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Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens
HomecomingAthleticsPeople

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01 2018

Emerson Kampen will never forget Shelvin Mack’s bachelor party in Las Vegas. But before any assumptions are made, Kampen wasn’t even there.

He called his former Butler University roommate and basketball teammate one morning, East Coast time, which must have been, “like 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM Vegas time,” he says, shock still audible in his voice, and Mack picked up.

“I’m in Vegas at my bachelor party,” Mack told Kampen. “I have this paper to do. I’m trying to knock it out this morning.”

And that is when Kampen knew his friend was serious about completing his Butler degree.

“Shel is as motivated as anybody, as self-driven as anybody I have ever met,” says Kampen, who is now an Assistant Coach on the Butler men’s basketball team. “When he says he will get something done, he will, and that attitude carries over to all areas of his life. When he said he was going to make the NBA, he did. When he said he was going to finish his degree, despite the demands of an NBA schedule, I knew he would do it. Now, in Vegas, I don’t know how good the paper ended up being, but I do know he was getting it done.”

Mack, who left Butler after his junior year in 2011, to enter the NBA Draft, has played for six teams, and most recently signed a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. Many players drafted in the second round like Mack have come and gone, but former teammates, coaches, friends, and family members say his work ethic and ambition separate him.

Those same traits that turned him into an 8-year NBA veteran, have motivated him to complete his Butler degree in Digital Media Production, he says. As he sees his sisters graduate, and all his friends flaunt their Butler degrees, as well as his wife, his competitive juices kick in. But it is also more than that—a love of Butler, a desire to better himself, and a promise he made to his mom.

“I always wanted to get my college degree, for myself and for my mom, but it was hard to balance my time when I first got into the league and figure out how to take classes without being at Butler,” Mack says. “Now that everything is sorted out, it was something I knew I had to do because I came to Butler because of the education and the fact that basketball won’t last forever. Now I know taking classes is part of bettering myself and my future.”

 

THE RECRUIT

Brad Stevens remembers meeting Victoria Guy, Shelvin’s mom, for the first time. He was in Lexington, Kentucky visiting Shelvin at his home.

Let’s just say Mack and his mom had slightly different questions as they sat in their living room with Stevens.

“She didn’t care about playing time, or TV games, or what kind of gym we were going to be playing in,” Stevens says. “She wanted Shelvin to get his college degree and work hard in the classroom. She asked about graduation rates and class sizes.”

Stevens had answers. A big part of the presentation at the time focused beyond what the team accomplished on the court, Stevens says.

They talked a lot about how successful players were after they graduated. Stevens shared graduation rates, and players’ majors, and the fact that practices were run around class schedules—not the other way around. 

The answers mattered. At the last second, the University of Kentucky swooped in, Guy says, and Mack was torn. He asked his mom for advice. She wanted the decision to be her son’s, but the only thing she did share with him was the value of a smaller, tight knit campus.

“He stuck with Butler and it worked out perfectly,” Guy says.

So, when Mack told Stevens he was going to finish his degree over a meal last summer, he wasn’t that surprised.

“Shelvin is very, very driven and usually that is hard to turn off. When you have an ambitious kid, they will usually be ambitious in everything they do and he certainly is that,” Stevens says. “I never dreamed he would have been good enough to leave after three years, but he did it because he was determined to.”

But Stevens also knows his mom is right there, ever-present, making sure her son is getting it done.

 

LIFE AT BUTLER

Kampen and Mack first met in 2008, two freshmen on the men’s basketball team in need of physicals. So, they hopped in Kampen’s car and headed to the doctor’s office. They made small talk and Kampen remembers how it wasn’t awkward—Mack always made everyone feel comfortable.

Kampen learned quickly that Mack was determined to make it to the NBA. But, he says, he and others didn’t really see it.

“He was obviously a really good player, but he was a bit chubby when he walked in. We all should have known when he says he will get something done, he will do it,” Kampen says.

Mack’s work ethic was always on display. He spent more time in the gym than anyone else on the team. They would be playing video games and Mack would have a 30-pound weight in his hands, doing curls while the game was loading, or while there was a pause in the game. He was always working.

Kampen wasn’t surprised when he found out Mack was finishing up his degree. He knows how much his friend loves Butler and values education. He also knows he can’t stand to have something go unfinished.

“I think one day he will be a coach,” Kampen says. “I always have tons of texts from him during the season, analyzing what we did in a game, and why we could have done this or done that. He is always the first to let me know about a decision we should have made.”

As a student, Mack took his work very seriously, Christine Taylor, Associate Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism, says. She had Mack as a student in her directing and production classes. Now, Taylor is Mack’s academic advisor.

“He was very well-liked and a great team player in my classes,” Taylor says. “He also put his own creative stamp on the work. He had a creative identity of his own. He took his work seriously and was a very good student. So, when he reached out a few years ago, I was not really surprised at all. It was more about figuring out how we could make it happen logistically.”

 

LIFE IN THE NBA

When Mack decided to leave school early, his mom fully supported him, but said he had five years to finish his degree. As the years marched on, she kept checking on him. Mack claimed he was trying, but certain classes he needed weren’t offered by Butler online at the time, Guy says.

She did some fact checking.

“At first, I wasn’t buying it, so I called Coach Stevens,” Guy says. “I talked to Coach Stevens just to make sure Butler wasn’t offering the classes online and then I felt better.”

In Mack’s defense, it wasn’t just the logistics of figuring how to fulfill his major requirements. After he got drafted in 2011 by the Washington Wizards, by his estimate, he was moving around about once a year. He had a stint with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Jazz, the Orlando Magic, and now the Memphis Grizzlies. It was also adjusting to life in the NBA.

“It was something I always wanted to do, but I could never find the time,” Mack says. “I wasn’t great with time management, I was adjusting to NBA life, and probably not spending my time as wisely as I could have.”

Once Mack had his daughter, things changed, he says. He was on a strict schedule, going to bed early, waking up early, working out, taking care of her. Then, he realized, he could work school in. His daughter helped him manage his time, and he wanted to make sure he set a good example for her when it came to education.

Butler also started to work with him. A few years ago, when he tried to work on his degree, classes he needed weren’t offered online. A lot has changed over the last few years, says Taylor, his academic advisor, as more classes are offered online.

“Our philosophy is that we should partner with students so they can reach their goals,” Taylor says. “Obviously there is course work they must fully complete, but people are people and circumstances change for individuals and we will do our best to help them realize their goals of getting a Butler degree. This is simply us recognizing an individuals’ circumstance changes and we are as supportive as we can be within the rules to help them recognize their short and long-term goals.”

With Mack, Taylor sees someone who has a strong love for Butler and desire to complete a degree he has, in large part, already earned.

“For Shelvin, this has been part of the process of his development as a person and what kind of individual he wants to be,” Taylor says. “In times when the larger world is questioning the value of a degree from a four-year institution, I always find it really gratifying that people like Shelvin still place such a high value on education. It has been so uplifting to work with him…He is doing this to better himself because what happens in a classroom makes a difference, and he realizes that. That is really gratifying to know, and it reinforces that the conversations and lessons we have make a difference.”

 

FUTURE PROMISES

This summer, Mack finished his major by taking Entertainment Media and the Law.

He spent a couple months watching YouTube videos of different cases, reading case law, writing papers, learning why some people can sue, and others cannot. And, sometimes forgetting he had assignments due. Like many new students, he had to readjust to college life.

“Luckily, I had plenty of people around me reminding me and keeping me in check,” he says.

This fall, as the NBA season kicks off, Mack will be crisscrossing the U.S. on planes, playing in back-to-back games, and squeezing in time to read his textbooks. He will take two online courses, hoping to complete his degree in the next three years. But most importantly, before his youngest sister, Keionna, graduates in 2020. His mom is quick to remind him that he already missed his middle sister, Sierra, who graduated this past May.

To assure mom he is all over it, he had his textbooks sent to her house ‘by accident’ this summer. She isn’t so sure it was an accident.

“I know the degree isn’t everything, but it opens a lot of doors that won’t otherwise be there for you,” Guy says. “He could break a leg today and basketball could be over. I know he has thought about coaching, broadcast, and I want him to have that degree and those courses to fall back on.”

He will continue to take online courses throughout the season. As of now, he says, he would like a career in broadcast after his playing days are over. But coaching interests him, too. He looks forward to the day when he can just walk in the house and show his wife, a Butler grad and former hoops player, his degree.

But to his mom, who he says drove him around to “a million” basketball tournaments when he was young, and always supported him, it will mean everything.

Asked how she will feel when her son officially graduates from Butler, Guy is quiet for a moment.

“Oh my god. I will be super excited. Super excited. He will be the first male in his generation to have a college degree. He is behind schedule, but he needs to follow through. I need him to be better than average and I know he expects that out of himself, too.”

But there is one more thing that is bothering her. Mack pursuing his degree has motivated his mom to finish her degree. He has always motivated her to go after her dreams, just as she has always motivated him, he says.

“After two years of college, I had my son, and he was my number one priority, so I am going to go back after all of this and get my degree in business management,” Guy says.

Her son has given her a three-year window.   

 

Images courtesy of Shelvin Mack. 

Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens
HomecomingAthleticsPeople

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

NBA Player and former Butler Men's Basketball star Shelvin Mack is committed to completing his Butler degree. 

Oct 01 2018 Read more
HomecomingCampus

Butler, by Being Bold, Ready for a Future Steeped in Past Ideals

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Sep 28 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – During his annual State of the University address, Butler University President James M. Danko reported on the University’s progress, challenges being confronted, and visions for the future.

But as much as things change, he said, one thing has remained constant throughout Butler’s history, and that is a University that has never shied away from being bold in its decision making. As Butler evolves over time, the essence of the University has always remained the same, Danko said.

“Just like no one would have predicted 20 years ago what Butler would look like today, we can’t accurately predict what Butler will look like 20 years from now,” Danko said. “So, while our future success will always be something to consistently chase, we can be certain that Butler University will be here, thriving. Because for more than 165 years, Butler has always put in the extra effort. It’s the Butler Way.”

Danko delivered the 2018 State of the University on Friday at Butler’s Schrott Center for the Arts. The afternoon featured three guest speakers—retired Religion Professor Paul Valliere, current senior Xavier Colvin, and College of Education graduate Katie Moore ’08.

From the beginning, Danko said, Butler has made bold decisions.

In the years just before the Civil War, Ovid Butler established an inclusive university, providing access to education for everyone, no matter race or gender. Springing from that intrepid start, there were other bold decisions which have shaped us as the University we are today, Danko said. Like moving the campus three times, building a Fieldhouse 90 years ago, opening Clowes Hall, and building an observatory.

More recently, bold decisions have taken the form of joining the BIG EAST Conference, investing in nationwide branding and awareness, improving the living and learning facilities on campus, increasing the size of our student body, And, most recently, establishing South Campus.

Danko noted that these daring choices are paying off.

“For the first time ever, Butler was included in the Princeton Review’s list of ‘The Best 384 Colleges,’” he said. “And after years on the rise, Butler has now secured the No. 1 position among Midwest Regional Universities in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings.”

Other highlights include:

  • Compensation and Classification study to provide more equitable and competitive wages for our faculty and staff.
  • A new partnership with the Indiana Housing Program and Midtown Anchor Coalition to both purchase and repair homes in the surrounding neighborhood.
  • The welcoming of a new Title IX Coordinator, as well as our new BUBeWell model
  • An active search for the University’s first Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Since 2010, total student full-time equivalent has grown by 500.
  • Since 2010, overall revenues have grown by 60 percent.
  • Since 2012, Butler’s endowment has grown by nearly 60 percent.
  • The total gift income raised in the past three years is more than double what Butler raised in gift income the six years prior.

But the most powerful, most significant indicator of Butler’s impact is in its people.

“I think you’ll agree with me that the core of Butler University is our success in bringing together great faculty and great students,” Danko said. “Butler has excelled over its history because of the richness of our education, brought to life by outstanding faculty who care about students and who are committed to providing them with exceptional academic experiences.”


Paul Valliere

Since his career at Butler began in 1982, Retired Professor of Religion Valliere, has seen a lot of change. In 1982, he said, Butler needed to grow, to upgrade physical facilities, to clarify its identity, and to enhance its visibility. Now, he says, Butler has accomplished all those things. All while maintaining a healthy balance of change and tradition.

“Butler changed a lot in all sorts of good ways. But, the wonderful fact is that in some profound ways Butler University has not changed,” he said.
 

Xavier Colvin

A senior marketing major at Butler, Colvin is a linebacker on the football team. He also came out as gay in 2016. He feared the reactions of teammates, coaches, and the campus community, but he used his platform as an NCAA athlete to share his story in hopes of helping others, he said. He has tried to be the person that teenage Xavier needed. And he hasn’t stopped, as he continues to share his coming out story in hopes it impacts someone, somewhere.

“I was recently asked if I get tired of telling my story over and over. The work I’m doing is minimal. If Harriet Tubman, Bayard Rustin, MLK Jr., or Harvey Milk, all activists for either the LGBT or the Black Community, would have gotten tired, I am not sure if I would be standing in front of you today,” he said.
 

Katie Moore

Moore, a 2008 College of Education graduate, said the most rewarding experiences at Butler were experiential learning opportunities—practical opportunities that allowed her to make connections between the content, her life, and the world. She has learned first-hand, she said, that it is impossible to be prepared for what you cannot imagine, but Butler’s commitment to investing in students through ensuring a variety of opportunities prepares individuals for the unforeseen dynamics of the future.

It is that unwavering commitment to students, Danko said, that has always been a part of Butler—no matter how much has changed. That balance between being unafraid to make bold moves, yet sticking to core values, is what has made Butler successful throughout time, and what will help sustain that success in the future, he said.

“We will maintain a balance of change and tradition, we will celebrate the investments we have made to remain competitive, while at the same time we begin to explore new bold ideas to sustain, advance, and ensure our success for generations to come,” Danko said.


Media contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

HomecomingCampus

Butler, by Being Bold, Ready for a Future Steeped in Past Ideals

In his State of the University address, President James M. Danko reported on progress, but evoked tradition.

Sep 28 2018 Read more

A Global Education

by Marc Allan

Katie Moore's career in international education has taken her to places most of us can't find on a map: Mozambique, Fiji, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, The Gambia, Zambia, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone.

But no matter where the 2008 graduate has gone, "Butler friends and former professors have really been a part of every step on my path," she said. "And not just kept in touch, but have supported me in my life and in all of these decisions that my family has made. I don't know that you get that at other universities."

Moore had planned to devote two years to the Peace Corps after graduation, then become an early- or middle-childhood teacher. She thinks back to her days at Butler and recalls that when her then-boyfriend, now-husband Nick '07 MPACC '08 was earning his Master's in Accounting, one of his courses included lessons in negotiating. One of the topics he chose to present to his class was about negotiating what their life would look like after she finished with the Peace Corps.

"Unfortunately, he 'lost' his negotiation from that particular class; neither of us ever imagined we would have the life that we've had!" she says, laughing.

More seriously, she says, "On the other hand, we have gained together a world view that is more inclusive, more critical, and one that allows us to better understand the privilege we have had in even beginning to have the careers and opportunities to work and live internationally by choice. A recent UNICEF video articulates this sentiment, as it highlights the significant number of children and families throughout the world that travel not by choice, but for sheer survival."

Two years in the Peace Corps—where she trained approximately 90 young adults between the ages of 18-30 to become primary school teachers—became three, and in that third year, which she spent working for Save the Children, she was exposed to the field of non-governmental humanitarian work. She has since worked in various positions ranging from internships, fellowships, and as a consultant for global reaching organizations such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, and other organizations, promoting education, early childhood development and health.

While most of Katie's work has taken her to far-off corners of the globe, she also has spent time in New York—she earned her Master's in International Educational Development from Columbia University in 2013—and in Washington, DC. That's where she, Nick, and their daughter Wini are now based.

These days, Katie works as Senior Technical Advisor for Early Childhood Development for ChildFund International. The organization provides parenting programming to empower parents and other primary caregivers in low-resourced communities in the countries in which ChildFund operates with the knowledge and practical skills they need to give children a strong start in life, building on what parents already know and do. (Nick is Vice President Finance at Brookfield Property Partners, a real estate developer.)

This year, Katie is also wrapping up multi-year research efforts with Yale University's Child Study Center; she was on a team of research consultants. The team has been conducting a multi-country study on the impact of decentralization on early childhood education in East and Central Asia. 

In her most recent position, Katie will continue to engage with academic partners aiming to identify how to improve early childhood development programming conducted jointly with governments and community-based organizations in lower- and middle-income countries to promote children's development in their early years. She says she'd like to get back into academia in the future, perhaps earn her doctorate in Global Public Health.

"The experiential learning opportunities I had as a student in Butler's College of Education, specifically, and at Butler, more generally, made a significant impression on me," she said during the State of the University. "Not only on what I would choose to work on, but how and with whom, and they influenced the person, parent and professional I would become in an ever-changing world."

HomecomingPeople

A Global Education

Katie Moore's career in international education has taken her to places most of us can't find on a map.

A Global Education

by Marc Allan

Acting Boldly

by Marc Allan

Xavier Colvin thought his appearance in the 2015 International Bowl was going to be his final football game. Colleges told him he wasn't big enough. So he thought maybe he'd go to Central Michigan or some other school as a student. Study Sports Administration. Come back to Indianapolis, get an MBA and figure things out from there.

Then Butler University Coach Jeff Voris called. He came to North Central High School, and sat down with Colvin and his parents.

"Suddenly," Colvin said, "football started to become a thing again. I felt like I was wanted here and I felt like there was a reason for me to be here."

The reason, it turned out, went far deeper than football. In August 2017, Colvin came out as gay in an interview with outsports.com. What he found at Butler, he said, was that he could be himself here. Everyone around him—teammates, coaches, professors, friends—supported him.

He's been sharing his story ever since, and he shared it with the Butler community on September 28 at the State of the University address.

"There are seven of us in NCAA football who are out," Colvin said. "Statistics show there's more than seven. So I would hope someone could see my story and see my situation and know that everything is going to be OK, everything can be OK. You don't have to continue to lie and not be yourself. I think that's the main reason I've done what I've done—to help the next person, that kid who's going into high school soon and trying to figure themselves out before the real world hits them."

Colvin said he would like to get to a point where individuals in the LGBT community don't have to come out; they can just be who they are.

And when he's not sharing this part of his life with others, he's busy being who he is—a Marketing major in the Lacy School of Business, a Sports and Recreational Studies minor in the College of Education. A linebacker on the football team. An operations intern at the Health and Recreation Center, his third internship (after working at the Indiana Sports Corp. and Hot Box Pizza). A senior set to graduate in May.

Down the road, he wants to work in an athletic department, maybe as an Athletic Director, or perhaps as a coach. Further down the road, he envisions himself as an NFL General Manager or Director of Operations.

But right now, he's a student who's happy he chose Butler and the Lacy School of Business. He tells his teammates who are unsure of what to major in to consider Marketing. Yes, he said, Business Calculus, Accounting, and Finance are tough courses. Internship class requires a lot of papers. And the School does require you to build a network of resources.

"But the individuals I've met through my internships who have been connected to Butler have been great," he said. "It's a small community, but once you find someone in it, it leads to positive impacts."

HomecomingStudent Life

Acting Boldly

"I felt like there was a reason for me to be here," Colvin said. The reason went far deeper than football.

Acting Boldly

by Marc Allan

To Be Greek Or Not To Be Greek

by Kyle Giebel ’20 and Rebecca VanVliet ’19

On Being Greek

By Kyle Giebel ’20

Greek Students Participating in Butler's Dance MarathonFor over one-third of Butler University students, building lasting relationships, developing skills as leaders, and organizing all-campus fundraisers through Greek Life is college at its best. With the potential to explore new experiences and activities, our chapters (five fraternities and nine sororities) plan formals and social events, perform service projects, and stay connected with alumni mentors while maintaining at least an average of 3.4 GPA. Additionally, in any given year, members of Butler’s Greek organizations contribute more than 20,000 hours in service to over 200 Indianapolis area nonprofits.

In my first year at Butler, I was dead set on being independent. I had seen movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House, and with those in mind I was certain that Greek life was not for me. Going through first semester I also struggled with my identity. In high school, I was on the swim team. Without sounding cliché, that team was truly a family, and when I came to Butler, that family was stretched too thin to be reliable anymore. I was put in a position to become whoever I wanted to be and with whomever I wanted. That freedom of choice was too much for me to handle in that moment. I resorted to the few things I knew, swimming and working out. That is where I started to develop a relationship with Adam Bantz, who was a junior at the time. This man, as I grew to know him, was everything I wanted in a friend and in a role model. I eventually learned that he was a very active member of the Greek community. This then exposed me the true nature of Butler’s Greek life. The more people I met, in fraternities and sororities, the more I realized that the Greek population on campus was a true community of families and neighbors. After meeting the right people, I was hooked.

As a Junior, I am currently the president of one of the chapters on campus. My time as a member has been such a unique and rewarding experience. It is true that most of my stresses and time commitments stem from being a part of the Greek community, but my friends and support system were developed by the same community. Under further reflection, I would rather struggle with true friends than coast with a few acquaintances.

In the end, any group or organization will give you what you put into it. I see the Greek Community as my family. Yes, I am willing to sacrifice my time, energy, and effort daily to support my family members, make a positive impact, and build those relationships that I want and sometimes need. Greek life is not for everyone, but for me it was the perfect start for my future.

 

To learn more about Greek life on campus, visit our website.


On Being Independent

Rebecca VanVliet ’19

Students Studying on the MallI might be a senior now, but I still can remember posting on the Class of 2019 Facebook page for the first time: I’m Rebecca, I’m from Ohio, and I don’t plan on rushing.

Even then, before we were technically students, we all identified by our decision on whether or not to go Greek. Now, as an Independent student by choice, I know that I am much more than my decision not to rush.

Students who don’t join Greek life are often called “unaffiliated” – but in my experience, Independent students affiliate themselves with tons of organizations on Butler’s campus. With over 130 student organizations to choose from, religion to politics, professional to social, student government to special interests and beyond, we have so, so many opportunities to get involved on campus.

Just over the past three years, I’ve tried out many of the groups that Butler has to offer, including founding a new club, restarting another, and currently serving as president in a third. I don’t feel like my decision not to rush limited my involvement in these organizations – if anything, it allowed me to dedicate myself fully to other groups that were important to me. These groups have given me leadership opportunities, social activities, and the chance to meet some of my best friends – who are both Greek and Independent.

Greek houses host regular events on campus, and most students who join Greek life are proud of their houses and their involvement, and this can sometimes lead to so much Greek presence that it can feel overwhelming to Independent students.

As a student that has been overwhelmed by this, I think it’s important to remember that the majority of Butler’s students aren’t considered Greek; whether they are commuters, athletes, dropped out of or didn’t receive a bid from a Greek house, or students like me that simply chose not to go Greek. Only about 35% of Butler’s campus chooses to join a Greek organization, which means that most Butler students are a part of the Independent community.

This community is growing, with more Independent students coming together for campus events that were typically Greek-dominated, like BUDM and Spring Sports. The past year also brought the Independent Student Council back to campus, a group of Independent students that hope to bridge the gap between the Greek and Independent communities and offer ways for Independent students to get involved. Butler has also encouraged panels and conversations about the decision to go Greek, as well as offering programming during the winter Rush Week.

Independent students are welcome at all events, and belong on Butler’s campus. Though they might not find their homes in the Greek houses along Hampton Drive, Independent students can find their home in other organizations, their residence halls, within their friend groups, or wherever else they want to belong.

 

To learn more about campus life, visit our website.

To Be Greek Or Not To Be Greek

by Kyle Giebel ’20 and Rebecca VanVliet ’19

Meet Butler’s Bulldog Beauty Queens and Kings

By Sarah Bahr

 Butler University’s beauty queens and kings lick the runway, sniff purses for cookies, and do more slobbering than Snapchatting.

But these bulldogs are no pampered pets, though some of them have the (three-dresser!) wardrobes of international pop stars.

They’re there to win.

More than 100 bulldogs are expected to compete for accolades such as “Most Beautiful” and “Best Mean Mug” at Butler’s 18th annual Bulldog Beauty Contest on Saturday, Sept. 29. The competition kicks off at 9:30 A.M. in the west end of the Hinkle Fieldhouse parking lot, and is expected to last around an hour. Admission is free for both spectators and competitors.

The contestants come from all over the country, Butler University Director of External Relations Michael Kaltenmark, who’s emceed the contest for the past 18 years, said, as Butler alumni return to their alma mater for the Homecoming Week kickoff event.

The contest has ballooned from the 50 to 100 people who attended the first event — most, Kaltenmark said, who were tailgating in the Hinkle parking lot and “happened to see us making a bunch of noise and holding bulldog puppies in the air” — to the nearly 2,500 spectators who turned up last year.

A panel of five judges — which in the past has included local celebrities such as Indianapolis Star Butler beat writer David Woods and Fox 59 chief meteorologist Brian Wilkes — selects the top dog in each category.

This year’s event features seven categories, though each dog can only enter two: “Most Beautiful Bulldog,” “Best Mean Mug,” “Best Dressed Bulldog,” “Best Bulldog/Human Tandem,” “Best Bulldog Trick,” “Most Butler Spirit,” and “Mr. & Mrs. Bulldog Congeniality.” A winner and runner-up trophy are awarded in each division.

The category champs will then vie for the top prize, “Best in Show,” which earns the winning dog bragging rights, a trophy, and a year’s supply of dog food from City Dogs Grocery in Broad Ripple.

To impress the crowd — whose “huge laughs” and “big cheers” wield an outsized influence on the judges — a dog must have not only looks, but personality, Kaltenmark said.

Kurt Phillips, the official veterinarian of the Butler Blue Live Mascot Program and longtime judge of the Bulldog Beauty Contest, said judging isn’t a science.

“It’s whatever makes us smile, or makes us laugh, or makes the audience go crazy,” he said.

So if you’ve got a French, American, or English bulldog raring to roll over, don a French Fry costume, or strut the runway, you can show up on Saturday and throw your dog’s hat into the ring.

Just don’t try to backdoor your beagle in. 

“We used to have a ‘Wannabe Bulldog’ category,” Kaltenmark said. “But we had to do away with it when the contest got so big. Now it’s bulldogs only.”

 

Step 1: Choose a Costume

Things you might see this weekend outside Hinkle Fieldhouse: Minnie Mouse licking a Chipotle burrito. A peacock sniffing a bulldozer.

You never know what’ll turn up, Kaltenmark said. It seems like people get more creative every year.

People have dressed their bulldogs in lobster suits — then donned a matching hat and claws. They’ve affixed a lion’s mane to their dog’s neck and hoisted the dog-cub over their head like Simba. Wrestled them into a shark suit. Made them up like Cleopatra.

Kaltenmark’s favorite? One man donned a red hoodie, placed his bulldog in a milk crate attached to the handlebars of a BMX bike, and covered him in a towel so he looked like E.T.

One entrant, Jodi Madaj, who owns Butler Blue III’s sister Phoebe, even roped Kaltenmark’s sons, Miles, 3, and Everett, 7, into participating in the “Best Bulldog-Human Tandem” category.

“My sons would walk these dogs up on stage in their Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes with Trip’s sister Phoebe dressed as Princess Leia, and it was too much for the judges to handle,” Kaltenmark said.

Madaj, who’s now taken home three category trophies, doesn’t shirk from enlisting strangers in her schemes, either.

When she was walking through the Butler bookstore in 2011, one employee was “getting a little cranky” about one of her bulldogs, Daphne, she said. The logical next step?

“I talked him into being Prince Charming, complete with tux, pillow, and glass slipper, in that year’s contest,” Madaj said. “Phoebe was Cinderella, and they won ‘Best Human-Dog Tandem.’”

So where does one buy a bulldog costume?

Not at Party City or Walmart, Kaltenmark said.

“We know what costume is popular at Target each year because three to five dogs show up wearing it,” Kaltenmark said. “The best costumes are either handmade or pieced together. You can’t just run out, buy a Halloween costume, and slap it on your dog and expect to win.”

 

Step 2: Master the Mean Mug

 

A bulldog can be a winner without wide eyes, wrinkly fur, or floppy ears.

“The ‘Best Mean Mug’ category is for the ugliest bulldog at the contest,” Kaltenmark said. “Not all bulldogs are good looking.”

Doug Welks, an English Bulldog breeder who’s participated in the event for the past decade, once brought a green-mohawked puppy, Mojo, who took home the pugnacious prize.

“He was a real sweetheart,” Welks said. “He just looked mean, like a ferocious teddy bear.”

But some bulldogs really are, well, curmudgeonly canines.

Butler alums Kyle Schwipps, 30, and his wife Alicia, 29, entered their 4-year-old bulldog, Beauford, last year.

While Beauford’s snarfing and scowling weren’t affronting enough to take top prize, Kyle Schwipps said his peevish pooch really is a grumpy old man at heart.

“We treated him like an only child for three years — we took him everywhere with us,” he said. “Then we had our son, Grayson, and he got thrown on the back burner.”

“Now he’s mad all the time because he’s not the center of attention anymore.”

 

Step 3: Play the Cute Card

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the cutest bulldog of them all?

Bow in her hair, a doe-eyed, tan-and-white bulldog in a blue tutu peers at the crowd with quarter-sized, glistening eyes that put Fiona the hippo’s floppy folds of flesh, stubby arms, and slack-tongued grin to shame.

“The ‘Cutest’ category is hilarious because everybody throws their dog in,” Kaltenmark said. “It takes the longest to judge because everyone thinks their bulldog is cute.”

Puppies, unsurprisingly, have a leg up on their more mature competitors.

“The younger dogs are so stinkin’ cute that they’re literally showstoppers,” he said. “But it’s tough for them to repeat as champs.”

The best part? On Saturday morning, the Hinkle parking lot becomes a “quasi-Bulldog petting zoo” for spectators, Kaltenmark said.

“We’ve got around 100 bulldogs milling about behind the stage,” he said. “People who want to pet them can walk right up, snap a picture.”

 

A Loveable Loser

 

One dog, for the past nine years, has been neither ugly nor beautiful enough to get the judges’ attention. Like elevator music, he’s been lurking in the background, neither loved nor loathed.

Wilberforce, an English bulldog owned by 2004 Butler grads Daniel Pulliam and his wife, Noelle, entered every year until his death in February at age 9. But he never got so much as a “Best Mean Mug” title.

“They got all their kids involved, but they never took home the trophy,” Kaltenmark said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Daniel Pulliam said Wilberforce — Wilber for short —- enjoyed cheese, sunbathing on the couch, and playing with his buddy Butler Blue II.

“He was kind of like Brain on ‘Pinky and the Brain,’” Pulliam said. “He was pretty laid back, like ‘What are we gonna do today?’”

Daniel and Noelle had entered Wilber in the contest every year since 2009.

“He was a puppy then, so that year was our best chance,” Pulliam said. “But we didn’t win.”

But then the Pulliams’ children entered the equation, renewing their hopes. They entered their 6-month-old daughter alongside Wilber in 2011 in the “Best Bulldog-Human Tandem” category.

“Having a bulldog and a small child is a good way to impress the judges — or so we thought,” Pulliam said.

Alas, no dice. But the Pulliams really thought they had a chance in 2017, when they entered their four children alongside Wilber as characters from “PAW Patrol.”

“It wasn’t enough,” Pulliam said. “The competition was really tough.”

Kaltenmark is considering calling the Pulliams back up to the stage this year to present Wilber with a posthumous lifetime achievement award. Though they no longer own a bulldog, they’re still planning on attending, Pulliam said.

If you too want to watch but can’t make it in person, Butler will be live streaming the contest on Blue III’s Facebook page.

And if you do want to enter, Kaltenmark said those five seconds of fame are an equal opportunity — Butler’s never had a repeat “Best in Show” winner.

“A good costume, plus preparation, plus a good dog, plus kids the past few years is a formula that’s done really well,” he said.

 

Bulldog Beauty Contest
HomecomingStudent LifeCampus

Meet Butler’s Bulldog Beauty Queens and Kings

With more than 100 bulldogs competing, the Bulldog Beauty Contest is the cutest pageant around.   

Homecoming at Butler

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

The energy of Butler University’s campus during homecoming week is unlike any other. As the leaves finally begin to turn and crisp breezes begin to blow, a certain electricity slips into the air. Decked out in blue and white, students will celebrate their pride at events throughout the week, and alumni and families will dawn their Bulldog gear on Saturday to cheer on their favorite team in the Sellick Bowl. Homecoming celebrations and events are some of the most exciting, most memorable moments of the year. From extravagant lawn decorations to the parade down Hampton Drive, members of the Butler community share their school pride with the entire campus.

“On homecoming, everyone feels that energy at Butler,” Jennie Jones, Director of Volunteer Engagement for Alumni and Family Programs said. “I think there really is something for everyone at homecoming.”

With this year’s celebration, close to 1,000 alumni will travel from near and far to celebrate their Butler experience. Nostalgia intersects with pride as graduates, young and old, reminisce about their time at Butler with their former professors and friends. Conversations about the way things were naturally evolve into discussions about the way things are and what will be.

According to Jones, for many graduates, their four years at Butler were some of the most special times in their life. “It’s important for our alumni to see how campus is evolving and growing, so they’re proud of their Butler experience and can pay that forward to other students,” she said. Whether through monetary gifts, volunteering their time, or simply by visiting campus, alumni share their experience and make connections with current students. From the Bulldog Boulevard tailgate to classroom visits in the Jordan College of the Arts, students have the chance to meet with alumni in and out of the classroom throughout the week of homecoming.

For Chris Sanders ‘19, a current student and SGA’s VP of Programming, this time of year is extremely special for all parts of the Butler community. His passion for homecoming and Butler traditions is evident in his determination to connect all students, past and present.

“The pride that I feel when I am experiencing homecoming week is something that I appreciate so much,” he said. “Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be going to such a great university, but it's weeks like this that put everything back into perspective. I hope that every student, alumni, faculty, and staff also feels the same amount of pride.”

As students prepare for an exciting weekend, they’re reminded of what it means to be a Bulldog. Some of Butler’s most recent graduates pay it forward on the Young Alumni Board. They dedicate their time to enhance every alumni’s experience post-graduation. For board member, Caleb Schmicker ‘15, homecoming is a time for him to relive many of his favorite Butler memories. He stays connected with his Alma Mater to further develop every current student’s experience. Alumni often volunteer in the community and on-campus to educate students about professional life off campus. Caleb said this is what makes Butler University so special.

“Support comes from alumni who are willing to give back because they want future students to have the same or better experience that they had,” he said. “When you feel as if you are a part of the Butler community, you have more of a vested interest in the welfare of the school.”

 

Homecoming Highlights


 

Snack Attack and Lawn Decorations

Before the start of homecoming week, Butler Greek organizations are teamed up with a residence hall to compete in a series of competitions, games, and events that showcase their school spirit. Homecoming board aims to make this year’s homecoming as inclusive as possible - ensuring all first-years feel connected and a part of something larger than themselves.

Late into Thursday night of the week, the entire campus comes to life as teams decorate their Greek house lawns according to the year’s theme. Every hour on the hour, SGA delivers a new snack food for the teams to replenish and re-energize before decorating into early Friday morning.

 

Yell Like Hell

After weeks of practice, the homecoming teams strut their stuff in front of hundreds of students at Yell Like Hell, an annual tradition celebrated by Butler students in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The team with the best Bulldog spirit and representation of the year’s theme takes home a thrilling victory. Some alumni still reminisce on their greatest wins, funniest losses, and unforgettable moments when they return to campus for the homecoming game.

Students also participate in the King and Queen competition leading up to the performance. Nominated by their peers, these students campaign throughout the week - sharing their Butler experiences and passion for the Dawgs with the entire campus.

 

Bulldog Beauty Contest

Bright and early on the day of homecoming, members of the community and their furry friends stop by Butler’s campus for the annual Bulldog Beauty Contest. Located in the heart of homecoming festivities, the contest kicks off the day with excitement and a contagious energy.  The bulldogs dress up in their finest outfits and costumes to impress the crowd and win one of the nine categories, from Best Dressed to Best Mean Mug. Every year, the competition grows in creativity as bulldog pups from near and far compete for the title of the Most Beautiful Bulldog - may the best dog win!

 

Bulldog Boulevard Tailgate

After a quick parade around campus, students head to Hinkle Fieldhouse to celebrate before the football game. Many Greek organizations, colleges, and clubs have a booth set up with food and games for current students and alumni to celebrate before kickoff. Starting in 2010, Bulldog Boulevard transformed the traditional tailgate experience into a Butler reunion and celebration for all.

 

FULL HOMECOMING 2018 SCHEDULE

Cheerleaders at Homecoming
HomecomingStudent Life

Homecoming at Butler

This exciting intersection of past and present has a little something for everyone.

Cheerleaders at Homecoming

Homecoming at Butler

By Brittany Bluthardt '20