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Experiential LearningUnleashed

Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 04 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital costuming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other EPICS projects in the works this fall:

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

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

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

Experiential LearningUnleashed

Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

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

Dec 04 2019 Read more
Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

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

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 18 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s just one area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

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

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

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

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

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving the community

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

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

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

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

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

Tech details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Very beneficial’

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

GuideDawg 2.0 icon on a phone
Experiential LearningUnleashed

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

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

Nov 14 2019 Read more
DeJuan Winters

Worth the Wait

Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 2019

For DeJuan Winters, taking a two-year break between high school and college was not a dream deferred. Instead, it was a part of his dream realized. Since the death of his mother when he was just four years old, Winters has been wholeheartedly focused on two things: getting a good education and helping his family. Today, as he enters his sophomore year at Butler, he can say that he’s accomplished both.

In 2016, Winters applied to Butler University—the top and only college choice for the Indianapolis native. To his delight, he was accepted and even offered multiple scholarships. But his plan was to work, get a taste of the real world, and support his family. Instead of joining the class of 2021, Winters joined the dairy department at a local grocery store. “It was a lot of hard work,” he says of that time period.

Over time, the Butler bug returned, and Winters got the urge to refocus on his education. “I was fortunate to have the job that I did, but you need to move on and do more with your life if you’ve got the potential,” Winters says. “I was ready to take the next step.”

In 2018, Winters applied to Butler University again, and again, he was accepted—but this time with the offer of the Butler Tuition Guarantee scholarship, an award that guarantees gift assistance of full tuition each academic year when combined with all federal, state, and University scholarships and grants. Winters was recognized for this scholarship because of his need, his academic ability, and ultimately, because of his selfless dedication to his family.

The two years he spent working at the grocery may have seemed like a diversion, but they ended up being a critical piece of Winters’ path to success. Today, he is in his second year on campus, double-majoring in math and physics. On receiving the Tuition Guarantee scholarship, Winters says “I am appreciative of alumni and donors who want to pay it forward to us, and then we can carry that on to future generations.”

While Winters credits his scholarship for allowing him to attend Butler, he credits his mother for his ultimate success. “I felt like I could make her proud by coming to Butler. She knew that I would be able to bring something to the family. She called me her ‘little man,’ and now it is time to be my own man to set my goals and reach those goals.”



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 butler.edu/butlerbeyond.

DeJuan Winters
AcademicsButler Beyond

Worth the Wait

For DeJuan Winters, taking a two-year break between high school and college was was a part of his dream realized.

by Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 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
A Sparki robot used in the Analytical Reasoning course
Experiential LearningUnleashed

Robots Enhance Coding Prowess, Passion in the Core Curriculum

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Nov 01 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coding encoded in most careers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Still Alive’

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

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

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

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

Inspiring the coder within

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

A Sparki robot used in the Analytical Reasoning course
Experiential LearningUnleashed

Robots Enhance Coding Prowess, Passion in the Core Curriculum

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

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

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

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Oct 31 2019

 

 

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

And let’s try it one more time.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Forget About the Paper

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

And Das never stops smiling back.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Not an Everyday Experience

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Remaining performances, 2019-2020 JCA Signature Series:

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

sandeep das percussion ensemble Butler University
Arts & CulturePeople

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

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

Oct 31 2019 Read more
esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

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

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 24 2019

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Why invest?

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

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

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

It is also an area exploding with job opportunities. 

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

Because of that accelerated growth, the industry needs employees.

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

 

Curriculum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Butler is working University-wide to do just that. 

 

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

 

Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

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

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

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

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

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Oct 23 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunities everywhere

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

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

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

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

Join the club

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Operations and Supply Chain Management events

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

Students visit IU Health warehouse
Experiential LearningUnleashed

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

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

Oct 23 2019 Read more
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
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

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

Using Science to Save the Arts

Rachel Stern

from Fall 2019

Michael Samide doesn’t have a background in art. Well, if you want to get technical—and the Butler University Professor of Chemistry likes to get technical—there was that one art history class. A British guy taught the class. It was after lunch, the room was dark, a slide projector was involved, and a fan would go on. Then, like clockwork, Samide would take a nap.

He ended up working in chemistry, which he figured meant he could steer clear of those sleepy afternoons. But after about 12 years of conducting one type of research at Butler, a visit from the new Senior Conservation Scientist at the Conservation Science Lab of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields piqued Samide’s interest. Greg Smith had come to talk to Butler Chemistry faculty and students and explained that Newfields’ lab combines art history, science, analytical techniques, and research.

Samide was intrigued.

“I realized how lucky we were at Butler to have this lab 400 yards away,” Samide says. “My mind was blown after the presentation. I realized this unique, exciting realm takes all the techniques I have learned and applies them to solve real-world problems. It was time to learn something new.”

What has followed has been a seven-year partnership between the Conservation Science Lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields and Butler’s Chemistry Department. From student internships, to research collaborations, to published papers, to lectures across the globe, the partnership has flourished since Smith walked into the chemistry classroom back in 2012.

The museum’s Conservation Science Lab started in 2012 and uses scientific tools to study the materials of art. The lab works in tandem with the conservation staff to make sure the materials and methods that are being used are effective as well as safe for the artwork. The team also collaborates with the curatorial department to analyze the different materials comprising a work of art.

“Locked up in the chemistry of objects are often the answers to who made this, how old is it, has it changed appearance, is it even real or is it fake,” Smith says.

Partially funded by a $2.6 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, the facility operates out of a spacious, 3,000-square-foot analytical and research lab on the first floor of Newfields. As one of only about 10 museum conservation labs like this in the country, the work performed at Newfields can have a significant impact beyond the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Smith, the museum’s sole full-time lab employee, relies on interns and partnerships to assist in his efforts.

The Butler team was a natural fit, he says. They immediately added their chemistry expertise, working on research projects with faculty and students on varied topics such as pollutants, curricular development, and dye synthesis.

Samide and Smith have focused a great deal of their research on how materials used in museums impact art. There is a plastic that museums use for gallery casings that, after a great deal of research, they found was tarnishing silver. To date, they have published two papers, and are working on a third on the potentially harmful effects.

The partnership provides numerous benefits to the museum, but it also provides important experiential learning opportunities for Butler students. Heidi Kastenholz ’19 started at Butler as a Chemistry major certain she wanted to be an optometrist. She heard about the Chemistry of Art course that had a short study abroad component, so she signed up.

The course focused on how pigments are made chemically. When she returned from traveling, Kastenholz did a Butler Summer Institute research project on one specific pigment. After she graduated, she was offered an internship with the Library of Congress in their conservation science department, and her goal now is to become a conservation scientist in a museum lab.

“I learned how applicable science was,” she says. “I never thought about science and art as things that were related.”

That is exactly what drew Samide to this area of chemistry, despite his shaky memories of art history class. His research used to have very little application. Now, it has a real impact on what is placed into gallery spaces, what materials should be used inside a museum, and how museums think about preserving historic pieces of art.

“You would be surprised how every area of chemistry has something to do with art,” Samide says. “The best artists are using science and the best scientists are very artistic people. It is about the coming together of the two disciplines, rather than telling people they are two separate things.”

Academics

Using Science to Save the Arts

The Chemistry Department and the Indianapolis Museum of Art have forged an exciting partnership. 

by Rachel Stern

from Fall 2019

Read more
Ashleigh Doub

Of Funds and Food

Megan Ward, MS ’12

from Fall 2019

No one wants to need it, but when crisis strikes, you’re grateful it’s there. Butler’s Emergency Assistance Fund has helped students through hardships so they can continue to be successful both at Butler and in life. Established about a year ago, the fund has had 39 applications with 16 of those being approved.

Butler senior Ashleigh Doub shares she was one of those students when she and her husband found themselves out of work. “The emergency fund acted as a stop-gap for my bills. I was able to study during that time because much of the external stress was manageable.”

No stranger to food insecurity, Doub shares, “I was fighting food insecurity and working on improving food access in Indianapolis long before I needed the Emergency Assistance Fund.”

Now Doub is continuing that work on campus by collaborating with others to bring a food pantry to Butler. Of her many on- and off-campus cheerleaders, Doub credits Butler’s Dr. Margaret Brabant and the Center for Community and Citizenship for the initial push and support to move forward with the project.

With any project comes hurdles. For the food pantry, Doub believes it is location and donations. Ultimately, she says, “Wherever it ends up, I hope it is centrally located and easily accessible. This will help encourage students to use it when they need it.”

And that’s the goal of the Emergency Assistance Fund—for students to use it when they need it. Even if applicants aren’t approved for the fund, their circumstances may make them eligible for Federal gift assistance. Wrap-around support for applicants also is provided by the University to help address immediate and long-term needs of the students.

The Emergency Assistance Fund—just like the upcoming food pantry—is a valuable resource for Butler students.

As Doub states, “Using the pantry should be no different than visiting the Writer’s Studio when you need help writing a paper. We are better students when we aren’t hungry. This resource should be used by anyone who needs it, and it should be viewed just like every other resource we have on campus.”

Ashleigh Doub
Student Life

Of Funds and Food

Butler’s Emergency Assistance Fund helps students through hardships so they can continue to be successful.

by Megan Ward, MS ’12

from Fall 2019

Read more

U.S. News & World Report ranks Butler University’s current master’s degree program for physician assistants (MPAS) as 37th in the nation, up 60 spots in just six years. Now, starting in January 2020, the University will add to this success and expand its PA offerings with the launch of an online post-professional PA doctorate program—one of only five in the nation. Butler’s new Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DMS Director Dr. Jennifer Snyder ’97 knows better than most how much PAs need this opportunity, especially via the convenience of online access.

Snyder graduated from Butler’s PA program and has worked in both family and emergency medicine. She said PAs have the full confidence of the patients they treat—but not necessarily of the practice managers and hiring professionals responsible for filling higher positions.

“When we investigated offering this degree, we discovered through focus groups that PAs are missing out on promotions and leadership positions because decision-makers assume that those holding doctorates are more qualified,” Snyder says.

Butler’s DMS program will give PAs the doctoral degree they need, along with business acumen to advance into leadership positions within their institutions or clinics. Additionally, it will give PAs an opportunity to critically evaluate medical literature and extend their medical knowledge to better serve their patients.

The module-based curriculum allows students to enter into the program at any one of six starting points in the academic calendar. And the online structure of the program, with no required campus residency, means that students can take classes in a way that best suits their schedule.

 

Same Butler rigor, easier access

Butler’s DMS program is a natural evolution of its MPAS degree, developed with the same rigor and quality. Both Snyder and Erin Vincent, Director of Academic Program Development, say living up to Butler’s reputation of educational excellence is paramount.

Vincent points to the structure and success of Butler’s latest online degree program, Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (butler.edu/msri), launched last year.

“Butler faculty is and has been brainstorming ways to creatively address the future of higher education across campus,” Vincent says. “We’re hoping to launch several more graduate programs very soon. The MSRI and the DMS are the start of a great, strong portfolio of advanced degrees at Butler University.”

Individuals are eligible to apply for the DMS program if they have earned an entry-level PA degree from an accredited program and have either a license to practice medicine or hold a national certification from the NCCPA.

Academics

Make That ‘Dr.’ Physician Assistant, Please

U.S. News & World Report ranks MPAS program as 37th in the nation, up 60 spots in just six years.

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Fall 2019

Read more
Students in the new business building.

Designed for Collaboration

Katie Grieze

from Fall 2019

“I think if we ever do our students a disservice,” says Lacy School of Business (LSB) Dean Stephen Standifird, “it’s when we underestimate what they’re capable of.”

That value has built the foundation for LSB’s curriculum full of hands-on learning. The School’s focus on experiential opportunities sets it apart, and Standifird says faculty constantly adapt courses to add the complexity they know their students can handle.

But education also needs to shift with the realities of an ever-changing business world. In designing the building that gives a new home to the School this fall, LSB leaders wanted to create a space that inspired more meaningful connections with the people who can speak to those changes.

Standifird describes the building as “a living room for the business community.” LSB encourages Indianapolis professionals to visit and use the space, providing students more chances to immerse themselves in organic ways. Butler holds a unique spot in the city—right between Carmel and downtown Indianapolis—so Standifird says it’s a natural stop for business traffic.

“Collaborative collisions” between students, faculty, and professionals in the building’s creative spaces will enhance LSB’s already-robust program of learning outside the classroom. By graduation, Butler business students have completed two internships, received regular one-on-one career mentoring from people in the field, and had the chance to join several student-run firms that deal with real clients. And, perhaps the most unique distinction of LSB’s program, every student has launched and operated a real business.

During the Real Business Experience (RBE), a program most often taken during sophomore year, students work in teams to think up and prototype actual products or services. Throughout the semester, they learn about the different aspects of building a real business, from marketing, to accounting, to sales. Standifird says the program aims to help students understand the importance of each element, putting them in situations where they really feel the weight of running a business instead of just reading theories in a textbook.

“It’s not something that you can find at other universities,” says RBE Coordinator Jeff Durham, “especially with as many parts and pieces as we have.”

After students pay back loans from the University used to stock initial inventory, the course normally concludes with liquidating and closing the businesses. But Richie Berner, a 2019 Entrepreneurship & Innovation graduate, had a good feeling about his team’s Zotec-award winning project. He didn’t want it to end.

After Berner pitched his business idea during the first week of his RBE class, his team went on to sell more than 600 knit, branded scarves. Berner saw lasting potential in the product, so he bought out his partners’ shares and has continued to own and operate North Pole Scarves ever since. He says the experience gave him the confidence and know-how to try launching his own restaurant, which is already in the works just a few months after graduation.

Berner is still an outlier for continuing his RBE business after the class, but Standifird hopes the new building might help change that. The facility provides more workspace dedicated to RBE teams, housed at the northwest corner alongside a brand new showroom where students can display their products and services.

Two doors down, a recent partnership gives the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center a home at Butler. For students interested in taking their RBE business further, the resource they need could be just down the hall.

Students in the new business building.
Student Life

Designed for Collaboration

The new Business Building encourages “collaborative collisions” between students, faculty, and professionals.

by Katie Grieze

from Fall 2019

Read more
Students walking on campus

Butler Beyond2020

from Fall 2019

Last spring, Butler University President James Danko shared a personal story with a group of alumni and friends about a visit to Rochester, New York, he had made on a bitterly cold day in January 1993. He had just begun his very first higher education job, which entailed arranging 60 action learning projects per year for MBA students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Two of the most successful companies in the world—Eastman Kodak and Xerox—were headquartered in Rochester (in 1993, Kodak was No. 19 on the Fortune 500 list, and Xerox No. 21). By the end of his visit, Danko had secured learning opportunities for students at both. While it was an exciting trip for that accomplishment, a much deeper impression was made on Danko by the preventable downfall of each company in the ensuing years.

Each company clung too tightly to tradition and ignored revolutionary inventions by their own people. Kodak failed to embrace the invention of the digital camera by one of its young engineers in 1975—insisting that print photos were the future. Thirty-seven years later, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

Xerox, meanwhile, failed to embrace the potential of the personal computers developed by its own researchers in 1970. Nine years later, Steve Jobs struck a deal with Xerox to bring those innovators aboard his fledgling company—Apple. Today, Xerox is No. 318 on the Fortune 500 list, while Apple is No. 3.

These served as powerful cautionary tales for Danko as he advanced in his own academic leadership career. He believes that saying yes to smart new ideas and embracing innovation—even though it may present some risk—is fundamental to organizational success. Complacency is dangerous. And consistently defaulting to “what’s always worked before” is a recipe for disaster.

Continuing to study organizational leadership over the years, Danko has been equally inspired by stories of success. For instance, when National Geographic, long known for its iconic yellow-bound magazines featuring stunning color photographs, noticed a decline in subscriptions in the 1990s as cable television and the internet grew in popularity, the organization quickly reimagined itself for a new era. In 2001, it launched the National Geographic channel and found new online platforms for sharing the time-honored art of nature photography with a new generation.

Butler aims to forge a similar path—respecting the time-honored traditions and the particular strengths that have always defined a Butler education, while imagining new ways to deliver that education in a rapidly-changing landscape.

To help spur new ideas, Butler sought the guidance of experts, including Blair Sheppard, Dean Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and current Global Strategy Lead with PwC, and Matthew Pellish, Managing Director of Strategic Research and Education for the Education Advisory Board.

Both were blunt about how college has grown too expensive, takes too long to finish, and hasn’t kept pace with cutting-edge workplace needs. These hard realities have forced several schools nationwide to close their doors.

“There will be winners and losers,” Pellish says. “No one is going to win by saying, ‘We’ve always done it this way so let’s continue.’”

Universities that survive will be inventive, flexible, responsive, and thoughtful, Pellish asserts, adding that Butler is all of those things. “Butler was founded on innovation,” he says. “Unleash these smart, dedicated, innovative people on these challenges, and they will find solutions.”

Butler is doing just that. The Butler Beyond strategic vision is comprised of multiple paths that, together, respect tradition yet embrace innovation. Butler aims to preserve and build upon the quality and strength of its long-time success in traditional, residential undergraduate programs, while innovating for the new realities of the world. At the core of each path is the question: What must Butler do to prepare the next generation of learners for what lies beyond today? The graphic below illustrates the paths of our strategic vision.

Pursuing these paths will not be easy, but Butler is up for the challenge. The University is engaging the brightest in the field, learning from others in the midst of transformation, and seeking those “radically different” ideas from its own creative faculty, staff, students, alumni, and partners—who will together move Butler beyond its current model.

We have no plans to abandon Butler’s character or the things we do best,” Danko says. “But future expectations of academic institutions will be very different. We have to incorporate new approaches to education that add value—not only for our students, but for our society.”

Students walking on campus
Butler Beyond

Butler Beyond2020

Butler will forge a new path—respecting traditions while innovating a new path.  

from Fall 2019

Read more
Scenic view of Florence, Italy

The Best of Both Worlds

Katie Grieze

from Fall 2019

Before Jane Gervasio ’88, PharmD ’95 designed a study abroad course focusing on the Mediterranean diet, pharmacy students at Butler often struggled to fit travel experiences into their schedules. In such a structured curriculum, heading abroad usually meant getting set back. But Gervasio, a Pharmacy Practice Professor, created a program that both fit into and resonated with the coursework.

Now in its sixth year, the 10-day trip takes about 15 students to Florence, Italy, to learn all things food. Immersed in the culture of the Tuscany region, students experience the history behind the cuisine. They focus most on the food’s potential for promoting wellness, from organic farming in Pienza, to a centuries-old pharmacy in Santa Maria, to cooking classes in Florence.

“We look at the health of the diet,” she says, “but we also look at the health of the culture.”

During the 2018–2019 academic year, more Butler students traveled abroad than ever before. Jill McKinney, Director of Study Abroad, says that’s at least in part because more faculty are designing their own programs, providing students with a wider selection of opportunities.

About 40 percent of Butler students travel abroad by the time they graduate, making the University ninth in the nation for undergraduate participation. Many students still choose to take semester-long trips through third-party institutes (read about Grace Hart’s experiences on the facing page), but now custom trips with Butler faculty have created more programs that fit into fall, winter, and spring breaks.

Over the last decade, the number of faculty-led programs has exploded from four to 30. McKinney says Butler faculty tend to design creative courses that appeal to both students and parents—studying engineering in Ireland, Spanish in Spain, or the Mediterranean diet in Italy.

Faculty-led programs take the best of on-campus teaching—think small class sizes and strong relationships—and transport it to a fresh, relevant location. Students can experience new cultures with the comforting bridge of familiar faces. Butler faculty also fill some of the gaps when it comes to how coursework abroad might connect to the community back home.

McKinney attributes much of the success of Butler’s study abroad programs to the University’s leaders, whose support of global education trickles down to faculty and students. Provost Kathryn Morris has created grants that provide faculty with seed money to complete the travel and research necessary to set up their own courses. Plus, the most recent strategic plans have been built on the fact that today’s students are graduating into a globalized world—a world that demands the ability to work and thrive across cultures.

Grace Hart in Iceland

From the Top of a Glacier

Grace Hart ’20 stared out at the white ice. She couldn’t see where it ended, but she noticed a blue tinge marking the Icelandic glacier’s age. It had lived a long life.

According to the guide who’d just led Hart’s hike to the top of the slope, that would probably change within the next 200 years.

Living in the Midwest, Hart had only ever heard news stories of the ice caps melting. Now, as part of her study abroad trip in spring 2019, she was seeing it happen live.

During the semester-long program through the School for International Training (SIT), Hart traveled around Greenland and Iceland to study topics related to climate change: what’s happening, how it affects people, and what we can do to help. She’d first read about the trip as a first-year Environmental Studies major. She had always wanted to go to Iceland, and the topic was right in line with her interests.

Calie Florek, Study Abroad Advisor at Butler, says SIT offers some of her favorite study abroad opportunities. Hart was the first Butler student to go to Iceland with SIT, but all of the school’s programs emphasize engaging with local communities. Through experiences such as internships, research projects, and home stays, SIT students really dive into a culture and learn about its people in ways not all study abroad programs offer.

When Hart first came to see Florek, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. After a rigorous fall semester, she decided to apply to the Iceland program in hopes of shaking things up.

The trip began in February, just missing the time of year when the sun never rises. The group started in Reykjavík, Iceland, studying climate modeling and glaciology before heading to Nuuk, Greenland. For two weeks, they learned about the country’s culture. Hart studied how climate research often excludes native people, and she loved learning the value of including diverse voices in those conversations.

For most of the semester, Hart followed a set program, but the last five weeks were dedicated to independent study. Hart chose to focus on food security, asking how an issue so prominent in Indianapolis might play out in a different climate.

Hart first learned about the subject through her classes and internships at Butler, where she spent a semester working on the campus farm.

She found that food security in Iceland isn’t really an economic issue: It’s a land issue. People there have started demanding foods that just can’t grow in the frigid climate, forcing residents to import most of what they eat. Her research offered some solutions, focusing mainly on shifting tastes back to what the land can support.

Hart believes her study could inspire change. She would like to return to Iceland and build a community outreach program, which she hopes would get Icelanders talking about their food in new ways, while giving her the chance to learn even more about the culture.

Scenic view of Florence, Italy
Academics

The Best of Both Worlds

  

by Katie Grieze

from Fall 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

Students’ Summer Experiences Embolden Them for Future

By Tim Brouk

For Butler University students, summer is a time to learn, discover, inspire, and create. From analyzing viruses, to traveling for Fulbright programs, to interning in China, the Butler community didn’t let summer break go to waste.

Courtney Rousseau, a Career Advisor on campus, says the summer months provide great opportunities for students to explore new things and figure out what they want to pursue professionally. Whether through research or internships, students can work on building a network of connections while gaining hands-on experience.

Molly Roe in Glasgow, Scotland
Sophomore Molly Roe poses in Glasgow, Scotland.

Over summer 2019, Butler students spread out from downtown Indianapolis to Beijing. Some presented research for the first time, some boarded their first airplane flights, and others used the summer to focus on projects that turned into passions.

“I was very lucky,” says sophomore Molly Roe, who traveled to Scotland with the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes program to study the nation’s innovative technological advances at the University of Strathclyde. “It made me have a broader understanding of what’s going on in the world. After being in the same place my entire life, I was seeing things from different perspectives.”

Studying viruses

Senior Jenna Nosek spent more than two months with the Harvard University Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program, where she worked on analyzing viruses. Her summer research focused on the trichomonas vaginalis virus, which infects protozoa in sexually transmitted diseases. 

She also attended the Leadership Alliance National Symposium and presented a research poster on her findings after networking with faculty, graduate students, and fellow undergrads.

“It was, overall, an amazing experience for both an internship in research and understanding what it is like to do research at an R1 doctoral institute,” Nosek says. “This program also focused a lot on personal and professional development in regards to personal statements and application process for multiple programs.”

At Butler, Nosek is an undergraduate researcher in Assistant Professor of Biology Chris Stobart’s lab. Stobart loves giving students opportunities to expand their field experience.

In July, Stobart took seven young researchers to Minneapolis for the American Society of Virology annual meeting, where they presented talks and posters on recent lab findings on the respiratory syncytial and mouse hepatitus viruses. The students discussed the multi-faceted work, exploring the understanding and treatment of the viruses.

“This meeting is normally attended by graduate or postdoctoral students,” Stobart says. “So this was a great opportunity for them to both present and see how science is conducted and discussed in a real scientific meeting.”

Fulbright experiences

Roe wasn’t the only Butler student involved in a Fulbright summer program. Sophomores Josiah Lax and Emma Beavins explored the intersection of arts, activism, and social justice at the University of Bristol Summer Institute. This marked the fourth year in a row Butler had multiple undergraduates in Fulbright UK Summer Institutes.

Josiah Lax in Bristol, Enland
Dance Pedagogy sophomore Josiah Lax in Bristol, England

Dacia Charlesworth, Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, says there are only 60 spots for the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes. And thousands of people apply.

Lax described his Fulbright experience at the University of Bristol as one he will cherish forever.

During his June stay, the broad curriculum ensured no day was the same. He worked with a Bristol activist to create sustainable fashion one day, then attended a Pan-African conference about decolonization the next.

“The biggest takeaway from my time in Bristol is that everybody has the power to make an impact and create change,” Lax says. “What makes us individual, and consequently, the unique paths we each choose, allows us to tackle various issues from new and effective angles.”

Now that Lax is back on Indiana time and entrenched in a new schedule of dance classes, the Fulbright experience is still close to his heart. The fact that only about 1 percent of applicants receive such an opportunity was not lost on him.

“Earning this opportunity was one of the most exciting moments in my life,” Lax says. “I think I may have even cried. I felt as though it was one of the first times I had individually been recognized with such an honor. I rarely feel proud of myself, but I can’t help it with this.” 

A summer of firsts

It was a summer of firsts for Gwen Valles, a junior majoring in International Studies and Spanish. To get to her first internship as part of the Mingdun Law Firm in Beijing, she had to board an airplane for the first time.

“It was intense,” says Valles, who represented Butler thanks to the Asia Summer Internship Program. “When we landed, it was just incredible.”

After a 15-hour plane ride, Valles got to work conducting research on intellectual property laws, collecting data, and learning about intellectual property laws in China. Her favorite part was policing knock-off products that mimicked items from Huda Beauty, a cosmetics line by YouTube star Huda Kattan. Valles found these bootlegged items in Mexico, Brazil, and India.

“People were taking Huda’s logo and making their own mock products,” she says. “They were even impersonating her online and were registering for trademarks. But we found the names filing were not her.”

Valles enjoyed the chance to use her multilingual skills with international cases. A student of Mandarin since eighth grade, Valles was able to practice the language in a professional office setting. And she was one of the few people in the office who could navigate websites written in Spanish.

From learning Excel to maintaining the brand of a YouTube giant, Valles will treasure her Chinese internship experience as an early, but major, stop on her career journey.

“I’m very interested in working for the U.S. government,” says Valles, adding that law school or a master’s degree in Public Policy are on the horizon. “The dream is to one day become a Supreme Court justice.”

‘It really inspired me’

A Political Science and International Studies major, Ashely Altman broadened her worldview without leaving Marion County. From May to August, the sophomore interned for attorney Fatima Skimin in downtown Indianapolis.

Altman worked with Skimin and about a dozen other lawyers in the office and online. She focused on immigration cases—something very personal to her. When she was a child, Altman witnessed the complicated process of attempts made by her mother and other relatives to immigrate from Mexico to the United States.

“That’s why I decided to go into this field,” Altman says. “At every law firm I go to, it’s something different. It’s something that further emphasizes my want and my need to do something about this topic and these issues.”

Altman’s cases worked with citizens from India, Africa, and the Middle East. She noticed that Skimin could speak four languages in order to better communicate with her clients, which inspired Altman to take an Arabic class to add to her Spanish and English.

“I got to see the entire immigration process from beginning to end,” Altman says. “It’s a big deal and very rewarding in the end.”

And that wasn’t the only thing that kept Altman busy this summer.

She managed to collaborate with online news outlet BuzzFeed for a piece on immigration and asylum-seekers in the U.S., which will be published soon. BuzzFeed interviewed Spanish-speakers around Indianapolis, and Altman served as an interpreter for the two-week project. She was on-hand for every interview, and she later transcribed every quote.

“I was there to facilitate anything they were trying to communicate with the reporter,” Altman says about the June assignment. “It really inspired me to become part of the change.”

Gwen Valles visits the Great Wall.
Student LifeUnleashed

Students’ Summer Experiences Embolden Them for Future

From study abroad to internships, Bulldog undergrads made their mark on the world this summer.

Melísenda Dixon's Fight to Improve Inclusive Curriculum

By Katie Grieze

When Melísenda Dixon wants something to change, she doesn’t keep quiet. She speaks up, starts a movement, and helps give others a voice—just like her mom taught her. 

Dixon spent her early childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She grew up in a neighborhood where she witnessed violence and discrimination against racial minorities on a regular basis. Her parents taught her how to live in the world as a person of color—Dixon is Black and Mexican-American. They taught her how to speak up for herself, and when to let things go. 

But she says the lesson that stood out most was the importance of her voice. 

From a young age, she saw her mom advocate for a variety of causes, from teacher pay to gun violence prevention. Dixon would go along to the rallies, watching her mother protest injustices without ever getting too distracted by anger. She decided she wanted to be like that. 

So when Dixon was sexually assaulted during her first year of high school, she did something about it. 

Her family had moved to the small town of Pullman, Washington, the year before. There was only one public high school, which meant she couldn’t escape her two assaulters. After reporting the attack and filing a civil lawsuit, Dixon says all she got was a temporary protection order. That didn’t do much to help her feel safe.

The following year, Dixon wrote a research paper about sexual assault. Part of her paper involved a survey among classmates, which revealed that there was much more sexual misconduct at her school than she ever imagined. She asked some of the other survivors why they hadn’t reported their cases. Many said they had already seen how Dixon’s case was handled, and they didn’t have much hope of getting a different response from the school. Data in hand, Dixon went back to the school’s leaders. 

Look, she said, this isn’t just my voice that’s not being heard. It’s all of ours. You need to do something.

Nothing changed. She went to the school board next. There, she says she just got questions about what the survivors were wearing at the time of their assaults. 

So she applied to the Youth Advisory Council for College Board, which helps students from across the U.S. work toward improving education. When she got accepted, she felt like she could finally use the voice her parents had always taught her to have. 

“I’m going to try to be a voice for people if they feel like they don’t have a voice,” she says. “I had already gone through a lot of abuse in Wisconsin, so when I was assaulted in Pullman, I couldn’t let it just destroy me. I needed to get myself up and continue to push through.”

With the national organization behind her, Dixon started making progress. She helped implement new sexual misconduct prevention curriculum at her school and at more than 500 other schools across the country. She organized for speakers from Alternatives to Violence to meet with students and discuss topics of consent. She advocated for teaching every child and teen, starting in elementary school, how to stay safe and speak up. 

The main message she wants to spread?

“It’s not your fault. I feel like that’s something people think is just so easy to know. People say, ‘Obviously it’s not your fault.’ But so many people blame you. So many people ask what you were wearing.”

And being a survivor of sexual assault doesn’t need to define who you are, Dixon says. 

“Just because I’m a survivor doesn’t mean my personality is made up solely of what has happened to me,” she says. “It’s what I’ve made of my situation. I’ve done so much more than be sexually assaulted. I’ve tried to impact others’ lives, and I’ve done that in multiple different ways.”

Yes, Dixon has made her voice heard in a variety of ways, including with issues beyond sexual misconduct. For example, after classmates told her to go back to Mexico—and that Mexicans were only good for picking fields and cleaning toilets—she realized how many other people in her town were facing racism every day.

Again, she wasn’t going to let it go. Working alongside a few friends, she established a Black Student Union at her school. The members often collaborated with similar student organizations at nearby Washington State University. They organized walk outs. They held discussions and forums. But they mostly just wanted to create a safe space for students to talk. 

“One of the most rewarding things was to see that we can come together if we are organized and we are really trying,” she says. “We can come together, and we can help each other.” 

When it came time to start applying for college, Butler was the only school Dixon applied to. Her brother, Nathaniel Dixon, graduated from the University in 2017, and she had already fallen in love with the campus and its diverse student body during her visits to Indianapolis. Still, her parents told her not to make up her mind so fast. 

“So then I applied to 22 schools,” she said, laughing. “And I got into 20.”

But she knew from the start that she wanted to go to Butler. She’s excited to start this fall as a Management Information Systems major with a minor in Healthcare Management. She eventually wants to help run a children’s hospital, but in the meantime, she plans to make the most of every moment at Butler. 

“At college, I want to make an impact,” Dixon says. “I want to feel like I didn’t just do academics—that I actually made an impact on Butler’s campus and also within the Indianapolis community.”

 

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.

Melísenda Dixon
Unleashed

Melísenda Dixon's Fight to Improve Inclusive Curriculum

After surviving sexual assault and facing racism at her high school, she turned to advocating for others.

Changing Hearts with a Rainbow Sticker

By Katie Grieze

Dominic Conover didn’t see himself as an activist until 10:00 PM on a Saturday night in August 2018. 

He was at work, hosting guests at a Mexican restaurant, when his phone started ringing. The screen showed the name of a classmate he barely knew. 

Hanging up from the call, Conover stepped outside to take a breath and think about what he’d just heard. Shelly Fitzgerald, a counselor at Roncalli High School—the Catholic school Conover attended in Indianapolis—had been placed on administrative leave for being married to a woman. 

Conover decided he wasn’t going to deal with it.

He told his boss he needed to leave early, then rushed home and started a group chat with about 40 students he knew to be allies. Right away, they got to planning. 

In just more than 24 hours, they organized a Monday-morning rally at Roncalli High School. Conover went to church on Sunday, then spent the rest of the day calling every student in his contacts: Will you go buy some flowers and meet me by my car at 7:00 AM tomorrow? We’re going to protest.

The next morning, more than 200 rainbow-clad students flooded the parking lot, grabbed one of the Long’s Bakery donuts Conover had ordered, and lined up single-file as he blasted Pride music from his car speakers. Carrying bouquets for Fitzgerald, they marched to her office. 

Fitzgerald wasn’t there—she’d already been suspended. Still, standing in the flower-filled room, Conover led a prayer for inclusivity. 

God, we ask that you end this division in our Church.

Conover, who is now starting his first year at Butler University, was one of six Roncalli students who launched the LGBTQ advocacy group Shelly’s Voice. While rooted in the original protest against Fitzgerald losing her job, the organization didn’t stop fighting when things died down. Instead, they’ve been expanding ever since to support other members of the Catholic Church who experience discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Before Fitzgerald was suspended, Conover says he was “so blind to discrimination.” He knew it existed, but he had never witnessed it so directly within the LGBTQ community. Since then, he’s worked toward making sure all students at Roncalli and other Catholic schools feel loved and have access to the support systems they need. 

“It flipped everything,” Fitzgerald says about the work of Conover and his classmates. “It turned the most hurtful situation you can imagine into the most beautiful thing.”

Shelly’s Voice didn’t celebrate an official launch until December 4, but Conover says it started way before that. Between organizing protests and writing letters to Church leaders, the members began the school year by passing out rainbow-colored stickers to students and teachers all around Roncalli. The stickers became marks of encouragement for the school’s LGBTQ community, as students wore them to class and teachers placed them on their doors to show support. Conover, who is now the Chair of Event Coordination for Shelly’s Voice, collected the names of student allies he saw wearing the stickers over the next few days.

“Those were the students who were ready to start fighting, like we were,” he says.

Not long after the news broke about Fitzgerald, Conover and his friends spread the word to get about 300 students to wear rainbow colors to a home football game. He says school administrators had banned the word “Pride” from the event, but this only pushed the students to pass out even more stickers and Pride-themed bracelets up and down the bleachers. One of the football players, who is now a chair member for Shelly’s Voice, carried a rainbow flag onto the field when the team ran out. 

 

 

“We went into that football game and just started spreading our message,” Conover says. 

At the time, Conover thought that message was so positive no one would really challenge it. 

“I was mistaken,” he says.

After appearing on The Ellen Show in September and receiving a $25,000 donation from Shutterfly to help support the cause, the students of Shelly’s Voice were on a roll. They held a launch party in December, when Indiana Youth Group became their official fiduciary agent. Conover was at the height of his activism in the start of second semester, gathering letters to the Church and speaking with the media about the organization’s mission. Leaders at Roncalli had warned him to stop, but he didn’t want to keep quiet.

“To the administration,” he says, “I was being a little too loud.” 

In February 2019, Conover was called into a meeting for what he understood would be his last warning: Stop with the public statements, or don’t graduate. 

“They basically hung my diploma over my head for my silence,” he says.

And it worked. For the next three months, Conover didn’t want to jeopardize his chance to graduate and come to Butler in the fall. So he backed off, but he says staying silent was harder than being a voice for the LGBTQ community. 

“Your mental health can get so much worse when you aren’t able to advocate anymore,” Conover says. 

But through it all, Conover and Fitzgerald have been there for each other, reminding each other to always respond with kindness. 

“We’re not changing minds,” Fitzgerald says. “We’re changing hearts. And you can only change hearts by building relationships with people.” 

Almost a year after Fitzgerald lost her job, Indy’s Cathedral High School fired a gay teacher. To Fitzgerald, it was like ripping off a scab, and she started sharing some posts online that reflected her anger. 

One day that week when she was scheduled to meet with Conover and hadn’t replied to his emails, he sent her a text. 

Hey, are you mad? 

I’m okay. I just haven’t had time to respond to your message, she texted back.

No, Conover texted, I don’t mean mad at me. Just in general.

He went on to say that he’d noticed how her posts over those days had been different from normal, and he just wanted to remind her—like she had always reminded him—that they could only win with kindness.

As Conover starts at Butler with a major in Political Science, he’s looking forward to studying at a school that’s not only excited about his activism, but has recognized his work in Shelly’s Voice with a Morton-Finney Leadership Award. The scholarship, which Butler has been awarding for more than 20 years, honors students who have shown leadership in promoting diversity throughout their schools or communities. Receiving the award confirmed the commitment Conover first made to Butler when he saw the Efroymson Diversity Center during a campus visit at the beginning of his senior year. Looking into the room, he saw a sign with a message about Butler’s mission of inclusivity. 

He showed the sign to his mom and said, I think this is the place I want to be.

“I looked in that room, and at that moment I noticed that this University was somewhere I could be me,” he says. “It was a university that would be proud of what I was doing.” grad caps

During the 2019 graduation ceremony at Roncalli, Conover and a friend snuck in large stickers of the phrase “Jesus Loves All,” with the last word printed in rainbow. After taking their seats in the front row, they pulled out the decals and stuck them to their mortar boards—an act that reignited the advocacy Conover had let go for most of the semester. 

And he picked up right where he left off. Over the last year, Shelly’s Voice established PRISM, a gender and sexuality alliance for high school students on Indy’s south side. They’ve hosted trainings to teach people how to be supportive and accepting allies of the LGBTQ community. They’ve held a rally at the building for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. And just a few weeks ago, Conover had the chance to tell his own story—his full story—as the keynote speaker at a Los Angeles event for the Ariadne Getty Foundation, which had provided some legal and publicity guidance to Shelly’s Voice members earlier in the year. 

After describing his months of both speaking out and being silenced, he said he would never forget that late July day in L.A., when he was able to open up about the difficulties he faced while trying to spread a message of equality. 

“It is on this day,” he said to the crowd, “that I can finally say I feel both proud and safe to be doing what I’m doing.”

Fitzgerald says that even though she would love to share Conover with the world, she’s proud he decided to stay in Indianapolis. 

“Our community needs people like him,” she says. “And I really anticipate that Butler is going to be a place for him to thrive. He can be here and feel accepted. But even more than that, he can belong. He’s going to make a difference here—I promise.”

 

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.

Shelly's Voice Advocacy Group
Unleashed

Changing Hearts with a Rainbow Sticker

When Shelly Fitzgerald lost her job for being married to a woman, Dominic Conover helped create 'Shelly's Voice.'

A New Perspective on Service

By Larry Clow

In the summer of 2018, Hannah Kelly got an up-close look at the life she might have led. She and her sister, Grace, were adopted from China as young children. After growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, the siblings were back in their home country for a week of volunteering with OneSky for All Children, a children’s home in Beijing.

Each day, Kelly and her sister walked from their lodgings to the orphanage, where they spent hours playing with the kids. Despite the barriers that came with differences in languages and age, Kelly and her sister developed a rapport with the children in the home.

“We made a strong connection with them just by giving them attention and love,” Kelly says. “It definitely gave me a different perspective on myself, too. I could see what my life is like versus what it could’ve been. Seeing how the culture is in China, and what those children have to deal with versus my life here, it caused me to take a step back.”

Making connections with others and learning to see the world—and herself—from different perspectives are two of the many reasons Kelly loves volunteer work. 

“Volunteering is fun, especially when you do it with friends,” Kelly says. Throughout high school, she volunteered at local food pantries, the Lexington Humane Society, and other organizations. “Helping out in the community is a really important thing to do. I definitely want to keep up my volunteering while at Butler and help out the Indianapolis community.”

It’s something she will continue to pursue during her time at Butler as part of the 2019-2020 class of Morton-Finney Leadership Program Scholars.

“I’m honored to be part of the Morton-Finney Leadership Program,” she says. “I’m excited to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, just as I did in high school. Dr. John Morton-Finney had an amazing legacy that I hope to honor and respect through my time here at Butler.”

Kelly believes her outlook is a great fit for Butler. She visited campus for Butler Business Day and Butler Scholars Day, where she was able to meet other Bulldogs and fall in love with the community.

“Butler was everything I wanted.”

 

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.

Hannah Kelly
Unleashed

A New Perspective on Service

Volunteering at an orphanage in China helped Hannah Kelly see her own life in a different way.

Academics

Make That ‘Dr.’ Physician Assistant, Please

BY Cindy Dashnaw

PUBLISHED ON Aug 01 2019

U.S. News & World Report ranks Butler University’s current master’s degree program for physician assistants (MPAS) as 37th in the nation, up 60 spots in just six years. Now, starting in January 2020, the University will add to this success and expand its PA offerings with the launch of a post-professional PA doctorate degree where every credit is earned online—one of only five in the nation. Butler’s new Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) degree program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DMS Director Dr. Jennifer Snyder ’97 knows better than most how much PAs need this opportunity, especially via the convenience of online access.

Snyder graduated from Butler’s bachelor’s PA program and has worked in both family and emergency medicine. She said PAs have the full confidence of the patients they treat—but not necessarily of the practice managers and hiring professionals responsible for filling higher positions.

“When we investigated offering this degree, we discovered through focus groups that PAs are missing out on promotions and leadership positions because decision-makers assume that those holding doctorates are more qualified,” Snyder says.

Butler’s DMS program will give PAs the doctoral degree they need, along with business acumen to advance in leadership within their institutions or clinics. Additionally, it will give PAs an opportunity to critically evaluate medical literature and benefit those still in clinical practice who simply want to extend their medical knowledge to better serve their patients.

The module-based curriculum allows students to enter into the program at any one of six starting points in the academic calendar. And the online structure of the program, with no required campus residency, means that students can take classes in a way that best suits their schedule.

 

Same Butler rigor, easier access

Butler’s DMS program is a natural evolution of its MPAS degree, developed with the same rigor and quality. Both she and Erin Vincent, Director of Academic Program Development, say living up to Butler’s reputation of educational excellence is paramount.

Vincent points to the structure and success of Butler’s latest online degree program, Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (butler.edu/msri), launched last year.

“Butler faculty is and has been brainstorming ways to creatively address the future of higher education across campus,” Vincent says. “We’re hoping to launch several more graduate programs very soon. The MSRI and the DMS are the start of a great, strong portfolio of advanced degrees at Butler University.”

Individuals are eligible to apply for the DMS program if they have earned an entry-level PA degree from an accredited program and have either a license to practice medicine or hold a national certification from the NCCPA.

Academics

Make That ‘Dr.’ Physician Assistant, Please

Online advanced degree for physician assistants to launch January 2020.

Aug 01 2019 Read more
PeopleCampus

New Faces, New Mission: Diversity Center Gets a Makeover

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jul 22 2019

The Efroymson Diversity Center is undergoing some cosmetic changes. 

The Center is getting a fresh paint job. Old books—like ones on how to update a resume using Word Perfect—are being removed and replaced with new ones. Dry erase boards, comfortable furniture, and communal spaces are in the works, along with an expanded prayer and meditation room.

But the physical transformation happening in Butler University’s Atherton Union is far from the only shift the Diversity Center has been experiencing over the last few months. With three new staff members and a brand new mission, the Center, known around campus as the DC, is ready for a makeover of different sorts. Instead of being largely viewed as just a physical space with a fixed location, the Center has set out to make its presence felt all around campus and the wider Indianapolis community. 

“We are mobile,” emphasizes Tiffany Reed, the new Director of Multicultural Programs and Services.

In the spring, Student Affairs conducted a study of the DC and its programs, including an outside consultant, feedback from more than 600 students, and stakeholders from more than 20 departments across campus. Three main themes emerged: They needed to address the physical space, increase outreach, and staff hired must be up to date on best practices when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The physical transformation is underway. Three new hires have been made. And outreach is just one item on the Center’s long list of goals.

“Butler’s founding mission was focused on diversity and inclusivity,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross, who led the DC study. “Given Ovid Butler and his role as an abolitionist who propagated the need for education for all, and access to education, it is imperative that we continue to work and strive to create conditions where all students can be successful and all students can thrive. The Diversity Center is critical to that mission. It is a hub for learning outside the classroom. It helps as we work to create and sustain an intentionally inclusive campus environment.”

The first key to bringing the mission to life was hiring three new faces of the DC. In addition to Reed, Gina Forrest, who served as interim Director of the Center since February after longtime Director Valerie Davidson retired, has been named Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Thalia Anguiano has been named Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs and Services.

Forrest will primarily focus on partnering with others across campus to enhance the student experience through diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will work closely with students, staff, and faculty, facilitating new workshops and trainings on how to have crucial conversations. Forrest will also look beyond campus, working to create meaningful partnerships throughout the wider Indianapolis area. She will consider the resources Butler provides to its students, as well as how the University responds to bias incidents, for example, to ensure appropriate support.

“This work is so much more encompassing than the actual Center,” Forrest says. “We want diversity, equity, and inclusion to be part of the University’s identity. By having all these different initiatives happening in tandem, it becomes proactive work, not just a reactive thing we say we are doing.” 

Reed will work collaboratively with faculty, and the Office of Admission to hone in on student success and retention. Reed will focus on being intentional about supporting students. 

For example, this year’s Dawg Days 2.0, which strives to create a welcoming environment and provide connections, resources, and programs for students who are underrepresented at Butler, will include a wider range of students, such as first-generation students, 21st century scholars, multicultural students, students of color, and LGBTQ students. 

“It is important to create intentional spaces for students of color, or for the LBGTQ community, but it is also important for spaces to intersect because many of our students are also first generation or biracial. They want to know how they fit in at a predominantly white institution,” says Reed, who as a student at IUPUI often studied and hung out at Butler’s Diversity Center because IUPUI didn’t have one.

Because of her experiences at IUPUI—fighting to get a Diversity Center of their own as an undergraduate and seeing firsthand how helpful it was to have a space on Butler’s campus—she also hopes to create partnerships with other universities. 

Reed has also been busy revamping the mentorship program, now dubbed the DC Squad. It will be much more robust, encouraging ongoing relationships instead of having mentors meet with their mentees just once or twice a semester. 

Anguiano will focus on programming and working with the student organizations that are housed in the DC. 

“I plan on challenging our student orgs within the Center to work much more collaboratively with one another to enhance dialogue and bring different perspectives from different lenses,” she says. “If it is Hispanic Heritage month, we might look at what it means to be Latinx and part of the LGBTQ community. We want to encompass different identities and bring more collaboration.”

As much as their roles differ, they will all work as one unit, striving to bring the mission of the DC to all parts of Butler’s campus, and beyond.

The Center’s physical space might be getting a new makeover, but in reality, if everything is working, the DC will be traveling to a building near you soon, collaborating with faculty across campus, visiting classrooms, partnering in many different ways.

“The goal is for you to feel connected to the DC as a collective unit,” Reed says. “It is about utilizing all of our different powers to move the space beyond this space. For us, the Center could be in Jordan Hall, a residence hall, a sorority house. We want it to travel wherever it is needed. That’s the ultimate goal around diversity, equity, and inclusion. That way we are reaching everyone.”

PeopleCampus

New Faces, New Mission: Diversity Center Gets a Makeover

Butler's Diversity Center has three new staff members, and a brand new mission. 

Jul 22 2019 Read more
Tom Pieciak performs "I Fall in Love Too Easily" by Jule Styne, a song that is especially meaningful to him.
Arts & CulturePeople

In The Moment: Butler Summer Institute Student Explores Spirituality Through Jazz

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jul 18 2019

Tom Pieciak ‘21 can’t explain why he loves jazz. He just knows it makes him feel good.

To him, the genre is more than music. It’s a raw, organic expression of humanity, but perhaps it’s even more than that. For Pieciak, jazz is spirituality.

After watching Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary during his sophomore year at Butler University, Pieciak discovered this wasn’t uncommon.

“I saw how deeply spiritual his music was,” Pieciak says about the jazz saxophonist.

At the time, he was trying to decide which project to pursue during the 2019 Butler Summer Institute (BSI). The Jazz Studies major knew he wanted to research something relating to music, and he had been long fascinated with existential questions and philosophical topics, already starting to connect the two interests.

“It makes music an even more emotional experience for me,” he says of how philosophy affects his trumpet playing. “I really feel like what I’m doing is beyond me: I’m simply a vessel for this kind of creativity.”

After a meeting with Matthew Pivec, an Associate Professor of Music at Butler and Pieciak’s BSI faculty mentor, the two agreed there was something in the intersection between jazz and spirituality. For his project over the last two months, Pieciak interviewed musicians and listened to recordings to study why and how the genre can inspire such a spiritual experience. He also asked what it even means to be spiritual—how people express spirituality in different ways, and whether you can be spiritual without being religious.

Pieciak first started playing jazz in high school, when he fell in love with the freedom the style offers. So far in his research, he’s found it’s that space for creativity that might help set jazz apart when it comes to spiritual expression. He says the improvisatory nature of jazz—the room it grants for living in the moment—is similar to how humans handle spirituality.

“Within jazz,” Pieciak says, “I like to think that when I’m really in the element, I’m connecting myself to this bigger purpose.”

 

During the 2019 Butler Summer Institute, from May 19 - July 19, rising junior Tom Pieciak studied the power of jazz music to be a vehicle for spiritual expression. Pieciak feels this connection in his own music. Here, he performs "I Fall in Love Too Easily" by Jule Styne, a song that is especially meaningful to him.

 

Now, he and the rest of his quartet have the chance to perform every month at Monon Coffee Co. in Broad Ripple. While playing in a group, Pieciak often feels a different kind of spiritual connection in the community that emerges when the bass, drums, guitar, and trumpet all come together.

“You’re listening to each other,” he says. “You’re trusting each other.”

Based on this direct experience of how spirituality can show itself in different ways through jazz, Pieciak has broken the concept into three categories for his project: divine (anything relating to religion or a higher power), community (the spirituality involved in relationships between people), and individual (or, everything else). He assigned jazz songs to each of these categories, providing examples of their musical expressions.

At the beginning of the summer, Pieciak wasn’t sure he’d be able to find enough people to speak about his topic. But with a bit of digging and some help from Pivec’s network, he found five artists to study and had the chance to interview four of them. Some of these musicians are directly involved with church communities, with “one foot in jazz and one foot in religion,” like Indianapolis-based Rev. Marvin Chandler, and Ike Sturn, the music director for jazz ministry at a church in New York City. Pieciak also studied the history of spiritual expression in jazz, as well as identified recordings that reflect that relationship.

Pivec says with so many elements to consider and perspectives to balance, “it gets a little bit messy in the organization process.” And it isn’t the sort of project that will lead to any momentous discoveries. But that’s okay, Pivec says, because the project is giving Pieciak the chance to explore something meaningful.

“Really the biggest thing for the talented young people at the Butler Summer Institute is, in many ways, the transformative experience,” Pivec says.

During the regular school year, students take courses meant to fill certain requirements, often offering less freedom. But for this project, Pivec says “there’s nothing students are not capable of.” For Pieciak, he’s already felt the project’s influence.

“It has been affecting, already, the way I approach practicing and the way I approach writing,” he says. “It’s coming from a much more organic place.”

Scheduling constraints limited the number of interviews Pieciak could conduct this summer, but he plans for the BSI project to be just a stepping stone to a longer-term pursuit down the road. He will share his results at conferences, but rather than presenting any finite conclusions, he hopes he might encourage jazz musicians to embrace the spiritual nature of their music and change their crafts accordingly. He also hopes his research will prompt people to reflect on their own expressions of spirituality, even beyond the realm of jazz.

 

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.

Tom Pieciak performs "I Fall in Love Too Easily" by Jule Styne, a song that is especially meaningful to him.
Arts & CulturePeople

In The Moment: Butler Summer Institute Student Explores Spirituality Through Jazz

Through the Butler Summer Institute, Tom Pieciak had the chance to research something deeply meaningful to him.

Jul 18 2019 Read more
Hopkins is studying which aspects of music education curricula proved most helpful for preparing students to face the realities of the field.
AcademicsResearchUnleashed

Are Music Education Grads Ready for Reality?

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jul 15 2019

During her last two years at a small high school in Villa Grove, Illinois, Abigail Hopkins rarely went to class.

But that was okay. Her teachers knew where she was.

Hopkins had stepped in to help when the music program at her school faced budget cuts. The general music teacher there, who had to take over band, choir, and other music classes at all levels of the K-12 school, didn’t know how to play any band instruments. Hopkins was a star in the band room and had been playing violin for years, so the teacher asked her to help out as a Teaching Assistant during the hour she was scheduled for band class each day.

One hour snowballed into five. Hopkins got caught up sautering sousaphones and meeting with music shops, and she eventually became known as the school’s unpaid band director. She had an office and everything.

“If I didn’t have to be in the classroom, I was in the band room,” she says.

Beyond repairing instruments, Hopkins sometimes conducted rehearsals for the junior high ensembles or helped coordinate concerts. She loved helping, but she worried what might happen when she graduated. Through researching for a paper in her high school English class, she learned the situation wasn’t unique.

Now a rising sophomore at Butler University, Hopkins hasn’t let it go. The Violin Performance major would love to be a full-time performer, but she says she knows she’ll probably end up teaching. She wants to be ready.

That’s why she took on a project through this year’s Butler Summer Institute (BSI), a program allowing students to stay on campus for two months in pursuit of significant research questions. Through interviews with recent graduates of music education programs at several Indiana universities, Hopkins is studying which aspects of the curricula proved most helpful for preparing students to face the realities of the field, along with which areas might have been neglected.

“My overall goal is to prolong the life of music education,” she says. “Because, sadly, it’s the first thing to be cut when there’s some sort of budget crisis.”

The project’s interviewees all have between one and five years of professional teaching experience, and they all come from undergraduate music education programs at Butler, Indiana University, Ball State University, or Indiana State University.

Hopkins hopes her findings will inform recommendations for schools to incorporate a wider variety of classes into each music concentration, better preparing graduates to take on what might be expected of them when funding gets cut.

So far, Hopkins has confirmed conversations with 10 recent graduates. Beyond questions about their college programs, she’s asking if the things they’re doing in their jobs today align with what they expected when they pursued careers in music education. She hopes she can make their feedback available for incoming students, who still have time to adapt their studies accordingly.

After completing the interviews, Hopkins and faculty mentor Dr. Becky Marsh will code the answers to find common themes. When the nine-week program ends on July 19, Hopkins will present her findings as a poster. She says the results can apply beyond Indiana, however, and she hopes to share the conclusions at music education conferences across the country.

 

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.

Hopkins is studying which aspects of music education curricula proved most helpful for preparing students to face the realities of the field.
AcademicsResearchUnleashed

Are Music Education Grads Ready for Reality?

Butler student interviews recent Indiana grads for Butler Summer Institute project.

Jul 15 2019 Read more
Grace Hart studied in Greenland and Iceland for the spring 2019 semester.
AcademicsUnleashed

From the Top of a Glacier: Grace Hart Feels Climate Change Up Close

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jun 26 2019

Grace Hart stared out at the white ice. She couldn’t see where it ended, but she noticed a blue tinge marking the Icelandic glacier’s age. It had lived a long life.

According to the guide who’d just led Hart’s hike to the top of the slope, that would probably change within the next 200 years.

I want you all to spend a minute taking in your surroundings, the guide said before leading the group back down the trail. Think about where you are right now. Because this glacier changes every single day, and some day, it’s going to be gone.

Living in the Midwest, Hart had only ever heard news stories of the ice caps melting. Now, as part of her study abroad trip in spring 2019, she was seeing it happen live.

The guide broke the silence.

Remember this feeling, he said. When you’re trying to explain to someone why it’s important to slow down climate change, remember this.

Hart knows she will.

During the semester-long program through the School for International Training (SIT), the rising Butler University senior traveled around Greenland and Iceland to study topics related to climate change: what’s happening, how it affects people, and what we can do to help. She’d first read about the trip as a freshman Environmental Studies major. She had always wanted to go to Iceland, and the topic was right in line with her interests.

Hart says her choice to study climate change started with “a love of nature and a sadness that people were trying to destroy it.” Butler taught her about the real consequences climate change has already caused, even in Indianapolis.

“Seeing that in my own community cemented my goals of advocating for the environment and those who have been negatively affected by the irresponsible actions of people who are careless with the earth's resources,” Hart says.

Through almost-daily discussions about climate change in her environmental studies classes, Hart sometimes loses hope that things will get better. She believed visiting Iceland and Greenland would break that cycle and give her the skills to do something.

“I thought it would be really cool to learn about climate change from a place that is typically seen as very sustainable and environmentally friendly,” Hart says. “It’s a different conversation than happens in the U.S., where we have a long way to go.”

Calie Florek, Study Abroad Advisor at Butler, says SIT offers some of her favorite study abroad opportunities. Hart was the first Butler student to go to Iceland with SIT, but all the organization’s programs emphasize engaging with local communities. Through experiences such as internships, research projects, and home stays, SIT students really dive into a culture and learn about its people in ways not all study abroad programs offer.

When Hart first came to see Florek, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She’d had a challenging fall semester during junior year, and she decided to apply to the Iceland program in hopes of shaking things up. Commiting to a three-and-a-half-month trip with a group of strangers scared her, but she looked forward to feeling independent. 

The trip began in February, just missing the time of year when the sun never rises. They started in Reykjavík, Iceland, studying climate modeling and glaciology before heading to Nuuk, Greenland. For two weeks, the group learned about the country’s culture. Hart studied how climate research often excludes native people, and she loved learning the value of including diverse voices in those conversations. She says you shouldn’t make decisions about the land without asking the people who’ve been working with it for centuries.

There was also time for some fun. During a brief stay in Akureyri, Iceland (where Hart would return for the final part of her program), she traveled far enough north to see the arctic circle. She loved Akureyri for its beautiful location, deep in a fjord with mountains all around. Actual trees grow there, too, which can be hard to find in Iceland.

But Hart’s favorite thing was the endless light. At sunset, the sky turned orange and pink, then it just stayed that way for hours.

“At a certain point, I think I kind of got used to the fact that it was so pretty,” Hart says. “I had to think about it again and realize how cool it was that I got to be there.”

In her free time, she swam in geothermal pools, visited art museums, tried out new restaurants, and learned how to knit a sweater. She saw waterfalls and volcanoes. She snowshoed up a mountain. She even tried her hand at some Greenlandic dishes.

For most of the semester, Hart followed a set program, but the last five weeks were up to her.

 

 

Comparing Iceland to Indy

Hart first learned about food security through her classes and internships at Butler, where she spent a semester working on the campus farm.

“I really became passionate about it because the faculty at Butler are passionate about it,” she says.

During the last five weeks of her study abroad trip, which were dedicated to independent study, she wanted to see how an issue so prominent in Indianapolis might play out in a different climate.

Mostly through secondary research, Hart found that food security in Iceland isn’t really an economic issue: It’s a land issue. People there have started demanding foods that just can’t grow in the frigid climate, forcing residents to import most of what they eat. Beyond harming the environment, Hart says, importing can make the country especially vulnerable whenever trade gets disrupted.

Her study offered some solutions. She focused mainly on changes that might shift tastes back to what the land can support, such as subsidizing and labeling local foods. She also suggests more Icelanders rent garden pots to grow their own produce. Ultimately, she says, the country should try to become self-sufficient.

For now, Hart’s research is more of a personal exploration. She wasn’t able to share it with anyone outside of the study abroad group, but she believes her study could inspire change.

Hart would like to return to Iceland and build a community outreach program, which she hopes would get Icelanders talking about their food in ways they might not have before.

 

 

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.

Grace Hart studied in Greenland and Iceland for the spring 2019 semester.
AcademicsUnleashed

From the Top of a Glacier: Grace Hart Feels Climate Change Up Close

Butler student travels to Iceland and Greenland for program with the School for International Training.

Jun 26 2019 Read more
Maddy Smith and her daughter Arabelle
PeopleStudent LifeUnleashed

A Mother’s Promise: Against All Odds, Butler Senior is Ready to Graduate

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON May 09 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Madeline Smith was in third grade when she attended her first college class. It was math. Finite, to be exact. And she loved it.

Her mom, Sarah Taylor, didn’t really have a choice but to bring her young daughter with her. She was a 30-year-old college student at Indiana University. She had returned to college years after giving birth to Smith and realizing, if she wanted to stop working 16-hour shifts and provide a better life for her daughter, a college degree would help. So, Taylor packed up her whole house, put everything in storage except for two tents, and headed to Yellowstone Woods in Bloomington, Indiana with Smith. They camped out for two months—Taylor and her 10-year-old. Taylor bused tables, saving up for an apartment. She had a friend watch Smith during most classes, but when she had to, Taylor brought an extra set of hands with her to class. Turns out those hands shot up in the air on more than one occasion when questions were asked. Especially during Finite.

“I knew I had to make a change to make Madeline’s life better in the long-run, and I am very thankful she was a resilient individual, because she powered through some tough times,” says Taylor, who has worked in Human Resources since graduating from IU. “She was my study buddy who would hold up flashcards for me during dinner, while I was doing laundry, everything. She took notes in her own notebook during Economics. She always loved learning and saw firsthand from those days that knowledge is power, and education can transform your life.”

That love of learning was always on display. In elementary school, Smith preferred reading to riding bikes with her friends. And when she brought home her first B at Southport High School in Perry Township, Smith cried hysterically, studying all night, determined to bring her grade back up to an A.

When it came time to make a decision about college, Taylor was biased. She took her daughter back to Bloomington where the two had many fond memories. Smith earned a 21st Century Scholarship—up to four years of undergraduate tuition at participating universities in Indiana—so Taylor knew her daughter had options. They also visited Butler University.

“After being on campus, Butler became a no-brainer,” Smith says. “I loved the atmosphere here. I loved the fact that just six buildings make up the academic section. There was such a community feel right away. With larger institutions, it felt like you had to walk across an entire city to get to class. I didn’t want to be in a department where there are 25 professors and you never meet half of them, and they don’t know your name, and you are just another face. I wanted to be Maddy, and at Butler, it became instantly obvious to me the I would have that type of experience.”

Then, one day during Smith’s senior year of high school, she sat her mom down. She needed to talk to her. Smith was pregnant. They had a long talk—both cried and were scared—but, Smith made one thing clear: her goals would not shift, and she would go to Butler as planned. Taylor explained that she would understand if Smith needed to take a slightly different route, or adjust her timeline. But Smith was adamant. Nothing would change.

Four years later, Smith is on the cusp of graduation. She will join nearly 1,050 other students on Saturday for Butler’s 163rd Spring Commencement. She will fulfill the promise she not only made to her mom, but to herself, and to her daughter, Arabelle.

The Anthropology major and History minor will walk across the stage right on time, just as she planned four years ago. She is a bit more tired, but also incredibly grateful—for the scholarships, support from faculty and family—and proud—for trusting herself and sticking to her plan.

 

‘I’m exhausted’

The timing, actually, could not have been better for Smith. She was determined to not miss any significant class time, and her daughter was due in December, when Butler was closed for Winter Break.

So, Christmas 2015 arrived, she went to the hospital, and Arabelle arrived on December 27, 2015. Two weeks later, school started, and Smith was in class.

“It was really hard. To be honest, second semester of my first year is a blur,” Smith says, “It is recommended that you have six weeks of bonding time with your baby, and I had like two. But, I would have had to take medical leave if I missed school, and I wanted to graduate on time. It was really difficult, and exhausting, and things you don’t think about, like nursing, were messed up, but I knew I had to get through it.”

On top of having a newborn, Smith had to move to Kokomo during her second semester—about an hour from Butler’s campus—because her mom was relocated from Indianapolis to Tennessee for work. She moved in with her aunt and uncle, and then made the hour-each-way commute every day for classes.

Maddy's daughter, ArabelleShe learned traffic patterns very quickly, she says. She also learned time management.

Each day she woke up at about 5:00 AM, got ready for school, got her daughter ready for daycare, drove to campus for classes, and would return home to pick up her daughter from day care at around 5:00 PM. Then it was dinner time, bath time, bedtime for Arabelle, homework time for Smith, and, hopefully at a reasonable hour, bedtime for Smith.

“The way she has juggled everything has amazed me. But that is Madeline,” Taylor says. “I have seen her up until 2:00 AM working on a paper, or sometimes asleep in a book, trying to finish assignments. Her determination is what has gotten her to this point, and her love of learning.”

It wasn’t always clear to Smith that she made the right choice, though. There were times, she says, she missed out on things like parent-teacher conferences, or making snacks for her daughter’s daycare. Or other things, like homecoming, Greek Life, and just a typical social life on campus. Between classes and taking care of her daughter, Smith has juggled several jobs throughout her four years, such as working at a gas station, working at a fast food restaurant, the Butler IT Help Desk, pizza delivery driver, to name a few.

 

Tight-knit community

Elise Edwards has an adult son, and, after a day of teaching Anthropology as an Associate Professor at Butler, she is drained, she says. So, to see Smith, a first-year student who can juggle being a mom and keep up with her studies, amazed Edwards.

“Maddy is an incredibly smart student. She writes well, thinks well, and despite all of the outside pressures she faces, has remained incredibly focused,” Edwards says. “She is very intellectually curious and, miraculously, hasn’t allowed any additional challenges to get in her way.”

Edwards worked with Smith on an independent study project looking at the Anthropology of Africa. The two handpicked ethnographies on Africa and met weekly to discuss the readings. After graduation, Edwards says, she will really miss these conversations.

But it wasn’t just that Smith was able to keep up, Edwards says. She was often ahead of the class. On more than one occasion, Smith would raise her hand and remind the class that rough drafts were due in a week.

Instructor of German Michelle Stigter was the first person on campus Smith told about her pregnancy. Stigter was her First Year Seminar professor, and the two instantly connected.

“I am the child of teenage parents, and I know the odds are stacked against young women who get pregnant in terms of college completion,” Stigter says. “Being a mom and something else is hard enough, but being a mom and a college student is really difficult. Maddy has a tenacity to move forward and make life happen for her and her daughter that has been incredible to witness.”

Most who know Smith, Stigter says, aren’t even aware she has a daughter. She has been determined to be like every other student and not let her family situation influence her college experience.

It was Stigter who nominated Smith for the Betty Murnan-Smith Scholarship—given to single parents enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Stigter nominated Smith in 2017, and since then, Smith has received the scholarship for the last three years.

“Without scholarships I never would have been able to come to Butler and receive the education I have received,” Smith says. “To have people that don’t even know you set up scholarships that you’ll eventually benefit from is something I am so grateful for. But, to then have professors looking out for you, and really advocating for you—it is all just so amazing.”

 

An education for everyone

Betty Murnan-Smith ’44 always loved to learn, too.

Born in Indianapolis in 1921, her father died of leukemia when she was 12. Suddenly left to raise Murnan-Smith alone, her mother moved them into the back room of a dried goods store to save money. The two shared a bed, her mother sewed their clothes, and a curtain enclosed their room.

Murnan-Smith rode her bike to school, always eager to get there, says her son, Timothy Smith. A high school English teacher of hers saw her talent as a writer and asked her if she planned to go to college. She said she couldn’t afford college, but her high school teacher told her she still could go, and introduced her to Butler.

“My mom worked her way through school. She had every kind of job you could imagine. She grinded magnesium for airplane parts, she was a soda jerk, an artist model, a Rosie the Riveter,” says Smith, who now lives in Los Angeles. “She was an uncommon woman of her time, one who was fiercely interested in women not following the well-traveled path but taking another option, and daring to do something great with their lives. She got that from her mother.”

Her favorite job, though, was on campus at Butler helping Professor of English Allegra Stewart grade papers. Stewart told Murnan-Smith that she had so much potential, and inspired her to become a professor, too. Murnan-Smith would go on to name her daughter Allegra, after Stewart.

“At a time when most women were becoming domesticated and looking for husbands, my mom went to Butler and had professors who showed her all the potential she had and all the options available to her—that she really could do anything,” Smith says.

Murnan-Smith would go on to teach at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. Later in her life she established the Betty Murnan-Smith Scholarship for single parents at Butler.

Her children didn’t even know about the scholarship until the end of their mother’s life, but it certainly doesn’t surprise them.

“It resonates with everything we understood about her. She would save pennies and dimes to help those who are trying to fulfill their dreams, despite challenges,” Smith says. “She taught us from a young age the importance of education. We were 12 and she was telling us the unexamined life is not worth living. She wanted to make sure she did her part to provide that for everyone. She actually sounds a lot like Maddy from the bit I have learned about her.”

 

‘A really special day’

Taylor will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, watching her daughter graduate. Arabelle will not. She would be bouncing off the walls during a long ceremony like that, Smith says.

But, the day will be an emotional one.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter,” Taylor says. “I have seen first hand all she has juggled with school, but also raising my granddaughter and being a wonderful mother, and sticking to her original goals and not wavering. She has always been so driven, but to see everything come to the final stages, it will be such a special day.”

After graduation, Smith is hoping to go into event planning, but she is still exploring her options. Whatever she ends up doing, though, she hopes to one day help others like her—sort of like Murnan-Smith.

Maddy Smith and her daughter Arabelle
PeopleStudent LifeUnleashed

A Mother’s Promise: Against All Odds, Butler Senior is Ready to Graduate

Arabelle arrived on December 27, 2015. Two weeks later, school started, and Maddy Smith was in class.

May 09 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 12 2019

Women enroll at Utah Valley University (UVU) at higher rates than the national average. They also drop out at higher rates than the national average.

Since January, UVU undergraduate students Alyssa Jensen, Elizabeht Hansen, Alexis Stallings, and Wendy Covington have been exploring why. They want to know what women are experiencing on campus, and figure out what the school can do to reverse the trend.

On Friday, April 12, they came to Indianapolis from Orem, Utah, to present their preliminary findings at Butler University's 31st Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). The UVU contingent—four students and two faculty sponsors—were among the more than 100 people who came from out of state to present at the conference.

"We wanted to gain some experience as undergrad researchers to present, and Butler seemed like an ideal situation to portray our research, and express our ideas in a setting where people may not be familiar with the research that we're doing," UVU student Alyssa Jensen says.

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado. Though the majority of the presenters were from Indiana—and 356 of the 824 were Butler students—23 states were represented.

The UVU project came about when Dr. Stevie Munz, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, and Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Jessica Pauly received a grant from the university to study women's experiences on campus. Once they assembled the research team, they started looking for undergraduate research conferences where the students could present.

"This conference is one that's really well respected, so we said, 'Let's go. Let's present this,'" Munz says. "So that's what brought us all the way from Utah to Indiana. Actually, there aren't that many undergraduate research conferences that service all the disciplines, so it was a nice fit for us because our project does cross quite a few intersections of education, identity, religion, family life, home life. So we thought we'd be a really good fit for this conference."

Colorado College student Naomi Tsai came to the URC from Colorado Springs. Her research came from a much greater distance—the Red Sea. She studied coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba to determine why they are better able than coral reefs elsewhere to withstand rising temperatures.

She decided to undertake a thesis as part of her degree, and that requires presenting at a conference. She researched conferences, and found the URC.

"I feel like it's a very supportive group of people," she said after her 15-minute presentation in Gallahue Hall. "I don't think I've ever presented in a format like this, and it's really nice to be surrounded mostly by your peers and people who are interested in your research."

Dr. J.C. Blewitt, an Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was in the audience when one of his students, Rebecca Kinzinger, presented her research showing that millennials going to work at accounting firms want their employers to be active in promoting social entrepreneurship. That is, part of the companies' mission should be to use their professional skills to make a large-scale difference in the world.

Blewitt says it's vital for students planning to go to graduate school to get experience presenting their research at conferences.

"I think a lot of times research conferences can be terrifying," he says. "This conference is a wonderful stepping stone for students to get some exposure, and feel confident, and get some constructive but overall pretty positive feedback from other students and faculty."

Blewitt brought one student to the URC in 2018 and found it "so well run" that he brought two students this year.

"And next year," he says, "maybe three."

AcademicsResearch

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado.

Apr 12 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Advancing the Field: Highlights of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 11 2019

Lillian Southern ‘19 was 12 when her brother, Jack, was born with mitochondrial disease. He couldn’t walk, talk, sit up, and later, lost the ability to eat on his own.

Southern quickly became interested in helping him. She was intrigued by the therapy he received. When Jack died in 2012 at the age of 4, Southern decided she wanted to spend her life helping children just like him.

And now, her first research paper might do just that. Inspired by Jack, Southern spent the last year-and-a-half exploring how hearing impairment, as well as disability, in babies impacts interactions between parents and children. The paper, Parent Interaction Between an Infant with a Cochlear Implant and Additional Disabilities: How Interaction is Affected Due to Stress and Difficulty of Communication, was one of four winners in the Competitive Paper division of the Undergraduate Research Conference.

The URC, which takes place for the 31st time April 12 at Butler University, added a Competitive Paper division two years ago to give students experience submitting papers to outside faculty reviewers—the same process, essentially, that happens when professors, for example, submit a paper to a journal in hopes of publishing their research. That panel of reviewers then picked four winning papers from 36 entries. Southern was one of the winners.

In the fall, the Communication Sciences and Disorders major and Special Education minor, will attend graduate school at Indiana University to study Speech Pathology. But in the meantime, she hopes her first research project will help advance the field.

“Research is like an exciting mystery, where you go from having these questions, to actually having an answer,” she says. “But the most powerful thing is, especially in my field, all therapy practices that help kids are based on research people have done. Without having access to questions and answers, you cannot move forward and discover new ways to help people.”

As Southern’s research progressed, the answers did not line up with what she originally thought. She hypothesized that the addition of a disability to a child with hearing impairment would have a major impact on parent-child interactions. She assumed there would be cascading effects of stress, for example. However, the results showed that the addition of a disability didn’t affect interactions as much as other environmental factors, such as education and financial resources.

Tonya Bergeson-Dana, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Butler, worked with Southern on the project. Bergeson-Dana, who has published on this topic before, says Southern’s findings can help get these families the appropriate resources they need to develop child language.

This relevancy was what struck Tracey Quigley Holden, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware. Quigley Holden was one of 13 faculty reviewers who looked at the 36 papers that were submitted to the URC’s competitive paper division. Four were selected as winners by the reviewers.

If she’s honest, Quigley Holden wasn’t all that excited to be asked at first. She loves research, but the process of reviewing papers is extremely time consuming. Then she jumped in and was elated.

“These students were really doing work that was innovative and pushing the envelope,” she says. “They were taking on topics that we wouldn’t have touched when I was an undergrad. There was such a range of topics, from race, to class, to politics, there was such a wide range. Students were looking at some of the topics that we are most challenged by in public discourse and society today, not just the confines of academia.”

Quigley Holden, who studies military dissent, has served as a reviewer for fellow colleagues in the world of academia. At times, she says, the process can be monotonous. But not this time.

“Our students are thinking about what they are interested in, what they want to find out about, and they are challenging things,” she says. “Their papers reflect how inquisitive and engaged they are in thinking about the world that they live in and how it works and what they need to know to help them identify larger issues and gain more knowledge. The papers I reviewed looked at questions that are of interest to the public.”

______

If you go to the URC, there’s an endless number of presentations to take in. You may want to start with the winners. Here’s a look at the top four competitive papers:

Lillian Southern, Butler University, Parent Interaction Between an Infant with a Cochlear Implant and Additional Disabilities: How Interaction is Affected Due to Stress and Difficulty of Communication, Faculty Sponsor: Tonya Bergeson-Dana

How does the stress from having a child with hearing loss, or another disability, impact the relationship between parent and child? Southern examined exactly that. She looked at pediatric hearing loss, and how that can contribute to maternal and paternal stress. Because of that stress, she wondered, what other cascading effects on parent-child interactions occur?

Stephanie Mithika, Taylor University, The Curse of Nakedness: African Women’s Use of the Naked Body in Resistance Movements, Faculty Sponsor: Nicholas Kerton-Johnson

The female body typically has had many gendered, cultural, and political inscriptions ascribed to it. As a result, society, more often than not, perceives women as lacking in agency, unfit for public affairs, as well as political roles. Mithika though, explored how African women used their bodies to resist patriarchal, classist, capitalist, and oppressive systems through the act of disrobing. Why, she examined, was the sight of a naked African women’s body protesting serve as a powerful tool for social and political change? Mithika explores how women rewrite the script of vulnerability, and in this case, embody resistance, while reclaiming their bodies as political sites of agency and power.

Maggie Kieffer, Butler University, The Avengers: Hegemonic Depictions of Heroism Present in the Working World, Faculty Sponsor: Kristin Swenson

Kieffer digs into the superhero characters in the 2012 film The Avengers to evaluate how American ideals of heroism and patriotism are reflected through the superhero genre. Kieffer looks at Iron Man and Captain America, and analyzes how the film reaffirms hegemonic American heroism fulfilled by individual heroes coming together under a patriotic leader to combat threats to traditional American values.

Jillian Fox, Denison University, Broken Bodies, Evolving Systems: An Evaluation of International Prosecution of Sexual Violence After Genocide, Faculty Sponsor: Taku Suzuki

Using the Nuremburg Trials, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as case studies, Fox explores the influence of social movements on international humanitarian laws. Essentially, why did prosecutors start to indict individuals for crimes of gender-based violence when they did? Through Fox’s research, it seems that as the world begins to understand the reality of wartime gender-based and sexual violence, coupled with efforts by feminist organizations to raise global consciousness, then humanitarian law adapts to ensure justice prevails regardless of historical precedent.

AcademicsResearch

Advancing the Field: Highlights of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference

Familiarize yourself with the winners of the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Apr 11 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Undergraduate Research Conference Goes Beyond Butler

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 10 2019

Dacia Charlesworth remembers her first research presentation well. And the memories aren’t great.

She was peppered with aggressive questions, and it was more competitive than cordial. So when Charlesworth, Butler University’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, took the reins of the Undergraduate Research Conference four years ago, she was determined to make it as welcoming as possible—both for savvy researchers and those just starting out.

“We want to ensure the URC is a stepping stone for students when it comes to introducing them to the academic world of research, but we also want to make sure it is credible,” she says. “Both of these goals are integral to our mission as a University when it comes to research in addition to this conference. We want to make sure we provide a place for all students with varying levels of interest in research, while also producing legitimate work.”

The URC will kick off for the 31st time on April 12 at Butler. There will be 473 total presentations representing 27 academic disciplines. For the first time, the conference had two international submissions—one from Saudi Arabia and one from Canada—and representatives from 23 states will flock to Indianapolis to present their research.

But more than the numbers, Charlesworth says, it all goes back to the mission. When she took over the URC she was surprised to learn that it was open submission, meaning everything that is submitted is accepted. She wanted to enhance the conference’s credibility.

So, the competitive paper division was added two years ago in an effort to mimic the process of sending a journal article out for review. Students submit their papers, and a panel of faculty members review the work, then select the top four papers.

“But I also remembered my first research experience, and how terrifying it was,” she says. “I wanted to make sure we were simultaneously creating a place at the URC for support for an inexperienced researcher who is in the beginning stages of the research process, but has yet to fully develop that project.”

To compliment the poster presentations, oral presentations, and competitive paper division, research roundtables were also added. The roundtables serve as an opportunity for students to present ideas they have for research projects, and then a panel will give them feedback.

This year, Assistant Professor of Political Science Greg Shufeldt will have 13 students present at the URC. Four of them will be at the research roundtable presenting proposals for potential projects.

“This gives them a unique opportunity to test some of their ideas and thoughts prior to jumping into the research,” he says. “They are early in their research careers, so to get some direction and helpful feedback is crucial.”

Shufeldt, who says the URC is one of his favorite days of the year, right up there with graduation, gives extra credit to students who are not presenting but who go to URC presentations to watch. He, like many professors, cancels classes, too.

Attending the URC as a spectator, Shufeldt says, can spark a student’s interest in research. Presenting in front of others also reinforces the importance of being able to explain one’s work. Discovering something critical is important, he says, but if no one knows about it, or if it’s importance is hard to convey, what is the point?

“If no one reads the research I do, what was the purpose of it all?” Shufeldt says. “This event is so critical because it is not just students doing work to get a good grade. It is all about that next step—building knowledge, contributing to the understanding of the world, presenting new problems and new ways to think about the world, and developing professionally.”

AcademicsResearch

Undergraduate Research Conference Goes Beyond Butler

473 total presentations will represent 27 academic disciplines.

Apr 10 2019 Read more

Success and Support

by Jackson Borman ’20

When Ethan Cunningham started his first year at Butler, he felt confident in the classroom. He was going into engineering, had already taken classes like chemistry before and was confident that his high school had prepared him for the next level.

But Cunningham says that first semester served as a wakeup call for his academics.

“First semester didn’t go as planned,” Cunningham says. “You don’t realize the workload that college comes with—for me, that was a rude awakening.”

During his second semester at Butler, he decided to visit the Learning Resource Center (LRC) for an individualized meeting with their student development specialists. He was unsure about the meeting at first, but by the end of his time in the office, Cunningham says he felt calm and reassured.

“I was so nervous because I did so bad my first semester, but we ended up talking about rap music,” Cunningham says. “It was helpful, knowing that you could talk to them as like a friend instead of someone who is just yelling at you to get better.”

Over the course of a couple of meetings, Cunningham worked with the student development specialists on bettering his time management skills, building new study methods, and coming up with strategies for homework assignments and projects.

While these concrete skills helped him succeed academically during his second semester at Butler, one of the biggest benefits about his time in the LRC was connecting with the people in the office.

“It’s a really positive atmosphere. You can go in and rant about whatever and they will listen,” Cunningham says. “In the office, it is usually upbeat. You can go in when you’re having a bad day, but usually come out with a smile, or at least a slightly less annoyed attitude. They always try to make it better.”

Now, more than halfway through his junior year, Cunningham feels confident about his grades, as well as his adjustment to college.

“It’s been a great experience, just having a positive atmosphere,” Cunningham says. “Ever since then, my grades have gotten better. It has worked out tremendously.”

Janice Ruston is an academic advisor and student development specialist at the LRC. She works with students like Cunningham to help them with school work as well life changes, such as the transition from high school to college.

“It could just be tweaking something that you are already pretty good at and maybe looking at it a different way or attacking it with a different study strategy to help you get where you want to be,” Ruston says.  “Whatever it is, we will figure it out.”

Ruston says that like in Cunningham’s case, one of the most frequent problems that students come to the LRC needing help with is time management.

“Butler students in general are go-getters and want to be involved in all these great things and that also contributes to the time management struggle,” Ruston says. “I think we [help with] that in a very comfortable way.”

But student development specialists at the LRC don’t limit their help to new students.

Katelyn Castiglia is a senior at Butler, but didn’t start coming to meet in the office until just recently. She has gotten help from the LRC with her post college plans, such as studying for the MCAT and advice on her personal life.

“Coming into senior year, there was a lot on my plate and I just wanted someone on campus to talk through everything with,” Castiglia says. “I didn’t go there because I needed a tutor, I went there because I wanted an extra opinion.”

She sees the office as a support system that is helping her achieve her goals for post-graduation.

“Everyone in that office is willing to help. They are very open to meeting you wherever you are in your academic or personal journey,” Castiglia says. “It’s definitely a safe zone where I know I can bring anything to them and talk through it with them and they will listen from an outside perspective.”

Another service offered by the LRC  is workshops on topics that students frequently need help with. The workshops are open to any student who is interested, and cover a range of subjects from decision making to how to prep for finals. The workshops also include sessions where tutors from the Butler Writer’s Studio and Speaker’s Lab come to help students with class papers or presentations.

Jen Mann is another academic advisor and student development specialist at the LRC. She thinks that the workshops can be great for students who might be apprehensive about asking for help.

“[The workshops] are good for students who maybe aren’t brave enough to come through our door to ask for that help themselves,” Mann says. “We like to present it in a different format because it also presents the safety of being in a group and some anonymity.”

Another way that the LRC helps Butler students is through their class called LC100 “Strategies for Success.” The course is one credit hour and is graded as a pass/fail class, but teaches students about different skills that they might need in college or beyond such as goal-setting, study skills, persistence, and emotional intelligence.

“[The class] allows students to get some practice every week with sharpening the skills that they need to be successful as a student at Butler,” Mann says. “Twice a week, these students are getting the full attention of someone who wants them to be successful.”

Emma Hawn is a first year student who was in Mann’s LC100 class last semester and is recommending that her friends take it as well.

Even though she is no longer in the class, Hawn said that she still values lessons learned and the connections that she has made in the LRC. She even visits Mann from time to time just to say hello.

While they offer many services and serve as a resource for students that can guide them in the right direction, the LRC’s main focus is supporting students in whatever ways they can.

“We are willing to meet students wherever they are to help them reach whatever level of success they want,” Mann says. “Our job is to support. I think students take a lot of comfort in knowing that there is a space where they can come and be imperfect, yet supported.”

Academics

Success and Support

Butler’s Academic Success Coaching makes a difference on grades and relationships

Success and Support

by Jackson Borman ’20
AcademicsCampusResearch

Scholarship Supports Student's Research of Refugees in Germany

BY Marc Allan MFA `18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 03 2019

On a Butler University Honors Program and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures-sponsored “Bulldogs to Berlin” spring break trip in 2018, Addy McKown ’21 became fascinated by how the Germans had taken in 2 million Syrian and Turkish refugees, and how those refugees have integrated and assimilated.

“I saw neighborhoods that were devoted to thousands of people from Turkey and Syria and how the city swallows them up and lets German culture wash over them,” she says. “Yet their native cultures are still prevalent in their neighborhoods with their markets, with their restaurants and cafés, and how they garden. They let them adjust to their new life while retaining the fondness and heritage of their old life.”

Her observation became the impetus for her honors thesis, A Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Assimilation of Twenty-First Century Refugees in Modern Cultures. It also earned her the annual Bruce and Lucy Gerstein Holocaust Education Travel Fund, an endowed fund established by Indianapolis dermatologist and friend of the University Dr. David Gerstein. The Fund, named for Gerstein’s parents, supports travel and research related to the Holocaust.

For her thesis, McKown is comparing how Germany and the United States are handling the current refugee crisis, and how the Holocaust left residual effects on Germany’s foreign policy and relief aid efforts.

McKown, a double major in Critical Communications and Media Studies and Human Communication and Organizational Leadership, is spending the spring 2019 semester at Humboldt University in Germany. She’s also traveled on weekends to Vienna, Prague, and Dresden to see how they're taking in refugees.

In Berlin, she’s visited Tempelhof Airport, where some refugees have been housed in hangars, and she’s planning to go back to talk to people living there.

McKown, who’s from New Castle, Indiana, says she chose Butler after visiting campus and meeting representatives of the study abroad and honors programs, and her future faculty advisor, Associate Professor of Communications Allison Harthcock.

“I immediately fell in love with the possibilities,” she says. “I love to travel. I was fortunate to have parents who exposed me to that from a young age. So hearing about all the study abroad opportunities was great. I came here and you feel like a family, but a family that's going to push you and not let you settle for mediocre. That was really important to me.”

Jason Lantzer, Assistant Director of the University Honors Program, describes McKown as “a wonderful student and a terrific representation of our Honors Program.” He’s taught her in a couple of classes and was one of the professors who led the first trip she took to Germany.

“The Gerstein Fund not only helped her achieve her goal of going back, but is helping to lay the groundwork for her planned honors thesis,” Lantzer says. “Having just returned from the second time of Bulldogs to Berlin, it was great to get to see Addy while we were in the city and see just how much she has grown in the year since she first arrived.”

McKown says she’s unsure of her plans after graduation—she might apply for a Fulbright Award, go to graduate school, or find a job. She’s interested in working within outreach programs, a liaison between the public and the organization.

“I want to be on the people side of things, whether that's organizing training, doing research sessions in groups to find out how to better market products or word our statements,” she says.

In the meantime, she plans to keep her options open and explore the world. She thinks others should do the same.

“It's OK to explore something that hasn't been explored yet,” she says. “To witness this refugee crisis firsthand, to see what such a crisis is doing to the world, you can get involved and step in in some sort of way, whether that just ends up educating yourself or if you come over here and start a thesis, if you join the Peace Corps. Whatever it is, I think it's just important to open your eyes up and see the world and see what you can do with it.”

 

AcademicsCampusResearch

Scholarship Supports Student's Research of Refugees in Germany

Addy McKown '21 has been awarded a scholarship from the Bruce and Lucy Gerstein Holocaust Education Travel Fund.

Apr 03 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Bracket Busting in the Classroom

BY Marc Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Mar 27 2019

If you believe the data, there will be no Cinderella winner of this year's NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments.

Those are the findings of the students in Professor of Pharmacy Practice Chad Knoderer's Bracket Busting class, which focuses on how to use data analytics to make decisions. Knoderer, a Pediatric Pharmacist by training, has been teaching at Butler since 2008—typically in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. But after using some sports-related statistics in his Pharmacy Statistics class and seeing the students' positive reaction to it, he created the Bracket Busting course for Butler's Core Curriculum.

Before the class considered college hoops, they turned to the pros. Early in the semester, the students looked at five years of NBA data to determine where the best places are to shoot from and what kind of shot a player should take (is a catch-and-shoot jumper better than a dribble-drive, pull-up jumper?).

The students were able to see trends over time and better understand why so many NBA teams rely on the three-point shot, as well as shots close to the hoop, from a value standpoint.

Just before spring break, the class turned their attention to March Madness. Knoderer had everyone  predict the top four seeds in each region of the men's bracket. But he gave them data only—no team names attached.

"They just had numbers associated with a team ID," he says. "So Team 956 could have been Duke. It could have been Gonzaga. They didn't necessarily know. They just knew performance data from the season. They knew the type of conference the team came from, but not the actual conference. They had to rank the team just as the selection committee would do."

When the students had ranked teams 1-16, he released the names of each school to go along with the data. Students then could adjust their brackets, if they chose to do so.

In the men’s tournament, most of Knoderer's students chose either Duke University or the University of North Carolina to win it all. (Knoderer picked Gonzaga, though he didn't make his choice strictly through analytics.)

In the women's tournament, the data pointed the students to Notre Dame or the University of Connecticut to cut down the net. (Knoderer picked Baylor, "but not too many were with me," he says.)

"They enjoyed the activity," he says. "A few of them said it was a lot more challenging than they thought—even when they knew which team was which."

After the NCAA unveiled the 2019 bracket, Knoderer assigned his students to predict the outcomes of the first-round games based on data alone. There, the students picked some upsets—"There's been some lean toward St. Mary's over Villanova, and Murray State-Marquette was a game of interest," he says—and learned the difference between choosing with their head versus their heart.

Jaret Rightley, a junior from New Palestine, Indiana, says the class, which combines his passions for statistics and sports, has been a great experience.

“It has changed the way I think about and watch sports, and it has been awesome to see the direct impact that the data actually plays in sports such as basketball and the NCAA tournament,” he says. “I look forward to going to this class each and every day, and I’m excited to see how this class evolves and the role analytics will continue to play in sports moving forward.”

Knoderer says he's also enjoying Bracket Busting, especially because he has an opportunity to teach students he doesn't normally interact with. Most of the students are from outside the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

And he plans to teach the course again this summer—this time using baseball.

AcademicsResearch

Bracket Busting in the Classroom

If you believe the data, there will be no Cinderella winner of this year's NCAA basketball tournaments.

Mar 27 2019 Read more

Stephanie Fernhaber: A Butler Professor Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom

by Sarah Bahr

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

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

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

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

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

“I was shocked,” she says.

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

All in the Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we do to help?, she thought.

A Class of Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Classroom

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

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

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

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

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

Fernhaber does so in her free time as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The catch? They couldn’t use money.

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

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

No Day But Today

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

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

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

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

AcademicsPeople

Stephanie Fernhaber: A Butler Professor Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom

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

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student LifeCampus

Building Balanced Bulldogs

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

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16
Hardesty with Dean Shelley
Giving

College of Education receives $1.25 Million Gift for Scholarships

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Sep 24 2018

Myrtle Hardesty '54 left Butler University before graduating, but the two years she spent as a Bulldog always meant something to her and her family.

So when she died in 2017, at age 95, she left the University a gift of $1.25 million to go toward scholarships in the College of Education.

The Myrtle Browning and James E. Hardesty Endowed Scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students who have financial need, are majors in the College of Education, and have a GPA of 3.0 or better.

"She was one of those people who realized that she had been given a lot in life, and when you're given so much, you should turn around and give back," said Ena Shelley, Dean of the College of Education.
"That was very much what she was about—giving back. We will make sure we do a good job with the gift she has given to us."

Mrs. Hardesty told Dean Shelley she wanted the College of Education at Butler University to have the gift because her mother and father had been so proud of her for getting to Butler and for later becoming a teacher.

Myrtle Browning spent two years at Butler. She married an engineer named James Hardesty—they were together more than 40 years—and moved to New Jersey. She earned her bachelor's and master's in teaching and counseling from Montclair State University, and spent her career as a guidance counselor at the Hubbard Middle School in Plainfield, New Jersey.

In her retirement, she liked to spend time in the art studio in her home. In addition to her monetary gift, she also left one of her paintings to the College of Education.

Dean Shelley visited Mrs. Hardesty at her home in New Jersey in early 2017 and described her as "absolutely darling. I'm so glad I got to meet her. She was such a sweet, sweet woman."

The Dean said the Hardesty gift is going to make it possible for Butler to educate more teachers.

"This is a great step forward in meeting the teacher shortage demands and for us to have some resources to offer students," she said. "This helps our ability to bring more students in to teacher education."

This gift supports the Butler 2020 Strategic Plan which was approved by the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2013. Butler 2020 charts a bold course for Butler’s future through which it will preserve the University’s unique character, distinguish Butler as a school of choice for exceptional students, and increase its national prominence. In support of Butler 2020, the University has invested in new campus facilities, academic programs, and co-curricular offerings. In the past five years, Butler has built the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts and two undergraduate residential communities, Fairview House and Irvington House. In the fall of 2019, the Andre B. Lacy School of Business will open a new 110,000 square foot building. Additionally, Butler is actively fundraising to complete a $93 million Science Complex expansion and renovation. To learn more, visit butler.edu.

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan MFA '18
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Hardesty with Dean Shelley
Giving

College of Education receives $1.25 Million Gift for Scholarships

The Myrtle Browning & James E. Hardesty Endowed Scholarships will be awarded to students with financial need.

Sep 24 2018 Read more
Butler Campus in the Fall
AcademicsCampus

Butler Ranked No. 1 in the Midwest For the First Time by U.S. News & World Report

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Sep 10 2018

For the first time in its history, Butler University has moved into a tie for the No. 1 Regional University in the Midwest, according to the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings released today.

After eight years of being ranked second in the Midwest Regional Universities category, Butler tied for first place with Creighton University, thanks to its high percentage of small classes (52 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students), first-year students who were in the Top 25 percent of their high school class (76 percent), and alumni giving rates (22 percent—higher than any of the 165 schools in the Midwest region).

“Butler is an innovative leader in education,” President James Danko says. “This prestigious ranking affirms that Butler is creating learning experiences for students that support their success and well-being—both during their undergraduate experience and throughout their lives.”

Butler was also ranked the No. 1 Most Innovative School among Midwest Regional Universities for the fourth straight year, as well as the top school for its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

“Butler’s recognition for exceptional teaching is particularly rewarding, since this is determined by leaders at our peer institutions,” Danko says. “To have our faculty highlighted in this manner is a testament to their outstanding work.”

Butler was also listed among the best schools in six out of eight academic programs that U.S. News ranks. The lists for first-year experiences, internships/co-ops, senior capstone, service learning, study abroad, and undergraduate research, all categories that education experts, including staff members of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, believe lead to student success, all included Butler.

Here’s some more information on these categories:

  • First-year experiences are seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis.
  • More than 90 percent of Butler students have at least one internship before they graduate.
  • Senior capstone are culminating experiences that ask students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates what they’ve learned.
  • In service-learning programs, volunteering in the community is an instructional strategy and relates to what happens in class.
  • Study abroad programs involve substantial academic work and considerable interaction between the student and the culture.
  • Undergraduate research gives students the opportunity to do intensive and self-directed research or creative work that results in an original scholarly paper or other product that can be presented on or off campus.

Administrators at regional universities and colleges were surveyed about peer institutions within their regions. The colleges and universities named on the list were cited most often by college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans who were asked to identify up to 15 schools.

Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs, but few doctoral programs. These rankings are split into four regions: North, South, Midwest, and West. U.S. News also ranks National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, and Regional Colleges in the North, South, Midwest, and West.

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

Abiodun
CampusPeople

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 20 2018

INDIANAPOLIS— It started as a friendly wager.

Teacher to pupil. Apply to as many colleges as possible, with the goal of earning at least $1 million in scholarship offers. But the accounts differ, a bit. According to teacher, it was a way for pupil to ‘explore his options.’ According to pupil, it was a way to get ‘$200 to take his girlfriend on a date to Buffalo Wild Wings.’ That’s a lot of wings.

Either way, pupil won the bet. Or, teacher won the bet. Well, those accounts differ, too, depending on who you ask.

Abiodun Akinseye applied to 32 colleges. He finished 28 applications. He was accepted into 30 colleges. Wait, what? Yes, two schools accepted him without a complete application. He has a heaping pile of acceptance letters to prove it, along with the multiple days it took to clean out the 2,000-plus emails he accumulated from different schools. There was Union College, Samford, Wittenberg, Central State, it’s hard for him to remember them all, but most states in the U.S. were covered. At the end of it all, Abiodun had more than $1 million in scholarship offers. And $200 from his teacher.

Genevieve McLeish-Petty wanted Abiodun to push himself. To explore his options. In her 17 years of teaching, she never came across a student quite like Abiodun. She knew the Northwest High School valedictorian was capable of getting into several colleges, but she wanted him to know it, too. So, she threw in a $200 motivator – earn the most scholarship money in the school and get $200. Next thing she knew, it seemed like Abiodun was coming up to her every day with another acceptance letter. And more scholarship money.

In the end, Abiodun chose Butler University. A campus he first stepped foot onto as a 10th grader, he was drawn to Butler’s location, size, Honors Program, and liberal arts education. But most of all, he was drawn to Butler because he knew it would challenge him. And though he made the college application process look easy, his road from Nigeria to Indianapolis was anything but.

“There’s definitely a reason I keep all of those acceptance letters at home in a big box,” says Abiodun, as he scrolls through pictures on his phone until he gets to the one he is looking for – a picture of all the acceptance letters and envelopes piled high. “I want to keep them to show how far I have come and how hard I have worked to get to where I am. I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler. So, it has been good, but challenging, and now I want another challenge.”

I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler.

From Nigeria to the U.S.

Abiodun grew up in Nigeria until he was five. He remembers it well. But he also vividly remembers why his family fled for America.

There was family tragedy. His aunt tried to kill him and his two brothers, so his mother and father moved the family to America. Abiodun still has nightmares about the pain he felt from being poisoned. He felt like he was on fire. About his mom crying next to him when he was laying in the hospital bed.

He also felt guilty for a long time. He was in charge of watching his younger brother when the hitman came and hit his brother with a motorcycle. He blamed himself.

They settled in Indianapolis in 2005. Abiodun remembers the cereal Corn Flakes and wondering what it was. He remembers the music. He definitely didn’t understand the music. The first song he heard was Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and he wasn’t a fan of all the heavy bass. He taught himself English by watching "Sesame Street" daily. His favorite character was Cookie Monster, he could relate to his appetite. Then there was the snow. His family had no idea what the white stuff falling from the sky was. His mom warned him not to touch it. He still prefers summer to winter.

“What’s crazy is I never expected life to be harder in America than in Nigeria,” Abiodun says. “When I came here, things got worse.”

Abiodun was bullied in school. Classmates called him an “African booty scratcher.” They threw paper balls at him, made him feel ashamed of being Nigerian, and made fun of his accent. They asked him if he was related to monkeys, if turning the lights off would make his skin disappear, and if he knew what deodorant was.

He told his mom about the bullying, so he changed schools. But the bullying continued.

“The bullying caused me to be depressed and for years I really didn’t know how to deal with my emotions or my feelings,” he says. “It’s still hard, because the depression turned into anxiety,  and it was all tough.”

The adjustment has been difficult, he says. His family lives in Speedway. His mom and dad are both nurses. He has an older brother and three younger brothers. And quickly, Abiodun realized, academics and art were his refuge.

 

His Escape

Abiodun’s mother told him when he was young that education would be his escape. He says that always stuck with him.

So, when the bullying persisted, and he was down, he would focus on his studies, he says. Education runs in his family. His mom got her Master’s Degree a few years after they moved to the U.S. His dad has his Bachelor’s Degree from Nigeria. His grandmother’s sister has a doctorate in education. His favorite aunt got her Bachelor’s Degree a few years ago in the U.S.

His best friends growing up?

“The characters in books,” Abiodun says. “I spent all my time reading and studying. I would read the dictionary to grow my vocabulary. I love fiction with elements of reality because those books give me the ability to jump from the real world, but not take the full leap to the stars.”

He loves “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and the Percy Jackson series. Usually, if he’s into a book, he will finish it in a few hours.

Drawing runs in his family, too. And it is something that has always helped him with his depression, he says. He started drawing when he was four. His dad taught him how when they lived in Nigeria.

Now, he fills up sketchpad after sketchpad. He makes sure to draw in pen, as opposed to pencil, to avoid overthinking. Pencil, he says, gives him the option to erase.

“Drawing helps me control my emotions,” he says. “It helps me take what is in my head, what is bothering me or what I am thinking about, and get it out and put it on paper in a creative form.”

 

The Last Valedictorian

McLeish-Petty knew about Abiodun before he ever enrolled in her sophomore honors English class at Northwest High School.

She ran the honors program at the school, so she had a whole lot of practice typing out his name. He broke test-score records, was known for his creativity, and of course, for how bright he was. At first, Abiodun was quiet, but as he became more comfortable, he started to challenge the class.

“We read some difficult literature and Abiodun was able to facilitate conversations when I couldn’t get the rest of the class on board,” she says. “He would stir up conversations by playing devil’s advocate, he would make everyone think in different ways. His fascination with certain topics were lightyears ahead of what a high school kid typically thinks about.”

Most students, McLeish-Petty says, just want an answer so they can put it down. Abiodun wanted to know why; he wanted to know what was the point. He was very refreshing, she says.

Then there was the time she tricked Abiodun into joining the drama club when he was a sophomore. It started as him working behind the scenes. She convinced him to design the sets for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Because he is so smart, after a couple days, he knew everyone’s lines and where everyone should be,” McLeish-Petty says. “By the time the show opened, we had some people quit and Abiodun filled in as Grandma Josephine and doubled as an oompa loompa.”

By the time he was a senior, he was the lead in the school play.

Abiodun would end up with a 4.1 GPA. He would deliver the school’s final valedictorian address – the building will shift to a middle school in the fall. He would discuss religion and politics with McLeish-Petty for hours. He won $12,000 when he wrote a two-page essay about his life for a Kiwanis Club scholarship that honors local high schoolers for their resilience.

It wasn’t just teacher helping pupil. Abiodun forever changed McLeish-Petty.

A high school teacher for 17 years, Abiodun got her thinking. If she had been in his life earlier, around the time he started being bullied, she could have tried to make it better much sooner. How many young people are there out there who just need someone to talk to, she started to wonder.

For the first time in 17 years, McLeish-Petty won’t be teaching high school this school year. She will be teaching at Coldspring Elementary School. Something Abiodun inspired.

“Every once in awhile you have a student come through who you know will be in your life way past graduation,” she says. “Abiodun is one of those people. He’s not just smart. He’s self-aware, he wants to have an impact, he will befriend the kid that is sitting alone. I am positive I will still be talking to Abiodun in 15 years.”

 

Change-Maker

It’s a few days before the start of his first year, and Abiodun is walking around Butler’s campus.

He says he feels excited about the start of classes, but definitely a bit anxious. He’ll be taking Spanish – his fourth language (he already speaks English, French, and Yoruba), Calculus, Honors First Year Seminar, and Introduction to Art.

Abiodun plans on majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art and English. He hopes to write a book, and also help others who are going through depression. He’s interested in child psychology, and also art therapy.

“Maybe I will be able to make a change and help,” he says. “I definitely want to write my own book when I’m done with college.”

But that is down the line. For now, he wonders if he will play intramural soccer, maybe join student government, maybe get involved in a video game club. He’s excited for the food on campus. He hopes to make some friends.

He remembers back when he was in 10th grade and came to Butler’s campus for the first time on a school trip.

“I wasn’t that impressed,” he says. “But that’s because I was a judgmental teenager. As I saw more and more schools, I realized how big they were, and crowded, and confusing, and I realized how much I liked Butler. It was a perfect size.”

Here he is, 30 acceptances later. There may be differing accounts about why Abiodun applied to so many schools. But, one thing is clear: he’s up to whatever challenges are ahead.

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Abiodun
CampusPeople

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

30 acceptances later, Abiodun plans a psych major to help others.

Aug 20 2018 Read more