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Learning About Service, the Butler Way

BY Evie Schultz ’16

PUBLISHED ON Dec 21 2015

At first, the concept seems difficult. How do you help third-graders understand what service means?

But for Early and Middle Childhood Education Professor Arthur Hochman and his early elementary education class, the challenge is often the most important part of the lesson plan.

Kat Welch '17 and her students.

For a little over five weeks this semester, Butler students were paired with Crooked Creek Elementary School third-graders in groups. The Butler students were responsible for creating lesson plans and guiding the elementary schools students through projects to discover what service is.

“Every semester I like to work with a local public school in coming up with something special that's going to have a feeling of culmination and importance, so that these third-graders will have an experience they will never forget,” Hochman said.

In past years the projects have varied. Students and children have organized a flash mob to honor a teacher or come to Butler for a day to present research they've done.

This year, the lesson took a different turn as the third-graders worked together to create their own magazine called Helping Hands. It was published within another local kids magazine, Inspired.

Kat Welch and ’17 and Allison Behling ’18 are two of Hochman’s students who worked at Crooked Creek.

Under the guidance of teachers such as Megan Shuck Rubey ’12 and Kristen Vannatta, they helped students create artwork, conduct interviews, and come up with ways to serve their teachers.

Welch’s group created an autograph book for one teacher and wrote a poem for another.

“It was neat to see how it was really important to them that the teacher liked it and that it was special for them,” she said. “We made a point to teach them that it was anonymous. At first they struggled with that, but then came to realize it's more about the act of doing than getting recognition.”

Hochman said the children are motivated to work on a deeper and higher level when there is an incentive of being able to achieve something important, such as serving and creating an actual published magazine.

“It’s the idea of getting kids to do work that’s in context, that’s real,” Hochman said. “It gives you an impetus to do great work, as opposed to ‘You need to learn multiplication so you can learn division so you can learn algebra,’ which when you’re little feels a little hollow.Coloring page

“But if it’s ‘You need to do a good job because you want to do a good job because there’s something at the end of the tunnel that’s meaningful for you,’ as a third-grader there’s power in that.”

After finishing the magazine and sending it in for publication, the Butler students returned to surprise their third-graders on the final day. The students gathered to see their final product projected up at the front of the classroom, and a special guest even came to visit: Trip, the Butler bulldog mascot.

Together, they celebrated their published magazine and the new bonds formed between the Butler students and their third-graders.

“We had third-graders crying,” Hochman said. “The attachments are very real.”

“It was very sweet,” Behling said. “But I think I was even more excited about Trip than they were.”

Not only did they come away with new friends, Behling and Welch said they came away with teaching experiences they will never forget.

“For me, I loved seeing the progress that was made,” Welch said. “The first or second day we were there, we asked them what service was. They all said out of order signs or drew stores. But by the end of the project, they talked about how it was important to do things anonymously for others.”

Behling said she noticed even more changes in herself.

“I kind of went in expecting for me to have my place, for everything to go my way, and obviously that doesn't always happen, especially with kids,” Behling said. “My biggest takeaway was not everything has to go right the first time and sometimes you just have to try again.”

Sounds a lot like the Butler Way.


Butler Community Arts School Adds 3 New Programs


PUBLISHED ON Dec 14 2015

The Butler Community Arts School will introduce three new programs in 2016—youth theater, music composition for high school students, and summer ballet intensive for pre-professional dancers.

“We added these new programs for 2016 because the community has been asking,” said Karen Thickstun, Director of the Butler Community Arts School. “We have a strong history of providing high-quality music programs to the greater Indianapolis community utilizing Butler students and faculty. These offerings will broaden our reach and allow more youths to participate in our arts programming.”

For questions and registration information, email the Butler Community Arts School at or call 317-940-5500.Butler Community Arts School - Jazz Camp

More information about each program follows.

-Butler Youth Theatre Program, for ages 9-14, will allow students to explore the building blocks of theatre under the direction of Butler Theatre faculty and alumni. No prior experience is necessary.

The program will run for nine Saturdays beginning January 16—9:00-10:15 AM for ages 9-11 and 10:30-noon for ages 12-14—at in Lilly Hall on the Butler campus.The cost is $135 for students 9-11 and $145 for students 12-14.

Both sessions end with a performance by each group.

-Butler Youth Composition Program, for students 14-18, is a three-session workshop presented by Butler composition majors and graduate students under the director of Professor of Music Michael Schelle. No prior composition experience is required, but students must have one year of prior study on a musical instrument or voice and be involved in a music program or lessons.

The sessions will take place from 1:00-2:30 PM January 23, February 13, and March 5 in Lilly Hall on the Butler campus, with a final performance on March 19.

Tuition is $55.

-Summer Ballet Intensive, a three-week intensive program for pre-professional dancers ages 13-18, will take place from July 10-30. The tuition is $3,000, which includes room and three meals a day. A commuter option is available.

Dance Professor Marek Cholewa will serve as the Artistic Director of the program, which will have a classical ballet focus with additional classes in pas de deux, character, modern, jazz, and repertoire. The program will conclude with a final performance on Saturday, July 30.

The Dance Department has announced the establishment of a Butler Dance scholarship for a promising young dancer who attends this summer intensive program. Eligibility requirements will be included in the registration materials. Registration is at


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Butler Students Head to Asia, Thanks to Freeman Grant


PUBLISHED ON Dec 11 2015

Butler University has been awarded a $339,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation to support undergraduate student internships in East and Southeast Asia in 2016 and 2017.

The money will be used to send 20 students to Shanghai in 2016 and 20 to Shanghai, 10 to Beijing, and 10 to Singapore during summer 2017. The grant provides $5,000 per student to offset the cost of their travel and housing costs.
Grace Lewis interned at the pharmaceutical company Eisai China.

In addition, the grant provides financial support for students who are already in East Asia on a semester study-abroad program and can fit in an internship into that time.

The summer internships are six weeks long. A Butler faculty member will be on hand at the beginning of the semester to get the students settled.

“This grant is great news for our students,” said Jill McKinney, Butler’s Director of Study Abroad in the Center for Global Education. “There are many logistics that go into an exciting program like this. It hits much of what the Butler 2020 plan wants for students, which is high-impact programs. This is an innovative blend of two kinds of high-impact programs: study abroad and internships. As we strive to send off students to have a meaningful impact on the world, I think graduates who have broader worldview and have had internship in one of the leading economies in the world could have a distinct advantage personally and in the job market.”

McKinney said Butler is one of only 23 universities in the United States to earn this kind of support from the Freeman Foundation. During the summer of 2015, Butler sent 19 students to intern in Shanghai and Hong Kong, thanks to a $99,500 Freeman Foundation grant.

The Freeman Foundation, based in Stowe, Vermont, is dedicated to augmenting international understanding between the United States and the nations of East Asia. The foundation “provides real work experiences in real work settings with direct interaction with local people in East and Southeast Asia.”

Grace Lewis, a senior majoring in Pharmacy and minoring in Chinese, said her internship at the pharmaceutical company Eisai China Inc. taught her about the pharmaceutical industry and drug marketing, and also gave her insight into healthcare in China.

“At the conclusion of my internship, I realized that the industry is a viable option for my future career,” she said. “Living and working in China greatly contributed to my personal growth. Particularly, my sense of independence grew much more than I had anticipated.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Professor Kercood Receives Grant for Oral Hygiene Training Program


PUBLISHED ON Dec 08 2015

Professor of Special Education Suneeta Kercood has been awarded nearly $25,000 by the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation to develop a video-based training program to teach families of special-needs children about oral healthcare and prepare them for visits to the dentist.

“There is a huge disparity in oral health care of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Kercood said, “and after having spoken to numerous parents and medical practitioners, there is a great need for parent training, as well as training medical/health professionals to care for this special group of children (especially navigating through their physical and behavioral challenges).”

Throughout 2016, Kercood is collaborating with Dr. Ana Vazquez with Fishers Pediatric Dentistry, who specializes in providing services to children with special needs on the project.

She said oral health often is overlooked in the hierarchy of needs of children/adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“Oral health is important, not just for basic activities related to food intake or communication, but can have implications for secondary health conditions, social interaction, and long term care, and thus needs to be addressed,” Kercood said.

Since 2002, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation has awarded just over $1.5 million in grant funding to 74 projects designed to increase access to oral health care.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Visiting Writers Series Presents Lev Grossman


PUBLISHED ON Dec 07 2015

Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy, will speak in the Atherton Union Reilly Room on February 17 at 7:30 PM as part of Butler University’s spring 2016 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.

Admission is free and open to the public to all events in the series. For more information, call 317-940-9861.

Lev GrossmanGrossman's Magicians trilogy, a New York Times #1 best seller, has been published in 25 countries. It was recently acquired by NBC/Universal for a television series, with a pilot episode officially ordered for the SyFy channel. For the past decade, Grossman has been both the book critic and the lead technology writer at Time, covering virtually every cultural and technological revolution of the new millennium. (A graduate of both Harvard and Yale, he was the first journalist to make a call on the iPhone!)

When Time chose “You” as its Person of the Year 2006, Grossman wrote the story; he did it again in 2010, covering Mark Zuckerberg. Grossman has interviewed and profiled the major drivers of cultural change in the Internet era, from Steve Jobs to Jonathan Franzen to John Green. He has also written for Wired, The Believer, and The Village Voice and many others.

He will be followed in the spring series by novelist/short-story writer Benjamin Percy (February 29, Schrott Center), poet Claudia Rankine (March 17, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall), and poet/National Book Award winner Marilyn Hacker (April 5, Clowes Memorial Hall, Krannert Room).

Media contact:
Marc Allan


At Lab School, 22 Chinese Principals Are Students for a Day


PUBLISHED ON Dec 04 2015

When 22 principals from China’s Zhejiang Province wanted to see how American elementary schools operate, they chose to spend a day at the Butler Lab School, which the University operates in partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools system.

The Chinese visitors devoted Friday, December 4, to observing how the elementary school at 34th and Meridian streets manages to educate the students without concentrating so much on standardized testing.
Ron Smith, Principal of the Butler Lab School, visits with counterparts from China.

“In China, they have one curriculum for the entire province,” said Grace Kontur, Program Director for the Indianapolis-based Chinese Education Connection, which coordinated the visit. “Every school teaches the same thing on the same day. So for them to differentiate (like the Lab School does) is a very hard topic for them to understand.”

Kontur left it to Ena Shelley, Dean of Butler’s College of Education and designer of the Lab School, to explain.

With Kontur translating, Shelley told the visitors that “all children are capable, competent, and powerful learners.” It’s up to schools, she said, to “instill a sense of wonder” in the students. “Focus on the strength of the child and build from there,” she said.

In explaining how Lab School learning works, Shelley shared the example of a teacher who showed her student Van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers” and asked them to draw their own version. That was supplemented by a lesson on Van Gogh, which got the students interested in his painting “Starry Night,” which segued into a discussion of the constellations, which turned into a math lesson about how many stars are in specific constellations, which resulted in a visit to Butler’s Holcomb Observatory to see the stars, which caused one of the English as a Second Language students to start speaking more because he was so excited.

“It opened him up,” Shelley said.

All well and good, the visitors said. But how is student progress evaluated?

Lab School Principal Ron Smith ’88 MS ’96 said student evaluations combine quantitative data—gathered through testing—with qualitative data that measures whether the children have learned. Those qualitative measures include examining student work and recorded discussions with individual students to see what they have learned.

As for teachers, they are evaluated based on formal observations by the principal—that counts for 60 percent—and how the teacher did on goals established at the beginning of the year (40 percent).

This was difficult for the Chinese to understand because they’re accustomed to everything being measured, Kontur said.

But they’re trying.

“They really want to update,” she said. “They really want to keep improving their system, so they want to learn what’s over here that they can bring it back to China.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Coming Soon to the Sunset Avenue Garage: Pita Pit


PUBLISHED ON Nov 30 2015

Butler University has signed its second retail customer for the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage—a 1,400-square-foot Pita Pit franchise owned by 2003 Butler graduate Travis Sealls.

Pita Pit, “a fresh, healthy alternative to fast food,” will open in late February or early March. The restaurant will seat approximately 20 inside and will have an outdoor patio that will accommodate 20-30.

Trip at Pita PitSealls said Pita Pit will deliver on campus and the surrounding neighborhood. It will be open for lunch and dinner, and offer beer and wine.

“Butler holds a special place in my heart,” he said. “I met my future wife, Whitney ’03, at Butler, and now we have three wonderful kids. From a business standpoint, Pita Pit is a perfect college campus addition. The first Pita Pit was founded at a university. We will offer a quick and healthy alternative to the normal campus culinary scene.”

Sealls, whose degree is in Finance, got into the restaurant business after working as a budget analyst at the University of Albany (New York) while Whitney went to medical school at Albany Medical College. She is now in scientific communications for Eli Lilly and Co. They moved back to Indianapolis in 2008.

Sealls has owned and operated the downtown Indianapolis Pita Pit store since 2009 and was the franchisee of the year in 2013. He also owns another restaurant, Punch Burger, which opened in Indianapolis in 2012 and expanded to Carmel in 2015.

Butler’s new facility, which opened for parking in August, has 17,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the five-story structure, as well as 1,033 parking spaces. In August, the University announced that Scotty’s Dawghouse would be the anchor tenant in the garage, taking 6,400 square feet in the northeast corner of Sunset Avenue and Lake Road. Scotty’s is scheduled to open in February.

Donna Hovey, Vice President, and Gordon Hendry, First Vice President, of CBRE’s Indianapolis office represent Butler University as the leasing agent. The new mixed-use retail and parking garage offers suite sizes ranging from 1,200 to 8,400 square feet, many with patio and outdoor dining options. For more information, visit

Pita Pit started in Canada in 1995 and moved into the United States in 1999. Its U.S. headquarters are in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

"We're excited to bring Pita Pit to campus,” Butler Director of External Relations Michael Kaltenmark said. “They are a perfect fit for Butler's new parking facility, both literally and figuratively. With the ability to occupy an ideal footprint of prominent storefront space along Sunset Avenue, Pita Pit provides the convenience, quality, and variety that Butler's students, faculty, staff, and neighbors have requested."


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Visiting Writers Series Presents Poet Dean Young


PUBLISHED ON Nov 13 2015

The Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series concludes its fall 2015 series with poet Dean Young on Monday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robertson Hall Johnson Board Room.

All events in the series are free and open to the public. For more information, call 317-940-9861.

Dean YoungYoung, who earned his MFA from Indiana University, is recognized as one of the most energetic, influential poets writing today. His numerous collections of poetry include Strike Anywhere (1995), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry; Skid (2002), finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Primitive Mentor (2008), shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize.  He has also written a book on poetics, The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (2010).

Young’s awards include the Academy Award in Literature, a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His poems have been featured in Best American Poetry numerous times.

Media contact:
Marc Allan



President Danko: All Should Feel Safe, Valued, Celebrated


PUBLISHED ON Nov 13 2015

In light of the situation at the University of Missouri and other campuses, President Danko issued this statement:

Dear Butler Community Members,

Earlier this year, I spoke out against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This act uniquely damaged the spirit and global reputation President Jim Dankoof the Hoosier State. Its discriminatory agenda directly contradicted Butler’s values of fairness and inclusivity, and I felt compelled to publicly comment in that case in the hope of inspiring action and dialogue.

Similarly, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you now about the changes taking place at the University of Missouri and other campuses across the country this week. The aspiration of students at these institutions is that which forms the heart of Butler University’s founding and current values: the realization of a just society, in which all people are respected and valued equally.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to our campus in 2013 and spoke to us about peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation when we opened a Center in his name. As members of a learning environment that values critical inquiry, we recognize that his message of compassion and humanity rings true. At the same time, we realize that social justice is the cornerstone of peace.

The United States grapples with a history of discrimination and oppression. Today, college students across the country continue to live with the very real consequences of that history. Despite the progress we have made as a great nation, we have much work to do to become a truly just society. As our country continues to struggle to address injustice, it is incumbent upon us, as Butler University community members, to be leaders of dialogue, pathfinders to solutions, and models of civility. This leadership can be assumed by any and all of us, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Our Butler values put us in a strong position to assume such leadership. Butler was founded by abolitionists who wrote into our University charter that we would be “a non-sectarian institution free from the taint of slavery.” Gertrude Mahorney, Butler’s first African-American graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree in 1887. Sigma Gamma Rho was founded on Butler’s campus in 1922. Butler was the first college in Indiana to admit women and men on an equal basis, and established the first endowed chair in the nation specifically designated to be filled by a female professor.

I do not cite these facts to encourage us to rest on our laurels; rather, I believe we should be inspired by our shared history of, and commitment to, social justice and the eradication of discrimination in its many forms, both insidious and overt. I challenge all of us to recommit to our founding vision. I challenge us to strive, each day, to more fully understand each other’s experiences. I challenge us to find positive and constructive ways for Butler to be a national leader in finding real solutions to these long-standing issues.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Provost Kathryn Morris, Vice President Levester Johnson, and Associate Professor Terri Jett, Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity, who are leading concerted efforts to ensure that our community is a just, fair, and safe place in which all people may thrive equally. We are also extremely fortunate to have many other faculty members with expertise in social justice issues, who are working extremely hard toward this goal. Most importantly, our students are engaged in a wide range of social-justice initiatives, both at the curricular and extracurricular level, which empower them to effect positive change and make a real difference.

While all these activities are extremely important, I believe we can work even harder, and do even more, to live our founding Butler mission each day. Please join me in redoubling our efforts to that end, in support of the rights of every person—in our own learning community and in those across our nation—to feel safe, valued, and celebrated.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions.

James M. Danko, President
Butler University


Statement from President Danko on the Passing of Amos Brown


PUBLISHED ON Nov 07 2015

Amos BrownThe Butler University community is saddened to learn of Amos Brown's sudden passing today in Chicago. Amos was an extraordinary civic leader who helped bridge cultural divides and create greater understanding in our city. He was also a great friend to Butler, serving for decades as the master of ceremonies for our Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. He will be missed.


Isn't This Lovely: Butler Students to Sing With Stevie Wonder


PUBLISHED ON Nov 06 2015

Four members of Butler University’s Voices of Deliverance gospel choir have been invited to sing with Stevie Wonder on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
RaeNosa Hudnell, Murjuana Mutuwa, Jeremy Washington, and Elisha Wright will be singing with Stevie Wonder.

Senior Jeremy Washington, an Organizational Communications and Leadership major from Hammond, Indiana; Elisha Wright, a sophomore Exploratory Studies major from Indianapolis; graduate student RaeNosa Hudnell, a Creative Writing major from Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Murjanatu Mutuwa, a first-year International Business major from Cedar Lake, Indiana, will join the 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and his band for three songs—“Pastime Paradise” and “Another Star” from his Songs in the Key of Life album and a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.”

Valerie Davidson, Butler’s Director of Diversity Programs and the faculty adviser for Voices of Deliverance, said she received a call on Thursday, November 5, from Wonder’s people, asking about singers. They told her that, at each tour stop, they like to invite local singers—ideally from colleges—to perform.

“When Miss Valerie notified me of the news, I was speechless!” Washington said. “For me, Stevie Wonder is more than just a flawless voice but a role model and symbol to the realization that nothing can hold greatness back.”

The students will be at the arena for rehearsal Saturday at 4:00 PM. At 4:30 PM, Wonder is scheduled to join them to rehearse and for soundcheck.

This is the third time in recent years that Butler students have been invited to sing with a superstar performer. In 2012, 22 members of the Butler Chorale sang with Madonna during halftime at the Super Bowl. And this past July 4, 26 members of the Chorale accompanied the Rolling Stones onstage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Media contact:
Marc Allan

Arts & CultureCommunity

JCA, Indiana Arts Commission Forge Partnership


PUBLISHED ON Nov 02 2015

Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts has forged a partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission to become the IAC regional granting office for central Indiana, covering Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, and Shelby Counties.
Lilly Hall

Butler’s role through 2017 will be to set up independent citizen advisory panels that will review grant applications. The citizen panels adjudicate and score grant applications, and the state awards the grant funds. Last year, the state awarded about $400,000 in grants to Indianapolis-area arts groups.

“We are excited about having the Jordan College of the Arts at Butler University join this new partnership arrangement for Region 7,” IAC Executive Director Lewis C. Ricci said. “The College has a long history in, and commitment to, the arts in this region.”

Jordan College faculty and staff will also provide technical assistance and guidance to on public funding to artists and arts organizations of all sizes.

“I’m excited for the opportunity this will provide for our students,” said Susan Zurbuchen, Associate Professor of Arts Administration. “The students will learn about how public money is disbursed, and they’ll have hands-on opportunities to be part of the process.”

Zurbuchen said she believes no other undergraduate arts administration program has such a hand in grant administration.

Ronald Caltabiano, Dean of Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts, said the partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission “helps to strengthen our academic programming and further reinforces Butler University’s role as a nexus for arts in central Indiana. This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and for Butler.”

Media contact:
Marc Allan