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Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 10 2018

It was never supposed to happen this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Lab School?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it working?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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

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

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

 

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

AcademicsCommunity

Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

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

Aug 10 2018 Read more
Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

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

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 08 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

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

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

Aug 08 2018 Read more
Brain
Academics

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jul 31 2018

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

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

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

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

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

So why cheat the system?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brain
Academics

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

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

Jul 31 2018 Read more
AcademicsCommunity

Butler Launches Online Master’s in Risk and Insurance

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jul 12 2018

Butler University's Lacy School of Business will introduce an online Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) program—among the first of its kind in the nation—beginning in January 2019 to help address the gap between the risk and insurance industry’s personnel needs and the limited talent pool that exists in today’s job market. 

The degree is intended to serve students who aspire to advanced roles in corporate risk management. It will also serve students with a few years of finance or legal experience seeking employment in the insurance field, as well as early-phase professionals already working for insurance firms in both property and casualty, and life and health, and students who have an undergraduate degree in risk and insurance and want to pursue advanced study in the industry. 

More information about the program is available www.butler.edu/msri. Applications will be open beginning August 1.

“The need for risk management professionals in the professional services industry is well-documented," said Donald J. Ortegel, Resident Managing Director of Aon. "The good news is that the trend line is positive for professionals with a specific, applicable risk management four-year degree. Someone holding an advanced degree or additional education in this area would have an edge over other professionals competing for open and career-advancement opportunities.”

The part-time MSRI program will be conducted exclusively online, except for two required in-residence experiences—one on the Butler campus at the start of the program and one at the end of the program in the “world's risk capital,” Bermuda. Coursework will take approximately 24 months to complete.

Zach Finn, Clinical Professor and Director of Butler’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance program, said Butler's goal with the new MSRI program is to prepare students for an industry that anticipates needing 400,000 new employees by 2020.

"As one insurance executive said in our focus group: 'This degree is an automatic $10,000 raise for any employee who acquires it,'” said Victor Puleo, Butler Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, who will run the MSRI program.

The MSRI curriculum will include content dealing with property and casualty, and health and life. It also will have unique and hard-to-find courses on insurance-linked securities and a hands-on opportunity to run a captive insurance entity.

Puleo said graduates of the program will have access to some of the best jobs available for corporate risk managers. Other candidates will be able to enter or accelerate their careers with insurance carriers and brokers. High-caliber graduates from this program will possess the capability to attain senior level positions in these firms.

Butler already boasts a robust undergraduate program for Risk Management and Insurance, including the MJ Student-Run Insurance Company, known in industry parlance as a “captive.”

The company, the first of its kind for a university, insures Butler programs and items including the live mascot Butler Blue III, rare books, artwork, and the telescope at the Holcomb Observatory. Students learn how to write the insurance policy and what the coverage terms will be, and they're figuring out how to finance the company. In doing so, they are able to apply their risk-management expertise in accounting, investments, and numerous other areas.

 

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

AcademicsCommunity

Butler Launches Online Master’s in Risk and Insurance

"This degree is an automatic $10,000 raise for any employee who acquires it."

Jul 12 2018 Read more

Art: The Secret Ingredient

Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2016

Common Core State Standards outline what to teach students so they can graduate. What the standards don’t address is how to do that.

In this void, College of Education (COE) Professor Arthur Hochman saw an opportunity for Butler to influence the way teachers teach and students learn for decades to come.

Art Meets Education

We know today that the arts improve educational performance. But it wasn’t until 2002 that a first-of-its-kind research study showed that students exposed to arts education scored higher on standardized tests, developed better social skills, and had more motivation than their counterparts.

Hundreds of studies since have reached the same conclusion: Integrating the arts with other subjects improves the performance of K-12 students. 

Why, then, haven’t schools changed? 

“In 2002, teachers weren’t being taught to teach this way,” Hochman said. “And they still aren’t, for the most part—frankly, because standardized tests don’t emphasize it.” 

Teachers who might want to add an arts component to lesson plans are on their own.

“They have only their own experience to draw from. And think about that: all of us—teachers—included, grew up doing sums on the board, not moving in front of the class,” Hochman said. “So how can we expect them to naturally integrate an art form into the way they teach?” 

Hochman’s solution began with his creation of the Arts Integration (AI) course.

Art for All

Hochman recruited Tim Hubbard, Arts Integration Specialist, to help teach the required course in 2004. AI ensures that future teachers get a base of knowledge about successfully marrying the arts with other subjects. 

It’s our responsibility as an educational institution, Hochman said. 

“We always hear that the arts are for everyone, but they’re not. When families cannot afford to take their children to a performance or exhibit, school is their only chance,” said Hochman. “We want to make sure teachers know how to give students what they need.”

The arts can be integrated into any subject—math, for example. Twenty students solving the same equation may come up with the same answer. But when they can use their bodies to express their thought processes, Hochman said, individuality, retention, and attitudes soar. 

“The arts are inherently personal. They demand our own interpretation. So when I, as a student, connect math with the physical movement of my body, the math becomes a personal expression of me. After all, what am I more connected to than me?” he said.

Effective Arts Integration

The approach intrigued Superintendent of Kokomo-Center Consolidated School Corporation Jeff Hauswald. He asked Hochman and Hubbard for help in developing an arts-integrated elementary school. Thanks to exceptional community support, the Wallace School of Integrated Arts opened in 2012 with a waiting list. Eleven of its 14 teachers are Butler graduates. 

One of those is Veronica Orech ’14, who wrote in an email that Butler transformed her ideas on how to be a teacher. She also saw the approach at the Indianapolis Public Schools/Butler University Lab School 60, a COE partner. 

"The arts are inherently personal. They demand our own intepretation."

“No matter the subject, arts integration is my favorite way to teach. The overall experience is more rewarding for everyone involved because everyone is more motivated to take ownership of their learning experience—myself included,” she wrote. 

For more information, visit the Wallace School of Integrated Arts

Associate Professor of Marketing Deb Skinner has a motto: “I am the nurturer of the extraordinary.” For Skinner, the most important lesson she teaches is getting students to realize their own potential.

“One of the things I preach, and you can ask them—I preach a lot of things—is the importance in believing in yourself,” she said. “Because many times that is half the battle. If they believe in who they are, then they can do anything.”

Deb SkinnerSkinner, who grew up in Kent, Ohio, joined the Butler faculty 19 years ago, teaching Introductory Marketing and Senior Marketing capstone. She knew she wanted to teach at Butler because of the strong emphasis on the students’ wellbeing outside the classroom.

“Butler has a strong focus on students and helping in their transformation to being contributing members of the real world,” she said. “We get to know the students as individuals, push them beyond their comfort line, and get them to focus on life beyond just being a business person.”

Skinner has since taught a number of other courses, including an Aesthetics and Design course that she co-developed with Associate Professor of Art Gautam Rao as a way to bring marketing and art together.

But her favorite course is the Senior Capstone.

“I love the class and I love that I get to see them on their way out of the door,” she said. “We spend a significant amount of time developing their own personal marketing plan. Taking theories we have learned and applying it to themselves. I make them come up with a logo or brand.”

In addition to teaching, Skinner is an adviser for more than 30 students. She said that through this part of the job she has maintained some of her strongest and lasting relationships.

“I love to meet them when they walk in the door and get to see them grow all four years,” she said. “They have to call me Professor Skinner here, but when they walk across that stage at graduation it changes to Deb. When they visit as alumni it is a huge joy.”

Skinner said one of her greatest accomplishments in her time at Butler has been her involvement in the business curriculum change to Real Life, Real Business in 2002.

“Hanging on my door is the quote ‘Welcome to the Dark Side’ from Star Wars, because I was given that label for tending to raise concerns about change instead of maintaining the status quo,” she said. “People thought it was a negative label, but I embraced it because we need it to see what we can do to be better. I’m hopeful we can do that again.”

At the end of each year, Skinner sends out a final email to her senior class. She ends the note the same way, letting them know she will always be there for them.

She writes: “YOU ARE A BULLDOG! Always! Keep in touch. You know where I’ll be. Let me know about the great places you’re off to discover. Best wishes on a bright and wonderful future.”

 

Travel Bound

Cindy Dashnaw

from Fall 2016

What is the most surprising thing a student learns from a Butler University study-abroad trip?

Current Senior Danielle Wallace’s answer speaks for everyone she knows who has ever taken this journey.

“Recognizing my own capabilities,” she said.

Student traveling abroad in AustraliaWallace’s learning curve began on her first day in Rome in a scenario Butler faculty members often repeat.

“Our professor said, ‘You’ve all got maps and each other, so see you later!’ and we had to find our own way. I started recognizing that I could figure things out and became more self-sufficient than I might have discovered I could be if I’d stayed in the United States.”

Rebecca Pokrandt ’15 said studying abroad gave her courage, too.

“I never would have had the confidence to apply for a Fulbright scholarship in Croatia if I hadn’t done GALA.”

GALA, short for Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts, is the cornerstone of Butler’s Center for Global Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. GALA allows students to take primarily core classes in several locations abroad during the same semester. They travel with a resident Butler faculty member who also teaches a course; other faculty members join the group for two- to three-week teaching stints.

There’s no other program like it in the country.

According to Open Doors 2015, a study of the Institute for International Education, only one in 10 undergraduate students in the United States studies abroad. Yet, an extraordinary one-third of Butler undergrads study abroad each year.

It’s a statistic that has held true for years. So what does Butler do to make study abroad so popular among its students, their parents, and its professors?

A BIG DRAW TO BUTLER

Wallace already knew she wanted to study abroad when she did her first college search.

“The fact that Butler had such an outstanding program was definitely a draw for me,” she said. “I’d be able to take actual classes for credit and visit lots of countries instead of just one. No other university offers that.”

In GALA, students can take a full load of sophomore, core-credit classes while traveling through several countries within a region of the world. GALA trips have visited sites in Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and South Africa.Student in New Zealand

Like Wallace, Alyssa Setnar ’16 knew she wanted to study abroad. However, with the coursework of a five-year, dual-degree program ahead of her, many advised her to forego travel.

“I just didn’t take that as an answer, and Butler made it work,” Setnar said. Butler Associate Professor Ania Spyra has led two GALA trips. She is a nativeof Upper Silesia Poland and has studied in Stockholm and Quebec, lived in England and Romania, and traveled in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

She led her second GALA trip in spring2015 to Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Ireland.

“A GALA trip is an intense experience,” said Spyra. “It’s very different from the general study-abroad programs offered elsewhere, where students go attend a university in another country. There, they become just another person in the classroom. With GALA, they have a professor with them at all times, they’re with other Butler students—they’re seeing foreign places but traveling in the ‘Butler bubble.’”

Robin Turner led a GALA trip to South Africa in spring 2016. An Associate Professor of Political Science at Butler, she also is a visiting research associate at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.

“It’s been a privilege to watch students grow as they venture far outside the ‘Butler bubble,’” Turner said. “For me and for them, spending 13 weeks with a small group of people is an immense learning opportunity. The students did a great job of building and maintaining a cohesive group in which they cared for each other and themselves, addressing conflicts as they arose.”

The bubble—or comfort zone—may give parents a reason to relax a little, but it certainly doesn’t keep students from fully experiencing a culture and its people. Spyra told of a haunting visit to a Belfast dairy.

“We took a tour through Dublin, where our guide was a local historian telling us about revolutionary Ireland fighting to gain its independence from England. Then we drove to Derry and Belfast, and our two guides had fought in the Northern Ireland conflict: one on the Catholic side and one on the Protestant. They now give these tours and work toward reconciliation. What they shared with us had a big impact on the students.”

In South Africa, Turner said, she took students well beyond their comfort zones.

Students abroad“Some of the experiences were difficult or uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s not easy to be a hyper-visible white American in a black South African community—who lacks fluency in the dominant language—or to encounter signs of immense wealth and deep poverty in the same day.”

However unfamiliar, though, students view intimate encounters like these as invaluable.

“The adventures and life experience are very necessary in order to write as comprehensively as I’d like to,” said Wallace, a Creative Writing major. “No matter how wonderful the classes are, certain things you just can’t learn until you’re out there seeing and doing them yourself.”

Pokrandt already is applying those adventures as an elementary school teacher.

“I really try to give my class a global sense of a topic. For instance, we talked about the Syrian refugee crisis in terms of it being the world’s concern, not just an American problem.”

She recalled her own jarring perspective shift in Paris.

“I was the only American in the room when the news of the Boston Marathon bombing came on, and no one else seemed to care,” she said. “It made me realize how desensitized we can be when we see news about other countries. It was eye-opening.”

CHANGING PROFESSOR PERSPECTIVES

Professors who travel with students have some eye-opening experiences of their own.

“Spending lots and lots of time with students outside the classroom space has helped me to better understand their lives—their differing perspectives, backgrounds, struggles, and strengths—and I hope this will make me a better teacher,” Turner said.

Grading students at the end of the semester is the toughest thing for Spyra.

“By then, I know who they are and who is getting the kind of experience I want them to get. They have time to talk to us (professors) at any time, so we get close.”

Maddy Fry ’18 corroborated Spyra’s statement.

Student in Israel“The most surprising part of the trip for me was the relationships you build with professors. You’re with them almost all of the time, in and outside the classroom. They get to know you on an even more personal level than usual, and it remains when you get back on campus. It’s really special,” Fry said.

FROM STUDENT TO PROGRAM ADVOCATE

Study-abroad students become vocal advocates of the Butler GALA program. Many tout the ability to see more than one country on a trip they didn’t have to plan themselves or the chance to go somewhere besides Europe.

“Not too many students can say that they’ve been to Africa. It felt mysterious and exciting, so I knew I had to apply for this trip,” said Fry.

Extensive planning by the University is a plus for both students and families.

“I tell people that ‘phenomenal’ doesn’t even begin to describe how Butler planned the trip. Everything we needed was done for us: who to contact in the city, where we’d be staying, a detailed itinerary before we left—all really helpful to share with our families and friends,” she said.

Students found that earning credit abroad for the same tuition they’d pay on campus was a big selling point for parents, too.

“You have to take these classes anyway, and at what other time in your life are you going to get these experiences at this cost?” said Pokrandt.

Almost no trip goes off without a hitch, but GALA students learn to handle every new situation.

“There have been highs and lows and everything in between, but it isn’t something I would trade for anything. I have learned so much, whether it be academically or just about myself, in the short time I’ve been here–much more than I expected,” said Fry.

The Center for Global Education offers 110 study-abroad programs in more than 70 countries. Find a current list of approved programs and Study Abroad FAQs at www.butler.edu/global-education.
AcademicsStudent Life

Travel Bound

Butler’s study-abroad program truly is one of a kind.

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Fall 2016

Read more

Diverse Paths Lead to Common Bonds

Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 2016

The services and programs Butler offers create rich and varied student experiences, and all foster meaningful relationships that lead to student success.

Students in class with professorNo two Butler University students experience the University or its programs the same way. Yet time and again, students achieve similarly exceptional outcomes—high four-year graduation rates and post-graduation placement rates. How do so many different academic and co-curricular experiences produce students who achieve comparable success as alumni?

According to Provost Kathryn Morris, it’s the people with whom students engage that change them from wide-eyed, first-year students to happy and successful graduates.

“The key to transformation is relationships,” Morris said. “At Butler, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and staff who are truly dedicated to their development and well-being.” The most recent Gallup-Purdue Index examined college experiences that were associated with the greatest likelihood of alumni thriving in well-being and workplace engagement, and its findings reflect Morris’ sentiment. (For more Gallup results, visit www.butler.edu/gallup.) Data illustrate that having faculty support was strongly associated with how graduates fare later in life, and Butler outperformed the national index, including graduate comparison groups from Indiana universities, the BIG EAST, and peer and aspirant schools.

Butler provides students myriad ways to create those meaningful relationships, from academic programs and spiritual discovery to service learning and residential life.

From the beginning of their collegiate careers, students connect with academic advisors in their majors to determine future ambitions.

“Advising is made up of a series of personal conversations between students and their faculty advisors to discern where students might best devote their energy,” Morris said. Students who have not chosen a major enter the Exploratory Studies program. Their advisors are housed in the Learning Resource Center and are trained to help with evaluating potential academic pursuits.

For Butler student Katelyn Sussli ’16, that meant her advisor worked to understand her passions. “She got to know me at my core,” Sussli said.

An advisor may guide job-focused students to an internship through the Internship and Career Services Center, where career counseling experts can open doors to relationships in the working world. Students pursuing graduate school can conduct research alongside their professors and present at national conferences and at the Undergraduate Research Conference, hosted by Butler and open to students across the Midwest and beyond. Morris compared student-faculty collaborative research as being akin to an internship for a student looking for a career in academia instead of industry.

“The key to transformation is relationships.”

Concurrently, the Center for Faith and Vocation helps students discern their own vocation or passion. “That sense of vocation can often be tied up with one’s spiritual life,” Morris said. Sussli described the Center as not just a religious place, but a spot to come together as students with diverse faiths or no faith to develop spiritually. “The Center is creating a space where we can share our beliefs and our values,” she said.

With an eye toward their futures, students also embrace the present and explore a Core Curriculum that allows them to connect deeply with professors, fellow students, and the Butler community

One important component of the University’s Core Curriculum is service learning. Within the Indianapolis Community Requirement, students learn in class with a cohort and then serve outside the academic buildings, establishing profound bonds on and off campus and reinforcing lessons learned in the classroom.

For her service learning experience, Sussli combined her political science interests with a course on Modern and Political Thought and an opportunity to teach English to a woman from Nepal.

“It was one of my most humbling experiences,” Sussli said of the blended coursework and community engagement. It allowed her to get outside the “Butler bubble,” break down a stigma, and build an impactful relationship—and then reflect on it with her professor and classmates.

“The learning is reciprocal,” Morris said. Students give of their time, but the people to whom they provide service teach the students as well. Other service learning experiences and reflections on those experiences are supported by the Center for Citizenship and Community and the student-run Volunteer Center. They provide students weekly opportunities to serve and create influential relationships.

Butler student does service project with childrenBeneficial connections are built in the classroom, in the community, and within the walls that students call home while living at Butler. “Our faculty-in-residence program is steadfast at Butler and is special for a small school. It is very high touch and allows students and faculty to interact in unique ways in their living environment,” Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Anne Flaherty said.

Building on this dynamic, Butler is transitioning to themed living communities for all first-year students. The new Fairview House—with its 16 themed living communities encompassing areas such as wellness and creativity—makes it even easier for students to build impactful relationships and a community around shared interests and ideals.

“Our vocation,” Morris explained, “is to support young people as they grow and develop personally and academically. All of these services are ways to create connections to facilitate that growth.”

From discerning academic pursuits to exploring spiritual vocations, Butler students’ diverse experiences and the relationships they cultivate make extraordinary success a common outcome.

“What separates Butler is the amount of passion and care that our faculty and our staff have,” Sussli said. “They go above and beyond to build relationships. They are truly committed to the success of the students.”

Academics

Diverse Paths Lead to Common Bonds

by Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 2016

Read more
AcademicsCommunity

Kenzie Academy, Butler University Executive Education Partner to Accelerate Tech Careers

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 20 2018

Kenzie Academy, an Indianapolis-based education and apprenticeship program that develops modern tech workers, and Butler University, a private liberal arts and professional education institution with a 160-year history of leading innovation in higher education, today announced a strategic partnership to offer a new model of education to the next generation of technology professionals. Through this innovative partnership, all Kenzie Academy graduates will receive a joint Kenzie Academy and Butler Executive Education certificate at the completion of the Kenzie Academy Front-End Web Development, Full-Stack Web Development, and Software Engineering programs.

The Kenzie-Butler certificate offers a new educational model with a path to employment to a wide range of Hoosiers looking for alternatives to a traditional, four-year college education. Kenzie’s programs are designed to be less expensive and less time-intensive than a four-year degree. By blending elements of traditional college with immersive learning and paid work, individuals from all different backgrounds, including recent high school graduates, those re-entering the workforce, and those looking to shift careers, will have the opportunity to gain education and work experience in high-demand, technical fields. Butler is adding Kenzie’s program to its offerings through its Executive Education program.

“We took notice of Kenzie Academy as soon as it appeared in Indiana,” said Jim Danko, President of Butler University. “The dynamics in higher education today require universities to think beyond the traditional models of the past century. Participating in a new model of education with Kenzie Academy, which is reimagining the way learning is delivered, will extend the market Butler currently serves beyond the traditional four-year residential undergraduate student. Butler University is excited to expand the way we serve the high-growth, high-energy technology community in Indianapolis and the greater Midwest alongside Kenzie Academy.”

Kenzie Academy, a college alternative, offers courses in Front-End Web Development (six months), Full-Stack Web Development (one year), and Software Engineering (two years). Kenzie’s career track programs combine paid apprenticeship work and immersive learning, closing the gap between learning and working. The software development courses cover modern programming languages and the most relevant computer science concepts. Students meet and network with local and national tech leaders, and are provided with one-on-one mentorship. Through Kenzie Studios, Kenzie Academy’s consulting arm, students complete real-world consulting projects for industry clients and are paid for their work. Students can use an Income Share Agreement (ISA) in place of tuition to finance their training at Kenzie, making the program accessible to people without the financial means to pay tuition up front.

“We feel Butler University is the perfect partner for Kenzie, and we’re proud to jointly offer a new type of learning model to the market. Kenzie’s unique approach to developing students who are knowledgeable in the latest technical competencies combined with Butler Executive Education’s proven success in developing workforce leaders creates a powerful solution for producing the talent critically needed by employers,” said William Gulley, Executive Director of Butler Executive Education.

Through the partnership with Butler Executive Education, Kenzie students will have the opportunity to develop skills in areas frequently noted by employers as critical to an individual’s overall success, including communication, problem-solving, change management and basic business acumen. These educational opportunities will be developed and delivered in the form of micro-credentials, allowing students to create a personalized curriculum, and additional certification, in the areas that complement Kenzie’s curriculum and are aligned with a student’s personal interest, capability and future career path.

“We can’t think of a better institution than Butler University to launch this first university partnership,” said Chok Leang Ooi, co-founder and CEO of Kenzie Academy. “Butler has a strong history of doing things differently. We’re excited to bring our innovative institutions together to level the playing field for anyone who wants a first-class education and a chance to be part of the tech ecosystem in Indiana.”

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257

AcademicsCommunity

Kenzie Academy, Butler University Executive Education Partner to Accelerate Tech Careers

Students completing the Kenzie program will receive a joint certificate from Kenzie Academy and Butler Executive Education.

Jun 20 2018 Read more
Study Abroad
AcademicsStudent Life

Study Abroad Program Among Best in Country

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 13 2018

Butler University's Study Abroad Program has been named one of the Top 30 in the country by the website bestvalueschools.org.

"Butler University students can choose from over 200 study abroad and exchange programs in over 60 countries," the website said. "Butler also works with the neighboring Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) as a provider of study abroad programming for U.S. undergraduates. In addition to providing transcripts for all IFSA students, Butler University endorses all IFSA-taught courses."

Butler University offers over 200 study abroad programs in over 70 countries to meet the diverse needs of the student population. About 40 percent of Butler students study abroad at some point. Students are permitted to study abroad as early as the first semester of their sophomore year and as late as their senior year, if allowed by their College. Butler's Center for Global Education (CGE) provides study abroad advising and organizes pre-departure and re-entry sessions to help guide students through the study abroad process. The CGE maintains the List of Approved Programs, titled Where Can I Go? to research approved study abroad programs. All programs on the list meet Butler’s high standards for academic excellence.

Among the other schools in the Top 30 are Duke, Stanford, and Michigan State, as well as the BIG EAST's Georgetown and St. John's. To compile the list, the website said it used two surveys from the Princeton Review and U.S. News that surveyed hundreds of thousands of respondents including students, faculty, and administrators to find out what schools they believe have the best study abroad programs.

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

Study Abroad
AcademicsStudent Life

Study Abroad Program Among Best in Country

Butler University's Study Abroad Program has been named one of the Top 30 in the country by the website bestvalueschools.org.

Jun 13 2018 Read more
AcademicsArts & CulturePeople

Playing the Long Game

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 05 2018

Annie Sullivan MFA '12 finds herself wearing a lot of gold-beaded jewelry these days. What better way to call attention to the release of her first young-adult novel, A Touch of Gold?

On this particular day, she's wearing a gold/orange beaded necklace that a friend gave her. Her bracelet is made up of strands of overlaid beads of gold, a gift from the Chicago Pearl Company to accent her outfits as she promotes the book.

A Touch of Gold, which comes out August 14, tells the story of King Midas' daughter, Princess Kora, 10 years after she'd been turned to gold by her father. She's now back to life, but with some lasting side effects—one of which is that she can sense other objects her father turned to gold. When those objects get stolen, she goes on a quest to find them.

Along the way, Kora faces off with pirates and thieves and discovers not only who to trust but who she is. Ultimately, A Touch of Gold is about a girl finding herself and becoming comfortable in skin that makes her unlike everyone else.

Sullivan—the first fiction writer from Butler's MFA in Creative Writing program to earn a book deal—said she and Kora have plenty in common, from their appearance (short in stature, with long, golden hair) to their adventurous spirit, toughness, and sticktoitiveness.

"I write strong female characters who can stand up for themselves," she said. "People who have a little Disney princess in them but also have that hardcore side where they say, 'I can handle this.'"

But while Kora battles in the fantasy world, Sullivan must deal with the real world: the often exasperating, slow-moving world of publishing.

"Writing," she said, "is not for the weak. You've got to have a strong constitution and be willing to never give up."

Sullivan, who grew up in Indianapolis and earned her undergraduate degree from Indiana University, began writing her book as an MFA student at Butler. She chose Butler's graduate program in creative writing because she found that it was open to many different styles of writing.

"People were writing ghost stories and middle-grade stories, and I'm over here writing fairy-tale retellings," she said. "And they were open to that. I know there are other programs where they really look down on genre fiction and anything that's not literary fiction."

Still, Sullivan started off unsure. The first assignment she turned in was a short story about an old man whose wife died in a car accident. She hated the story and so did everyone else in the class. "I'm sure I went back to my car and cried," she said.

Next came the breakthrough moment: She decided that next she submitted a story, "I'm going to turn in something that actually represents me."

That story turned out to be the first chapter of what became A Touch of Gold. Her classmates recognized her passion, she said, and they approved.

"Annie was obviously very talented," Associate Professor of English Mike Dahlie said. "But more important, she was wholly devoted to her writing. Her kind of unfettered and patient love of storytelling is always why people get book deals."

That was in 2010.

Over the next seven years, Sullivan continued writing. Finished the first draft of A Touch of Gold. Read about agents (she recommends literaryrambles.com for that) and sent query letters to more than 100 before she found one who appreciated her work. Wrote a second book. Then a third. Attended the Midwest Writers Workshop. Revised the first book based on feedback from the workshop. Received a rejection from one publisher saying the book was too dark. Received a rejection from another publisher the next day saying the book wasn't dark enough.

Finally, in August 2017, her agent called: She sold the book to Blink, a young-adult imprint of HarperCollins.

"You've got to be in this for the long game," Sullivan said. "And it is a long game. It's a game of timing and finding the right person who loves your work."

Now, while she continues in her day job working for Wiley Publishing as copy specialist on the content-marketing team, Sullivan is working on another book, writing articles for Young Adult websites to help publicize A Touch of Gold, planning to attend the American Library Association's midwinter conference to sign advance reader copies of her book, setting up school visits, and thinking about a book launch party in August.

She gives Butler's MFA program a great deal of credit for her success—from providing her time and motivation to write, to having professors and critique partners to guide her writing, to having the freedom to tell the kinds of stories she likes to tell.

"I can't describe how much they helped me," she said. "Everything fell into place through Butler to make my writing dreams come true."

Find Annie Sullivan on Twitter (@annsulliva), Facebook (Author Annie Sullivan) or on her blog (anniesullivanauthor.wordpress.com).

 

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

 

AcademicsArts & CulturePeople

Playing the Long Game

Annie Sullivan MFA '12 spent eight years on her book "A Touch of Gold." That sticktoitiveness is about to pay off.

Jun 05 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

'A Reliable and Steady Presence'

BY

PUBLISHED ON May 14 2018

As part of a presentation she gave in late March, Becky Dolan talked about the importance of flexibility and adaptability in life. She pointed to her career as an example.

"I thought I would be a professor at a university," the Director of Butler's Friesner Herbarium said. "This was a different route. There was a lot of serendipity that happened along the way that worked out well for me."

Thirty-one years later, as she prepares to retire from Butler, Dolan looks back proudly at her achievements, which include working with her assistant Marcia Moore and many students to create a searchable database of more than 40,000 Indianapolis and Indiana dried, pressed, and preserved plant specimens.

"Largely because of her hard work," Butler Biology Professor Carmen Salsbury said, "the Friesner Herbarium is locally, regionally, and nationally recognized."

*

Dolan grew up in the Detroit area and moved with her family when she was in middle school to a suburban area that had woods, natural areas, and a creek. She liked spending time in the woods, and she was good in science—especially biology—so her high school guidance counselor suggested medical school.

She went to the University of Michigan, where she was one of 1,500 undergraduate pre-professional majors in biology. One of the required courses was botany.

"It was fascinating to me," she said. "I was struggling in an animal physiology class I was taking, but the botany came easily and it felt like things I already knew—and was learning again. I loved learning more about things I was seeing in the woods and understanding more about their biology and their life cycle and knowing their names."

She changed her major to botany—there were only 70 botany majors—and found both a subject she enjoyed and a tight-knit community.

After graduating, she moved to the University of Georgia for graduate school. She missed the burgeoning music scene in Athens, but she did meet her future husband, Tom, there. He was also a graduate student who had started school a year before her.

They had mutual friends, and at one point she learned that Tom and his girlfriend had broken up. She invited him to a campus movie. He blew her off, saying he had to study for a test, but the following week he called and they had dinner together.

*

In 1981, Tom and Becky got married. They decided they'd both apply for jobs and take the best offer. When Tom took a two-year position doing research at the University of California, Riverside, Becky took a job with an environmental-consulting firm, where she received some grants from the Bureau of Land Management to study rare plants in Napa and Sonoma counties.

After Tom was hired in 1985 to teach at Butler, the Holcomb Research Institute (HRI) at Butler, which employed a half-dozen Ph.D. plant ecologists studying areas like acid rain and the effects of air pollution, gave Becky a courtesy appointment so she could apply for grants and figure out ways to work with its researchers.

One of those projects turned out to be a study of a red-flowered prairie plant called royal catchfly. An HRI researcher named Eric Menges had been studying the plant for years and he was looking at how prairie management like burning or mowing was affecting the viability of populations to promote long-term management and preservation of them. She asked if he had genetic info. He said no. She said she could get it. They collaborated and published work on the effects of fire on promoting stability of these prairie plant populations.

Orie Loucks, then the director of the HRI, also funded a part-time position so she could work at the Friesner Herbarium. When HRI was closed a couple of years later, Paul Yu, Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, created the position of Director of the herbarium and hired her.

*

Dolan expanded the reach and scope of herbarium outreach, working with students such as Raelene Crandall '97 to inventory the plants in local parks. Dolan hadn't done field work in Indianapolis, so that was her first look at local plants. Through the years, Dolan did more inventories and studies in local parks and realized that they were a treasure trove of information about plants that can grow wild in the city. That led to a number of publications in urban ecology, a growing area of interest in the field of ecology.

Crandall, meanwhile, is now an Assistant Professor of Fire Science at University of Florida.

"Becky has consistently produced novel research that has evolved and expanded over time," Crandall said in a letter she wrote nominating Dolan for a Woman of Distinction Award. "Additionally, she has strived to digitize and improve the Friesner Herbarium, drawing researchers from all over the country to use and benefit from the plant collections. She has received many grants and mentored countless students over her long career at Butler University. Many researchers slow down in their later years, but in fact, we have discussed a new collaboration when she retires and moves to Florida."

Dolan's work locally coincided with the development of Butler's Center for Urban Ecology, which she worked on with Biology Professors Carmen Salsbury and Travis Ryan to get organized and funded. Salsbury said the CUE wouldn't exist without Dolan's dedication and leadership in its early years.

She described Dolan as "a reliable and steady presence in the department contributing tirelessly behind the scenes and in the larger Butler and surrounding communities to initiatives promoting plant research and conservation, student research experiences, citizen science opportunities, and educational outreach."

*

The new Director of the herbarium will be Emily Gillespie, who comes to Butler from Marshall University. She also will teach in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Becky and Tom Dolan, meanwhile, plan to spend most of the year living in a house they built on St. George Island, a pristine and quiet locale in the Florida panhandle. But Becky said she'll maintain some ties to Butler. She will have affiliate status with the Center for Urban Ecology and continue to work on projects she's started.

"This was an unexpected career path," Dolan said, "but I really appreciated the opportunities that Butler gave me and I'm proud of having sustained this position for more than 30 years."

 


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

 

AcademicsPeople

'A Reliable and Steady Presence'

Becky Dolan, who officially retires in August, has helped Butler's Friesner Herbarium become nationally recognized.

May 14 2018 Read more

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