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Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

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.

Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

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
AcademicsCommunity

Planet Parade: Venus, Jupiter, Moon, Saturn, Mars to All Line Up this Weekend

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

For the first time in more than a decade, Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars will be lined up across the sky.

The best time for viewing will be on the evenings of August 17 and 18, according to Butler University Professor of Physics and Astronomy Brian Murphy—weather permitting, of course. Mars will be near its closest approach to Earth since 2003, and through a telescope, one should be able to see cloud-covered Venus in a quarter phase, the rings of Saturn, the belts and satellites of Jupiter, and Mars’ polar caps (if the dust storm has cleared).

Murphy, who is also the Director of Butler’s Holcomb Observatory, says the planets all orbit the sun in different periods, which means they are typically scattered along the zodiac. Some may be seen only before sunrise, only after sunrise, or not at all if they appear in the direction of the Sun.

"Being able to observe the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in a two- to three-hour time span is quite nice," he said.

Murphy encourages people to get out and see this "planet parade"—either by looking through the telescope at the Holcomb Observatory, which is the ninth largest telescope East of the Mississippi River, or simply by going outside and viewing the night sky.

"It's an ideal time to get out and see the planets," he said. "Usually, we don't have four planets visible at once in good viewing location, along with a quarter moon, which is the ideal time to view the moon. And they're all evenly spaced. If you ignore the sun, these are the four brightest objects in the sky we're talking about."

It’s hard to calculate when this lineup will occur again, Murphy says, but something similar will likely occur in two years. But after that, it will not happen for a long time.

In addition to telescope viewing at the Observatory, Planetarium shows will take place each evening.

 

Media contact:

Marc Allan
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

AcademicsCommunity

Planet Parade: Venus, Jupiter, Moon, Saturn, Mars to All Line Up this Weekend

  

Butler astronomer says phenomenon likely won’t occur again for a long time

Aug 16 2018 Read more
AcademicsCampus

Butler Continues Trend, Welcomes Record First-Year Class

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened again.

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever, as 1,336 first-year students prepare to begin classes on August 22.

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever, as 1,336 first-year students prepare to begin classes on August 22.

The class highlights a nearly 10-year trend of application growth, represents a continued increase in out-of-state enrollment, and is more diverse. While the Class of 2020 was previously the largest class, with 1,255 incoming students, Butler has been experiencing an upward trajectory in applicants since 2009. 

“Butler’s enrollment goals have aligned with the University’s strategic plan, known as Butler 2020,” says Lori Greene, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “One of the strategic growth objectives is to increase full-time, undergraduate student enrollment. This is strategic growth complemented by an investment in the student experience. We see growth also reflected in new facilities, including two new state-of-the-art residence halls, and the new Lacy School of Business building, set to open in August 2019.”

This year’s growth is hardly a one-year anomaly.

Interest in Butler has been on the rise throughout the last decade. Since 2009, applications to the University have increased by 163 percent. For example, in 2015, Butler received 9,942 applications, compared to 16,431 this year. In the last year alone, first-year applications increased more than 12 percent.

This continued demand is due to a number of strategic initiatives, says Greene.

 

 

 

 

“Over the last few years, we’ve continued to refine and target our communications, and connect with prospects earlier in a student’s high school career. We’ve also focused on building a relationship with our prospective parents throughout the process,” Greene says. “We aim to support prospective students with the type of campus events and visit programs delivered, along with providing multiple options for a student to experience campus life, talk with current students, and hear from a professor in an area of interest.”

The increase in recruitment travel and targeted marketing efforts have paid off, Greene says, as the University continues to grow its out-of-state enrollment. Sixty percent of this year’s class comes from out-of-state, with nearly 20 percent of those coming from the Chicagoland area. Since 2015, applications to Butler from out-of-state students have increased by 68 percent.

And it’s not just applications. Since 2015, the number of students choosing to enroll at Butler from out-of-state has increased by 40 percent, compared to 17 percent growth in-state. Specifically, enrollment from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has more than doubled since 2015.

While this year’s class hails largely from other Midwest states, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas are quickly on the rise. Over the last few years, Greene says, Butler has embedded counselors in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in an effort to increase the University’s visibility.

This year’s incoming class is also the most diverse, as nearly 17 percent of the class are multicultural students. This represents a 3 percentage point jump from last year. While this is a percentage that Butler would like to see increase more, Greene says, partnerships with multiple Indianapolis-based organizations, as well as other community-based organizations throughout the Midwest, have helped multicultural recruitment efforts. The goal is to keep increasing this percentage, she says. 

Despite its size, Butler’s Class of 2022 is as academically inclined as previous classes. The average GPA is 3.86, up slightly from last year. This year’s incoming class features 44 valedictorians, 20 Lilly Scholars, and about 20 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.

The most popular majors this year are Pre-Pharmacy (136), Exploratory Studies (103), Exploratory Business (88), and Biology (72).

The University will also welcome 86 transfer students this fall.

 

Media contact:

Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

AcademicsCampus

Butler Continues Trend, Welcomes Record First-Year Class

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever,

Aug 16 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

BY Marc Alan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

 Outstanding achievement inside and outside the classroom has propelled five Butler faculty members to be awarded Distinguished Faculty and Outstanding Professor designation.

These awards recognize inspiring presence in the classroom, achievement in research, community service, and exemplary achievements.

"As an educational institution, Butler strives to provide transformative educational opportunities to our students," said Provost Kate Morris, who handed out the awards on August 15 at the Fall Academic Workshop. "And faculty are on the front lines of that transformation. Simply put, without great faculty, our students would not have the success they have." 

"As an educational institution, Butler strives to provide transformative educational opportunities to our students," said Provost Kate Morris, who handed out the awards on August 15 at the Fall Academic Workshop. "And faculty are on the front lines of that transformation. Simply put, without great faculty, our students would not have the success they have." 

"It is critical to find ways to recognize faculty who have had outstanding years and outstanding careers to highlight the fact that their work truly makes a difference to students and to our academic community. I am delighted to be able to honor the five individuals honored this year, and believe they are excellent representatives of the impact faculty have on our students."

The Outstanding Professor awards recognize faculty members who excelled in all areas of their professional responsibilities and demonstrated outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship, and/or service and were given to Associate Professor of English Ania Spyra and Professor of Music Kate Boyd.

The Distinguished Faculty awards recognize exemplary achievement, accomplishments, and contributions across the length and breadth of the winner’s career at Butler and were given to Associate Professor and Chair of Arts Administration Susan Zurbuchen, Professor of Philosophy Stuart Glennan, and Professor of Religion Paul Valliere.

Spyra, who joined the Butler faculty in 2008, studies the influence of migration on the language of literature. She was recognized for high student evaluation scores and her ability to reach all of her students in core, departmental, and interdisciplinary settings.

Boyd, a Butler professor since 2005, played nine solo recitals and nine chamber music performances during the 2016-2017 academic year. In addition, her CD recording of the work of composer John Cage garnered much national and international attention.

Zurbuchen was commended for creating one of the most successful degree programs of its kind in the country. She joined the Butler faculty in 1989.

Glennan, whose area of specialization is in the philosophy of science, with particular attention to biology and psychology, came to Butler in 1992. He is a scholar of international repute and a widely acknowledged founder of an important emerging field in philosophy.

Valliere, who retired at the end of the 2017-2018 after 35 years at Butler, was called a great professor, an outstanding scholar and researcher and a remarkable contributor to the university mission.

 

Media contact:

Marc Allan
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

AcademicsPeople

Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

Five faculty members have been recognized for outstanding achievement inside and outside the classroom. 

Aug 16 2018 Read more
Jeremy Johnson
AcademicsPeople

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 14 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened by accident.

Jeremy Johnson, Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry, was looking at images of acyl protein thioesterases, or APTs. Because proteins are smaller than the wavelength of light, they cannot be seen by eye, or even with a microscope. So, proteins are crystalized, and then static images are taken, revealing what they look like at one point in time.

But, when Johnson looked at the APT images closely, he saw something he had never seen before, and something, he says, that is quite rare – the protein in multiple states.

“Our image showed the APT in open and closed states or active and inactive,” Johnson says. “Normally, we think of proteins as static, or as staying in one position, and only recently have we started to appreciate the idea of natural movements of proteins.”

With an $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Johnson will be researching why we should appreciate that very idea. Seeing the image of the APT in a dynamic state enabled Johnson to hypothesize a whole new set of ideas about what this protein could potentially impact – cancer progression, neural deterioration, and immune functions, he says.

“Once we had this image and saw it was dynamic, we were able to start to hypothesize how this protein could be important within a cell,” he says. “All of a sudden new possibilities emerged that we knew we wanted to research more. Once we knew the structure, new alleys for research questions opened.”

APTs are a class of enzymes that are linked with cancer growth, neural degeneration, and bacterial infections. But, this photo revealed they are also dynamic – something that was not previously known.

Now, Johnson says, he is set to dive into what this dynamic function actually means, and how it could impact those important links. Some questions his lab will focus on include looking at how the dynamic nature of this protein could impact APTs as a future drug target, and how it might relate to cancer and immune functions.

After seeing the image, Johnson says his team will start to look into how that movement is related to the regulation of the protein and how that can impact the biological functions of APTs.

“You always hope there is relation to the big picture,” Johnson says. “We are going to be looking at the dynamic movement and if that movement is essential to biological function. You hope that movement is related to the big picture things that we know this protein is already involved in.”

Also, as part of the NSF grant, research occurring in Johnson’s lab will be integrated into undergraduate classroom laboratories, giving a wide range of students the chance to participate in the research. There will also be a new molecular biophysics laboratory added to the biochemistry major at Butler.

All of this, Johnson says, because of an accident.

 

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

Jeremy Johnson
AcademicsPeople

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

Butler Chemistry Professor Jeremy Johnson discovered something in his research that no one had seen before.

Aug 14 2018 Read more
AcademicsCommunity

Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 10 2018

It was never supposed to happen this way.

The goal was one, if that, and that alone seemed daunting, even impossible at times. Starting a school, and not just any school, was the dream for Ena Shelley, Dean of Butler University’s College of Education. But in reality, she couldn’t imagine the pieces coming together.

It was after a sabbatical in Italy in 1998. Between all the pizza, Shelley managed to fall in love with something else. A new style of teaching, the Reggio model, and she vowed to figure out a way to bring it back with her.

The idea of a Lab School was born, but it was very much just an idea, she says.

“I knew I had to change my curriculum, but I didn’t have any schools where my students could actually see what I wanted to do,” Shelley says. “My dream was to have a Lab School in Indianapolis that we could share with the community, but also use to teach Butler students. The dream was never to have two.”

About 20 years after her initial trip to Italy, Shelley’s seeing double. A second Lab School, born out of demand, success, and lots of work, is up and running at 54th Street.

And even though it was never part of the plan, well, it sure seems like it was.

Lab School 55’s campus happens to occupy the school building that is named after Eliza A. Blaker. Named after the founder of Butler’s College of Education. This was a complete coincidence and just happened to be a building that the Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent said was available and was in close proximity to Butler.

“The community has responded in ways I never anticipated,” Shelley says. “Being asked to open a second one is really an honor. The dream has gone way further than I ever thought it could.”

What is the Lab School?

It’s a couple weeks before school starts and Nicole Kent is talking on the phone, cradling it between her ear and shoulder, while she furiously types an email on her cell phone.

She’s at School 60, the original Lab School. But really, she is itching to get to School 55, the new Lab School. Furniture is about to be delivered and from the sounds of the conversation, there are a few hiccups with the delivery.

Kent, who graduated from Butler’s College of Education, will be the principal at the new Lab School. She used to teach at the original Lab School and was the assistant principal for two years.

That’s not uncommon. Butler graduates tend to flock to the Lab Schools. In fact, at Lab School 60, or the original, 69 percent of teachers graduated from Butler with either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree. At Lab School 55, or the second Lab School, 61 percent of the teachers are Butler grads.

Teachers receive continued professional development from Butler, and the Lab Schools also serve as a classroom to current Butler education students. Some also student teach at the Lab Schools.

But, says Ron Smith, the Lab Schools don’t hire just Butler grads. Smith is the principal at the original Lab School. He says they hire from wherever, but, because the Lab School program is different than a traditional learning environment, they need teachers who are able to teach that style, and, Butler grads are familiar with the Reggio model.

Learning at the Lab Schools is project based. There aren’t a lot of worksheets where students are mindlessly copying things down. The curriculum is teacher created. Art is infused into most classrooms. Inquiry, research, and exploration are the cornerstones of the Lab School curriculum, where there is a bigger picture behind each lesson. It is not about memorizing facts, but rather about communicating and collaborating and acquiring life skills.

“Of course, we want our students to do well on the standards you would find in the state curriculum, but beyond that we want our kids to become life-long learners,” Smith says. “We want them to find joy in learning, we want them to ask questions of their own and to find answers to those questions and projects help us get at that. That helps us get beyond the state curriculum.”

The Lab Schools are magnet schools. Students are chosen by random lottery from all who apply, with preference given to applicants who live nearby, have siblings in the school, and then children of either Butler or IPS employees. 

Lab School 60 has consistently been one of the two most requested elementary schools in Indianapolis since 2012. Students come from Broad Ripple, Butler-Tarkington, Meridian Kessler, to name a few, and the hope is that with a second school, even more of the city will be served.

“As a University, we value being a really good community member,” Shelley says. “We not only want to serve the community, but also learn from the community. We are not separate, but we are better together, and I think we are always striving to fulfill that mission.”

Is it working?

Amy Goldsmith vividly remembers the first time she met Ena Shelley.

Goldsmith was serving on the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee and Shelley was presenting on the concept of the first Lab School. Goldsmith, whose daughter was about to enter kindergarten, was planning on sending her to School 57, but after hearing Shelley speak, everything changed.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘wow, there really are people who think the same things as me about education,’” says Goldsmith, who lives in Irvington. “I was so excited that Indianapolis was going to have something like that for our community.”

Quickly, Goldsmith changed course and enrolled her daughter in the inaugural year of the first Lab School. And her family hasn’t looked back. She has a seven-year-old, 10-year-old, and 12-year-old who are all in the Lab School.

Prior to Shelley’s presentation, Goldsmith had never heard of Reggio Emilia. After doing some research, and listening to Shelley, she was sold. And now, three kids later, she is the one constantly pitching the Lab School to friends, and really, anyone who will listen.

“It’s hard when you find something you love, you can’t stop talking about it,” Goldsmith says. “I find myself making the sales pitch all the time, maybe too often. People are probably sick of hearing it from me. But I really do mean everything I say.”

And it is not just Goldsmith’s words. The statistics support her pitch.

By the end of second grade each year, about 75 percent of Lab School students are above grade level on the text reading and comprehension assessment. In language arts, the achievement gap between white and black students has been reduced by more than 25 percent.  

There are delegation days at the Lab School where groups from around Indiana, and outside of the state, come to visit and see what’s going on.

“It has been great to get a lot of interest and have the program be so popular,” Kent says. “But at our core we always want to be a place that is representative of our whole city. The second school gives us a chance to enroll more students and serve more students. The goal is to always serve our community as best we can.”

What’s next?

The original Lab School has grown to pre-K through 8th grade. It opened as pre-K through 1st grade and added a grade every year. This is the first year the original is at capacity, which is about 570 students.

The second Lab School opened with pre-K through 6th grade and each year they will add a grade until they have 8th grade. In its inaugural year, School 55 has around 300 students. Last year, about 180 attended the school.

Most families who had children attending School 55 prior to it becoming the Lab School this year decided to keep their kids at the school, Kent says. Of the 180 students that attended the school last year, about 150 are staying.

“I was asked early on, in year two or three, if I thought this was scalable and if we could replicate it and at the time I really didn’t think we could,” Shelley says. “But when I see the community response and the potential we have, I find myself wondering if a third is possible. But that is just me wondering. Right now there is much work to be done and we are just happy to be part of our community.”

 

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

AcademicsCommunity

Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

Starting a school, and not just any school, was the dream for Ena Shelley.

Aug 10 2018 Read more
Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

Butler Makes Princeton Review's 'The Best 384 Colleges' For First Time

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 08 2018

Butler University is one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review, which has included Butler in its 2019 annual "best colleges" guidebook for the first time.

“The Butler community takes great pride in being recognized by the highly-respected Princeton Review for the exceptional education we provide our students,” said President Jim Danko. “It is particularly rewarding to have an independent, external endorsement of the effectiveness of Butler’s collaborative, student-centered educational approach, one that is supported by outstanding and caring faculty.”

Butler is one of five schools that the New York-based education services company added to the roster of colleges it profiles in the 2019 The Best 384 Colleges (Penguin Random House/Princeton Review Books). The guide is now available.

Robert Franek, Editor-in-Chief of The Princeton Review, said, “We are truly pleased to add Butler to our widely used college guide, now in its 27th year. Only about 15 percent of the four-year colleges in the nation are in this book. In our opinion, these are ‘the crème of the crop’ institutions for undergraduates in America."

Franek said Butler was chosen for 2019 based on three areas: a high regard for its academic programs and other offerings, institutional data, and visits to the University as well as feedback from students, educators, and parents.

The annual "best colleges" book has two-page profiles on each school. Butler's pages note:

  • Butler’s student-to-faculty ratio, teachers collaborating with students on research and professional endeavors, and a core curriculum that pushes students out of their comfort zones, and allows students to explore interests outside of their major, creating “an atmosphere of driven students.”
  • Professors who support student ideas and make modifications to lectures to support student interests.
  • Student life "is completely sustainable on-campus,” which means that students typically stay there for studying, food, and for socializing. On days with good weather, students can be found out and about on campus.

In addition, the book contains 62 ranking lists of "top 20 schools" in individual categories.

The Princeton Review tallied the rankings for the 2019 edition based on its surveys of 138,000 students (average 359 per campus) attending the 384 colleges in the book in 2017-2018 and/or the previous two school years.

The survey asks students 84 questions about their school's academics, administration, student body, and themselves. The format uses a five-point Likert scale to convert qualitative student assessments into quantitative data for school-to-school comparisons. More information on the ranking methodology is at www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/how-it-works.

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in the book hierarchically, 1 to 384, either on academics (the Company believes all 384 schools are academically outstanding) or on any other subject.

The school profiles in the book also feature rating scores (from 60 to 99) in several categories including Financial Aid, Fire Safety, and Green: a rating based on the colleges' environmental commitments. The Princeton Review tallies these scores primarily based on analyses of institutional data the Company obtains from the schools.

 

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

Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

Butler Makes Princeton Review's 'The Best 384 Colleges' For First Time

Butler is one of nation’s best institutions for education, according to The Princeton Review.

Aug 08 2018 Read more
People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 03 2018

 

Katie Hannigan '08 just got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic's career: She performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Her segment—which was recorded June 15 at the Ed Sullivan Theatre and aired on August 2—"went really, really well," she said by phone from her home in New York. "It was such a great experience for me."

Hannigan, who describes herself on Twitter as "just another wholesome Midwestern girl with demons" and in her act as someone who "looks like she owns a muffin shop," said a booking agent for the show caught her act in March and invited her to do the show. She was the first of seven comics who recorded their sets on that day in June, in front of an audience that was specifically in the theater to see comedy, as opposed to celebrities and musical acts.

The idea behind that is to make sure the comics get the best possible reception.

"It definitely is a huge career milestone for me," she said. "This is something I've been working toward for years and years and years."

Eight years, specifically. But at least 14 years, if you go back to her first year at Butler.

*

After graduating from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where she was fascinated by experimental theater, Hannigan came to Butler as a Theatre major and immediately found herself cast in Top Girls, a play by unconventional writer Caryl Churchill. Everyone in the cast was older, and "I felt quite distinguished and honored to be able to do that show."

In that production, she worked with director Constance Macy for the first time. They teamed up again two years later on The Underpants, and she credits Macy, an Indianapolis actress and director who works frequently with Butler Theatre, with helping her develop a critical eye for comedic timing.

Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman remembers Hannigan as "talented, intelligent, and curious. Her primary focus was acting and she was and is a gifted actress. She was always an extremely funny person with a terrific sense of humor. But while she was a Theatre Major, she was known primarily for her acting abilities."

At Butler, Hannigan also worked at the Holcomb Observatory for 2½ years, which "helped me develop my interests outside of performing, which is so important to be able to draw on." (She's now hosting a podcast called Apodcalypse about ends-of-days scenarios in pop culture and religious legend.)

*

Hannigan moved to New York a week after graduation. She moved in with her former Butler roommate Leah Nanako Winkler—who has also gone on to great success as this year's winner of the prestigious Yale Drama Series Prize—and they worked together in experimental theater.

"I felt that if I went to New York," she said, "I would find exactly what I was interested in focusing on for a long period of time."

But that took some time. Two years later, Hannigan started in comedy. She spent four years going to open-mic nights five to 10 times a week to hone her act. A couple of years in, she also took a job at a comedy club so she could get more stage time, and she began to hit the road to work at clubs and comedy festivals around the country. She also started posting jokes regularly on Twitter—and still does @katiehannigan.

She had other gigs too, including preschool teacher ("the kids were teaching me … that I hate kids," she says in her act) and New York City tour guide. She developed such an extensive knowledge of New York City that she's appeared in episodes of The Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum as an expert.

And even as her comedy schedule filled, she continued to act. This month, she shot two TV pilots, including one about city yuppies who decide they're going to live off the land but find they're woefully unprepared.

Hannigan said if she could choose, she would act all day and do standup at night. "I am someone who has the ability to write comedically. I also have the ability to perform and act. I have a skillset I would like to use fully in a number of different contexts."

In the near term, she appreciates that standup comedy is the skill that's bringing her the most attention.

"The weekend after I performed (for Colbert), it was quite a shock to my system to have accomplished that kind of goal," she said. "I was feeling kind of overwhelmed as far as what do I do next. The Late Show something that will help my career as a comedian, but I do have some big things ahead that I'm looking forward to."

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

People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

Katie Hannigan '08 just got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic's career.

Aug 03 2018 Read more
Brain
Academics

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jul 31 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Before the start of most seasons, chances are high that athletes have gone through a computerized exam called ImPACT, or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. It is a process that has become almost synonymous with preseason conditioning tests and two-a-days.

The ImPACT Test, one of the most widely used of several similar concussion management tools, is a computer-based test that measures shape recall, reaction time, attention, working memory, and other mental abilities. Individuals are given the test to establish a baseline score at the start of a season, then those who suffer a head injury are tested again before being allowed to return to play.

But, baseline results may not be as accurate as ImPACT claims.

According to new research from Butler University Director of Undergraduate Health Science Programs, Dr. Amy Peak, and former Butler health science student Courtney Raab, individuals are outsmarting the test. Previous studies, including one cited by ImPACT’s “Administration and Interpretation Manual,” say 89 percent of ‘sandbaggers,’ or individuals purposefully doing poorly on the test, are flagged. But, according to Peak and Raab’s research, only half are caught.

“If baseline scores aren’t accurate, that could likely lead to individuals returning to play before they are healed, or individuals returning to normal activity prior to their brain being ready,” Peak says. “This is a very dangerous situation because it is clear that individuals who have had one concussion are at greater risk of having subsequent concussions.”

So why cheat the system?

Many athletes don’t want to miss playing time. In fact, a study found in 2017 that nearly a third of athletes didn’t give their best effort on computerized neurocognitive tests, such as ImPACT.

The ImPACT Test is key when it comes to making return to play decisions. Though not the only determining factor, comparing test scores is routinely something trainers or doctors do to see if the individual can return to action or regular activities.

“Athletes get smart about how to take this test and they admit to wanting to return to action as soon as possible,” Peak says. “Some athletes ignore the risks, and just want to play, so if this test can be cheated, they will do it.”

Their research shows that those who attempted to sandbag were successful, as long as they didn’t try to do too poorly on the test.

There were 77 volunteers who participated in the study, 40 of whom were told to sandbag the test and 37 of whom were told to try their best. Of the 37 volunteers in the control group, none were flagged for invalid results. But of the 40 sandbaggers, 20 successfully tricked the test.

The key to not getting flagged by the test was to get questions wrong, but not too many questions.

“The group that scored much lower than our control got flagged, but the group that did bad, but not too bad were not caught,” Peak says. “Our research revealed that you can get away with doing poorly, sneak through with a low score, if your score isn’t outrageously low.”

Instead of the 89 percent rate of catching sandbaggers that previous research suggests, Peak and Raab’s research revealed just a 50 percent rate. However, Peak says, the takeaway is not to scrap the entire ImPACT Test. Peak says their research points to the fact that key aspects of the widely used test should be reevaluated.

The ImPACT Test’s five built-in invalidity indicators, which are designed to flag results which suggest underperformance, are not working well, she says. Peak and Raab’s research found that only two of those indicators detected more than 15 percent of test takers who tried to trick the test.

“There are some invalidity indicators that are really ineffective. Our research showed us that these indicators are not sensitive enough,” Peak says. “There are many things to consider. Are the indicators even right? Maybe the cutoffs should be higher? These are all important questions. But one thing we do know is that a much greater percentage of individuals can purposefully underperform without detection and we need to delve deeper into how to improve the test.”

 

Brain
Academics

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

 Butler University researchers show individuals outsmart popular concussion test 50% of time.

Jul 31 2018 Read more

Butler Media Relations

Whether you’re looking to promote a new initiative, your research, an event, or preparing for an interview with national media, Butler Media Relations is here to help. We’ll work with you to focus your message, and get the word out.

 

If you are a reporter on deadline, looking for a faculty expert, or interested in a Butler story, contact:

 

Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257 (mobile: 914-815-5656)

 

Marc Allan
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Experts

EXPERTS

Ena Shelley

Dean, College of Education

After serving twice as the interim dean, Dr. Ena Shelley was appointed dean of the College of Education in June 2005. Shelley's experience with the College of Education began almost 34 years ago when she joined the faculty as an assistant professor of early childhood education in the summer of 1982.

For the past several years, Shelley has been heavily involved in state and national legislation and policy involving the education of young children. She has also been involved with the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Indiana Professional Standards Board (IPSB), which oversees teacher licensure and accreditation of teacher education programs. Three governors have appointed her to boards active in legislation to help young children and their families as well as improved teacher education.

Twelve years ago Shelley began building a partnership with Lawrence Township's Centralized Kindergarten and in 1998 helped them to begin to infuse the Reggio Emilia educational approach into their environments and teaching practices. She continues that work today, serving as co-chair on the Lawrence Early Childhood Task Force, with the additional focus of integration of the arts. She was instrumental in establishing the Indianapolis Reggio Collaborative, which includes the Lawrence Early Learning Centers, St. Mary's Child Center and the Warren Early Childhood Center. Shelley also serves as a member of the Closing the Achievement Gap Committee and Digital Literacy Committee within the Lawrence Township Metropolitan School District.

Shelley has also provided the leadership to create the first Butler University memo of understanding between the University and the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to establish Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy (now Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School). In addition, she led creation of the IPS/Butler University Laboratory School, focused on early childhood and elementary education.

Her current research interest is studying how teachers in the new Early Learning Centers in Lawrence Township use the Reggio influenced art studios as they continue to develop their understanding of the many ways young children learn.  Summing up her belief on the future of education, Dr. Shelley states,  “Each day I see the future of education in the talented young people who have chosen it as their vocation.  These young people could do anything, and they want to teach. I see great teachers doing extremely difficult work as I spend time in the schools. It will be up to our society to invest in educators by valuing the teaching profession and remembering that our democracy was founded on providing a free public education to all citizens.”

In 2016, Shelley was chosen to receive the Edward C. Pomeroy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE).  “Ena Shelley’s influence and dedication to the field of teacher education and her contributions to practices in all levels of education are exemplary,” said James M. Danko, President of Butler University. “AACTE made an excellent choice for the 2016 Edward C. Pomeroy Award. Butler University is extraordinarily proud, and we congratulate her on this honor.”  To read more about the Pomeroy Award, please visit: http://news.butler.edu/blog/2016/02/ena-shelley/ 

Ena Shelley
People

Ena Shelley

Dr. Ena Shelley was appointed dean of the College of Education in June 2005.

Ena Shelley

Ena Shelley

Dean, College of Education

Jennifer Snyder

Professor, Physician Assistant Program

Dr. Snyder graduated from the Butler University physician assistant program in 1997 and earned a PhD in Health Sciences from Nova Southeastern University in 2014.  She has worked in both Family and Emergency Medicine as a physician assistant.  She is a tenured professor and serves as chair of the department /PA Program Director.  She  has served within the program as both the Academic Coordinator and a Clinical Coordinator.  She has served as a University Faculty Senator and on the College and University Professional Standards Committees while at Butler University.

Dr. Snyder has been active in the national professional organizations of the PA profession. She currently serves as the Immediate Past President of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).  She has served as a site visitor for the Accreditation Review Commission on Education of the Physician Assistant.  Dr. Snyder has served as chair of the Public Relations Committee of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).  She has served on several Reference Committees and the Standing Rules Committee within the House of Delegates, AAPA.  In addition, she has served on numerous other committees and workgroups in both the PAEA and AAPA.

She has remained active as a member with her state physician assistant organization. In the past, Dr. Snyder was elected to positions within the Indiana Academy of Physician Assistants (IAPA) as President, Secretary and on numerous occasions as a Delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates.  Dr. Snyder was awarded the President’s Award in 2011 by the Student Academy of American Academy of Physician Assistants. She is a Distinguished Fellow Member of the AAPA. 

She has presented and published several articles on clinical, professional and research topics associated with the PA profession and education.

Jennifer Snyder

Jennifer Snyder

Professor, Physician Assistant Program

Terri Jett

Associate Professor, Political Science

Dr. Terri Jett is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity. Dr. Jett is also an affiliate faculty member of the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies Program. She teaches courses on U.S. politics with a focus on the experiences of AfricanAmericans and other ethnic minorities such as Black Political Thought and The Politics of Alice Walker. Her research focus is on the post-Civil Rights Movement experiences of African Americans in rural communities in the southern U.S. and she is currently writing on the recent settlements of Black, Native American, Women and Latino farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture for discrimination. Dr. Jett has a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and a Masters in Public Administration from California State University, Hayward (now East Bay) and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Public Administration from Auburn University. She is President of the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and serves on the Indiana Debate Commission.

Terri Jett
People

Terri Jett

Dr. Terri Jett is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity.

Terri Jett

Terri Jett

Associate Professor, Political Science

Fait Muedini

Associate Professor, International Studies

Fait Muedini is the Frances Shera Fessler Associate Professor of International Studies. He is also a Fellow at the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice .

He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University at Buffalo, SUNY, a M.A. in International Affairs from the American University School of International Service, and a B.A. in Political Science from Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan.

His teaching and research interests are centered primarily on issues of human rights, Islam and politics, and the politics of the Middle East and North Africa.

Fait Muedini

Fait Muedini

Associate Professor, International Studies

Craig Caldwell

Associate Professor, Lacy School of Business

Dr. Caldwell works with organizations to develop strategic direction, link implementation steps to strategy, identify organizational culture, and develop processes to bring about organizational change. Since 2007, Craig has served as an Associate Professor of Management in the Lacy School of Business at ButlerUniversity.   He is currently the Associate Dean of Graduate & Professional Programs.  He teaches MBA and undergraduate courses in Strategy, Leadership, and Organizational Change. Craig has won six teaching awards and two advising awards.  He is the Chair of Graduate Council and his past roles include the Faculty Annual Evaluation Committee and Department Chair for Marketing & Management.

Dr. Caldwell’s consulting and executive education activities focus on strategy development, leadership, and organizational change. He has worked with client firms in logistics, manufacturing, food service, life-sciences and architecture. In addition to strategy development, Craig's leadership works includes human capital strategy, employee engagement, and building high-performance teams.

Craig has a leadership book being released in February of 2018 titled, "The Catalyst Effect" that talks about how you can lead from anywhere in an organization.  Craig’s other research includes academic articles in Business and Society, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, The Monitor, Business and Society Review, Management Accounting Quarterly, and Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 

Craig holds a Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Virginia Tech,and a BA from Anderson University. 

Craig Caldwell

Craig Caldwell

Associate Professor, Lacy School of Business