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Sorensons
ResearchUnleashed

Algorithmic Number Theory Research Runs in the Family at Butler

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 13 2019

It’s daughter-like-father when it comes to algorithmic number theory at Butler University.

Long before algorithms organized that cat video content you crave on your social media feeds, mathematicians and computer scientists created and utilized algorithms for faster and more precise calculations. The Department of Computer Science studies these algorithms to improve on existing methodology or to create new ways to compute.

Butler Computer Science Professor Jonathan Sorenson and his daughter, senior Brianna Sorenson, decided to take on Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos and American mathematician John Selfridge’s 1974 algorithmic function for calculating prime factors of binomial coefficients. The research explored the possibilities of the 45-year-old problem. Father and daughter sought to expand the possible solutions and the speed in solving the problem, which hadn’t been challenged since 1999. With decades of computing breakthroughs at their disposal, the Sorensons got to work in the summer of 2018. 

“Algorithmic means you have problems in the area of number theory and you want to solve them using computer algorithms. The object of study is those computer algorithms,” Jonathan Sorenson says.

The Sorensons’ paper, An Algorithm and Estimates for the Erdos-Selfridge Function, will be submitted this winter to the 2020 Algorithmic Number Theory Symposium (ANTS), which is set for June 30 to July 4 in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Established by Cornell University as an intersection of mathematics and computer science fields, ANTS is the place where researchers explore the possibilities of challenging number theoretic problems like the Erdos and Selfridge problem the Sorensons studied, which identifies g (k) as the least integer bigger than k + 1 such that the binomial coefficient C(g(k), k) has no prime divisors larger than k.

Previous researchers computed the first 200 values of the Erdos-Selfridge function. In collaboration with Mathematics and Actuarial Science Professor Jonathan Webster, the Sorensons coded an original algorithm for faster computation for the problem. The work was successful as 157 more known binomial coefficients were discovered. That was almost twice as many numbers that mathematicians and computer scientists previously found.

“The 356th is 31 digits long,” Jon Sorenson says, “and it is the smallest such example larger than 357.”

The work was moved to the Big Dawg cluster supercomputer, which did the heavy lifting with the code written by the Butler team. The supercomputer took 12 days to find integer No. 355 but No. 356 was discovered four days later. Big Dawg had been working since Nov. 11 to find integer No. 357 and it finally discovered g(357)=2808033466727432757706599807359 almost a month later.

Binomial coefficients can break calculators when they reach as high as the Butler team took them to explore Erdos and Selfridge’s function. Jon Sorenson explains the process:

“If you have 10 different hats in your closet, then the binomial coefficient C(10,3) is the number of ways of selecting 3 hats from your closet. This is 120. There are 10 choices for the first hat, then 9 for the second, then 8 for the third, so 10*9*8.  But order doesn't matter, so we have to divide by the number of ways of rearranging 3 things, which is 3!=6. We get 10*9*8/6=120.”

A Computer Science and Mathematics major, Brianna Sorenson’s talent at solving problems with binomial coefficients led to the Erdos-Selfridge function research idea before the 2018 ANTS, which her father co-chaired. Only 19 years old at the time, she noted the function had been untouched since 1999. Why not explore it after 20 years of technological advancement and mathematical discovery?

The younger Sorenson spoke on the Erdos-Selfridge Function work at The Ohio State University Young Mathematicians Conference in August. The event was competitive to get into but Sorenson impressed with her algorithmic number theory work. The experience has been key as the senior prepares her graduate school applications, and being “alphabetically superior,” the younger Sorenson will be listed first.

“I can say ‘Look at this paper I’m in,’” Brianna Sorenson says with a laugh. “I think it’s really helpful to get this kind of experience. I’m wanting to get a PhD in computer science and that involves doing research and writing a thesis. This research was sort of a preview to it.”

Webster also collaborated with senior David Purdum, a Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics major, on a research paper, which will be submitted for ANTS 2020. Algorithms for the Multiplication Table Problem explores new ways to solve classic multiplication tables. By helping produce these papers, Perdum and Brianna Sorenson received experience that no coursework could provide. The process of publishing in the field of algorithmic number theory takes years, from selecting the problem to the final peer review of the paper. 

“This is intense and original thinking,” Webster says. “Each of these projects from start to finish take more than two years. With these multi-year projects, it’s difficult to see them through.”

By identifying the problems early in their Butler careers, Purdum and Brianna Sorrenson can count on submitting their high-level research as highlights to their final year as undergrads two years later. 

And for Jon Sorenson, he can count working with his daughter on high-level algorithmic number theory as a career highlight.

“You don’t often get to publish a paper with your kid,” the professor says. “It’s a dream come true.”

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Student Access and Success

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

Sorensons
ResearchUnleashed

Algorithmic Number Theory Research Runs in the Family at Butler

Professor Jon Sorenson and daughter, senior Brianna Sorenson, tackle high math for international conference

Dec 13 2019 Read more
Hala Fadda in her lab
ResearchUnleashed

COPHS Researcher Leads New Treatment of Recurring C. Diff

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 12 2019

Close to half-a-million people a year suffer from Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff, and more than 29,000 of them died from the bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Control. C. diff results from disruption of healthy, normal bacteria in the colon, often from antibiotics, and causes diarrhea, stomach pain, and fever. In the most severe cases, C. diff can damage the colon and be fatal.

Most cases can be treated with antibiotics. But for patients who suffer recurring cases of C. diff, the path to recovery is a bit more complex. New guidelines for this group, introduced in 2011, recommend fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), or a procedure in which fecal matter is collected from a healthy donor and placed into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient. These transplants can help replenish the bacterial balance in the gut through colonoscopy or capsules.

Most C. diff patients are elderly and had spent time in healthcare settings under the treatment of antibiotics. While the antibiotics wipe out bad bacteria in the patient, good bacteria resilient to C. diff are also destroyed during the process. Results have been favorable in treating recurrent C. diff with FMT, but Butler University Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Hala Fadda is part of a team that has improved cure rates with oral FMT products, while significantly reducing the amount of capsules a C. diff patient must take.

hala fadda
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Hala Fadda.

Published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Fadda and collaborators designed a capsule coating that dissolves in the colon instead of the stomach. This allows for site-specific delivery to the colon and was found to better restore the gut microbial diversity. These new capsules had faster and more successful cure rates compared to standard capsules that dissolve in the stomach in five minutes.

Published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Fadda and collaborators designed a capsule coating that dissolves in the colon instead of the stomach. This allows for site-specific delivery to the colon, which has been found to better restore the gut microbial diversity. These new capsules had faster and more successful cure rates compared to standard capsules that dissolve in the stomach in five minutes.

“The coating is essentially a high fiber starch polymer,” says Fadda, who’s gained expertise through researching how patients consume medicine. “The enzymes produced by colonic bacteria start to chomp away and digest that starch, even with C. diff patients’ lowered bacteria diversity. These enzymes, which break up the starch, are abundant in the colon.”

FMT has been adopted by many hospitals, but Fadda says access to the treatment can be improved. Her new capsules are less invasive and more affordable than a colonoscopy, and they can be shipped from specialist centers around the world.

Healthy donors only

Fadda says there is only a 2.5 percent acceptance rate for fecal donors because the criteria is so strict for FMT. Stool banks like OpenBiome in Boston, Massachusetts, don’t accept potential donors who have traveled to places with communicable diseases in the past six months. They also don’t accept donors who have suffered from digestive diseases, metabolic syndromes, and other conditions.

“You can’t have taken antibiotics in the past three months, and body mass index must be less than 30,” Fadda says. “Evidence suggests a correlation between weight and gut microbial communities.” 

As of 2018, 43,000 FMT treatments were issued by OpenBiome, Fada says. However, this number is not representative of total FMT treatments, as some hospitals prepare their own FMT products.

How C. diff spreads

The spores that cause C. diff are abundant in hospitals. They can be spread by visitors, or by healthcare professionals. After the resistant spores are transmitted to patients, they can germinate into vegetative bacterial cells in the colons of vulnerable individuals, and the bacteria produces toxins.

Fadda and her team’s breakthrough will help shorten return hospital stays for many patients suffering from recurrent C. diff. The capsule approach provides an alternative to a colonoscopy—an expensive and invasive procedure some patients might want to avoid—and it looks to be a quick and effective treatment to C. diff while restoring microbiome diversity in the gut.

“Fecal microbiota transplant has been adopted by lots of hospitals,” Fada says. “It’s common in the U.S. and Europe, but accessibility is still an issue. That’s why this capsule offers a significant advantage because it makes FMT more accessible.”

how the FMT works

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

Hala Fadda in her lab
ResearchUnleashed

COPHS Researcher Leads New Treatment of Recurring C. Diff

Professor Hala Fadda has developed capsules that dissolve in the colon to better fight Clostridioides difficile

Dec 12 2019 Read more
Wendy Meaden holds masks.
ResearchUnleashed

Theatre Professor Writing the Textbook on ‘Masks Inside Out’

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 11 2019

  

Butler Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden was one of the almost 10 million viewers for the premier of reality competition show The Masked Singer. The program, which is now in its second season and was renewed for a third in 2020, pits disguised celebrities in elaborate costumes singing in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.

Being a costume designer and professor whose work has included mask design, creation, and research for more than 20 years, Meaden felt like she had to watch The Masked Singer. But she didn’t make it past the second episode. She enjoyed the show’s mask designs, which are created by artist  Marina Toybina, but Meaden was hoping for more emphasis on the masks themselves.

“I can understand the spectacle, and her designs are really good,” says Meaden, who has designed masks for Butler Theatre plays and leads the Masks class in the Department of Theatre, “but it seems to be design for design’s sake. When masks are designed, there is usually some reason or connection for the aesthetic choice.”

Meaden says creating theatrical masks banks on the audience meeting the performers halfway. It takes a lot of practice to be able to design masks that draw audiences to use their imagination and let themselves be transported into the story.

To help future mask makers understand that dynamic, Meaden is in the process of writing a textbook, Masks Inside Out. She knows there are lots of books about masks already, but she says they concentrate on individual aspects: history, cultural significance, design, and how to perform while wearing one. Meaden aims to create one book that combines it all.

Meaden wears a mask.
Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden wears one of her masks.

“There is so much to learn about masks, but there is no textbook on the market to address masks the way I want to,” Meaden says.

In collaboration with Michael Brown, a former Indianapolis artist now teaching at Columbia College Chicago, Meaden will submit the final manuscript next summer, and she expects to publish it by late 2020.

Masks in the Core Curriculum

Growing up, Meaden never wore masks for Halloween. She remembers noticing masks for the first time when she saw Adam West and Burt Ward’s wearing them in the old Batman TV show.

“I remember thinking ‘They’re not disguised at all. It’s clear who they are,’” Meaden says, laughing.

Meaden created her first masks while she worked as a costume designer for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which needed billy goat masks for a performance called Three’s Please. She’d never made a mask before, but it seemed like a natural next step to the costume design she’d been doing since 1986.

“As a costume designer,” Meaden says, “I’ve always been interested in presenting characters and transforming actors, and I love the process of creating costumes. Sculpting masks is an extension of that passion.”

Meaden’s masks made their Butler debut during the 2001 production of Hamlet. Made of plaster and cardboard, they portrayed the characters of the Duke of Vienna Gonzago, his wife Baptista, and their murderous nephew, Lucianus. They were then given a worn, weathered appearance of being buried in the dirt, just like poor old Yorick’s skull.

Theatre students that worked on plays with Meaden were enthusiastic to learn more about mask-making and the Masks class at Butler was established in 2003. It’s now part of the Perspectives in the Creative Arts Core Curriculum. Some Theatre majors still take the class as an elective, but many students outside of the Jordan College of Arts enroll, too.

On just the second day of class, students start by creating masks of their own. After protecting their hair with bandanas or plastic bags, they start gluing cardboard and paper over their faces.

“They sit and look in the mirror,” Meaden says. “The class is usually chatty to start, and then there’s a quiet. Everyone stops talking as they are totally focused on the mirror and putting things over their face. What’s fascinating is their sense of transformation—to understand that you can put something on that is your face, but it’s not your face. I am me but I am not me.”

How the brain reacts to masks

In the first chapter of Masks Inside Out, Meaden  explains why people are often either intrigued or repelled by someone wearing a mask. 

“How does your amygdala react?” Meaden asks. “Your brain’s initial reaction is usually fight or flight, but then your neocortex kicks in and tells you it’s a thing on a person. You’re going to be safe, you laugh, and you enjoy.”

Meaden’s research has found that masks are an extension of humans’ fascination for seeing faces—from selfies to picturing faces in inanimate objects. Faces are why we connect to other people, she says, and a mask on a human face usually brings about feelings of mystery, intrigue, or creepiness.

“Faces are how we judge our safety, how we pick potential partners, and identify family. Our aesthetics are wrapped up in how we perceive faces. And masks are a way we tell stories. They are potent ways to communicate. They are a way of connecting with nature, the spirits, ancestors, the gods, disguise, and protection. We use them in so many ways. They are universal.”

While The Masked Singer relies on glitz, glamour, and reality TV brassiness, millions of brains are reacting to the masks, no matter which celebrities are behind them.

Meaden with many masks
Meaden stands with masks she has made and collected.

 

 

Media Contact:

Tim Brouk

Senior News Content Manager

tbrouk@butler.edu

765-977-3931 (cell)

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Wendy Meaden holds masks.
ResearchUnleashed

Theatre Professor Writing the Textbook on ‘Masks Inside Out’

From early man to ‘Masked Singers,’ Wendy Meaden analyzes masks’ history, cultural significance, and theater roles.

Dec 11 2019 Read more
signing event
CommunityGiving

Gregory & Appel Establishes Largest Corporate Endowed Scholarship Ever at Butler

BY

PUBLISHED ON Dec 10 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – Gregory & Appel Insurance has given $500,000 to create the Gregory & Appel Endowed Scholarship for Risk Management and Insurance Education at Butler University, making it the largest corporate-sponsored endowed scholarship gift in University history.

The scholarship will benefit students studying risk management and insurance. Initiated by Gregory & Appel CEO Dan Appel and his wife, Kate, the scholarship is intended to help attract and develop new talent for the insurance industry in Indiana. Gregory & Appel announced yesterday that Dan Appel will be retiring as the company’s CEO at the end of 2019, but will serve as Non-Executive Board Chair. Andrew Appel will assume the role of CEO beginning January 1.

“We are extremely grateful to Gregory & Appel Insurance and Dan and Kate Appel for their investment in the lives of Butler students through this endowed scholarship gift,” President James Danko says. “Dan and Kate Appel are great friends to Butler University, and this scholarship is just the latest example of the many ways their influential leadership is making a difference in the Indianapolis community.”

The scholarship gift builds on Gregory & Appel’s long history of partnership with Butler. John J. Appel and his son, Fred G. Appel, were two of the 41 prominent local businessmen who financed the construction of Hinkle Fieldhouse on Butler’s campus in 1928. Now a National Historic Landmark, Hinkle has been a beloved community gathering place for more than 90 years.

In addition, Gregory & Appel has provided financial support to the Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program in the Andre B. Lacy School of Business. As one of only 58 risk management and insurance programs in the country, the Davey program is playing a crucial role in preparing a new generation of talent for an industry challenged by an aging workforce. Gregory & Appel regularly employs Butler students as interns, and a number of Butler graduates have found their professional home at the firm. In January 2019, Butler launched an online Master of Science in Risk and Insurance program to help address the industry’s talent gap.

“Gregory & Appel Insurance has been an incredible partner in the work of preparing our students for successful careers in the insurance industry,” says Lacy School of Business Dean Steve Standifird. “Their investment in the Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program as well as this new scholarship gift demonstrates their significant commitment to developing a talent pipeline of qualified future professionals. We are proud to collaborate in this effort with a company that shares our Butler values.”

Along with supporting the development of new talent for the insurance industry, the gift also enhances Butler’s scholarship endowment, a key priority of the University’s Butler Beyond strategic direction and comprehensive fundraising campaign. In an effort to broaden student access and success, the University is aiming to address the issue of affordability. Central to this goal is ensuring the long-term sustainability of the University’s robust financial aid program. Gregory & Appel’s scholarship gift is a significant step toward the University’s goal of putting a Butler education within reach of all students, regardless of financial circumstances.

For more than a decade, Gregory & Appel Insurance has been named a “Company that Cares” by the United Way of Central Indiana for their extensive involvement and investment in the local community. In recognition of exceptional volunteer and financial support, the United Way of Central Indiana awarded Gregory & Appel in 2017 with the Spirit United Award, its most prestigious recognition.

“It is my hope that this scholarship will support the development of our next generation of young leaders in insurance,” says Gregory & Appel CEO & Chairman Dan Appel. “The Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program is among the top in the nation and will deliver the best and brightest talent to our industry.  We are honored and humbled to be part of a legacy that will innovate the future of insurance.”

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

signing event
CommunityGiving

Gregory & Appel Establishes Largest Corporate Endowed Scholarship Ever at Butler

The scholarship will benefit students studying risk management and insurance.

Dec 10 2019 Read more
Experiential LearningUnleashed

Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Dec 04 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital costuming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other EPICS projects in the works this fall:

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

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

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

Experiential LearningUnleashed

Butler EPICS Students Develop Video Game to Help Children with Autism

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

Dec 04 2019 Read more
Lloyd Wright
CommunityPeople

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

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 26 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Lloyd Wright
CommunityPeople

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

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

Nov 26 2019 Read more
The Farm at Butler
Butler BeyondCampusCommunity

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

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

Media Contact:

Katie Grieze

News Content Manager

kgrieze@butler.edu

260-307-3403 (cell)

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

The Farm at Butler
Butler BeyondCampusCommunity

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

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

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Farm Manager Tim Dorsey
CampusPeople

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

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Life of a Farm Manager

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

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

Farm Manager Tim Dorsey
CampusPeople

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

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

Nov 25 2019 Read more
CampusExperiential Learning

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

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

 

Agroecology:

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

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

 

Caring for the soil:

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

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

 

Making the most of bugs:

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

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

 

 

What grows on the farm?

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

CampusExperiential Learning

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

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

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

Sustainability on the Syllabus

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

 

Having Faith in Nature - RL 384

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From Farm to Twitter - ORG 358

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cultivating Well Being - PWB115-BI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

The Farm at Butler classes
AcademicsExperiential Learning

Sustainability on the Syllabus

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

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

A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

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

The Farm at Butler FFA tour
CommunityUnleashed

A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Farm Stand Butler
CampusCommunity

So, Where Does All The Food Go?

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Nov 25 2019

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

 

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

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

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

 

Sourcing Indy’s Food Scene

Tyler Herald doesn’t cook tomatoes in the winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Subscribe to Local Produce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Discover Something New

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

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

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

 

 

Butler’s Backyard Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

READ MORE:

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

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

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

Part 4: Sustainability on the Syllabus

Part 5: A Model for Urban Farming in Indianapolis

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

 

Explore the full Farm at Butler mini-series here

 

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

 

Community Partnerships

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

Farm Stand Butler
CampusCommunity

So, Where Does All The Food Go?

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

Nov 25 2019 Read more
Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

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

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 18 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s just one area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Student Access and Success

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

Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

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

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

Nov 18 2019 Read more

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)

 

Experts

EXPERTS

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