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Professor Eyerly Finds Her Roots, and Her Research Topic


PUBLISHED ON Mar 22 2013

Assistant Professor of Music Sarah Eyerly studies the practice of musical improvisation in the 18th-century communities of the Moravian Church. It’s a topic that seems obscure—until you know the backstory.

Sarah Eyerly

Rewind to 2002. A cousin sent her father a Pennsylvania Historical Society article about her great-great-great-great grandfather, Johann Jacob Eyerly, Jr., whose newly translated diary documented his roughly 300-mile walk along Indian trails from Bethlehem, Pa., to Pittsburgh, in the early 1790s. (The trip took eight days, during the summer. He wrote that the weather was so hot that the clothes melted off his back.)

The article mentioned that the diary was kept in the archives of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem. So Eyerly and her father drove there to view the manuscript. There, Eyerly, who grew up in the Lutheran Church, discovered family history she never knew: The Eyerlys’ roots were in the Moravian Church.

Coincidentally, her advisor at the University of California-Davis happened to be Moravian. After some discussion, Eyerly decided to apply for a research grant to go to the central archives of the Moravian Church in Germany. She spent a summer there and found manuscripts related to the practice of improvising hymns.

That ended up being the subject of her dissertation, and a life-changing event that has led her to become one of the foremost authorities on improvisational hymn singing.

In September 2011, she presented a paper at Oxford University on improvisational hymn singing as a way of communicating Christian theology.

“People would get together and sing in groups,” said Eyerly, who’s in her fourth year teaching music history at Butler. “They would lie on the floor and sing into the wooden floor boards so the vibrations of the singing would cleanse them in the way that theologically Christ’s body and blood can cleanse the Christian community in spiritual and physical ways. So it was a spiritual and physical way of singing that helped to guide participants toward an understanding of their theology.”

A year later, Eyerly went back to Oxford for a conference called “Perspectives on Musical Improvisation.” She talked about how the Moravians were able to teach so many community members how to improvise hymns and the pedagogy behind teaching improvisation.

Eyerly is writing a book on Moravian music, which she hopes to publish in the next two years. She is also returning to Oxford in September 2013 to talk about the Moravians and the creation of Christian community through song.

“This consumes me now,” she said with a smile.


Media contact
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822





U.S. News Ranks Butler Part-time MBA Program 67th in Nation


PUBLISHED ON Mar 12 2013

Butler Univesity's part-time MBA program ranks 67th in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools, 2014 Edition, a two-point improvement over its 2013 ranking at 69th.

BusinessButler is the top-ranked private school program in Indiana. This is the third consecutive year Butler has made the list; it placed 105th in the 2012 rankings.

College of Business Dean Chuck Williams said the ongoing national recognition can be credited to graduate faculty’s efforts to connect theory with actual business practice. “Working with area executives, our MBA faculty incorporate relevant, real business experiences into courses—activities such as our one-day immersion Gateway Experience and our FirstPerson Board Fellows program, which places our graduate students on the boards of local non-profit organizations.”

 Butler’s part-time MBA program combines evening classes with accelerated and weekend sessions; it offers concentrations in finance, international business, leadership, and marketing.

U.S. News rankings are based on four factors: average peer assessment score; average GMAT score of students entering in fall 2012; acceptance rate; and the program’s fall 2012 part-time enrollment.

The average peer assessment score—which accounts for 50 percent of a school’s overall score—is calculated from a fall 2012 survey that asks business school deans and MBA program directors at each of the nation’s 325 part-time MBA programs to rate the programs on a 5-point scale.

 Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944


McGrath Named to College Sports Information Directors' Hall of Fame


PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2013

Butler University Associate Athletic Director Jim McGrath has been selected for induction into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.


This honor is presented to members of CoSIDA who have made outstanding contributions to the field of college athletic communications. McGrath will be inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame at a luncheon and ceremony on Thursday, June 13, in Orlando, Fla.

McGrath has served as Butler's sports information director since 1981 and assumed the title of associate athletic director in 1989 after four years as an assistant athletic director. In his current role, he is responsible for overseeing media relations for Butler’s 19 intercollegiate sports, and he’s the individual sport contact for men's basketball, football, men's soccer, softball, men's and women's golf and men's and women's cross country and track.  During his tenure, he has covered more than 2,000 Butler athletic events.

Since assuming his post at Butler, McGrath has served as the host SID for four NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Fours and one Women's Basketball Final Four, as well as nine NCAA men's first and second rounds tournaments.  He’s served on the NCAA Media Coordination staff for the Final Four since 2008, and he’s been a member of the NCAA Media Coordination Advisory Board since 2012.

McGrath has worked in press operations at amateur national championships in boxing, swimming and track and field. He was a press officer at the 1982 and 1983 United States Olympic Committee National Sports Festivals and the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and he served as a press officer for the United States team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis. He co-chaired the Media Center Development and Operations Committee for Pan American Games X and served on the media coordination staff for the 2002 World Basketball Championship.

McGrath arrived at Butler after a 10-year stint as sports information director at his alma mater, Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.). While at Augustana, he served as the host SID for five NCAA Division III national basketball championships. He was publicity director for the Ed McMahon Quad-Cities Open professional golf tournament for five years, and he served five years as the director of communications for the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.  While at Augustana, he received 30 publications awards from CoSIDA, including 10 Best in the Nation certificates.

McGrath received the “Helping Hand” Award from the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in 2010, and he was inducted into the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2012.  He also joined the Augustana College Tribe of Vikings Hall of Fame with the 1972-73 men’s basketball team in fall 2012.

A 1971 graduate of Augustana, McGrath and his wife, Judy, have three sons, Chad, Scott and Christopher, and five grandchildren.


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Butler Students Perform Well in Model Arab League


PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2013

Butler University’s delegation turned in a strong showing in its first appearance in the Model Arab League, held Feb. 21-23 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Kirstie Dobbs, Delaney Barr, Needa Malik

Individual honors for Butler include Delaney Barr (International Studies), who received Honorable Mention in Social Affairs; Needa Malik (International Studies), Honorable Mention in Joint Defense; and Kirstie Dobbs (International Studies and French), Best Delegate in Political Affairs.

Through participation in the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ Model Arab League (MAL) program students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world, and the arts of diplomacy and public speech. MAL helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders.

Universities and high schools from across the United States are invited to participate.

Robert L. Oprisko, visiting assistant professor in Butler’s International Studies Program, oversaw the Butler delegation and said it earned a reputation for innovative problem solving and mastery of parliamentary procedure. The Butler students were responsible for a number of firsts in Model Arab League history, including the first joint-session, the first use of the International Criminal Court, and the first use of protest to promote policy (in honor of the Arab Spring).

The Butler delegates received high praise by other faculty-coaches including Vaughn Shannon (associate professor, Wright State), Saleh Yousef (provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, Miami of Ohio), and Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi (director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Indiana University).



Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Professor's Study Links Over-the-Counter Drugs With Kidney Disease in Children


PUBLISHED ON Feb 22 2013

Three years ago, physicians specializing in kidney diseases at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis noticed a recurring problem in their patients: Children who had been given ibuprofen at home were experiencing kidney injuries.

Chad Knoderer, now an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Butler University, was a consultant for a physician group at Riley at the time. He joined researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine to study how often drugs like ibuprofen were causing kidney injuries in their patients.

“This is such an important issue because the drugs are over the counter, so they are easily available,” Knoderer said. “Even young adolescents could buy ibuprofen on their own without knowing about the risks.”

According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Jan. 25, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—drugs such as ibuprofen, Aleve, and naproxen—can cause significant kidney injury in sick children, especially those with dehydration from flu or other illnesses.

Researchers examined more than 1,015 cases at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis over the past three years using data as far back as 1999. The study is considered the first large-scale study of the incidence and impact of acute kidney injury caused by NSAIDs, according to a recent IU School of Medicine press release.

The team of researchers found that 3 percent of admitted kidney injury patients suffered kidney injuries due to having taken NSAIDs, and that these patients are likely an underestimate of the number of children affected.

Researchers also found that three-fourths of the patients were taking NSAIDs for less than seven days, revealing that the negative effects of the drugs happened quickly. Children under 5 years old are at a higher risk for needing dialysis and admittance to the intensive care unit of a hospital, the study found.

Three-fourths of the patients also took the correct dosage as indicated on the label.

“This tells us that the parents did everything right according to the label,” Knoderer said. “So now we have a problem that happens quickly and it happens even when the medication is taken as instructed.”

Researchers found that medical costs were driven up by these cases as well, with at least $375,000 being spent on the NSAID-associated kidney injury cases at Riley Hospital over the study period.

“Even though they are over-the-counter drugs being taken correctly, this study tells us that additional education might be necessary and extremely beneficial to parents and young teens,” Knoderer said.

Media contact:
Molly Kordas
(708) 691-8789


ChaCha Wins Butler Business Accelerator Test of Mobile Search Engines, Question and Answer Platforms


PUBLISHED ON Feb 21 2013

A new study by the Butler Business Accelerator found that ChaCha answered questions better than 10 other mobile search engines and question-and-answer platforms, including,, Google, Quora, Siri, and Yahoo Answers.

The Butler University Q&A Intelligence Index measured the likelihood that a user could expect to receive a correct answer in a timely manner to any random query using natural language. ChaCha’s mobile application for the Apple iPhone outperformed all the services tested, garnering the highest score on the Butler University Q&A Intelligence Index by responding to 99 percent of the study’s 180 randomly selected questions with the highest degree of accuracy.

The rankings are:










*Mean accuracy of responses originally graded on a five-point scale.

The questions were asked via mobile services and randomized to cover both popular and less common questions. The coverage score measured whether an answer was returned within a three-minute window and assessed the first non-sponsored search result in Q&A platforms. The accuracy score measured how correct answers were in relation to an objective third party’s answer key that accounted for logic and bias.

Questions asked were in the areas of advice (“What if a girl doesn’t want to talk to you?”), objective (“What are the 10 most common names?”), and subjective (“Who would win in a fight, The Hulk or Superman?”).

“ChaCha delivered the highest quality responses consistently across the largest group of categories and question types,” said Trent Ritzenthaler, operating director of the Butler Business Accelerator.

Other findings of the study: performed better than all others in the single category of questions labeled objective/temporal, such as “When does summer end?”

-Quora was proficient at answering difficult questions that require expert and extensive explanations, but it was generally unable to deliver answers within three minutes for most information searches on mobile devices. Quora answered only 24 percent of the questions at all, and often the match found did not include a viable answer.

-Siri accurately answered only 37.5 percent of the questions posed, but Siri’s biggest strengths are considered to be in local discovery and operating system commands, which were not highly represented in Butler’s study of more mainstream questions.

-Google’s response rate was 100 percent, but the first non-sponsored result on the search results page—which often times was not fully visible as an organic search result on the presented page on a mobile device—only presented an accurate answer about 50 percent of the time.

“Through our extensive study, ChaCha showed the highest level of performance,” Ritzenthaler said. “As the market matures, we anticipate that ChaCha and other mobile search companies will lift the standard of natural language processing and semantic understanding to enhance the user experience with mobile Q&A.”

For further information on the research methodology and analysis of test data, visit


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Professor Oprisko's Work is Getting Noticed


PUBLISHED ON Jan 29 2013

Visiting Professor Robert Oprisko thinks Butler students are good enough and smart enough to engage with any mind at any university. So when some students in his “Introduction to International Studies” class suggested that he’s too demanding—that they shouldn’t be expected to be able to do what their peers at the so-called top-tier universities do—he was incensed.

Robert Oprisko

“How are you suddenly inferior when you’re at one of the best liberal arts universities?” he said. “This mindset that they’re somehow less than students at other schools drove me absolutely batty, and I had to do something about that.”

What he did was to begin a yearlong research project that has been highlighted in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education—and perhaps has confirmed the source of his students’ feelings of inferiority: Where you come from plays an important role in where you are likely to get hired.

Working with Natalie Jackson and Butler student Kirstie Dobbs, Oprisko found that 50 percent of the political science academics hired at research-intensive universities in the United States graduated from 11 schools.

Writing in the Georgetown Public Policy Review (an article that's soon to be reprinted by The International Political Science Association), Oprisko reported that, among the top three private universities, Harvard has successfully placed 239 political scientists at 75 institutions—including 12 at Harvard. Princeton has successfully placed 108 political scientists at 62 institutions—including five at Princeton. And Stanford has successfully placed 128 political scientists at 51 institutions—including three at Stanford.

The highest ranked public university, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (ranked number four overall), has successfully placed 141 political scientists in 61 institutions—including seven at Michigan.

These four schools contribute 616 political scientists, roughly 20 percent of the total tenure-track lines in the discipline at research-intensive programs, Oprisko’s research found.

Meanwhile, “Excellent or not, students from less prestigious institutions are less likely to get an opportunity to showcase their talent,” he wrote.

To Oprisko, this is a mistake.

“We as an academy are doing the absolute wrong thing strategically when it comes to hiring,” he said. “And we’re reinforcing the idea that, if you come from Butler or Purdue – where I got my Ph.D. – that you’re inherently inferior. We see it all the time – people hire individuals from highly ranked institutions because they’re expected to be better.”

The solution, he said, is for schools to consider diversity from a number of standpoints and perhaps do a blind review in hiring, as is done in publishing, that focuses on personal excellence and achievement, rather than where someone went to college.

Oprisko is in his third year at Butler – and hoping for more, he said. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and his master’s degree and doctorate from Purdue. As good as those schools are, they’re not considered top tier when it comes to hiring, he said.

“In hiring, we value this affiliated honor to a substantially larger degree than individual prestige,” Oprisko said. “That’s a problem, because that’s too much focus on where you came from, not where [instructors are] at or what they’ve accomplished. But it should matter less where you come from than what you do. Good research should always trump being from a good pedigree.”

Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


'Applying Course Material in a Meaningful Way'


PUBLISHED ON Jan 24 2013

Assistant Professor of Psychology Ali O’Malley wanted her “Humans and the Natural Environment” course to have an impact on both the students and the Indianapolis community.

And it did.

Ali O'Malley

Nine students from the class helped collect data that enabled the Unitarian Universalist Church, 615 W. 43rd St., to get an Indiana Office of Energy Development grant to install solar panels that will reduce the church’s energy use by 25 to 40 percent.

Students Brianne Taylor, Brianna White, Emily Drwiega, Sara Rose Smith, Katelyn (Katie) Breden, Jahi Gains, Marina Ito, Rachel Houska, and Lindsay Meyer worked with members of the “Green Team” at the Unitarian Universalist Church to help develop a strategic plan for energy conservation.

Then they walked the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood to gather residents’ opinions about various sustainability issues, including bike lanes, public transportation issues, the state of sidewalks, and access to parks. The church also wants to create a bigger community garden, so they tried to gauge interest in that as well.

That information was used in the grant application that the church filed in conjunction with Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that seeks to inspire and equip Hoosiers of faith to respond to climate change.

In the end, the state Office of Energy Development gave $150,000 to six congregations in Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Breden, a freshman from South Bend, Ind., said she was excited when she heard the grant was approved and happy to have taken a course that enabled her and her classmates to apply the course material in a meaningful way.

“The knowledge gained in this class is immensely useful,” she said. “I took this class because I'm passionate about the environment, and Dr. O'Malley taught me the psychology behind it. Why am I passionate? Why are others not? Why do some people simply not care? These are all important questions if I want to forge a career in advocating for a healthy earth.”

 O’Malley initiated “Humans and the Natural Environment”—which she called “conservation psychology”—in spring 2012. In fall, she taught it for the first time as part of Butler’s Indianapolis Community Requirement, in which students must take one course in any part of the University that involves active engagement with the Indianapolis community.

She said she’s proud of what her students accomplished.

"It was wonderful to watch students' uncertainty give way to commitment to our community partner's mission,” O’Malley said. “I'm so proud of their openness and their collective achievements." 


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822

AcademicsStudent Life

Senior Wins Cell Biology Competition


PUBLISHED ON Jan 10 2013

Butler senior Hitesh Dube won first place in an undergraduate poster session at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting in San Francisco.

Hitesh Dube and Amy Wasilk

In besting a field of nearly 100 undergraduates, which included students from across the country and around the world, Dube won $500 and will have his picture in next month’s ASCB newsletter.

Dube, along with labmate and senior biology major Amy Wasilk, attended the meeting in December with their research advisor, Assistant Professor of Biology Jennifer Kowalski. Both students presented posters on their research during the main conference session, in addition to competing in the undergraduate poster session. 

“Both Amy and Hitesh have worked in my lab for nearly 3½ years, and I am so proud of the work that both of these students have done,” Kowalski said.

Dube’s poster showcased work he and Kowalski have been doing in collaboration with scientists from Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts. They are investigating the mechanisms by which an enzyme called the APC controls neuromuscular signaling in microscopic roundworms, known as C. elegans.

Wasilk's poster described studies she and a former labmate have done to begin characterizing the role of one potential APC target protein in neurons, a receptor called FSHR-1. As the nervous system of C. elegans is similar to that of humans, the overall goal of Kowalsk and her students' investigations is to use the worms as a model to better understand general nervous system function.

The goal of the work is to use the worms as a model to better understand general nervous system function.

Dube’s contributions to the project involved developing and performing a number of experiments with these roundworms. In many of these experiments, he compared the nervous systems of normal worms to those of genetic mutants lacking the function of the APC enzyme to determine the specific cell types (motor neurons or muscle cells) where the APC acts to affect neuromuscular signaling. 

“The depth of Hitesh’s understanding and his ability to clearly explain his own experiments and those done by his labmates and other colleagues related to this project is truly remarkable for an undergraduate,” Kowalski said. “This is a fantastic accomplish for him, and I am so pleased that both students were able to present their work in this national forum.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Butler Corporate and Executive Education Offers Professional Development for Women in Leadership


PUBLISHED ON Jan 09 2013

To help women thrive in positions of authority, Butler Corporate and Executive Education will offer a workshop called Advancing Women in Leadership (AWL) one day a month from March through September.

The program will take place over six days—from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 14, April 18, May 16, June 13, Aug. 15 and Sept. 12 on the Butler campus.

Cost is $3,600 per participant, which includes tuition, learning materials, meals, and refreshments. Companies that wish to send more than one person receive a 10 percent tuition discount on each enrollment—up to six from a single organization.

For more information, contact Ron Thomas, executive director of Butler’s Executive Education program, at (317) 940-8651,, or visit

There are no prerequisites to enroll. The ideal candidate for this program is currently a middle level high potential manager with five to 10 years of progressive management experience who manages people, money and/or resources, desires to move up in the organization, has a strong performance record, has been identified as having high potential, and brings a rich perspective and set of diverse management experiences to draw upon and share.

“Women continue to blaze the trail to advance to the top of organizations, currently holding about half of the country's managerial and professional jobs,” said Anne Thompson, faculty program manager for AWL. “While this is a dramatic increase from 20 years ago, women are still vastly underrepresented in the senior executive ranks. Advancing Women in Leadership will help current and future female executives uncover and integrate their unique strengths and qualities that will help them thrive and succeed.”

Recognizing that no impactful learning happens in short periods or alone, the AWL program is built on the compelling learning advantages of a cohort, and requires that participants actually practice and demonstrate acquired competence – not just show up and sign-in.

Advancing Women in Leadership will be based in part on the Emotional Intelligence leadership methodology. To enhance real life learning, participants will participate in a variety of learning methodologies, including self-assessments, lecture, case study discussion, reflection, experiential and action-based role playing and peer coaching. Topics in this program include:

-Self-Awareness and Leadership: Examine the results of Emotional and Social Competence Inventory to understand your leadership strengths and opportunities for growth.

-Aligning Our Values and Behaviors: Use a values discovery process to examine priorities, current choices and behaviors and identify actions for increased alignment.

-Adapting and Thriving in New Situations:  Explore competencies of adaptability, self-control and positive outlook to effectively manage ourselves during rapid change.

-Influencing for Positive Impact: Learn the tools to understand implicit norms, relationships and apply strategies to spark interest, build consensus and align action.

-Catalysts for Change: Apply frameworks and tools to effectively manage diverse perspectives and to inspire, energize and engage others to bring about change.

-Helping Others Find Their Way to Excellence: Apply coaching, mentoring and feedback skills to help others develop to their full potential.

-Cultivating Our Personal Board of Directors: Apply a framework to identify and enroll sponsors, mentors and networks to support our leadership development process.

-Leveraging a Balanced Style of Leadership: Apply a broad range of leadership styles to motivate people and drive performance.

Faculty for Advancing Women in Leadership includes two Butler corporate & executive education faculty partners: Thompson, who specializes in leadership and team development, organizational diagnosis and analysis and executive coaching, and Sheri Fella, who has worked in organizational development, human resources and other areas for more than 15 years.


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822