-up.’”

Students in the fall 2020 edition of the Venue Management class will market the event that this year’s class selects, and then work front- and back-of-house duties at the show. The experience will roll on each following fall.

Students explore the Schrott Center catwalk.
Venue Management students explore the catwalk above Schrott Center.

To fund the endeavor, JCA Dean Lisa Brooks gave the class a $10,000 budget to bring the act to the 476-seat theater. But the students must also make sure the money covers marketing and hospitality expenses. 

On a recent Wednesday morning class, students pitched their initial ideas for what artists to present. Most already contacted talent agencies to gather initial specs: cost, routing, travel, visa issues, hotel rooms, technological requirements, average attendance, and typical ticket costs.

The students’ ideas ranged from 2015 Butler alumnus Josh Turner’s folk music group to accordion and clarinet entertainers Double Double Duo, hip-hop flamenco dancers Titanium to a cappella singers Voctave. Eventually, the students will have to unite to bring in the act that’s the best fit. The show selection will be presented to JCA Department Heads in late October.

Johnston says a crucial part of booking the right show is thinking beyond your personal tastes. Arts administrators must take a step outside of themselves to consider what their audiences want to see most. Broad appeal is factored into the formula of show booking. The students must consider if the show is a good fit for the series, the venue, and Butler.

“You have to know how to sell it and build an audience around it,” Johnston says. “You put your tastes aside and you think about who would enjoy this.”

Johnston, who directed the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and other Milwaukee arts venues for years before joining Butler, explains to the class that having a passion for live performance is crucial, but effective venue management is all about the details. So many different factors can cause bravos or boos.

“You get to know your audience so well,” Johnston says. “My vision as a presenter is to represent the artistic conscience of my community, while also expanding their artistic vision. That means presenting things they’re interested in, but also expanding their horizons. You have to build that trust so that they will come to new things and try it out.

“The greatest compliments I ever get are when you have your regulars who tell you ‘That really wasn’t my cup of tea, but I really appreciated and enjoyed it.’ They come to everything because of that, even if they think they may not like it.”

After just a few class meetings, Johnston and her students mingled with professional booking agents and artists at the 2019 Arts Midwest Conference in Minneapolis. Kelsey Dunn, Programming Coordinator for the Butler Arts Center, introduced the students to talent agencies, which present bands, comedians, dance ensembles, and even eSports stars and YouTube influencers. The students waded through the more than 300 presenters for acts that would be a good fit for their booking. 

“The agents were really great about answering their questions,” Johnston says. “They were able to ask questions to presenters. And, now we are ready to go. We are at the stage of  trying to figure out a show.”

Aaron Hurt, Executive Director for the Butler Arts Center, is a 2008 graduate of Butler’s Arts Administration program. Most of his career experience has come within the walls of Clowes Memorial Hall.

“We have these venues on this campus,” says Hurt, who co-taught the class with Johnston in 2016. “Why aren’t we pumping out people in theater management all the time because we have this access?”

When Hurt was officially named Executive Director in January, one of his goals was to hire more students as interns, ushers, box office personnel, and backstage crew. Most of the students in the Venue Management classes have been Butler Arts Center employees.

Soukup is one of those employees. Starting as a first-year usher, he has worked in the Schrott Center throughout his time at Butler. He will soon be able to add show presenter to his resume.

“I think having Clowes, Schrott, and the whole Butler Arts Center here on campus has been one of the most rewarding parts about coming to Butler,” Soukup says. “It’s been constant involvement. I’m graduating a semester early, but part of me would like to stay a little longer.”

Butler Arts Center Executive Director Aaron Hurt leads a tour.
Butler Arts Center Executive Director Aaron Hurt, right, shows Venue Management students the Schrott Center stage.
Venue Management students get a tour.
Arts & CultureExperiential Learning

The Show Must, And Will, go on Thanks to Butler Venue Management Students

For the class’ final project, undergrads will book a real concert for Fall 2020 at the Schrott Center for the Arts.

Sep 19 2019 Read more
Scooter and Shana
CampusStudent Life

How Butler’s New Therapy Dog is Breaking Down Barriers to Seeking Support

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Sep 17 2019

Floppy black ears bouncing in the sunlight, Scooter trots down a busy sidewalk at Butler University. Students pass by, winding down from the chaos that comes with the first full week of classes. Scooter looks up at them from the end of his Butler-themed leash, giving that look that only dogs can give.

And for student after student, just seeing Scooter brings instant joy. Their faces transform as they smile back. While some walk away grinning after just a quick pet, others stop in their tracks for the chance to rub Scooter’s belly or feed him a treat from the bag Shana Markle carries with her on their afternoon walk through campus.

Scooter, a one-year-old Cavachon, joined the Butler University Counseling Center as a therapy dog in August 2019. He’s cared for by Markle, the Center’s Associate Director. Markle says it’s not rare for universities to offer this service, but it isn’t common, either, and the counseling staff at Butler wanted to stay ahead of the game when it comes to supporting student health.

“We talk a lot about being innovative and just trying to provide the students with the best experience we can,” Markle says. “For us, it’s an opportunity to provide a better experience for them, and also to remove barriers and be more accessible. There’s still a stigma related to coming to counseling, and this makes it a little easier for people to come in who might not otherwise.”

With depression and anxiety on the rise among teens and young adults, many university counseling centers have a hard time keeping up with the demand for care. Average counseling center usage increased by up to 40 percent between 2009 and 2015, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, while school enrollment only rose by 5 percent.

While adding Scooter to the mix won’t magically solve these issues at Butler, it does make the Center more well-rounded by introducing a new approach when it comes to this very real challenge of how best to care for mental health, Markle says. For students who don’t need clinical care, just petting a dog can be enough to reduce stress. And within regular counseling sessions, having a dog around will allow Markle to implement new forms of therapy for students with more serious illnesses.

Animal-assisted therapy goes deeper than just having a furry thing to pet. Interacting with dogs in a clinical setting can provide relief to students who’ve struggled with leaving pets behind at home, or who are going through trauma and other diagnosable mental issues.

According to Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization that trains and registers therapy animals and their handlers, humans and animals can bond in beneficial ways. Research shows that therapy dogs can help relieve pain, improve mood, encourage more social behavior, and lower blood pressure. Plus, by stimulating the release of endorphins, dogs usually just make people feel happy.

Plans to bring a therapy dog to Butler began taking shape during the 2017-18 academic year, when one of the Counseling Center’s doctoral fellows brought her expertise in animal-assisted therapy to campus. Student Affairs leaders at the University carefully studied the benefits and potential risks of such a program, considering what has worked best on other campuses in order to shape policies for animal-assisted therapy at Butler. Soon enough, it was time to pick a puppy and decide who would take the dog home each night.

Of the three full-time staff members, Markle was in the best position to take on a new pet. She says it took as much effort to convince her husband as it did to convince her colleagues, but after some time—and some begging from their teenage son—the couple decided to take a chance. On Labor Day 2018, they brought an eight-week-old Scooter home.

Over the next year, there was a lot of paperwork for Markle and training for Scooter. A therapy dog’s role goes deeper than that of an emotional-support dog—the use is more intentional and clinical, which meant Scooter needed to be certified with a pet therapy organization.

Scooter started taking obedience courses at just 12 weeks old, one of the youngest students in his classes. Despite having the extra playfulness of a puppy, Markle says he did a great job. He was trained and tested in a range of skills, from following basic commands like sit and stay to remaining calm in a crowd of strangers, before becoming registered with the American Kennel Club as both a “S.T.A.R. Puppy” and a “Canine Good Citizen.” He also passed an evaluation for dogs who demonstrate advanced skills in urban settings. After a little more practice interacting with other dogs, Scooter will likely become certified by Pet Partners, one of the most well-known and respected national pet therapy organizations.

But all the effort was worth it, Markle says, because when students interact with Scooter, she can see their stress melt away.

 

Scooter and Shana

 

During therapy sessions, it can be therapeutic for patients to breathe along with Scooter, or hold onto him to stay mentally grounded while discussing traumatic experiences. Students know Scooter will never judge what they say.

"Human connection is very important to our well-being, but relationships can also be a source of stress,” Markle says. “Even healthy relationships require effort to maintain and can be quite challenging.”

With a dog, the relationship will be genuine, accepting, and unconditional.

Students can play with Scooter or brush his curly black-and-white fur. They can try to teach him a new skill or just let him curl up at their feet. Or, for students who would rather not interact with a dog, he doesn’t need to be in the room. The animal-assisted therapy service will be carefully tailored to each student’s needs.

“To me, Scooter represents more than the day-to-day assistance he’ll be able to provide,” says Scott Peden, Executive Director of Student Health & Recreation. “It’s kind of a representation of our efforts to meet the students where they are and address whatever barriers they face when seeking out our services.”

Peden says Scooter has already had an unexpected impact on the Counseling Center staff. After a tough session, therapists can relax by rubbing Scooter’s ears or taking him outside for a walk.

“Therapists need therapists, because what they do is really a tough job,” Peden says. “So it’s nice to have Scooter in-house to be a support mechanism.”

But animal-assisted therapy isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Markle and the other counselors are more than happy to make any accommodations necessary. Scooter is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed, but there will still be some campus offices he never visits. A sign on the Counseling Center’s door also informs guests how to ask that Scooter be put away before they enter.

“It’s so important for us, as a Center, to be a support for everyone on campus,” Markle says. “We’re there for everyone. We would not want the presence of a therapy dog to be a barrier for others.”

The animal-assisted therapy program fits into Butler’s emphasis on mind and body wellness, one of the eight dimensions included under the BUBeWell student experience model that was introduced last year. This initiative aims to help students grow and learn, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Right now in higher education,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Ross, “there’s a significant movement looking at student wellbeing as the foundation for student success. We’ve taken that framework to heart here by creating BUBeWell. It’s comprised of eight dimensions that we feel are important holistically for student development.”

ScooterWithin the mind and body dimension, the Counseling Center will be expanding outreach in a variety of ways throughout the next year. Scooter is just one part of that. Staff members are also introducing a series called Let’s Talk, providing opportunities for groups of students to gather and share whatever is on their minds. Counseling staff will be visiting the Efroymson Diversity Center, too, hosting sessions that address topics specific to students of color.

Ultimately, the goal is to make resources for maintaining mental wellbeing more accessible to students. That often means getting out of the Counseling Center and meeting students where they’re at, whether that’s in another campus office or right by the sidewalk on a sunny afternoon.

Olivia Jacobs, a Community Assistant in her junior year at Butler, first met Scooter during a training about how to help fellow students find the best on-campus mental health resources.

“Having Scooter here shows me that Butler’s Counseling and Consultation Services is innovating,” Jacobs says. “It’s so exciting that they are looking at different routes for making student mental health a priority. And by the intentional ways they are implementing Scooter, it also shows me that they are still accommodating to everyone. I would just encourage people—if they see Scooter around campus—to go up and say hi, and to go pet him, because it’s his job to be a support.”

 

Media contact:

Katie Grieze

News Content Manager 

kgrieze@butler.edu 

260-307-3403

 

Student Access and Success

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

Scooter and Shana
CampusStudent Life

How Butler’s New Therapy Dog is Breaking Down Barriers to Seeking Support

This fall, Counseling Center staff introduce animal-assisted therapy. Meet Scooter, their newest co-worker.

Sep 17 2019 Read more