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Trip - Butler Blue III
#ButlerBoundCampus

Butler Blue III To Retire At End of 2019-2020 Academic Year

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 22 2019

 

 

After eight years of greeting potential students with the news of their admission to Butler University, running down bones at Hinkle Fieldhouse to officially get basketball games started, and serving as Butler’s all-around ambassador, Butler Blue III will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

It turns out Butler Blue III, also known as Trip (short for Triple), is a lot like us humans. The American Kennel Club-registered English bulldog is hanging up his mascot duties because of his older age (for bulldogs), long tenure on the job, and desire to start the next chapter of his life.

“While he loves to work and enjoys being the Butler Bulldog, it's time,” says Trip’s caretaker and Butler’s Director of External Relations, Michael Kaltenmark. “The average lifespan of an English bulldog is 8-to-12 years, and now that Trip is entering that range, we want to make sure he gets to enjoy the simple pleasures of life as just our family dog.”

Kaltenmark and his colleagues will be working closely with Butler graduate and local veterinarian Dr. Kurt Phillips to identify Trip’s successor, Butler Blue IV. Upon arrival of Blue IV, Butler graduate and current Marketing Specialist Evan Krauss ‘16 will take over caregiving and training duties. Kaltenmark, who has devoted the last 16 years to the care of Butler Blue II and III, will still work closely with Krauss, but will primarily focus on his external relations work.

Trip has been part of Kaltenmark’s household since he was adopted in early 2012 at 7 weeks old. He will remain with the family during retirement. Kaltenmark has been on staff at Butler since graduating from the University in 2002, and he cares for Trip along with his wife Tiffany and his sons Everett (9) and Miles (5). 

But before Kaltenmark and Trip hang up the leash, they’re embarking on a farewell tour, or One Last Trip. Throughout the academic year, Trip will appear at Butler games and various events on campus, and he will even follow the Men’s Basketball team on the road to surprise several prospective students and to visit graduates.

“This year is really an opportunity for the Butler community and our fans to celebrate Trip and his service as mascot,” Kaltenmark says. “He has served Butler so admirably all of these years, and we want to send him off with a proper farewell.”

Some of Trip’s remaining highlights include stops in Chicago, Washington DC, Milwaukee, and New York. But first up is Butler’s Homecoming weekend, including Trip’s role as host of the 19th annual Butler Bulldog Beauty Contest on Saturday, October 26.

Further announcements about the arrival and debut of Butler Blue IV will be forthcoming. In the meantime, fans can continue to follow Trip and his #OneLastTrip experiences on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

 

Media Contact:

Rachel Stern

Director of Strategic Communications

914-815-5656 (cell)

rstern@butler.edu

Trip - Butler Blue III
#ButlerBoundCampus

Butler Blue III To Retire At End of 2019-2020 Academic Year

After serving as the official mascot for eight years, Trip will hang up the leash to spend more time with family.

Oct 22 2019 Read more

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

Jeff Stanich ’16

For six years, the #ButlerBound program has delivered good news to prospective students around the country. With a personal touch, and a lot of drool, Blue III (a.k.a. Trip), Butler’s live mascot, surprises future (human) Bulldogs with their acceptance letters or scholarship announcements.

More often than not, such a big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work behind the scenes with Butler to organize the surprise. We caught up with a few parents whose children had their acceptance letters paw-delivered by Trip to gain more insight on that moment and how their relationship with the university continued from there.

For Angela Buchman, she knows that getting the news directly from Trip could be one of the main factors in her son’s decision. Luke, now a high school senior, is still in the thick of his college-choosing process.

“If you saw Luke’s face, you saw how special that moment was, and how he’s continued to think about it,” she says. “In the last few years, he has really buckled down and worked hard at school, and Butler seemed to recognize that. It really vaulted Butler up his list.”

That’s right - Luke’s future as a bulldog is still up in the air. Some schools have his attention for the programs they offer, others because it’s where his friends will probably go. But no other school has pulled out the kind of stops that Butler has, which is exactly why the university does it.

As higher education becomes increasingly more competitive and the college decision becomes more pressure filled, Butler has a Trip up their sleeve.

Michael Kaltenmark, Butler's Director of Community and Government Relations and resident bulldog handler, makes anywhere from 40 to 100 admission visits with Trip each year. These visits demand lots of coordination and early mornings, but the payoff is worth it. Students who receive a personal visit from Kaltenmark and his loveable pooch are significantly more likely to attend Butler, and that’s what it’s all about.

And to be on the receiving end of such a visit is all the more memorable. Especially for Keelen Barlow.

“It was amazing - really, it was everything he could have hoped for,” says Keelen’s mother, Nicolette. “Given his backstory, and what Butler has always meant to him, it couldn’t have played out any more perfectly.”

Because even though no one in the Barlow family had ever attended Butler before Keelen started this fall, the university always held a special place in their lives.

After Keelen was born, Nicolette’s parents subscribed to season tickets for Butler basketball games and started to take him to every home game when he was only two. It’s how Keelen initially fell in love with Butler - and when his grandfather passed away, Nicolette believes going to the games became a way of keeping those memories alive.

“But even though he always wanted to be a student there, it wasn’t a sure thing given the costs,” she recalls. “That’s why Trip showing up at our door was so amazing. They didn't just come with an acceptance letter, it was also the first time we learned that Keelen had gotten the scholarship he needed to go.”

For Keelen, meeting Trip in a room full of his loved ones, including his grandma and fellow bulldog super-fan, all of his life seemed to be leading up to that moment. For Nicolette, it became one of many examples of how Butler often goes the extra mile to ensure its students feel a true sense of belonging on campus.

“It’s such a tight-knit community in so many regards, and I love knowing he’s not sitting in a lecture hall surrounded by 200 other students being taught by a T.A.,” she says. “Especially as a freshman, because all the changes are easy to get lost in. But when he came home for the first time he was a changed man. Definitely for the better.”

Angela is aware of those same obstacles that her son will face next year on campus as a freshman, wherever that might be.

“With everyone that Luke talks to at Butler, he can really tell how much they care about him as an individual already,” she says, “and I think that’s important to him. It’d be important to anyone. Butler’s people really are eager to help every student find their place there.”

So eager, in fact, that the Butler Bound visits become one of the hardest secrets to keep in town. For Angela, she couldn’t help but let it slip to the receptionist during one of Luke’s orthodontist visits.

With Keelen’s family, they all knew how significant this moment would be for him. And the more and more people were invited by his mother to witness it, Keelen started to know something was up. But even though he is a journalism major now and learning to chase leads, his instincts were a little off when guessing what everyone was so excited about.

“He thought I was pregnant!” Nicolette says. “Once I started telling him to be home on a certain day and time he got really suspicious, but he still didn’t expect the bulldog to be there on the front door. He was so shocked that I had to remind him to let them in.”

Because there, in his living room surrounded by family, dreams were coming true between two bulldogs. Nicolette used to fear that her son would get teased for wearing a Butler t-shirt every day growing up. But all those worries went away knowing her son would soon be right at home.

“Once he got his letter and that scholarship there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to let Butler happen for him,” Nicolette says. “He still pretended to look at other places just because they were on the table before. But his heart was already at Butler, where it still is now.”

#ButlerBoundAcademicsStudent Life

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

A big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work with Butler to organize the surprise.

#ButlerBoundAcademics

#ButlerBound: Where are They Now?

BY Jeff Stanich '16

PUBLISHED ON Nov 16 2018

For five years, the #ButlerBound program has delivered good news to prospective students around the country. With a personal touch and a lot of drool, Trip - Butler’s live mascot - surprises future Bulldogs with their acceptance letters or scholarship announcements.

We followed up with three current students who once received the furry herald to hear about their #ButlerBound experience and to find out what they are doing now.

 

Allan Schneider

One room. Dozens of applicants. Only a few full-ride scholarships on the line.

This is the stressful scene Allan Schneider sets while recounting the final leg of a marathon he’d been on his entire life to get to Butler University. As an Indianapolis native, Allan couldn’t help but view Butler as the cream of the crop when it came to colleges. But the reality of actually attending was a little more sobering.

“It was always my number one choice, but by the time I was applying it fell because of the cost,” Schneider says, now a psychology major in the Class of 2022. “I only felt that the scholarship interview went fine, which didn’t boost my confidence. But the worst part was hearing it would be three more weeks before I found out if I got it.”

But it would only take three days.

After being instructed to stay in his study hall to show prospective parents and students around, Allan heard one of his teachers, a Butler alumna herself, shriek in delight down the hall.

“Then in walks Trip with his handler and he asks: ‘Are you Allan Schneider?’ I knew right away what was happening. All I could think was: don’t look like an idiot,” Schneider says. “That was the start of the best day of my life. For sure.”

Trip and his handler, Michael Kaltenmark, didn’t have to travel far that day. Allan’s study hall room at Bishop Chatard High School is only three miles east from Butler’s campus. They arrived by van, but had it been Allan on the other end of Trip’s leash, they would’ve arrived on foot.

Allan had been running cross country for most of his life, an extracurricular that sent him on a path through Butler’s campus almost every day for practice. As a kid, every student and professor with whom he interacted was friendly and treated him like an equal. That warmth stuck with Allan, setting the expectations high for his Butler experience even after accepting the scholarship.

But time and time again, Butler continues to exceed those expectations. After underperforming on an exam, one of his professors offered to walk him through all the questions he had, which was when Allan recognized the professor sincerely cared about how he was doing.

“Not just in the class, but in my everyday life, which kind of shocked me,” Schneider says. “This really made me realize how incredible everyone at Butler is, and how the people here truly care about you and want you to succeed in every aspect of your life.”

For the younger Allan Schneider who once ran through Holcomb Gardens as a child, he is living a dream come true.

The bell tower is still ringing with every passing hour. The campus remains home to friendly faces. And he is still running, growing every step of the way.

 

Keelen Barlow

It’s only ever taken one question to find Keelen Barlow in a game of Guess Who: “Does your character wear a Butler t-shirt?”

“I’ve been wearing one for as long as I can remember, probably since I was two. That’s when my grandpa and grandma started taking me to all the basketball games at Hinkle,” Barlow says. “This place has always been a second home for me ever since.”

Which is why it was all the more special when, in the middle of an otherwise average week, Keelen’s mom made sure he didn’t have any plans made for the following Wednesday after school. Surprises like this weren’t the norm in the Barlow household, so Keelen started working on some theories.

He knew he was waiting to hear if he had been accepted into Butler. He knew his mom wouldn’t set aside time for bad news. He also knew that another Indianapolis native, Allan Schneider, got a personal visit from Butler’s live mascot, Trip, with the news that he was Butler Bound after reading about it in the IndyStar.

Days later, while watching a soccer game with his buddy Jared, Keelen voiced his suspicions for the very first time: “What if Trip is coming to my house on Wednesday?”

He was spot on.

Many members of his extended family gathered around on that Wednesday, including the grandma he’s continued going to every basketball game with after his grandpa passed when he was five. Then, right on cue, Trip and Kaltenmark knocked on the door with a special delivery.

“I don’t necessarily want to say that every moment of my life had been leading up to that, but…” Barlow says, “that’s kind of exactly how it felt.”

Now, as a journalism major in his first year, Keelen is still going wherever the next hunch takes him. But no matter where every uncertain lead goes, whether it's covering a local beat for class or on assignment for the Butler Collegian, Keelen knows he is exactly where he needs to be.

“Back when I made my first official visit, my current advisor Scott Bridge told me: ‘We’d love to have you. And whether you come here or not, know that I’m here for you,’” Barlow says. “He spoke to me like I was a real person, not another applicant. I didn’t feel that anywhere else.”

Unlike other first-year students, Keelen has a deeper appreciation for the way campus has evolved without losing its essence since he first arrived as a child. Because, in a way, the same can be said of him.

“Of course I still wear Butler t-shirts,” Barlow said. “There’s just a whole lot more around me now.”

 

Brooke Blevins

You probably can’t describe a seahawk as well as you can count off teams and schools that use the bird as its mascot. South River High School in Edgewater, MD, is one of those schools.

So you can imagine the confusion South River’s players and fans felt as a bulldog panted his way into the locker room before a women’s basketball game.

But that night, Brooke Blevins felt clarity. She was going to be a bulldog, too.

“My younger brother and I hadn’t put Butler on our list of schools to visit initially, but it ended up being on the way between other options,” says Blevins, now a sophomore studying with the College of Communication. “I knew right away once I got to campus that Butler was a place I could definitely call home.”

That feeling ended up being the key ingredient to her success. Because being 600 miles away from home for the first time not only brought the occasional wave of isolation, it also left Brooke without plans for her first fall break. With her new peers making plans for quick visits home to reconnect with family and friends, Brooke’s options dwindled as the days passed.

“But then someone recommended that I apply for the Fall Alternative Break, and honestly everything I’ve really loved about Butler since started with that trip,” Blevins says. “Doors for more and more opportunities just keep opening up.”

After spending a long weekend in Kentucky by helping with affordable housing projects, Brooke put herself up to be on the committee for the following year’s trip. She turned those connections into a job with the volunteer center on campus. Then into a six-month internship in Singapore working in her dream field of event management, all while juggling the demands of a double-major in Human Communication & Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication.

That’s a full plate for any student, but one that Brooke never takes for granted.

“I’ve discovered new passions and ways to follow them to their highest potential,” she says. “Even though I feel like I’ve already been able to do so much with my time at Butler, I know there is still so much more to look forward to.”

Brooke traces all the excitement in her voice back to that night in her high school gymnasium, when the desire to attend Butler was fulfilled in the form of bulldog waiting just for her.

“I see Trip every once in a while on campus, but I can’t be sure if he recognizes me since he’s always surrounded by a crowd of students.”

A crowd of students who, just like Brooke, see that bulldog and know they’re home.

#ButlerBoundAcademics

#ButlerBound: Where are They Now?

Hear from three current students who once received #ButlerBound visits to find out what they are doing now.

Nov 16 2018 Read more
#ButlerBoundCampus

The Untold Story of the #ButlerBound Program

BY Kristi Lafree

PUBLISHED ON Oct 23 2018

 

 

It was so obvious.

Michael Kaltenmark remembers the exact moment the plan was hatched to begin delivering Butler University admission decisions with a 65-pound, heavy-breathing, slobbery bulldog.

“I immediately thought ‘Yes. Duh. Of course we should be doing that!’” says Kaltenmark.

It was 2014 and Kaltenmark, Director of Community and Government Relations and caretaker to official live mascots Butler Blue II and III (better known as Trip) had been traveling with bulldog in tow to different cities alongside the men’s basketball team. The duo would make stops at some of the city’s main attractions and called their treks the Big Dawgs Tour.

“We had already set this precedent of taking Trip on the road,” Kaltenmark says. “Matt Mindrum, our Vice President of Marketing at the time, suggested we should bolster those efforts and go see prospective students in each market who were waiting for their admission decision.”

Light bulb moment. The #ButlerBound program was born.

“I knew it was a great idea, and that was validated after the first few visits we made,” Kaltenmark says. “We saw each family’s reactions, and watched the ripple effect made in social media and in each community we traveled to.

“I knew we were on to something good.”

Every year since, Trip and his team have been surprising high school seniors at their homes, schools, and places of work to let them know that they’ve been admitted to Butler–in person and live on social media, with thousands of followers sharing in the moment. Now entering its fifth year, the initiative has grown rapidly and delivered surprises to hundreds of high schoolers across 17 states.

These carefully crafted visits require days of preparation, cooperation from co-conspiring admission counselors, parents, teachers, and a full gas tank to keep the Butler Blue Mobile trekking. But the efforts are worth it, as students who receive a visit from Trip are more likely to enroll at Butler than those who don’t. And the reach extends beyond just those who receive a personal surprise. The goal, Kaltenmark says, is to capture student and family reaction and then feature it on social media so prospective students miles away might be inclined to apply.

The decades-old tradition of checking the mailbox for the large envelope is slowly changing. In fact, 92 percent of high school seniors now say they prefer to receive most communications from colleges–including the “you’ve been admitted’ announcement–online. And in an ever-competitive market, where the number of college-bound high school students is declining, university admissions and marketing departments must get creative to stand out.

Enter Trip.

Six years in, the #ButlerBound program has completely changed the “I got in!” daydream for hopeful Butler applicants. That daydream now includes a knock on the door and a little bit of dog drool.

The Impact

Students who receive a personal visit from Trip are 25-30 percent likely to end up enrolling—much higher than the University’s standard 10-15 percent yield rate.

“We know a visit from the dog probably won’t take a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’,” Kaltenmark says. “But it causes families to take a closer look at Butler. We’ve had parents tell us that we went from fifth on their son’s list to first, just because of our visit.”

The visits create a reason for some lighthearted celebration–much needed during what can otherwise be an extremely stressful time, says Director of Admission DJ Menifee.

“We know how serious the college decision-making process is for families,” Menifee says. “This campaign lets them put their guard down and just enjoy the experience.”

The program is also a morale booster for the admission staff. Whitney Ramsay, Assistant Director of Admission, has helped coordinate many student visits.

“I feel like I’m a Publisher’s Clearinghouse employee,” she laughs. “I’m able to truly witness a student’s admission to Butler University, in a way that only a Butler admission counselor can. It’s so rewarding to see students who I’ve come to know through the application process receive that big surprise.”

The broader Butler community of students, alumni, and faculty and staff support the campaign each year, helping to welcome each student on social media. Kaltenmark doesn’t think the original idea caught any of them by surprise, though.

“I think Butler folks almost expected this sort of thing from us,” he says. “It’s just indicative of who we are as an institution.”

But outside of Butler?

“People were immediately captivated,” he says. “It’s a really simple concept, but the idea was fresh and innovative in higher education. We started turning heads and got the attention of a lot of people.”

The heads that turned included those at local and national media outlets. In 2017, the campaign was featured on NBC Nightly News and the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Indianapolis Star. The initiative has also won two Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awards for its innovative use of social media, a prestigious honor in the world of higher education marketing.

And remember that “ripple effect?”

Since 2014, applications to Butler have increased by nearly 70 percent, with particularly significant out-of-state growth. In the last three years alone, the University has welcomed its two largest incoming first-year classes ever.

“We leave these families in awe. They go tell five other families about their experience. Each student shares it on his or her own social media platforms and their classmates all see it,” Kaltenmark says. “Each visit is about much more than just the student we’re seeing.”

The Planning

The number one question about the program is a tough one to answer.

“People want to know how we select students for visits,” Kaltenmark says. “And there are a lot of factors at play. It’s very time-consuming.”

Geography plays a huge role in the planning process, he says. The team seeks to visit as many students as possible on any given day, to maximize resources. So. students who live near Indianapolis or in highly-populated areas with lots of other applicants have a natural advantage. Those who happen to live in a market that coincides with an away basketball game or a Big Dawgs Tour stop also have better-than-average odds.

In many ways, Kaltenmark says, some luck and a certain amount of randomness is involved.

But over the years, the level of sophistication behind-the-scenes has grown, too. Butler’s admission and marketing teams work side-by-side to make this seemingly grassroots campaign operate like a well-oiled machine. A massive amount of student data is collected and combed through, with flagging processes set up to identify prospective students who could be good candidates for a personal visit. Admission counselors know which cues to look for as they spend time reading each student’s application individually (yes, all 16,000+ of them), and inbound requests from alumni, current students, and faculty and staff are documented and shared at a rapid pace, so that the let’s-go-visit-this-student alarm can be sounded as quickly as possible.

And while the team gets to enjoy watching each visit unfold online alongside the rest of the world, their work doesn’t stop when the livestream ends. There are social media posts to draft and videos to edit and metrics to collect and report out.

And more students to visit.

“We enjoy the moment, for sure,” Kaltenmark says. “It’s personally very rewarding to play such an active role like this. But then we get back to work.”

The Hurdles

Just like all well-orchestrated events, the #ButlerBound campaign presents its own unique challenges.

“Once, we went to the wrong home,” Kaltenmark says. “We were at the neighbor’s house knocking on the door until he came out and pointed us in the right direction. Of course, that was the year we had started using Facebook Live, so thousands of people were laughing at us.”

The team has learned to troubleshoot other issues over time.

“Five years in, Trip has this drill pretty much down pat,” he says. “But we still try to keep him away from balloon bouquets. And cats.”

In 2016, the program suffered its greatest challenge to date. Trip was sidelined with an ACL injury and couldn’t make the rounds. But rather than cancel visits, the team called in for backup from Trip’s great nieces and nephews, 10-week old English bulldog puppies who shared the same lineage. Some particularly lucky students opened their doors that year to find upwards of six puppies on their front porch, sporting oversized Butler gear, overexcited personalities, and more puppy rolls than one can imagine.

The one challenge that’s remained constant throughout the years? Operating on a shoestring budget.

“We’re really frugal in this campaign. We have to be,” Kaltenmark says. “We drive ourselves or try to hitch a ride on the team charter when we’re traveling with the team. We all share one hotel room, Trip included. We have to be really creative.”

Looking Ahead

A lot has changed since year one.

“After the first round of visits, President Jim Danko asked me if we could ‘just get 30 dogs’,” says Kaltenmark, laughing.

And while the number of mascots didn’t change, the number of student visits has. In 2015, the team delivered nearly 100 surprises in multiple states, more than three times the number visited in 2014. That pace has remained steady ever since.

In 2017, a Marketing Specialist was added to the team to help with the live mascot program’s growing needs. Butler graduate Evan Krauss now handles the bulk of the planning efforts and joins Kaltenmark and Trip on the road.

Later that year, Facebook Live became a part of the equation, allowing social media followers to join in on each and every surprise.

In September 2018, the team began visiting graduate students admitted to the Lacy School of Business’s new Master of Science in Risk and Insurance program.

But with all of these enhancements, the team has made sure the bread-and-butter of the concept remains unchanged.

“We’re two guys who graduated from Butler, rolling up with a dog in an official mascot sweater to deliver exciting news in person,” Kaltenmark says. “We’re like Butler missionaries spreading the Bulldog gospel.”

Looking ahead, Kaltenmark says people can expect the annual tradition to continue. The program has become an integral component of the University’s enrollment and brand awareness strategies.

“If anything, we’re now just looking for ways to continue to evolve things and one-up ourselves,” he says. “Who knows what’s next?”

--

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

Butler Bound

#ButlerBoundCampus

The Untold Story of the #ButlerBound Program

How a Bulldog changed the “I got in!” moment for Butler students.

Oct 23 2018 Read more