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Jonathan Purvis

Beyond Year One

Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

In April 2018, Jonathan Purvis joined Butler University as Vice President for University Advancement. A respected leader in higher education advancement with 20 years of experience, Purvis came to Butler from Indiana University where he served as Vice President for Development and Regional Campuses. In a recent interview, he reflects on his first year with Butler and the challenges ahead.

Beyond the new academic buildings rising on campus, past the hallways filled with hammering sounds of renovations in Jordan Hall’s basement, Butler University’s future is unfolding in a single-window office with high ceilings.

There, Jonathan Purvis finishes up an email before the University breaks for the end of 2018, which has been the first year of what Purvis intends to be a long career as the Vice President for University Advancement.

“The minute this opportunity came up, there really wasn’t any discussion on it,”he says. “I wasn’t exactly looking for a new position, but it’s all upside here no matter what’s happening in higher education. Here, there’s tremendous loyalty with the alumni base, great engagement with the community, and an exceptional faculty. I feel very fortunate to be at Butler at this particular time.”

Despite the years of experience that qualified him for this position, Purvis knew his role would entail challenges. As a whole, higher education in America faces the reality of rising costs and dwindling applicant pools, with a Midwestern, private university such as Butler facing even more of an uphill battle.

But Purvis is all smiles. He’s thinking five, 10 years down the road. He is making sure people get to know him while aligning his office’s goals with President Jim Danko’s vision for the University’s growth in the 21st century. And that all started by realizing just how significant Butler can become in the lives of those it touches—not just for the individuals he has met, but also for Purvis himself.

“The very first college campus I set foot on was Butler’s,” the Noblesville, Indiana, native says. “I was a little kid seeing my oldest brother on stage in a production of Godspell thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is what college does for you.’ It was transcendent. So that’s what higher education has always meant to me—transformation.”

That’s why Purvis has made it his mission to make that same transcendent experience possible for every person who comes to Butler. So, when he speaks about the University to members of the community, he doesn’t just sell the importance of giving back in terms of dollars and cents. Giving of one’s time through mentorships can make even more of an impact.

“I see philanthropy as any way that people can express their appreciation and commitment to the Butler Way, to make sure that unique and critical experience continues to happen for our young people,” he says. “That is why the main focus of the Office moving forward will be to enhance what we at Butler already do so well.”

Only time will tell exactly how Butler fuels its future. But if his smile before the winter break was any indication, plans are coming sooner, not later. If you were thinking big, Purvis suggests you think bigger.

Jonathan Purvis
Campus

Beyond Year One

  

by Jeff Stanich ’16

from Spring 2019

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Marc Allan

The Marc I Know

Nancy Whitmore

Butler Professor of Journalism

from Spring 2019

A writer whose byline graced the pages of this magazine for 15 years is retiring. While I have enjoyed his lively features and marveled at his ultra-concise emails, I am most grateful for the time this writer spends reading.

Most Bulldogs know Marc Allan as a writer, but he can have a profound impact on the career of a student—just by reading. Ask Dana Lee. She had never met Marc. But he knew who she was and more importantly the quality of her writing and reporting when he recommended her for the Indianapolis Star’s Our Children fellowship. As an avid reader of the Butler Collegian, Marc had taken note of Dana’s work since she began writing for the paper. So, when a reporter for the Star called him looking for a student intern who could research, investigate, and write stories on local children’s issues, Marc knew who to recommend, and Lee landed the fellowship.

Marc has played a role in the careers of Butler students and graduates that few realize. For years, I’ve been sending students his way as he will literally read any student’s work. Alumni who are now themselves professional journalists and writers continue to reach out to him for advice. You see, they know the behind-the-scenes Marc. The Marc who serves as the go-to counselor for anyone interested in a career in journalism.

In this role, Marc draws from a deep well of experience. He worked as a reporter for 24 years, spending the last 16 years of his newsroom career at the Indianapolis Star where he covered the arts beat in Central Indiana. As an arts critic, he has reviewed thousands of concerts and performances from Bob Hope (at age 90) to Elvis Costello. In his columns, Marc was not one to hold back criticism—even if it meant he would likely receive it as well. His two-star review of Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 performance prompted one angry reader to write that Marc “must be blind and deaf.” Marc once told me that he keeps a file of these “fan” letters. I guess for Marc, it just comes with the territory. But what I appreciate the most is what his thick-skinned attitude teaches aspiring journalists and Collegian reporters, who unfortunately face much harsher criticism in these current times.

Marc joined the Marketing and Communications team at Butler in 2004, but has continued to write and report, maintaining a connection to journalism as a freelancer whose work has been published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Delta Sky Magazine and countless other publications. Locally, he is a frequent contributor to the Indianapolis Business Journal and Indianapolis Monthly, where he continues to cover arts and culture. According to the Indianapolis Monthly, Marc has “actually had a more successful journalism career” since he left the Star.

Given all his experience, it only made sense that the head of Butler’s Journalism program wanted Marc in the classroom. In 2005, Marc brought his expertise in writing and reporting to Butler students, and except for a brief two-year sabbatical to complete an MFA in Creative Writing, he has been an Adjunct Instructor of Journalism ever since.

Marc loves working with students, especially those who have a passion for journalism but don’t necessarily know how to channel that passion into publishable work. And this is why he reads and why he sends complimentary notes to students when they produce an exceptionally well reported and written story for the Collegian—even if the story results in negative publicity for the University.

In a public editor’s column for The Collegian, Marc explained this relationship. “Occasionally, I read The Collegian and wince,” he wrote, “because in my job, negative stories and commentary sometimes leave my department—and, often, me—answering for the University.

“But I say that with a smile, because I also teach journalism here as an adjunct, so I want to see young journalists doing their best work—even if that means more work for me.”

Marc ended this column by reminding us that student journalists are here to learn and we are here to teach. Even though he is retiring in May, I know that Marc will never stop teaching, advising, recommending, and most importantly … reading the work of those he so generously helped to educate. And for that and for all he has meant to Butler Journalism, I am so very grateful.

Marc Allan
Campus

The Marc I Know

  

by Nancy Whitmore

from Spring 2019

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President James Danko

From the President

James Danko

President

from Spring 2019

As Butler University finishes its 164th year, progress is visible everywhere. I walk around campus and see advancements and innovations in how we teach, mentor, and conduct research; how we learn, both in the classroom and out in the “real world;” how we innovate to solve problems, and how we engage and contribute to our community.

You will find inspiring stories about all of those areas and more in this edition of Butler Magazine.

What we are seeing is our Butler 2020 strategy coming to fruition.

Our roadmap for Butler in the next year and beyond is both bold and practical. It calls for us to keep pace as a leader among regional universities while advancing our national reputation with best-in-class academics, top-tier faculty and staff, a thriving community, and state-of-the-art campus amenities that serve growing numbers of students. (Our Spring Commencement in May will be the largest to date, with more than 1,000 graduates).

As we move forward, we will hold tight to our proud, inclusive heritage while exploring progressive ideas for reaching new generations of students, both near and far.

And always, we will stand out and apart in our offerings for students. For instance, you’ll read in these pages how 14 of our undergraduate students are helping to solve a worldwide health crisis while gaining invaluable research experience. The students, led by Assistant Professor Christopher Stobart in a small laboratory at Gallahue Hall, are aiding the vaccine development efforts for a leading cause of infant deaths.

Unlike larger institutions where research is reserved for graduate students, our talented undergrads—first-year through seniors—are milling in and out of the laboratory as they work with viral pathogens and answer questions no one else is investigating.

Now, it’s up to all of us who lead at Butler to continue to enhance not only the facilities for learning but also the opportunities, partnerships, and programs for students to grow, to explore, and to be challenged far beyond their expectations.

Alumnus Matt White ’89 did all of that, with a fierce devotion to Butler and the Bulldogs. He died in February after a courageous 19-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Soon—thanks to a generous gift in his memory—we will have a daily reminder of his grit and devotion. The practice court at Efroymson Family Gym will become the Matt White Court, preserving his legacy.

This is, quite simply, the Butler Way. We hope you will be inspired by the many examples shared in our spring magazine. And be sure to stay tuned for more signs of progress.

President James Danko
Campus

From the President

  

by James Danko

from Spring 2019

Read more
Campus

The CUE Gets a Makeover; Adds an ‘S’ to Promote Sustainability, Put Work Into Action

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 18 2019

INDIANAPOLIS--The Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University started 15 years ago. It was the brainchild of three biology faculty members who were all engaged in urban ecology research. They wanted to get undergrads involved in research, too, so decided to start a center as a way to get students more engaged.

But, as time marched on, the center grew. A farm was established. Last year, 10,000 pounds of produce were grown. And the center is now involved in six research projects across campus.

A major question remained, though—how could the center make even more of an impact?

CUES statsTo address exactly that, the CUE has added a letter—S. Now, 15 years later, the center will be called the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, or CUES. The goals are twofold: use the work the center is already doing—studying urban ecosystems—to solve sustainability challenges, while also serving as the central hub to bring all the sustainability-centered projects happening around campus together.

“There is so much important work already taking place around Butler, from rain gardens, to infrastructure improvements, to LEED gold buildings. We want to leverage all of that work to educate students,” says Julia Angstmann, Director of CUES. “At the same time, we want to use our research findings to inform how to solve sustainability challenges the entire world is facing.”

For example, Angstmann explains, the center is involved in the Indy Wildlife Watch research project. The project monitors wildlife around the city in an effort to study how increased populations in cities impact these organisms.

Instead of just doing the research for science’s sake, Angstmann explains, the goal now is to use the findings to solve existing sustainability challenges.

“We plan on engaging in conversations with city planners, for example, and explaining to them that our research from the Indy Wildlife Watch project showed we should manage green spaces in a certain way, so both humans and wildlife can benefit,” Angstmann says. “We now want to use our research to solve sustainability challenges.”

In addition to research projects, the center will continue to focus on the farm and sustainability projects. The main shift, though, will be incorporating sustainability into all three areas. To help with that effort, CUES has hired a new Assistant Director of Sustainability, Jamie Valentine.

Valentine says she plans on continuing with existing sustainability projects, such as recycle-mania, permeable pavement on campus, and growing native plants. She wants to bring action steps to Butler’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.

She is also excited to get the wider campus community more involved with sustainability.

“When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about the interaction of people, the planet, and profit,” Valentine says. “We are looking at the system in which we all live, and the way real world problems are all interconnected. We cannot just look at one side of a problem or issue, fix one thing, put it back into the system in which we all live, and expect it to be solved. To have a truly sustainable system that will work for everyone for the long term, we need to look at all connections and relationships, and work on fixing them all.”

To do that, Valentine hopes to get the wider campus more involved. One idea she plans on implementing is a Sustainability Green Office Program for staff and faculty to help incorporate new sustainability initiatives into offices and classrooms around Butler’s campus.

Sustainability will also be incorporated into more internships and research projects—staying true to the original reason the center was started 15 years ago.

Jake Gerard ‘20 is one of those students. The biology major has been involved in CUES for two years. After an internship over the summer at a wildlife center in Ohio, Gerard became increasingly fascinated by that type of work. He returned to Butler wanting to get more involved in wildlife research.

“I knew I wanted to do research, but I didn’t want to be in a lab all day,” he says. “I wanted to be outside, in the field.”

So, Gerard got involved in the Butler Wildlife Watch project. He sets up cameras around campus, then goes through the footage to determine what types of wildlife are here, and what effects those species will have on campus.

At first, Gerard wanted to get involved in research to boost his resume in hopes of getting into vet school. But now, especially with the sustainability focus, he sees how important the work is to making actual change. The results of the research he is doing, he says, could lead to conversations with administrators about green space on campus.

“Working with the center changed my entire point of view on vet care,” he says. “I realized it is not just private practice with dogs and cats, but there are research aspects to it. Yes, what we do in a clinic is important, but a lot of that is reactionary. Research is so important in a preventative way to make the job easier in the long run because it can lead to actual change beforehand, so you won’t have to deal with those real time issues in the end.”

Campus

The CUE Gets a Makeover; Adds an ‘S’ to Promote Sustainability, Put Work Into Action

The center will be called the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, or CUES.

Apr 18 2019 Read more
Campus

Amid Streamers—and a Bang—Clowes Marks Millionth Matinee Visitor

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 16 2019

 

The second- and third-graders from Walnut Elementary School in New Ross, Indiana, had no idea when they got on the bus this morning that April 16 was their lucky day.

As they filed into Clowes Memorial Hall on Butler University’s campus and assembled for a photo in the lobby, they heard a loud bang. Blue and white streamers rained down, and they got the news: They were the millionth visitors to the Clowes Education Matinee series.

"This is amazing for our students," says Karen Monts, the school's librarian, who coordinated the 40-mile trip. "We are from a very small school in a low socioeconomic community, and for many of these kids, it’s a big treat to go to Crawfordsville, Indiana. So coming to Indianapolis is something they almost never do as a family, and coming here, and being honored like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them."

Over 27 years and 858 performances, the Clowes Education Matinee Series has provided students in kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to see live theater—many for the first time. That could mean anything from daytime performances by Butler groups such as the Butler Ballet, the Percussion Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble, to national touring productions featuring favorite children's stories like the Junie B. Jones books, The Magic School Bus, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, coming to life onstage.

The students from Walnut Elementary School—who won prizes including a free visit to a Clowes matinee next year—were among the approximately 3,800 students from 31 schools who attended the two Tuesday morning performances of Junie B. Jones.

“Being able to bring them to Junie B. and  seeing something they read come to life like this is a great way to help their reading come along,” Monts says. “Maybe they'll move on to the next reading adventure seeing that it really does impact their lives."

The Clowes Education Matinee series started in 1991, when Tom McTamney was Executive Director of Clowes Hall. McTamney, who was one of three former Clowes directors on hand when the millionth visitors walked through the door (Elise Kushigian and Ty Sutton were the others), remembers receiving from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, an invitation to create a matinee program for schoolchildren modeled after the successful program at the Kennedy Center.

"We were looking for something to set us apart in the region," McTamney says. "We didn't have any kind of an education program here, and we sat on a college campus. It made no sense to me."

He teamed up with Indianapolis Public Schools, they wrote a grant, and Clowes was selected as one of the original 12 arts centers to participate in the program.

Seeing the millionth student walk through the door was incredibly gratifying, McTamney says.

Donna Rund, who has been Clowes Hall's Education Manager for nearly 20 years, is equally delighted with the success of the long-running program.

"Little did I know 20 years ago when I left teaching to become a program director that we would get to this amazing pinnacle," she says. "And we get to keep going. We get to keep doing this. I've already planned next year's season. We going to have a few more shows than we had this season, and I'm glad to have the support of Aaron Hurt, our executive director. He feels so strongly about giving students opportunities to see live theater—especially those who have not had this experience before."

Campus

Amid Streamers—and a Bang—Clowes Marks Millionth Matinee Visitor

The Clowes Education Matinee Series has provided students, K–12th grade, the opportunity to see live theater.

Apr 16 2019 Read more
Campus

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 12 2019

Women enroll at Utah Valley University (UVU) at higher rates than the national average. They also drop out at higher rates than the national average.

Since January, UVU undergraduate students Alyssa Jensen, Elizabeht Hansen, Alexis Stallings, and Wendy Covington have been exploring why. They want to know what women are experiencing on campus, and figure out what the school can do to reverse the trend.

On Friday, April 12, they came to Indianapolis from Orem, Utah, to present their preliminary findings at Butler University's 31st Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). The UVU contingent—four students and two faculty sponsors—were among the more than 100 people who came from out of state to present at the conference.

"We wanted to gain some experience as undergrad researchers to present, and Butler seemed like an ideal situation to portray our research, and express our ideas in a setting where people may not be familiar with the research that we're doing," UVU student Alyssa Jensen says.

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado. Though the majority of the presenters were from Indiana—and 356 of the 824 were Butler students—23 states were represented.

The UVU project came about when Dr. Stevie Munz, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, and Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Jessica Pauly received a grant from the university to study women's experiences on campus. Once they assembled the research team, they started looking for undergraduate research conferences where the students could present.

"This conference is one that's really well respected, so we said, 'Let's go. Let's present this,'" Munz says. "So that's what brought us all the way from Utah to Indiana. Actually, there aren't that many undergraduate research conferences that service all the disciplines, so it was a nice fit for us because our project does cross quite a few intersections of education, identity, religion, family life, home life. So we thought we'd be a really good fit for this conference."

Colorado College student Naomi Tsai came to the URC from Colorado Springs. Her research came from a much greater distance—the Red Sea. She studied coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba to determine why they are better able than coral reefs elsewhere to withstand rising temperatures.

She decided to undertake a thesis as part of her degree, and that requires presenting at a conference. She researched conferences, and found the URC.

"I feel like it's a very supportive group of people," she said after her 15-minute presentation in Gallahue Hall. "I don't think I've ever presented in a format like this, and it's really nice to be surrounded mostly by your peers and people who are interested in your research."

Dr. J.C. Blewitt, an Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was in the audience when one of his students, Rebecca Kinzinger, presented her research showing that millennials going to work at accounting firms want their employers to be active in promoting social entrepreneurship. That is, part of the companies' mission should be to use their professional skills to make a large-scale difference in the world.

Blewitt says it's vital for students planning to go to graduate school to get experience presenting their research at conferences.

"I think a lot of times research conferences can be terrifying," he says. "This conference is a wonderful stepping stone for students to get some exposure, and feel confident, and get some constructive but overall pretty positive feedback from other students and faculty."

Blewitt brought one student to the URC in 2018 and found it "so well run" that he brought two students this year.

"And next year," he says, "maybe three."

Campus

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado.

Apr 12 2019 Read more
Eric Stark
Campus

Prestigious Fulbright Grant Awarded to Choral Director Eric Stark

BY Marc Allan MFA `18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 04 2019

When he was working on his doctorate in choral conducting, Eric Stark would come home to Indianapolis from Bloomington, have dinner, then drive to Butler University and sneak into one of the practice rooms in Lilly Hall to do his homework because he needed access to a piano.

"I would always think: If I could only get a job at a place like this," he says.

In 1996, he did, and since then his choral activities have taken him to Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and around the world. The next stop is Brazil, where he will be a Fulbright Scholar conducting and studying in residence during the first half of 2020 at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

For Stark, Butler's Director of Choral Activities, it's another milestone in a career filled with them.

Over the years, he has conducted in the Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in Shanghai and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. He has made conducting appearances in Greece, Italy, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, and has led choirs on domestic tours in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando, and Tampa.

When Madonna performed Like a Prayer at halftime of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, Stark directed a 200-person choir that included 22 members of the Butler Chorale.

"I'm astounded this is my life, this is my career, because you roll the dice on being a musician and you just never know what's going to happen," he says.

Stark plans to teach at Butler through the 2019 fall semester—he's still leading the popular Rejoice! holiday concerts—then leave for Brazil over winter break. The school year in Brazil starts in March, so he and his husband, Adriano Caldeira, who is Brazilian, will travel around the country in January and February to observe some music-making.

Stark will teach at Federal University from March through June. He will be teaching in Portuguese—some of which he already knows from studying the language for a couple of years ("I feel like I could lead a rehearsal right now in Portuguese"), and some of which he's going to learn this summer at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, thanks to a grant from Butler.

In addition to his work at Butler, Stark has been Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since 2002.

The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.

Stark discovered his love for music growing up in Columbus, Indiana, where he was inspired by the music at First Presbyterian Church. He sang in church choirs for 12 years and took piano and organ lessons from the choir director, Ray Hass.

The church, he says, was his musical awakening.

"He was a great musician and a great organist, and I can remember even as a 7 or 8 year old how much I enjoyed hearing him play the organ," he says. "That tickled something in my head I had never been aware of before. From time to time, I take the Butler Chorale down there and we sing concerts at that church, which is always fun."

Stark earned his bachelor’s from Wabash College, and both his master’s and doctorate in choral conducting from Indiana University.

When a job opened at Butler, Henry Leck, Butler's longtime Director of Choral Activities, got Stark in to see then-Dean Michael Sells, who hired Stark on a one-year, part-time contract. That turned into a one-year appointment, and then a full-time hiring. In the interim, Stark also taught at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Christian Theological Seminary.

In 2014, he succeeded Leck as Butler's Director of Choral Activities.

“It’s no surprise to any of us in the Jordan College of the Arts that the significance of Eric’s work as a choral conductor and pedagogue has been recognized on an international level," says Lisa Brooks, Dean of Butler's Jordan College of the Arts. "The connections he will make while in South America will be invaluable to our students, and to the greater Indianapolis community.”

Stark says he's hopeful that his time in Brazil will lead to interesting partnerships and projects.Indianapolis has a sister city relationship with Campinas, Brazil, just outside Sao Paulo, and there is "a lot of multinational cross pollination between businesses here and there."

"There's positives on all sides of the equation, and that's what's so exciting for me about this—that possibility of sharing," he says. "Maybe I'll meet some undergraduate students in Brazil who study with me and might want to come to Butler for graduate studies. That's happened in the past. I'm certain that folks down there would love to do a concert date together with the Butler Chorale or the Symphonic Choir or both down the road. That's pretty exciting to think about."

Eric Stark
Campus

Prestigious Fulbright Grant Awarded to Choral Director Eric Stark

Butler's Director of Choral Activities will travel in early 2020 to Brazil as a Fulbright Scholar. 

Apr 04 2019 Read more

Gateway to Success

 

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has a problem. With each passing year memberships— family, two-person household, and single—are declining. For an organization that relies on these fees to operate, reversing this nearly decade-long slide is critical.

So, when Gregg Hiland, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the YMCA, set out to address the issue, he was excited to have 27 helpers. Enter, the newest batch of Butler University MBA students.

This is MBA 505, the Gateway Experience—the first on-campus course in the program after they finish their online prerequisites—and it is a trial by fire. Meet new people, learn to work together, examine a problem, come up with recommendations, and deliver those recommendations directly to the leaders of the organization.

All in one day.

Over 800 students have gone through the class since 2006, helping more than 20 different businesses tackle a specific problem. The future MBAs are put through the wringer for a specific reason.

"Having only 24 hours helps students realize that time can't be the excuse for coming up with great solutions," says Marie Mackintosh '06, who is both the Chief Operating Officer of EmployIndy, which delivers workforce services and training to Marion County residents, and the professor who has taught the course for the past four years. "It simulates the pressures of the real world where you have to juggle many different priorities, and the trial by fire forces teams to gel quickly and leverage each other’s strengths. Or learn from their failures.”

They get a little preparation beforehand, in the form of a two-page background briefing on their issue and a session with Butler Business Librarian Teresa Williams to learn about conducting background research. Each team is assigned a facilitator who provides advice and feedback on what they did well and what they need to work on.

Then the rush begins.

The Butler University MBA promises that students get ample opportunities to apply classroom concepts to real-world situations—and that explains why 27 new participants in the program are spending their first day of class fanned out across Indianapolis.

For the next 24, breathless hours, they've been grouped in teams of five or six students—strangers to each other previously—and asked to help the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis reverse a nearly decade-long slide in family memberships.

*

The class starts at 5:30 PM on Thursday with a big dinner and introduction to the organization. Hiland, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, lays out the problem: Since 2014, the number of two-adult member households has dropped from 12,746 to 10,281. The number of one-adult households is down from 3,784 to 3,353.

This is a trend nationwide, not just in Indianapolis, he says.

"We want recommendations from you that will be actionable, something that will help us," Hiland tells the group.

For the next 45 minutes or so, the MBA students pepper him with questions: Are outside vendors allowed in? How are you marketing? Do you survey the people who quit? And so on.

"I'm enjoying the idea of getting to make a presentation to people who can really make a difference," says Taylor Cagle, a Financial Analyst with Roche Diagnostics. "It feels like you're putting in work and getting value out of that work. This isn't an academic exercise."

*

The teams are given more time that night and some the next morning to confer before they get into vans and head to one of five YMCAs in the city (there are 12 YMCAs in greater Indianapolis.)

They arrive at their locations around 10:00 AM, and then it's up to them how to use the next two hours. For Team Holcomb (each group is named for a Butler building), the six students spend that time touring the Arthur Jordan YMCA on the north side of Indianapolis. They interview staff and talk to members about their experience at the Y.

Team member Alyssa Rudner, a Client Success Manager for a software company, talks to a member-services representative and finds that one of their biggest challenges is that there isn’t a method in place to schedule exercise classes in advance.

"If I'm paying $80 a month, I want to know that if I show up to the Y, I'm going to be able to take the class that I want to take," says Rudner.

There's one recommendation for her team to share: explore a scheduling system that goes beyond physical passes.

Cagle, another member of Team Holcomb, finds it surprising that the Jordan Y sometimes turns away parents looking for preschool programs due to lack of space. He looks around the facility and sees plenty of places to add new preschool programs.

That becomes another recommendation for the team: expand preschool offerings.

"If you can do that here," he said. "You're really separating yourself from the Lifetime Fitnesses, the LA Fitnesses. I think it would be really beneficial."

Andy Starling agrees. He's the Senior Membership Director at the Y, and he thinks the perspective of these business-minded outsiders is going to help.

"I've worked at the Y for more than six years, and you get tunnel vision a little bit," he says. "We always try to be innovative, but they brought up some things I hadn't thought about.

*

The teams return to Butler around 1:00 PM. They adjourn to their respective "war rooms" and, over boxed lunches, get to work. They have about three hours to hash out their ideas and prepare both a sheet of brainstormed recommendations and a PowerPoint they'll use as part of a rigidly-timed 10-minute presentation.

They also need to prepare what they're going to say and how they're going to say it, and the deadline comes quickly.

"We were five individuals who didn't know each other 24 hours before presenting," Chancellor Collins, a Product Manager in Marketing at Roche Diagnostics and member of Team Lilly, says. "It's funny, because you quickly figure out roles and responsibilities, and strengths, and different ways to play off each other, and I think we did a great job of that in that 24-hour period."

At 4:30 PM, the teams assemble in Gallahue Hall 108, a lecture hall, where seven representatives of the Y—including retiring CEO Eric Ellsworth—are ready to listen. There's a notable buzz among the students.

"I love the energy in this room," says Mackintosh.

For the next 90 minutes, the teams take their turn presenting their findings and watching their counterparts.

If the students are nervous, they don't show it. The presentations go off remarkably well across the board. The Y comes away with a long list of useful ideas.

"I want to hire all of these people," says Ellsworth.

Hiland praises the group for their fantastic work and innovative ideas. He was impressed with how deeply the students dove into the issue in only 24 hours. In the future, he wants to put the students’ concepts into practice at local Ys.

“We're committed to implementing and trying some of these ideas—either in pilots at certain centers or potentially across the organization,” he says.

*

In the end, Team Lilly—Chancellor Collins, Danny Lawton, Davina Isaacs, James Pokryfky, and Swetha Vaddi—won Butler goodie bags and, more importantly, bragging rights. They made suggestions that included installing a kiosk, at a cost of $1,000, to allow members to give instant feedback, offering incentives for positive reviews on Google, and instituting a holistic approach to wellness.

"The judges appreciated Team Lilly’s focus on retention and their financial implications," Mackintosh says. "They thought they did the best job of telling the story of their problem-solving process and had good ideas of how to increase retention of family memberships in particular."

Collins says the team owed credit to its facilitator, Marcelle Gress, an Executive Coach at Butler. She advised them to make time to practice their presentation a couple of times. They listened, and rehearsed twice.

"If she had not held our feet to the fire to carve out 30 minutes before we had to turn in our presentation, I don't think it would have gone so smoothly," says Collins.

In the end, Team Lilly celebrated with high-fives, fist bumps, and some wine.

"This really was a good experience and exposure to what we'll be going through in the Butler MBA program in terms of looking at complex cases and having to think through ways to solve problems," Collins said. "I think that's what the Butler MBA is going to prepare us for the most—how to think differently about ways to solve real-world problems."

 

Campus

Gateway to Success

This is MBA 505, the Gateway Experience—the first on-campus course in the program—and it is a trial by fire.

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16

At Butler, fostering a student’s health and wellbeing goes way beyond the treadmill or a yoga mat.

Perhaps you’ve seen the BU | BeWell logo, which appears as a rainbow of principal pillars, across campus and online. Each of the eight components—Mind & Body, Career & Life Skills, Meaning & Purpose, Social, Environmental, Service & Community, Intellectual, and Diversity & Inclusion—are what the team behind BU | BeWell believe contribute to the complete and transformative experience that Butler University offers its students.

BU BeWell logoWhat happens outside of the classroom on a college campus is as critical as what happens inside to the future success of a student. Learning to navigate the challenges of adult life in a healthy way is fundamental to a fulfilled life after graduation. The tools and experiences critical to this essential process of “growing up” have always been available on Butler’s campus, but they have been scattered and, at times, perhaps disjointed. This year, with the launch of BU | BeWell, for the first time in the school’s history, all of the student resources available across campus have come together to make it more straightforward for students to make their time outside of the classroom as meaningful as it always has been inside of it.

“It’s a big deal,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Frank E. Ross. “Leading higher education associations NASPA and NIRSA have articulated the importance of wellbeing to student success, and a proactive, campus-wide approach to supporting the whole student. That is what we are doing at Butler with BU | BeWell.”

Ross is saying that not only as a fellow bulldog, but as a national leader in student affairs with more than two decades of experience. According to him, what Butler is doing outside of the classroom will be a leading example in higher education across the country.

Take it from Katie Pfaff, a senior who has been working closely with BU | BeWell’s collaborators. Since she’s only a few months away from graduation, she recognizes how much she could have benefitted had this framework been in place since her first year.

“While I got all the pieces I needed to have a well-rounded experience, I took a much curvier path to get there than what BU | BeWell will help Butler’s students pursue,” Pfaff says. “I know I’m only a short time away from a major transitional period after graduation. BUBeWell’s model is something I can look to while trying to make sure my life stays as balanced as it’s been on campus.”

That’s the key. BU | BeWell will not only help students make their time at Butler more fulfilling, but it will also guide those individuals toward healthy and meaningful lives beyond campus.

BU | BeWell has been a campus-wide, collective effort to organize. Two of its champions—Josh Downing, Director of Recreation & Wellness, and Beth Lohman, Associate Director of Fitness & Wellness—have spent the last few years applying national best practices in order to bring BU | BeWell to life. Now in its first year of rollout, their primary objective is raising awareness of its existence so that students know where many, if not all, of their questions will be answered.

Need help putting a résumé together? BU | BeWell will tell you where to go.

Need a tutor for that major exam coming up? BU | BeWell will help you find one on campus.

In need of a faith-based circle? Wondering when the next keynote speaker is coming? Want to get more involved in student government? BU | BeWell, BU | BeWell, BU | BeWell.

And this is only the beginning. While the framework is in place and the web portal has launched, in year two, software will be rolled out so that students can create a BU | BeWell profile to track their involvement and/or progress with the eight components of the BUBeWell umbrella. Even more, annual surveys will continue to be conducted to see how exactly BU | BeWell is meeting the needs of Butler’s students while also looking for ways to improve.

“That’s why we’re all so excited about this moving forward,” Downing says. “By enhancing what Butler already does so well, the potential for how exactly BU | BeWell will help our students is limitless.”

Campus

Building Balanced Bulldogs

BU | BeWell is a campus-wide, collective effort to enhance the student experience outside the classroom.

Building Balanced Bulldogs

by Jeff Stanich ’16
Campus

Butler Earns Bronze for Sustainability

BY Marc Allan MFA `18

PUBLISHED ON Jan 23 2019

Butler University's first campus-wide sustainability assessment has earned a bronze-level ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), which measures efforts in areas such as operations, curriculum, campus, and public engagement to make the University more environmentally friendly.

The University earned strong marks for offering courses and immersive experiences related to sustainability, and for using campus as a living laboratory. Butler also was noted for outreach campaigns, intercampus collaborations, and community partnerships.

The full report is available here.

"Our bronze ranking confirms Butler’s commitment to campus sustainability," says Julia Angstmann, Director of Butler's Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability. "And now that we have compiled this report, we have a baseline to know where we stand, which is important for the institution as we work to improve our sustainability efforts."

The AASHE rankings—which range from no ranking to platinum—are determined by information that colleges and universities self-report. In October, the University submitted a more than 200-page report delineating all of its sustainability efforts. AASHE took that information from Butler and other participating schools and gave scores in each category.

Butler was noted for offering majors and minors that incorporate sustainability concepts and courses that are sustainability-related or sustainability-focused. It also received high marks for study-abroad programs related to sustainability that are offered in Australia (Sustainability and Environmental Action), Ecuador (Comparative Ecology and Conservation), Iceland and Greenland (Climate Change in the Arctic), and Germany (Environmental Studies and Sustainability).

Under the heading of "using campus as a living laboratory," AASHE noted the number of courses that use the Campus Farm as a resource, the inventory taken of trees on campus, and the efforts made to prevent birds from crashing into windows in campus buildings.

AASHE scores also noted operations efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, reduce energy consumption and food waste, and add green buildings to campus.

In addition, Butler received innovation points for its collaboration with Ball State to create a mobile greenhouse, a composting project with IUPUI, and the completion of the Sunset Avenue Gateway project, a green infrastructure project that introduced bike lanes and enhances walkability through the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.

Angstmann said the AASHE rankings reveal that Butler is on the right track.

"There's been a lot of interest from the campus community now that we know where we stand," she says. "So this is an exciting time for sustainability at Butler."

 

Campus

Aaron Hurt Appointed Executive Director of Butler Arts Center

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jan 14 2019

To know Aaron Hurt is to understand the way he proposed handling his office décor. After moving into his new space tucked away in a corner on the third floor of Clowes Hall, he was stuck on figuring out ways to dismantle the big screen television fixed to his wall and mount it on a rolling device that the entire Butler Arts Center staff could benefit from. He hypothesized different ways to turn the space into a conference room, saying it was much too large for just himself. And he was concerned that the colors weren’t welcoming enough. In the end, none of these changes were made.

But Hurt did insist on one request.

Donald Hurt's paycheck from 1963
Donald Hurt' on payroll from 1963.

He came across a 1963 art deco painting of opening night at Clowes Memorial Hall. He loves art deco work, but it was about much more than just the style. Hurt’s grandfather was there that night in 1963. Donald Hurt was a member of the projectionist union, and when Clowes was ready to open, he was called to help get the stage ready. He hung the original main curtain and worked the first few shows.

“It’s really bonkers,” Hurt says, as he looks up at the painting on his office wall. “To think that my grandfather was hanging the curtain that night, and now I am sitting in this office working here. It’s really not something I take for granted, and we are going to be hands on and inclusive in how we put our stamp on Butler and the greater community.”

Hurt was officially named Executive Director of the Butler Arts Center on January 1, 2019 after serving as interim executive director since August 2018. But this is a role that, in many ways Hurt has been working toward since he was a little boy, and a role that means so much to so many in his extended family.

“This was in his blood and you can just tell by his enthusiasm that he was born to do this,” President James Danko says. “With Aaron, you can hear his passion when he speaks, and when you hear about his family, it is obvious where that comes from.”

Three years after Hurt’s grandfather hung the first curtain at Clowes Hall, his father, Daniel, hopped on his moped at age 16 and headed from the Eastside of Indianapolis to Clowes for his first ever job, sweeping the floors and holding ladders. Daniel would go on to work at Clowes Hall many times over the years. He also worked the beloved summer theater series on the football field.

Aaron was born into a family of projectionists. He was exposed to film, the arts, and theater from a young age, and often went with his father to work. But he first remembers Clowes Hall when he saw his sister, an opera singer, perform there.

“Butler has been a part of our lives for years and for Aaron, this is a scene he has been around since he was in diapers,” Daniel says. “Aaron would come with us to his sister’s performances and practices. It is pretty amazing when you think about it because the connection goes all the way back to my father hanging that curtain. Aaron grew up on this. We are all tied to Butler and Clowes.”

Hurt wanted to run a venue for as long as he can remember, he says. As an arts administration major at Butler, he learned that he could make a career out of running the programming and operations of a place. After graduating in 2008, Hurt worked for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and then made his way back to Butler in 2013, as part-time manager of the Schrott Center. He became full-time later that year, serving as the operations manager. In 2016, after the Butler Arts Center was established, Hurt was promoted to Director of Operations.

He took over as interim Executive Director of the Butler Arts Center in August 2018. When Danko was evaluating what to do about the permanent executive director position, the positive feedback about Hurt was overwhelming.

“Aaron’s passion and enthusiasm for this type of role, coupled with the extraordinary esteem he is held in made him far and away the optimal choice for this position,” Danko says. “I am very excited about him and his potential. It is like an NFL team looking for that young coach who will be a star in 20 years.”

So now, Hurt will work to put his stamp on the place that has been a major part of his and his family’s lives for so long. Something that he called both terrifying and incredible. The goals are numerous.

Donald Hurt backstage at Clowes Memorial Hall
Donald Hurt backstage at Clowes Memorial Hall

Hurt has four major focuses—find new ways to make money, form better partnerships, engage more with the Indianapolis market, and create improved University programming. But, he says, it really does come down to one thing.

The goal is to make the Butler Arts Center an authentic hub for arts programming for all different communities in town. For example, next season, ticket prices will start at $19. This adjustment, he says, is a way to make shows more accessible for a much wider group.

“I want us to be known as open and inviting. I want people to leave happy and to have experienced something they couldn’t have experienced anywhere else in the city,” Hurt says. “That is what Clowes originally was when it started.”

And Hurt would know. He grew up learning about Clowes and hearing about Clowes from a grandfather and father who were there from the beginning. Now, Hurt is ready to take Clowes back to that original model—collaborative and inviting. Just the way he likes his office décor.

Campus

Aaron Hurt Appointed Executive Director of Butler Arts Center

  A job more than his lifetime in the making.

Jan 14 2019 Read more

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