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Lewellyn research
Innovation

Fruit Flies Could Help Scientists Understand Human Fertility

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Sep 22 2020

Even though about one in 10 individuals experience problems with fertility, the cause of infertility is often unknown. At Butler University, Lindsay Lewellyn is trying to change that.

The Associate Professor of Biological Sciences has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $413,086 over the next three years. Her research aims to learn more about how reproductive cells are normally formed, which she hopes will lead to a better understanding of how defects in their development can cause infertility.

Lewellyn, with the help of several undergraduate student-researchers, is focusing on structures called intercellular bridges. These structures aid in the formation of egg and sperm cells by connecting developing germ cells with other germ cells, or with supporting “nurse” cells. Intercellular bridges allow nutrients, proteins, and other essential materials to be shared between neighboring cells, and defects in these structures can affect development in ways that negatively impact fertility.

Using the female fruit fly as a model organism, Lewellyn’s project examines a handful of proteins involved in the development of intercellular bridges to better understand how these structures are formed and how they are able to stably connect cells during periods of significant growth. Lewellyn has already characterized four proteins she believes play a role in this process. Now, by altering the levels and localization of these proteins, she’s trying to figure out how they could work together.

“If we are able to characterize the specific roles of these proteins in the fruit fly, it’s possible that those same proteins contribute to intercellular bridge formation and stability in humans,” Lewellyn says, explaining how this research could impact our understanding of human fertility. “What’s really nice about using the fruit fly as a model is that in the developing fruit fly egg, these intercellular bridges are relatively large and easy to see.”

But of course they’re still small—only about 10 micrometers wide at most—so Lewellyn says the research team spends a lot of time at microscopes. After extracting the fly ovaries, researchers add stains and use fluorescence microscopes to help them see the proteins they’re looking for.

In offering opportunities for students to join her research lab, Lewellyn hopes to provide valuable experience in these and other common lab techniques. But she says this kind of research also teaches transferable skills that can be applied outside the lab, including critical thinking and communication.

Lindsay Lewellyn, along with student-researchers Josephine Thestrup, Kara Stark, and Umy Shaikh, attended a research conference in Washington, DC last year. 

For Umy Shaikh, a senior who has been involved with Lewellyn’s research for more than two years, improving his ability to think critically has been a central part of the experience.

“In addition to all the technical skills—which is definitely huge—I’ve learned to think like a scientist and a researcher,” says Shaikh, who majors in Spanish and minors in Chemistry and Communication. “The mindset and mentality needed for this work has been just as, if not more, important than the actual technical skills. By constantly asking new questions, I’m able to grow in the way I conduct research, and to grow in the way I approach problems.”

Shaikh decided to pursue biological research to help prepare him for medical school, which has been his goal since arriving at Butler. He was drawn to Lewellyn’s lab because of the potential impacts of her research within the field of medicine.

“The big-picture goal of the lab is really to understand the mechanisms that lead to infertility, which is a very pervasive problem in the world,” Shaikh says. “Seeing that that was the cornerstone of her research really spoke to me because I want to effect meaningful change in any way I can.”

 

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

Lewellyn research
Innovation

Fruit Flies Could Help Scientists Understand Human Fertility

Lindsay Lewellyn, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, has received more than $400,000 from the NIH to study the development of reproductive cells

Sep 22 2020 Read more
cancer research at Butler University
Innovation

Butler Pharmacy Prof Receives $1.39M NIH Grant to Support Cancer Research

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Sep 03 2020

Over the next five years, Dr. Chioniso Patience Masamha will be studying the ways cancer cells multiply. The Butler University Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who received a grant for $1,394,125 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), hopes this project will lead to more effective strategies for detecting and treating the disease.

Cancer works by hijacking normal processes within the body, taking advantage of existing functions to cause the excessive multiplication of cells. Some of the same structures that allow our bodies to survive can be mutated in life-threatening ways. Normal, healthy genes that have the potential to become cancerous are called oncogenes.

Cyclin D1, the oncogene Dr. Masamha is focusing on for this research, normally plays an important role in driving cell progression and multiplication. In healthy cells, cyclin D1 only “turns on” when it is needed—such as when the body has been injured and needs to heal itself—then “turns off” when it is no longer needed.

When cancer hijacks this gene, it essentially removes the off switch. The cyclin D1 goes into overdrive, causing cells to continue dividing and growing uncontrollably. Abnormal cyclin D1  expression is common across several types of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, and endometrial cancer, among others.

“When cyclin D1 is normally expressed in cells,” Dr. Masamha explains, “it is usually degraded within 30 minutes. However, in cancer cells, cyclin D1 can survive for up to eight hours without being degraded.”

We know this happens, but we don’t know how. So Dr. Masamha’s research studies the specific sequences of cyclin D1 expressed in cancer cells, as well as the proteins involved in processing cyclin D1, to try to understand the mechanisms that lead to the oncogene’s abnormal overexpression.

Dr. Masamha will look specifically at cyclin D1’s relationship to a type of lethal blood cancer called Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). Why MCL? This type of cancer originates in the B-cell, a white blood cell that creates antibodies. In healthy B-cells, cyclin D1 is never actually active at all. But in cancerous B-cells, not only is the cyclin D1 active, it’s overactive—leading to the aggressive growth of cancer cells. This is associated with reduced survival in MCL patients.

Dr. Masamha believes the mechanisms that cause cancerous B-cells to activate their otherwise-dormant cyclin D1 could be the same mechanisms that put cyclin D1 into overdrive.

“If we figure out why cyclin D1 is expressed in this particular type of cancer,” she says, “then maybe we can try to target that mechanism that results in cyclin D1 overexpression in this and other types of cancers.”

In addition to determining how cyclin D1 becomes expressed in cancerous B-cells in the first place, Dr. Masamha aims to discover the consequences of the resulting cyclin D1-driven hyperproliferation—or multiplication—of tumor cells.

Healthy B-cells generate antibodies through a process of breaking apart chromosomes and putting them back together. In cancerous B-cells, increased cell division due to abnormal cyclin D1 expression makes it more likely that the broken chromosome pieces will end up reattaching to the wrong chromosomes.

The result is the formation of something called fusion genes, which are made up of DNA sequences that don’t belong together.

We know fusion genes happen frequently in MCL, but we don’t yet know exactly what they look like, or how to systematically detect them. Dr. Masamha’s project will use third-generation sequencing technology, allowing her to look at the full DNA sequences of individual genes and identify which types of fusion genes are present. Her findings could provide crucial information for both the diagnosis and treatment of cancers involving the abnormal expression of cyclin D1.

“If you can detect fusion genes early enough—so if you sequence someone’s DNA before they even get cancer and find fusion genes—you can know that those fusion genes might end up resulting in cancer,” she says, explaining that this could help identify preventative therapies. “Or, if the person already has cancer and you can detect what kind of fusion genes they have, you can identify which drugs would provide the best treatment.”

 

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

cancer research at Butler University
Innovation

Butler Pharmacy Prof Receives $1.39M NIH Grant to Support Cancer Research

Dr. Chioniso Patience Masamha will study an oncogene commonly linked to Mantle Cell Lymphoma and other types of cancer

Sep 03 2020 Read more
ethics series
Innovation

New Podcasts from Lacy School of Business Ethics Series Focus on Fighting Racism, Social Injustice

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 26 2020

The Lacy School of Business (LSB) Ethics Series podcast, presented by Old National Bank, is devoting its next episodes to local community leaders committed to combating issues of racial and social injustice in the Indianapolis community and beyond.

“These episodes will explore ways that businesses and educators can make a difference,” says Hilary Buttrick, Interim Dean for LSB and host of the podcast. “We believe that being an ethical leader means acknowledging injustices and actively working to correct them. We have an obligation to prepare students to be leaders in organizations that are inclusive and offer a place of belonging for all people, regardless of background.”

The series kicks off with a conversation featuring Brian Payne, President and CEO of the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF). The organization works to mobilize people, ideas, and investments to create a community where all individuals have an equitable opportunity to reach their full potential. Under Payne’s leadership, CICF has made dismantling systemic racism in Central Indiana a multi-generational commitment.

“We are really trying to dismantle racist systems and replace them with systems built on principles of equity… and understanding the DNA of a system is really important,” Payne says on the podcast. “The DNA of America is business, and capitalism tends to overwhelm democracy. Businesses are hugely powerful in America, and if we want to change systemic racism, we have to do that with business.”

The full conversation between Payne and Buttrick is available now. Future episodes in the social justice series will feature Jennifer Pope Baker, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, and other community leaders.

This is the second set of episodes within the LSB Ethics Series podcast, following one earlier this year that focused on the effects of COVID-19. The podcast’s episodes can be found on Spotify, BuzzSprout, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and TuneIn.

 

About Lacy School of Business Ethics Series, presented by Old National Bank:
This podcast is part of LSB’s continuing journey to become the Midwest’s leader in Business Ethics Education and Ethical Leadership by offering free educational events to students, alumni, and the business community. Our goal is to exemplify ethical practice and leadership development for our students, future leaders, and the community as a whole. 

 

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

ethics series
Innovation

New Podcasts from Lacy School of Business Ethics Series Focus on Fighting Racism, Social Injustice

The first episode, available now, features CICF President and CEO Brian Payne

Aug 26 2020 Read more
Innovation

Butler, Old National Partner to Support Businesses Owned by Underrepresented Groups

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 12 2020

Evansville & Indianapolis, Ind. (August 12, 2020) – The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence—a partnership between Butler University and Old National Bank—is proud to announce an initiative geared toward strengthening and supporting businesses owned by underrepresented groups throughout Indiana. 

The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence at Butler University (ONB Center), which was established to connect privately held companies with the resources and support they need to succeed, will waive its annual membership fee of $1,000 for the first year for companies that meet the following criteria:

  • Privately held companies, headquartered in Indiana, with majority ownership (51% or more) by an underrepresented population. This includes the following business owner categories: all people of color; women; LGBTQ+ individuals; veterans; and individuals with disabilities
  • Annual revenues between $1 million and $50 million. Companies with revenues less than $1 million will be referred to the Small Business Development Center to better match needs and resources.

 

This initiative was born out of a conversation between Mark McFatridge, Executive Director for the ONB Center, and Butler student Victor Aguilar, an intern at the Center. Shortly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Aguilar approached McFatridge to ask whether the ONB Center would be issuing a public statement related to the situation.

“It was simply a question to see if we were going to release anything official, and that sparked the development of this program,” explained Aguilar. “I never imagined this outcome.”

“It’s no surprise that this initiative was sparked by the social consciousness and passion of one of our Butler students,” said Butler President James Danko. “Furthermore, I applaud the ONB Center’s executive director, Mark McFatridge, for his efforts to foster such student leaders as well as an innovative and socially responsible initiative such as this. Victor, Mark, Old National Bank, and our partners are among many throughout the University who are working diligently to live Butler’s mission both on our campus and in the community.”  

Old National Chairman and CEO Jim Ryan said this initiative is a logical extension of the ongoing partnership between Old National and Butler.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do to support Indiana’s underrepresented business owners and the clients they serve,” said Ryan. “We are incredibly proud to partner with Butler on this program.”

 

Phased Program Roll-out

To ensure that the ONB Center can appropriately service the potential demand, the initiative will be rolled out in phases. However, demand from business owners may cause the Center to adjust these dates.

  • Phase One (August 12, 2020 – July 31, 2021): focus on Black-owned businesses in Marion County
  • Phase Two (January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021): focus on all businesses owned by people of color and headquartered in Indiana
  • Phase Three (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022): focus on women- and LGBTQ+-owned businesses headquartered in Indiana
  • Phase Four (January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022): focus on businesses headquartered in Indiana and owned by veterans or individuals with disabilities

 

Upon registering for the initiative here, ONB Center member companies will receive the following:

 

Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence - Official Statement Condemning Racism While Providing Assistance
The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence is a partnership between Butler University and Old National Bank, two of Indiana’s longest-standing and most respected institutions. The partnership was established to assist privately held companies in achieving their goals. This assistance is based on connecting member companies to resources necessary to achieve those goals. 

While the ONB Center does not discriminate in who we serve, we have not placed the appropriate focus and attention on seeking out member companies owned or managed by the underrepresented populations that help make Indianapolis and the state of Indiana great.

Butler University and Old National Bank condemn racism and hold the fundamental belief that our respective services should be available to all—regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation.

 

ABOUT BUTLER UNIVERSITY
Butler University is a nationally recognized comprehensive university encompassing six colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Approximately 4,600 undergraduate and 800 graduate students are enrolled at Butler, representing 45 states and 30 countries. More than 75 percent of Butler students will participate in some form of internship, and Butler students have had significant success after graduation, as demonstrated by the University’s 98 percent placement rate within six months of graduation. The University was recently listed as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest, according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, in addition to being included in The Princeton Review’s annual “best colleges” guidebook.

 

ABOUT OLD NATIONAL
Old National Bancorp (NASDAQ: ONB), the holding company of Old National Bank, is the largest bank holding company headquartered in Indiana. With $22.1 billion in assets, it ranks among the top 100 banking companies in the U.S. and has been recognized as a World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute for nine consecutive years. Since its founding in Evansville in 1834, Old National Bank has focused on community banking by building long-term, highly valued partnerships and keeping our clients at the center of all we do. This is an approach to business that we call The ONB Way. Today, Old National’s footprint includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In addition to providing extensive services in retail and commercial banking, Old National offers comprehensive wealth management, investment, and capital market services. For more information and financial data, please visit Investor Relations at oldnational.com.

 

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

 


 

Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative
Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the overriding goal of the ONB Center’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative?
Our goal is to play a role in reducing the wealth gap of underrepresented groups.

 

How can the ONB Center accomplish that goal?
The ONB Center’s mission is to help privately held companies be successful.  With a more intentional focus on recruiting Member companies from underrepresented groups, we believe that those Members will continue to grow in size and profitability which will yield higher wages and more investment in underrepresented markets.  Higher wages lead to opportunities for investments in education, housing and stock ownership (either public or private firms), all are keys to reducing the wealth gap.

 

How does the ONB Center help privately held companies be successful?
The core of the ONB Center is the Member assessment.  The assessment is a survey that focuses on the following areas of each company:

  • Organization Structure
  • Accounting & Financial Reporting
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Human Capital
  • Talent
  • Legal
  • Capitalization & Financing
  • Risk & Insurance
  • Information Technology
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Competitors
  • Long Term Goals

 

By better understanding these elements of each Member company, we are able to offer observations to help them achieve their definition of success.  Additionally, we are able to make connections with Accredited Partners that can provide insight and assistance in achieving success. 

The ONB Center Members also benefit from peer interaction.  This interaction comes in a variety of ways from Executive Forums, Peer Happy Hours, our monthly eNewsletter – The Connection, our peer to peer platform – The Hub and other educational events and resources.

 

What are Accredited Partners?
Accredited Partners are experts in their field that have been vetted by the ONB Center to ensure that they provide excellent work and service for our Member companies.  Our Accredited Partners fall into one of twelve categories:

Accounting                      
Banking                                  
Risk & Insurance             
Benefits & Compensation             
Law                                           
Sales                                          
Capital Acquisition         
Information Technology
Investments                        
Human Capital                   
Marketing                             
Operational Consulting

 

Who are your Accredited Partners?
Old National Bank         
Katz, Sapper Miller        
Donovan CPAs                          
MCM CPAs
IceMiller                          
Krieg DeVault                  
Green Loop Marketing           
Bose McKinney & Evans
ADVISA                            
The Catalyst Effect         
First Person                               
Impact Financial Group
The Mako Group            
MJ Insurance                   
Spry Brands                               
Leaf Software                 
Media Fuel                      
Valve & Meter                 
Wilcox & Associates                
Ambassador Enterprises
Little Engine Ventures                                              
Edge Business Strategies             
Crossroads Business Solutions                              
Promethius Consulting
Indiana Business Advisors                               
WestPoint Financial Group             

 

How are your Accredited Partners involved in the ONB Center Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative?
Each of our Accredited Partners have identified ways in which they can provide additional benefits to our newest Members.  Some of these benefits can be reflected in reduced pricing, counseling or contributions that will have a lasting effect on closing the existing wealth gap for underrepresented groups.

 

Who else is partnering with the ONB Center on this initiative?
The Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has committed $150,000 in funding to assist our newest Members with accessing resources from our Accredited Partners.  Additionally, the SBDC will provide resources to companies with annual revenues less than $1 million or entrepreneurs who are interested in starting up a company.

Mid States Minority Supplier Development Council (Mid-States MSDC) certifies, develops, connects and advocates minority-owned companies.  MSMSDC will offer our newest Member companies free membership and serves as a referral source to identify Members and Accredited Partners for the ONB Center. Recently, Old National announced a partnership with MSMSDC and Bankable that provides unique, flexible financing solutions and business development resources to MSMSDC-certified Minority Business Enterprises within Indiana. Old National is providing $50,000 in funding to launch the partnership with an emphasis on broadening economic development and financial empowerment initiatives among diverse businesses and geographies.

Indy Black Chamber of Commerce advocates for Black-owned businesses in central Indiana.  The Indy Black Chamber has offered our newest Member companies free membership and serves as a referral source to identify Members and Accredited Partners for the ONB Center.

Bankable is a nonprofit lender that provides access to capital, financial education and economic resources to build healthy small businesses.

Conscious Capitalism Indianapolis (CCI) helps companies grow by producing positive results in performance, in their associates’ engagement, and in their communities.  CCI has offered our newest Member companies to join as Future Champions at no cost for their first year and serves as a referral source to identify Members and Accredited Partners for the ONB Center. 

Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce empowers business to ensure all have the opportunity to succeed in the Indianapolis region.  The Indy Chamber provides access for our Members to capital, peer networking and other economic development initiatives and serves as a referral source to identify Members and Accredited Partners for the ONB Center.

Innovation

Butler, Old National Partner to Support Businesses Owned by Underrepresented Groups

ONB Center to waive membership fee for companies owned by people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and individuals with disabilities

Aug 12 2020 Read more
Butler University Libraries, Center for Academic Technology, PALNI grant, Digital 3D objects from photogrammetry
Innovation

Butler Team Preserves, Improves Access to Artifacts through 3D Digital Replicas

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Jul 24 2020

Butler University is home to more than 100 artifacts and fine art pieces, including several three-dimensional works such as sculptures, jewelry, and clothing. Scattered across campus, some of these items fill display cases while others are stowed away for safekeeping. Many of the artifacts have been studied for educational purposes, providing visual examples for courses in art history or anthropology.

But the need to preserve objects that are hundreds of years old means most physical artifacts need to stay put in one place. Even if a piece is out on display, studying it closely means trekking a class of students across campus and crowding together to peer through the glass. And that’s just if you’re already on campus—a luxury not available to all who want to see the art up close, especially in a socially distanced world.

Over the last year, Butler Libraries and the Center for Academic Technology have teamed up to find a way to simultaneously protect these artifacts while making them more accessible to the community. The work was part of a project funded by a grant of more than $5,000 from the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI), which supports collaboration between member schools.

The project was led by Olivia MacIsaac, Digital Scholarship Library Associate, and Kristen Allen, Academic Technology Specialist, who started by researching options for digitizing the art collections. They learned about a process called photogrammetry.

 

 

By stitching together a series of high-quality photos taken from all sides of each object, photogrammetry creates detailed digital replicas. The end products—which can now be accessed online in Butler’s Digital Collections—are like three-dimensional panorama images that can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

It’s not a new process, but it’s one that often carries a big price tag, requiring expensive camera equipment and computer software. So, as part of its goal to minimize financial pressures for small universities, PALNI charged the Butler team with finding a lower-cost workflow that can be applied at libraries across Indiana.

Thanks in large part to hours of work from Tatum Turner, a rising senior majoring in History and Anthropology, Butler has now created 3D digital objects of nearly 20 art pieces from its collections (though only the first 10 were part of the PALNI-funded project). The team succeeded in developing a low-cost scanning process, swapping pricey gadgets for free apps like Focos, which allowed them to capture detailed images using an iPad camera. Even with some larger purchases, including a high-powered graphics card, the team found a way to replicate their process for just over $2,000.

“This project has shown me that digital humanities is insanely experimental right now,” says Turner, who was responsible for taking photos and trying out new technologies. “The marriage of humanities and technology is something that is incredibly necessary for archival purposes and future generations, as more things can’t withstand the test of time. It also makes things more accessible.”

Now, this low-cost, sustainable solution can be shared with other private universities throughout the state. After streamlining their own workflow, the Butler team created a Canvas training course that others can use to replicate the process.

“Creating 3D objects often seems daunting to librarians with physical collections,” MacIsaac says. “I’m hoping once they learn about the benefits of photogrammetry and the details you can capture with it, this will be a method they can use regularly instead of some of the other methods that cost a lot more money or require more expertise. I hope this empowers other schools to do this kind of work.”

 

 

The free online course, which anyone can request access to use, starts by walking students through the equipment and techniques they’ll need to create their own 3D digital objects. Users then learn how to edit the photos of their artifact, adjusting the lighting and removing the background before using 3D imaging software to build the digital replica. To wrap things up, the course shows users how to finalize their 3D models and record all necessary data, choosing the best online platform where the digitized artifacts can be stored and accessed.

“I’ve been really excited to already see the impact of the educational component we created, and that we will be able to partner with faculty and make this available to Butler students,” Allen says.

“This technology and this method has been used for years,” MacIsaac adds, “but it’s just now becoming a standard skill that’s needed in fields like archaeology. This is more important than ever as artifacts are destroyed or lost. We need to capture this information while we can, so developing these skills is really important.”

 

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

Butler University Libraries, Center for Academic Technology, PALNI grant, Digital 3D objects from photogrammetry
Innovation

Butler Team Preserves, Improves Access to Artifacts through 3D Digital Replicas

The grant-funded project found low-cost ways to scan and share physical artworks through a method called photogrammetry

Jul 24 2020 Read more
Blueprint 2020
Innovation

Grad Students from Butler's College of Education Create Guide to Help Schools Reopen

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 30 2020

INDIANAPOLIS—Cohort members from Butler University's educational leadership graduate program, the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP), have announced the release of Blueprint 2020: A Guidebook for School Leaders Moving Forward

The resource guide is designed to support education leaders as they envision the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 academic year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduate students conducted research and met with locally and nationally recognized experts in the field of education, as well as prominent community members, researchers, and policy makers. Experts included:

  • Katie Jenner, Senior Education Advisor to Governor Eric Holcomb
  • David Marcotte, Executive Director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association 
  • Christopher Lagoni, Executive Director of the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association
  • Patrick McAlister, Director of the Office of Education Innovation, Indianapolis Mayor's Office 
  • Lori Desautels, Butler University Assistant Professor, Educational Neuroscience
  • Brandon Brown, CEO, The Mind Trust
  • Phil Downs, Superintendent, Southwest Allen County Schools; IAPSS Indiana Superintendent of the Year

 

The graduate students formed teams to focus on different educational areas impacted by reopening, such as remediation, testing, equity, technology, athletics, community, instruction, and others. Based on the research and conversations, students proposed several key findings that school leaders can keep in mind as they move forward with their reopening plans. A few key recommendations include:

  • Operations: Have a decision-making framework that suits the individual district.
  • Finance: Utilize CARES Act funding to address pressing needs, and have a vision for how to budget when this resource is no longer available.
  • International: Use case studies from other countries that have had successful responses in school environments. 
  • Diagnostics/Assessment: Develop an assessment plan addressing student well-being, priority standards, and student growth.
  • Technology: Urge state legislatures to make broadband internet a necessary utility to ensure access for all. 
  • Remediation: Use a multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) in planning remediation, which all students will need at varying levels this year. 
  • Parent Communication: Emphasize providing support and facilitating engagement with parents, rather than merely communicating with them, as parents are now partners more than ever.
  • Equity: Do not create the students' narratives for them. Take into account different experiences during shutdown, and account for culture, race, and financial background.

 

You can find the full EPPSP Blueprint here.

 

Media contact:
Chasadee Minton
Butler University College of Education
Program Coordinator, Marketing
cminton@butler.edu
317-940-9684

Blueprint 2020
Innovation

Grad Students from Butler's College of Education Create Guide to Help Schools Reopen

Cohort members from the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP) have released Blueprint 2020: A Guidebook for School Leaders Moving Forward

Jun 30 2020 Read more
esports
Innovation

Esports Provide Connection and Competition for Students During COVID-19

BY John Dedman

PUBLISHED ON May 06 2020

Playing pick-up games at the Health and Recreation Complex (HRC). Tossing a Frisbee or football on the quad outside Jordan Hall. Donning a jersey and lining up on the intramural fields.

As the month of March arrived on the Butler University campus and students planned to return from spring break, images like these filled hopes for the second half of the semester. But then the COVID-19 pandemic adjusted daily life in almost every corner of the world, and these moments never came to be. Instead, students transitioned to virtual instruction with the closing of classrooms and campus housing facilities.

Lost amid the pandemic were not only many of those opportunities to relieve stress through competition, but also those opportunities to connect with classmates through recreation.

But one way that some members of the Butler community have been able to remain connected is through esports, a growing activity on Butler’s campus.

Junior Luke Renchik is president of Butler’s esports club, and he’s also a member of Butler’s varsity esports team, which competes against other BIG EAST universities.

“It’s been really nice to feel a part of Butler while I’m physically away from campus,” says Renchik, who returned home to Michigan during the pandemic. “It’s been a good social outlet while I’m isolated.”

When Renchik notices that one of the club’s 90 members is online, he often joins them for a game. It allows him to chat with friends even when they can’t be together in person.

Butler’s varsity team began competing against BIG EAST universities in the spring of 2018. Butler’s team helped organize similar groups on other BIG EAST campuses to launch formal championships in several titles, including League of Legends and Rocket League.

The second half of the BIG EAST League of Legends season was adjusted due to the pandemic, but it was still played, and the spring BIG EAST Rocket League season continued without a hitch.

Normally, Butler’s 12 varsity players would gather to compete in the new Esports and Gaming Center in Atherton Union. Instead, Butler’s team members each play from their respective homes, but they are still connected.

“It was definitely different,” says Renchik. “We missed the energy, not all being in the same room, but we were able to exist as a team when so many other sports and teams didn’t have an opportunity to finish their season.”

Bailey Finocchio is Butler’s Assistant Director of Recreation & Wellness, Club Sports. Many of her responsibilities revolve around providing intramural sports opportunities for Butler students. During the fall semester, nearly 600 students participated in intramural sports. With students scheduled to return from spring break, another season of competition was about to begin full-throttle.

Basketball pool play had concluded, and the tournament bracket was set. Soccer, softball, badminton, lawn games, and more were set to begin. And then… students didn’t return to campus.

Finocchio had previously discussed the implementation of esports championships into intramurals with Eric Kammeyer, Butler’s Director of Esports and Gaming Technology. With the pandemic taking away so many other opportunities, it seemed like the right time.

“We knew that traditional programming wasn’t going to work, so we turned to esports,” said Finocchio. “We were already looking at options for esports to be included in intramurals, maybe a tournament over a weekend. But the pandemic allowed us to launch something more.”

Thirty-two participants signed up to play in three separate leagues: Rocket League, FIFA 20, and NBA2K 20. Three-week leagues were run simultaneously, with top performers feeding into playoffs.

“Most of the participants had previously participated in our traditional programming,” said Finocchio. “We were able to provide them with an outlet to still compete and interact with their classmates. It is something that we will look to continue as part of our intramural offerings.”

Senior Zach Sterrett was one of the students who made the transition from the traditional field to the e-field. Sterrett is a member of Butler’s club soccer team, which plays against club teams from other universities. While their season predominantly takes place in the fall, the portion of the calendar after spring break is normally filled with weekly practices and several matches against regional opponents. When his season was unexpectedly canceled, Sterrett took advantage of the opportunity provided by intramural esports.

“The intramural esports league gave me a chance to stay in touch with soccer and a way to show my competitive spirit,” says Sterrett. “When our games and practices were taken away, this was still a way to play soccer. It was a different outlet, and a lot of fun.”

esports
Innovation

Esports Provide Connection and Competition for Students During COVID-19

While spring intramural sports and other on-campus activities disappeared, some Bulldogs turned to online gaming

May 06 2020 Read more
Wendy Meaden with SWAG gowns
Innovation

Butler Theatre Gives Health Professionals SWAG

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 22 2020

Butler Theatre faculty and staff are utilizing their skills and passion to keep healthcare professionals safe worldwide.

The Indianapolis-born Safer With A Gown (SWAG) project is helping remedy isolation gown shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic by urging home-crafters to download their medical isolation gown patterns. Butler Costume Shop Manager Megan Wiegand, Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden, and Deborah Jo Barrett, Production and Stage Manager for the Jordan College of Arts, joined the collective in mid-March. Meaden drafted the gown pattern, which is to be printed out and pieced together as a blueprint similar to purchased patterns from a fabric store. When finished, the isolation gowns would be donated to a community healthcare facility.

Wendy Meaden at home
Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden prepares to creat another SWAG gown at home.

The SWAG website states “that these gowns are critical to the safety of doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and home health care workers to keep them safe when they are in close contact with patients.

So far, SWAG has received more than 2,500 downloads. The organizers received word that some expert-level sewers have crafted several gowns. So much stitching adds up.

"I have made only a handful of gowns for SWAG," Meaden says, "but if each of the 2,000 people who downloaded the pattern made only one gown, or two, it would make a huge difference."

Wiegand digitized the work, making it downloadable as a PDF. 

Meaden says the gown’s design would take a novice sewer about an hour to prepare the pattern and two hours to sew together. More experienced crafters can get it done in half that time. Of course, the more gowns you make, the quicker the process becomes.

“I’ve noticed as I’ve been sharing this pattern around,” Meaden says, “so many people really want to help in any way they can. I think we all feel good about creating something that is very satisfying. That’s one of the reasons I got into design.”

Most SWAG stitchers have used bolts of fabric or lightly used or new bed sheets as gown material. Meaden recommends tightly-woven cotton or a cotton polyester blend for best protection.

“Cotton is the most comfortable for the wearer,” Meaden says. “The poly blend will make a little better of a barrier.”

Butler Theatre joined SWAG in mid March thanks to Barrett, who is friends with the Indianapolis family that came up with the idea. As soon as she heard of the need to draft a gown pattern for the project, Barrett immediately thought of Wiegand and Meaden.

“There wasn’t a moment of hesitation from Wendy and Megan,” Barrett says. “Our first line medical professions need all the help they can get and I just think it’s wonderful that there’s this opportunity that the public can help.”

Dr. Deanna Willis, an Indianapolis family physician and primary care doctor, is the aunt and mother of some of the young SWAG starters. She says most factory-made gowns are going to large hospitals nationwide. The shortages are being felt most in smaller healthcare facilities like urgent care clinics and homecare programs.

“Microdroplets can stay suspended in the air quite a while,” Willis says. “These gowns provide a really important source of protection for those folks.”

Meaden consulted with Willis in the gown’s design, and Willis says she was impressed with their approach. They asked questions about medical professionals’ activities during shifts.

“It’s designed to be simple, not a lot of ties for taking on and off,” says Willis, also a Professor of Family Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "They really understand that the garments must be functional. The choice of materials, how they are constructed, and how they are worn are all part of that."

 

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

Wendy Meaden with SWAG gowns
Innovation

Butler Theatre Gives Health Professionals SWAG

Members of the program lent their skills for Indianapolis’ Safer With A Gown project for healthcare workers during COVID-19

Apr 22 2020 Read more
Katelyn Penry will graduate in three years.
Innovation

Several Butler Programs to Launch Three-Year Frameworks This Fall

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 08 2020

Finishing college a year early usually requires a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck in scheduling classes, and—perhaps most of all—a drive to succeed.

Katelyn Penry, an Actuarial Science junior set to graduate in 2021 after three years of study, says all the work has been worth it.

Before ever starting her first year at Butler, Penry completed more than 30 college credits through high school dual credit classes and community college courses. Those incoming credits were key to Penry’s decision to graduate early, letting her build a three-year schedule that still includes a minor in Risk Management and Insurance, along with a summer internship at State Farm.

While Penry’s three-year plan was built specifically for her needs, several Butler programs will soon offer official, three-year alternatives with clearer routes to an early finish. Six majors in the College of Communication and 26 programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will offer three-year frameworks as an option from the start for incoming students. The structures should make the pathway feel more valid and achievable for students who hadn’t already planned to graduate early.

“By letting people know that this kind of approach exists,” says Provost Kathryn Morris, “it may be helpful to recruit on the front end but it also helps support students with options while they are here.”

Why finish early?

For Penry, graduating early means the opportunity to start her career as soon as possible.

“I’m excited to get out into the workplace,” she says. “It has given me something to look forward to.”

Saving a year’s worth of tuition expenses can also be a major appeal of official three-year pathways to commencement.

“We’re trying to respond to concerns about the cost of higher education in general, and of a Butler education in particular,” says Jay Howard, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We want to make a Butler education available to everybody. One way to make it more affordable is to help students get through in three years.”

Graduating early doesn’t take away from the Butler experience, Howard says. All plans allow for internships, and three-year plans will have room for study abroad options once travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.

“Students who are enterprising, organized, and on top of it have been able to graduate in three years for a long time,” Howard says. “We felt it was important to support those students—provide greater guidance, a little more structure, and better advice along the way to help them achieve this goal.”

Melinda Peterson
English senior Melinda Peterson is set to graduate in the fall after three years.

When English senior Melinda Peterson graduates this fall after three years at Butler, she will have spent two weeks studying in Ireland and Scotland, and she will have completed three internships. Peterson has also found time to work for Tanglewood Publishing in downtown Indianapolis. 

“For the most part, my schedule has been fairly manageable,” says Peterson, who is the editor-in-chief of Butler’s undergraduate literary magazine, Manuscripts. “After just a little bit of planning, I could see where I wanted to go. After that, it was just ‘sit down, work hard, and keep sight of what you want to do.’”

Blueprints for success

Butler’s Spanish program was one of the first to put its three-year option into print. Alex Quintanilla, Chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, has developed similar options for the French and German majors, as well. These programs give incoming students the chance to skip introductory classes by passing placement exams.

“The more you already know about the language, the shorter your college program will be,” Quintanilla says. “We want students to know that if they want to graduate sooner, they can do it.”

Quintanilla’s plan allows plenty of time for study abroad opportunities, and it offers upper-level classes online during the summer.

In the College of Communication, programs for Journalism, Music Industry Studies, Web Design and Development, Critical Communication and Media Studies, Human Communication and Organizational Leadership, and Strategic Communication: Public Relations and Advertising will all have official three-year plans by this fall. Dean Brooke Barnett expects the option of finishing in three years to be very appealing for incoming students.

“Some students are just ready to enter their careers sooner,” Barnett says.

Still a full experience

About halfway to her graduation goal, Penry says she is receiving a full Butler experience, despite her busy schedule. She was able to work in the Gamma Iota Sigma office, attend Bible study, and cheer on Butler’s basketball teams at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Plus, she doesn’t feel any less prepared to succeed in her career.

“Through my major and all of the experiences Butler provides, I’m taking classes that are really preparing me for the industry,” Penry says. “I still feel like I’m getting the best out of my college experience.”

 

Three-year programs for fall 2020

Starting in fall 2020, the colleges of Communication and Liberal Arts and Sciences will offer official three-year pathways as options for incoming students. Here are the programs that are participating in the three-year option:

  • Communication—Journalism, Music Industry Studies, Web Design and Development, Critical Communication and Media Studies, Human Communication and Organizational Leadership, and Strategic Communication: Public Relations and Advertising
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences—Actuarial Science, Anthropology, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Criminology, Classics, Computer Science, English (Literature track), Environmental Studies, French, German, History, International Studies, Mathematics, Peace and Conflict Studies, Physics, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, Software Engineering, Spanish, Statistics, and Science, Technology, and Society

 

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

Katelyn Penry will graduate in three years.
Innovation

Several Butler Programs to Launch Three-Year Frameworks This Fall

The options will provide clearer pathways to early graduation for incoming students

Apr 08 2020 Read more
illustration of businessmen being protected
Innovation

Butler’s Risk Management and Insurance Program Authors Pandemic Act to Bolster Economy

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 02 2020

A case study on PayPal, completed by Butler University undergraduates in 2017, could help save the U.S. economy in 2020.

Zach Finn, Clinical Professor and Director of the Davey Risk Management and Insurance program at Butler, and some of his former students have developed the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA). If passed, the legislation would provide a reinsurance backstop to cover losses in the insurance sector due to future pandemic outbreaks, such as the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. The act has already been adopted by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, which is calling for its passing in Washington, DC.

zach finn
Zach Finn

The policy combines the students’ 2017 case study work on mitigation and monetization of global cyber risk—essentially, steps to reduce the negative effects of threats and disasters on business continuity—with a framework similar to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The students studied the possibility of a black swan—a rare, unpredictable event with severe consequences that would lead to a cyber shutdown in America. Their solution was the development of a hypothetical Cyber Risk Insurance Act, which would protect the United States against the financial impacts of a widespread cyber-attack. The idea and research were meant to urge a federal backstop for uninsured losses resulting from the shutdown of large portions of the economy. 

Now, the PRIA draws on that concept. It would create a federal backstop—or last-resort financial support—for future, and possibly even current, losses that companies would face from a pandemic event. Finn sent the act to Indiana and federal governments in mid-March, and it has already landed on desks in the White House and Congress.

“We will never have a March Madness again unless the government backstops it,” Finn says. “The PRIA would allow businesses to have a fair shot of getting coverage in the case of a pandemic. No insurance companies would take this on now, so that kind of protection would require an act like this. Without a backstop, what happens if we have to shut down every 10 years like this? What if we have to shut down every three years like this?”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, explains her support of the PRIA, “By requiring higher capital and liquidity buffers, banks are well-positioned to continue lending and play an important countercyclical role. However, America’s consumers, small businesses, and vulnerable populations are suffering. It is time for a policy and fiscal response to address their needs.”

Finn says the act would protect venues from losing revenue due to the cancellation of large events like the NCAA basketball tournament. It would also lessen the ripple effect that major event losses can have on area businesses.

“If you’re running a major convention center or something like Lucas Oil Stadium,” Finn says, “it would be a completely common professional standard that they would offer pandemic insurance.”

The PRIA could also provide an alternative to federal government bailouts, Finn continues. Businesses do take advantage of business interruption insurance, but that only covers events like fire, lightning, or wind. Business loss due to pandemics are not in the mix, yet.

Real life application

2017 Risk Management team
Butler's 2017 Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge team could save 2020.

Nick Fox ’17 was part of the four-student team representing Butler at the spring 2017 Spencer Education Foundation’s Risk Management Challenge case competition, which explored options for insuring PayPal. His teammates included Erin Bundy ’17, Jessica Parada ’17, and Matt Pauszek ’17.

While placing third in the competition, the students’ analysis of what PayPal could do in the event of a cyber blackout turned heads. The PayPal risk manager congratulated the Butler students and took their Cyber Risk Insurance Act into serious consideration.

“She said our solution could truly be implemented in real life,” Fox recalls. “Three years removed, it could still be a focal point in the industry. It adds even more validity to the work we did.”

The students’ proposition was meant to protect businesses from a dire circumstance like the internet crashing or a global pandemic. It’s debatable which event would be more catastrophic, but Finn says the students' ideas from three years ago could help the U.S. today.

Climbing the insurance ranks

Today, Fox and his former teammates are all advancing within their respective insurance companies. Fox finished his studies at Butler a semester early and was quickly hired as a cyber risk analyst for middle market corporations and businesses at Marsh & McLennan Companies, based out of Chicago, Illinois. He is currently transitioning to a consultant position, working with risk managers and chief financial officers of Fortune 500 companies.

“The past few months, I’ve been focusing on emerging risks, one of which is COVID-19,” Fox says. “I’ve been consulting with different clients on things like violent threat modeling and cyber stress tests.”

Pauszek is a Risk Management Analyst for the University of Notre Dame. He has leaned on his Butler experience, especially since COVID-19 grew to pandemic levels in March.

“Faced with situations of uncertainty and crisis, the lessons I learned have equipped me with both the technical industry knowledge and the overall confidence to identify and execute creative business solutions,” Pauszek says. “I believe the Davey Program has built a culture that emphasizes and encourages students to approach their careers with an innovative outlook and careful consideration for others that makes them extremely valuable in their surrounding communities.”

Fox considers his training at Butler key to his early career success, too. The enactment of PRIA would be another boost to his career.

“It’ll put Butler University itself in its rightful place on the map in terms of Risk Management and Insurance,” Fox says. “This is going to create an opportunity for us to put our ideas in the forefront of the country.”

The PRIA is also fast-ascending. The piece of potential policy could be a boost to the U.S. economy in years to come.

“It’s not really a question of if another pandemic is going to happen,” Fox says, “it’s more so when and how serious.”

 

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

illustration of businessmen being protected
Innovation

Butler’s Risk Management and Insurance Program Authors Pandemic Act to Bolster Economy

Clinical Professor Zach Finn and his former students’ work is being lobbied by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee

Apr 02 2020 Read more
COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 30 2020

Butler University has donated remote use of some of its powerful technology to a global effort to combat COVID-19.

A supercomputer and Butler Esports computers are now part of Folding@home, a project focused on disease research that utilizes help from computer owners around the world. Based out of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the work has shifted from researching numerous infectious diseases to investigating the structure of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Using molecular protein folding computer simulations, the Folding@home project aims to discover drug pathways that can cause a dysfunction in the folding of one or more proteins in the COVID-19 virus, therefore killing it. Extra computer power from around the world is needed for faster, more precise simulations. 

“It takes huge amounts of computing power to try them,” Butler Computer Science Professor Jonathon Sorenson says. “The more they try, the better the chances of finding one that works.”

Protein folding is the process that determines a protein’s structure, and therefore its functionality. The shapes protein subunits form fit together like LEGOs to create new cells. Sometimes, when you are trying to build something specific, only one particular shape of LEGO will work. If the body’s proteins aren’t folding into the necessary shapes, this can have detrimental health effects. For example, in the case of sickle-cell anemia, the protein inside red blood cells—hemoglobin—is not capable of transporting oxygen due to a single amino acid change in the hemoglobin protein structure. Now, Folding@home is seeking similar weaknesses within the coronavirus’ proteins—looking for structures that could be altered to inhibit the virus’s ability to infect the body.

Computer owners who want to help with the project can download software that allows Folding@home to use the computers to run simulations. The simulations are usually timed for when the user sleeps, but with universities relying on distance learning during the pandemic, on-campus machines are left on and idle all day. More than 700 universities worldwide have lent their computer power to help run simulations around the clock.

Sorenson learned of the ongoing research project’s new focus on the coronavirus from an Association for Computing Machinery article and alerted IT of the potential of joining the project. A day later, IT Senior Systems Analyst and Computer Science Adjunct Professor Nate Partenheimer got the University’s newest supercomputer online to run Folding@home simulations.

“By lending our computing power to this huge project,” Sorenson says, “it’s a small way of helping that overall effort.”

Supercomputer specs

While Butler’s first supercomputer, The Big Dawg, is being utilized for current Butler research projects, a new system was to be used for artificial intelligence courses and other research. Those projects have been postponed, which opened up use for Folding@home. 

Thanks to Partenheimer, Folding@home is now benefiting from:

  • Four NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics processing units, each of which is capable of about 13 Tera-FLOPS. FLOPS, or floating point operations per second, is a unit of computer performance measurement in scientific computations. Just one of these graphics processing units can execute 13 trillion operations per second.
  • One NVIDIA GP100, which is capable of more than 10 Tera-FLOPS.

Now online, Butler has helped boost the project to 1.5 quintillion operations per second worldwide.

Esports scores an assist

Butler Esports donated its own NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics processing unit and an Intel i7 central processing unit to the Folding@home cause. Machines meant for powering spirited games of League of Legends and Rocket League are now dedicated to saving lives.

Student Activities Coordinator Doug Benedict had known about Folding@home since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but after a meeting with Butler IT, he decided to download the software and link the Esports machines to the cause. Benedict says the Butler Esports and Gaming Center’s mission is to be a source for community engagement, outreach, and philanthropy between esports events.

“We want to show the benefits of having this kind of space and this kind of technology to society as a whole,” he adds. “Technology has changed our lives time and time again, and clearly it’s going to continue to do that.”

 

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

COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

A supercomputer and Butler Esports machines are linked to a COVID-19 research initiative focusing on proteins in the virus

Mar 30 2020 Read more
Terri Jett
Innovation

Butler Professor Lends Expertise to Indy PBS ‘Simple Civics’ Series

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 16 2020

Terri Jett’s pledge to PBS is lending her expertise on politics and American history to WFYI’s video series Simple Civics.

An Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity, Jett hosts the videos that have tackled topics such as Freedom of Speech During Times of War, How Does the Draft Work?, and Can You Run for President from Prison?. Usually about three or four minutes in length, Simple Civics debuted in October on WFYI’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

With 2020 being a presidential election year, WFYI producers developed the series for viewers to better understand U.S. policy and history. Looking for a host with a political science background, producer Kyle Travers discovered Jett through Butler University's College of Communication produced videos as well as Jett’s work for Founder’s Week. The collaboration has been successful as Simple Civics season two tapings are underway.

On an afternoon in early March, Jett took her place in front of a gigantic green screen, under the bright studio lights, to record about a dozen new episodes. With Travers and fellow WFYI producers Scott McAlister nearby, she completed upcoming videos including Women as President, How Primaries Work, and 19th Amendment.

Jett has the commanding voice of an educator, the confidence to speak in front of large groups, and decades of research and writing experience. Still, she says hosting a web video series is a new challenge she wholly welcomes.

“I have a new, profound admiration for people who do this on a daily basis—speaking in front of a camera. It’s exhausting. But I really do enjoy that it’s actually difficult for me to do,” says Jett during a short break between episodes. “It’s like something you're struggling with, and you finally achieve it. You have a sense of pride about it. I’m really honored to be a part of it.”

The full-length Simple Civics videos will be posted online, but one-minute versions—and 30-second versions produced for children—are expected to air on WFYI this summer.

The scripts are first written by McAlister and Travers, but Jett contributes her thoughts and edits. The collaboration makes for a mix of content based on history and political issues that hit home today. Recorded before Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, the Women for President episode discussed female candidates who have pursued the nomination throughout history, from Victoria Woodhull in 1872, to Shirley Chisholm in 1968, to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“It shows how things we are talking about today have been talked about historically—how they evolve and change,” Jett says.

Originally from Oakland, California, Jett arrived at Butler from Auburn University in 1999. She adopted Indianapolis as her own, quickly establishing a presence on campus and in the city. Jett serves on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Public Library, and Indianapolis-Marion County Land Improvement Bond Bank. Now, she is building even stronger bonds to the city through Simple Civics.

Simple Civics goes to school

After releasing the first three Simple Civics episodes in the fall, Jett and WFYI received the feedback they needed to know the series was heading in the right direction.

Jett gets ready for another take
Political Science Professor Terri Jett, right, prepares for another Simple Civics take.

“We received some notes from teachers, saying they could see themselves using this series in the classroom as a supplement to what they’re talking about in their civics lessons,” McAlister says. “That’s really encouraging. One of the goals of this series was for it to be a resource for teachers.”

The WFYI producer and social media manager says the timing of Simple Civics is important.

“With it being an election year,” he says, “people have so many questions about how primaries work, how the election works, how the electoral college works, why we even still have the electoral college—all of which we are hoping to address in this season of episodes.”

And Jett is happy to help. She wants Simple Civics to educate and create discussion.

“I think it’s important to do this kind of work,” Jett says. “I’m really hopeful for children of all different backgrounds to see me talking about politics and history in this way. It’s accessible, and hopefully they will see it as kind of fun, and they will develop some curiosity.

“For me, if there is one child out there who says ‘Wow, I want to pick up a book and read about that. That’s interesting,’ I’m good. That’s it for me.”

 

Photos by Tim Brouk; videos by WFYI and Tim Brouk

 

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

Terri Jett
Innovation

Butler Professor Lends Expertise to Indy PBS ‘Simple Civics’ Series

Terri Jett’s political science background makes her an ideal host for the WFYI videos, with new episodes to drop this summer

Mar 16 2020 Read more

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