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laura michel

Stars Aligned for Laura Michel ’08

Megan Ward MS ’13

from Fall 2017

From the beginning, Butler checked all of her boxes—small, liberal arts, major city with lots to offer, and not in Iowa. It was the “perfect fit” for Laura Michel ’08, the daughter of two public school educators and a middle child from—you guessed it—Iowa. 

Michel started out as a Chemistry major with pre-med plans. After taking a few classes and thinking about what she wanted post-grad, she switched to Communications Disorders—a major that incorporated her love of helping others and a medical field component. Michel went on to earn a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL).

And, she found her way back to Iowa.

As she says, “the stars aligned” for Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines to have a pediatric speech-language pathologist opening when she graduated from UNL in 2010. The close proximity to her hometown of Clinton, Iowa, is perfect for Michel, a self-proclaimed family girl who recently got engaged and counts spending time with her niece and nephews among her favorite things to do.

What else does she like to do? Well, there is golf, yoga, and traveling. But, the two most noteworthy (in my opinion), are Michel spreading the word about Butler in Des Moines because of her “fandom during the NCAA tournaments” and staying involved with Alpha Chi Omega, a sisterhood that has followed her from her days at Butler to her time at UNL and now to Des Moines.

Michel also credits Alpha Chi with helping her stay connected to Butler, since she tries to visit campus once a year to reunite with her friends at Butler and her Alpha Chi sisters. On a recent visit, she was excited that there were places on campus to grab lunch, but admits it was a huge change to see the parking garage and new residence hall.

“Campus is still as beautiful as ever ... It’s evident Butler is invested in continuing the growth needed to attract and retain students,” she said.

It also was important for Michel to note that despite growth she hopes the feeling of belonging on campus never changes. As she put it, “The close-knit community and relationships I built with peers, professors, student organization advisors—even Dr. Fong and L.J.—are what made my years at Butler so impactful.”

In fact, she said if she had to sum up her Butler experience in one word she would choose “life-changing.”

Michel said her involvement in the Butler University Student Foundation (BUSF) and Student Government Association (SGA) helped shape her Butler experience and gave her the chance to learn and grow into who she is today. She also benefited from the relationships she built and leadership skills she honed while serving as SGA President.

As Michel spells it out, “I wish more people knew that you can really make the Butler experience your own. Whatever you invest or put in is directly correlated with what you will get [in return].”

laura michel
People

Stars Aligned for Laura Michel ’08

by Megan Ward MS ’13

from Fall 2017

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How Entrepreneurial Are You?

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2018

 

Stephanie Fernhaber remembers a student asking Butler University President Jim Danko, who owned a medical-supply company for many years, about the transition from being an entrepreneur to academia. And she recalls his answer vividly: “I really do believe that in whatever you are doing, even in running this University, I really like to think like an entrepreneur.” 

That’s the mindset she tries to instill in her students. 

Fernhaber, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Lacy School of Business, thinks we can all be entrepreneurial, our job titles notwithstanding. 

“We tend to think of entrepreneurs as high-tech startups or someone who owns their own business,” she said. “But being an entrepreneur means being innovative, actively pursuing new opportunities, and taking managed risk. So it’s really a spectrum. It’s not ‘Are you an entrepreneur?’ It’s ‘How entrepreneurial are you?’” 

Take her, for example. Yes, she’s a professor, but she applies an entrepreneurial approach to her work with both undergraduates and MBA students. 

“In my research, I need to be entrepreneurial because I have to come up with brand new ideas and theories and ways of testing them,” she said. “But even in our teaching, I think we all strive to be innovative. We want to try new things that will create value for our students. In doing that, there are some calculated risks.” 

Fernhaber grew up in an entrepreneurial home—her father ran his own construction company in northern Wisconsin— and her first job after earning her undergraduate degree in Business and Spanish from Ripon College was writing business plans, doing market feasibility studies, and helping startups and business owners get Small Business Administration loans. 

She earned her MBA at Marquette University and her doctorate in Entrepreneurship from Indiana University. In 2010, she joined the Butler faculty after four years as an Assistant Professor/Affiliate Status at Iowa State University. 

In her teaching and research, she looks at entrepreneurship and innovation in a variety of ways. One course she teaches is Social Entrepreneurship—how entrepreneurship can be applied to social issues. Her current research is focused on bridging international and social entrepreneurship, and considers how grassroots innovations in India move from the local level to the world stage. 

In addition to publishing nearly 20 journal articles, Fernhaber has co-authored two books, Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset to Engineers and The Routledge Companion to International Entrepreneurship. She’s also been part of the collaboration between several of Butler’s Colleges to write, illustrate, produce, and sell children’s books on subjects related to health. In that project, students and faculty from the participating Colleges bring their different expertise. 

And that, Fernhaber point outs, is an example of an entrepreneurial, innovative way to teach. 

“What I enjoy most in the classroom,” she said, “is when students get excited and get engaged about a project or a topic and when you can find a way to reach them.” 

AcademicsPeople

How Entrepreneurial Are You?

Fernhaber, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Lacy School of Business, thinks we can all be entrepreneurial, our job titles notwithstanding. 

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2018

Read more
AcademicsArts & CulturePeople

He Helped the Dance Department Achieve Its Potential

BY

PUBLISHED ON Apr 02 2018

Stephan Laurent joined the Butler Dance Department in 1988, convinced it was going to be one of the top programs in the United States.

"And we proceeded to make it so," he said, crediting "aggressive recruitment and a fantastic faculty."

Thirty years later—the first 15 as chair, the second 15 as a faculty member—as he prepares to retire from Butler, Laurent looks back proudly at what he and the department have accomplished in developing a program that's consistently one of the top-rated in the country.

"It's been a wonderful experience because this is such a strong program," he said. "It's strong because of the curriculum, because of the faculty who deliver that curriculum, because of the students it attracts and because of the facilities in which it is delivered. It is a conservatory-level training program, but we all value the liberal arts and that's what makes the program unique."

Laurent grew up outside Lausanne, Switzerland, and moved to the United States to study at Southern Methodist University. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts, he danced professionally in Europe, then returned to SMU for his Master of Fine Arts.

He taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and had spent six years as Artistic Director of Des Moines Ballet when he saw the opening at Butler. The Board of Directors was reducing the size of its company to cut costs, so he decided to apply.

He expected a short stay in Indianapolis, but "it clicked so well. It seems like I had found my place – and I think I did. I have really planted my roots in this community. It will be bittersweet to leave."

He leaves with great memories of "all the wonderful productions we have accomplished with the Butler Ballet" and comfortable in the knowledge that he helped advance both Butler and the Dance Department.

"I've seen a lot of progress being made in establishing the strong vision of a comprehensive university where the liberal arts are valued," he said. "The core curriculum is really excellent here. I teach an FYS seminar (Spellbound: the Quest for Magic in the Arts and in Fiction), so I know firsthand how good that core is and how valued it is by all the members of the faculty across all the colleges."

Sophomore Stefanee Montesantos said Laurent "has been a wonderful instructor to work with in the studio." Not only that, "but he has given me opportunities that most first-years and sophomores wish for."

In Butler Ballet’s 2018 Midwinter Dance Festival, Montesantos was cast as the lead female in Farewell to the Singing Earth, an original piece that Laurent-Faesi choreographed.

"It was one of my most challenging roles yet, but it was such a pleasure to work with him," she said. "His positivity, yet silent discipline to execute the steps, brought out a drive I didn’t know I had in me. I am sure I speak for all of Butler Ballet when I say that he will be deeply missed."

After the semester ends, Laurent plans to move to Texas, where his wife, Ellen Denham, is directing the opera program as a member of the music faculty at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. He describes the move as "going full circle," since Texas was where he started in the United States.

Professor Susan McGuire, his colleague in the Dance Department, said Laurent set an example for others to follow.

"He is outspoken and liberal-minded in the best sense, and a staunch defender of academic freedom, for one," she said. "He knows the university system inside and out, and holds the people within it to a high standard, and quite vocally, regardless of the consequences. I appreciate this wholeheartedly, and I will miss his loud and clear voice."

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

 

Schneider
People

A Visit from Trip

BY By Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Mar 27 2018

Allan Schneider said he was in complete shock when a bulldog showed up at his high school study hall in February. It wasn’t any bulldog. It was Butler Blue III, or Trip, with Michael Kaltenmark, his handler and Butler University’s Director of External Relations. They were there to deliver a surprise.

“I instantly knew that something was going on when I saw Trip come in and then I saw my mom,” Schneider said. “I knew some good news was about to happen. Now, I get to go to Butler and pursue my dreams in life. Ever since I talked to the alumni and the people there, they have nothing but great things to say about Butler and how wonderful it is.” Schneider is one of about 75 prospective students that Trip surprised this school year with an in-person visit, often to deliver an admission decision or scholarship. And while most won’t be swayed by a visit from a bulldog, the personal touch certainly helps.

This is all part of the #ButlerBound campaign.

Students who are surprised by Trip tend to commit to attend Butler the following year at a 20-30 percent rate. That compares to a 10-15 percent yield rate for all other admitted students. Prospective students often say how much the visit shows that Butler cares and makes them feel special, which is what Butler is all about. And while Kaltenmark and Evan Krauss, one of the marketers on Butler’s team, can only visit so many students each year, the impact is far greater, Kaltenmark says. Posts to social media and students and parents telling their families and friends have a ripple effect.

“Butler Bound has become a tagline for our new student recruitment, and specifically, our prospective students that we look to bring to Butler, so when they commit or when they’ve been accepted we hope that they will hold up their poster and post on social media that they are Butler Bound,” Kaltenmark said. “We hope this gets a larger audience to buy into the concept and embrace the Butler family before they even get here.” Kaltenmark and the team started visiting prospective students about four years ago. They often target cities that already have an alumni event scheduled, or an away basketball game taking place there. The team has surprised students in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Boston, New York City, Orlando, Detroit, and Chicago, to name a few.

Some students have already been admitted to Butler, others are waiting to hear, and sometimes, Trip arrives with news of full tuition. That was the case with Schneider. The Bishop Chatard High School senior interviewed for the Butler Tuition Guarantee and was waiting to hear if he would receive full tuition. Then, Trip arrived in his study hall.

Schneider's mother, Katrina, was thrilled for her son. "My son gets to go to the college of his dreams," she said. "To see his face and to know that his dreams just came true, I can't even describe it."

Schneider
People

A Visit from Trip

Allan Schneider said he was in complete shock when a bulldog showed up at his high school study hall in February.

Mar 27 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

He Wanted Every Class to Be An Event

BY

PUBLISHED ON Mar 26 2018

Professor of Religion Paul Valliere marvels at the similarities between the Butler University he joined in 1982 and the Butler University from which he's retiring in May.

"It's perfectly obvious that all kinds of things are happening at Butler now that weren’t happening in 1982," he said. "But there are real continuities in the Butler of yore and the Butler of today. Most of those continuities are very positive—face-to-face community, dedication to students, ability to attract really fine students. We get really fine students. So did we in 1982. Most of the changes at Butler have built on the positives that were already there."

And over 36 years at Butler, Valliere, 74, has had a hand in several of those positive changes. He collaborated on creating the Change and Tradition core curriculum (which has evolved into Global and Historical Studies), built up the Honors Program, co-wrote the application for a Lilly Endowment Inc. grant that created the Center for Faith and Vocation, and wrote the application that helped Butler get a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

Then there's teaching. Valliere approached his courses with the memory of something his former colleague John Beversluis told him: "I want every class to be an event."

"My favorite moments at Butler are walking out of a class that I know in my heart went really, really well," Valliere said. "For me, nothing compares to the sense of elation when I know at the end of a class that it really went well—I accomplished what I intended to in there, but much more, because the students grabbed hold of it and ran with it and it ended up being a great class."

Betsy Shirley '10, now Associate Editor at Sojourners magazine, remembers Valliere referring to students as his "young colleagues. And he really meant it. It wasn't a gimmick."

"He took more notes in class than any professor I had," she said. "He took notes on what students were saying—interesting points they made or something he wanted to follow up with them. Sometimes after class, he would say, 'I really appreciated that point you made. You might want to check out this extra essay, or this article that might help you develop your point.' He saw what students were saying as important and wanted to learn with them and from them."

*

Valliere grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. After earning his bachelor's degree from Williams College, he got a job as a community organizer in East Harlem. In 1971, he began his teaching career at Columbia University, from which he earned his master's and doctorate, and started his career-long scholarship in religion and theology in modern Russia.

He taught religion at Columbia for 11 years. But by this point, he and his wife, Marjorie, had three young children, and he wanted a tenured professorship.

Butler offered him that. He moved to Indianapolis to be Dean of Butler's University College, which advised all first-year students and sophomores and oversaw the core curriculum and the honors program, and an Associate Professor of Religion.

He said Marjorie had to get a driver's license when they settled in Indiana—she didn't need one in New York—but the adjustment to the Midwest was otherwise easy.

"You're still the same person with the same unfinished articles in the same drawer," he said. "People have a tendency to get too hung up on externals—what environment do I live in, that kind of thing. Those things are superficial compared to the continuities: same family, same profession, same responsibilities, same challenges."

One of those challenges was integrating his interest in and knowledge of Russian theology into the curriculum. He did that through a course he team-taught with History Professor Bruce Bigelow called Peoples and Faiths of the Soviet Union (later Peoples and Faiths of Russia and its Neighbors).

*

Valliere described himself as "the product of a 100 percent pure liberal arts tradition." In fact, he said, "There was concern among some of the people at Butler who hired me that I might be too liberal-artsy for the good of the institution."

He said Butler "broadened me" by exposing him to students in professional areas.

"In my years of working with students in the arts, pharmacy, education, and the other professional colleges, I've become a broader, better-informed academic," he said. "I feel very good about that part of my Butler experience, where I had to stretch. I hope I stretched Butler and my students. That's what we're supposed to do. Stretch. But I got stretched also. And to the good."

Judith Cebula, the Founding Director of the Center for Faith and Vocation, said one of Valliere's strengths is that he "believes in the possible."

"He hired me to help launch the Center for Faith and Vocation and I saw first-hand how he believed Butler could become a better university when he created the Center, when he created the Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs, when created new courses, such as Faith Doubt and Reason in collaboration with Philosophy Professor Stuart Glennan, for example," she said.

"I saw it most clearly when he shared with me that he always strived to see the fullest potential in each student who walked into his classroom. Each student entered a new semester with an A in Paul’s grade book. That is how much he believes in the possible."

*

Valliere said he's enjoyed watching the city of Indianapolis grow, and Butler grow with it. That's one of the reasons he put off retirement.

"Why leave when the institution is doing so well and the city has gotten so interesting?" he said.

But now that the time is right for retirement, Paul and Marjorie plan to stay in Indianapolis and keep their Butler Basketball season tickets. He plans to continue his Russia scholarship, and will be working with the Emory University School of Law to co-edit a volume on the history of Christianity and law in Russia. It's part of a big study program being coordinated by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory.

"I'm retiring from teaching," he said, "but there's no rule that says you have to retire from scholarship—and I don't have any plans to cut back on that front."

As for teaching, yes, he will miss the interactions with students and the dynamics of the classroom.

"But I taught for 47 years, which is a lot longer than a lot of people have a chance to do," he said. "I turn 75 this year, so I've had a long run, and I'm grateful."

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will hold a retirement reception for Paul Valliere and Philosophy Professor Harry van der Linden on Tuesday, April 3, from 4:30-6:30 PM in the Robertson Hall Johnson Room. All are welcome. No RSVP necessary.

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

AcademicsPeople

He Wanted Every Class to Be An Event

After 36 years at Butler, Religion Professor Paul Valliere retires.

Mar 26 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

Butler Librarian Wins National Award for Innovation

BY

PUBLISHED ON Mar 21 2018

Butler Business Librarian Teresa Williams, who teaches information-literacy sessions for many Lacy School of Business courses, wanted to find a way to provide more in-depth instruction on the business resources students should be using for their information needs.

"I was aware of workshops taught at other universities, but those focused mainly on teaching students how to use subscription research databases," she said. "The library subscribes to those types of databases for business research, but they are expensive and can be accessed only by current Butler students, faculty, and staff."

So Williams developed a workshop to teach Butler students how to find and use alternative business information resources that are reliable, free, and publicly accessible—information resources students can use while at Butler and later as they move into their professional careers.

On March 16, the Association of College and Research Libraries—the primary professional association for most U.S. librarians working in higher education—recognized her with the Innovation in College Librarianship Award. The prize is given annually to members who have demonstrated a capacity for innovation in their work with undergraduates, instructors, and/or the library community.

In recognizing Williams' work, Award Chair Eric A. Kidwell, who is Director of the Library, Professor, and Title IX Coordinator at Huntington College, said librarians working on information-literacy programs are most often focused on teaching students about resources for their academic work while they're in school. But the vast majority of those resources are subscription resources that will no longer be accessible once the students cease being students.

“What impressed the committee about Williams’ submission was the focus on teaching students about research resources available to them post-graduation as they transition into their careers and into their communities,” he said.

Williams developed her Business Research Workshop in 2014, then conducted a pilot program for the Butler Business Consulting Group interns and staff. It grew from there. Since then, she has taught the workshop for over 100 participants, including undergrads, MBA students, faculty and staff.

The workshop is free, and anyone from Butler can attend. Resources discussed in the workshop include government search portals, trade sites, advanced Google tools, and public library offerings for the business community.

Participants who complete the workshop receive a Certificate of Completion, and she said many students include the accomplishment on their resumes and apply the information learned during their business internships.

Williams has been at Butler for 11 years as Business Librarian and liaison to the Lacy School of Business.  Prior to that, she worked for the Carmel Clay Public Library, the IU School of Medicine, and PriceWaterhouse. She earned her Bachelor's in Business and a Master of Library Science from Indiana University, and a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University.

"Teresa's Business Research Workshop is distinctive because it focuses on helping students make the transition from using the expensive subscription databases they use in their coursework to freely available resources they can use as they enter the workforce," said Julie Miller, Butler's Dean of Libraries. "I am delighted the selection committee recognized this project as a model for other academic libraries."

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

 

AcademicsPeople

Butler Librarian Wins National Award for Innovation

Teresa Williams created the Business Research Workshop.

Mar 21 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

School of Music Announces Three New Faculty Members

BY

PUBLISHED ON Mar 20 2018

The Butler University School of Music will add three new faculty members beginning in the 2018–2019 academic year, Doug Spaniol, Interim Chair, announced today.

Becky Marsh, a choral music educator who's finishing her doctorate at Michigan State University, is the new Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education.

Brian Weidner, currently a lecturer at Lake Forest (Illinois) College, is the new Assistant Professor of Instrumental Music Education.

Dana Zenobi, a soprano who has taught for the past 10 years at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, is the new full-time Instructor of Voice.

Marsh was a choral music educator in North Carolina for several years as well as the Musical Director of a K-12 youth theatre. She holds a Master of Music in Music Education and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Music Theory from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she taught beginning guitar, supervised student teachers, and assisted in introductory music education, vocal pedagogy, and choral methods courses.

She is currently finishing her dissertation, which examines the intersections of preservice music teachers' identities and their initial field-observation experiences.

Weidner will receive his Ph.D. in Music Education at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. He holds bachelor's degrees in Music Education and English from Illinois State University and master's degrees in Music Education from Northern Illinois University and school leadership from Olivet Nazarene University.

Prior to his studies at Northwestern, he taught for 12 years at McHenry (Illinois) High School, serving as its Fine Arts Coordinator, Director of Bands, and Music Theory Instructor. He is a National Board-certified teacher. His academic interests include investigating the relationship between music and literacy and the development of independent musicianship through large ensemble instruction.

Zenobi has taught Vocal Diction, Vocal Pedagogy, Song Literature and first-year Theory and Ear Training, as well as an interdisciplinary course in Music and Gender Studies. Her studio teaching was nationally recognized in 2014, when The American Prize competition issued her an "Inspiration in Teaching" award.

An active recitalist and concert performer, her work as an interpreter of art song by women composers has garnered both regional and national attention. On the opera stage, she has earned critical acclaim for roles ranging from Mozart heroines Donna Elvira and Konstanze to Verdi's Violetta Valéry. She appeared in the American Premiere of Philip Glass’s Waiting for the Barbarians with Austin Opera, and performed with Lyric Opera Cleveland in the first production of Mark Adamo’s Little Women directed by the composer.

Zenobi created Southwestern University's Sarofim Vocal Competition for high school singers. She also founded BELTA.org, a nonprofit that provides free crowdfunding services and entrepreneurial support to artists and musicians. She holds a dual degree in Music and Women's Studies from Duke University, as well as both an MM and a DMA from The University of Texas at Austin.

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

 

 

AcademicsPeople

School of Music Announces Three New Faculty Members

Becky Marsh, Brian Weidner, and Dana Zenobi will join Butler for 2018-2019 school year.

Mar 20 2018 Read more
Julian
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

Julian Wyllie '16 Named to Politico Journalism Institute

BY

PUBLISHED ON Mar 20 2018

Julian Wyllie '16, a Lacy School of Business graduate and former editor of The Butler Collegian, has been named to the 2018 class of the Politico Journalism Institute (PJI), an educational initiative supporting diversity in Washington area newsrooms.

PJI, which will be held May 29 to June 9, will offer 13 university students intensive, hands-on training in government and political reporting. Programming includes interactive sessions, panels with industry leaders, mentoring, and an opportunity for students to have their work published by Politico.

The PJI Class of 2018 also includes students from Yale, University of Southern California, and Georgetown. Two of the students will be selected at the end of the program for a three-month residency in the Politico newsroom where they will write, edit, and produce content.

All costs for PJI participants, including room, board, and transportation, are provided by Politico. Students split time between American University in Washington, D.C., and Politico headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

"We're thrilled to welcome this exceptional new class of PJI students," said Politico Editor Carrie Budoff Brown. "Our class this year reflects the racial, geographic, and socioeconomic diversity that Politico is committed to nurturing. Our newsroom is looking forward to mentoring these talented young journalists, who will be at the forefront of tomorrow's political news landscape." 

Since graduating, Wyllie’s career has included stops at Governing magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"My time in Washington has been more than amazing so far," Wyllie said. "Being associated with anything as big as Politico is a great thing. But the best part about this program is that it gives me the chance to meet other hard-working young writers, who are all going through the struggles of trying to make it. Being around them feeds my desire to keep pushing myself and not let up. Overall, the success I've had is a direct result of skills I gained while attending Butler, where at The Collegian I stumbled on my life's passion."

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Julian
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

Julian Wyllie '16 Named to Politico Journalism Institute

Program offers hands-on training in government and political reporting.

Mar 20 2018 Read more

Like a Pro

By Rachel Stern

DETROIT—It’s hard to catch Jimmy Lafakis.

The first time, his phone goes straight to voicemail. The next, after about two rings, it goes to voicemail again. But this time, Lafakis follows up with a text message.  “I’m on the court shooting Michigan State-Bucknell, can we talk after the game?” he writes. “The atmosphere is insane.”

He steals a few minutes to talk during a media timeout, in the bowels of Little Caesars Arena. It’s fitting. Most of Lafakis’ college career has been spent dotting the country, following the Butler men’s basketball team from arena to arena, squatting on baselines, documenting the action for The Collegian, Butler’s student newspaper.

Then, there are games like Michigan State-Bucknell. The Butler junior has no real reason to shoot photos of this game. But that’s not how he sees it at all. In Lafakis’ eyes, it’s impossible to count all the reasons. He has a media pass, he is a basketball fanatic, he loves photography, it’s March. The list goes on.

Take Friday for example.

He rose at about 4:00 AM, drove from Indianapolis to Detroit with his parents. Went straight to Little Caesars Arena. Arrived in time to shoot the Purdue-Cal State Fullerton game at noon. Then shot the Butler-Arkansas game (a perfect game, he says). And when he takes a quick break to chat, it is about 9:00 PM and he is in the midst of shooting the Michigan State-Bucknell game (he’s running on adrenaline, he says. He isn’t even tired, he says).

March is his favorite time of the year. According to Jimmy, the tournament “is unlike anything else in the universe.” Which is no surprise, considering what a basketball junkie he is. But what is a surprise, if you talk to him for just five minutes, is that he had never even heard of Butler University until he was in eighth grade.

A lot has changed since then.

 

A Student of the Game

Lafakis is from Schererville, Indiana. Hoops country. But, believe it or not, he grew up without a favorite college basketball team. How did a hoops-obsessed kid from Indiana grow up teamless?  “Well, my dad went to IU and everyone I knew had a team, but I was waiting for a reason to really fall in love, you know?” Lafakis says.

Lafakis played basketball in middle school, but was just OK, he says. However, he was always a student of the game. And then there’s his memory. Jimmy Lafakis remembers everything. He says this carries over to most things in life. But when it comes to basketball, well, his memory is extra sharp. He likes to play a game with his friends where they name a professional basketball player, and Lafakis fires back with the college he went to. Lafakis is rarely stumped.

So, when he started to get really into hoops, he, of course, remembered everything. Every game he watched, every player he saw, most stats. There was that day in seventh grade when he was watching SportsCenter and saw highlights of A.J. Graves and Butler. Naturally, it stuck and he was instantly hooked, he says.

“A.J. Graves was getting buckets,” Lafakis says, recalling specific highlights from a clip he saw in seventh grade. “I remember thinking, wow, he is good and Butler is good. I have to go to Hinkle. It was perfect timing because they were on the brink of bursting onto the national scene.”

 

A Butler Love Affair is Born

Obviously, Lafakis can reel off the first time he went to Hinkle Fieldhouse. He was in eighth grade, it was Halloween, and the Bulldogs were playing an exhibition game against Florida Southern. “I instantly fell in love with Hinkle,” he says. “That was the moment I knew I had to go to Butler.”

I instantly fell in love with Hinkle,” he says. “That was the moment I knew I had to go to Butler.

Jimmy’s parents, John and Kathy, toured the campus with Jimmy that day. They walked into the bookstore and walked out “with basically the entire store,” Jimmy says. Most notably? A blue sweatshirt that Jimmy still wears. Holes and all. “My mom and I still wear it. My dad tells me it is time to throw it out, but it means way too much,” Jimmy says. “There is too much history in that sweatshirt.”

The game against Florida Southern was just the beginning that year. The crew then went to Valparaiso in January (they lost in overtime, Jimmy says). Then it was onto New Orleans for the Sweet 16, where the Lafakis family watched Butler beat Wisconsin. After that game, the family headed back to Indianapolis, but made a pitstop at Butler, specifically Atherton Union, to watch Butler beat Florida in the Elite Eight. The game was projected on a wall inside the Reilly Room and Jimmy recalls the feeling of jubilation when the buzzer sounded (Shelvin Mack scored 27, he says), and he and about 200 Butler students ran onto the lawn outside Atherton to celebrate.

Now, a junior journalism major, Jimmy cannot believe how lucky he is. Instead of Atherton Union, he takes in most games from the baseline, Canon Rebel T6S camera, the same one he got June 1, 2015 for a graduation present around his neck. Snapping away. Posting to Twitter, Instagram, and publishing for The Collegian.

 

Experiences  

It’s hard to believe, Lafakis says, with a chuckle. But the first Butler game he ever shot photos for was exactly five years to the day after the first one he saw as an eighth grader with his parents. Halloween, 2015. And of course, he starts getting into the details of the game. An exhibition game. From 2015.

Lafakis first got into photography when he was a sophomore in high school. The girls basketball team was really good, and he started shooting their games. He saw this as a perfect way to blend his love of sports with journalism. Butler has allowed him to grow that passion, on a much larger scale, he says.

“I have worked for The Collegian since my freshman year and I really thank my lucky stars everyday,” says Jimmy. “It is really so special and unique. I don’t think too many other folks have the opportunity to do what they love, on this level, all over the country, while they are still in college. It’s really special.”

Following the team for the better part of his college career has sent Lafakis to Memphis, Portland, Detroit, Cincinnati, and West Lafayette, to name a few. Since he takes full advantage of these trips and snaps as many games as possible, he has captured some of basketballs biggest names. There has been Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Russell Westbrook (that was a selfie, he notes). NFL and NBA players have retweeted his photos.

But being around fellow journalists has been one of the most impactful parts, Lafakis says. It has given him a unique opportunity to seek out advice and learn from the best in the business. Jeff Goodman, of ESPN, for example, has offered words of encouragement. And he has developed a close relationship with the Indianapolis Star’s Gregg Doyel.

“There’s so much you learn in the classroom that prepares you, which I have been so fortunate at Butler to have some awesome professors. To mix that with the opportunities I have had in the field is irreplaceable. In the field, you really get thrown into the fire, which is where the real-world experience that I wouldn’t normally have so much of at this point in my life is so helpful. I am so lucky for that,” he says.

 

Making his Mark

Gregg Doyel remembers Lafakis’ presence in his inbox before actually meeting him in person. And he wasn’t exactly impressed. Lafakis would email Doyel some stories when he first got to Butler and ask for advice.

“I thought, ‘you are not very good,’” Doyel says. “Two years later, he is fabulous. Jimmy is like a basketball player who gets to college and cannot walk and dribble and then by the time he is a sophomore, he is an All-American.”

Doyel says Jimmy has become a regular at Butler men’s basketball games. Lafakis sends Doyel photos all the time. For example, Doyel recently published a story about Trevon Bluiett and Kelan Martin. Later that day, Lafakis pops up in his inbox, an email with photos of Bluiett and Martin together.

“Jimmy is the sweetest kid,” Doyel says. “He’s really smart. The thing about Jimmy is, and very few people have this, and I am not exaggerating, he is sincere. He’s got this thing where he embeds himself into your heart. He is not just a guy who takes pictures and writes stories, the entire team loves him. He is part of the team.”

A few weeks ago, Doyel was speaking to a College of Education class at Butler. He referenced a story he wrote and brought up Jimmy Lafakis, as he was mentioned in the story. He asked the class, about 20 women, if any of them knew Lafakis. “I’m telling you about 18 of them were nodding and smiling at me,” Doyel says. “I blurt out, ‘Why do you all know Jimmy?’ And someone says, ‘Well, everyone follows his Instagram because he is always taking beautiful pictures of Butler, and we want to see Butler through his eyes’…He is everywhere. He deserves everything. He is happy and humble, and all he does is bring happiness to everyone.”

 

Documenting in Detroit

It’s 9:30 AM on Sunday morning and Jimmy arrives at Little Caesars Arena. He likes to get to the arena on game day “as early as possible. Every time.”

Tip off against Purdue is over two-and-a-half hours away, the court is nearly empty, but Jimmy heads to his usual spot on the baseline. Questions swirl around the health of Butler’s Paul Jorgensen and Purdue’s Isaac Haas, and Jimmy wants to make sure he sees how each look during warmups. And of course, document it.

Minutes later, Jorgensen emerges from the tunnel to test his ankle. At seemingly the same time as Jorgensen hits the court in real life, images of him running up and down the court appear on Jimmy’s Twitter account.

“This school literally means everything to me,” he says. “These guys on the court are some of my good friends. I love basketball, trust me, but it is about so much more than being able to do what I love while I watch what I love. It is about being at a place that means so much to me with lifelong friends and memories that I will have forever.”

It is about being at a place that means so much to me with lifelong friends and memories that I will have forever.

See, that is what Jimmy loves about photography so much. That is why he gets to the arena on Sunday morning around 9:30 AM. That is why he shoots as many games as he can. And that is why, he estimates, he has shot hundreds of thousands of photos since he stepped onto Butler’s campus nearly three years ago, only missing a handful of Butler basketball games.

“It’s fun capturing moments. I love catching the emotion. It’s really cool to look back on. I love looking back at all of my pictures and seeing all the emotion and the memories,” he says.

If Jimmy has it his way, he will get a job in sports journalism after he graduates in 2019. Ideally, doing both writing and photography. But for now, he doesn’t want to even think about graduating from the place that has been “life changing,” he says.

“Being a senior will be extremely emotional. I don’t even want to talk about it,” Jimmy says. “Butler is such a special place. I am really nervous to be a senior. I want to savior every morsel of junior year.” But, when the time comes to graduate, Gregg Doyel, of the Indianapolis Star, thinks Jimmy is more than ready. Maybe a little too ready. “I’m not sure what he does better, write or take photos. He can really do both. He could write for any paper in America tomorrow, but he might be an even better photographer. And that is sincere,” Doyel says. “I just hope that little sucker doesn’t take my job someday.”

 

 

Student LifePeople

Like a Pro

DETROIT—It’s hard to catch Jimmy Lafakis. The first time, his phone goes straight to voicemail.

Like a Pro

By Rachel Stern

A House Sometimes Divided

By Rachel Stern

DETROIT—Chris Williams had her wardrobe change down to a science.

She started the day in all Purdue attire. Purdue shirt, Purdue hat, decked out in black and gold. She cheered for the Boilermakers in the stands at Little Caesars Arena Friday as they beat Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.But when the buzzer sounded, it was time for the change.

See, Chris is a Purdue graduate. And a proud one at that. But she married Mike, a Butler graduate. A proud, Butler basketball season-ticket-holding-since-1990 graduate, at that. And ever since, there have been, well, some hiccups. Like Friday, and Sunday, and the time their kids were deciding where to go to school, and the Crossroads Classic, and, and, and.

“We went to all the football and basketball games when I was at Purdue, and I am still a huge fan,” Chris says. “When I met my husband, I definitely became a Butler fan quickly. Pretty soon, I was going to tons of Butler sporting events and, even though I never stopped rooting for Purdue, I found a special place for Butler.”

On Friday, at least, there was an easy remedy. Chris was prepared. She dug into her purse after the Purdue game, reached for her stash of Butler gear, and changed before the Bulldogs tipped off against Arkansas in their first round matchup. Sunday, well let’s just say Sunday will be a bit less convenient. Butler will face Purdue for a birth in the Sweet 16. A wardrobe change won’t cut it. “Sunday will definitely be hard for me. It is always hard when both teams play each other,” Chris says. “I will probably wear a Butler hat and a Purdue quarter zip…”

Then Mike interjects.

“I remember, specifically, by the end of one Crossroads Classic game you were rooting for Butler,” Mike says. “The kids were like wow, you went to Purdue, but you are rooting for Butler. I definitely remember that time specifically.” Mike grew up in the Broad Ripple area, in, wait for it, a Notre Dame family. But, being so close to Butler, he attended a fair share of Bulldog basketball and football games growing up. When it was time for him to make his college decision, Mike knew he wanted to play golf and Butler, he says, was a perfect match.

Chris, on the other hand, grew up in Buckeye Country, eating and breathing Ohio State football in Lima, Ohio. She was all set to attend Ohio State, but at the last minute, switched to Purdue to study pharmacy. The two met in 1989 in Indianapolis and then married in December 1993. A lot of Butler athletic events followed. “I still followed Purdue closely, but just because of proximity and having season tickets, Butler was much more on my radar after we got married,” Chris says.  

Then they had their first child, Nick. “We took him to Hinkle a couple weeks after he was born. He always felt like Hinkle was home and the campus was comfortable to him,” Mike says. And it must have stuck. Nick is now a freshman at Butler and a member of the golf team. So, it is clear where his allegiance lies. Mike and Nick were texting during the Butler-Alabama game. Nick was trilled after the win, Mike says.

But then, there is their younger daughter, Claire. A junior in high school, she is starting to weigh her college options. “Every kid is different. She is just trying to figure out what place feels right for her and what will be the best fit. We will be taking some visits soon, but we are definitely hoping she likes Purdue or Butler,” Chris says. “Hopefully Butler,” Mike adds.

Claire wanted to be in Detroit, and is certainly rooting for Butler, Mike says, but she is away at a leadership retreat. The retreat doesn’t allow cellphones, but Claire has her priorities and was following the Butler game closely on her phone Thursday. She will do the same Sunday, secretly keeping an eye on the action. “She’s a good Butler fan,” Mike says.

The Williams', though a house sometimes divided, were excited on Selection Sunday when they saw the potential Butler-Purdue matchup in Detroit. At least they could travel to Detroit, see both teams play in the first round, and then watch a potential second round clash. Things are still tough for Chris when Purdue and Butler face off, she says. She still feels divided, even more so now that her son goes to Butler and is having such a great experience. She has taken to the Bulldogs even more now, with a vested interest at the school. There is one thing, though, that is easy for the Williams’ to agree on when it comes to college hoops.

“We both aren’t IU fans, that’s a no brainer,” Mike says. “And no matter what happens Sunday, we want the Indiana team that wins to keep going. But it better be Butler.”

 

Williams
People

A House Sometimes Divided

DETROIT—Chris Williams had her wardrobe change down to a science. She started the day in all Purdue attire. Purdue shirt, Purdue hat, decked out in black and gold.

Butler Roots Run Deep

By Rachel Stern

DETROIT—Out on the hardwood, toward a far corner of the court, the shortest player with the floppy blonde hair puts up three-pointer after three-pointer. Swish, swish, swish. At one point, he hits nine in a row.

He is 5 feet 11 inches, and Campbell Donovan wearing number 0 on his jersey is in a land of giants. It is the Thursday before Donovan, a freshman walk-on, and No. 10 Butler will take on No. 7 Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  

The team is at open practice – think glorified shoot-around – but to Campbell, this is serious business. Any chance to work on his game, be a part of the Butler team, and, his dad Rick jokes, put up shots, is a good day. And he knows to never take it for granted.

That’s because, despite basically growing up in Hinkle Fieldhouse, he was very close to never putting on the Butler jersey at all.

The Butler Bond Begins

Donovan Family
          Donovan Family during 2015-2016 Season

Rick Donovan grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana during Hoosier Hysteria, dreaming of playing basketball at the college level. He rooted for Purdue, but when it came time for Rick to head off to college, it looked like he would have a good chance to play at Butler. Joe Sexson was the head coach and the team wasn’t great, Rick said, but he was excited. “Once you get that Butler blue in your blood, Purdue and everyone else becomes secondary,” he says. “I had an amazing experience there.”

Barry Collier took over for Sexson during Rick’s senior season and Rick says, he could tell the program was starting to move in the right direction. After graduating in 1990 and enrolling in law school at Valparaiso, Rick bought season tickets to the Bulldogs and he hasn’t looked back since.

Rick and his wife, Sabrina, still live in Fort Wayne, but that hasn’t stopped them from traveling to Indianapolis for most games. And, it turns out, the Donovans have had several reasons to keep coming back to Hinkle. And keep coming back, and back, and back.

Another Donovan Joins Butler

Campbell remembers the drive from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis. There have been so many trips back and forth, but this one, he says, sticks out. His oldest sister, Ali, was on the brink of heading off to college at Butler, but first, she had a cheerleading tryout. Campbell was devastated.

“I remember it was her tryout day and I was in the backseat so sad,” he says. “She was about to leave home and I really didn’t want her to leave yet. She is 10 years older, so I remember thinking how upsetting it would be without her at home. But I also remember how excited she was to have the chance to cheer at Butler. We grew up at Hinkle with my dad watching basketball games and everything, so this was huge for her. I just remember being real sad, but also real nervous for her and just thinking what a big deal it was.”

Ali ended up making the cheer team. Donovan No. 2 to be connected to Butler Athletics. Rick says he made a distinct effort to remain open-minded during Ali’s college search. They made about four college visits and he was very impressed with all the schools.

“When Ali decided on Butler, let’s just say I was extremely happy,” Rick says. “It was really neat and special to see my kid on the court. I remember people would always ask, did you ever think you would see one of your kids out there, and I always would think of Campbell with hoops, that’s just what would come to my mind. But seeing Ali cheer was very special.”

With Ali’s four-years came more trips to Butler sporting events, says Campbell. He remembers going to tons of basketball games, football games, and traveling all the time.  With all of the travel, Rick says, he started to see his son’s motivation and passion grow. Rick and Campbell used to stay up late and watch Butler compete in the Atlantic 10 on television when they had away games. But once Ali joined the cheerleading team, Rick says, they started traveling to more and more games.

“I literally grew up in Hinkle,” Campbell says. “The coolest thing was she was on the cheer team during the 2010 and 2011 National Championship runs. This was the time that Butler was really starting to become a household name and gain national prominence. I knew before that it was cool my dad played in college and that was a big deal. But this was when it really hit me how much of a big deal playing for Butler was. It was then that I decided, OK, I really want to play basketball for Butler one day.”

A Dream Comes True

Rick and Campbell have walked out of Hinkle Fieldhouse together too many times to count. But this time, Rick made a beeline to Scotty’s Dawghouse. He had to talk some sense into his son.

The two of them had just met with, Butler’s head coach at the time, Chris Holtmann. They expected the meeting to just be a chance to get to know one another, let Holtmann know Campbell was interested in potentially walking on, and find out what the process would be like. At that point, Campbell was being recruited heavily by smaller schools, such as Division III’s DePauw. He knew he would have a great experience at a smaller school, get a lot of playing time, and that these smaller schools were very interested in him. However, Butler was always his dream.

Rick happened to play in an alumni game in fall 2016, which led to a phone call with former Butler assistant coach Terry Johnson, which led to this very meeting with Holtmann at the end of the season. An hour-and-a-half into the meeting, Rick couldn’t help himself. He kept looking over at Campbell, thinking, is this really happening.

“It seemed like Coach Holtmann was going in the direction of offering Cam a walk on position,” Rick says. “We just were looking at each other, like, is he really going to offer this? It was such a surprise. We were days away from probably going with one of the smaller schools, just because we didn’t know if this was an option for Cam. I really think if I pushed Cam with one finger he would have fallen over.”

Holtmann ended the meeting by telling Campbell to give the walk on role some thought and then to get back to him. Campbell said thanks and left. Rick couldn’t believe it. “I told him, you have been waiting 18 years for this, working your butt off, dreaming about this, the heck you will think this over,” Rick joked. “Cam told me he didn’t want to look too anxious, but after lunch he walked right back over to Hinkle and told Coach he couldn’t wait to join the team.”

Back to the Tournament

Campbell with Sisters
         Campbell with sisters at Final 4 in 2010.

There was the time Roosevelt Jones hit a floater at the buzzer to beat Gonzaga at Hinkle. Campbell remembers storming the court from 15 rows up. Then there was the time he watched in person as Butler advanced to their first ever National Championship in 2010, knocking off Michigan State. He remembers watching with his entire family. He also remembers missing the Final Four the following year because of a family vacation in Florida. He recalls looking for his sister, who was a cheerleader at the time, on TV. He was bummed he wasn’t there as he watched from the beach.

“Having all these memories, and now being in Detroit as a part of the team, it’s just mind blowing,” Campbell says. “Having this opportunity to be in the tournament, even though I am just a small part of it, but knowing I am a little part of something special, is just so incredible.”

Rick and Sabrina will be in the stands on Friday. Their two daughters will join on Sunday, if Butler advances. “Friday will be very emotional for me,” Rick says. “Butler has been great to us as a family. I am smiling all the time when I walk into Hinkle, but this will definitely be a different level of excitement getting to see Cam achieve something he always had in the back of his mind, surrounded by so many great teammates and friends.”

Campbell was one of the last one’s off the court Thursday. Putting up a few last shots, taking in every last second on the court. His first time being a member of an NCAA Tournament team, something he has thought so much about. “I try and put myself in the shoes of where I was last year, not even knowing where I was going to go to college,” Campbell says. “I remind myself all the time how lucky I am to be at Butler, not only as a walk on, which is amazing because so many kids would give a lot to be in my position, but to just take classes here and be at such an amazing University. It is really a great all around place and I am enjoying every moment.”

 

Team at Practice
AthleticsPeople

Butler Roots Run Deep

DETROIT—Out on the hardwood, toward a far corner of the court, the shortest player with the floppy blonde hair puts up three-pointer after three-pointer. Swish, swish, swish. At one point, he hits nine in a row.

Team at Practice

Butler Roots Run Deep

By Rachel Stern

The Maven of March Madness

By Rachel Stern

JoAn Scott started her week in New York. She will end it in Detroit, with short stints in Dayton, Dallas, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Detroit in between. She will juggle plane delays, broken-down buses, bad weather, hotel reservations, and, you know, whatever other logistical challenges might pop up when managing a 68-team basketball tournament. Such is the life of the NCAA’s Managing Director of Men’s Basketball Championships. Short on sleep, long on stress.

But Scott, who got her MBA from Butler in 2005, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There are definitely a lot of moving parts, and our goal is to make sure everything is buttoned up and that teams have as few distractions as possible,” Scott says. “I don’t get much sleep this month and my phone is constantly ringing as we try and put out the fires that come up. But I have the most rewarding job. I love seeing the players taking selfies next to the March Madness logo. The best part is really seeing everything through the eyes of the players.”

Scott oversees Division I, II, and III men’s basketball tournaments. On Selection Sunday, she is in the seeding room. She does not vote on seeding, but walks everyone through the process and explains to everyone who does vote how things work. Scott describes her role as “air traffic controller.”

But Scott, who got her MBA from Butler in 2005, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Selection Sunday is the most stressful day,” she says. “There is simply no room for error.” Going into Selection Sunday there are about eight different brackets, depending on which teams won Sunday, she explains. Not only are there several scenarios to plug in, but then there are graphics to prepare for the live show, all under the tight time crunch of a live television broadcast. But March Madness is much more than just a one-month a year job, she says. Typically, the first two months after the tournament are spent analyzing how things went and what could be done better. The rest of the year is spent plotting and planning the next tournament.

Scott grew up a hoops fan in Nebraska. She played for one year in college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After graduation, she spent a year working for a brokerage firm, then answered a newspaper classified ad for what was then called Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (now USA Basketball). That job included incredible experiences, she said, including traveling with the 1992 men’s basketball “Dream Team.” After 10 years, she took a job with Nike, where she spent 17 years. During that time, Scott decided to get her MBA at Butler. “I knew a lot of the sports side and I knew personalities,” she says. “But once I got to Nike, I felt like I didn’t know the business side. I loved school and I soaked it in. I still talk to my Butler professors.”

Scott is a Butler men’s basketball season ticket holder. But when it comes to March Madness, she is “Switzerland,” she says. “This time of year, I wear a lot of gray, white, blue, black, because I really cannot cheer for anybody,” she says. “I am just a huge basketball fan.”

Since she oversaw her first NCAA Tournament in 2015, the biggest thing that has changed is the evolution of social media, Scott says. Now, people can watch tournament games in the car, at their desk, basically anywhere they are, she says. And with the increased presence of social media, comes increased awareness of those logistical challenges. “We have learned that the social world can certainly teach us some things,” she says. “We have learned what isn’t going well from Twitter. When a team innocently tweets about a plane delay, often times, that is how we hear about it. With social media, everything is visible.”

Which inevitably leads to more sleepless nights for Scott. But she’s OK with that.

joan scott
People

The Maven of March Madness

JoAn Scott started her week in New York. She will end it in Detroit, with short stints in Dayton, Dallas, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Detroit in between.

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