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Ed Carpenter driving the #20 car
Alumni Success

Ed Carpenter, The Man of May

BY Michael Kaltenmark ’02, MS ’16

PUBLISHED ON May 23 2019

The Month Man of May

May in Indianapolis. The month that Ed Carpenter ’03 lives for. The month that drives him.  

In Carpenter’s world, everything—his marriage, his family, his friendships, his livelihood—revolves around May.

And the arrival of May this year brings the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 and Carpenter’s 16th attempt at what he hopes will be the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, determination, and the realization of life-long reverie.  

Carpenter has made it his job to win the very race that has made everything possible for him. The very race that is, well, more than a race to him. A task derived from a single burning desire.

One man’s mission to master one month.

 

Bulldogs Aren’t Born, They’re Made

Carpenter wasn’t born a racer, nor was he born in a racing family. He was acquired by one.

Born just across the Indiana state line in Marshall, Illinois, Carpenter caught the racing bug in grade school. The year was 1989, and Carpenter’s exposure to the sport came when his family moved to Indianapolis and his mother, Laura George, married Tony George—a name also synonymous with May in Indianapolis.

George is the son of Elmer George, a late 1950s and early 1960s era Indy 500 driver, and Mari Hulman George, the late matriarch of the Hulman George family which has owned the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1945.

With the George’s racing connections, and Carpenter’s desire to try his hand at his new family’s business, young Carpenter quickly discovered he had a knack behind the wheel.

So, Carpenter spent his formative years on local dirt tracks and backwoods ovals, turning circles and honing his craft, all while attending school at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, 16th & Georgetown became Carpenter’s playground, spending the May months of his youth amidst Gasoline Alley, and occupying his summers by cleaning golf carts at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.

“I was just having fun as a kid in Indy,” Carpenter says. “I wasn’t fully processing what it could be or what it takes to get somewhere like that. I always enjoyed being at the Speedway, but I don’t think I realized what it could be until I got a little further along in my career. As I moved through the ranks, then I really started to get it in my head that I could do that.”

Carpenter’s progression moved steadily. Racing quarter-midget cars led to midgets cars, then Silver Crown, and then sprint cars as Carpenter climbed the USAC ranks. And as the racing became more serious, so did Carpenter’s focus. From then on, his sights were set on the Indianapolis 500.

But, there was school, too. The parallel trajectories of racing and education would come to a head as Carpenter finished high school.

Carpenter was ready to continue racing. His mother had other ideas. They both got what they wanted.

 

Butler Bound for Indy Crown

“My choice in Butler was really just a matter of logistics,” Carpenter says. “It was the closest to my race shop. I wish there was a better reason as to why I chose Butler, but I’m still really happy with the decision.”

So in fall 1999, just a few miles from his childhood home and the historic speedway, Carpenter moved into his new home, Ross Hall.

The marketing major made quick work of his studies and homework so he could spend as much of his free time on racing as possible. Still, the classroom served its purpose for Carpenter, perhaps initially in the form of discipline and a worldly perspective, and later in the form of preparation for a career in racing beyond driving.

“Beyond just the learning that took place in the classroom, Butler really prepared me for the dual role situation that I’m in now,” he says.“I was a professional student and a professional racecar driver, so I had to learn how to manage both of those things stay on top of school work, the racing, and everything else I was doing. I don’t think I would’ve been able to sustain the type of career I’ve had without that experience.”

Carpenter raced all throughout his time at Butler and by May 2003, Carpenter’s mother got her wish as her son walked across the stage at Hinkle Fieldhouse to receive his diploma. A week later, Carpenter got his wish by driving to victory in the Freedom 100 at Indy. While it was a win in the Indy Lights Series, a step below Indy cars, it was still his first taste of winning at the Brickyard.

Later that fall, Carpenter made his first NTT Data IndyCar Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. The following season, Red Bull Cheever Racing signed Carpenter for his rookie season, and he’s been driving in IndyCar ever since. As Carpenter found success behind the wheel, he also set his sights on new opportunities outside the cockpit.

 

The Butler Way

In late 2011, Carpenter had the opportunity to partner with step-father Tony George, and local businessman Stuart Reed to start his own team, Ed Carpenter Racing. The multi-car operation, complete with full crew, equipment, and resources, has allowed Carpenter to secure his seat at Indianapolis for the foreseeable future.  

And with that, Carpenter not only became one of the few college graduates in the field, he also became the only driver/owner in IndyCar. Because of his dual role, Carpenter holds a unique position in the paddock. In one instance Carpenter may be head-to-head with his driving competitors, and the next he’s shoulder-to-shoulder with the sport’s other powerful team owners.

That can be heady stuff for a thirty-something in any profession, but Carpenter understands that racing is a people business, no matter his role. Whether as driver or owner, Carpenter is focused on how to be operate, manage, and motivate his own team. His Butler experience offered him insight into his approach.

“I think there’s a Butler influence, at least in a subconscious way,” Carpenter says. “The emphasis that Butler puts on culture, especially in athletics, is something I subscribe to and believe in. A lot of people talk about culture, but it's something that really requires follow through and trust. That’s my focus as a leader of my team.”

Carpenter’s ability to motivate and retain his crew at Ed Carpenter Racing is evident in the familiar faces that have been with the team since the beginning. That continuity has also attributed to the team’s recent success at Indianapolis which now boasts multiple front row starts and Top 10 finishes at the Brickyard.

In Ed Carpenter Racing, Carpenter has found strength in numbers. By sharing his vision for success at Indianapolis, he’s brought his team along for the ride. Each May they are serious contenders. This year more than ever.  

 

Unleashed

Carpenter’s Front Row starting position for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will be his third consecutive at Indianapolis, and his fifth time in seven years. Moreover, teammates Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones will start just behind him in positions third and fourth, making Ed Carpenter Racing the collective best in the field.

Results like this are proof of Carpenter’s hard work, determination, and Bulldog mentality, which is fitting for a guy that will don a Bulldog logo and other Butler marks on his helmet for this year’s race. In 16 tries at Indianapolis, Carpenter has gone from Indy 500 back-marker, to underdog, to black horse, and now perennial favorite, in more than one sense of the word.

Certainly, his speed makes him a likely winner, but it’s Carpenter’s humble and relentless pursuit of success at Indy that has endeared him to those that fill the stands on race day; to those that revere this race just like he does.

“I dream about winning at Indy all the time. So, I just stay focused on that and do the work necessary to make that dream a reality.”

Anything can happen over the course of 500 miles, including victory. That’s the only outcome that will appease Carpenter this May. And it’s just the sort of outcome to expect when you unleash a Bulldog with a dream and a really fast car.

 

Photo Credit: IMS Photography

Ed Carpenter driving the #20 car
Alumni Success

Ed Carpenter, The Man of May

One man’s mission to master one month.

May 23 2019 Read more
John Davies' handwritten letter

Why Have I Given to Butler University?

John Davies ’49

from Spring 2019

In 1944 I was enrolled at Butler as a naïve 17 year old. The war with Japan was still in progress. Thus, most males 18 and over were in the military. As a consequence, the ratio of females to male students was about 5 to 1, which I viewed as the social opportunity of a lifetime. It was not, however, conducive to academic excellence. In short, I never missed a party or a dance, but I did cut a class or two.

It was no surprise when my faculty advisor explained that my only achievement during my first semester as expulsion. He did, however, agree to seek readmission on probation if I agreed to make a radical change of my pursuit of an education. The deal was accomplished.

I worked hard during the next semester and summer school before entering the U.S. Army. After 18 months of service, I was discharged and reenrolled at Butler. It quickly became apparent that Butler was the right school for me – a broad curriculum and a faculty of such quality as to assure a solid education from a variety of disciplines for students who wanted to learn – and yes, that included me. My attitude changed from one of relief if I received a C or a D to one of disappointment if I did not receive an A.

In short, after a rocky start, I became a serious married student. I worked hard and with help from a great Butler faculty, I graduated with honors in 1949.

The fun of university life is undiminished and unforgettable to this day. I have often wondered how life might have been different had I attended a university with a faculty less interested in students and individuals seeking a quality education.

The reason I have given to Butler University is to help other students to achieve the same quality education that I did.

 

To see John's handwritten letter, click here.

John Davies' handwritten letter
Alumni Success

Why Have I Given to Butler University?

  

by John Davies ’49

from Spring 2019

Read more
Brett Atkin, Nick Batalis, Darren Fowlkes, Cory Kahoun, Pat Neshek, the 1997 Men’s Basketball team, and Ralph Reiff

Five former student-athletes, one team, and a long-time supporter of the athletics program were inducted into the Butler University Athletics Hall of Fame in October.

Selected as Butler’s 28th Hall of Fame Class are former student-athletes Brett Atkin (men’s golf, 1991–1995), Nick Batalis (football, 1995–1998), Darren Fowlkes (men’s basketball, 1986–1989), Cory Kahoun (men’s lacrosse, 1995–1999), Pat Neshek (baseball, 2000–2002), the 1997 Men’s Basketball team, and Special Service Award recipient Ralph Reiff.

“We are proud to welcome the Class of 2018 inductees into the Butler University Athletics Hall of Fame,” says Barry Collier, Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics. “This is another collection of accomplished individuals and a team, all of which inspired the Butler community during their time on campus and in their days since as tremendous representatives of The Butler Way.”

The Butler Hall of Fame was created in 1991 to provide a forum in which those who have brought honor and respect to Butler University and its athletic program could be acknowledged and permanently enshrined in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Inductees have made exceptional contributions to the prestige of the University in the field of athletics, and continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by athletics. The 2018 Class will bring the membership of the Butler Hall of Fame to 213 individuals and 12 teams.

For more on this year's Hall of Fame class, read the full release.

Jordan Thomas ’14

Mastering Risk Management and Insurance

Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2019

“I’m nearing the five-year mark in my industry, and the opportunities I’ve been given at such a young age have been extraordinary.”

That’s how Jordan Thomas ’14 sums up the value of his Butler Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) undergraduate degree— and why he joined the first-ever cohort in the University’s new Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) degree program.

“This industry will see a big need for talent very soon,” Thomas says. “People like me could be in management in just a few years if we have the training. Butler’s master’s program is the answer to that need.”

 

A ‘First-Class’ First Cohort

This two-year learning opportunity prepares individuals for advanced roles in corporate risk management and for new roles within the growing insurance field. Other than two In Residence Experiences, all classes are online with no set schedule, accessible at each student’s convenience. The degree is administered by the Lacy School of Business through its Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program (RMI).

Thomas serves on the Davey board, working closely with faculty to bring professionals into the classroom. He’s been impressed not just with the accredited curriculum, but with how eager faculty were to teach it.

One of those faculty is Davey Chair Dr. Victor Puleo, one of the people most instrumental in creating the MSRI program. He says the breadth of talent within this first cohort is “exhilarating and a little intimidating,” with over 200 years of combined experience in the group.

“We have a Fortune 500 company’s risk manager, a vice president of a multinational insurance company, and leaders from some of the largest insurance carriers in the country,” Puleo says. “With all that knowledge, we’ll be able to have collaborative learning at very high levels. This is a first-class group.”

 

Deep Curriculum Fills Knowledge Gaps

Butler’s Student-Run Captive Insurance Company will further deepen students’ learning by exploring alternative risk financing and a side of the industry few graduates elsewhere study: dealing with a foreign country’s regulatory requirements.

Moreover, the curriculum includes courses from the Butler MBA program, strengthened with content specific to this industry.

“Butler is filling the vacuum between nitty-gritty insurance classes and what we need to be the next generation of managers,” Thomas says. “For example, beyond being able to do a firm’s accounting, I’ll learn how to increase profitability using its vast warehouses of data. That kind of knowledge will boost my ability to be recognized for higher positions within the company.”

Because the program has “phenomenal flexibility,” Thomas says, he will take classes while keeping his full-time job as Associate Manager with Everest Insurance in Chicago.

“I am absolutely excited about Butler’s MSRI program. The industry is growing every day, and Butler is doing something truly special,” he says. “The program has the industry buzzing with excitement, too, and we’re making headlines across the nation. Personally, I’m proud to be an alumnus and proud to be part of the first cohort. This degree will do nothing but help my career move forward.”

 

For more information on the MSRI program, visit butler.edu/msri.

Jordan Thomas ’14
Alumni Success

Mastering Risk Management and Insurance

Alumnus sees new master’s degree as path to promotability.

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2019

Read more
John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00

So Strong a Bond

Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

As you glanced around at Butler University’s Homecoming tailgate, alumni donning their Bulldog gear stretched as far as you could see in all directions in a sea of blue.

Yet there was something that stood out about one pair walking arm-in-arm at the autumn gathering in 2018. Though it’s not the many years of age that he has on her, nor the inches in height she has on him.

It’s their beaming faces. Because whenever John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00 are together, it’s clear they are enjoying the kind of bond you wish to have with your favorite family member: caring, enthusiastic, with every moment treasured.

And it all started with a scholarship letter more than 20 years ago.

“One day it was just in my mailbox at ResCo. I had no idea what The John Davies Family Scholarship even was,” Williams says, recalling the moment from her junior year at Butler. “Now, Butler is not cheap and my parents and I were working hard to keep me enrolled. That’s why it was such a blessing.”

Presented with an option to reply, Jennifer chose to write back. To directly thank John Davies and his wife, Margie.

Davies, not expecting a response, was delighted. “We had no idea what would happen, we just knew we wanted to give back to Butler and help a few people get a great education there like I did,” he says. “But there weren’t any guidelines on how to proceed, so Margie and I just decided to write back again.”

That’s how it all began. Two individuals, states away from one another, corresponding on the basis of both loving Butler.

“I knew I was going to respond because that’s how my parents raised me. But it was so exciting because they just kept on writing back. Neither one of us knew what was going to happen,” Williams says. “Now I know them so well that members of my family will ask about them. ‘Oh, John? Margie? How’re they doing?’ They’re family. My angels.”

That bond was built gradually and naturally with a simple routine. Several times each year, the Davies would call and let Williams know when they’d be back in Indianapolis from Florida. She would clear her schedule and pick them up for lunch, with the conversation always carrying on long after the plates were cleared.

Since then, she’s stayed at their home in Florida, accompanied them to Butler basketball games where they talk basketball strategy—“she knows a whole lot more than me,” Davies happily admits—and have maintained the lunch routine for more than two decades.

The friendship is still growing. When hearing them actively sift through the significance of their bond, it’s clear that their trust in one another means more now than it ever has.

“We lost Margie a few years ago, and that was devastating,” Williams says after pausing to reflect. “I guess I thought they would last forever because I knew that my love for them would.”

Davies, in the wake of the loss, remains incredibly grateful for the moments they all shared together. To him, every memory is very much alive, still bringing him joy in the moment—his voice sparkles through the phone as he looks back.

“I remember—back in 2002, I think, but don’t quote me, I’m old—I was put up for an alumni recognition award. Williams was elected to provide the introduction, which was written for her. But she went off script and left us stunned,” Davies says. “She spoke of the love, laughter, and friendship we share. She’s the reason we kept on giving through the scholarship.”

That ceremony was just one of many moments that Williams intends to keep holding on to with Davies.

“I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to travel up here alone, so our chats now are especially cherished. I cancel any plans I have standing in the way when he comes to town,” Williams says. “Who knew that choosing to come to Butler would be the start of a bridge that connected two unlikely sources for a lifelong friendship?”

That’s why Williams is giving back now. In every facet of life, and especially as a Guidance Counselor at North Central High School in Indianapolis. Whether it’s giving money or time, she is more aware than most of the kind of impact that mentorship can have on a young person, even if the pairing is odd to begin with. And it’s why she scoffs at anyone who wouldn’t choose to write back.

“Those people have no idea what they’re missing. No matter what you put in, it can grow 20, 50, or a hundredfold,” Williams says. “Their love and life story has become mine.”

 

To read John Davies' handwritten letter about why he gives to Butler University, click here.

John Davies ’49 and Jennifer Williams ’98, MS ’00
Alumni Success

So Strong a Bond

  

by Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

Read more
Doug Boles ’88

On Track

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

Doug Boles ’88 is right where he belongs—in the corner office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with windows that look out on the back side of turn 1 and the entry to the short chute on the south end.

“It’s not the greatest view in the world,” the Speedway President says with a smile. “But it’s not the worst view, either.”

A lifelong auto-racing fanatic, Boles is a guy who chose Butler University in part because of its proximity to the track.

. . . Who, when he would hear cars testing their engines, would finish his classes, grab a burger, head to the track and do his homework in the Speedway museum parking lot.

. . . Who created a Motorsports Task Force when he worked for Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

. . . Who helped start a racing team, Panther Racing, which won 15 races and two championships while he was part of it.

. . . Who cares so much about the Speedway that—well, we’ll let three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser tell you that one.

“I’ve seen him on what they call the Coke Lot and he’s down there picking up trash,” Unser says. “I could not believe this. Not with a stick, not with some guy who works for him following him. No, just doing it himself. He’s that way. He’ll stop and talk to you. He wants to know how you are. Who would ever, ever, ever do that? This guy’s the boss, and he isn’t doing it to impress somebody. He’s doing it because it’s his track to run. I thought that was more than amazing. Nobody’s like Doug Boles.”

Boles traces his influences to a home where auto racing and Butler University were the cultural touchstones. His parents, Jeff and Susie, and a great aunt are Butler alumni. So are most of his parents’ friends. Both of his sisters went to Butler, as did their husbands.

Still, Boles was preparing to attend DePauw University when Butler swim coach Bob Waymouth offered a partial scholarship.

He joined Lambda Chi, the closest fraternity to Hinkle Fieldhouse (“With those 5:00 AM swim practices, you could sleep in five minutes longer”), worked as a campus tour guide, and majored in Journalism. An internship on the Indianapolis Star obituary desk convinced him that “I’m not sure this is for me,” so he followed his other love—politics—into a job doing public relations for the Indiana House Republicans.

Boles went from the Statehouse to the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, where he worked as Director of Governmental and Corporate Affairs, and on the side managed the Indianapolis Motorsports Task Force. In that role, he met ESPN producer Terry Lingner, who hired Boles to be a producer’s spotter on the weekends for ESPN Racing.

Through that job, Boles met a mechanic named John Barnes, who proposed the idea of starting a team.

After help from attorney Jack Swarbrick (now Athletic Director at University of Notre Dame) pitching Pennzoil sponsorship, Boles became part of a team along with Barnes, Lingner, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and auto dealer Gary Pedigo.

Boles spent 10 years with the team—and earned his law degree from Indiana University in 2000—but the travel and constant workload began taking its toll. He sold his interest in Panther Racing to spend more time with his wife, Beth, and family. He worked as a consultant for three years, then joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010 as Director of Communications.

That role expanded to Director of Communications and Vice President of Communications for all of Hulman & Company—the Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and Clabber Girl. In 2013, he became Chief Operating Officer (COO), and that summer he was named President—a job that typically had gone to ownership or family.

It seems like the culmination of a lifelong dream, but as Boles tells people, “You couldn’t dream about this job because you never would have thought it would be an opportunity.”

It’s worked out well for him, the Speedway, and Butler. Danny Kibble, Butler’s Executive Director of Alumni and Engagement Programs, says the University is “fortunate that someone such as Doug, who has achieved such incredible international success, continues to remain involved with Butler University.”

Looking back at his achievements at the Speedway so far, Boles is most proud of his team’s effort to sell out the 100th running of the 500 in 2016 (a crowd of 350,000-plus), bringing in the Rolling Stones for a July 4, 2015 concert that attracted 55,000 fans, and spending roughly $120 million on grandstand upgrades and infrastructure improvements.

He keeps reminders of the renovations in his office, including a rusty beam that had collapsed into the grandstand and a “core sample” of the track that includes an original brick along with all the layers of pavement that had been added over the years. The thing looks like a bricks-and-mortar lasagna.

Beyond racing, for the past three years now, the Speedway has presented Lights at the Brickyard, an event that lets cars drive around the 2.5-mile track and look at some 3 million holiday lights. More than 150,000 people took the opportunity in its first year, 2016—and about half of those had never been to the track.

Boles’ efforts have earned the admiration of his peers.

“Doug’s passion and energy around motorsports is infectious,” says Chip Wile, President of the Daytona International Speedway. “He is always thinking about ways to be innovative at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and create an exciting environment for fans when they visit his iconic track.”

Boles says that’s the challenge he faces—to stay relevant, grow new audiences, and make sure the IMS is active beyond the month of May when the Indianapolis 500 takes over.

“We’re the Hinkle Fieldhouse of racetracks,” he says. “The question is: How do you take what is essential to your DNA and promote that? You can make subtle changes,” Boles says, “but you can’t walk away from who you are.”

Doug Boles ’88
Alumni Success

On Track

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

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Brandon Gaudin ’06

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

Luck is a word that Butler University graduate and play-by-play sportscaster Brandon Gaudin ’06 just can’t stop saying.

“I’m lucky, and I realize that,” he says, reflecting on the adventure that began when he was young. “No one has had bigger cheerleaders, bigger mentors, and better friends throughout this entire walk.”

His walk started at age 7 on October 24, 1991—the day his parents took the family to World Series Game 5, Braves vs. Twins.

“When I walked into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, that is when I fell in love with sports.”

And he fell fast, and hard. Gaudin devoured the Atlanta Braves’ 1992 season at home in Evansville, Indiana, on TBS, constructing a bat and ball from the cardboard of a paper towel roll and a wadded-up balloon and making an outfield fence with pillows. He mimicked Braves announcer Skip Caray and hoped to follow in his footsteps.

And he has—as a play-by-play announcer for FOX and BTN and the voice of the Madden NFL videogame for EA Sports.

Brandon Gaudin calling a game at Hinkle FieldhouseGaudin has always known what he wanted to do, and when he first visited Butler, he realized the University could provide a foundation for his future success.

“What I saw in Butler was potential,” he says. “I knew at Butler that I would be an individual. Butler would provide me a chance to get a lot of hands-on experience earlier than I might have been able to at a bigger school.”

And experience, he got: During his years on campus, Gaudin took on two majors and two minors, interned at ESPN, and was named a Top 10 Male Student.

After graduating, he went right to work, putting in time broadcasting Single-A baseball south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Though not a glamorous start, Gaudin says, “I had no grand expectations of graduating from college and being on national television within six months, and I wouldn’t have wanted that. I feel very fortunate for the journey I’ve had.”

That journey led him to serve as the play-by-play voice of Butler Basketball, where he could allow his pride for the Bulldogs to shine through. He moved on in 2013 to become the voice of Georgia Tech’s football and basketball programs, and eventually to the national stage he’s on now.

Along the way, he’s been on the mic for a few special endings, like the University of Michigan’s buzzer-beating win over the University of Houston in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

It’s the same call he made thousands of times years ago in his living room.

“When those moments have happened, my mind always travels back to acting them out as a child all those years ago in Evansville.”

Today, as a national television and radio broadcaster, he is still practicing. Like the little kid listening to Skip Caray, Gaudin as an adult admires the three gold standards of the industry: Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, and Joe Buck.

“Those are individuals I’m always trying to glean something from. So when I was asked to voice the Madden video-game, one of the many things that was so special was that Jim Nantz did it before I did.”

If Gaudin is lucky to be where he is today, it is because he ensures preparation meets opportunity. He works hard to blend the art and science of calling games. The groundwork of gathering statistics is a science. The art comes into play when he turns on the microphone to tell a story.

“You have a ton of stuff committed to memory, but if Kamar Baldwin is up at the free-throw line and I want to tell a story about him, I can look down at all the notes I have and weave them into the broadcast.”

For Gaudin, “what’s next” is more easily answered by what game is coming up or what flight number he’s packing for. (He logged over 200 flights in 2018.)

“I love what I am doing now and wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he says. “As cliché as it sounds, I try to enjoy the steps of the journey and not worry about tomorrow. I feel blessed to do what I do today. I am one of the luckiest people, and I realize that.”

Brandon Gaudin ’06
Alumni Success

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

A sports broadcaster gets an early jump on career experience.

by Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

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Dr. Craig A. Anderson ’76

Focusing on Behavior

from Spring 2019

Dr. Craig A. Anderson ’76 has been on the leading edge of research about aggression for over 40 years. In February, his efforts were recognized with the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology.

The award honors a scholar who has made distinctively valuable research contributions across his or her career that bridge personality and social psychology or bridge personality or social psychology with another field (i.e., law, education, organizations, or medicine).

“Dr. Anderson’s work is remarkable not only for its sheer quantity and quality but also for its breadth,” says Distinguished Scholar Award selection committee member and University of Texas at Austin Psychology Professor Sam Gosling. “His research spans a wide range of areas, including judgment and decision-making; depression, loneliness, and shyness; personality theory and measurement; attribution theory; and human aggression.

“His work is also particularly notable for its applied implications well beyond the realms of academia; this feature is perhaps best illustrated by his groundbreaking work looking at the effects of media violence on behavior.”

He traces his interest in aggression to his childhood.

“I was a fairly angry child,” says Anderson, who grew up on a farm in Northern Indiana. “I was always one of the smallest in my class, getting picked on. I distinctly recall a point at 15 or 16 when I realized being angry wasn’t satisfying or productive.”

Not long after this epiphany, Anderson nearly got an up-closeand- personal look at aggression in its most institutionalized form. Attending the University of Notre Dame during the Vietnam War, he felt safe from joining the fight—at least until graduation. Suddenly, in 1971, President Richard Nixon cancelled student deferments, making undergraduates like Anderson subject to the draft.

“It was clear I was going to be drafted while still in college, and they were sending everyone to Vietnam,” he says. “So, I voluntarily joined an Army Reserve unit.” Anderson attended basic training and vehicle mechanic school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, then tank mechanic school at Fort Knox.

Once he knew he could fulfill his reservist duties primarily on the weekends, Anderson turned back to his studies. He accepted a scholarship to Butler.

From the time he got to Butler—where his senior research project examined whether a researcher’s gender could influence the outcomes of a study—Anderson has been intrigued by the motivations behind people’s behavior.

“I’ve always been interested in what influences the way people think,” Anderson says. “How humans interpret the world underlies all my research.”

He says the Psychology Department at Butler helped his life’s work get off to a good start.

During those years, he also met and dated Dona Caprice (“Cappi”) Odom ’77, who was attending Butler’s School of Pharmacy.

They spent a lot of time together in the Psychology Department. Then one day, he recalls, one of his professors, Dr. J. William Hepler, took him aside and said, “‘Anderson, you’ve got to marry this girl. Not only can she can cook, but she can earn a living, and you’re not going to be able to make any money!’ So, I did.”

They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. (Their daughter Caitlin graduated from Butler in 2012 with a degree in Psychology.)

After Anderson graduated from Butler, he went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from Stanford University. He taught at Rice University, Ohio State, and University of Missouri- Columbia before joining the Iowa State University faculty in 1999 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology.

“He is undeniably the most well-known, accomplished alumnus of the Psychology Department at Butler, and he’s very important as a social psychologist and a psychologist in general,” says Provost and Professor of Psychology Kate Morris. “His work is compelling and impactful—he’s testified before Congress. We’re obviously proud to have him as an alumnus.”

Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09

Closing the Gap

Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2019

When Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09 created CommonLit, Inc. she saw it as just a teacher website.

That was in 2014. Today, with the help of a $3.9 million grant from the United States Department of Education and another $3.5 million grant from Google, the online reading program for grades 3-12 is reaching over 8.3 million users, and averaging 21,000 new users every day.

In fact, Brown says, “CommonLit has grown so big that it’s rare that I meet an English teacher today who hasn’t heard of it. It’s pretty crazy.”

Brown created CommonLit to be a completely free, online compilation of literary and teaching resources. Professional, high-performing teachers create all of the lessons on the site, which include new articles, poems, short stories, and historical documents. The works themselves are donated by authors and publishers that support CommonLit’s mission of improving literacy for vulnerable populations.

StudentThe path to its creation was not a traditional one, however.

Brown came to Butler University from New Braunfels, Texas to study classical ballet. However, one of her professors, Dr. Marshall Gregory, inspired her to change her major to English.

“His classes made me believe in the power of literature to change people’s minds. In fact, Dr. G ended up writing my letter of recommendation for Teach for America, which is what brought me to the education sector.”

After graduating from Butler, Brown taught for two years at a school in a highly impoverished and extremely rural part of the Mississippi Delta. It was there that she got the “teaching bug.”

“Ultimately, what I am doing now directly correlates to teaching there,” she says. “CommonLit was born out of my experience in the classroom.”

Brown followed up her time in Mississippi with a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. It was upon completion of this program that CommonLit was born.

In the five years since its inception, the nonprofit has done so well, in part, because of something Brown calls “best practices.”

“Our theory of action is that if we give teachers high-quality resources and help change teacher practices, we can nudge them toward practices that support students who are struggling in reading,” Brown says. “We pick a handful of best practices that have been shown, through research, to move the needle in reading achievement—particularly for students who are struggling.”

For example, a best practice would be for a student who is an English language learner to explicitly be learning high-leverage words—words that you might see over and over again, no matter what class you’re in throughout the school day. This ensures students have strong foundational knowledge from which to build.

“Reading and writing is a predictor of life’s outcomes, of student earnings,” she says. “It really is the ticket to the middle class. Our mission is to close that gap.”

With the new multimillion-dollar grant, the company will aim to close the gap internationally as well, starting with a pilot in Mexico.

“We are actually writing original Spanish content, getting really great local stories, and building a curriculum that is more localized for Mexico,” Brown says. “Then we are trying to see over the next two years how we can build student achievement there.”

StudentsCommonLit currently has a three-person team in Mexico City that is working with the Ministry of Education as well as other partners who are local to the region and understand the unique context there.

“Literature and text selection are so localized and very cultural and are how people are socialized in their country,” Brown says.

“We aren’t just saying we are making a CommonLit for the U.S. and then lumping the rest of the world together. We’re thinking ‘what’s our global strategy,’ and thinking country by country.”

The under-resourced schools her team is working with in Mexico City just recently gained access to computers and broadband internet. Through its latest grant, CommonLit will be working on offline solutions as well.

“Our mission is to serve students who are in low-income areas and who are underserved,” she says. “And in international context, that usually means they don’t have consistent access to internet. So, that is something we will be pursuing in 2019 and 2020: How can we make an interactive version of CommonLit that actually works offline.”

CommonLit has grown exponentially and impressively over the past two years, but Brown says it’s the individual stories that have the most impact. She shares the story of a high school teacher in New York whose student had recently immigrated to the United States. In order to graduate with a high school diploma, he had to pass his New York State Regents exams— but he spoke no English.

“This teacher used CommonLit basically every day with him in English and Spanish, and the result was that he exceeded the average on the English exam at the end of the year,” Brown says. “He used the Spanish and English resources and started to understand the structure of the text and it was a total success... It’s moments like that when you realize that you’re really making a big impact.”

Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09
Alumni Success

Closing the Gap

  

by Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2019

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Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98

The Hunt

Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98 is OK with failure. That’s because she doesn’t really view it that way. Failing is really just getting closer to discovering the right answer.

That is the world of vaccine discovery. Decades of research, years of clinical trials, and, unfortunately, more often than not, failure. And that is Swanson’s world.

“This is certainly not for the faint of heart,” says Swanson, a Butler University Biology graduate who currently works at Pfizer as Director in Viral Vaccines and is the research lead for the RSV vaccine program. “It takes passion, drive, and a lot of persistence to really see where the light will be at the end of the tunnel. But it’s also so worth it because you know you’re a small piece of the larger puzzle that will have so much impact beyond yourself.”

Swanson has spent the last five years working on finding an RSV vaccine at Pfizer’s Research and Development campus in Pearl River, New York. In her 10 years at Pfizer, she has also worked on finding vaccines for Chlamydia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Before that, Swanson went to graduate school at the Indiana University School of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Chlamydia pathogenesis and vaccine antigen discovery research at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (part of the National Institutes of Health).

But it was at Butler that she really discovered her passion for science and research.

She remembers sitting in Professor Emeritus of Biology James Shellhaas’ immunology course as a junior. He was comparing a virus battling against one’s immune system, to a game of tug of war. And right there, in that classroom, Swanson knew she wanted to hunt for vaccines as a career.

“I was hooked,” she says. “I knew I wanted to keep chasing after this. It was a great class. There were only five students, so there was a ton of discussion back and forth. Shellhaas made the connection that you need to know the biology of a pathogen and how it interacts, in order to make an effective vaccine. He opened my eyes to this dynamic, complex, interesting challenge and since then I have wanted to chase these answers.”

In between pitching for the Butler softball team—Swanson says there was a lot of studying in hotel hallways—she found time to present her research at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, take part in Butler Summer Institute, oh, and meet her husband, Wesley ’00—in the library, of course.

Her summer project for the Butler Summer Institute was teaming up with Shellhaas to research the immune response of macrophages when infected with various bacteria. It was her first experience handling research animals, and what sticks out is the patience of Shellhaas to teach her the basics of research—how to collect cells, grow bacteria, analyze it, tell a story, troubleshoot, and draw conclusions.

“These are all skills that are the foundation of a career in research,” Swanson says. “At Butler, you have the chance to do so much more than what is in the curriculum. There were so many different opportunities, by the time I was off to grad school, I already had an understanding of how to design an experiment, how to do research. But the thing is, it goes beyond these practical lab skills. I learned the analytical thinking that you need to be successful as a researcher. The skills to look at something one way, then realize, wait, there’s an alternative path out there in case you run into a road block, which you will.”

But a road block doesn’t mean failure. It just means getting closer to the right answer.

Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98
Alumni Success

The Hunt

  

by Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

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New York City Skyline

Unleashed in New York

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

You know what the song New York, New York  says: If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. And that sentiment is what motivates tens of thousands of people to pick up and move to New York City each year.

The potential of great risk, great reward is too tempting to pass up. We talked to four Bulldogs who’ve moved to NYC in the past decade or so—and are most certainly making it.

 

A Matter of Time

Joe Ziemer ’05Joe Ziemer ’05 worked at Nuvo, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, and Clowes Memorial Hall for about a year after graduation. But by 2007, he was off to New York, where he’s been ever since.

“I knew it was inevitable,” he says. “It was just a matter of when.”

Ziemer had spent time in New York with his family growing up, and while at Butler he and classmate Steve Dumas ’05 did internships there rather than study abroad.

“We both took the view that if we were going to do a semester away, we wanted to do it in a place where we thought there was a likelihood that we would move to,” Ziemer says.

To get hired in New York, Ziemer borrowed a friend’s New York mailing address so he would look like a local applicant. He landed his first job with TriplePoint, a boutique communications firm, where he wound up running the New York office for the San Francisco-based company.

After five and a half years, he moved to Betterment, an automated investment service. At the time, it was a small, unknown startup with 10 employees managing $50 million. Six years later, Betterment has 240 employees and manages $15 billion in investments.

Ziemer is Vice President.

“It was definitely a career risk to take the plunge to a small startup, but it’s gone incredibly well,” Ziemer says.

So has the move to New York. After nine years in Manhattan, he moved to Brooklyn and also bought a small house upstate with his wife and two dogs to be able to “recapture a little bit of fresh air and nature when needed.”

He’s found New York to be “incredibly welcoming.”

“Almost nobody is from here, which makes it a really attractive place to move,” he says. “They’re accepting of different cultures and ideologies.”

 

An Overnight Success—14 Years in the Making

Katie Hannigan ’08On August 2, 2018, after 10 years in New York, Katie Hannigan ’08 got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic’s career: She performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The result, she says, has been “a nice little bump” that included getting a Home Depot commercial and increasing her road bookings.

“It definitely is a huge career milestone for me,” she says. “This is something I’ve been working toward for years and years and years.”

Hannigan has been working toward her goal for at least 14 years, if you go back to her first year at Butler. After graduating from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where she was fascinated by experimental theater, Hannigan came to Butler as a Theatre major and immediately found herself cast in Top Girls, a play by unconventional writer Caryl Churchill. Everyone in the cast was older, and “I felt quite distinguished and honored to be able to do that show.”

In that production, she worked with director Constance Macy for the first time. They teamed up again two years later on The Underpants, and she credits Macy, an Indianapolis actress and director who works frequently with Butler Theatre, with helping her develop a critical eye for comedic timing.

At Butler, Hannigan also worked at the Holcomb Observatory for two years, which “helped me develop my interests outside of performing, which is so important to be able to draw on.” (She’s now hosting a podcast called Apodcalypse about ends-of-days scenarios in pop culture and religious legend.)

Hannigan moved to New York a week after graduating from Butler. She moved in with her former Butler roommate Leah Nanako Winkler ’06—who has also gone on to great success as the 2018 winner of the prestigious Yale Drama Series Prize—and they worked together in experimental theater.

“I felt that if I went to New York,” she says, “I would find exactly what I was interested in focusing on for a long period of time.”

But that took some time. Two years later, Hannigan started in comedy. She spent four years going to open-mic nights five to 10 times a week to hone her act. A couple of years in, she also took a job at a comedy club so she could get more stage time, and she began to hit the road to work at clubs and comedy festivals around the country. She also started posting jokes regularly on Twitter—and still does @katiehannigan.

She had other gigs, too, including preschool teacher (“the kids were teaching me … that I hate kids,” she says in her act) and New York City tour guide. She developed such an extensive knowledge of New York City that she’s appeared in episodes of The Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum as an expert.

And even as her comedy schedule filled, she continued to act. During summer 2018, she shot two TV pilots, including one about city yuppies who decide they’re going to live off the land but find they’re woefully unprepared.

In the near term, she appreciates that standup comedy is the skill that’s bringing her the most attention.

“The weekend after I performed (for Colbert), it was quite a shock to my system to have accomplished that kind of goal,” she says. “I was feeling kind of overwhelmed as far as what do I do next. The Late Show is something that will help my career as a comedian, but I do have some big things ahead that I’m looking forward to.”

 

A Pretty Cool Place to Work

Radley Haddad ’13Radley Haddad ’13 didn’t have a favorite baseball team growing up, but he sure has one now—the New York Yankees.

Since 2017, the former Butler Baseball player has been the bullpen catcher for the Yankees, and at the end of the 2018 season he signed a contract for another two years. (Also in 2018, he married Arielle Hemrick ’14, who’s now a dentist in Brooklyn.)

“Being in New York has been a great experience so far,” he says. “Getting to be in Yankee Stadium every day is a pretty cool place to go to work.”

Haddad grew up in Carmel, Indiana, and transferred to Butler after two years at Western Carolina University for a chance to get more playing time. Then-Coach Steve Farley—“a really good molder of men”—helped Haddad get into a good summer league where he could play every day until he was eligible to play for Butler. And in 2012 and 2013, he started 93 games for the Bulldogs.

Haddad wasn’t selected in the Major League Baseball draft, but a week later the Yankees signed him to a free-agent contract. He played four years in the minor leagues, getting as high as the Double-A Trenton Thunder. During spring training in 2017, the Yankees gave him a choice: Go back to the minor leagues again or come to work as a bullpen catcher.

Haddad was 26 at the time. The choice turned out to be easy.

“It was tough to walk away from the game as a player, but the transition was easy.”

His qualifications for the job were basic: “I have the skills to catch guys who throw hard and I’m a generally pleasant person to be around. Those are probably the two job requirements that I filled.”

His first season—being part of a team playing in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series—“was just surreal.” Nine months earlier, he was “a grinding minor leaguer,” and here he was, warming up starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia.

“The path that your life can take in a short time is pretty remarkable,” he says.

Haddad still enjoys catching—“I get to see what Aroldis Chapman throws and all these guys who are probably future Hall of Famers”—and he also does some coaching, game planning, and analytics.

His plan is to “just continue to mold into the best version of myself and help the team win in any way possible, whether that’s as a bullpen catcher or coaching assistant or in baseball operations. Just continue to make the people around me better is my goal.”

 

Reading the Signs

Aaron Simms ’98In his bio, Butler Theatre alumnus Aaron Simms ’98 describes himself as “a New Yorker from Cincinnati.”

He’s been in New York since 2003, after detours that took him from Butler to Wisconsin (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival), Ohio (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Human Race Theatre Company), and West Virginia (Theatre West Virginia).

“That’s what you do,” Simms says. “You gig. You go where the work is. That’s the job of a professional actor.”

That mindset motivated him to pursue his craft in New York with just enough money for two months of living expenses and the phone number of someone he knew in theater.

Simms called while he was getting off the plane, and his acquaintance said that his theater company was having auditions that day. Simms went to the audition and booked his first job in NYC.

“That was kind of a sign that I should be here,” he says. “It’s strange for an artist, but the signs point you in the right direction. That was a strange and wonderful occurrence.”

That job led to others—“Work breeds work,” Simms says—and as his craft evolved, he began producing and general-managing shows.

He’s still doing that as General Manager of the York Theatre Company, which produces and develops new musicals and old gems from the past in Midtown Manhattan, and as founder and Executive Producer of Inwood Art Works in Upper Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood. Simms says Inwood lacked galleries, theaters, cinemas, and other creative spaces, so he decided to create a cultural arts hub through programming showcasing artists who live in the neighborhood.

Simms, who earned his Master of Fine Arts in Theater Management and Producing from Columbia University in 2015, says his career is an outgrowth of what he learned at Butler.

“You have to create your own path,” he says, “which is something the chair of our department, Dan Warrick, instilled in us. That’s something I’ve carried with me from Butler.”

New York City Skyline
Alumni Success

Unleashed in New York

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

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Community and Compassion: Loor Alshawa `14

By Monica Holb ‘09

Compassion may not have been a course that Loor Alshawa ’14, a two-time Top 100 student of the year, took at Butler University. But it was a lesson she learned along the way, and is now taking it with her into her medical career. Alshawa graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in May 2018, ready to take on a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Alshawa’s first brush with compassion at Butler may have come from her older sister, also a Butler graduate. Alshawa was on a college visit with her sister, in the midst of the Bulldogs’ 2010 Final Four run, when she spotted Gordon Hayward. Alshawa was compelled to ask for a photo as Hayward made his way to class, and her sister, embarrassed as she was, compassionately didn’t bar Alshawa from ever stepping foot on campus again.

Compassion, however, is expected of siblings; not always of professors and other students. Yet, Alshawa got the sense, right away, that Butler was a tight-knit community.

At Butler, Alshawa learned the importance of compassion, as well as connecting with community. “It is so easy to lose sight of that, but having it ingrained in me at Butler, I hope it will stay with me in my career,” Alshawa said.

A large part of her lesson in compassion came from the myriad of volunteer opportunities Alshawa took part in as a student. For example, through the Diversity Center, she did a tour of volunteering in New Orleans. She also served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for three years. “We went out into the community to help people in need,” Alshawa said of these experiences. One of Alshawa’s favorite things about Butler is that sense of community.

“I went to Butler knowing that I wanted to go to medical school, and Butler helped me get there,” Alshawa said. “A career in medicine can be difficult, but now I am used to having a support system from the Butler community. Staying connected with Butler is my plan.”

Community and compassion mixed with high-level academics were the perfect combination at Butler for Alshawa.

“The academic rigor for medical school is just another level of difficulty,” Alshawa explained. But she was not daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge one must gain in a short amount of time. “I truly believe that Butler set me up for success; the difficulty of Butler courses gave me a leg up,” Alshawa said.

Butler’s academic rigor also put Alshawa in a position to deliver compassionate care. Alshawa had studied French since the seventh grade, but wasn’t planning on adding it to her Biology major. But she admired her French professors and felt she should pursue the language and make it as strong as possible, and decided to double major. With a summer semester in Paris and an independent study her senior year, Alshawa was fluent enough to interview French-speaking people in Indianapolis. The conversations were research about their culture, but also improved her skills. Little did she know that speaking French could help her future patients.

During Alshawa’s OB GYN rotation in medical school, her team had a patient come in by ambulance. The patient had given birth to her baby, but not the placenta, and they were still connected by umbilical cord. The woman was French-speaking only, and the emergency team was not able to even ask for her name. No one could talk to their patient.

Alshawa stepped up and shared her knowledge. “I ended up speaking to her and walking her through what was going on and what we were doing in an emergent situation,” Alshawa said.

These experiences lend Alshawa a vision of who she wants to become as a physician: someone who can interact with patients, visit after visit—without losing her compassion. Butler University’s commitment to academics, and its support of students and the community, will help her achieve just that.

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