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Spring 2019

John Davies' handwritten letter

Why Have I Given to Butler University?

John Davies ’49

from Spring 2019

In 1944 I was enrolled at Butler as a naïve 17 year old. The war with Japan was still in progress. Thus, most males 18 and over were in the military. As a consequence, the ratio of females to male students was about 5 to 1, which I viewed as the social opportunity of a lifetime. It was not, however, conducive to academic excellence. In short, I never missed a party or a dance, but I did cut a class or two.

It was no surprise when my faculty advisor explained that my only achievement during my first semester as expulsion. He did, however, agree to seek readmission on probation if I agreed to make a radical change of my pursuit of an education. The deal was accomplished.

I worked hard during the next semester and summer school before entering the U.S. Army. After 18 months of service, I was discharged and reenrolled at Butler. It quickly became apparent that Butler was the right school for me – a broad curriculum and a faculty of such quality as to assure a solid education from a variety of disciplines for students who wanted to learn – and yes, that included me. My attitude changed from one of relief if I received a C or a D to one of disappointment if I did not receive an A.

In short, after a rocky start, I became a serious married student. I worked hard and with help from a great Butler faculty, I graduated with honors in 1949.

The fun of university life is undiminished and unforgettable to this day. I have often wondered how life might have been different had I attended a university with a faculty less interested in students and individuals seeking a quality education.

The reason I have given to Butler University is to help other students to achieve the same quality education that I did.

 

To see John's handwritten letter, click here.

John Davies' handwritten letter
Giving

Why Have I Given to Butler University?

  

by John Davies ’49

from Spring 2019

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Maria De Leon

A Lifelong Activist

Sarah Bahr

from Spring 2019

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But she didn’t end up a dropout.

She graduated salutatorian.

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

 

“Will Getting Arrested Keep me From Attending Butler?”

Except she almost didn’t.

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

Will getting arrested keep me from attending Butler?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A DIY Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

But sweetest of all?

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

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

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

 

Look Out, Joe Hogsett

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

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

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

She was asked to serve as president.

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

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

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

Look out, Joe Hogsett.

Maria De Leon
Student Life

A Lifelong Activist

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

by Sarah Bahr

from Spring 2019

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Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

  

Emerson Kampen will never forget Shelvin Mack’s bachelor party in Las Vegas. But before any assumptions are made, Kampen wasn’t even there.

He called his former Butler University roommate and basketball teammate one morning, East Coast time, which must have been, “like 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM Vegas time,” he says, shock still audible in his voice, and Mack picked up.

“I’m in Vegas at my bachelor party,” Mack told Kampen. “I have this paper to do. I’m trying to knock it out this morning.”

And that is when Kampen knew his friend was serious about completing his Butler degree.

“Shel is as motivated as anybody, as self-driven as anybody I have ever met,” says Kampen, who is now an Assistant Coach on the Butler men’s basketball team. “When he says he will get something done, he will, and that attitude carries over to all areas of his life. When he said he was going to make the NBA, he did. When he said he was going to finish his degree, despite the demands of an NBA schedule, I knew he would do it. Now, in Vegas, I don’t know how good the paper ended up being, but I do know he was getting it done.”

Mack, who left Butler after his junior year in 2011, to enter the NBA Draft, has played for six teams, and most recently signed a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. Many players drafted in the second round like Mack have come and gone, but former teammates, coaches, friends, and family members say his work ethic and ambition separate him.

Those same traits that turned him into an 8-year NBA veteran, have motivated him to complete his Butler degree in Digital Media Production, he says. As he sees his sisters graduate, and all his friends flaunt their Butler degrees, as well as his wife, his competitive juices kick in. But it is also more than that—a love of Butler, a desire to better himself, and a promise he made to his mom.

“I always wanted to get my college degree, for myself and for my mom, but it was hard to balance my time when I first got into the league and figure out how to take classes without being at Butler,” Mack says. “Now that everything is sorted out, it was something I knew I had to do because I came to Butler because of the education and the fact that basketball won’t last forever. Now I know taking classes is part of bettering myself and my future.”

 

THE RECRUIT

Brad Stevens remembers meeting Victoria Guy, Shelvin’s mom, for the first time. He was in Lexington, Kentucky visiting Shelvin at his home.

Let’s just say Mack and his mom had slightly different questions as they sat in their living room with Stevens.

“She didn’t care about playing time, or TV games, or what kind of gym we were going to be playing in,” Stevens says. “She wanted Shelvin to get his college degree and work hard in the classroom. She asked about graduation rates and class sizes.”

Stevens had answers. A big part of the presentation at the time focused beyond what the team accomplished on the court, Stevens says.

They talked a lot about how successful players were after they graduated. Stevens shared graduation rates, and players’ majors, and the fact that practices were run around class schedules—not the other way around. 

The answers mattered. At the last second, the University of Kentucky swooped in, Guy says, and Mack was torn. He asked his mom for advice. She wanted the decision to be her son’s, but the only thing she did share with him was the value of a smaller, tight knit campus.

“He stuck with Butler and it worked out perfectly,” Guy says.

So, when Mack told Stevens he was going to finish his degree over a meal last summer, he wasn’t that surprised.

“Shelvin is very, very driven and usually that is hard to turn off. When you have an ambitious kid, they will usually be ambitious in everything they do and he certainly is that,” Stevens says. “I never dreamed he would have been good enough to leave after three years, but he did it because he was determined to.”

But Stevens also knows his mom is right there, ever-present, making sure her son is getting it done.

 

LIFE AT BUTLER

Kampen and Mack first met in 2008, two freshmen on the men’s basketball team in need of physicals. So, they hopped in Kampen’s car and headed to the doctor’s office. They made small talk and Kampen remembers how it wasn’t awkward—Mack always made everyone feel comfortable.

Kampen learned quickly that Mack was determined to make it to the NBA. But, he says, he and others didn’t really see it.

“He was obviously a really good player, but he was a bit chubby when he walked in. We all should have known when he says he will get something done, he will do it,” Kampen says.

Mack’s work ethic was always on display. He spent more time in the gym than anyone else on the team. They would be playing video games and Mack would have a 30-pound weight in his hands, doing curls while the game was loading, or while there was a pause in the game. He was always working.

Kampen wasn’t surprised when he found out Mack was finishing up his degree. He knows how much his friend loves Butler and values education. He also knows he can’t stand to have something go unfinished.

“I think one day he will be a coach,” Kampen says. “I always have tons of texts from him during the season, analyzing what we did in a game, and why we could have done this or done that. He is always the first to let me know about a decision we should have made.”

As a student, Mack took his work very seriously, Christine Taylor, Associate Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism, says. She had Mack as a student in her directing and production classes. Now, Taylor is Mack’s academic advisor.

“He was very well-liked and a great team player in my classes,” Taylor says. “He also put his own creative stamp on the work. He had a creative identity of his own. He took his work seriously and was a very good student. So, when he reached out a few years ago, I was not really surprised at all. It was more about figuring out how we could make it happen logistically.”

 

LIFE IN THE NBA

When Mack decided to leave school early, his mom fully supported him, but said he had five years to finish his degree. As the years marched on, she kept checking on him. Mack claimed he was trying, but certain classes he needed weren’t offered by Butler online at the time, Guy says.

She did some fact checking.

“At first, I wasn’t buying it, so I called Coach Stevens,” Guy says. “I talked to Coach Stevens just to make sure Butler wasn’t offering the classes online and then I felt better.”

In Mack’s defense, it wasn’t just the logistics of figuring how to fulfill his major requirements. After he got drafted in 2011 by the Washington Wizards, by his estimate, he was moving around about once a year. He had a stint with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Jazz, the Orlando Magic, the Memphis Grizzlies, and now the Charlotte Hornets. It was also adjusting to life in the NBA.

“It was something I always wanted to do, but I could never find the time,” Mack says. “I wasn’t great with time management, I was adjusting to NBA life, and probably not spending my time as wisely as I could have.”

Once Mack had his daughter, things changed, he says. He was on a strict schedule, going to bed early, waking up early, working out, taking care of her. Then, he realized, he could work school in. His daughter helped him manage his time, and he wanted to make sure he set a good example for her when it came to education.

Butler also started to work with him. A few years ago, when he tried to work on his degree, classes he needed weren’t offered online. A lot has changed over the last few years, says Taylor, his academic advisor, as more classes are offered online.

“Our philosophy is that we should partner with students so they can reach their goals,” Taylor says. “Obviously there is course work they must fully complete, but people are people and circumstances change for individuals and we will do our best to help them realize their goals of getting a Butler degree. This is simply us recognizing an individuals’ circumstance changes and we are as supportive as we can be within the rules to help them recognize their short and long-term goals.”

With Mack, Taylor sees someone who has a strong love for Butler and desire to complete a degree he has, in large part, already earned.

“For Shelvin, this has been part of the process of his development as a person and what kind of individual he wants to be,” Taylor says. “In times when the larger world is questioning the value of a degree from a four-year institution, I always find it really gratifying that people like Shelvin still place such a high value on education. It has been so uplifting to work with him…He is doing this to better himself because what happens in a classroom makes a difference, and he realizes that. That is really gratifying to know, and it reinforces that the conversations and lessons we have make a difference.”

 

FUTURE PROMISES

This summer, Mack finished his major by taking Entertainment Media and the Law.

He spent a couple months watching YouTube videos of different cases, reading case law, writing papers, learning why some people can sue, and others cannot. And, sometimes forgetting he had assignments due. Like many new students, he had to readjust to college life.

“Luckily, I had plenty of people around me reminding me and keeping me in check,” he says.

This fall, as the NBA season kicks off, Mack will be crisscrossing the U.S. on planes, playing in back-to-back games, and squeezing in time to read his textbooks. He will take two online courses, hoping to complete his degree in the next three years. But most importantly, before his youngest sister, Keionna, graduates in 2020. His mom is quick to remind him that he already missed his middle sister, Sierra, who graduated this past May.

To assure mom he is all over it, he had his textbooks sent to her house ‘by accident’ this summer. She isn’t so sure it was an accident.

“I know the degree isn’t everything, but it opens a lot of doors that won’t otherwise be there for you,” Guy says. “He could break a leg today and basketball could be over. I know he has thought about coaching, broadcast, and I want him to have that degree and those courses to fall back on.”

He will continue to take online courses throughout the season. As of now, he says, he would like a career in broadcast after his playing days are over. But coaching interests him, too. He looks forward to the day when he can just walk in the house and show his wife, a Butler grad and former hoops player, his degree.

But to his mom, who he says drove him around to “a million” basketball tournaments when he was young, and always supported him, it will mean everything.

Asked how she will feel when her son officially graduates from Butler, Guy is quiet for a moment.

“Oh my god. I will be super excited. Super excited. He will be the first male in his generation to have a college degree. He is behind schedule, but he needs to follow through. I need him to be better than average and I know he expects that out of himself, too.”

But there is one more thing that is bothering her. Mack pursuing his degree has motivated his mom to finish her degree. He has always motivated her to go after her dreams, just as she has always motivated him, he says.

“After two years of college, I had my son, and he was my number one priority, so I am going to go back after all of this and get my degree in business management,” Guy says.

Her son has given her a three-year window.   

 

Images courtesy of Shelvin Mack. 

Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens
Athletics

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

NBA Player and former Butler Men's Basketball star Shelvin Mack is committed to completing his Butler degree. 

by Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

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Aaron Hurt

A Legacy Fulfilled

Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

  

To know Aaron Hurt is to understand the way he proposed handling his office décor. After moving into his new space tucked away in a corner on the third floor of Clowes Hall, he was stuck on figuring out ways to dismantle the big screen television fixed to his wall and mount it on a rolling device that the entire Butler Arts Center staff could benefit from. He hypothesized different ways to turn the space into a conference room, saying it was much too large for just himself. And he was concerned that the colors weren’t welcoming enough. In the end, none of these changes were made.

But Hurt did insist on one request.

Donald Hurt's paycheck from 1963
Donald Hurt' on payroll from 1963.

He came across a 1963 art deco painting of opening night at Clowes Memorial Hall. He loves art deco work, but it was about much more than just the style. Hurt’s grandfather was there that night in 1963. Donald Hurt was a member of the projectionist union, and when Clowes was ready to open, he was called to help get the stage ready. He hung the original main curtain and worked the first few shows.

“It’s really bonkers,” Hurt says, as he looks up at the painting on his office wall. “To think that my grandfather was hanging the curtain that night, and now I am sitting in this office working here. It’s really not something I take for granted, and we are going to be hands on and inclusive in how we put our stamp on Butler and the greater community.”

Hurt was officially named Executive Director of the Butler Arts Center on January 1, 2019 after serving as interim executive director since August 2018. But this is a role that, in many ways Hurt has been working toward since he was a little boy, and a role that means so much to so many in his extended family.

“This was in his blood and you can just tell by his enthusiasm that he was born to do this,” President James Danko says. “With Aaron, you can hear his passion when he speaks, and when you hear about his family, it is obvious where that comes from.”

Three years after Hurt’s grandfather hung the first curtain at Clowes Hall, his father, Daniel, hopped on his moped at age 16 and headed from the Eastside of Indianapolis to Clowes for his first ever job, sweeping the floors and holding ladders. Daniel would go on to work at Clowes Hall many times over the years. He also worked the beloved summer theater series on the football field.

Aaron was born into a family of projectionists. He was exposed to film, the arts, and theater from a young age, and often went with his father to work. But he first remembers Clowes Hall when he saw his sister, an opera singer, perform there.

“Butler has been a part of our lives for years and for Aaron, this is a scene he has been around since he was in diapers,” Daniel says. “Aaron would come with us to his sister’s performances and practices. It is pretty amazing when you think about it because the connection goes all the way back to my father hanging that curtain. Aaron grew up on this. We are all tied to Butler and Clowes.”

Hurt wanted to run a venue for as long as he can remember, he says. As an arts administration major at Butler, he learned that he could make a career out of running the programming and operations of a place. After graduating in 2008, Hurt worked for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and then made his way back to Butler in 2013, as part-time manager of the Schrott Center. He became full-time later that year, serving as the operations manager. In 2016, after the Butler Arts Center was established, Hurt was promoted to Director of Operations.

He took over as interim Executive Director of the Butler Arts Center in August 2018. When Danko was evaluating what to do about the permanent executive director position, the positive feedback about Hurt was overwhelming.

“Aaron’s passion and enthusiasm for this type of role, coupled with the extraordinary esteem he is held in made him far and away the optimal choice for this position,” Danko says. “I am very excited about him and his potential. It is like an NFL team looking for that young coach who will be a star in 20 years.”

So now, Hurt will work to put his stamp on the place that has been a major part of his and his family’s lives for so long. Something that he called both terrifying and incredible. The goals are numerous.

Donald Hurt backstage at Clowes Memorial Hall
Donald Hurt backstage at Clowes Memorial Hall

Hurt has four major focuses—find new ways to make money, form better partnerships, engage more with the Indianapolis market, and create improved University programming. But, he says, it really does come down to one thing.

The goal is to make the Butler Arts Center an authentic hub for arts programming for all different communities in town. For example, next season, ticket prices will start at $19. This adjustment, he says, is a way to make shows more accessible for a much wider group.

“I want us to be known as open and inviting. I want people to leave happy and to have experienced something they couldn’t have experienced anywhere else in the city,” Hurt says. “That is what Clowes originally was when it started.”

And Hurt would know. He grew up learning about Clowes and hearing about Clowes from a grandfather and father who were there from the beginning. Now, Hurt is ready to take Clowes back to that original model—collaborative and inviting. Just the way he likes his office décor.

Aaron Hurt
Arts & Culture

A Legacy Fulfilled

    A job more than his lifetime in the making.

by Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

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Research Lab Participants

Exploring the Unanswered

Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

 

 

In the depths of Gallahue Hall, 14 Butler University undergrads work to make the vaccines for a leading cause of infant mortality worldwide actually effective. But first, with the Backstreet Boys harmonizing about wanting it that way in the background, they need some really good ice.

The students are studying strains of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, for which there is no vaccine. There certainly are people looking for one, Assistant Professor of Biology Chris Stobart, also known as ‘Doc’ in this lab, explains. Lots of people. Major research universities and pharmaceutical companies alike are working to bring the first RSV vaccine to market. For them, Stobart says, the keys are to make sure their vaccine candidate is safe and effective. But these researchers are overlooking a major issue. Enter— Butler University.

RSV breaks down even at refrigeration temperature. That matters because the vaccines needed for infants require a live virus. Those chasing an RSV vaccine, Stobart explains, are so caught up with being first, they aren’t so focused on making sure it will actually last once it leaves the factory.

“Everyone has their eyes on the prize—the vaccine,” Stobart says. “But the key question that underlies how vaccines work is being ignored. They have to be stable, safe, and immunogenic. You need all three things to make a vaccine work. Without the answers coming from our lab, you only have two elements.”

So, here we are, back to the ice, back to the basement in Gallahue, and back to the Backstreet Boys. The thing everyone is overlooking is this whole temperature thing.

And Stobart would know. He was one of the overlookers. ‘Doc’ used to be in the business of finding vaccines. That’s how he realized such an important question was being ignored. As a postdoctoral research fellow at Emory University, he was on the hunt for an RSV vaccine. While doing that research, he realized that no one was worrying about whether or not that vaccine would actually last more than a day. So, he started going against the grain and decided to use a different strain of RSV for his vaccine. He got lucky, he says, and the strain he chose ended up being more stable than the strain that everyone else is using. His vaccine, which should enter clinical trials next year, would last longer than the vaccines being developed by most other research labs.

Now, he and his army of Butler undergrads are digging deeper into the very questions Stobart stumbled upon: What makes some RSV strains more resistant than others, and what strain of RSV would make it least susceptible to temperature variations?

This is the work of the Stobart Lab. But it is hardly just a place where major scientific questions are being answered. MCAT prep happens here. Trivia nights happen here. Ideas for other research projects happen here—five experiments are taking place right now. And, on occasion, naps take place here, thanks to a new couch on loan from a student’s family. First-year students through seniors mill in and out of the lab in the basement of Gallahue Hall on any given day or night. Just ask Jenna Nosek ’20, who storms in on a recent Tuesday afternoon.

“I have spent 19 hours in here the past few days: don’t test me, Sean [a fellow lab mate],” she jokes, and with that, she is out, the two lab mates laughing, as she makes her way out the door.

“I have told her to back off on the hours,” Stobart says. “But she is the expert in the lab right now on HPMV, another human respiratory virus we are researching. On her own, she brought this virus to Butler to study. She is essentially teaching us all, myself included, how this virus works and behaves.”

But at its core, this is research at Butler. Undergrads and faculty members teaming up to come up with, and then explore, the unanswered, overlooked questions that are vital to their field of study, but go ignored at larger, more research-focused institutions—where there is constant pressure to publish on hot topics, but not necessarily on the more nuanced, just as vital, questions.

“The primary goal of our research at Butler is to provide an environment for our undergrads to understand what science is, how it’s performed, and how it’s used in our world. We use science and research as a teaching tool,” Stobart says. “But the second goal, which is no less important, is to provide answers to the scientific community that still move the community forward. They don’t have to all be big answers, but they have to be answers nonetheless.”


 

Student working in the labFor Kate Morris, it’s really simple. Higher education boils down to two things: teaching, and the production of new knowledge. The way to produce new knowledge, according to Morris, Butler’s Provost since 2012, is through research. And not just the traditional type of research that most people envision when they hear the word. It goes beyond beakers, test tubes, and chemicals. Research might be in a lab, of course, but it also takes the form of writing, literary analysis, anything that produces new information.

“The way I think about it is if we aren’t doing research, we aren’t doing our jobs as teachers,” Morris says. “Research is the production of new information that will be taught in tomorrow’s classrooms. We are always looking for faculty who are active scholars, furthering their disciplines, and who are furthering their disciplines while also teaching their undergrad students how to do that.”

But what makes Butler unique, she says, is the way it tackles each of these goals. At larger institutions, faculty tend to prioritize knowledge production, and teaching lags behind. Research is done with grad students, and it’s not a form of teaching, but rather a way to get recognition in major journals and move up within the institution and, subsequently, the field. Undergrads rarely get the opportunity to put their stamp on the project, she says.

At smaller institutions, Morris says, undergrads act like grad students. They have the chance to develop their own projects. But it’s much more than just a small school versus large school thing. Butler is unique in its offerings, she says.

While Stobart’s lab might be one of the largest on campus, it’s hardly the only research cooking.

Tara Lineweaver, Professor of Psychology, started a project in 2014 that looks at music’s impact on dementia patients. Since its inception, 156 students across all disciplines have been involved.

Assistant Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism Ryan Rogers started a Sports Media Research Group in fall 2018, along with Associate Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism Lee Farquhar.

The point, Rogers says, was to look deeper into different facets of sports media. The group published a paper on the impact of sponsors on esports, and recently presented their findings in Las Vegas at the annual Broadcast Education Association convention.

And sometimes the researchers extend beyond the Butler campus. Butler senior Political Science and Criminology major Julio Trujillo ’19 is working on a research project with Political Science Professor Siobhan McEvoy-Levy and three high school students from the Butler-Tarkington community. The crew got together as part of Butler’s Desmond Tutu Peace Lab, which McEvoy-Levy directs, and the Lab’s dedication to undergrad research and dialogue. They’re studying perceptions of career barriers according to minority youth.

Then there’s the telescope. Since 2008, Professor of Physics and Astronomy Brian Murphy has teamed up with Professor of Physics and Astronomy Xianming Han to produce 65 journal publications. And 29 of those have student co-authors. Topics of study range from the short- and long-term behavior of astronomical phenomena, to the rotation periods of asteroids, to the pulsating variables of stars, to the eclipsing variables of stars. All of the scholarship was made possible by a gift in 2008 from Frank Levinson ’75 which enabled Butler to join the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy. Since then, Murphy says, research involvement in astronomy has ballooned.

“In today’s world, coursework may give you the knowledge you need for a career, but coursework alone will only get you so far,” Murphy says. “Research gives those intangibles. It can be described as flying by the seat of your pants, not knowing what is around the next corner. And for that matter, trying to figure out how to get around the next corner. The problem-solving skills learned from doing original research can be transferred to any field.”

Look no further than Murphy’s former student, Katie Hannigan ’08. The former Theatre major got involved at the Holcomb Observatory on some projects and, Murphy says, gleaned different skills, like speaking in front of crowds, and presenting complex information, like research.

Hannigan is now a standup comedian, and recently performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (Read Hannigan’s story on Page 6.)


 

Stobart supervises students in the labMarisa Miller ’19 understands firsthand why research matters.

She has no memory of the details—she was just three months old—but her mom reminds her often. It started as a cough in the middle of the night. But, quickly escalated, and soon she was struggling to breathe.

Miller ended up in a hospital for a week, diagnosed with RSV. She was quarantined to a tent within the hospital for three days. After those first few days, her parents were allowed to hold her, but they had to put on the same gear a surgeon wears. They were terrified, Miller says, that she wouldn’t make it to her first birthday.

“When I was growing up, it was just something that happened to me that I knew was very bad. But I don’t think I understood how bad it is, and how many people it impacts,” Miller says.

Now, she does. Her Butler roommate is Darby DeFord, one of the students in the Stobart Lab working on the RSV research, and a co-lead author on the paper the group has submitted to the Journal of General Virology.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for children under age 1 in the United States. As Miller explains, it presents itself like the flu, or other common colds, but can be deadly for the elderly or the young. In the United States, RSV leads to more than 2 million outpatient visits, and about 60,000 hospitalizations every year for children under age 5, according to the CDC.

That explains the race for a vaccine. But it doesn’t explain the problems inherent in that race, Stobart says.

As teams all over the world work to be the first to bring a vaccine to market, he explains, to solve a very real clinical need, most are using the same strain of RSV in these vaccine preparations. There are 1,000s of different strains of RSV circulating in nature, and each strain differs subtly. But the focus is just on creating a vaccine, not on all the different strains, how they behave, what makes them different, and which might make the best vaccine candidate, he says.

Enter the Stobart Lab.

They are the first group to thoroughly focus their research on how different strains behave, Stobart says. The group of 10 undergrads who will all be co-authors on the journal paper found that the warmer it gets, the more quickly RSV breaks down. But, they also found that certain strains are more resilient to temperature than others. And the strain that is being used in many vaccine candidates currently is not the best candidate.

The popular strain, A2, used in many vaccine candidates, has a half-life of 17 hours. So after 17 hours, half the virus will be ineffective. The Butler students found that a different strain, A2-line19F, is much more resilient to temperature, and has a half-life of 135 hours.

“We’re talking about something that’s much more effective. And what it suggests is there may be promise for finding an even better platform to use.” Stobart says.


 

Student working in the labRusty Jones cannot decide where to begin. There are so many different options.

Jones is the Faculty Director of the Center for High Achievement and Scholarly Engagement (CHASE) at Butler. His office oversees many of the different options for undergrads to get involved in research at Butler. And Jones cannot decide where to begin.

There’s the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). It’s one of the largest and longest running undergraduate research conferences in the country, and Butler has played host for 31 years. Faculty serve as moderators, but it’s undergrad-focused, as well as interdisciplinary. Students from across the country flock to Indianapolis to present, Jones says.

Then there’s the Butler Summer Institute.

Students get a $4,500 stipend to work on a research project for nine weeks during the summer. The projects are guided by a faculty member, but the ideas are student-driven. It’s a competitive process, as a committee of faculty members select up to 30 participants from all the student applicants.

New this year, Jones explains, is the CHASE Scholars program. It is, essentially, the Butler Summer Institute, but the research occurs during the academic year. The program funds four participants across campus.

It’s nearly impossible to say how many students participate in research at Butler, Jones says, because not all do it through one of these programs. There are plenty of students who get involved in a more informal manner with one of their professors. But, he says, it’s safe to say the majority of students across all disciplines participate at some point during their college experience.

“The biggest thing about our programs is everyone has a faculty member working closely with them, as students dive into topics they are passionate about,” Jones says. “The strength of Butler comes from the opportunities students get to forge one-on-one working relationships with faculty, and that faculty are willing to take this on because they know how valuable it is to the educational experience.”


 

Coming into Butler as a first-year student, Darby DeFord ’19 had no idea what research even was. Now, as a senior, she is the first co-author on the RSV paper.

The senior Biology and Chemistry major has worked in the Stobart Lab since she was a sophomore. Since then, she has presented on the team’s findings at several conferences, including the Butler URC, and in Maryland at the American Society for Virology Annual Meeting.

Next year, she will work in a lab at Washington University in St. Louis studying RSV. Looking at stability. And after that? She plans to pursue her MD/PhD.

“Dr. Stobart connected me with the person I will be working for at Wash U. I was starting to look for jobs and I texted him for some help, and by the next day he’d sent my name to a bunch of his contacts. Within a few days, I was connected with Wash U,” DeFord says. “That’s Dr. Stobart. He’s so much more than just a professor. He’s a mentor, he’s someone who’s willing to help us with anything we need.”

Juniors Sean Callahan and Ben Nick have the MCAT in five weeks. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, as they run an experiment under the watchful eye of ‘Doc,’ they ask him for help with the reading comprehension section. Callahan is not too keen on that section.

The lab consists of a mix of seniors, juniors, sophomores, and first-year students. Some want to go to med school, some want to be dentists, some optometrists, some PhD tracks. But there is one common thread: most had no plans of getting involved in research before coming to Butler.

“I always thought I wanted to be a doctor,” explains Jenna Nosek, a junior Biology and Classical Studies major with a Chemistry minor. “Everyone comes to college with the same jobs in mind. But then, research opened my eyes to all the different opportunities available to me, and all the different things you can learn about. I realized you can study the most random things and that can be your life’s work. It can be your job to study something that you are really interested in, that is really impactful, and you can enjoy it more than a job. Research has been eye-opening.”

Nosek first met Stobart when she had him as a professor in her first semester genetics course. He told her to interview for his lab. So she went home for fall break, thought about it, and talked it over with some cousins.

They told her she would never get into a research lab. She was just an undergrad. Those spots were reserved for grad students, they told her.

Nosek interviewed anyway.

She was shocked when she got in, she says. Now she is an author on two papers, is regularly in the lab at 3:00 AM, has presented the findings at conferences in Maryland and Minnesota, and worked in a research lab last summer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She was just accepted to a biomedical summer research program at Harvard University.

Oh, and she no longer wants to be a doctor.

“I realized you can be a professor and do research,” Nosek says. “There are so many different things you can study that aren’t explained to you until you get to school, get into the lab, and see these things firsthand, and that’s exactly what happened to me. Now I realize I can do what I enjoy every single day as a profession.”

Which sounds eerily similar to what got everyone in this basement in the first place. You know, the place with the ice, and, yes, those Backstreet Boys.

You see, ‘Doc’ was all set to be a, well, doctor. He was on the pre-med path, but then decided he wanted to teach and research. That is why he left his RSV vaccine candidate, and instead decided to answer those unanswered, overlooked questions he realized were being ignored. So now he is surrounded by undergrads who call him ‘Doc,’ and ask him mid-experiment what is more filling, McDonalds or Taco Bell.

“When I left Emory, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved both teaching and research,” Stobart says. “I always intended to be pre-med, but then I decided teaching was important to me. Butler fits the mold of a school I wanted because it has a research system that is amenable to undergrad research. I can’t do the stuff that is high-end, detailed research, because undergrads come in and don’t have the skills yet. They are new. They don’t have the science background yet. But I knew I wanted a system that would involve simple experimental assays, but still would have the impact and make meaningful contributions to the scientific community while teaching important lessons. I think we are doing that here.”

Research Lab Participants
AcademicsResearch

Exploring the Unanswered

by Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

Read more
Brett Atkin, Nick Batalis, Darren Fowlkes, Cory Kahoun, Pat Neshek, the 1997 Men’s Basketball team, and Ralph Reiff

Five former student-athletes, one team, and a long-time supporter of the athletics program were inducted into the Butler University Athletics Hall of Fame in October.

Selected as Butler’s 28th Hall of Fame Class are former student-athletes Brett Atkin (men’s golf, 1991–1995), Nick Batalis (football, 1995–1998), Darren Fowlkes (men’s basketball, 1986–1989), Cory Kahoun (men’s lacrosse, 1995–1999), Pat Neshek (baseball, 2000–2002), the 1997 Men’s Basketball team, and Special Service Award recipient Ralph Reiff.

“We are proud to welcome the Class of 2018 inductees into the Butler University Athletics Hall of Fame,” says Barry Collier, Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics. “This is another collection of accomplished individuals and a team, all of which inspired the Butler community during their time on campus and in their days since as tremendous representatives of The Butler Way.”

The Butler Hall of Fame was created in 1991 to provide a forum in which those who have brought honor and respect to Butler University and its athletic program could be acknowledged and permanently enshrined in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Inductees have made exceptional contributions to the prestige of the University in the field of athletics, and continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by athletics. The 2018 Class will bring the membership of the Butler Hall of Fame to 213 individuals and 12 teams.

For more on this year's Hall of Fame class, read the full release.

Students at Graduation

Graduation Day can be a whirlwind of activity and emotion as you bid farewell to your years as a Butler student. Perhaps you recall the nervous feeling as you processed into the crowded room, hoping you were in the right spot. Maybe it’s the pride you felt as you switched the tassel on your cap from right to left that’s stayed with you. Or the anticipation as the reading of the graduates’ names inched closer to yours.

What you may not recall, however, is the name of that prominent person who delivered your Commencement Address. Here are the last 50 years’ Spring Commencement speakers to help refresh your memory.

 

2018, David Brooks, political and cultural commentator

2017, Dr. John C. Lechleiter, Chairman of the United Way Board Worldwide

2016, Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, CEO, My Stroke of Insight, Inc.

2015, Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor, founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center

2014, Brad Stevens, Head Coach, Boston Celtics

2013, John Green, author, vlogger, producer, and educator

2012, Richard Stengel, Managing Editor, Time Magazine

2011, Dr. Bobby Fong, President, Butler University

2010, Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General minister and president of the Christian Church

2009, Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana

2008, Dr. Susan Solomon, Atmospheric chemist

2007, Dr. Eugene White, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools

2006, James McBride, author and composer

2005, Dr. Robert Funk ’47, MA ’51, Director of the Westar Institute

2004, Mari Evans, poet, writer, and dramatist

2003, Evan Bayh, U.S. Senator, Indiana

2002, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

2001, Dr. Bertice Berry, sociologist, author, lecturer, and educator.

2000, Dr. Geoffrey Bannister, President, Butler University

1999, Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, first woman ordained a rabbi in Reconstructionist Judaism

1998, Randall L. Tobias, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company

1997, Frank O’Bannon, Governor of Indiana

1996, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., American author

1995, Dr. James A. Thom ’60, historical author

1994, Raymond Leppard, Music Director and Conductor, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

1993, Evan Bayh, Governor of Indiana

1992, William Warfield, renowned baritone and actor

1991, Stephen A. Briganti ’64, President and COO, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

1990, Arpad Goncz, playwright; member, Hungarian Parliament

1989, Dr. Geoffrey Bannister, President, Butler University

1988, Ulric Haynes, Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

1987, Sarah Evans Barker, Judge, United States District Court

1986, John Beversluis, Professor of Philosophy, Butler University

1985, Richard G. Lugar, U.S. Senator from Indiana

1984, James T. Watt, Associate Professor of English

1983, John G. Johnson, President, Butler University

1982, John G. Johnson, President, Butler University

1981, John G. Johnson, President, Butler University

1980, Hugh S. Sidey, Washington Contributing Editor, TIME Magazine

1979, Dr. Russell W. Peterson, President and CEO, National Audubon Society

1978, Norman Cousins, American journalist

1977, Philip Handler, President, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC

1976, Kenneth E. Boulding, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado

1975, The Honorable Barry M. Goldwater, U.S. Senator

1974, Lt. Gen. Felix M. Rogers, Commander, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base

1973, Dr. Loren C. Eiseley, Professor of Anthropology and History of Science

1972, Neil A. Armstrong, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Cincinnati

1971, William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

1970, Victor Borge, musician

1969, The Honorable John A. Volpe, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation

Jordan Thomas ’14

Mastering Risk Management and Insurance

Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2019

“I’m nearing the five-year mark in my industry, and the opportunities I’ve been given at such a young age have been extraordinary.”

That’s how Jordan Thomas ’14 sums up the value of his Butler Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) undergraduate degree— and why he joined the first-ever cohort in the University’s new Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) degree program.

“This industry will see a big need for talent very soon,” Thomas says. “People like me could be in management in just a few years if we have the training. Butler’s master’s program is the answer to that need.”

 

A ‘First-Class’ First Cohort

This two-year learning opportunity prepares individuals for advanced roles in corporate risk management and for new roles within the growing insurance field. Other than two In Residence Experiences, all classes are online with no set schedule, accessible at each student’s convenience. The degree is administered by the Lacy School of Business through its Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program (RMI).

Thomas serves on the Davey board, working closely with faculty to bring professionals into the classroom. He’s been impressed not just with the accredited curriculum, but with how eager faculty were to teach it.

One of those faculty is Davey Chair Dr. Victor Puleo, one of the people most instrumental in creating the MSRI program. He says the breadth of talent within this first cohort is “exhilarating and a little intimidating,” with over 200 years of combined experience in the group.

“We have a Fortune 500 company’s risk manager, a vice president of a multinational insurance company, and leaders from some of the largest insurance carriers in the country,” Puleo says. “With all that knowledge, we’ll be able to have collaborative learning at very high levels. This is a first-class group.”

 

Deep Curriculum Fills Knowledge Gaps

Butler’s Student-Run Captive Insurance Company will further deepen students’ learning by exploring alternative risk financing and a side of the industry few graduates elsewhere study: dealing with a foreign country’s regulatory requirements.

Moreover, the curriculum includes courses from the Butler MBA program, strengthened with content specific to this industry.

“Butler is filling the vacuum between nitty-gritty insurance classes and what we need to be the next generation of managers,” Thomas says. “For example, beyond being able to do a firm’s accounting, I’ll learn how to increase profitability using its vast warehouses of data. That kind of knowledge will boost my ability to be recognized for higher positions within the company.”

Because the program has “phenomenal flexibility,” Thomas says, he will take classes while keeping his full-time job as Associate Manager with Everest Insurance in Chicago.

“I am absolutely excited about Butler’s MSRI program. The industry is growing every day, and Butler is doing something truly special,” he says. “The program has the industry buzzing with excitement, too, and we’re making headlines across the nation. Personally, I’m proud to be an alumnus and proud to be part of the first cohort. This degree will do nothing but help my career move forward.”

 

For more information on the MSRI program, visit butler.edu/msri.

Jordan Thomas ’14
Academics

Mastering Risk Management and Insurance

Alumnus sees new master’s degree as path to promotability.

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2019

Read more
John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00

So Strong a Bond

Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

As you glanced around at Butler University’s Homecoming tailgate, alumni donning their Bulldog gear stretched as far as you could see in all directions in a sea of blue.

Yet there was something that stood out about one pair walking arm-in-arm at the autumn gathering in 2018. Though it’s not the many years of age that he has on her, nor the inches in height she has on him.

It’s their beaming faces. Because whenever John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00 are together, it’s clear they are enjoying the kind of bond you wish to have with your favorite family member: caring, enthusiastic, with every moment treasured.

And it all started with a scholarship letter more than 20 years ago.

“One day it was just in my mailbox at ResCo. I had no idea what The John Davies Family Scholarship even was,” Williams says, recalling the moment from her junior year at Butler. “Now, Butler is not cheap and my parents and I were working hard to keep me enrolled. That’s why it was such a blessing.”

Presented with an option to reply, Jennifer chose to write back. To directly thank John Davies and his wife, Margie.

Davies, not expecting a response, was delighted. “We had no idea what would happen, we just knew we wanted to give back to Butler and help a few people get a great education there like I did,” he says. “But there weren’t any guidelines on how to proceed, so Margie and I just decided to write back again.”

That’s how it all began. Two individuals, states away from one another, corresponding on the basis of both loving Butler.

“I knew I was going to respond because that’s how my parents raised me. But it was so exciting because they just kept on writing back. Neither one of us knew what was going to happen,” Williams says. “Now I know them so well that members of my family will ask about them. ‘Oh, John? Margie? How’re they doing?’ They’re family. My angels.”

That bond was built gradually and naturally with a simple routine. Several times each year, the Davies would call and let Williams know when they’d be back in Indianapolis from Florida. She would clear her schedule and pick them up for lunch, with the conversation always carrying on long after the plates were cleared.

Since then, she’s stayed at their home in Florida, accompanied them to Butler basketball games where they talk basketball strategy—“she knows a whole lot more than me,” Davies happily admits—and have maintained the lunch routine for more than two decades.

The friendship is still growing. When hearing them actively sift through the significance of their bond, it’s clear that their trust in one another means more now than it ever has.

“We lost Margie a few years ago, and that was devastating,” Williams says after pausing to reflect. “I guess I thought they would last forever because I knew that my love for them would.”

Davies, in the wake of the loss, remains incredibly grateful for the moments they all shared together. To him, every memory is very much alive, still bringing him joy in the moment—his voice sparkles through the phone as he looks back.

“I remember—back in 2002, I think, but don’t quote me, I’m old—I was put up for an alumni recognition award. Williams was elected to provide the introduction, which was written for her. But she went off script and left us stunned,” Davies says. “She spoke of the love, laughter, and friendship we share. She’s the reason we kept on giving through the scholarship.”

That ceremony was just one of many moments that Williams intends to keep holding on to with Davies.

“I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to travel up here alone, so our chats now are especially cherished. I cancel any plans I have standing in the way when he comes to town,” Williams says. “Who knew that choosing to come to Butler would be the start of a bridge that connected two unlikely sources for a lifelong friendship?”

That’s why Williams is giving back now. In every facet of life, and especially as a Guidance Counselor at North Central High School in Indianapolis. Whether it’s giving money or time, she is more aware than most of the kind of impact that mentorship can have on a young person, even if the pairing is odd to begin with. And it’s why she scoffs at anyone who wouldn’t choose to write back.

“Those people have no idea what they’re missing. No matter what you put in, it can grow 20, 50, or a hundredfold,” Williams says. “Their love and life story has become mine.”

 

To read John Davies' handwritten letter about why he gives to Butler University, click here.

John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00
People

So Strong a Bond

  

by Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

Read more
Doug Boles ’88

On Track

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

Doug Boles ’88 is right where he belongs—in the corner office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with windows that look out on the back side of turn 1 and the entry to the short chute on the south end.

“It’s not the greatest view in the world,” the Speedway President says with a smile. “But it’s not the worst view, either.”

A lifelong auto-racing fanatic, Boles is a guy who chose Butler University in part because of its proximity to the track.

. . . Who, when he would hear cars testing their engines, would finish his classes, grab a burger, head to the track and do his homework in the Speedway museum parking lot.

. . . Who created a Motorsports Task Force when he worked for Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

. . . Who helped start a racing team, Panther Racing, which won 15 races and two championships while he was part of it.

. . . Who cares so much about the Speedway that—well, we’ll let three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser tell you that one.

“I’ve seen him on what they call the Coke Lot and he’s down there picking up trash,” Unser says. “I could not believe this. Not with a stick, not with some guy who works for him following him. No, just doing it himself. He’s that way. He’ll stop and talk to you. He wants to know how you are. Who would ever, ever, ever do that? This guy’s the boss, and he isn’t doing it to impress somebody. He’s doing it because it’s his track to run. I thought that was more than amazing. Nobody’s like Doug Boles.”

Boles traces his influences to a home where auto racing and Butler University were the cultural touchstones. His parents, Jeff and Susie, and a great aunt are Butler alumni. So are most of his parents’ friends. Both of his sisters went to Butler, as did their husbands.

Still, Boles was preparing to attend DePauw University when Butler swim coach Bob Waymouth offered a partial scholarship.

He joined Lambda Chi, the closest fraternity to Hinkle Fieldhouse (“With those 5:00 AM swim practices, you could sleep in five minutes longer”), worked as a campus tour guide, and majored in Journalism. An internship on the Indianapolis Star obituary desk convinced him that “I’m not sure this is for me,” so he followed his other love—politics—into a job doing public relations for the Indiana House Republicans.

Boles went from the Statehouse to the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, where he worked as Director of Governmental and Corporate Affairs, and on the side managed the Indianapolis Motorsports Task Force. In that role, he met ESPN producer Terry Lingner, who hired Boles to be a producer’s spotter on the weekends for ESPN Racing.

Through that job, Boles met a mechanic named John Barnes, who proposed the idea of starting a team.

After help from attorney Jack Swarbrick (now Athletic Director at University of Notre Dame) pitching Pennzoil sponsorship, Boles became part of a team along with Barnes, Lingner, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and auto dealer Gary Pedigo.

Boles spent 10 years with the team—and earned his law degree from Indiana University in 2000—but the travel and constant workload began taking its toll. He sold his interest in Panther Racing to spend more time with his wife, Beth, and family. He worked as a consultant for three years, then joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010 as Director of Communications.

That role expanded to Director of Communications and Vice President of Communications for all of Hulman & Company—the Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and Clabber Girl. In 2013, he became Chief Operating Officer (COO), and that summer he was named President—a job that typically had gone to ownership or family.

It seems like the culmination of a lifelong dream, but as Boles tells people, “You couldn’t dream about this job because you never would have thought it would be an opportunity.”

It’s worked out well for him, the Speedway, and Butler. Danny Kibble, Butler’s Executive Director of Alumni and Engagement Programs, says the University is “fortunate that someone such as Doug, who has achieved such incredible international success, continues to remain involved with Butler University.”

Looking back at his achievements at the Speedway so far, Boles is most proud of his team’s effort to sell out the 100th running of the 500 in 2016 (a crowd of 350,000-plus), bringing in the Rolling Stones for a July 4, 2015 concert that attracted 55,000 fans, and spending roughly $120 million on grandstand upgrades and infrastructure improvements.

He keeps reminders of the renovations in his office, including a rusty beam that had collapsed into the grandstand and a “core sample” of the track that includes an original brick along with all the layers of pavement that had been added over the years. The thing looks like a bricks-and-mortar lasagna.

Beyond racing, for the past three years now, the Speedway has presented Lights at the Brickyard, an event that lets cars drive around the 2.5-mile track and look at some 3 million holiday lights. More than 150,000 people took the opportunity in its first year, 2016—and about half of those had never been to the track.

Boles’ efforts have earned the admiration of his peers.

“Doug’s passion and energy around motorsports is infectious,” says Chip Wile, President of the Daytona International Speedway. “He is always thinking about ways to be innovative at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and create an exciting environment for fans when they visit his iconic track.”

Boles says that’s the challenge he faces—to stay relevant, grow new audiences, and make sure the IMS is active beyond the month of May when the Indianapolis 500 takes over.

“We’re the Hinkle Fieldhouse of racetracks,” he says. “The question is: How do you take what is essential to your DNA and promote that? You can make subtle changes,” Boles says, “but you can’t walk away from who you are.”

Doug Boles ’88
People

On Track

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

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Brandon Gaudin ’06

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

Luck is a word that Butler University graduate and play-by-play sportscaster Brandon Gaudin ’06 just can’t stop saying.

“I’m lucky, and I realize that,” he says, reflecting on the adventure that began when he was young. “No one has had bigger cheerleaders, bigger mentors, and better friends throughout this entire walk.”

His walk started at age 7 on October 24, 1991—the day his parents took the family to World Series Game 5, Braves vs. Twins.

“When I walked into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, that is when I fell in love with sports.”

And he fell fast, and hard. Gaudin devoured the Atlanta Braves’ 1992 season at home in Evansville, Indiana, on TBS, constructing a bat and ball from the cardboard of a paper towel roll and a wadded-up balloon and making an outfield fence with pillows. He mimicked Braves announcer Skip Caray and hoped to follow in his footsteps.

And he has—as a play-by-play announcer for FOX and BTN and the voice of the Madden NFL videogame for EA Sports.

Brandon Gaudin calling a game at Hinkle FieldhouseGaudin has always known what he wanted to do, and when he first visited Butler, he realized the University could provide a foundation for his future success.

“What I saw in Butler was potential,” he says. “I knew at Butler that I would be an individual. Butler would provide me a chance to get a lot of hands-on experience earlier than I might have been able to at a bigger school.”

And experience, he got: During his years on campus, Gaudin took on two majors and two minors, interned at ESPN, and was named a Top 10 Male Student.

After graduating, he went right to work, putting in time broadcasting Single-A baseball south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Though not a glamorous start, Gaudin says, “I had no grand expectations of graduating from college and being on national television within six months, and I wouldn’t have wanted that. I feel very fortunate for the journey I’ve had.”

That journey led him to serve as the play-by-play voice of Butler Basketball, where he could allow his pride for the Bulldogs to shine through. He moved on in 2013 to become the voice of Georgia Tech’s football and basketball programs, and eventually to the national stage he’s on now.

Along the way, he’s been on the mic for a few special endings, like the University of Michigan’s buzzer-beating win over the University of Houston in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

It’s the same call he made thousands of times years ago in his living room.

“When those moments have happened, my mind always travels back to acting them out as a child all those years ago in Evansville.”

Today, as a national television and radio broadcaster, he is still practicing. Like the little kid listening to Skip Caray, Gaudin as an adult admires the three gold standards of the industry: Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, and Joe Buck.

“Those are individuals I’m always trying to glean something from. So when I was asked to voice the Madden video-game, one of the many things that was so special was that Jim Nantz did it before I did.”

If Gaudin is lucky to be where he is today, it is because he ensures preparation meets opportunity. He works hard to blend the art and science of calling games. The groundwork of gathering statistics is a science. The art comes into play when he turns on the microphone to tell a story.

“You have a ton of stuff committed to memory, but if Kamar Baldwin is up at the free-throw line and I want to tell a story about him, I can look down at all the notes I have and weave them into the broadcast.”

For Gaudin, “what’s next” is more easily answered by what game is coming up or what flight number he’s packing for. (He logged over 200 flights in 2018.)

“I love what I am doing now and wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he says. “As cliché as it sounds, I try to enjoy the steps of the journey and not worry about tomorrow. I feel blessed to do what I do today. I am one of the luckiest people, and I realize that.”

Brandon Gaudin ’06
People

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

A sports broadcaster gets an early jump on career experience.

by Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

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Students in Clowes Memorial Hall

Inspiring a New Generation Through the Arts

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

This spring, the Butler Arts Center—Clowes Memorial Hall, the Schrott Center for the Arts, the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, and Lilly Hall Studio Theatre—welcomed the millionth visitor to its series devoted to school children.

Over 27 years and 858 performances, the Clowes Education Matinee Series has provided students in kindergarten through 12th grade with the opportunity to see live theater—many for the first time. That could mean anything from daytime performances by Butler groups such as Butler Ballet, the Percussion Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble to national touring productions featuring favorite children’s stories like the Junie B. Jones books, The Magic School Bus, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar coming to life onstage.

Clowes Hall Education Manager Donna Rund has been part of the matinee series for nearly 20 years and has seen more than 800,000 of the 1 million visitors come through the doors. She was thrilled when she realized the millionth visitor was going to happen in this school year’s season.

Students at Clowes Memorial Hall“As a former teacher, I knew opportunities to learn outside the classroom were educational and memorable for my students, and to know that other teachers feel that way as well is why the matinee series has sustained its significance in the community,” she says. “The kids in Central Indiana can come to Clowes Hall to experience live theatre, and it can be life-giving and lifechanging. The arts have the power to do that.”

Rund has witnessed exponential growth in education programming, which began in earnest in 1991 when the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, selected six sites across the nation to begin an arts education program called Partners in Education.

That program connects arts organizations, school districts, and the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center provides resources such as professional-development workshops, demonstration teaching and coaching sessions, and study group opportunities that enable arts organizations and school districts to work together to strengthen the curriculum and, ultimately, the students’ engagement level when learning.

“Teaching doesn’t just happen in the classroom; it happens outside the classroom too,” Rund says. “We can shape and mold and help build new perspectives through the performance arts of theater, music, and dance to help people see in new ways and discover new things.”

In 2018, Claire Zingraf brought her kindergarteners and first-graders from the James Russell Lowell School 51 in Indianapolis to Clowes Hall to see a show based on the Skippyjon Jones books about a cat who thinks he’s a Chihuahua. The students loved the stories, and Zingraf thought they would enjoy a live presentation.

She was right.

“Sitting in the audience with my kids, every time I looked at them, they just had giant smiles on their faces, especially during the songs and dances,” she says. Watching them smile through the entire performance was a really great moment as a teacher.”

“The students thought the show was fun and funny, and it definitely got them interested in reading more,” Zingraf says. She recommends the experience to other teachers—especially teachers who work in lower-income schools.

“Our students don’t have these opportunities other than going on field trips,” she says, “and I think this is something my kids are going to remember for the rest of their lives—being able to go with their whole class to a big auditorium to see actors and actresses onstage acting out one of their favorite stories.”

Students in Clowes Memorial Hall
Community

Inspiring a New Generation Through the Arts

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

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