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Butler Magazine

Winter 2021

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The Butler Way: Now More Than Ever

James M. Danko

President

from Winter 2021

President DankoOn my evening campus walks with Daisy throughout the fall semester, I heard remarkably consistent perspectives from our students. I certainly heard concerns and opinions about the challenges we face as a nation—including our shared imperative to reckon with centuries of racial and social injustice—and the ways the pandemic has disrupted college life and society as a whole. Just as frequently, however, they expressed their optimism for the successful healing of our nation’s wounds; gratitude for the opportunity to be on campus; and appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of our faculty and staff to provide them with the support and resources they needed.

Although this semester was worrisome, to say the least, for all of us in university leadership roles, these conversations affirmed that Butler’s decision to offer in-person learning this fall was the right one. The efforts of our faculty and staff to ensure the safety of our students, while offering the most vibrant academic and extracurricular experiences possible, were indeed worthwhile.

I have been incredibly proud of the Butler University community’s resilience throughout this difficult year. You’ll see for yourself in the pages of this issue some of the ways our people have met the challenges of teaching and learning during a global pandemic with compassion, cooperation, and a great deal of creativity. You’ll read about the ways our students are preparing for the leadership roles they will hold in their careers, communities, and families. And you’ll learn more about the tangible and concrete progress we have made on a number of important strategic initiatives since the public launch of our Butler Beyond strategy and comprehensive fundraising campaign in October 2019.

Butler’s momentum—even in the midst of crisis and loss—gives me hope. The good in our society is reflected on our campus. When I look at Butler students, I see future leaders who will direct discourse and shape policy for the next generation. With guidance from our faculty and staff, and the generous support of our dedicated alumni and friends, I am confident that Butler students will continue to exemplify The Butler Way—now more than ever. 

Bethanie and I wish you a new year filled with health, happiness, and Bulldog pride.

carillion
Campus

The Butler Way: Now More Than Ever

A letter from President James M. Danko

by James M. Danko

from Winter 2021

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COE Susan Adams

The New Normal

Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

I don’t think I have this perfect yet. How’s it going for you? What do we need to do differently?

Susan Adams, Professor of Education, has asked those questions to her students again and again throughout the academic year. Even as she adapts to teaching in a hybrid learning environment, with a few students attending her classes in person and most tuning in on Zoom, she’s been making sure to explain her choices, ask for feedback, and create learning opportunities for future educators.

“We are finding ways to make hybrid learning work,” Adams says.

“I am super comfortable on Zoom—I had already been using it for five years before we went virtual last spring. But the difference for me, in education, is that I also have to be a model for my students: ‘Here’s how you do this. Here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s why I’m making this choice.’ I’m trying to be transparent and vulnerable, letting them watch me struggle out loud with those decisions.”

One way Adams has done this is through implementing a practice she calls “class notes.” The shared documents are somewhat like weekly syllabi, outlining detailed plans for each class period and providing links to all the relevant resources. But unlike a typical syllabus that covers a broad schedule and might be updated once or twice throughout the term, “class notes” also serve as collaborative online spaces for students to share thoughts and reflections with one another.

“This is something I never would have thought of if we weren’t partially virtual, but I’m not going to stop doing it after the pandemic is over,” Adams says. “It’s just so beautifully practical, and it’s another way for me to be transparent about our class plans and my thinking behind them.” 

Other faculty across the College of Education (COE) have also made the most of hybrid learning, using it as a lesson on the need to stay flexible in the classroom. COE Professor Deb Lecklider, MSE ’89 serves as Director of Butler’s Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP). When it first became apparent last spring that reopening schools during the pandemic would not be easy, Lecklider and the graduate program’s cohort members switched gears to help provide school districts with the resources they would need to make difficult decisions. By the end of June, the class had interviewed more than 80 education experts and created a nearly 400-page guidebook of recommendations to support school leaders through the reopening process.

In the fall semester, Lecklider continued basing some of the program’s lessons on the challenges facing educators due to COVID-19.

“During this pandemic,” she explains, “there has been a lot of weight on the shoulders of teachers and school leaders. Not only do you have to be concerned about maintaining safety during in-person classes—with social distancing, masks, and so on—but you also have some students attending classes virtually. That means you have to prepare for both the students you’ll have in front of you and the ones you’ll have online with you. The adaptations teachers need to make with this HyFlex model are just enormous.” 

The hybrid learning environment was relatively new for both Lecklider and her graduate students, most of whom were simultaneously teaching their own classes in K-12 schools. Luckily, they could all meet twice a week to share what they had learned.

“It was different for me, and it was a lot of work,” Lecklider says. “But I have learned a lot from my students. We all just work together, and I try to be as supportive and understanding as possible. Extending grace during this pandemic has been increasingly important.”

Lecklider added a “cool tools” section to each class session, carving out time for students to teach one another about different technologies and online platforms that can make it easier to hold hybrid classes. During one meeting, a student taught the group how to use FlipGrid, a website allowing teachers to create video-based discussion boards. Lecklider learned to use the platform right alongside her students.

“With the experiential piece of the EPPSP program, we are in the trenches,” she says. “We cover things in class that students can practice on their own time, out in the field. With the pandemic, we are all in this at the same time and learning together.”

COE Susan Adams
Innovation

The New Normal

Throughout 2020, College of Education faculty found ways to use the pandemic as a teaching opportunity

by Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

Read more
istock

Going Remote

Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Butler to move classes online in mid-March, the Center for Academic Technology (CAT) supported faculty, staff, and students through the transition. While the demand for their services tripled, CAT’s four Academic Technology Specialists put in the extra hours to make sure the heart of a Butler experience wasn’t lost in a virtual setting.

As a team made up of Butler grads, they knew firsthand what makes the University special. Kristen Allen ’12 and Nick Wilson ’08 both completed undergraduate degrees at Butler, and Megan Grady, MA ’10 earned her master’s. Heather Hazelwood ’05, MS ’14, who has now moved on to new opportunities, did both.

“Our whole team loves Butler,” Allen says. “We’re always excited to come alongside faculty to assist with classroom success.”

During the second half of the spring 2020 semester, that meant working closely with instructors to mimic planned activities in an online setting. Faculty who felt most comfortable using overhead projectors switched to portable versions. Others used Zoom breakout rooms to provide spaces where students could continue collaborating. In some classes, interactive presentations were moved to online discussion boards, allowing students to still engage in meaningful conversations.

“I’ve seen faculty get really creative with their solutions,” Allen says. “Many of them have come to us and explained what they value most in their classrooms, and it’s a lot of what you think about when it comes to Butler in general: deep relationships with students. They didn’t want to lose that in moving to a remote online learning environment.”

Throughout the rest of 2020, the CAT team continued supporting faculty as most students returned to campus for a mix of online and in-person classes. The team provided training about tools and best practices for online instruction, offered ongoing assistance with day-to-day questions, and more. Through it all, they have focused on helping instructors feel confident and competent while using technology—whether class is in-person, online, or a little bit of both.

 

KristenKristen Allen ’12
Major: Math Education

“I absolutely loved my time at Butler. My professors were awesome mentors, and they helped me figure out what I wanted to do. Now, working here, I have the chance to revisit so many of the great memories I have from being on campus as a student.

After graduating, I worked for a wealth management company and did some nonprofit work, but I always loved Butler. I always loved teaching and technology. When there was an opening with the CAT, I applied right away, and I was really happy to be part of the team.”

 

MeganMegan Grady, MA ’10
MA Program: Master of Arts in English

“My liberal arts education taught me to love learning, which has been really useful when it comes to technology. Most of the patience and creativity I bring to my work stems not from formalized technology training, but from habits I forged while writing one literature essay after another. As a literature student at Butler, I had to know my audience and find my angle. Helping people with technology is no different—you have to know whom you’re helping and which angles they’re likely to appreciate.

I love working with faculty, listening to what they want to accomplish in their classrooms, and thinking through which resources are available to help them do that. I love the challenge of helping people feel more comfortable with technology—to make them feel like it’s something that can actually help them be efficient.”

 

NickNick Wilson ’08
Major: Electronic Media

“I love the lightbulb effect—when people start to understand a technology and see its full potential. For example, during COVID-19, many faculty members have tried new things and realized they might want to use those tools in all their classes moving forward. The biggest way my Butler education prepared me was by teaching me The Butler Way. I really feel that Butler is different from the average university because our faculty are so connected with the students. I think that makes a big difference.”

 

HeatherHeather Hazelwood ’05, MS ’14
Major: Recording Industry Studies
MS Program: Effective Teaching and Leadership 

“After working at Butler for almost 10 years, I built deep relationships with faculty, which helped me support them in meaningful ways. I strive to be a solution finder, and to find joy in helping others improve their teaching for the benefit of students. I also do my best to put others’ needs before my own. While these qualities seem innate, I can’t deny that my experience as a student at Butler helped mold me into the person I am today.”

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Alumni Success

Going Remote

In 2020, four alumni in Butler's Center for Academic Technology supported faculty, staff, and students through the transition to online learning

by Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

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Dana Zenobi

Note for Note

Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

Dana Zenobi, Assistant Professor of Music, couldn’t have another semester of bad karaoke. That’s what she told Butler’s Information Technology (IT) staff in a late-July email about the difficulties of teaching voice lessons during a pandemic. In-person singing just wasn’t an option, as safe distancing and mask-wearing would prevent instructors from observing technical details like mouth shape or jaw position. They tried holding rehearsals over Zoom when Butler first moved classes online last spring, but the video conferencing program wasn’t fast enough to support the immediacy needed for collaborative music-making. There was always a beat or two of delay between singer and pianist. Zoom also couldn’t capture the full range of vocal harmonics.

So, students were stuck singing along to pre-recorded accompaniments.

“Instead of having a pianist who could respond to what we were doing in the moment, everything felt very rigid,” says Sophie Strasheim, a senior Music Education and Vocal Performance Major. “It was hard to be expressive.”

Oliver Worthington and Dana Zenobi
Oliver Worthington and Dana Zenobi

By the start of the fall semester, Music faculty and IT staff had teamed up to find a solution. Zenobi attended a virtual summer conference—the Acoustic Vocal Pedagogy Workshop at New England Conservatory—where she learned about a free, high-speed audio platform called SoundJack. The tool is designed specifically for real-time, online music-making. If Butler could just build a few mini-computers to run only that software—and throw in some professional-grade audio equipment—the experience would be even better.

“I know nothing about computers,” Zenobi says. “My knowledge of microphones back in August was, ‘Is it shaped like an ice cream cone, or is it shaped like a pencil?’ I knew nothing about networks, nothing about IP addresses, but the New England Conservatory course showed me that something very exciting was possible. Oliver Worthington, Butler’s Vocal Area Coordinator, quickly jumped on board. He and I built Fastmusic Box prototypes using Raspberry Pi processors, which are basically customizable mini-computers. And that’s when I contacted IT and said, ‘Alright, here’s my problem, and here’s a potential solution.’”

IT staff didn’t hesitate. Excited to be involved with an innovative fix to a teaching problem, they held meetings nearly every day until the technology was up and running. They requested some tweaks that would allow the software to better serve a university environment. To avoid the “nest of wires” needed to connect with regular monitors and keyboards, they designed a Raspberry Pi touchscreen that attaches directly to the mini-computer, creating something like a portable tablet that students can check out alongside a high-quality microphone to use for lessons. All students need to bring are their headphones and their voices.

building Fastmusic boxesFastmusic boxThe team built 14 of the Raspberry Pi devices. Michael Denny, Butler Network and Security Engineer, says these Fastmusic Boxes can provide higher quality and more reliable performance than if they had tried to install SoundJack on students’ personal computers. 

“On a regular computer, SoundJack needs to compete with all the other programs that are running simultaneously,” Denny says. “Dedicating a device to only one function, like processing audio, allows it to execute that function as quickly as possible.”

Now, three people can tune in from three different places but feel like they are creating music together.

“It’s a lot closer to being there in person,” says Strasheim. “Occasionally, it might be just slightly behind, but it’s usually right on track and feels like you and the pianist are in the same room.” 

Zenobi says this solution has allowed students to have the kinds of music-making experiences that made them want to pursue singing in the first place.

“Making videos by yourself and having them edited into a virtual choir is wonderful and impressive when you get to the end product,” she explains, “but that’s not what these students signed up to do. They signed up to make music together with other people, and to learn and grow in that capacity. The ability to do that again has been thrilling for them. When students try this for the first time, they get so excited—sometimes on the edge of tears—because they’re like, ‘Wow, I missed making music so much.’”

Dana Zenobi
Innovation

Note for Note

Music faculty and IT staff teamed up to find a solution for teaching voice lessons during a pandemic

by Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

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Duane Leatherman and students

Family For Life

Rachel Stotts

from Winter 2021

Duane Leatherman

In 1989, Professor Duane Leatherman and his soon-to-be-wife, Linnéa Anderson ’75, sat together in a dark room in Residential College (ResCo) trying to imagine what it would be like to live there with students. They couldn’t have known it would be the beginning of a 30-year adventure as Faculty-in-Residence (FIR), living with and caring for their beloved “Butler kids.”

In March 2020, Duane couldn’t have known how much life was about to change...again. In New York City, planning to attend the BIG EAST Tournament and enjoy a Broadway show, he and the rest of the Butler contingent learned that the Tournament was canceled and they were heading back to Indy, where a stay-at-home order was imminent and students would not return from Spring Break.

For most faculty members, this meant teaching remotely from their homes. For the Leathermans, it meant their family had left the building.

“I went up and down the hallways seeing all of the stuff that students had on their doors, but there were no students. It was eerie,” Duane recalls.

While the students didn’t come back for the rest of the spring semester, the Leathermans did have some Zoom sessions with the students to talk through the shock of the situation and try to answer questions that the students had.

“They all just wanted to know when it would be over,” says Duane.

Before COVID-19, the Leathermans loved to have students come to their apartment, cramming as many as 40 students into the small space for pizza parties, Insomnia cookies, wings night, pie tastings at Thanksgiving, fresh cookies out of the oven, and faculty dinners. Perhaps most famous is the “Leatherman Lemonade” (shhhh...it’s doctored-up Country Time served from a punch bowl).

Duane Leatherman
Photo from Corey Alvarez ’95 and Eddie Manuszak ’95, taken with Leatherman in the early ’90s

These gatherings—as well as field trips to places like the Landmark for Peace Memorial, the Ovid Butler House, Pacers games, and shows—came to a halt when the pandemic hit. 

This loss of connection is by far the most painful effect of the virus for the Leathermans, says Linnéa. “When President [Geoffrey] Bannister started the FIR program, he told Duane we’d make friends for life, and he was right,” she says. Duane enthusiastically agrees, “We have made family for life.” 

“All of the interconnectedness that was the point of starting this program...that’s the extra piece of fabric that got woven in because of all these people being in the dorms together,” says Linnéa. “When that’s broken, it’s a piece that they can’t have. They have a hole in their cloth.”

Despite what COVID-19 has temporarily taken away, the Leathermans consider their role as FIR and their relationships with the students invaluable. They look forward to the day when they can freely interact with their Butler kids again without the hindrance of masks and limitations on social gatherings. Leatherman Lemonade will flow again.

Duane Leatherman and students
Student-Centered

Family For Life

Duane and Linnéa Leatherman have spent 30 years as Faculty-in-Residence (FIR), building invaluable relationships with Butler students

by Rachel Stotts

from Winter 2021

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Francie & Abby

Fostering Connections—When Dawgs Need It Most

Kendall Mason ’16

from Winter 2021

The year 2020 has taught us many things—most importantly, to expect the unexpected and never take human connection for granted. From maintaining a six-foot separation at Starbucks to tuning in to class via Zoom, all students have faced navigating the “new normal” on campus. First-year students, however, also face the additional challenge of adjusting to campus life itself.

Brooke Barnett, Dean of the College of Communication (CCOM), sought ways to ease this challenge and over the summer connected with Lecturer in Journalism and Internship Director Scott Bridge ’82, MS ’91 to establish a Peer Mentoring Program within CCOM. “The power of peer relationships is pretty clear in higher education literature,” says Barnett.

Peer-mentoring has been ingrained in Butler’s campus culture since its founding, but with the new formalized process, first-year students are assigned a mentor before arriving on campus in the fall. Similarities like major and hometown are primary considerations when pairing mentors and first-year students. Pairs are encouraged to meet as it makes sense for their schedules and to discuss with one another a range of topics—from which courses to take each semester to general feelings about being far from home.

“It’s important to note that peer-mentors don’t take the place of academic advisors,” Bridge states, “but rather are a chance for students to have conversations with one another and develop relationships that can make the first year at Butler a more comfortable transition.”

Bridge invited students in their second or third year to serve as mentors based on factors like their academic performance, internship experiences, and past involvement in other college activities. Students who chose to become mentors engaged in training modules to provide them with knowledge needed to navigate conversations with their mentee. These modules focused on diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, and Butler’s Career and Professional Success (CaPS) department.

It’s not uncommon for these pre-assigned mentor/mentee relationships to transform into natural, lasting friendships. This was the case for junior Journalism student Francie Wilson and her mentee, Abby Fostveit. For the first six weeks of the semester, the two met outside of Starbucks for a socially distanced coffee. “We would chat for about an hour a week just about anything from professors I’ve had good relationships with to Spanish language resources,” Wilson says. “Now we just touch base on Zoom and chat about life.”

Bridge looks forward to rolling out a CCOM Professional Mentorship Program in January that will match third-year students with a recent Butler graduate in their desired career field. “CCOM isn’t the only college formalizing a mentorship program,” says Bridge.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), for example, conducts department-based Peer Mentoring Programs. Professor of Anthropology and Folklore Tom Mould explains that his department’s first-year students were paired with a junior or senior, and relationships were established before students got to campus. These LAS mentors help mentees prepare for exams, connect with on-campus organizations, and meet other students with shared interests. Pairs also enjoyed fun, festive activities this semester. “We organized events such as a scavenger hunt around campus and pumpkin carving for Halloween, all of which could be done outside, masked, and socially distanced,” says Mould.

Whether mentor/mentee pairs meet one-on-one through socially distanced events or virtually, the University’s formalized Peer Mentoring Program serves students in the Butler community in extremely valuable ways. The connections built through the Peer Mentoring Program can help students recognize the “home away from home” that is Butler University—even in the unprecedented days of 2020.

 

Photo: Francie Wilson (left) and Abby Fostveit (right)

Francie & Abby
Student-Centered

Fostering Connections—When Dawgs Need It Most

Peer mentors help first-year Butler students adjust to campus life

by Kendall Mason ’16

from Winter 2021

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Evan and Blue

From the sidewalk, Kristi Lafree glanced up at the branches of the dogwood trees creating a canopy over her head. It was March 13, 2020, and she realized the trees would soon be blooming with the bright-pink flowers that help make the Butler University campus so photogenic. She made a mental note to get pictures for some enrollment marketing materials she was working on.

She didn’t know the United States would declare a national emergency due to COVID-19 that day, and those dogwood trees would be dropping their reddish-purple fall leaves before she saw them again.

“Everything we did in the Office of Admission was turned upside down,” says Lafree, Director of Enrollment Marketing. “It’s been a whirlwind.”

From full steam ahead to full stop
Lafree and the Butler enrollment staff were in full recruitment mode that day. Student-led tours and family visits were scheduled. Admission counselors were visiting college fairs and high schools across the country. Even the very first visit for new University mascot Butler Blue IV (“Blue”) and new handler Evan Krauss ’16 to surprise a student with their official offer of admission was in the works.

Suddenly, none of those things could happen. And the future of hundreds of high school seniors—the prime audience for all these efforts—had just become extraordinarily uncertain.

“Every student we were working with had been impacted. They needed answers, and we got the phone calls,” says Lori Greene, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “There were concerns about advanced placement tests. There were concerns about final grades on transcripts. How would all these issues affect their college admission?”

Now-Director of Admission Jerome “Jerry” Dueweke says the staff was “moving at light speed” to keep up. “No one had a script. It was all hands on deck.”

Blake Hall and Blue
Blake Hall of Indianapolis receiving a socially distanced admission packet from Blue.

Top priority: Ease the pain
Despite the pace, Butler’s enrollment team made a key decision early on: to act with empathy. 

“The stress on high school seniors is unbelievable. We’ve done everything we can to alleviate that,” Lafree says.

Greene agrees. “We communicated all along the way, ‘We understand. You’re not having a prom, you won’t get the grades you worked so hard for. We’re sorry, and we want to help.’”

High school counselors were concerned about the strain on their seniors. In response, Butler’s Admission staff made themselves available to help students through the college search process, even those no longer considering Butler.

The staff made numerous other adjustments to lessen the stress. In one example, Butler made SATs and ACTs (entrance exams) optional for the 2021 incoming class and beyond. In another, admitted students normally must formally say “yes” by May 1, the National Candidate’s Reply Date. Butler joined other institutions in extending this deadline to June 1, which gave students a breather but shortened the time for processing.

Of the 800 high school visits Admission staff usually planned, 600 were converted to virtual events. Of the 300 college fairs usually attended, staff replaced most with more labor-intensive one-on-one virtual student visits. Three virtual open houses were especially successful; Dueweke says these would have been six-hour events in person, with far fewer attendees than the 800 who showed up on-screen.

“We knew we had to keep our virtual open houses quick-moving. No session would be longer than 40 minutes, and instead of just a faculty member, we’d add faculty, a student, sometimes an Admission staff member in the chat tool. Then we had Evan and Blue between sessions. Three separate times, someone said that not only was it the best virtual open house they’ve attended, but possibly the best open house, period,” he says.

For Dueweke, it’s now hard to imagine not offering a virtual open house for students who are out of state even after COVID-19.

Back on campus, (almost) back to normal
Despite successes, the staff’s goal became hosting visitors on campus by the end of June—a goal they achieved.

“We were out in front of most universities in bringing families to campus. Right away, the feedback was very positive. The overwhelming majority appreciated that we were making the effort,” Greene says.

Changes to the enrollment team’s work are far from over, though. Greene believes all universities will see long-term effects of the pandemic on enrollment.

“Higher education was already facing ‘what’s the value proposition’ arguments. First-year students in private colleges are down almost 9 percent. There’s such uncertainty about the future, especially for families that own businesses. And loss of income is disproportionately affecting students of color or low socioeconomic status, which means they may not be able to enroll,” she says.

Still, the first-year class in 2020 was the third-largest in the University’s history.

“We’ve done such a good job focusing on relationships and personalization,” Greene says. “We’re very blessed with so many individuals who really love Butler. It’s a special place.”

Evan and Blue
Admission

Turned Upside Down: College Admission in the Time of COVID-19

When the pandemic hit, Butler’s enrollment team made a key decision early on: to act with empathy

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Winter 2021

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Science of Food events - illustration

On a Saturday evening in July 2020, Amy E. Hyduk-Cardillo, PharmD ’04 and her husband heated up the ribs they’d smoked a few days earlier, booted up Zoom, and sat down to learn more about their meal.

The Science of BBQ event was the first virtual offering in an ongoing series of similar food-centric alumni gatherings. Butler University Chemistry Professors Mike Samide and Anne Wilson, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations and Engagement, have been teaching small groups of alumni about the science behind their favorite foods—think beer, cheese, wine, and chocolate—since 2018.

“These events allow alumni to feel like they are back in class engaging with faculty, learning something new, and talking with one another,” Wilson says.

Each lesson covers the basic history, science, and production process of the featured food item, followed by discussion and usually an experiential component (aka, a food or beverage tasting). Hyduk-Cardillo, who attended several of the Science of... events held in-person at local businesses before the start of COVID-19, says virtual events have provided some relief during the pandemic.

“What’s been the silver lining around COVID-19 is the ability to see how organizations and businesses create new events, environments for hosting events, and ways of doing business that have been unique and fun to participate in,” she says.

The virtual Science of BBQ event focused on themes like the difference between grilling and smoking, whether you should use sauce or rub, and tips for achieving the best results. About 100 Butler community members from across the country attended, with the virtual setting allowing for a broader audience that extended beyond alumni and included parents, faculty, staff, and trustees. In September, Samide and Wilson also hosted a virtual Science of Beer presentation—complete with an at-home tasting experience.

“Food provides an easy way for anyone to connect with science,” Wilson says.

Samide says the educational portion of the events is taught in layperson terms, skipping some of the scientific complexities and focusing more on things like how various chemical compounds make up different flavor profiles, or how growing conditions and aging times affect the taste of wine.

“Events like these show that the University is really a place where we value learning and conversation,” Wilson says. “We are living the ideals of a liberal arts education—that there’s always something you can learn.”

Watch for future "Science of ..." events to be listed on butler.edu/alumni/events.

Science of Food events - illustration
Experiential Learning

Food Science: Chemistry Professors Connect with the Butler Community Through Food

Professors Mike Samide and Anne Wilson provide lifelong learning opportunities through food-based events

by Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

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Butler University marching band

A Campus Challenged

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Winter 2021

Butler was founded in the struggle against slavery and through 166 years has survived during backdrops that included the Civil War, two world wars, two pandemics, the Great Depression and Great Recession, presidential assassinations, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, Watergate, presidential impeachments, 9/11, and so much more. Every generation has faced seemingly insurmountable turbulence and, so far, every generation has lived, learned, and come through wiser.

As our graduates from the 1960s and early ’70s will tell you, that’s a lesson worth remembering when times get rocky, as they have been this past year.

Butler Magazine spoke to three alumni and a professor emeritus about what we can learn from the toughest of times.

 


 

Jean Smith
Jean Smith ’65, in center

Jean Smith ’65 came to Butler in 1961 and knew all of the other undergraduate students of color personally. She recalls there were 10.

In 1964, Smith remembers, George Wallace, the Alabama governor known for his racist and segregationist views, received a rousing reception in a packed lecture hall.

“That told me everything I needed to know about what Butler was at that time,” she says. 

A small counterpoint occurred later that year when Smith earned her own ovation when she spoke in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in her public speaking class. A larger counterpoint occurred 16 years after graduation, with Smith in the midst of a career that took her from journalism to the ministry, when Butler President Jack Johnson asked if she would serve as a trustee.

That “was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had,” she says. “It allowed me to see that the Butler I had gone to as a student was capable of change.”

This was reinforced just a few years ago when Smith attended a dinner for underrepresented students in the Fairview Community Room. “The room was filled. I felt that the changes that were happening at Butler were real.”

The lesson learned? For that, Smith paraphrases former President Barack Obama: “We’re never going to make things perfect, but we have to keep doing our part to make things better. And better is what you build upon.”

 


 

Terry Curry
Terry Curry ’71

Terry Curry ’71 arrived in 1967 to a Butler University that was transitioning from what he describes as a stereotypical 1950s, early ’60s college to a school where the political and cultural revolutions were taking hold. By early 1968, he found himself immersed in Eugene McCarthy’s candidacy for president and participated in anti-war marches that took place in Indianapolis and elsewhere. (Protests on Butler’s campus at the time, however, were focused on the 10:00 PM curfew for women.)

Curry, who became an attorney and, ultimately, Marion County prosecutor, says he’s “absolutely” glad he went through the ’60s. Despite the fear and tension of the times, positive developments came out of that era, including civil rights, advancements of the rights of women, and ending the war in Vietnam.

“In spite of the fact that it didn’t feel like it at the time, there was positive evolution of the country,” he says.

Curry says the current atmosphere feels like the ’60s. “Today we talk about the urban-rural divide. It was kind of the same thing—it was the adults and middle class vs. the young people, and neither side was willing to even acknowledge or get the other. There was a lot of animosity, a lot of tension. I don’t know how we get past it, but historically we always have.”

And we will, he says. “Everything now has been exacerbated by the pandemic. So as we literally start to heal, we can heal as a nation also.”

 


 

Patty Wachel
Patty Wachel ’73

Patty Wachel ’73 remembers a host of pressing issues during her four years at Butler: women’s liberation, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, racial injustice, peace, the draft process, and the emerging drug culture. 

“We did see some activism in all of these areas on campus, but it was respectful and without reckless behavior. It was a thoughtful environment among chaos at many other universities.”

At the time, Wachel was involved in Angel Flight, a women’s auxiliary for the Air Force ROTC program, eventually becoming a commander. The Angel Flight members wore a uniform that was similar to what ROTC members wore.

“And while this was a symbol of the war, and comments were made, I never felt threatened,” says Wachel, who went on to a long career in human resources. “No one burned down the ROTC building like on other campuses. Butler students may have been opposed to the war and critical of the ROTC program, but we coexisted in a respectful environment. Perhaps this was the early seeds of the Butler Way.

“Times were trying, change was happening at a record pace, and the country was being torn apart by an unpopular war, but Butler students were able to show strong character and respect for the diversity of ideas not supported by them.”

 


 

George Geib
George Geib

Butler History Professor Emeritus George Geib, who retired in 2014 after 49 years, says the generational divide that existed in the 1960s was due to the conflict between administrators who had grown up in the midst of the Great Depression and World War II and students who had known peace and affluence for most of their lives.

In trying to bridge that gap, the most important thing all of us do in growing up “is to try to bring others into the world we inhabit and try to create changes and improvements from it.”

At the time, Indianapolis leaders decided that one of the essentials for a strong community was a large, central college campus. Butler leaders declined to take on that role, but they recognized the need for what came to be called “the Butler Advantage.”

“You needed to reach out in a rapidly changing demographic and offer a campus advantage,” Geib says. “That is what sets Butler apart—particular professional programs, particular campus experiences, particular memories that you carry of the way the University helped you.”

And that, Geib says, is the lesson Butler learned from the ’60s.

Butler University marching band
Campus

A Campus Challenged

Butler Magazine spoke to three alumni and a professor emeritus about what we can learn from the toughest of times

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Winter 2021

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Austin Athman ’09

Austin Athman ’09

Over the past year, you’ve probably seen images flooding the news of floating spheres covered in spikes—an up-close view of the microscopic particles that cause COVID-19. The depictions provide a concrete visual for something otherwise abstract to most people.

That’s all thanks to a team of artists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—where Austin Athman ’09 works as a Visual Information Specialist.

At Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, science and art collide. After high-power microscopes capture black-and-white images of disease samples, Athman and his colleagues use digital tools to add colors and details that bring the photos to life.

The end result is a colorized image that helps scientists better understand the virus particles—which are about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair—as well as put a face to a top enemy for the general public.

When COVID-19 arrived in the United States, Athman’s lab received a sample of the coronavirus from one of the first patients.

“As soon as we had the sample,” Athman says, “we started taking pictures, colorizing them in Photoshop, and putting them on the NIAID Flickr website. The next day, we already saw the images being used by major news outlets across the country.”

Athman starts by sitting down with scientists and microscopists to learn more about what he’s looking at in the black-and-white photo.

“If I can get a scientist to explain what something looks like in common language,” Athman says, “it helps people outside the lab understand something about science in a way words can’t always do.”

Athman wants viewers to look at the most important part of the image, and that’s where art comes in. He starts by adding highlights and shadows that bring depth to the otherwise flat-looking photos. He also rotates and crops the images in a way that guides the eye to desired focal points.

COVID-19 colorization by Austin Athman ’09Then comes the color. The scientists and artists don’t know what the particles’ true colors are, or if the diseases even have color. But they choose palettes that make the photos more engaging and understandable while still appearing realistic.

While Athman has always enjoyed science, he majored in Music and Multimedia Studies at Butler. However, after a high school internship in graphic design at the NIAID, followed by summer jobs there every year throughout college, he accepted a permanent position upon graduation and has been at the lab ever since.

“Recently, I’ve been focusing on the COVID-19 images,” Athman says about his day-to-day work. “But when we aren’t in pandemic mode, I do all kinds of visual things. I draw illustrations, design graphs, edit videos, and create scientific animations. It’s a new thing almost every day. And this merge of art and science—I think a lot of people aren’t really aware this kind of field exists.”

 

Photos courtesy of the NIAID

Austin Athman ’09
Alumni Success

Butler Grad Helps Americans See Coronavirus Up Close

At the NIH, Austin Athman ’09 is part of a team that captures images of microscopic diseases

by Katie Grieze

from Winter 2021

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Kelsey Coy

“I have always known that I wanted to be in a position where I could serve people,” says Kelsey Coy ’13.

When starting her Butler University career as a Secondary Education major, Coy never dreamed of becoming a social epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—or of serving on an international task force during a global pandemic.

In her current role as a research fellow and epidemiologist of Maternal Health with the CDC, she typically focuses on studying substance use and mental health before, during, and after pregnancy. She has also served on the emergency response for the lung injury epidemic associated with e-cigarette or vaping product use. That is, until she was deployed to the international task force for the CDC’s COVID-19 emergency response.

Now, Coy studies the ways stay-at-home orders and other mitigation measures impact case counts. Using data from countries all over the world, she and her colleagues are able to provide insight into the unique ways this virus has impacted specific countries or general regions. Their work provides decision-makers with the information they need to fight the pandemic.

“The CDC works from the data, so the information released is based on the data available,” Coy says. “As data changes, and as knowledge expands, the CDC’s advice might change. But for now, it’s pretty simple: Wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay at home if you can.”

Coy discovered the field of epidemiology after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, a biography about physician Paul Farmer’s work fighting tuberculosis, in her First-Year Seminar class at Butler.

“When I first learned what epidemiology was, it honestly felt like I had found my home,” Coy says. So, she changed her major to Biology and started finding opportunities to work on epidemiology research.

Coy says her liberal arts education from Butler has been valuable to her current position, as she thinks critically about the health data she approaches each day.

“Butler set me up very, very well to question some of the things in our world.”

Note: The statements made in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kelsey Coy
Alumni Success

Keeping Up With The Data: Butler Grad Serves on CDC’s Global Pandemic Response

Kelsey Coy’s role as an epidemiologist helps guide vital decision-making

by Kamy Mitchell ’21

from Winter 2021

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Efroymson Diversity Center

Last summer, in a message to the Butler community commemorating Juneteenth, Butler President James Danko called upon the University community to take action in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Butler across four key areas: education, organization, behavior, and procedure. Harkening back to Butler’s founding in 1855 by abolitionist attorney Ovid Butler, Danko made a particular point to remind the University community of its founding values.

“Our renewed commitment to our founder’s mission has taken on an even greater sense of urgency this year to ensure all students, faculty, and staff are welcome, respected, and flourishing,” Danko says. “Butler University has a moral and historic imperative to be a leader in addressing issues of racism and social injustice in higher education.”

University leadership recognized that expanding organizational capacity would be required in order to maintain focus on DEI. Thus, DEI has been highlighted as one of the University’s seven strategic priorities for Butler Beyond, with the goal of creating an intentionally diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and working environment. The University’s DEI efforts will be led by Provost Kathryn Morris, Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross III, and a new yet-to-be-named Vice President for Human Resources who will also sit on the University Cabinet.

A number of important initiatives are already up and running since President Danko’s Juneteenth call to action, and others are in the works. Here are a few of the ways Butler’s strategic focus on DEI is taking shape.

Efroymson Diversity Center
Efroymson Diversity Center

Social Justice and Diversity
In August 2020, a Social Justice and Diversity (SJD) requirement went into effect as a new addition to the Core Curriculum. Students must take one course in any part of the University that exposes them to critical scholarship on the root causes of marginalization and inequity and how to counter it.

The Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created in 2019 within the Division of Student Affairs, led by Executive Director Gina Forrest. The department is housed within the Efroymson Diversity Center, which was renovated last year and remains central to the University’s student-focused DEI efforts on campus. The Efroymson Diversity Center is currently working to fill two vacant positions, which will expand its capacity to offer programming and support for students. The International Club is now housed within the space, along with six other student organizations. This year, all incoming students were enrolled in Foundations of DEI, a series of trainings on topics such as Bias and Perception and Inclusive Language.

“I would love to see every student visit the Efroymson Diversity Center at least once during their academic career,” Forrest says. “We are here for everyone. My hope is that every student will feel heard, respected, and that they genuinely belong at Butler, while being open to learning about others.”

Terri Jett
Terri Jett

Hub for Black Affairs and Community Engagement
In October, the University announced its plans to launch a Hub for Black Affairs and Community Engagement in partnership with Professor of Political Science Terri Jett as Faculty Director. 

The Hub will serve as an institutional command center to address systemic racism and Black oppression. As Faculty Director, Jett will be focusing on the lives and experiences of the Black community at Butler and creating opportunities for engagement with the greater Black Indianapolis community. She will also serve as Senior Advisor to the President in this capacity. The Hub will advance a number of initiatives reaching across all aspects of University life, including establishing Black faculty and staff affinity groups, supporting Black students, and inviting Black intellectuals to be in-residence to conduct workshops, trainings, and seminars for Black students and others to learn from and interact with these important role models. The Hub will also include an Advisory Group that will help determine the priorities of the Hub and be responsive to the administration in efforts to address the experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff at Butler.

“The Hub is anchored in the abolitionist roots of Butler University and will elevate and center the disparate Black intellectual voice and experience that has often been marginalized and yet is critical for the institution to be at the forefront of our heightened awareness and shifting responsibilities, considering what we are experiencing and witnessing,” Jett says.

The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence
The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence at Butler University (ONB Center) was established in 2017 through a $5 million gift from Old National Bank to connect privately held companies with the resources and support they need to succeed. 

In August, the ONB Center announced an initiative aimed at strengthening and supporting businesses owned by underrepresented groups throughout Indiana. The initiative was inspired in part by a conversation between Butler student intern Victor Aguilar and ONB Center Director Mark McFatridge. The overriding goal of the initiative is to play a role in reducing the wealth gap of underrepresented groups.

Efroymson Diversity Center
Student-Centered

A Strategic Imperative: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As Butler takes action in promoting DEI, a number of important initiatives are already up and running

from Winter 2021

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