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Meet the New Director of the Center for Faith and Vocation


PUBLISHED ON Sep 21 2015

Daniel Meyers, the new Director of Butler’s Center for Faith and Vocation, faced some tough moments while studying biochemistry at Willamette University.

“Chemistry was always a challenge for me and required tremendous energy; there came a point where I was ready to give up my biochemistry major,” he said. “But I had good advice from my own chaplain at the university, who I talked with about this. He said: ‘Small seasons are small. This moment of frustration and challenge was not your whole time in the sciences and probably won’t continue to be.’ And that was true.”

Daniel MeyersThe influence of that chaplain was so significant that Meyers continued his biochemistry major and took on a second major, Religious Studies. In both fields, he found himself asking big questions about how the world works. Or, as he puts it, “two different approaches to similar questions.”

Religion eventually won out in his career plan. And now at Butler, he plans to help coordinate, support, and strengthen religious life on campus while helping people identify their own passions and how those interests connect to their work at the University and beyond.

“What I’m hopefully going to get to do,” he said, “is be involved in both of those distinct but very much wedded-together projects.”

Meyers came to Butler on June 1 from Columbia University, where, for the past two years, he was the inaugural Earl Hall Religious Life Fellow in the Office of the University Chaplain. The Portland, Oregon, native, and his wife, Janna, initially moved to New York after graduation from Willamette. While she studied at Union Theological Seminary, he taught high school chemistry and environmental science in Newark, New Jersey, through Teach for America.

“What I really learned from that whole experience is that teaching is very, very difficult, and you have to be able to connect with the community,” he said. “You have to be present in many ways beyond the classroom.”

In Newark, Meyers also realized that he wanted to focus on chaplaincy rather than leading a parish because he preferred one-on-one, small group dynamics to leading a large community. After three years of teaching, he and Janna moved to Connecticut. He attended Yale Divinity School, earning a Master of Divinity and becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ.

That led to his fellowship at Columbia, where one of his achievements was creating Exhale, a space for student reflection, awareness, and discernment. As that position wound down, he wanted to find a higher education, multi-faith chaplaincy.

Meyers sees his first year at Butler as “largely a listening year.” He’ll hear from students, faculty, staff, and community advisers about where the Center for Faith and Vocation should go as it heads into its second decade. He also will advise “those open to questions and open to seeking.”

“So whether you find yourself in a religious set of commitments or communities, or you’re outside of any particular label but you have questions about meaning and purpose and divinity, those are the kinds of folks I’m excited to be engaging with at Butler,” he said.

He’ll also have a big year personally—Janna is expecting their first child in October.

“New house, new city, new job, new child,” Meyers said. “It’s just all kinds of new. I’m excited about all of it.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Professor Muedini Has Two Books Published Simultaneously


PUBLISHED ON Sep 17 2015

The new books Human Rights and Universal Child Primary Education and Sponsoring Sufism deal with exceedingly different subjects, but they have this in common: Both came out this summer, and both were written by Butler Assistant Professor of International Studies Fait Muedini.

Fait Muedini“I am very passionate about human rights and social justice,” Muedini said. “I am driven by what I view as the importance to speak out against injustices, and to find unique ways to work toward the protection of people’s rights.”

Muedini said Human Rights and Universal Child Primary Education came from his dissertation, which he wrote while at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His interest started with a statistic he read—that more than 100 million children around the world do not go to school—and grew from there. (That number is said to be somewhat lower now.)

In the book, he discusses the problem and the reasons for it, what governments and non-governmental organizations are trying to do, what’s working and what isn’t, and what needs to be done.

Muedini said the largest barrier is cost.

“Parents have to decide between sending children to school, keeping them home, or sending them to work,” said Muedini, who’s in his second year teaching at Butler. “And if it’s the choice between sending a daughter and sending a son to school, they’ll send the son because he has a better chance of getting a job. This continues to make access to education even harder for girls.”

He said most of the problem is confined to the global south—sub-Saharan Africa, parts of the Middle East, and portions of the world with unstable economies or low employment and high disease rates.

The key to getting more children in school, he said, is ensuring that it’s free. Even in places where there is no charge, there are still costs for uniforms, books, and travel.

“When you read interviews with children, the number one thing they want – over new clothes, over new toys – they wanted to go to school,” Muedini said. “That’s why I decided to focus on this. In addition, the UN and other international organizations have really built in free education as a primary issue. Their goal was to educate all children by 2015. And they’re far from that goal, sadly. There’s an initiative there, but it’s not being met.”

Sponsoring Sufism—the subtitle is How Governments Promote “Mystical Islam” in Their Domestic and Foreign Policies—details how leaders around the world use Sufism to try to tamp down radical Islam.

“Particularly in Muslim-majority states,” Muedini said. “They recognize that Islam is important and people care about it in their society, so they want to promote it. They want to be seen as an ally of Islam. But if they promote it too much, they’re worried it could spark an Islam that they’re not comfortable with—a political Islam that they can’t compete with electorally, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”

He looks at cases in Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan, Russia—and even some movements in United States and Britain trying to promote Sufism. Muedini said authoritarian leaders often need to find an Islam that fits their agenda, an Islam they can promote but is not threatening politically. Sufism is mystical and seen as esoteric. Followers are often perceived—incorrectly, Muedini said—as being more interested in meditating in the forest than they are in politics, he said. So leaders promote this as “the true Islam.”

For his next book, Muedini, who grew up in Detroit (his parents are ethnic Albanian immigrants from western Macedonia), will turn his attention to what non-governmental organizations are doing to promote lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-intersex (LGBTI) rights in Turkey and other conservative countries.

“There is no direct common thread between these works and my new project on LGBTI rights,” he said, “but I believe it is essential to speak out for the human rights of all individuals.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Professor Pivec Makes the Most of His 'Time'


PUBLISHED ON Sep 11 2015

On May 4, 2015, Butler Director of Jazz Studies and saxophonist Matt Pivec, bassist Jesse Wittman, and drummer Kenny Phelps walked into The Lodge recording studio in Indianapolis. Eight hours later, they left with all seven songs recorded for their new CD, Time and Direction.

Time and Direction“It was definitely an exhausting day,” Pivec said. “We spent a lot of time listening in the studio. So we would record one take, go back into the sound booth and listen to it. If we needed to make corrections or changes, we did that on the fly. So it was a good, active, collective process where everybody was involved in the listening. It kept fatigue at a minimum because there were a lot of breaks, but it also kept us engaged in the music.”

Pivec said he, Wittman, and Phelps rehearsed for a few weeks before going into the studio to play live. They performed each song through twice and chose the better of the two takes. They did almost no editing and overdubbing because they wanted to retain the spontaneity and flow of their playing.

The biggest challenge, Pivec said, was the saxophone-bass-drums configuration.

In working without guitar and piano, “everybody has to pull their weight a little bit more,” Pivec said. “There’s a balance you have to strike. You can’t overcompensate, or it starts to get weird. You just have to accept the fact that this music breathes a little bit more and that overall there’s a different sound to it. Once you embrace that sound, then you’re OK to move forward.”

He said the result in Time and Direction is that Wittman’s sound is “warm and big, and you can really hear that on the recording. And Kenny is very creative. He incorporates a lot of different sounds. With a little more space, you can hear his creative approach come through.”

Funding for the CD came from a Butler Faculty Research Grant. The research, Pivec said, took him into the history of sax-bass-drums recordings throughout history—people like Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson and modern players such as Kenny Garrett and Chris Potter who have recorded with that configuration.

Pivec also received a Butler assist from Assistant Professor of Art Steve Nyktas, whose photograph of a stopwatch graces the cover. Nyktas noticed that a number of the songs had titles that loosely related to the theme of time and direction.

“He had some photos that corresponded with that, and that’s where the album title came from,” Pivec said.


Media contact:
Marc Allan

Arts & CulturePeople

Ty Sutton Named Executive Director of the University Arts Center


PUBLISHED ON Sep 11 2015

Ty Sutton, the General Manager of the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center in Midland, Texas, has been named the new Executive Director of the Butler University Arts Center, which includes Clowes Memorial Hall, Schrott Center for the Arts, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, and the Black Box Theatre in Lilly Hall.

Sutton, who will start at Butler on October 19, has more than 16 years of event and venue management experience—from Olympic venues to the position he’s leaving at the 1,827-seat, University of Texas-owned theater.

Ty Sutton“I enjoy working in an academic environment, and I think Butler has a lot to offer,” Sutton said. “I run a University-owned building now, and it’s one of the busiest in the country. So this move made sense in a lot of ways.”

Sutton has been at the Wagner Noël for three years. Previously, he was General Manager of The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. He also has worked in several arts administration positions, including Programming Director at the University of Utah and Audience Services Manager at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California.

He was a partner at Encore Entertainment, a Salt Lake City-based concert and event touring company, and worked as a Venue Manager for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.

“It was a fantastic experience to see the highest level of customer service and event planning,” he said. “You have one shot for 16 days to get something right, and, if you don’t get it right, there are no do-overs. That can be really intimidating, but I found it empowering.”

He also held the position of Event Services Manager for Anaheim’s Honda Center, home of the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks and one of the busiest arenas in the country.

“Ty brings a background and skillset that will serve both Butler and the Central Indiana community well,” said Ronald Caltabiano, Dean of Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts. “He will build on the great work that’s already been done in these venues, and his commitment to the highest quality of student, community, and professional performances is evident. Indianapolis is a world-class city with a burgeoning arts scene, and the Butler Arts Center is well positioned to thrive under Ty’s leadership.”

A native of Danville, California, in the San Francisco Bay area, Sutton earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Utah and is a graduate of the International Association of Venue Manager’s Venue Management School. He and his wife, Polly Creer Sutton, a retired professional ballerina, have a 6-year-old son, Cooper, and a 1-year-old daughter, Tatum.

He takes over Clowes Memorial Hall from longtime leader Elise Kushigian, who retired in August after more than 20 years, and Interim Executive Director Karen Cromer. The newly created position at Butler has him overseeing operations of all performance venues.

Sutton, who was selected at the conclusion of a thorough national search conducted by the Arts Consulting Group, described his approach to the arts as “very entrepreneurial.”

“Whenever we can drive revenue to the arts by selling tickets and creating sponsorships, the more opportunity we have to expand our offerings," he said. "I want us to create attention for our venues and programs, and provide experiences for our patrons that they'll remember for the next 20 years."


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Natalie Girman '17 Selected Porter County Fair Queen


PUBLISHED ON Sep 09 2015

Natlie GirmanButler University junior Natalie Girman '17 was crowned Porter County Fair Queen on Saturday, August 23, at theNatalie Girman Porter County Fair in the Park Place Pavilion.

Contestants were judged on professional wear, evening gown, and an interview with the judges. They also answered a question while wearing their evening gowns.

Girman's prizes included $500 cash, a $50 gift card, and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2016 Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant January 8-10, 2016.

Girman is majoring in speech pathology and plans to go to graduate school.

Read more about her win here.


Butler to Honor 11 for Service to the University


PUBLISHED ON Sep 03 2015

Nine Butler University alumni and former President Bobby Fong will be honored on September 25 at the Alumni Awards Recognition Program for extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities.

This year’s winners are:

Ovid Butler Society Foundation Award
Will ’06 and Emily (McIntyre) ’06 Turner

Ovid Butler Society Mortar Award
Nancy Brown ’72 and Darrell Pieczko

Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award
Bradley A. Hamann ’04

Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award
Nadja Halilbegovich ’02

Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award
Barry G. Hohlfelder ’66

Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award
Joseph N. Allegretti ’59

The Butler Service Medal
Bobby Fong

The Butler Service Medal
Ann Wagner Harper ’63 MS ’68

The Butler Medal
Sanford “Sandy” Rader ’53

The awards will be presented at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at 6:00 PM as part of Homecoming Weekend festivities.

More about the winners and their awards follows.

Will ’06 and Emily (McIntyre) ’06 Turner (Ovid Butler Society Foundation Award)

Will and Emily (McIntyre) TurnerEmily, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the College of Business, was captain of the cheerleading squad and active in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority while at Butler. After graduating, she worked for GE Supply, later called Gexpro, as a contract implementation leader. She served as a student mentor in the Starfish Initiative for four years and is an active member of St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Indianapolis. In 2007, Will and Emily created the Richard McIntyre Endowed Book Fund to honor Emily’s late father. In 2012, Will and Emily had their first child, and Emily has been a full-time mom since then.

Will, who was Freshman Male of the Year in 2003 and a Top 100 Student in 2005 and 2006, earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance at Butler. He was captain of the men’s golf team and a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He started as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch after Butler and is now First Vice President of Wealth Management, focusing his practice on financial planning and investments for individuals and institutions. Will has been a member of Butler’s B-Association, Ovid Butler Society Executive Committee, and the Young Alumni Board, where he served as President.

The Ovid Butler Society Foundation Award honors one person or couple (age 40 and younger) who demonstrate leadership and generosity to Butler University.

Nancy Brown ’72 and Darrell Pieczko (Ovid Butler Society Mortar Award)

Nancy Brown and Darrell PieczkoNancy Brown, who studied English at Butler, is a current member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors. She is a past member of the OBS Executive Committee. While a student at Butler, her activities and honors included Alpha Chi Omega, Dean’s List, Alpha Lambda Delta, Sigma Tau Delta, Mortar Board (President), History Club, Literature Club, Spring Sing (Director), Geneva Stunts (Co-Director).

Brown earned a Master of Arts in Public Relations at Ball State University in 1981 and went on to a career in corporate communications. She worked at First Chicago/NBD Corp. from 1978–2000, leaving there as a vice president, and became Director of Corporate Relations for ITT Educational Services. She retired from ITT in 2007.

Darrell Pieczko formerly worked as Director of Market Research for INB Financial. Brown and Pieczko live six blocks from the Butler campus and enjoy the atmosphere that the Carillon contributes to the neighborhood.

The Ovid Butler Society Mortar Award honors one person or couple each year who demonstrate great vision, leadership, and generosity to Butler University.

Bradley A. Hamann ’04 (Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award)

Brad HamannBrad Hamann, Managing Broker for Hamann Sense LLC, decided to attend Butler following a Butler Business Scholar’s Weekend. He majored in marketing and minored in psychology. As the bulldog mascot, he traveled to the men’s basketball team’s first Sweet Sixteen in 2003. Brad was recognized as a “Resident Assistant of the Year” in 2003 before becoming the Assistant Coordinator at University Terrace, serving approximately 150 students during his tenure. Brad was twice honored in the “Top 10 Outstanding Male Students” in 2003 and 2004.

Hamann continues to support the College of Business, Student Affairs, and Young Alumni Board, where he served as Vice President and President. He helped establish a scholarship, form a task force on alumni needs, and create the “Ambassador” program to engage members. Hamann met his wife, Andrea E. (Sands) Hamann PharmD ’08 as a client referral in 2009. They married in 2013 and reside in Butler Tarkington.

The award he is receiving is named for Joseph Irwin Sweeney, whose student career was cut short when he suffered an untimely death in summer 1900 prior to his senior year. It goes to an alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the past 15 years.

Nadja Halilbegovich ’02 (Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award)

Nadja HalilbegovichNadja Halilbegovich was 12 years old when the war broke out in her native country Bosnia. Throughout the next three and a half years, she and all the citizens of the capital Sarajevo suffered from continuous shelling and the deprivation of basic needs. During the war, she began sharing her poetry and diary entries on the National Radio. Soon, she had her own radio show called “The Music Box.”

At 14, Halilbegovich’s diary was published in Bosnia. She became known as the “Bosnian Anne Frank,” and the Dutch National Television network created a documentary about her life. In late 1995, Halilbegovich escaped the war and came to live in the United States. That summer, the sequel to her diary entitled Dreamer’s Insomnia was published in Bosnia. She continued to speak and share her experiences.

She earned bachelor’s degrees in theatre and music performance from Butler University and was recognized as the first-ever student recipient of a “Woman of Distinction Award.”

The Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award honors alumni who have exited the University within the past 15 years and have made major contributions to a career field or to society.

Barry G. Hohlfelder ’66 (Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award)

Barry HohlfelderBarry Hohlfelder retired in 2008 after nearly 37 years as a television producer for NBC. His credits include producing “Sixth Hour News” for WNBC-TV in New York, writing news for WMAQ-TV in Chicago’s Channel 5 News, and news producer at WMAQ, where he produced special projects for Jane Pauley. He won a national Emmy in 1982 for an “NBC Nightly News” series called “College Sports, the Money Game,” and a local Emmy for co-hosting a series of championship high school football games with Greg Gumbel.

At Butler, where he was a radio and television major, he was a news director and anchor at WAJC-FM; appeared in two theatre productions; received a radio writing award sponsored by WXLW radio at the 1966 Honors Convocation; won a WIBC Radio Newscasting Award; and received the Alpha Epsilon Rho Senior Achievement Award in radio.

He is past Chair and a current member of the Jordan College of the Arts Board of Visitors and the current Chair of the College of Communication Board of Visitors. He also is President of the Jordan College of the Arts Alumni Community and has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award is presented to an alumnus or alumna of more than 15 years for outstanding service to Butler University.

Joseph N. Allegretti ’59 (Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award)

Joe AllegrettJoe Allegretti graduated cum laude from the College of Pharmacy in 1959. He is the Past President and COO of Laser Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Crown Point, Indiana, and was President Emeritus of Laser Pharmaceuticals LLC, a new entity. He also was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Ribordy Drug Store chain for more than 13 years. In his early years, he worked as a pharmacist at East Side Pharmacy and Portage Professional Pharmacy in the Portage Clinic, all affiliated with Ribordy Drugs.

Allegretti was Chairman and Director of the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) Board of Visitors for a combination of six years. He and his wife, Annette, have three sons: Carl, Paul, and Jim—all Butler University graduates. Carl ’83 is a Certified Public Accountant and Partner and CEO of Deloitte Tax LLP. Paul ’88 is a pharmacy graduate and is currently an Emergency Room Physician and Director of the Emergency Room Program for Midwestern University. James ’92 is a Certified Public Accountant and Partner with Deloitte LLP. All three sons played football for Butler.

For the past 25 years, Joe and Annette have provided various scholarship support to a Butler student majoring in Pharmacy or Business from Northwest Indiana. For the past 15 years, they have endowed a scholarship through the Crown Point Community Foundation for a student from the Crown Point area going to Butler University. They have also donated white coats to Butler Pharmacy students entering the professional phase of their education and supported the Athletic Department in the past.

The Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award is presented to a Butler alumnus or alumna of more than 15 years for outstanding contributions in a career field or to society.

Bobby Fong (The Butler Service Medal)

Bobby FongWhen Bobby Fong became President of Butler University in 2001, he was the only Asian American president of a private university in the United States. His decade as President of Butler was highlighted by highly successful financial management and strategic planning initiatives. The University implemented a new core curriculum, which included an Indianapolis service component; built or renovated a facility each year; completed a $154 million comprehensive campaign; and sustained an athletic program distinguished by its balance between academic achievement and competitive excellence.

He opened the Center for Faith and Vocation and the Center for Citizenship and Community, which became national models for involving students in faith and service to community, respectively. Under Fong’s leadership, Butler began its relationship with Shortridge High School, the Community Arts School, and, with a grant from the Lilly Endowment, its Pharmacy Outreach program.

The Butler Service Medal recognizes emeriti faculty or retired faculty and staff (alumnus or non-alumnus) for a lifetime of distinguished service to Butler University and to the community.

Ann Wagner Harper ’63 MS ’68 (The Butler Service Medal)

Ann Wagner HarperBy the time Ann Wagner Harper got to Butler, she had already established herself as a local celebrity in music and broadcasting. Among her credits, she was the first female vocalist on television in Indiana, on WFBM (Channel 6); and first female disc jockey in the state, on WFBM radio, where she conducted on-air interviews with such personalities as Patti Page, The McGuire Sisters, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, and Bill Haley and the Comets.

When rock ’n’ roll hit, she decided to give up radio and finish her college education at Butler University. (She had started college at the University of Louisville in 1944 after winning a voice contest sponsored by the Louisville Courier Journal and WHAS, but moved to Indianapolis in 1947 to sing with the Art Berry Orchestra at The Columbia Club.) She earned her bachelor’s degree in speech, then taught high school, and completed her master’s degree at Butler in education and speech.

After graduation, the manager of WAJC, Butler’s student-run radio, asked her to join the faculty in radio and television broadcasting. She advised students and taught announcing and radio production. She later introduced two new courses, broadcast law and music in broadcasting. Starting as an instructor, she became a full professor, her proudest professional accomplishment. In 1985, she was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. She retired from Butler in 1988.

Sanford “Sandy” Rader ’53 (The Butler Medal)

Sandy RaderSandy Rader has practiced law in New Jersey for 45 years. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a member of the Strategic Air Command Flight Crew from 1954–1956 and has been an Air Force Reserve Officer and Retiree Officer since 1956. Rader is currently the Director of Retiree Services and Affairs at Joint Military Base McGuire-Dix, Lakehurst, New Jersey, overseeing services for approximately 70,000 retirees and veterans.

At Butler, Rader organized the 1952 Junior Prom. He also served as president of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity; was a member and officer of the Arnold Air Society of the Butler Air Force ROTC Detachment; was an Air Force ROTC officer and on the Air Force ROTC staff in his senior year; was a house boy at the Delta Gamma house and a soda jerk at the C-Club; chaired one of the Greek caucuses on campus politics; and was a representative on the Interfraternity/Sorority Council.

The Butler Medal, the highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association, recognizes individuals for a lifetime of distinguished service to either Butler or their local community while at the same time achieving a distinguished career in their chosen profession.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Professor Rao Has a Crazy-Busy Summer


PUBLISHED ON Aug 27 2015

Associate Professor of Art Gautam Rao’s work was all over Indiana this summer—and still is for a little while longer.
Gautam Rao's work is on display in South Bend through September 27.

His work is currently on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art as part of its Finders Keepers exhibit. Finders Keepers runs through September 17. More information is available at

Additionally, his work can be seen at the South Bend Art Museum as part of Biennial 28, which is open through September 27. This exhibit “presents a diverse look into contemporary artwork made by artists living in the Midwest.” Rao won the Juror’s Award for his interactive installation there. More information is at

Earlier this summer, Rao’s work was on display at the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute as part of the 71st Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibit, open to artists from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.

Rao reports that he’s also busy at home: He and his wife, Sameena, welcomed twins Kabir and Kamal on May 16.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Board of Trustees Renews Contract of President James M. Danko


PUBLISHED ON Aug 21 2015

The Butler University Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to renew the contract of President James Danko for another five years, extending his leadership to the year 2020. Although Danko’s contract is not set to expire for another year, the Board determined that securing him now would ensure strategic continuity and maintain Butler's positive momentum.

President Jim Danko

In an announcement to the University community today, Keith Burks, Chair of the Board, said that Danko “has successfully advanced Butler University in a clear and positive direction—one that has provided our learning community with renewed vitality and confidence in the future.”

Since his inauguration in 2011, Danko has engaged the Butler community in the development and implementation of Butler 2020, a progressive strategic plan. He established the Butler Innovation Fund to support creative approaches to teaching, research, and service; partnered with the Christian Theological Seminary to open the Desmond Tutu Center; led Butler’s successful effort to join the BIG EAST Athletic Conference; signed the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment; and oversaw the renovation of buildings including Clowes Memorial Hall and Hinkle Fieldhouse, the beautification of Butler’s main thoroughfare, and the construction of new buildings—including a 600-bed student-housing facility slated to open in 2016.

In keeping with Butler’s commitment to inclusivity, Danko was the first university president in the Hoosier State to publicly denounce Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015.

“I feel incredibly privileged to serve as the leader of Butler University, and look forward to the exciting work ahead,” said Danko.

Danko, who earned his degree in religious studies from John Carroll University and an MBA from the University of Michigan, applied his entrepreneurial approach to academic leadership roles at institutions including Dartmouth College and Villanova University before his appointment as Butler’s president.

President Danko and his wife live on campus and frequently open their home to students and their families. He also regularly hosts office hours for students and attends campus events across academic disciplines, the arts, athletics, student life, and service.

“Our community is unique,” he stated. “We not only have world-class faculty, staff, and students who are doing extraordinary things from an academic perspective: we have those same people demonstrating sincere care and respect for those around them within a close-knit residential environment. I can’t imagine a place I’d rather be.”

Keith Burks noted that Danko “has demonstrated the courage to take decisive action, to set and pursue the highest expectations of himself and others, and to take calculated risks.” He added, “His daily approach to presidential service underscores not only his sense of humor and exceptional work ethic, but his care and respect for all members of Butler’s diverse community.”

Media contact:
Marc Allan


Elise Kushigian Honored for Her Service to Clowes Hall, Butler, Indiana


PUBLISHED ON Aug 07 2015

Elise Kushigian was honored on Friday for her more than 20 years of service as executive director of Clowes Memorial Hall, with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard proclaiming August 7, 2015, “Elise J. Kushigian Day,” and Gov. Mike Pence naming her a Sagamore of the Wabash.

Butler President James M. Danko also weighed in, praising Kushigian for building a strong and lasting legacy of innovative programming, groundbreaking education initiatives, and capital projects that have preserved and enhanced Clowes Memorial Hall for the next generation of Central Indiana audiences.
C. Diego Morales of Gov. Mike Pence's office presents Elise Kushigian with the Sagamore of the Wabash.

“Elise has made a remarkable impact here,” Danko said. “She has overseen more than 8,000 performances, which averages to nearly eight a week. That is extraordinary. The people of Indiana are richer for the work she has done.”

At a ceremony in—appropriately—the main lobby of Clowes Hall, Kushigian was presented with the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor an Indiana governor can bestow. The award acknowledged Kushigian’s “humanity in living, her loyalty in friendship, her wisdom in council, and her inspiration in leadership.” Past recipients have included astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to Hoosier heritage.

Ballard’s proclamation noted that Kushigian was named the first female executive director of Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University in 1995 and oversaw a $4.5 million annual budget. She also administered more than $15 million in restoration grants.

“Elise—self-proclaimed curator of the performing arts—administered the nationally recognized Clowes PreK–12 Education Program, the largest comprehensive arts education program in Indiana, in addition to commissioning new artistic works and collaborating with local arts organizations to stage events,” the proclamation stated. “The City of Indianapolis thanks Elise J. Kushigian for her dedication and leadership in making Clowes Memorial Hall one of the city’s leading venues for learning and entertainment, and wishes her all the best in her much-deserved retirement.”

Prior to coming to Butler, Kushigian served as the assistant director of the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington. She previously worked in New York City as an agent, tour coordinator, and assistant general manager of several productions, including the Broadway productions of Othello starring James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer, and Medea, starring Dame Judith Anderson and Zoe Caldwell.Elise Kushigian

In addition, she was responsible booking agent for such organizations as Radio City Music Hall, The Disney Organization, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Kushigian is a voting participant of the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards—the only Tony voter in Indiana—and is currently on the National Legislative Committee for The Broadway League (formally The League of American Theatres and Producers Inc.) as the Indiana representative.

The search for Kushigian's successor is underway. Karen Steele Cromer will be serving as interim Executive Director.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Dean Howard's New Book Has Them Talking (Or Soon Will)


PUBLISHED ON Jul 22 2015

Maybe you know how this is (or remember how it was): A professor asks the class a question and then waits … and waits … and waits for someone, anyone to speak up. But most of the time, what the professor hears is the hissing of fluorescent lights.

For the last 30 years, Jay Howard, dean of Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor of sociology, has been studying this phenomenon. And now he’s written a book to help professors get their students talking.

Dean Jay HowardIn Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting Your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online (published by Jossey-Bass), Howard writes that student participation is vital because “engaged students learn more.”

“One key strategy to engage students is through discussion,” which helps develop critical-thinking skills, challenges students, and stretches their abilities, he writes.

“That’s what college is supposed to do,” Howard said. “So professors have to change students’ understanding of the classroom.”

Howard said that, to change the dynamic in the classroom, a teacher needs to overcome certain behavioral norms. One, known as “civil attention,” is the appearance of paying attention. In most classes, he said, students don’t have to speak up unless they volunteer to speak, so many merely pay civil attention. Professors should require students to be in on the discussion, Howard said, which will compel them to pay actual attention.

Then, in many classrooms, there is what Howard calls “the consolidation of responsibility”—that is, a group of five-to-eight students who accept the responsibility for student verbal participation and discussion, letting others off the hook.

“We’ve got to expand past those five-to-eight dominant talkers and get a much higher percentage of students engaged in discussion,” he said.

How to do that? Howard recommends:

-Letting students reflect and collect their thoughts, rather than turning to them and asking what they think. “Shy people don’t figure out what they think as they’re talking. An extrovert does that. They’ll figure it out and process out loud. An introvert is not going to process out loud, so you’ve got to give them the opportunity to process before you ask them to engage.”

-Ask students a question and give them a couple of minutes to write out what they think. Then pair them with a classmate and have them share their ideas with each other. Then ask: Whose partner had a really good insight? “Then you get smart, quiet students to participate,” Howard said. “They’ve had a chance to collect their thoughts, they’ve rehearsed what they’re going to say, and they’re affirmed for their thinking.”

-Make it safe to be wrong. Some students don’t speak up because they worry about being wrong in public. “Professors have to model that it’s OK not to know, so it’s safer for students to not know. We professors have this compulsive need to always know, but it’s to our advantage and to our students’ advantage to say, ‘Wow, that’s really intriguing. I don’t know what the answer to that is.’”

Howard said he hadn’t planned to write this book. Not at this point, anyway. Being dean kept him busy enough. But Maryellen Weimer, who wrote the noted book Learner-Centered Teaching and works as an acquisitions editor for the publisher Jossey-Bass, read some of Howard’s research. When they met, she told him: “Someone needs to write a new book on student participation and discussion in the college classroom.”

Howard squeezed writing time into his schedule, finishing the first draft in summer 2013 and the revision in summer 2014.

Weimer wrote the forward, in which she said that Howard’s book has “the potential to rewrite the story of student interaction in face-to-face and online courses.”

Howard writes that changing the classroom will take time.

“Students may even be openly hostile to our efforts at first,” he writes. “But, as their experience with participation in purposeful discussion grows, they will also experience the exhilaration that comes with mastering new content and refinement of cognitive skills. And that makes learning and teaching more rewarding for everyone.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


NCAA Selects President Danko for Committee to Shape Future of College Sports


PUBLISHED ON Jul 08 2015

Butler University President James M. Danko will be among a group of college presidents, athletics administrators, faculty, students and conference commissioners to convene in Indianapolis August 4-5 to build the foundation for the future of college sports, the NCAA announced.
President Jim Danko

Participants were invited because of positions they hold in the Division I governance structure or affiliated organizations.

The Division I Strategic Summit participants include all members of the Board of Directors (including the student-athlete, athletics director, faculty athletics representative and senior woman administrator who serve on that group); Presidential Forum members from conferences that do not have representation on the board; the chair and vice chair of the Council; the chairs of the seven standing Council committees, the Committee on Academics and the Committee on Infractions; leaders from affiliated organizations who serve on the Council and the Board of Governors members from Divisions II and III.

The participants selected one of four strategic planning groups on which to serve that will study four different aspects of college sports. Each group will use outside experts as needed.

Each of the groups will focus on defining a specific area:

  • The Division I collegiate model of amateur athletics, including the key features of the Division I student-athlete experience and use of resources within athletics.How college sports should assist students while they are in college, including academic achievement and appropriate demands on time.
  • How college athletics should assist students to prepare for life after college, including those who wish to pursue athletics through professional pursuits and other high-level opportunities such as the Olympics.
  • The overarching principles for how the division should operate, including examining the current subdivision structure and the role of conferences.

Each strategic planning group will present background and analysis of its topic area to the summit participants in advance to help inform the discussion and ultimate creation of principles to guide the division’s decision-making in the future.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


The Center for Urban Ecology Gets a New Director


PUBLISHED ON Jun 05 2015

An interest and expertise in plant ecology has taken Julia Angstmann from Indiana to Manitoba, Canada, to Cape Town, South Africa, and back to Indiana—where she is now the new director of Butler’s Center for Urban Ecology.

“My career has definitely not been a straight line,” Angstmann said. “I have seized opportunities even if I didn’t see directly where they were leading me. Luckily, it has provided me with a wide range of experiences that I can apply to the director position.”

Julia Angstmann

In her new role, she will oversee a center that oversees the CUE Farm and the University’s sustainability efforts. CUE also focuses on the environmental needs and challenges facing the city of Indianapolis.

Angstmann grew up in Marion, Indiana, where she liked to fish, mushroom hunt and spend time outdoors with her father. Students in Marion schools took field trips to Asherwood Nature Preserve to do science projects, and “that definitely impacted me from an early age,” she said.

In her senior year of high school, she job shadowed the director of Asherwood and, once she was accepted to Indiana University-Bloomington, knew she wanted to go into the natural sciences.

Angstmann earned her bachelor’s in environmental science from IU in 2002. In 2005, she received a master’s in environmental science from Taylor University, where she did research on plant community ecology and assessing the community structure and presence/absence of certain plant species in a small nature preserve in northern Indiana.

Four years later, she earned her doctorate from the University of Wyoming, where she studied water use in trees in the Boreal Forest in northern Manitoba, Canada.

After that, Angstmann wanted to move to an urban environment and gain lab experience, so she did post-doctoral work in Cape Town looking at the deposition of nitrogen from air pollution into their natural environments. There, she became interested in human perceptions of nature.

“A lot of that stemmed from interactions in Manitoba, where people would say it’s negative-50 degrees, so there’s no global warming,” she said. “I realized you can publish as many papers as you want, but if you don’t get society on board, and help educate people on issues facing the natural world, then it’s all for naught.”

When she and her husband, Grant Fore, a social anthropologist, moved back to Indiana in 2012, she took a job at IUPUI as a grant proposal writer, assisting faculty from across the university in writing proposals for external funding.

She said her first order of business in the Center for Urban Ecology is to gauge what’s been done and what needs to be accomplished.

“The center has a lot of accomplishments in community engagement and community outreach with the urban farm and the sustainability efforts on campus,” she said. “They’ve also done really well engaging students. It seems like the traditional scientific research could use an additional boost, so I’m hoping to come in and create some opportunities for the center to collaborate with Butler faculty, in particular, but also the community. The previous efforts of the center have been great. I see my role as focusing some of those efforts.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan