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Albert at the Bat

BY Brock Benefiel ’10

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2018

Jeff Albert didn’t want to get into his car. It was winter break 2001 and Albert was staring down an almost nine-hour road trip from his hometown in Rochester, New York, to Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana—a school he had already decided not to attend.

Weeks before, Albert had cold-called Steve Farley, then Butler’s head baseball coach, to request the visit. So he made the drive, despite blizzard-like conditions.

At that point, Albert was a junior. He’d already attended Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Technology, enjoying academic life and playing Division III baseball. But before finishing his playing days, he wanted a crack at playing Division I while still attending a school with a great academic reputation.

Butler offered that opportunity. But, so did the University at Buffalo, which was only an hour’s drive from Albert’s home in Rochester, and was about to restart its D-1 baseball program with several of his former high school teammates and opponents. At Butler, Albert knew no one.

After meeting with players and coaches, experiencing the small campus environment he craved, and catching a basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Albert’s plan was flipped on its head. He was convinced Butler was the place to spend his remaining college years.

He enrolled the following semester without an athletic scholarship or a promise from Coach Farley that he’d ever play an inning for the Bulldogs. And because he had already transferred twice, Albert had to sit out the entire 2001 season and wait a year before he’d get his chance to take the field. The odds were against him, but he knew the campus felt right that day, so he took the chance.

“I basically walked in there and no one knew anything about me,” Albert said. “I wasn’t even the backup going into the 2002 season. I put myself in a position where I knew I was going to be behind a bit. But that was the point.”

He wasted no time making strides to improve as a player and also felt increasingly more comfortable on campus.

“If you live on campus, you really assimilate into Butler life,” Albert said. “Being away from home, that made it feel better for me socially.”

By the end of his Butler career in 2003, Albert went from a roster afterthought to an All-Horizon League infielder. During his two-year career, he batted a respectable .284, hit 10 career home runs, seized the starting third baseman role, lead the team in runs batted in one season, and helped the Bulldogs set a school-record with 34 wins in each of his two seasons. 

And this was all years before he embarked on the fast-tracked professional career that led him to being named the head hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals in October.

*

No one who watched Albert beat the odds at Butler is surprised that he’s continued to trek an unlikely path to success all the way to the dugouts of Major League Baseball. Paul Beck, a fellow infielder and 2003 Butler graduate, remembers Albert as a soft-spoken, hard-working teammate who immediately fit in despite being one of the few players who came from outside the Midwest.

“He was the definition of a grinder,” Beck said. “Always in the weight room. Always looking to improve himself.”

Beck also remembers Albert as an unofficial hitting coach for several players. Before he arrived at the highest levels—earning praise from future Hall-of-Famers and World Series champions—Albert was helping his college teammates and developing his own swing. He often took an approach that was unconventional for college baseball in 2002, like setting up a camcorder to film batters’ swings.

“He was very ahead of time in video analysis,” Beck said. “He always had a video camera at practice.”

Farley chuckles when he thinks back to the technology his players used in the early 2000s. Before smartphones made video recording almost ubiquitous, Albert was forced to lug around a large camcorder to document batting practice. One time, Farley said, he brought in a computer expert who had figured out how to capture slow-motion video from high-profile MLB players. Once this new tool was shared with the team, Albert spent hours breaking down the swings of major league players like Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado and comparing their approaches with frame-by-frame breakdowns of the swings of his own Butler teammates.

“He was diligently recording swings and constantly analyzing them,” Beck said.

Away from the team, Albert put in even more work on himself. In the mornings before class during his first winter at Butler, he’d scrape the ice off his car windows and make the 20-minute drive north to Carmel, to his cousin’s house, where he could take extra swings in the garage to help increase his bat speed. In the weight room on campus, Albert developed the power that led to his double-digit career home run total. Farley estimates Albert put on about 15 to 20 pounds of muscle over the course of his college career to fill out what had been a scrawny, 5-foot-10 frame.

If Farley has any criticism of Albert, it’s that his former player was almost too focused on tweaking his swing, that his aim to improve often bordered on obsession. Farley said he sometimes worried Albert might fall victim to “paralysis by analysis” by picking over every minor detail of his hitting approach and overthinking the split-second decision to swing.

However serious he might have been in the batter’s box, Albert said he looks back on his Butler years as a remarkably fun time. Both on the field and off it, Farley said his former player fell in with a core group of guys in his class who worked hard in school, put together record-setting win totals on the field and, most importantly, graduated college.

Albert said his fondest memory at Butler was spending countless hours in the collection of dorm rooms on the second floor of the Residential College (ResCo) that was occupied entirely by baseball players such as Beck, and two-time MLB All-Star pitcher Pat Neshek.

“We had our share of fun,” Beck said. “And we always rolled like 30-deep everywhere.”

*

Albert’s time at Butler convinced him that he wanted a career in professional baseball. After a brief stint playing with the Washington Wild Thing of the independent Frontier League, he prepared himself to switch to coaching. He went back to school and earned his Master of Science in Kinesiology at Louisiana Tech University, doubling up his course load so he’d finish in time to be able to join an MLB organization by spring training in 2008.

He did.

The St. Louis Cardinals offered him a role as a hitting coach for their minor league affiliate, the Batavia Muckdogs. Albert moved on from the Cardinals to join the Houston Astros organization in 2012. With the Astros, as a minor league hitting coach, he helped coach another core group of talented young players—just like he did with his teammates at Butler—on their way up the minor leagues to eventually win the organization’s first World Series in 2017.

As a result of his minor league success, this past season Albert was promoted to join the major league club as the Astros’ assistant hitting coach. And when the head hitting coach role opened up this offseason with the St. Louis Cardinals, John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, offered his former employee the job.

“No one is shocked that he’s advanced as far as he has,” Beck said. “But it’s still so cool to see him in the dugout now.”

Though the technology he uses now has dramatically advanced from his college years, Albert still looks for tools that provide an edge for his hitters. He also learned to speak Spanish so he could better communicate his instructions to even more players. Albert combines his background in kinesiology, strength training, and advanced measurement to provide a unique approach to the old art of swinging a wooden baseball bat.

When asked what makes him a “good” hitting coach, Albert said he doesn’t assess himself in those terms.

“I don’t think I’m good or bad or anything,” Albert said. “I just stay focused on making progress. If I‘m making progress myself, that gives me more tools to help the people I’m around.”

AthleticsPeople

Albert at the Bat

Albert was just called up to the majors as Head Hitting Coach for the St Louis Cardinals.

Nov 14 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

Grand Finales

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2018

It's been more than 11 years since the landmark TV series The Sopranos cut abruptly to black, but people still talk about the final episode and its significance in television history.

Butler University Professor of Communication Gary Edgerton certainly does. In fact, he's written about that episode, "Made in America," in the new book Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls. The book features more than 70 essays by television scholars and critics.

Edgerton, who wrote a 2013 book about the series called The Sopranos, says the final episode in the saga of New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano and his family was "much like the series itself: unconventional, audacious, often incisive, occasionally enigmatic."

"In the final analysis," he writes, "(series creator) David Chase refused to let either Tony Soprano or the audience off the hook. He defied generic convention by delivering an open-ended conclusion that closed with a whimper not a bang, dooming Tony to nervously live out whatever time he has left looking over his shoulder for either the FBI (which is closing in on him fast) or one of the many underworld enemies he has made over the years. Right up to the last shot, Chase preserved the rigorous fidelity of the fictional world he had created."

In an interview, Edgerton talked about The Sopranos and its memorable conclusion.

Q: The final episode of The Sopranos is probably the most controversial of all finales because of its lack of closure. What do you think?

A: If you take the series as a whole, there's actually lots of closure. It's just that the closure people are conditioned for—what happens to the gangster going out in a blaze of glory—was upended. David Chase was very influenced by European films, art films from the '60s and into the '70s, and it was a very Truffaut kind of move at the end.

There were all kinds of trigger shots in that last scene, like something was going to happen. The 180-degree rule, where you have continuity editing, you don't break that. You keep the audience comfortable. And he jumped the line multiple times.

If you remember Meadow trying to parallel park in that final scene, it just builds tension. And if you know the guy in the Members Only jacket is like Michael Corleone going to the bathroom (to get a gun in The Godfather), there's lots of triggers. Then all of a sudden, it's smash cut to black—like something Fellini would do or some of Chase's favorite inspirations.

Q: I assume that to write this essay, you watched the finale of The Sopranos again. Did it stand up?

A: I think the whole series still stands up. In my class Television Authorship: The Showrunner I showed it to the students. I showed them four episodes of The Sopranos to show them how television has changed since then. Students this age really don't know The Sopranos.

Q: When you watched the finale for the first time and the screen went black, what was your reaction?

A: As the episode unfolded, I thought—and this was in the recesses of my mind—God, I hope he doesn't get killed. There was nothing redeeming about Tony in the second half of the last season, but I thought about how invested we become in this narrative and in these characters. And when it did end, I had a sense of relief. I'm much more invested in character than I am in plot. The fact that it ended the way it did, I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't looking for a Sonny Corleone ending where he would get machine-gunned down.

Q: What is it about characters like Tony Soprano that fascinate us?

A: It's the gangster narrative. But it's not that it's Italians—or Irish or Jewish or African-Americans or Chinese. It's that it's outside the WASP establishment. For some of those cohorts, the American dream was just as compelling, but their only path to realizing the American Dream was outside the law.

Q: Where does The Sopranos rank among the best shows of all time?

A: There's so much good television. I would say the Mount Rushmore of television is The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Mad Men. Those shows set a template that freed up television in a way that had never been done before.

AcademicsPeople

Grand Finales

Edgerton talks The Sopranos in the new book Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls.

Nov 14 2018 Read more
PeopleCommunity

As Female Veteran Population Grows, So Do Their Healthcare Needs

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 12 2018

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS—Veronica Vernon has, essentially, two jobs.

The Butler University Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice spends about half her time teaching student pharmacists and student physician assistants in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the rest of her time is spent at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. At the VA, where she has worked since 2011, she sees Iraq veterans, Afghanistan veterans, male veterans, and transgender veterans. But there was one segment of the population she noticed she was seeing more and more of: female veterans.

The total veteran population is projected to decline from 20.0 million in 2015 to 11.9 million in 2045, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. And male veterans are expected to diminish by nearly half over that same time period. But despite all of this, the number of female veterans has been on the rise, and is projected to continue going in that direction.

However, Vernon says, services have not necessarily matched that trend.

“For the foreseeable future, there will be more and more female veterans coming through the VA and we need to adapt and learn how to provide the best possible care for them, just as we have done for men,” Vernon says. “A team-based approach to care of female veterans is required. The VA desires to be a leader in women’s healthcare.”

So Vernon, who specializes in women’s health, took matters into her own hands. She, along with Butler graduates Maggie Meuleman and Christina White, and Butler undergraduate Sarah Lenahan, assessed menopausal symptom management by a clinical pharmacist at the Indianapolis VA.

Their research, which they just presented at the annual North American Menopause Society Conference, showed that female veterans who received care for menopausal symptoms by a clinical pharmacist specializing in women’s health, saw a significant decrease in symptoms.

“We saw major resolution for these patients at the end of this specialized care,” Vernon says. “That highlights two important things. One, pharmacists bring a real value to the healthcare team when it comes to managing disease states. And two, which is probably even more important, is that most VA’s don’t have a pharmacist who focuses on women’s health issues. Women’s healthcare is a rapidly growing area in the vet population and the more we focus on it, evidently, the better off patients will be. This population deserves the best possible care and we need to start giving that.”

From August 2013 to August 2017, Vernon and her team tracked a total of 121 patients at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. The average age of the female veteran patients was 52.

When Vernon and her team started seeing patients, the average number of hot flashes or night sweats reported was 11.9 per day. After a year of being treated by the team of pharmacists dedicated to women’s health, the average number of hot flashes or night sweats reported was 1.4.

The percentage of patients reporting vaginal dryness, irritation, and pain during intercourse prior to pharmacist management was 57 percent. After a year of pharmacist management, the average was 6.6 percent.

In all, 88.4 percent of patients who had vaginal dryness, irritation, and pain during intercourse, saw resolution, Vernon says. The team followed up with patients, on average, every three weeks, and used different therapies depending on the situation. Some therapies were hormonal agents, non-pharmacological, Gabapentin, and Clonidine.

“Physicians have limited time to fully dive into the different obstacles patients are facing and then counsel the patient all the time. We believe this research shows the power of having a pharmacist as part of the care team,” Lenahan says. “After the initial diagnosis is made by the primary care physician, the pharmacist can enter the picture and manage the disease state from there in a much more specialized, specific way.”

And nowhere is the power of this continuity of care clearer that at the VA, Vernon says, where female veterans are on the rise, yet there is a real gap when it comes to adequate services. Many providers at the VA have never had a female patient so there is a discomfort and lack of knowledge when it comes to treating things, such as menopausal symptoms, she says.

But as this segment continues to grow, the reality is that providers at the VA will have to treat a female veteran. Having a system in place that utilizes the pharmacist fully, Vernon says, clearly produces results that will benefit patients.

“Our research shows the power of the right care,” she says. “Most VA’s don’t have a pharmacist that focuses on women’s health but the hope is that this data shows how impactful it is, and as this population grows, awareness too grows, in hopes our female veterans get the best possible care. This is about improving access for female vets.”

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

PeopleCommunity

As Female Veteran Population Grows, So Do Their Healthcare Needs

The number of female veterans has been on the rise, and is projected to continue going in that direction.

Nov 12 2018 Read more

Lee-gacy

by Sarah Bahr

“I’m already late for work, Dana!”

“It’ll take like five seconds, I promise!”

Butler University Collegian reporter Dana Lee pauses from reading her column-in-progress over the phone to her mother — a palliative care nurse in a northern suburb of Chicago who is, indeed, late for work.

Yes, the Collegian’s now-editor-in-chief and former ESPN and Indianapolis Star intern really does read (almost) every story she writes to her mom — who’s often cooking dinner in her kitchen 200 miles away.

Talking through her ideas helps her conquer writer’s block, Lee says.

The 21-year-old senior journalism major calls her parents at least once a week — but usually many times more. She called her dad before the first interview she did for the Indianapolis Star. During her freshman year when she was overwhelmed by Carmel, IN’s roundabouts. After she asked a security guard at Madison Square Garden to film her while covering the 2018 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament in New York City for the Collegian. Her dad’s reaction? “I can’t believe you did that!”

Lee has written for ESPN, hobnobbed with celebrities (Bill Nye!), and embedded herself in former Butler basketball player Kelan Martin’s kitchen, but just try and tell her story without bringing up her parents (“They’ve read every story I’ve ever written”) and her two younger siblings, Jessica and Michael, who also attend Butler.

You can’t.

A Butler Family Lee-gacy

When Jessica Lee was weighing the pros and cons of attending Butler, her sister, Dana, landed squarely on the cons side.

“Which I didn’t know until halfway through my freshman year,” says Dana.

But Jessica, a junior Political Science and Strategic Communication double major, says that, without Dana, Butler likely wouldn’t have been on her radar. And, in the end, Butler’s internship opportunities, proximity to a big city, and beautiful campus proved too difficult to ignore.

Despite her older sister’s presence.

“I certainly had reservations about attending the same school as Dana,” Jessica, who’s a year younger than Dana, says. “Not because we aren’t close, but because I wanted my college experience to be my own.”

But Jessica says attending the same school as her siblings does come with perks; namely, Butler-themed inside jokes.

“It’s like speaking our own language. Like, ‘Have you seen Holcomb Gardens yet?’” Jessica says. “‘The leaves are turning and it looks BU-tiful.’”

While the siblings aren’t roommates, they live close enough together to walk to one another’s residences. Jessica and Dana lived in the same residence hall Jessica’s freshman year.

“It was nice having her closet nearby!” says Jessica.

Dana says she, Jessica, and Michael have always gotten along because they “didn’t have any other option.”

“Growing up, my parents would sit us on the staircase until someone gave someone else a hug,” Dana says. “We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

Michael, a freshman Digital Media Production major, says the siblings haven’t yet been on campus during the same semester.

Jessica is the culprit. She’s interning with the Democratic National Committee in Washington D.C. this semester, completed an internship with the European Union in Belgium last summer, and studied abroad in Germany last spring.

But even nearly 600 miles apart, the Lees are on the same wavelength.

Now the trio write for the Butler Collegian, Butler’s student newspaper. Dana is the editor-in-chief, Jessica is a co-news editor, and Michael is on the multimedia team. While Jessica says there’s no sibling rivalry, in the same breath, she contradicts herself.

“When Dana was the sports editor and I was the co-news editor, we would compete to see which section got the most clicks online,” Jessica says. “I most definitely won.”

But the siblings don’t share everything. When Michael committed to Butler last December, Dana and Jessica found out when he posted his decision on Instagram.

“So basically almost 500 people knew before I did,” Dana says. “Classic.”

A Sports Journalist in the Making

Though all the Lees played sports, it was Dana who was the family fanatic.

Mike Lee was a high school varsity baseball coach, so his daughter rode alongside him as he dragged baseball fields on a tractor, and wore his team’s uniform in the dugout during games.

Dana’s thirst for all things news — not just sports — was insatiable. In eighth grade, she wrote a persuasive essay petitioning her parents for an iPhone so she could read the The New York Times online before school (spoiler alert: she got it).

“My parents thought I was crazy,” she says, but it was this fanaticism that has made Dana successful as a student and a budding journalist

It’s a love she’s carried with her to college. Case in point: if inflating 500 basketballs in four hours would get her to ESPN, Dana Lee was going to do it.

Her first internship with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky the summer before her sophomore year was decidedly non-glamorous: As an unpaid community relations intern, she did the grunt work for the franchise. Including inflating all those basketballs.

“That was the lowest point of my internship,” she says.

Of the nearly 20 internships she applied for, Lee says the Sky position was the best offer she got.

Fast forward a year, and Lee had the opposite problem: too many opportunities.

Her offers: an Indianapolis Colts Media Operations internship, an Indianapolis Star reporting fellowship, a promotion to Butler Collegian sports editor . . .

So which one did she pick?

All of them.

Oh, and she also took 20 credit hours of classes that fall.

“Junior year was a nightmare,” Lee says. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

She put in 16 hours per week at The Star as an “Our Children” fellow, examining opioid addiction and spotlighting nonprofit success stories in her quest to find and tell the overlooked stories of Indianapolis kids. She spent Sundays at Lucas Oil Stadium, helping set up the press box before Colts home games and transcribing coach and player interviews. She coordinated the Collegian’s sports coverage whenever she had a free moment. She slept very little.

“It was a terrible idea to intern two different places,” Lee says. “I’d never, ever do it again, but it was a great time.”

Don’t Look Over Her Shoulder in Class

You may be wondering, at this point, about Dana’s social life.

Two of her friends, Butler Collegian Digital Managing Editor Zach Horrall and Managing Editor Marisa Miller, both seniors, shed some light.

The last time they hung out?

Last Saturday night, when the evening’s agenda included Lee creating a class schedule for next semester.

“When we hang out, it’s basically low-key work,” says Horrall.

Lee’s been involved with the Collegian every semester, first as a sports reporter her freshman and sophomore years, then as a sports editor last year, and now as editor-in-chief, which means she’s grown to love staying up until 2:00 AM  on weeknights before tests. Not because she’s cramming — because she’s designing and editing stories at the Collegian office.

The print edition of the weekly Collegian publishes on Wednesdays, and Lee must read every story that ends up in print and online before the page designers can go to work.

And, of course, reporters being reporters, much of the copy comes in just before the deadline.

“I try to start reading between classes on Tuesday,” Lee says. “I probably read more stories in class than I’d like to admit. I try to have all the stories read by 10:30 PM, but if I finish by 9:30 PM, we’re in really good shape.”

After arriving at the office around 7:00 PM, the rest of her night is spent helping the designers and dealing with any snafus. Typically around 2:00 AM — but sometimes as late (or early?) as 5:00 AM — she’ll head home to catch a few hours of sleep before her Wednesday morning classes.

“My dad asks me all the time ‘Why are you doing this?’” Lee says. “I went from thinking my sister was crazy when she’d stay late working on our high school paper to being that person.”

But she says editing the Collegian doesn’t feel like work.

“It’s so nice to be immersed in something I want to do after graduation,” she says.

A “Hail Mary” Internship

You’d never know it if you came across Lee in the newsroom, but she’s an introvert. Her parents are still in disbelief that she wants to talk to people for a living, she says.

But she says her Collegian experiences have forced her out of her shell, from interviewing Butler men’s basketball’s second all-time leading scorer, Kelan Martin, as he fried up a dozen slices of turkey bacon in his kitchen, to enlisting a Madison Square Garden security guard as her cameraman during the 2018 Big East tournament in New York City.

“Freshman me never would’ve done that; not in a million years,” she says.

At the end of her junior year, she decided it was time for a hail mary — and applied for a summer internship at ESPN.

She got it.

She and 50 other interns spent 10 weeks in Bristol, Connecticut (where ESPN is headquartered), New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. this summer with the country’s foremost sports network.

She filmed Bill Nye demonstrating the physics behind a line drive. She covered the 2018 MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. She shadowed SportsCenter newscasters Keith Olbermann and Chris Berman. She got a shout-out from ESPN sportswriter Seth Wickersham on Twitter.

But, true to form, Miller says the newly minted Collegian editor-in-chief still worked on the paper from Bristol.

“Even during her 40 hour-a-week internship, she was still updating our spreadsheets and planning guest speakers for the semester,” says Miller.

“She’s Very Talented, But She Doesn’t Always See It”

Every one of her friends, editors, and professors will tell you: Detail is to Lee what a lightsaber is to a Jedi.

She has a spreadsheet to keep track of every Chicago restaurant she’s eaten at, and those she wants to visit, with detailed notes about each, says Horrall. She interviewed Indianapolis Indians President and 1954 Butler graduate Max Schumacher for four hours just because she was curious. She filmed a standup shot at Hinkle Fieldhouse after the first Butler basketball game she covered 16 times to get it exactly right (Miller stood there until 11:00 PM holding the camera).

“I wish I had even 10 percent of her attention to detail,” Horrall says. “She homes in on things I’d never notice.”

She’ll Google restaurant names in Collegian stories to make sure ‘Bazbeaux’ doesn’t have an ‘s’ on the end of it, Horrall says, or check to make sure a movie theater really is in Carmel and not Indianapolis.

Nancy Whitmore, who’s taught journalism at Butler for 18 years, says Lee’s observational skills often surpass those of professional journalists.

“The insight and interpretation she brings to her reporting far exceeds her age,” says Whitmore.

Jessica Lee says her sister’s articles are an extension of her personality.

“Dana’s able to write these stories because she sits down with her yellow legal pad and blue pen and computer and she steps into [her interviewee’s] shoes,” she says.

Yet Lee doesn’t realize what she does is in any way out of the ordinary, says Horrall.

“She is very talented, but she doesn’t always see it,” he says. “Sometimes she thinks she’s gotten lucky, but she’s just really good at what she does.”

Her Parents Might Want to Look Into a Long-Distance Phone Plan

Her sister’s been to Belgium; her brother Cambodia. But outside of a two-week trip to Spain in high school, Dana Lee hasn’t left the country.

She wanted to spend a semester abroad last year, but as the Collegian’s sports editor, she couldn’t afford to leave Butler in the middle of basketball season.

But after graduation, she says, all bets are off.

“I’m looking at journalism fellowships abroad, particularly South Africa,” she says. “It’d be really interesting to look at the country post-apartheid.”

But one thing won’t change anytime soon.

“Jessica and Michael will always be my best friends,” she says.

FamilyStudent LifePeople

Lee-gacy

  When Jessica was weighing the pros and cons of attending Butler, her sister landed on the cons side.

Lee-gacy

by Sarah Bahr

Families in Residence

For most of us, the idea of raising a family in a residence hall on a college campus sounds, to put it mildly, challenging. But for many of Butler’s Faculty In Residence (known as FIRs), this challenge is well worth it. Celebrating nearly three decades, the FIR program places faculty members in residence halls with “learning communities” of approximately 80-120 students. Officially, FIRs host a minimum of two activities a month for their learning communities, to introduce students to campus and the city of Indianapolis. Activities might be shared meals, game nights, volunteer work, or attending lectures or sports events with students.

Unofficially and by choice, FIRs do much more. They lead lots of informal conversations in their living quarters, ranging from politics and entertainment to picking careers and Final Four teams. FIRs dispense cookies and encouragement to students cramming for exams, model the fun and challenge of family life, and offer a concerned adult ear to the homesick, the lovelorn, the questioning—even to parents emotionally overwhelmed at leaving their child on campus.

While not all FIRs have children in residence, many do. Sharing a family home with approximately 100 undergrads under your roof may seem daunting, but these communities become extensions of the FIR’s family. The unique living quarters provide extraordinarily unique opportunities for children of FIRs to see college life up close and for college students to see family life.

We asked Four Faculty in Residence to speak about what it’s like to raise children in this unique arrangement.

 


Meet the Families in Residence

Name: Catherine Pangan
Position at University: Associate Professor, College of Education
Names of Family members who live in residence: Roland, Hudson (13), Violet (7)
Residence Hall (current and past): Fairview, Resco, Schwitzer

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
They are so fortunate to be around an enormous amount of role models doing extraordinary things every day. On a daily basis, they see students studying, working, enjoying friendships, struggling and succeeding.  They get to see what it is like for college students to grow, as they grow themselves! We also feel like we are in a mini-neighborhood within Butler. Ms. Janine Frainier and the bookstore staff, BUPD, and of course, Miss Denise, and the Starbucks staff have been extraordinarily supportive and kind throughout the entire experience. They feel like family as well.

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
You age, but your neighbors don't. It is kind of like the fountain of youth!

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope they feel connected to a community the same way they feel living at Butler.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
I've told this story so many times, but when Hudson was four years old and learning to ride his bike, he was trying to make it down the whole length of Hampton. As he rode, he had students shouting "Go Hudson!" from sorority and fraternity windows - students were clapping for him on the street as he rode by, and then they let out a huge cheer for him when he made it to the end. I will never forget his smile when he made it, or the Butler students that helped him get to the end! If that doesn't exemplify the Butler Way, I'm not sure what does!

What's your commute like in the morning?
Short!

***

Name: John Esteb
Position at University: Chemistry Professor
Names of Family members who live in residence: 4 total (including me)
Residence Hall: Resco C-Wing

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
The kids learn how to interact with adults and also are exposed to so many wonderful cultural events, speakers, shows, etc. that almost no other kid gets to experience on a regular basis

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
There is constantly a lot of energy around and there is ALWAYS something going on!  It is a unique experience that we get to interact with them both inside and outside the classroom and help not only with their academic development but get to know them as the fun and talented people they are in their day to day life as well.

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope that they see the value of the college experience (with everything that it entails) and also learn that everyone has strengths that they can showcase in their own unique ways when put into an environment that provides the right opportunities and fosters the development of skills and talents.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
We have had many! Ranging from my son jumping around and singing along with students at a Butlerpalooza concert, to cheering on the Colts and my kids going crazy in the stands at the game with students that were die-hard Colts fans, to the kids competing with the students to see who would be willing to eat the wildest sushi order, to just hanging out with the students over cheesecake, bbq, cookies, donuts, etc. at the apartment!

What's your commute like in the morning?
Normally great (since I just walk in)! Haha!

***

Name: Ryan Flessner
Position at University: Associate Professor of Teacher Education (COE)
Names of Family members who live in residence: Courtney (wife), Abel (11), Adelyn (10)
Residence Hall (current and past): Fairview House (2016-present), Ross Hall (2013-2016)

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
Our kids are surrounded by young adults who are working toward their goals on a daily basis while also enjoying each other's company and the beautiful campus on which we live. The kids have the opportunity to see college students find their way, develop friendships, and contribute to our community. Abel and Adelyn learned to ride their bikes on the mall, and they can always find a pick-up game of kickball with ever-ready college students. Who wouldn't want to grow up on this campus?!

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
It's inspiring to see students finding their way in the world, discovering their passions, and contributing to the community. I'm a better professor because I see more than just the academic side of college life. In addition to their commitments to their studies, I see the students' commitments to campus and community organizations, their commitments to their network of friends and mentors, and their commitments to their future careers.

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope my kids understand the privileges they have in life and the ways in which their experiences are shaping their futures. I hope they use their privilege to benefit others as they make their way in the world.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
There are too many magical moments to count. We've been to the wedding of one of our RAs, we've been references for residents as they seek employment, and we've even helped a student learn to wrap holiday gifts! My favorite memory, however, is probably from a faculty dinner we hosted on our patio last fall. After the event with her professors that evening, one of our residents said, "This is why I came to Butler - so I could interact with the faculty and we could get to know each other as people." Making that moment possible for her was incredibly rewarding, and her gratitude was worth all of the effort we put into this role.

What's your commute like in the morning?
I love the fact that I can walk my kids to the bus and then walk across campus to my office. That 15-minute stroll is a great way to organize my thoughts as I transition into my teaching or my research.

***

Name: Erin Garriott
Position at University: Instructor in Special Education, College of Education
Names of Family members who live in residence: Scott Garriott (husband), Ella (15), Mae (9) and Weston (5)
Residence Hall (current and past): ResCo B-wing currently, Schweitzer for 2 years

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
To have my kids surrounded by goal-centered, focused, kind, thoughtful BU students is priceless. We also think the access to sports, the arts, campus projects, and events are real benefits.

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
It’s so much fun! There’s always something going on or conversations to join in on. We’ve been so lucky to live by wonderfully caring and kind students. We realize how much we rely on their energy to get through our days. When students aren’t here, we totally miss them!

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope they will remember the time we got to spend together in our cozy living space. I hope they take with them the importance of working hard to reach a goal. We hardly ever go by a study lounge where there isn’t at least one student in there studying. Mostly, I really hope they take the amazing feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. Butler is a really special place to be. I know my kids “know” that because of the conversations we’ve had about the people here and the experiences we’ve gotten to have with our residents.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
There are sooooo many, from Ms. Denise getting Scott and I an anniversary cake to students leaving encouraging notes to our kids outside our door. The one that always sticks out though came from my husband Scott. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve always been an educator. He had often made comments about how I always had my students on my mind and he didn’t seem to understand how that happened. Fast forward 15 years...our first year as a FIR family was coming to an end. I mentioned one evening during dinner that classes were finishing up and students would be moving out soon. Scott said in a panic, “Do you think we’ll ever see Emma again?” And all evening, he would randomly ask things like, “I wonder if Allison got her summer job?” and “Do you think Helen will stop by to say good-bye?” My favorite one was, “I hope Rex (Hailey’s dad) knows he can stop by and see us anytime.” After just one year, he had experienced the relationships you build with young people and how it changes your life. He has a better sense of what it means to care deeply about a group of students; it was a lesson I could never teach but am so glad I got to see click.

What's your commute like in the morning?
Surprisingly, I drive to my office. I take my kids to their bus stop at 46th and Cornelius and then hustle to South Campus for class.

FamilyPeopleCommunity

Families in Residence

Sharing a family home with 100 undergrads under your roof may seem daunting, but they become family.

The Ultimate Mentor

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

Maybe the ultimate Scott Bridge story is how he arranged for Megan Yates '16 to finish her degree after the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hired her full time at the beginning of her senior year.

Or perhaps the best story is the time he gave Teresa Mask '93 a copy of the book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America with this inscription: "I fully expect to see your picture and an article about you in a similar book someday."

"To say that he had that much confidence that my life was going to amount to something worthy to be read about, it was like, 'Wow,'" says Mask, who spent two decades as a newspaper reporter and editor and is now Senior Public Relations Manager for AT&T in Michigan. "That was encouragement beyond belief."

But it could be that the greatest Scott Bridge story is the one about Ari Kasle '14.

"Couldn't stand him when he was a freshman," Bridge says, "but I saw some good things when he was a sophomore and we had some talks about his big, obnoxious mouth overshadowing his creativity, intelligence, and his good heart. When I think about what Ari was like when he started at Butler versus the Ari who graduated four years later, it reminds me why I love my job. Very, very proud of him."

Kasle, now an Associate Producer at Emmis Communication in Indianapolis, says: "He's gone to bat for me so many times. I developed a reputation early on at Butler and he could have thrown me to the scrap heap if he wanted to. But he took me under his wing and he said, 'I believe in you.' I'll be forever in debt to him for that."

Bridge, who started teaching in Broadcast/Electronic Journalism at Butler in 1988, has helped send hundreds of future broadcasters, teachers, publicists—and even a couple of current members of Butler's Board of Trustees—into the world. Probably every one of them can recall some example of his kindness and his guidance.

Stephanie (Hoop) Callihan '89, now a Vice President for Entercom and mother of Butler first-year student Kate Callihan: "He was a great mentor even then to all of us. He would say, 'Here’s what you have to do to find a job,' and was very realistic about how hard it was. He really helped and mentored you about what your next, best steps were and how you needed to go about doing it."

Hayley Ross '17, now a Production Assistant on MSNBC's Deadline: White House: "He pushed me to do everything that I did, and he's 100 percent the reason that I graduated with a journalism degree. I definitely would not be where I am if he had not pushed me to be my best."

*

Bridge '82, MS '91 worked in radio and TV for six years after earning his bachelor's degree. Even then, the media was shrinking. In 1988, when the radio station he worked for cut most of its newsroom—though not his position—he started looking around.

At the time, Butler advertised a full-time staff position that entailed serving as sports and news director for WAJC-FM, the campus radio station, and teaching one class.

"It was a 10 percent pay cut," Bridge says, laughing, "and I was not their first choice."

He took the job and found his calling. "When I started teaching and working with the students, that was it," he says. "It was being able to help students and help them realize whatever their goals and dreams were. Just seeing that light bulb go on, being able to help them with their careers."

That first year in the classroom, Bridge was 27 but looked 22. He would often be mistaken for a student. He started wearing a jacket and tie to distinguish himself. But students called him Scott because "Mr. Bridge didn't feel right."

He stayed in that staff position for five years. In 1993, when Butler sold the radio station, Bridge was named sports and news director for the campus TV station. By then, he was teaching two classes.

He modeled his approach to teaching after B.J. Goodwin, one of his high school teachers in Lebanon, Indiana, who nurtured and encouraged him.

His philosophy: "Students just need somebody to affirm to them that they're doing good work. They already know when they're screwing up. Very few of them need somebody to tell them that they've screwed up. But they do need somebody to tell them, 'Yeah, you're doing something good.'"

*

Bridge's job at Butler lasted until spring 1995, and he taught one class a semester till spring 1997. Then he took time off to be Mr. Mom while his wife, Maryann, a Pathologist, worked. Still, Bridge served on the Alumni Board and kept his men's basketball tickets.

"Butler was still part of my life," he says. "But not as strong."

When his children got a little older, Bridge started thinking about returning to work. At a basketball game in 2006, he ran into a Butler faculty member who asked if he'd be interested in teaching again. He was.

Bridge wondered, though, if he would be relevant. Technology had changed, and "I didn't want to seem like some old fogey." To prepare, he took a computer literacy class at Franklin College. He also took classes in Microsoft programs at Indiana Business College in Columbus, where he lives.

He served as an Adjunct Professor for a couple of years until 2010, when the department, faced with a last-minute departure, hired him full time as an Instructor of Electronic Journalism. He still holds that title, and in 2014 he added the role of Internship Director for the College of Communication, which allows him to work with students in all Communication majors.

"Scott transformed the College of Communication internship program upon becoming its director in January 2014, raising its profile and scope while tripling the number of student interns benefiting from this program every year," says former College of Communication Dean Gary Edgerton, who calls Bridge "the epitome of a student-centered faculty member."

These days, Bridge still wears a jacket and tie every day. Students called him Professor Bridge, but his approach to working with students remains the same.

"Students wonder when Scott sleeps since they receive numerous emails from him about internship opportunities in the middle of the night," says Suzanne Reading, Associate Dean of the College of Communication. "When I talk with students at new-student registration, many of them know Scott already and have been in contact with him several times prior to coming to Butler."

At the end of the inscription, Bridge wrote in the book he gave Teresa Mask said, "Good luck and know that you can count on me if you ever need a helping hand."

Mask and multiple generations of Butler students know that he means it.

FamilyPeople

The Ultimate Mentor

Scott Bridge has built a family of hundreds of Butler students he’s helped send out into the world.

The Ultimate Mentor

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18
Donkey, Blue, Elephant
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

(Bull)Dog Days on the Campaign Trail

BY Sarah Bahr

PUBLISHED ON Oct 31 2018

What awaited Butler University sophomore Jon Gray-Smith inside the small, ramshackle house on a Saturday in Grant County in northeast Indiana this summer was less than inviting.

Maybe I should just skip this one, the Indiana Republican Party field intern mused before walking up the front porch steps.

But Gray-Smith knocked on the door, took a step back (no one wants to be accosted by a stranger, he says), and was greeted by. . .

A nearly nude older white man. Toting a shotgun. And wearing only a pair of white underpants.

While that’s his horror story, Gray-Smith says it’s not out of the ordinary for canvassers to work in less-than-ideal conditions.

Jon and Luke Messer
Jon Gray-Smith with Luke Messer

“People don’t always have a lot of clothes on when they answer the door,” he says. “And, in my experience, a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign is typically correct.”

The life of a political intern is hardly glamorous.They get chased by dogs. Confronted by half-dressed old men packing heat. Screamed at like they’re the second coming of Cruella de Vil. And most of the time, they do it for free.

But Butler students also intern with political campaigns in increasingly large numbers. At a time when the political stakes are at an all-time high, Butler students are dotting the state, serving in a variety of  roles with political parties. From answering phones, to crafting press releases, to knocking on doors, Butler students say it is not just the skills garnered in their political science classes that have helped, but also the skills from their journalism, business, and history classes, for example, that have prepared them for when they are thrown into the real-world political fire. Or even faced with a semi-clothed man at the door.

 

“A Dream Come True”

Knocking on 527 doors for 12 hours in Indiana’s blistering July heat isn’t most people’s idea of a good time.

But Gray-Smith, the Vice President of the Butler University College Republicans, says each interaction motivates him to seek out the next one.

“I’m talking to voters who sometimes have never talked to someone about an election in their whole life,” he says.

Gray-Smith says people are often surprised by his age.

“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘It’s so good to see a young person out here doing this,’” he says. ‘That keeps me going.’”

And, unlike at many political events, he enjoyed bipartisan support.

“I had so many people offer me bottles of water, Gatorade, Powerade, anything to help me stay cool,” he says. “They told me ‘Please keep doing this; there are lots of voters out there.’”

He won a $30 Visa gift card for contacting the most voters from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM — an average of 48 per hour, with an hour for lunch.

But his margin of victory?

Just 13 people.

Passion fuels political interns from both major parties, who perform thankless tasks such as calling voters, knocking on strangers’ doors, editing video, and uploading press releases to campaign websites — most of the time for free.

Gray-Smith contacted just under 7,000 voters this summer soliciting support for Republican congressional candidates such as U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, and Mike Braun. From mid-February to May during his internship with U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s U.S. Senate campaign, he called 17,000 voters.

Cecil with Susan Brooks
James Cecil with Susan Brooks

Door-knocking and phonebanking are hardly sexy selling points for students seeking political internships, but Butler Assistant Professor of Political Science Greg Shufeldt says Butler has “countless” students volunteering and interning for campaigns and political parties this semester.

Junior Rachel Spodek has been a field intern for Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly’s re-election campaign since May.

“I’m running phone banks and trying to get as many voters registered as possible,” she says.

Senior James Cecil, who is named after President James Madison, landed a congressional internship on the Hill this summer in Washington, D.C., with Indiana congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The president of the Butler University College Republicans researched bills, attended hearings, answered phone calls, and gave tours of the U.S. Capitol building. She’d previously completed an internship with the Indiana GOP and is currently interning with the Mike Braun campaign for U.S. Senate.

“I’m a huge history buff, so being able to walk the halls of the Capitol was a dream come true,” she says.

 

Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunities

While most of their days are spent canvassing counties and calling constituents, some interns do enjoy the occasional once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Earlier this month, Cecil snapped a photo with George W. Bush, whom she got to meet at a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun.

“He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever listened to,” she says.

Gray-Smith was left speechless after he had the chance to meet Vice President Mike Pence as part of his Indiana GOP internship last summer.

“I was able to meet the second most powerful person in America,” he says. “I could’ve never imagined that would happen when I came to Butler.”

 

A Butler Assist

A common thread runs through Cecil, Gray-Smith, and Spodek’s experiences — Butler’s Political Science department helped them land their first internship.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue politics, but I was more laid back my freshman and sophomore years,” Cecil says. “Then [Shufeldt] urged me to get involved in the Todd Young Senate campaign during the 2016 election cycle, which sparked my interest and led to my internship with the Republican Party.”

Shufeldt emphasizes campaign internships because they lead to future political internships and career opportunities.

“Interning on a campaign is a great opportunity to open professional doors,” he says. “It  is one of the most impactful ways we, as citizens, can shape the direction of our government.”

Shufeldt regularly invites Democratic and Republican Party and campaign representatives to speak to his students.

“Studying politics in a major metropolitan area and a state capital is a huge advantage for our students,” Shufeldt says. “I encourage them to take advantage of this as much as possible.”

And Gray-Smith says Butler’s Political Science students are well prepared when opportunities arise.

“The two journalism classes I took forced me to reach out to people and made me more comfortable interviewing strangers,” he says. “They really opened my eyes that I can’t turn to my friends for help every time.”

“The U.S. Politics class I took helped inform my basic knowledge of voting,” Spodek says.

Cecil says being a conservative among more liberal classmates has made her more comfortable defending her beliefs.

“I’m an outspoken conservative in a liberal environment,” she says. “But my beliefs are challenged, not changed.”

 

A Political Future

Cecil wants to pursue a career in political fundraising. Gray-Smith wants to one day run for state or national office. Spodek wants to go into public policy and is looking at law school.

They know that, whatever path they end up pursuing, their internships will have helped them get there.

“The connections I’ve made will propel me to the career I want,” Cecil says. “I definitely look forward to getting up in the morning and doing something I’m really passionate about.”

But, in the meantime, all three stress that one vote can turn the tide.

“This election is going to be really tight, not just for Donnelly, but for a lot of candidates,” Spodek says. “I know every bit of effort I put in will make a difference.”

Donkey, Blue, Elephant
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

(Bull)Dog Days on the Campaign Trail

Butler students also intern with political campaigns in increasingly large numbers.

Oct 31 2018 Read more

Room to Explore: Amy Wierenga '01

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Fall 2018

Exploring potential colleges, Amy Wierenga ’01 discovered she had too many interests for most.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life, and she balked at the idea of having to discard some of her passions so soon. A dedicated oboe player and a great student, she wanted to pursue two degrees, in music and pre-law, and a number of other interests.

“A lot of colleges said there was no way I could do all that. I definitely couldn’t double major and study abroad and do music, and that was the end of the conversation,” she said. “But Butler University’s reaction was, ‘We’re going to do the best we can to help you pursue all these potential paths.’”

And they did. Thanks largely to the opportunities offered at Butler, Wierenga went from career uncertainty to overseeing $20 billion in investments at BlueMountain Capital Management in New York.

Exploring A Multitude of Interests

 Butler gave Wierenga the chance to do it all: Double major, run track, play her instrument, study abroad (Buenos Aires, Argentina), be active in student organizations, work as a Resident Assistant (RA), hold a job off campus, and have “two amazing internships that helped me learn I shouldn’t go into law.”

“Butler let me explore all my interests and figure out what I wanted to do,” she said.

Wierenga graduated Cum Laude in 2001 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics with a second major in Music and a Spanish minor. Deciding music could always be part of her life, she forged ahead toward a career in finance. She got her first job at a small IT consulting company in Chicago.

“The business was entrepreneurial, which was great, but I was in a sales role, talking to people who didn’t want to talk to me. Being conflict-averse, it was probably the worst job I could’ve chosen.”

A tip from a former Butler professor led to an illuminating job at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

“At the Fed is where I really fell in love with what I do,” she said. “As a bank examiner, I was exposed to quantitative modeling of market and liquidity risks, and I was very drawn to it.”

She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and met her (now) husband there. They moved to New York and she got a job with Merrill Lynch, soon learning big banks weren’t for her. A call from BlueMountain changed her career into what it is today.

Giving Back Through Experiential Opportunities

BlueMountain is a $20 billion alternative asset manager for pension funds, insurance companies, and other institutional investors. Hired in 2008 to be responsible for market and liquidity risk, Wierenga became Chief Risk Officer in 2016, running the company’s Risk and Portfolio Construction team.

She’s also a host on Butler’s Lacy School of Business annual Wall Street Trek, designed to make students aware of the many professional roles in finance.

“Until working at an investment management firm, I didn’t have as rich an understanding of the many types of roles there are for people with different interests in finance,” Wierenga said. “I feel really lucky that I stumbled into work I find intellectually challenging and fulfilling. So, to give Butler students that same opportunity is something I really want to do.”

As with the Wall Street Trek, she believes the best Butler has to offer isn’t necessarily inside the classroom.

“Butler’s academics are solid, and I had memorable classroom experiences. What I really appreciated was the opportunity to find and define the worldviews that were made possible through the University,” she said. “Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t see that the world doesn’t always operate in the same way. The servant leadership philosophy is so embedded at Butler.”

 

Photo courtesy of Ben Hider

People

Room to Explore: Amy Wierenga '01

  

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Fall 2018

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Capitalizing on Collaboration: Brian Stemme '91

Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 2018

“I wanted to find opportunities to make Indiana better, and I felt like there was more we could do.”

When Brian Stemme ’91, Director of BioCrossroads, graduated with an Accounting degree from what is now the Lacy School of Business, “venture capitalist of ideas” in the life sciences industry was not a job description he imagined. He pursued public accounting with his business background and evaluated companies’ financials. From there, he learned the complexities of the pharmaceutical industry by way of Eli Lilly and Company.

And then, the Lacy family provided him a spark to venture into a new career—long before they lent their name to Stemme’s alma mater’s school of business. Stemme joined the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, where he met emerging leaders and engaged with the Indianapolis community.

“The program inspired me,” Stemme said. “I wanted to find opportunities to make Indiana better, and I felt like there was more we could do.”

Stemme took his first step toward “venture capitalist of ideas” as he and other leaders began exploring what would become BioCrossroads—an organization established to be a catalyst for the continued growth of the life sciences sector in Indiana. After determining that they could make a difference and that the work was important, the group set out with just two years of grant funding to start. Stemme told his Eli Lilly colleagues that he was leaving to pursue the startup nonprofit; they thought he was crazy for leaving a stable and successful company.

It is highly unlikely they still would call him crazy. His first bet was a good one.

After 14 years, Stemme has seen BioCrossroads provide seed funding for 26 companies, help increase local venture capital investment from $7 million to $111 million, create sustainable business models for organizations from IndyHub to the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and share knowledge of the life sciences in Indiana. The inspiration from the leadership program has sparked new ideas and energy for the industry.

Stemme wants Butler students to know how close they are to this exciting, growing sector—56,000 people work in the industry with an average salary of $95,000, or about twice as high as an average salary in the state, Stemme explains. Further, think tanks rank the top five states for life sciences as California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina—and Indiana.

“And unless we stand up and say that, no one will know, even though we have as much activity and scientific expertise as those states,” Stemme said.

It is no accident that Indiana earns these accolades. “Historically, we’ve been lucky to have companies such as Eli Lilly and Zimmer start here,” Stemme said. “But, even better, they have remained here and expanded as their businesses grew.”

Many life sciences companies not only perform research and development here, but also manufacture their products in Indiana. This has led to an unusually strong life sciences sector. In addition to these companies, supporters of the life sciences sector, including governments, universities, and philanthropies, are investing in the region. World-class companies and high-paying jobs help make Indiana a desirable place to live. And because it is a good place to live, more companies want to locate here, Stemme explains. BioCrossroads helps to create an environment for companies to thrive.

But a hospitable environment still isn’t much without the right seeds. Life sciences, because it relies on scientific ideas, is about people, Stemme says. “If it is all about the people, a big part of that is how they are educated.”

Butler is readying its students to succeed in the industry and is supporting talent attraction and retention activities, according to Stemme. The school is connecting interns and new graduates to life sciences companies and developing relevant post-graduate programs. Butler is also enhancing the student experience with innovative partnerships such as one with 16 Tech and providing thought leadership through initiatives like One Butler: The Brain Project and hosting BioCrossroads talks on campus.

Stemme knows collaboration is key in the industry. It is also key to continuing Butler’s success in it. He has collaborated with Butler by serving as President of the Alumni Association and on the Board of Trustees, assisting Internship and Career Services by meeting with students, and, in general, being a connector for the school and life sciences industry.

Stemme spends his days evaluating and investing in ideas that will help the life sciences industry grow in Indiana. In Butler he sees an institution that is expanding its collaboration with the industry. And that spirit of collaboration will only help in finding the next big idea.

People

Capitalizing on Collaboration: Brian Stemme '91

  

by Monica Holb ’09

from Fall 2018

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Arts & CulturePeopleCampus

Commedia Dell'Arte is Like the Pork

BY Marc Allan MFA `18

PUBLISHED ON Oct 22 2018

Italian actor, director, and theatre teacher Marco Luly is trying to explain commedia dell'arte, the art form he has worked in since 1980, and The Servant of Two Masters, the play he is directing for Butler Theatre, October 31 through November 4 at the Schrott Center for the Arts.

He says the show, which was written by Carlo Goldoni in 1745 and has been performed steadily in Italy since 1949, is a comedy with some funny and some serious parts. Some parts develop the story, some parts advance the story, and some parts play the lazzi—the jokes, the fun. There's improvisation, so the actors need to listen to each other. They need to understand how to share the space and pace. To learn action and reaction. To control their body, their body language. To establish contact with other people. To pick up the vibe of the crowd and play with the audience, rather than to the audience.  

"Everything can be used," he says. "Everything. It's like the pork, where everything gets used. We can title this interview, 'Commedia dell'arte is like the pork.'"

And so we have.

Luly, who is spending nine weeks at Butler teaching two classes and directing the show, is the 2018 Visiting International Theatre Artist (VITA). Butler Theatre established the program in 2010 to give students the opportunity to learn from a theater professional from another country. Past VITAs have come from Russia, India, England, and elsewhere.

Luly chose to have the students perform The Servant of Two Masters, a classic in commedia dell'arte, a 500-year-old comedy art form that will be instantly recognizable to today's audiences through its resemblance to Shakespeare's comedies, silent movies, sketch comedy, and TV sitcoms. Actors wear leather masks that exaggerate facial features and identify them as stock characters. There are mistaken identities, lovers' triangles, class struggles, and more.

"Commedia dell'arte is at the root of almost every form of comedy that we know today, whether it's a TV commercial or Saturday Night Live, or Seinfeld and Cheers," says Diane Timmerman, Chair of Butler Theatre. "All these shows have stock characters, situations, physical comedy that is all derived from comedia. So it's fun to go to the source and experience what the original comedy was."

Luly brought with him four masks for the student-actors to portray character types. There's Brighella, who is a high-status servant like an innkeeper; Arlecchino, a servant character looking for money, power, and position in the world; Il Dottore—the Doctor—who bluffs his way through every situation; and Pantalone, an old merchant who's often in love with young girls.

The masks, he says, "are the magic of this form of theater. The masks are important for the actors. The mask does not hide. The mask amplifies. The mask is a tool that can help me show the audience my emotions, my sentiments, my lines. And I don't need to use too many words, too many moves. I can project my emotions just by one movement of my mask."

Taylor Steigmeyer, a junior Theatre/Psychology double major from South Bend, Indiana, is playing Arlecchino, the servant of two masters—and having a great time squatting and jumping and inhabiting this sprightly, sparkly, physically demanding character.

Arlecchino, she says, is a character with two basic needs. He wants food—he's always hungry—and affection from Smeraldina, the maid.

"He's someone who doesn't care about anyone but himself, so while I have to worry about what the other characters are doing, I'm in my own little world sometimes," she says. "I wonder when I'm going to get to eat again. I wonder if Smeraldina wants to kiss me too."

Steigmeyer said working with Luly has been a great experience, one she initially was unsure she was going to be able to fit into her packed schedule. But she found time to take one of Luly's afternoon classes, and then was cast as the title character.

"I was like, this is going to be such a great experience," she says. "When and where would I get an experience like this again?"

Rehearsals for The Servant of Two Masters have been running 6:30-9:30 PM five days a week, and Luly says he's been impressed with the students' work ethic and the way they've come to understand the characters.

As a director, Luly is a taskmaster, but benevolent. During a rehearsal in early October, when an actor missed a line, he told her, "If you don't speak, she might speak, so you have to speak." When the cast is trying to grasp the rhythm of a particular scene where everyone has a couple of words, he explained, "This is a staircase – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – with each line getting progressively louder. He'll walk over to tilt an actor's head, correct the emphasis of a particular line, and instruct one of the actors to carry a prop on a different shoulder so the audience can see his face.

"He's intense, but he's very definitive," says Isaiah Moore, a junior Theatre/Psychology double major from Fishers, Indiana, who plays Florindo Aretusi, who is in love with Beatrice Rasponi and has run away from his hometown because he killed a man in a duel and has relocated to Venice. "He knows what he wants. We have to make sure we're ready to present what he wants."

To put it another way, they have to deliver the pork.

 

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Arts & CulturePeopleCampus

Commedia Dell'Arte is Like the Pork

Visiting International Theatre Artist Marco Luly directs Butler Theatre's The Servant of Two Masters.

Oct 22 2018 Read more

Creating a Bulldog Community: Marci Feneman `03

By Monica Holb ‘09

Marci Fenneman Moore can’t get enough of Butler University. After graduating in 2003, she went back to Butler for her MBA, graduating in 2010. And after moving to Evansville in 2012, she’s playing a leading role in developing the Butler University Greater Evansville Alumni Community.

The Greater Evansville Alumni Community, one of 15 different geographic or special interest communities, officially launched on June 1, 2018, but only after Fenneman Moore went on a journey from undergrad and grad student to volunteer and supporter of her beloved University.

Fenneman Moore knows how to stay connected to Butler, even at a distance. In completing her MBA, she drove from Brownsburg to Butler-Tarkington multiple evenings each week to take part in classes to advance her career and knowledge. As much as Fenneman Moore and her husband enjoyed Central Indiana, eventually the pull from their hometown of Evansville was too much to ignore. They wanted to be close to their parents as they started their own family. But Fenneman Moore wanted to keep her connection to Butler.

“I had been away for 13 years and was looking for ways to get connected in Evansville,” she said. “Surely there is a Butler alumni chapter. But I looked at the website, called the alumni office, and there was no chapter.”

Fenneman Moore aimed to change that. By working closely with the Office of Alumni Relations and Engagement, she sent postcards and emails to local alumni and friends of the University to invite them to a basketball viewing party. The viewing party led to others, and excitement for the alumni community in Evansville continued. Fenneman Moore progressed in making the casual hangouts more formal in name. After working with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Board of Trustees, Fenneman Moore and the steering committee proved their vibrancy as a community and became an official extension of the Butler University Alumni Association.

The steering committee—made up of Jeff Moehlenkamp '93, Jenn Koch '13, Kyle Faulkner '13, Amanda Burry '92, Jeff Bosse, MBA '04, Hannah Faulkner '15, Josh Koch '14, Matt Malcolm '10, Caroline Moehlenkamp '93, Chris Mohammed '94, Kara Nichols '04, and Sara Rogier '01—plans events that will engage the nearly 700 alumni and friends of the University in the greater Evansville, Indiana, region. The Evansville alumni community will participate in events that  include Bulldogs Into The Streets (BITS), a Butler Soccer tailgate event, Butler Basketball viewing parties, and a performance and reception with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.

Now, any Butler grad who makes the Evansville area home will be able to quickly get involved with the University and fellow Bulldogs. To learn more and get involved, visit the community’s page at butler.edu/alumni/communities/evansville.

 

Featured Image: The Greater Evansville Alumni Community steering committee leadership team helps to plan events for the community. Pictured from left to right in back: Jenn Koch '13, Kyle Faulkner '13. Pictured from left to right in front: Jeff Moehlenkamp '93, Marci Fenneman Moore '03, MBA '10. 

Story Image: The Greater Evansville Alumni Community helps celebrate the Summer Sendoff in Evansville. 

Community and Compassion: Loor Alshawa `14

By Monica Holb ‘09

Compassion may not have been a course that Loor Alshawa ’14, a two-time Top 100 student of the year, took at Butler University. But it was a lesson she learned along the way, and is now taking it with her into her medical career. Alshawa graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in May 2018, ready to take on a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Alshawa’s first brush with compassion at Butler may have come from her older sister, also a Butler graduate. Alshawa was on a college visit with her sister, in the midst of the Bulldogs’ 2010 Final Four run, when she spotted Gordon Hayward. Alshawa was compelled to ask for a photo as Hayward made his way to class, and her sister, embarrassed as she was, compassionately didn’t bar Alshawa from ever stepping foot on campus again.

Compassion, however, is expected of siblings; not always of professors and other students. Yet, Alshawa got the sense, right away, that Butler was a tight-knit community.

At Butler, Alshawa learned the importance of compassion, as well as connecting with community. “It is so easy to lose sight of that, but having it ingrained in me at Butler, I hope it will stay with me in my career,” Alshawa said.

A large part of her lesson in compassion came from the myriad of volunteer opportunities Alshawa took part in as a student. For example, through the Diversity Center, she did a tour of volunteering in New Orleans. She also served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for three years. “We went out into the community to help people in need,” Alshawa said of these experiences. One of Alshawa’s favorite things about Butler is that sense of community.

“I went to Butler knowing that I wanted to go to medical school, and Butler helped me get there,” Alshawa said. “A career in medicine can be difficult, but now I am used to having a support system from the Butler community. Staying connected with Butler is my plan.”

Community and compassion mixed with high-level academics were the perfect combination at Butler for Alshawa.

“The academic rigor for medical school is just another level of difficulty,” Alshawa explained. But she was not daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge one must gain in a short amount of time. “I truly believe that Butler set me up for success; the difficulty of Butler courses gave me a leg up,” Alshawa said.

Butler’s academic rigor also put Alshawa in a position to deliver compassionate care. Alshawa had studied French since the seventh grade, but wasn’t planning on adding it to her Biology major. But she admired her French professors and felt she should pursue the language and make it as strong as possible, and decided to double major. With a summer semester in Paris and an independent study her senior year, Alshawa was fluent enough to interview French-speaking people in Indianapolis. The conversations were research about their culture, but also improved her skills. Little did she know that speaking French could help her future patients.

During Alshawa’s OB GYN rotation in medical school, her team had a patient come in by ambulance. The patient had given birth to her baby, but not the placenta, and they were still connected by umbilical cord. The woman was French-speaking only, and the emergency team was not able to even ask for her name. No one could talk to their patient.

Alshawa stepped up and shared her knowledge. “I ended up speaking to her and walking her through what was going on and what we were doing in an emergent situation,” Alshawa said.

These experiences lend Alshawa a vision of who she wants to become as a physician: someone who can interact with patients, visit after visit—without losing her compassion. Butler University’s commitment to academics, and its support of students and the community, will help her achieve just that. 

 

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