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Kelsey Burton with Bella the Newfoundland dog
Alumni Success

Butler Alumnae Dominate United Way ELEVATE Nominations

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Feb 24 2020

Each year, United Way’s ELEVATE Awards recognize the next generation of philanthropists, volunteers, and activists in the Central Indiana community. After receiving nearly 100 nominations, the organization has selected 15 finalists for the 2020 awards.

A third of them are Butler graduates. Five alumnae are among the nominees, and winners will be announced at ELEVATE on Saturday, February 29, at Crane Bay Event Center in downtown Indianapolis.

Kelsey Burton ‘06 is one of three nominees for the Nonprofit Professional of the Year. As executive director of Paws and Think,  she is always promoting the benefits of dogs. Since joining the local nonprofit in 2016, the Chemistry and Biology graduate has developed numerous programs for her organization’s 130 therapy dogs all over Indianapolis.

 

“Paws and Think focuses on improving lives through the power of the human/dog connection,” says Burton.

One day a week, she stops by a small office at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital to catch up with some of her star canines. A recent visit saw one of Paws and Think’s top dogs, the 100-pound Bella. The shaggy, 10-year-old Newfoundland specializes in encouraging children to read. For children who are shy or don’t like reading out loud during school, reading to Bella can help calm the nerves. The pages turn as Bella takes in every line.

Burton says she is honored to be among the 15 ELEVATE finalists because the recognition shows her work has been meaningful to the community.

“We want to bring love, happiness, and comfort to those who need it most,” Burton says, “We know dogs are amazing. They’re non-judgemental and offer unconditional love. So, what better tool than dogs to be able to do those things.”

Sarah Myer ‘06, also among the award nominees, says she’s grateful she decided to stay in Indianapolis after graduating from Butler.

Sarah Myer
Sarah Myer '06 helped attract the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis.

“Indy is a city where you can get connected quickly and make an impact if you are willing to hustle,” says the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Indiana Sports Corp. “Not many cities have that kind of opportunity for young people starting their careers.”

In her role, Myer works to make sure those career opportunities stay in the Circle City. Since 1979, Indiana Sports Corp has helped attract major sporting events to Indianapolis in the form of NCAA basketball tournament games, U.S. Olympic team trials, and, of course, Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Events co-produced by the nonprofit sports commission have led to more than $4 billion in direct spending in the city.

“Our team helps execute events from start to finish,” Myer says. “And while these events are here, they not only elevate civic pride and have a huge economic impact on our city, but we always find ways to include our youth.”

Emily Shrock ‘09 is nominated for Board Member of the Year for her work with Coburn Place, a local nonprofit that works to empower and house victims of abuse. A Marketing major when she was at Butler, Shrock credits her time at the University for helping her realize “the power of community."

“While I was on campus, I had the opportunity to take a number of leadership roles through organizations that not only taught me how to lead but instilled in me an even stronger sense of compassion and desire to serve those around me,” she says. “My heart has forever been in serving others, and Butler truly enhanced that longing that has led me to a career in public service.”

As Director of Public Engagement and Programs at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Shrock wanted to maintain that balance of servitude with her professional life. She started at Coburn Place as a student volunteer, and a decade later, she is helping lead the nonprofit into a strong 2020. 

Shrock says Coburn Place houses 70 people daily in its Midtown building, but its programming and services reach all over Indianapolis.

Also nominated are Lisa Glavan ‘19 and Molly McDonnell ‘17, who will represent the Roche Diagnostics Young Professionals group for the Employee Resource Group of the Year award.

Burton wasn’t surprised to see so many fellow Butler Bulldogs on the ELEVATE program.

“We all got really good groundwork in college to learn how to make things possible in our community,” she says. “All the time, I find myself very honored to be part of that group—to say I’m a Butler alum.”

 

Photos and video by Tim Brouk

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Kelsey Burton with Bella the Newfoundland dog
Alumni Success

Butler Alumnae Dominate United Way ELEVATE Nominations

Five alumnae are among finalists at the February 29 award ceremony honoring philanthropy, volunteerism, and activism

Feb 24 2020 Read more
Fulbright
Alumni Success

Butler Named a Top Producer of Student Fulbright Recipients

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Feb 10 2020

INDIANAPOLIS—Butler University has been named a Top Producing Institution of participants in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2019-2020 academic year. An international educational exchange experience through the U.S. Department of State, this program aims to increase understanding between the United States and other countries.

Four Butler graduates received Fulbright sponsorships over the last year:

  • Meredith Gallagher ’19 (Biology/Spanish) is conducting an independent research project in Bolivia and Peru. She is evaluating the effectiveness of a device used to patch holes in hearts. Read more about the device here.
  • Miren Mohrenweiser ’17 (History/English Literature/French) is the recipient of the inaugural Global Peace, Security, and Justice award. She is earning her Ph.D. at Queen’s University Belfast. Read more about the award here.
  • Matt Del Busto ‘19 (English/Spanish) was one of only five English Teaching Assistants selected to teach at the Universidad de Málaga in Málaga, Spain.
  • Tommy Roers ‘19 (Middle and Secondary Education/Spanish) was one of only six English Teaching Assistants selected to teach in Uruguay for eight months.

“By conducting research, earning degrees, or teaching English in local communities abroad, our students are the embodiment of Fulbright’s mission to foster mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchange,” says Dacia Charlesworth, Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships. “I am delighted that our students and alumni are able to participate in such a noble program as they truly represent the best of our University.”

Butler last received this honor during the 2015-2016 academic year, when three students received English Teaching Assistantships. Since 2004, the University has had a total of 19 student Fulbright recipients.

“The Fulbright experience is valuable primarily because it funds participants’ education and professional development,” Charlesworth says. “Moving beyond the financial rewards, though, the cultural engagement recipients experience is invaluable. Fulbright recipients are true ambassadors for our nation.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Fulbright
Alumni Success

Butler Named a Top Producer of Student Fulbright Recipients

The University had four program participants over the last academic year

Feb 10 2020 Read more

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

Nine Butler University alumni and one professor emeritus who have demonstrated extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Recognition Program on Friday, October 25, at 6:00 PM in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, part of Homecoming Weekend festivities. Registration for the awards ceremony and all Homecoming activities can be made online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 
  • Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon
  • Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 
  • Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 
  • Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04
  • Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07
  • Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88
  • Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

 

Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 

Craig Fenneman graduated from Reitz High School, where he served as student council president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Butler University and attended Indiana University School of Law for two years before pursuing a career in commercial real estate.

Mr. Fenneman founded two Indiana-based businesses: Fenneman and Associates, a real estate development company, and Southern Bells, Inc., one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees in the country. He has given back to his community in many ways, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the YMCA Camp Carson and Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America National Foundation. He also sits on the Board of the YMCA of greater Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Community Foundation of Morgan County.

In addition, Mr. Fenneman has been a loyal alumnus and friend to Butler University. A former member of Butler’s Board of Trustees, he held the position of Board Chair from 2011 to 2014. He also served on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, the Hinkle Campaign Cabinet, and the ButlerRising Campaign Cabinet. Craig and his wife, Mary Stover-Fenneman, are honorees of Butler University’s premier philanthropic giving community, the Carillon Society, and are recognized on Cornerstone Plaza for their generous lifetime giving to Butler University. Their philanthropic support has benefitted the Butler Fund, the Campaign for Hinkle Fieldhouse, the ButlerRising Campaign, the Craig Fenneman Endowed Scholarship, the Butler Business Consulting Group, and, most recently, they have joined the Founders Circle as donors to the new Lacy School of Business building and as lead donors to the Science Expansion and Renovation project.

Mr. Fenneman has received the Sagamore of the Wabash, YMCA Camp Carson Outstanding Volunteer Award, YMCA of Southwest Indiana "James Orr Award" as Outstanding Volunteer, Boys Scouts of American Silver Beaver, Award of Merit, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, Distinguished Eagle and 2007 Ernst & Young Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The Butler Medal is the highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association. It recognizes individuals for a lifetime of distinguished service to either Butler University or their local community while at the same time achieving a distinguished career in their chosen profession and attaining a regional or preferably a national reputation. Since 1959, it has recognized individuals who have helped immeasurably toward perpetuating the University as a great educational and cultural institution and have had, during their lifetime, a profound influence on the course of Butler University.

 

Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon

Marshall Dixon was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Southern Maryland, where he was a professional fur trapper at age 11. After receiving a PhD in physics from the University of Virginia, he served on the faculties of Tulane University and New Mexico State University, and also worked for Westinghouse Research Laboratory and White Sands Missile Range. Along the way, he served a term of duty in the U.S. Army.

He joined the faculty of Butler University in 1957 and taught physics, electrical engineering, constitutional law and the history of law for 53 years. Early during his tenure at Butler, the University hosted “scientifically minded” high school students in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Dixon taught physics to these students, and, when the NSF grant ran out, continued the program on his own in his third-floor laboratory in Jordan Hall. No one was invited or turned away and news of the class was spread by word of mouth. By 1972, The Indianapolis Star reported that over 100 exceptional youngsters had passed through the program, many of them eventually attending Butler. 

In addition, Dixon housed and fed Butler students free of charge for decades, introducing them to a wide range of international cuisines (he did all the cooking himself) and mentoring them in their study of physics. As a result, close to 50 of his students went on to earn PhD’s.

Dixon retired from Butler in 2010, but continues to stay involved in physics education. Dixon and his colleagues developed a four-year, university-level physics program at Cathedral High School that prepares approximately 100 students each year for advanced study. Dixon has also gone on to publish Natural Philosophy: The Logic of Physics, a three-volume textbook series for Amazon.

The Butler Service Medal, established by the Alumni Association in 2001, is the second highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association and is reserved for recognition of emeriti faculty or retired faculty and staff (graduate or non-graduate). The recipient will have achieved a lifetime of distinguished service to Butler University and/or the community. Recipients will have helped to shape the past and future successes of Butler University and therefore shown a profound influence.

 

Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 

A native of Indianapolis, Michele McConnell graduated from Butler University in 1993 with a degree in Music Education, minoring in Speech Communication and Theater. She has since launched a performance career spanning musical theatre, opera, cabaret, professional choral work, and touring productions. 

McConnell made her Broadway debut in The Phantom of the Opera, starting in the ensemble, and then taking over the starring role of Carlotta for a record-breaking six years. McConnell also has the privileged distinction to be the longest running Carlotta in Broadway history, with over 2,200 performances in the role to her credit. Her other extensive credits include performing in the national tour of Camelot alongside Robert Goulet, appearing with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players at City Center, in Montreal and Las Vegas productions of Beauty and the Beast, and in Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt.

McConnell has given back to Butler by teaching master classes on campus and by her active participation in the NYC Butler Community. She’s also taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Indianapolis, and the Berklee College of Music. Since 2010, she has been an adjunct faculty member in voice at New Jersey City University.

McConnell actively serves as the President of the Board of Trustees for Skyline Theatre Company in Bergen County, NJ. She had the distinction of being recognized in 2018 by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance for her “dedication to and impact on arts education.” In addition, she has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation (her high school alma mater in Indiana).

The Robert Todd Duncan Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. This award honors the spirit and accomplishments of Robert Duncan, a 1925 graduate, noted opera singer, and educator who in 1945, became the first African American to sing with a major white opera company, the New York City Opera Company.

 

Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 

James M. Bagnoli ’75 is an enthusiastic Butler volunteer and comes from a family of fellow Bulldogs—his father, aunt, and brother are all Butler University alumni. A member of the Butler University Alumni Association Board from 2013 to 2017, he served as Vice President from 2016 to 2017. He has been an Athletic Department volunteer since 2013 and has worked on special projects for the Cross Country and Track and Field team. Bagnoli is also a frequent Bulldogs Into the Streets (BITS) participant and can regularly be found at events hosted by the Central Indiana Butler Community, including the annual Bulldog Crawl and basketball viewing parties.

Bagnoli retired from a four-decade career in banking in 2015. He began his career as a bank teller with Bank One in 1975 and worked his way through the ranks to become Senior Vice President – Business Banking. Later, as an Executive Vice President at USA Financial Services, he created a nationwide network of funding sources for commercial loan requests and marketed to residential brokers in the Midwest. As a Vice President at CU Channels, he coordinated the sales and marketing efforts for Indiana and Kentucky, located funding sources to supplement conventional mortgage programs, and coordinated efforts to generate new credit union relationships in the region.   

Bagnoli received his bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Butler in 1975. A member of Phi Delta Theta, he learned early in his time at Butler of the importance of volunteer work. That commitment to volunteerism and community engagement continued throughout his career and personal life.

The Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and has displayed and recognizes a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University. The recipients of this award have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. This award honors the memory of Katharine Graydon who graduated from Butler in 1878, and was a Professor of English Literature at the University from 1907 to 1930, receiving an honorary doctorate of literature in 1928. Graydon served as the Alumni Secretary and Editor of the Alumnal Quarterly from its first edition in 1922 until her retirement in 1929, when she was named Professor Emerita.

 

Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04

Since graduating from Butler University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Jennifer Cockrill has committed her professional career to advancing medical science and public health globally as a dedicated public servant and Commissioned Officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Her civilian service to the United States has included investigating the mechanisms of anthrax toxin at the National Institutes of Health, working toward the development of a malaria vaccine at the Naval Medical Research Center, and conducting epidemiological health surveillance of critical medical outcomes for members of the U.S. military at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

As a quarantine officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LCDR Cockrill was repeatedly hand-selected to lead challenging missions critical to protecting global public health, from aiding in the Ebola Response in Liberia in 2016 to fighting Zika in Puerto Rico to assisting in the responses to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael, to name a few.

She is currently a Regional Emergency Coordinator for Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in Region 10, where she works closely on public health preparedness and response efforts with the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Jennifer holds graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Georgetown University, and is currently appointed as the Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect of the advisory group to the Surgeon General on matters affecting LGBT officers in the Commissioned Corps.

The Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award honors a recent graduate whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. Hilton U. Brown gave a lifetime of service to his career and Butler University, including serving on the Board of Trustees for 71 years. He was an award-winning newspaper journalist and Managing Editor at the Indianapolis News for more than seven decades.

 

Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07

Marc A. Williams is a 2007 graduate of Butler University, where he earned his degree in Media Arts: Recording Industry Studies. Williams is the second Butler graduate in his family; his older sister, Danielle, graduated in December 2004. Danielle is responsible for introducing Marc to Butler and encouraging him to attend.

After graduation, Williams embarked on a career in education, earning his master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Ball State University in 2015. He currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Fall Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana. In this role, he is committed to serving his school community by focusing on creating and sustaining a joyful and healthy school environment and experience. Williams is also an adjunct professor at Butler University, where he teaches “A World of Hip-Hop” in the Honors Program.

Williams uses the pseudonym “Mr. Kinetik” as a professional musician, DJ, and emcee. At the start of the 2009-2010 season, Marc began to volunteer as the on-court promotions emcee for Butler Men’s Basketball games, a role he still fulfills to this day. This passion for creativity and performance has given him opportunities to represent, serve, and remain connected to Butler as an alumnus.

Lindsey Martin ’05, Director of Athletic Marketing and Licensing for Butler, has this to say about Williams’ contributions to the atmosphere in Hinkle: “He has become such an integral part of our game day production that if he needs to miss a game for work or a family commitment, our Twitter feed is inundated with questions on his whereabouts—and the atmosphere in the arena is noticeably different.”

The Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award recognizes a recent alumnus who has demonstrated a significant commitment of outstanding service to the University. The award’s recipients have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. The award honors the spirit and example of Joseph Sweeney, a young student with a great deal of potential, whose life was tragically cut short.

 

Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88

Joseph Eaton received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Butler University in 1988 and earned his Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1991. He embarked on a career with Barnes & Thornburg as a Summer Associate in 1990, and was named Partner in 2000.

Eaton is a member of a number of professional organizations and has taken on many leadership roles throughout his three-decade career. His memberships include the American Bar Association, the Indianapolis Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, Trial Lawyers of America, and International Association of Defense Counsel. He was honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation in 2004 and has been named an Indianapolis Business Journal Super Lawyer (Civil Defense) every year since 2006.

His service to Butler has included membership on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the ButlerRising Capital Campaign. He has also been a member of numerous civic organizations in Fishers and has been involved in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation.

Florie (Theofanis) Eaton received her degree in Public and Corporate Communications from Butler University in 1988 and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She began her career in communications in 1987 at an Indianapolis-based commercial real estate firm and later started her own specialty sales business.

She is a long-time member of the Fishers YMCA Board of Advisors and president of the Fishers Tri Kappa Associate Chapter. A dedicated Butler volunteer, Florie has served on the University’s Alumni Association Board, the Kappa Alpha Theta Advisory Board, and as an alumni outreach volunteer. She is a past volunteer with a number of civic and cultural organizations in Fishers.

Joe, Florie and their children, Kailey ’17 and Zach ’20, established the Eaton Family Scholarship at Butler University in 2018.

The Mortar Award, created in 1995, honors one person or couple each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating great vision, leadership, and generosity to Butler University.

 

Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

Loren Snyder earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Butler University, where he served as the freshman class president, competed on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, and served as the Dawg Pound President. He has served on the University’s Young Alumni Board and was recently invited to act as an advisor for Butler’s student-managed investment fund.

Snyder is a Senior Vice President and managing partner of The Matthews/Snyder Wealth Advisory Team. In 2018 and 2019, he was named a “Top 40 Under 40” wealth advisor by On Wall Street magazine. He is a third-generation Rotarian and recently completed his term as President of the Bloomington Rotary Club.

Morgan Snyder graduated from Butler University in 2007. She is the Director of Public Relations at Visit Indy, the city’s official destination marketing organization. She previously served as the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel and as a member of the Hirons & Company team. An active member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, and Leadership Indianapolis, Morgan has been named a “Top 30 Under 30” by Destinations International and one of “Indy’s Best and Brightest” by Junior Achievement. She recently graduated from the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Program and was elected to the Travel & Tourism PR Professionals’ national executive committee.

Along with fellow family members, the Snyders established the Lippert and Snyder Family Scholarship at Butler University and they both serve on the University’s recently formed Board of Visitors. Loren, Morgan, and their son, Coleman, live in downtown Indianapolis with their English bulldog, Franklin.

The Foundation Award, created in 2011, honors one person or couple (age 40 and younger) each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating leadership and generosity to Butler University.

Alumni Awards
Alumni Success

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

The annual awards program will be October 25 at 6:00 PM in the Schrott Center for the Arts.

Levi Smith looks through a microscope

Levi Smith was unstuck in time.

He’d been in the Yale University lab for who knows how long—sans sunlight, the 18-hour days were starting to bleed together. With some straining, he remembered: He was on his third day of four in this cycle.

A rustling startled him: It was the janitor, in for his 4:30 PM round. Another eight hours had elapsed.

It’s all going to be worth it soon, he thought.

He was exhausted—tired didn’t even begin to cover it. He was shellacked by numbers and formulas. His mind was a maze of molecules, the lab in front of him and the one in his mind swimming in a brain-fog limbo.

“He described to me that when he’s doing an experiment, he imagines in his mind how the molecules interact within the space of the tube or inside the cell,” Alex Erkine, a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Butler University whose lab Smith worked in while investigating anti-cancer therapy, says. “As if his mind is a hugely magnifying microscope.”

That vision, Erkine, says, is the gold standard in molecular biology. It’s like perfect pitch in music.

“This quality to see the world of molecules and participate in it experimentally is the superb golden quality of a talented molecular biologist,” Erkine says.

Smith was immersed in a world of unbroken concentration, his body screaming for sleep, his brain eager to forge on.

And he couldn’t wait to do it again the next day. And the next.

This was the type of work, he realized, he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing.

 

The ‘Miracle of Tylenol’

Smith graduated from Yale in March with a doctorate in cell biology, one six years in the making. And he spent six years at Butler University before that, earning a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and a doctorate of pharmacy, the first student in a dual-degree pilot program.

Now he’s a senior research scientist at Halda Therapeutics, a start-up biotech company based in New Haven, Connecticut.

But first, he had to get there.

Smith didn’t grow up in Silicon Valley, or on one of the coasts. He’s from Camden, Indiana, a town just under 90 minutes north of Indianapolis that has fewer residents than many high-school graduating classes (just over 600, according to the 2010 census).

Camden was a place where a “nerdy” kid who was dumbstruck by “the wonder of Tylenol” in middle school could stand out.

“I remember thinking how extraordinary it is that my back could hurt, and I could take Tylenol to fix it,” Smith says. “Or if my hand hurt, I could take Tylenol to feel better. It was that naiveté of ‘Wow, how does it know what to fix?’”

But there was one big obstacle to his scientific ambitions: Neither of his parents had graduated from college. His dad had been out of his life since he was 10, and his mother was taking classes online at Indiana State University while raising him and his year-younger brother solo.

Smith was never ashamed of his family’s financial situation, but he was aware they weren’t exactly well off. 

“I remember bringing groceries home from Dollar General once,” he says. “My mom sat down at the table with her checkbook, and we had to take some back because the check would’ve balanced if we’d have kept all of them.”

That moment that would later inspire him as a low he never wanted to return to.

“I didn’t want my mom to ever be in that situation again,” he says. “She was doing the most she could, not having a college degree.”

His mom worked as a teacher’s aide at his Camden elementary school, picking up cleaning jobs on the side. Smith delivered copies of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune newspaper on his bike for extra cash.

“Everyone in Camden knew me,” he says.

But it wasn’t enough to be known. He wanted to be liked.

Shannon Sterrett, a Camden classmate of Smith’s who’s known him since he was 2, says Smith always had a snarky comment at the ready.

“Which often times made his fellow students laugh, but his teacher, not always so much,” she says. “I can remember a time or two in middle school when he got sent out into the hall.”

Smith wasn’t, in other words, your stereotypical brownnoser. But neither was he popular with his classmates.

So he turned to drugs—the study of them, that is.

“I never got into [using] drugs because I feared losing my 21st Century scholarship,” he says. “That scared the hell out of me.”

But as for the chemistry and biology behind them? Now that he could digest.

He wanted to know how to make new medicine. And how to treat diseases. And just how, exactly, did Tylenol know what part of his body hurt, again?

And then he went all in.

 

Landing at Butler

Though neither of Smith’s parents graduated from college, it was always the assumed next step for him and his younger brother, he says. 

Smith’s mom was taking online classes through Indiana State when he was in middle and high school. She’d do homework in the bleachers at his soccer matches and track meets. 

“She was a single mom going to school online while raising two teenage boys,” Smith says. “How do you even do that?”

When she earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Indiana State in 2006, she was the first in Smith’s family to do so.

Now, it was Smith’s turn.

To understand how improbable Smith’s ascent from Camden to Butler to Yale is, you need to understand his mentality toward standardized testing. Yes, he took a few AP classes, but he didn’t realize studying for a test was something people did.

“In my naiveté, I thought you just showed up and demonstrated your intelligence,” he says. “It was only later that I realized, ‘Wait, people study for those?’”

When the navy-and-white envelope from Butler University arrived in his mailbox, it was good news.

He was headed to Indianapolis to study pre-pharmacy.

 

“Failure Was Not an Option”

This is the fanciest place I’ve ever been, Smith remembers thinking when he visited the Butler campus for the first time in 2007. The brick-and-glass buildings, the fieldhouse that could fit nearly 15 Camdens inside it, the meticulously manicured lawns…

He says Butler’s assistant director of financial aid, Jacque Mickel, was crucial to his success as a first-generation student—even when he felt like a fish out of water.

“My mom and I showed up to this nice-looking building for our first financial aid meeting, and I felt very out of place,” he says. “I was trying to walk so [Mickel] wouldn’t see the holes in the seat of my jeans when I left her office.”

What Mickel remembers about that meeting is that Smith took the lead.

“He is the one that led the discussion, not his mother,” she says. “The majority of the time students sit in financial aid meetings and don’t say a word…with Levi, this wasn’t the case. He took an active role in knowing about financial aid and the impact of loans, as he knew he was going to have to take them out.”

Smith says Mickel was the blessing he didn’t know he needed.

“I’d get emails from her like, ‘You’d be a perfect fit for this scholarship!’ or ‘Can you go to this breakfast on this day?’” he says.

At every opportunity, he took advantage. By the time he graduated from Butler in 2013 in the top 10% of his class, he’d received six scholarships, including the A.J.W. LeBien Scholarship from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Thomas Stein Scholarship for fourth-year pharmacy students, and the Indiana 21st Century Scholars Scholarship.

And then came even better news.

“When we found out I got a stipend for grad school [at Butler], and I wasn’t going to have to take out any more loans, [Mickel] cried,” Smith says. “She really, really cared.”

Yet Mickel doesn’t get all the credit keeping Smith afloat financially. The frugal mindset from his Camden years never left him.

Before starting college, Smith remembers a heart-to-heart with his mom.

Some of the people you meet are going to be talking about vacations, or where they’re going on Christmas break, she told him. You know the fact we can’t do that doesn’t change—just know you’re going to have a different experience.

Yet Smith says he never remembers feeling “without.” He kept himself so busy he didn’t have time to spend money. And he had a pharmacist’s preference for generics over brand names.

“I was buying Great Value everything,” he says.

His lunch was a jar of Great Value peanut butter, spread on Great Value bread with Great Value chips.

But there was one exception to his Great Value mindset: Ritz crackers.

They were his holy grail. His grandma would bring the last few sleeves from a box every time she saw him. He was unwilling to splurge on a full box himself. 

“I was cognizant of my financial situation, and I wasn’t foolish enough to think it was any different than what it really was,” he says. “I’d cook food at home—it’s not hard to boil pasta. I had family in Crawfordsville about an hour away, and my grandma would bring me some food from her cupboard.”

HIs number one priority, bar none, was doing well in school. He knew he had one shot at college, and he wasn’t about to waste it.

His goal, he says, was to ensure future Levi would never be frustrated with past Levi.

“I worked very hard to never put myself in a position to disappoint myself,” he says. “There was no safety net if I didn’t do well.” 

And he was willing to work—whenever and wherever he could.

He was working in the lab at Butler. But he was also holding down a job as a weekend intern at a Wal-Mart pharmacy from 2009 to 2013 so he could pay his rent. He’d work Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 in the lab at Butler, then spend Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday working at the pharmacy.

“It was a way to get extra hours when I couldn’t get paid for all of my lab work,” he says.

When he started his clinical rotations working in a community pharmacy setting during his final year at Butler—only 10-hour days five days per week, he says—it actually felt like a break.

And he was curious about everything, so much so that he initially irritated a few of his professors, who mistook his intensity for arrogance.

“Just a bit too many questions,” is how Erkine, Smith’s research mentor at Butler, characterizes his first impression of Smith, who would later become his star student.

Medhane Cumbay, a former assistant professor of Pharmacology at Butler, met Smith in 2008, during the first semester of his freshman year. Cumbay helped develop a dual-degree program at Butler in 2011 that combines a doctorate in pharmacy with a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, which Smith piloted.

The dual-degree program “was designed to attract students like Levi,” Cumbay says. Smith’s hybrid program combined the clinical knowledge of the PharmD program with the M.S. program’s training in science research skills.

Yes, it was a lot of additional work and late nights in the lab. But it was perfect for Smith.

Erkine, who worked with Smith to pilot the program, remembers Smith’s unparalleled work ethic. Smith injured his thumb while working in his home’s basement one day — and was exasperated, Erkine says, not because of the physical pain, but because he couldn’t hold a pipet.

“When he starts a lab procedure, he dives into it and can stay very late or come during the weekend to push it through,” Erkine says.

And when the opportunities he craved didn’t exist, Smith made his own.

“Levi doesn’t seem to see barriers,” Cumbay says.

And though he didn’t know it at the time, his extensive research experience coupled with his doctorate in pharmacy made him competitive for one of the top research programs in the country:

Yale.

 

The Pipe Dream Becomes Reality

The results blinked back at him from atop the Google search: “Top 10 PhD programs in the U.S. for Cell Biology.”

Dream big or go home, Smith thought.

He applied to all of them.

Smith was in his last year of the dual-degree pharmacy program at Butler, ready to take the next step to doctoral research, one he says was necessary if he wanted to work in drug development. He knew Yale was a long shot because of his unconventional background — completing the dual degree program meant he had extensive research experience, but not the typical applicant’s bachelor’s degree in biology or prestige of having worked for a famous research university.

What, Yale committee members might wonder, did a pharmacist know about research?

Erkine believed in him—but Smith’s mentor also a realist.

“That’s a very good program,” he said when Smith told him he was applying to the doctoral program in Cell Biology at Yale.

A beat passed.

“No, I mean that’s a really good program,” Erkine said. “Maybe you should consider applying for a backup, just to be on the safe side.”

He needn’t have worried: Smith had that covered.

Each of the dozen-plus schools Smith applied to required three or four letters of recommendation. Cumbay and Erkine were up to the task.

Cumbay said his letter of recommendation for Smith for the Cell Biology program at Yale was “one of the most enjoyable” he’s ever written.

“It was a ringing endorsement,” he says.

Yale flew him out for an interview, one he worked extra hours in the Butler lab to make up for attending. He spent the intervening weeks trying to come to terms with what a rejection might mean. He read the rejection letter online. Once. Twice. Ten times.

He can still quote from it.

“You can tell I’ve read that a few times,” he says.

Rejection letters are infamously thin, compared to the thick packets Yale’s admitted students receive.

Finally, one afternoon, the mail arrived. Smith braced himself.

It was a thick packet.

 

Six Years, One Disease

It was the one puzzle he couldn’t solve.

“With most diseases, we have drugs that can correct something that’s going wrong,” Smith says. “We have disease-modifying drugs that, if your cholesterol is too high, will eat the rest of it. Or we can prescribe a statin, which inhibits the body’s production of cholesterol.”

But such a drug for Alzheimer’s sufferers has proved elusive.

“It’s the only one of the top 10 deadliest diseases [in America] that can’t be prevented or cured or even slowed,” Smith says.

He spent six years of his life trying.

He worked in Yale Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience Stephen Strittmatter’s lab as a doctoral candidate, parsing the mysteries of Alzheimer’s and drug discovery.

He developed a drug that would prevent two proteins from binding to one another to treat memory impairments in mice—the same mutations that cause Alzheimer’s disease in humans. He tested his drug on more than 100 mice using an experimental design known as the Morris water maze.

In the Morris water maze experiment, a mouse must swim through a pool of opaque water to a hidden escape platform. The platform is located in the same spot during each trial, but the mouse is released into the pool from different entry points, testing its ability to learn and recall spatial cues—that is, memory.

Smith performed the experiment both forward and in reverse, which means that after three days of the mouse learning the location of the hidden platform in one position, Smith moved the platform to the opposite side of the pool. So, now the mouse had to not only learn that the platform was no longer in the first location, it also had to learn and recall the new location.

“The first day was a 22-hour day of just doing the experiment nonstop,” Smith says. “Then the next was a 20-hour day, then day 3 was 18…I spent a total of 135 hours in the lab over eight days, doing the experiment both forward and in reverse. You’ve got to love it.”

Smith was encouraged by the result: His drug restored the memory of the mice with plaques in their brains.

“My drug goes in after neurological connections are lost and prevents a beta (what plaques are made from) from binding to neurons, so neurons can heal and make connections again, fixing memory” he says. “This test showed that my drug did that.”

Not only that, but the mice “completely recovered from their mental impairment and regained all their connections.”

If his drug could produce the same effect in humans, it would be a game changer.

Smith’s classmates would be impressed, but not necessarily surprised.

Santiago Salazar, a former classmate of Smith’s at Yale who is now a scientist at Alector, a San Francisco biotechnology firm, recalls a time he legitimately thought Smith was superhuman.

Salazar and Smith were racing the clock to beat a grant deadline. Their lab advisor asked Smith if he could perform the necessary experiment at the last minute—because Smith was the only one in the lab who knew how.

“Normally this experiment can take weeks, even months, to optimize, with hundreds of milligrams of material to burn through,” Salazar says. “Levi optimized and performed the experiment all in one week, with less than 5 mg of drug.”

But Smith’s success never went to his head, another friend, Nathan Williams, who attended graduate school with Smith at Yale, says.

“Levi stood out compared to the rest of our class because he didn’t come from money, or have Ph.D parents,” Williams says. “It’s extremely common for Yalies to look down on people who were not raised on the coasts. Levi was one of the few who didn’t implicitly or explicitly treat me differently because I was raised in Texas.”

Williams says that lack of pretension also spilled over into their conversations.

“Levi was the one person in our class with the courage to say what everyone was thinking,” Williams says, “which earned him respect from professors and me, and ire from some of our classmates.”

 

A Future in Biotech

Twelve years of higher education later, this spring, it was time to look for a job. Finally done with school at age 30, Smith found one right away.

He defended his doctoral thesis at Yale at the end of February—and started as a senior research scientist at the startup biotech company Halda Therapeutics in Connecticut at the end of March, less than five weeks later.

His Yale mentor founded the company, which Smith says is currently in the “very early stages,” but has grown from six to 14 employees over the past four months. Smith can’t disclose exactly what he’s working on at the moment (“We’re kind of in stealth mode,” he says), but rest assured he loves it.

“I always want to be involved in creating new medicines for diseases,” he says. “My thought is, ‘There’s no reason I don’t have a chance to be able to do something about this.’”

Smith will tell you he’s lucky. But the truth? He works hard. He goes long. He’d almost rather die than disappoint someone he cares about.

Sterrett, Smith’s former Camden classmate, remembers a day in their eighth grade Family and Consumer Sciences class when Smith told everyone he was going to get a doctoral degree and do pharmaceutical research.

“We all laughed at him when he told us it was going to be 12 to 14 years of post-high school education,” she says. “But he did everything he said he was going to do, and I couldn’t be prouder!” 

Alum Works to Create ‘Next Big Thing in Solar Power’

By Larry Clow

When Dan Kroupa ’12 walked into Professor Todd Hopkins’ chemistry research lab 11 years ago, he realized for the first time that his passion for science and chemistry could lead to a career. But he didn’t know that such a career would prompt him to tackle one of the most pressing issues in history—or that it would earn him accolades from Forbes Magazine.

Kroupa, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute, was recently named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” list for his work on next-generation solar energy technology.

“We’re developing entirely new semiconductor materials that enhance, and could one day replace, current solar absorbers,” he says.

The technology that Kroupa is working on will make today’s solar cells more efficient and easier to produce. The sun is a tremendous source of energy: According to Kroupa, the solar energy that hits the earth in less than two hours contains more power than all the energy humans consume in a year.

The problem is that solar energy is diffuse. Current commercial solar technology doesn’t capture as much of the solar spectrum as it could, and producing solar panels is capital-intensive. While the cost to produce solar panels is declining, Kroupa says panels will need to become even cheaper and more efficient before they’ll be widely adopted.

“Silicon absorbers make up 90 percent of the market. These things are extremely expensive to make and fabricate, and kind of big and rigid. We need to have a very vast amount of solar cells deployed to capture a sufficient amount of that solar radiation,” Kroupa explains. But the results would be worth it. “If we could harvest just a small fraction of solar radiation, we’d be set for a long time.”

Kroupa’s research has found an answer to both challenges through something called quantum cutting. As part of the process, a layer of perovskite (a compound made from common elements) is applied to a silicon solar cell. That coating, applied via a special ink, manipulates the sunlight so that the solar cell can more easily absorb it and convert it into electricity.

“We’re taking high-energy solar photons and converting them into multiple lower-energy photons,” Kroupa says. “It’s a fancy way of saying that we’re getting two-for-one. And if we apply that coating on the surface of the solar cell, we can see improved performance.”

It was Butler that helped guide Kroupa to cutting-edge solar technology research.

“Butler was where I saw that I could apply this unique skill set to solving specific big problems, and one of the areas that I saw could use help was solar energy conversion,” he says. The University is also where he met his wife, Madalyn (Menor) Kroupa ’12, and developed the leadership skills he now uses to guide researchers in the laboratory.

After graduating from Butler, Kroupa earned his PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he worked on next-generation solar technology as a researcher at the federal National Renewable Energy Lab.

The scope of renewable energy projects can be large, and the stakes are high. With so many pressing problems, it can be challenging to remain optimistic while plugging away in the lab. The key, Kroupa says, is to keep things in perspective—and to make a list of what you can accomplish each day.

“The idea is to look at the big picture, but develop a plan for the things you can do to start chipping away at the problem,” he says. “You need to focus on the important things to accomplish for your specific problem while keeping an eye on what you’re working toward. Everything we do in the lab is driven by that.”

Being named to the Forbes list was “exciting,” Kroupa says. “It was the first validation that what we’re trying to do as a company might be a good idea. Getting on the list definitely raised our company profile a little bit. As a startup, you’re always looking for credibility, so any way you can demonstrate that external validation is good.”

Kroupa’s research is being spun off into a private company, BlueDot Photonics, where he is the Chief Technology Officer. There are plenty of challenges ahead, as Kroupa and his team work on refining the technology, finding investors, and determining the best way to bring their product to market. But, he’s optimistic. “It’s going to be the next big thing in solar power,” he says. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to scale it up and prove it out.”

Dan Kroupa ’12 named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” for research on more efficient solar cell
Alumni Success

Alum Works to Create ‘Next Big Thing in Solar Power’

Dan Kroupa ’12 named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” for research on more efficient solar cell

Photo by Mike Dickbernd
Alumni Success

Brain Club Fights Stigma of Mental Illness

BY Larry Clow

PUBLISHED ON Jul 19 2019

In her classroom at Riley Hospital for Children, Sara Midura ‘16, MS ‘20 sets aside Fridays for one of her students’ favorite activities: Brain Club.

The Educational Liaison for Riley’s Simon Skjodt Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit, Midura works with children and teens coming out of behavioral health crises. It’s often a scary, uncertain time for the kids. That’s where Brain Club comes in.

In the hour-long weekly sessions, psychologists help students develop dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapy-based skills to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

“It’s a lot easier to talk about your brain and how it functions rather than say, ‘I have anxiety,’” Midura says. Brain Club teaches students how to remove the stigma from their diagnoses. Issues such as eating disorders or suicidal thoughts aren’t personal failings—just different things a person’s brain can do. And with the right kind of coping skills, students can respond to life’s difficulties in healthier ways.

Midura can see the relief on students’ faces after Brain Club. “It makes things less vulnerable for them,” she says.

Midura’s path to teaching and working with youth at Riley was “like divine intervention,” she says—with a little help from Butler’s College of Education faculty. Midura always knew she wanted to be an educator, but she thought she’d be an elementary school teacher in a more traditional classroom setting. She says Lecturer Theresa Meyer pushed her to get a special education certification.

“She literally cornered me at an event and said, ‘I cannot believe you’re not getting your special education certification. You have to!’” Midura recalls. It was during one of Meyer’s classes that Midura first visited Riley Hospital, and from there, her career path took shape.

“Everything opened up,” she says. “It was really clear that was where I wanted to be. I was lucky to be able to student-teach there. I can remember all the classes and things I learned at Butler, but it was really the people who changed me, supported me, and made me think bigger.”

Any given day might find Midura working one-on-one with students, advising parents on how to help their children transition back to school, or providing teachers and schools with the tools to help students succeed once they’re back in the classroom. She also collaborates with physicians, psychologists, behaviorists, and social workers on treatment plans.

But like for many teachers, Midura’s most rewarding moments come from the students.

“The kids are obviously the best part of my job,” she says. “They teach me so much, and their resilience is really incredible. The biggest challenge is the time—I love forming those relationships with kids and their teachers, but it’s hard to support both in the way they truly need in the limited time I have with them.”

That support for students and teachers is crucial, and it has informed Midura’s approach to her work.

In the past, teachers in Midura’s role focused mainly on academics, helping students keep up with missed school work. But now, Midura concentrates on long-term solutions. Her work has attracted some positive attention, making her a top-25 finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year 2019. She has also collaborated with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a hospital system in Portland, Oregon, to build a framework that helps teachers support students who are coming back to school following treatment in behavioral health units.

“One week of missing school is not going to be as detrimental as not setting students up with a long-term plan, or making sure the people in their lives understand what they need,” she says. “And if we’re expecting parents to follow a treatment plan, we have to give that same information to teachers because it’s the only way kids will be able to change their behavior and build up their resiliency.”

And that’s Midura’s ultimate goal. Among the many challenges that come with facing a mental health crisis, one of the most difficult is a feeling of powerlessness. It’s especially true for children and teens, Midura says, but the work she does at Riley “gives them their power back. And that’s huge.”

 

Photo by Mike Dickbernd

Photo by Mike Dickbernd
Alumni Success

Brain Club Fights Stigma of Mental Illness

At Riley Hospital, Sara Midura works with students coming out of behavioral health crises.

Jul 19 2019 Read more
Owners of Guggman Haus Brewing Co.
Alumni Success

Built on More Than Beer: How New Brewery Embraces Community

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jun 17 2019

When Guggman Haus Brewing Co. first opened its doors to friends and family last month, Butler University graduates filled the cozy taproom. Crowding around handcrafted tables, which were built in-house by the founders, they celebrated something many of them had helped to create.

Some had tried the beers before, taste-testing new brews over the last five years. Others had helped with the marketing plan, and one had designed the Haus’s logo. Another even served as the trademark lawyer. Of the microbrewery’s four founders, three hold Butler degrees, so their Bulldog network runs deep.A few of the brews from Guggman Haus Brewing Co.

Twins Courtney (Logel) Guggenberger ‘10 and Abby (Logel) Gorman ‘10 launched the business with their husbands, Derek Guggenberger ‘11 and Ryan Gorman, in 2016. Now, they’ve finally found a home in the Riverside neighborhood just northwest of downtown Indianapolis, where they remodeled a 1916 house that was once occupied by a racing legend.

Since opening to the public on May 25, the microbrewery has focused on more than just beer. Butler gave the owners a passion for chasing their dreams and embracing community. They wanted to provide a welcoming space for people to gather, and making beer has let them do that.

“Beer can bring people together,” says Derek, who now serves as head brewer.

 

The Brewing Bug

Derek was first to catch the brewing bug. Toward the end of college, he started trying Mr. Beer kits. He knows his beer didn’t taste great, but he enjoyed the process and was proud of what he made. When Derek graduated and headed to Germany for an engineering job, Courtney came along, and they stayed for a year.

Courtney and Derek fell in love with Germany’s beer. They spent weekends exploring small towns, and almost everywhere they went, they found festivals based on Pilsners and Hefeweizens. It was less about the beer and more about the culture.

When they came back to Indiana, Derek started brewing for real. He filled their tiny kitchen with pots, and he used the pantry for fermenting. Brewing soon became more than a hobby: It let Derek merge art and science into one project.

Abby and Ryan found their own love for craft beer in Colorado. They had moved to Denver for a few years, where Abby says the beer scene was “pretty hoppin’.” Ryan started his own home brewing, and Derek pitched the idea of a family business.  

 

The Business is Born

It all started in a basement. When Abby and Ryan moved back to Indianapolis in 2014 (to a home just two streets away from Courtney and Derek in Broad Ripple), they installed a brewing system and built a cold room under the stairs. The couples started hosting beer-centered events in their houses, from casual birthday parties to taste-testing focus groups.

For the next year, they combined their skills to build a plan. Derek’s dual major in Economics and Engineering made him the go-to person for business and brewing. Playing football at Butler (as part of the 2009 team that went 11-1) also taught him time management and the grit to keep going.

Courtney, who studied Integrated Communications, hadn’t sent a news release since college. But by the time she was writing the first one for Guggman Haus, she remembered her campaigns class and even dug out one of her old textbooks.

“To get to do it for your own business—it’s extremely vulnerable,” Courtney says.

Beer glass with logoBut they weren’t going it alone. Among the several Butler friends the owners called on was Sheila (Tomasbi) Schwab, a 2014 graduate the twins knew through their younger sister Sara, who also attended Butler.

During Schwab’s time on campus, she majored in Strategic Communications and minored in Art + Design. She thanks Associate Professor Deborah Skinner for that. Schwab had started college as a Marketing major, but it didn’t feel right, and she says Skinner’s advice helped her find a better fit.

“If it weren't for her, I think I would be doing something I didn't actually love,” she says.

When the Guggman Haus owners gave Schwab a creative brief for the logo, she was in the process of becoming a full-time designer. It was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.

“I wanted the logo to be perfect,” she says. “I probably sketched for hours and hours before I ever took things to the computer to start building out my ideas.”

The final logo includes some fun hidden meanings, Schwab says. The house’s door is a pint glass, and the water and path represent Indy’s downtown canal and cultural trail. The two pine trees in front were made identical, like the twins.

“I don't think people always realize how much work goes into making something like this come to life,” Schwab says about the brewery.

But the Butler community made it happen. Schwab says Bulldogs become family fast, “and once that happens, there is a lot of trust that exists and joy that comes out of working with people you know.”

While Derek and Courtney recently left their day jobs to run the brewery, the Gormans are splitting their time. Between brewing beer, handling Guggman’s finances, and running the taproom, Ryan works remotely as a business analyst. Abby, who majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders while at Butler, spends three days a week doing speech therapy at Riley Hospital. Her job description at Guggman Haus? “All other things.”

With a business plan made and beers in the works, the only thing holding Guggman back was the Haus.

Exterior of the house

 

A Partnership of Beer and Cars

The building now housing Guggman Haus Brewing Co. rests on the old site of the Boyle Racing Headquarters, which was once home to racing legend and three-time Indy 500-winner Wilbur Shaw. After Boyle Racing left the property more than six decades ago, other companies came and went throughout the 1900s until the buildings were left to fall apart.

Then in 2015, a group of vintage racing enthusiasts partnered with Indiana Landmarks to save the historic structures from demolition. They had a vision for restoring the property and driving revenue—a vision that would give Guggman Haus a home.

The two groups met up about three years ago, and it was a match. Now, Boyle Racing owns the land, and Guggman Haus brews the beer. An events center and racing memorabilia garage are slated for the larger building (which, at the moment, is just three walls and a dirt floor). Next door, the property’s two-story 1916 house was perfectly on-brand for the Guggman vision. It even resembles the house in the brewery’s logo, which was designed before the Boyle property was ever in the picture.

“It all came together beautifully,” says Courtney.Interior decor of the house

While restoring the building, the owners stayed as involved as possible. Rather than opting for the industrial vibe common in modern taprooms, they just wanted the space to feel like home.

They decorated with pieces from their own houses, hand-picked all the paint and stain colors, and brightened the room with fresh-cut flowers. Near the window, a giant Connect Four game tempts guests to stay a while.

When it comes to the beer, Guggman’s brewers are still debating their “signature” drink—or if they will even have one. Instead of featuring a few special options on a menu of milder beers, they want everything to stand out.

The Guggman Haus founders also aim to stay present in community conversations. They want people to know how much they care about the neighborhood. They don’t want to just come in and change it: They want to grow with it. They’ve joined the Riverside Investment Club and the Riverside Business Association, and they hosted a few community events before even celebrating their official grand opening June 15.

According to Schwab, who watched the family work toward that day for the last five years, the Guggenbergers and Gormans are definitely go-getters.

“Some people talk about cool ideas,” she says. “Some people actually go out and chase them.”

Owners of Guggman Haus Brewing Co.
Alumni Success

Built on More Than Beer: How New Brewery Embraces Community

After years of calling on Butler connections, the owners of Guggman Haus Brewing Co. celebrate grand opening.

Jun 17 2019 Read more
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

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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

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