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Luke Gallion '16 Earns the Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship


PUBLISHED ON Apr 06 2015

Chemistry major Luke Gallion ’16 says a lot of people deserve credit for him being named a winner of a prestigious Goldwater scholarship.

“I have lots of faculty members who wrote me letters of recommendations, or reviewed my application and made suggestions, or had me in class and helped me get to where I am,” he said. “I think receiving this award is more of a reflection on the department and the university as a whole than it is a reflection solely on me.”

Luke GallionGoldwater scholarships, which provide up to $7,500 for school-related expenses, were established “to alleviate a critical current and future shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers,” according to the program’s website. “A more realistic statement of the purpose, in today's terms, is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified individuals to those fields of academic study and research.”

Gallion certainly fits that description. Since coming to Butler from Brownstown, Indiana, three years ago, he has been working with Professor Michael Samide on a project that can quickly and inexpensively detect dangerous metals in water.

This semester and into his senior year, he is working at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on a project to discover why the colors have faded on a work called “Painting a Fresco with Giotto #3” by Fernando Brizio. The piece is a white vase that Brizio stabbed with markers. The ink bled out of the markers, leaving circles of color, and the artist attached the markers to the vase.

Gallion hopes his work will lead to helping the museum either come up with a better way to display the artwork so the colors don’t fade or a recommendation for new materials the artist can use.

His resume also includes:

-Completing a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in summer 2014 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he did 40 hours of chemistry research each week for ten weeks.

-Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal once, with another publication in progress.

-Presenting his work at two American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition events. He did a poster presentation in the fall 2014 meeting in Indianapolis, and he just gave a 20-minute talk in March at the spring 2015 meeting in Denver, Colorado.

-Participating with Samide and two other students in a chemistry outreach program. They go to elementary and middle schools in Indiana to do chemistry demonstrations designed to excite kids about science and provide them with information about careers in the sciences.

-Being named a Top 10 Male Student as a sophomore.

Gallion originally intended to go to Indiana State University and study in that school’s rural health program. But after receiving a Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship—which enabled him to go to any school in Indiana all expenses paid—he began looking around.

“As soon as I walked on Butler’s campus, I got that ‘I’m at home’ type of feeling,’” he said. “I knew once I took a tour that this is where I was going to end up.”

After graduation, he plans to go on to pursue a doctorate in either analytical or inorganic chemistry and become either a college professor or work in industry.

“Butler has provided me a lot of opportunities I don’t think I would have gotten at another school – for example, doing research,” he said. “The Chemistry Department here has been incredible.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


They Like Professor Levy's Book. They *Really* Like His Book


PUBLISHED ON Mar 30 2015

The reviews are in: Professor Andy Levy’s new book, Huck Finn's America: Mark Twain and the Era That Shaped His Masterpiece, is an enormous success.

Andrew LevyThe New York Times: "Capacious, companionable...Levy is excellent on Twain, on his drawl, his gait, his evolution on race matters...and even better on his contradictions."

USA Today: “Levy explores the soul of Mark Twain's enduring achievement with the utmost self-awareness. … An eloquent argument, wrapped up in rich biographical detail and historical fact.”

Wall Street Journal: “Lively and far-ranging.”

Boston Globe: “Levy’s subtle take on Mark Twain and his great book is a welcome addition to our understanding of both.”

Dallas Morning News: “Groundbreaking. …Levy’s arguments are detailed and intricately woven.”

NPR: “A richly researched, copiously annotated, fascinating argument."

Salon: "Provocative. . . [Levy is] an excellent, aphoristic writer."

See more here.

Levy said the attention the book has garnered has been “solidly exciting, solidly nerve-racking.”

“I’ve had books covered by national media before,” he said, referring to The First Emancipator: Slavery, Religion, and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Carter (2005), and A Brain Wider Than the Sky (2009). “But you never really know what’s going to happen. And likewise, there’s enough time between books where you think no one’s paying attention to you anymore.”

In addition to reviews in newspapers throughout the country, as well as magazines like the New Yorker and web media sites like the Daily Beast, Levy’s work has received recognition in several other ways. He has done close to twenty radio interviews, ranging from NPR affiliates nationwide to conservative talk radio to Bill Bradley’s American Stories program on Sirius/XM.

Huck Finn's AmericaHe’s been invited to do Book TV on C-SPAN in April with NPR’s book critic, Maureen Corrigan, who has a new book on The Great Gatsby. And Levy has been invited to speak at Twain’s 180th birthday celebration at the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York. While there, he’ll get to stay in the house where Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Also, Levy has been invited to write essays about Huckleberry Finn as contributor to several new volumes about Mark Twain and American literature. And he’s been told that his book, which entered its second printing in February, is already being taught in high schools.

He attributes the success, at least in part, to the painstaking research he did, which took over twenty years and resulted in more than 120 pages of endnotes in the book that document his findings.

“If you do your work, people pay attention,” Levy said. “They send you kind emails and they try to get you involved in their worlds, and that makes the work that much more worthwhile..”

But among the most gratifying results is the number of people who have recognized the student-centered component to his work. Butler students helped him research Twain and Huck Finn, and their participation has been noted in some emails Levy has received, as well as some reviews and social media postings.

“I’m really proud of that, and I felt like that emerged from a real positive about Butler,” he said. “My ability to trust my students and their ability to trust me made a difference. I want to keep doing that somehow. The idea of working with students in the future on projects that become books on which they get both the experience and the credit that they deserve really strikes me as an appealing way forward.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


A Study Break “Today,” a Free Florida Vacation This Summer

BY Sarvary Koller ’15

PUBLISHED ON Mar 27 2015

Colton Junod ’18 spends his break from class every weekday at 10 a.m. tuning in to his favorite television program for pop culture—the “Today” show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

Colton Junod on the "Today" showBut on Monday, March 23, when he flipped on his dorm room television at the start of the program, he kept the volume off.

That’s because he wasn’t just watching Gifford and Kotb—he was waiting for the producer to count him down for his live Skype appearance on the show as the “Fan of the Week.” (Watch Junod on “Today” here.)

Being “Fan of the Week,” he knew, would require him to answer a trivia question about the show.

“I didn’t tell too many people before, because I was afraid a whole bunch of people would watch and I would get the question wrong,” he said.

To get on the show, Junod, a Biology major, had submitted an application to “Today” with his story and photos of him watching the show.

Two weeks ago, he learned he would appear on the show over Skype to answer a trivia question. The prize for answering the question correctly: an all-expense paid trip to Miami Beach, Florida, for two.

Answer the question incorrectly, and, as Junod said, “it would have been so embarrassing to get it wrong on live TV.” Plus, he could kiss the free vacation goodbye.

But Junod’s consistent viewership paid off, and he correctly identified “Webtastic” as the “Today” segment where Gifford and Kotb share a viral video.

He plans to take his free Florida vacation this summer with either his mom or younger sister.

The trip includes airfare, a three-night and four-day stay at Thompson Miami Beach, dinner for two at Seagrape, and two tickets to the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Thinking back to the moments before his 15 Skype seconds of fame, Junod laughed as he remembered his last-ditch effort to show off his Bulldog pride on national television.

“I strategically placed a Butler flag on the wall of my room to give us a little press,” Junod said. “Put Butler in the public eye a little more.”


A Study Break “Today,” a Free Florida Vacation This Summer

Butler freshman gets 15 seconds of fame with Kathie Lee and Hoda

Mar 27 2015 Read more

Matthew Kraemer '99 Named Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra's New Music Director


PUBLISHED ON Mar 26 2015

Matthew Kraemer ’99 has been named Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (ICO).

“The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra is a dynamic organization comprised of superb musicians providing its audience an impressive variety of music and concert formats,” he said. “This position would undoubtedly be highly attractive to any conductor, but I am also drawn to the ICO because of my sincere affection for the rich and varied repertoire available to chamber orchestra.”

Matthew KraemerAppointed Music Director of the Butler County (Pennsylvania) Symphony and the Erie (Pennsylvania) Chamber Orchestra in 2012, Kraemer has reinvigorated both ensembles with innovative programming and elevated artistic standards. His active guest conducting schedule has included appearances with many of the nation’s finest orchestras, including the Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, Saint Louis, and Virginia symphony orchestras, as well as Canada’s Mississauga Symphony and Hamilton Philharmonic and in Europe with the Vidin Philharmonic and the Orquesta de Cadaqués.

Kraemer also spent five years as associate conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, which under his watch experienced exponential growth in its award-winning education concerts program. Prior to his appointment in Buffalo, he served for three seasons as associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

The Indiana native is noted for his “musical sensitivity” and “energized sense of interpretation.”

“I'm thrilled about our new Music Director,” Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Vice President of Audience Development and owner of Meridian Music Craig Gigax said. “He represents a new beginning to the ICO and Indianapolis, and will bring energy, ideas, relationships with soloists, and an innovative vision.”

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra’s mission is to advance and promote music composed for the small orchestra through professional concert performances and education programs. The ICO also provides accompaniment to many area arts and educational organizations.
Broadcasts of its concerts can be heard on WFYI-FM (90.1) on Monday evenings.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Fifteen Kids, Three Languages, One Computer

BY Sarvary Koller ’15

PUBLISHED ON Mar 26 2015

Deep in Kalchini, India, where cars are sparse and morning traffic consists of livestock, dogs, and locals on bikes, Ankur Gupta would make a weekly trip to an Internet café that had the only connection to the worldwide web in a three-hour-plus radius.

Ankur GuptaUpon arriving, he sat down on a bench and opened up his laptop computer. Some local children began to trickle over, crowding behind him to get a clear view of the screen.

Although on sabbatical for the semester, Gupta, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share some computer programming knowledge with the curious, wide-eyed children.

“There were 12 to 15 kids looking over my shoulder, just trying to figure out what the heck I was doing,” he said.

Through what he called plain coincidence, Gupta—who had gone to India to see his family—ended up spending an afternoon each week of his almost two-month visit teaching computer programming to local children.

Gupta spoke in Hindi, the children primarily spoke in Bengali, and all computer language was in English.

The triple language barrier was tough, but not impossible.

Hindi is an ancient language, and computer terminology doesn’t always translate, but Gupta found ways to explain the concepts so the children could understand.

“You just kind of wing it,” he said. “We were speaking to each other in languages that we didn’t understand, but when you are trying to learn something, you make it work.”

As the children memorized his computer code and latched onto the logic behind programming, Gupta said he noticed a shared revelation among his students—the world is boundless and up for grabs.

Before that, they were confined to a small town in West Bengal that Gupta described as a short, one-lane road lined with shops crammed in rows. Now, children who spend their days working on farms or shops connected to the area’s booming tea industry saw opportunities in fields they didn’t know even existed.

It was this that Gupta called his greatest contribution to the children of Kalchini. A teacher through and through, he said he prized the opportunity to open and inspire young minds.

“I just did this because I thought it was a chance to share things that I thought were cool about life with people who hadn’t seen them before,” Gupta said. “Ultimately, that’s the motivation for every teacher on campus.”


Fifteen Kids, Three Languages, One Computer

Computer Science Professor Ankur Gupta found himself teaching computer coding to young Indian children.

Mar 26 2015 Read more

Here She Is at Butler: Miss Collegiate Indy


PUBLISHED ON Mar 17 2015

She has already won the Miss Collegiate Indy pageant. Now Butler senior Michelle Ferro looks to June, when she’ll compete with about 35 young Indiana women to become Miss Indiana and represent the state in the Miss America pageant.

“My baton coach, Rachael Bazzell, had such a big influence on me, and she would talk about the benefits of doing pageants to earn scholarship money for school,” Ferro said. “She pushed me to get started, and I really enjoy it.”

Michelle FerroIn the Miss Indiana contest, participants are judged in interview, swimsuit, and evening gown competitions. The Miss Collegiate Indy pageant included a talent segment, where the South Bend native showed off her baton-twirling skills.

Ferro, who twirls for Butler as part of the marching band, twirled baton to a song called "Do Your Thing" by Basement Jaxx.

Miss Collegiate Indy contestants are judged on style, scholarship, success, and service. Ferro’s service project is improving literacy in Indiana. She worked with the IndyReads program for a time, and now she does a lot of tutoring for Butler’s College of Education.

“My goal as Miss Collegiate Indy is to go on a school tour and read to kids and talk about the importance of reading,” she said. “And to talk to adults as well.”

While pageants and even twirling are relatively new to Ferro, teaching has been part of her life for as long as she can remember. She grew up playing school in her basement. When her family would go on car trips, “I would bring my teacher tote with me and grade papers we had created with different student handwriting. That was fun for me.”

Ferro came to Butler to be a physician’s assistant but found that the major didn’t fit, so she switched to education.

“I love the College of Education here,” she said. “They get you really involved in the classroom.”

Ferro is working toward degrees in education and biology, with a plan to teach high school anatomy and physiology and “do something along the biomedical pathway. Then, maybe somewhere along the line, teach at the college level. But I don’t know where life’s going to take me.”

Perhaps Atlantic City and the Miss America pageant in September?


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Jimmy Page Said Listen. To Her Delight, They Did.


PUBLISHED ON Mar 05 2015

There’s a lady who’s sure Jimmy Page’s endorsement is gold. And her name is Caroline (Hauss) Taylor ’97.

Taylor, who majored in Music Business at Butler, is the business manager for the Louisville (Kentucky) Leopard Percussionists, a performing ensemble featuring about 65 student musicians ages 7-12 who play xylophones, vibraphones, drums, and other instruments.
Caroline Taylor '97

In November, the Leopards posted a six-minute video of the students performing portions of three Led Zeppelin songs – “Kashmir,” “The Ocean,” and “Immigrant Song.” Somehow—they don’t know how—Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page saw the video. On February 20, he posted it to his Facebook page along with this message: “Too good not to share. Have a rocking weekend!”

Before then, the video had about 7,000 views. It now has had more than 3.5 million, and the Leopards have been inundated with donations, merchandise orders, and media attention from as far away as England.

“It’s completely unexpected and sort of turned us on our head, but all in a good way,” Taylor said. “My business degree has served me very well through all of this.”

Taylor grew up in Louisville and played piano from the time she was 6. Her piano teacher in high school encouraged her to pursue a music business degree because “she felt like it had a broader purpose—and maybe a more lucrative outcome than being a piano teacher.”

Taylor—she was Caroline Hauss back then—looked for a program and found Butler.

“I feel like I got a great education,” she said. “I felt like it was a tough program because music and business don’t really overlap in many areas, so it was a pretty intense double-major.”

The summer before her senior year, she interned with the San Francisco Opera. That turned into a full-time job after graduation, and she spent the next three years there. She went from the opera company to a to working for a doctor in the mornings and teaching piano in the afternoons.

“I really missed having music and the arts tied into my job,” she said.

Along the way, she married Darren Taylor, a professional stagehand, and they had their first child, Chloe. But Chloe, who’s now 8, suffered a stroke in utero and was born with serious disabilities, so they decided to move to Louisville to be closer to family.

Taylor had planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but her cousin, Diane Downs, who founded the Leopards in 1993, offered her a part-time, mostly work-at-home position taking care of the organization’s monetary, music licensing, and grant-reporting duties.

That was six years ago, right around the time her son, Brando, was born. (He will be joining the Leopards later this year.)

It turned out to be a nice, low-key job. Then the Zeppelin video hit, and “it’s been crazy ever since,” she said. “And of course the kids themselves just feel like rock stars, which is very exciting.”

In April, the Leopards will do their “Big Gig” fundraiser (with special guest cellist Ben Sollee). They typically sell about 900 tickets in a 1,400-seat theater, but Taylor expects this year’s event to be a sellout.

They sent Jimmy Page an invitation, as well as a T-shirt, a video message from the kids, and some handwritten thank-you notes.

“We don’t really expect much of a response,” Taylor said. “But it would be crazy if he did.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


When Bobby Met Benjamin: A Child's Trip Through Hoosier History

BY Sarvary Koller ’15

PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2015

When Anna and Bobby closed their eyes to make a birthday wish on December 11, a birthday shared with the state of Indiana, they had no idea of the adventure that would ensue.

What happened next to the two 10-year-old book characters set them on a historical quest—they travel back in time with Native American leader Tecumseh to experience firsthand the history of Indiana, which became a state in 1816.
Bobby, a character in "The Gifts of Indiana," meets President Benjamin Harrison. Artwork by Taylor Bowen '18

Their story, in the children’s book “The Gifts of Indiana: A Tale of Three Birthdays and One Grand Adventure,” aims to introduce fourth-grade students to integral people and events in Indiana’s history, such as Eli Lilly, Benjamin Harrison, Madame C.J. Walker, and the Indianapolis 500.

The book, set to be published this spring, is a collaborative project among Butler University undergraduate students.

The project began with the goal of helping young students engage with state history to celebrate the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial anniversary. The State Bicentennial Commission endorses the project and will support the publication and distribution of the book to fourth-graders across Indiana.

Katy English ’15, Education major and one of the authors, said preparing the manuscript for the children’s book required more than just writing.

English said she worked with other student writers to research Indiana history and interview experts to determine which famous Hoosiers to include in the book.

“I really liked the creative writing part,” she said. “It’s something you don’t get to do much of in college. It also opened up a lot of connections for me in education and other things, like Indiana history, when we did research. I found a lot of great resources for me as a teacher.”

Catherine Pangan, College of Education Associate Professor and book project adviser, said students from four of Butler’s academic colleges worked together to write, illustrate, publish, and distribute the book—Eileen Carroll, sixth-year Pharmacy student; Annie Luc, senior Education major; Matt O’Brien, senior Education major; Katy English, senior Education major; Kim Van Wyk, senior Education major; Catrina Cranfill, senior Marketing major; Chloe Pahl, junior Marketing major; and Taylor Bowen, a freshman Art + Design major.

“The people working to publish this book are reflective of everything we do at Butler,” Pangan said. “We have the artists and the innovators, the educators, and the business people. We need representation from everybody to bring this book to life.”

Catrina Cranfill, a senior Business Marketing major, said the book project would not be possible without the collaboration of Butler’s academic colleges.

“We need all of these different minds,” Cranfill said. “I might not get the art or the writing, but we have artists and authors. It’s creating a whole piece.”

Cranfill handles the marketing and communications function for the project. Much of her work focuses on brand development and fundraising.

A fundraising campaign for the book on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo went live in late November, and the campaign closed on January 3 with almost $2,000 in donations.

Book presale is now open at the Gifts of Indiana website for $10 per copy or $200 for a 25-copy classroom set. (Buy the book here.)

Pangan said the goal is to place the book in the hands of all fourth-graders in Indiana. As the 2016 Bicentennial celebration nears, she said she cannot wait to see Indiana youth inspired by history that Butler students curated.

“I feel like I can already see how excited fourth-graders will be as they read this book together,” Pangan, a former fourth-grade teacher, said. “We are really going to make history come alive in the imaginations of these students.”


Finally! Icarus Ensemble Releases First CD


PUBLISHED ON Feb 25 2015

In the liner notes on their self-titled debut CD, the Icarus Ensemble—Butler University School of Music faculty members Jon Crabiel and Gary Walters and three members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra—thank their fans.
Jon CrabielGary WaltersDean FrankePeter HansenMark Ortwein

“You’ve waited a long time for this,” the group writes, “and we hope it was worth the wait.”

Their followers have, in fact, waited more than seven years for the group to record its first CD, a mix of sprightly jazz, progressive rock, and touches of chamber music under song titles such as “Pepperoni Grande con Queso Mas,” “Buffalo Shuffalo” and “Oopsey Daisy.” (Listen to "Oopsey Daisy" below.)

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They’ll get their first crack at the recording on Sunday, March 8, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. when the group hosts a CD release party at the Jazz Kitchen, 5377 North College Avenue, Indianapolis.

The disc also will be available through iTunes and CD Baby.

“We had enough songs, we had enough money to record, and we had fans asking” for a CD, Walters said. “We’d been together long enough that we had a lot of material written—much more than we recorded—but we can’t play out that often with everybody’s schedule what it is.”

The group, which takes its name from a Ralph Towner song, came together in 2007 when Peter Hansen performed as a substitute bassist in a quartet Walters was in. Hansen had played in a duo with violinist Dean Franke, who is also the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) Assistant Concertmaster, and they both perform with Mark Ortwein, the ISO’s Assistant Principal Bassoonist/Contrabassoonist. Walters has taught and played with Crabiel in the School of Music since the late 1990s, and they both do fill-in work with the ISO.

Their first gig was Hansen’s faculty recital at the University of Indianapolis, and live performances have been sporadic ever since. Because of their schedules, they get together when they can—usually about 12 times a year, mostly on Mondays at the Jazz Kitchen.

They treated the recording sessions with the same “we’ll-get-to-it-when-we-can” approach. They started in October 2013 and continued that December.

“Then everyone got busy—spring, summer,” Crabiel said. “In September, we made it back in and finished. It’s a fun group, and we thought we should put this down on tape.”

Hear Walters and Hansen talk about the group with Sharon Gamble ’78 MA ’87 here.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


When It Comes to Theatrical Design, He's All Set


PUBLISHED ON Feb 23 2015

Associate Professor of Theatre Rob Koharchik needed a couple of cartons of Kents, and he needed them fast. But after checking three smoke shops—and being told they’d cost $68 each—he decided to make them himself.

“Just give me a carton of your cheapest cigarettes, and we’ll fake the rest,” said Koharchik, who needed the cigarettes not to smoke but for the packaging—and for the set of Butler Theatre’s latest production, Mad Forest, running through March 1.
Rob Koharchik's set from Act 2 of Private Lives at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

Koharchik is the set designer for Butler Theatre, which means he’s in charge of everything from the look of the “room” that’s depicted onstage to what items sit on the coffee table. It’s his responsibility to make the scenes look as realistic—and sometimes surrealistic—as possible. That’s why he specifically wanted Kents—because Mad Forest is set in Romania in 1989, and that was the most in-demand brand there at the time. (He wound up designing his own “Kent” labels to attach to the generics he bought.)

If you’ve seen a Butler Theatre show over the past eight years, or perhaps a production of Shakespeare by the Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre, or something at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, then you’ve probably seen a set Koharchik designed.

Lately, he’s been branching out too. He just put up Noel Coward’s Private Lives, complete with a dazzling “view” of the Eiffel Tower, at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre. And in late March, his set design will be on display in Rochester, New York, in the Geva Theatre Center production of The Mountaintop, a play described as “a soul-stirring reimagining of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth.”

“Rob's beautiful designs bring to life the script in unique and dynamic ways,” Butler Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman said. “He is a master at creating theatrical spaces that honor the particular script and production. What is more, he is an excellent teacher, who is able to give our Butler Theatre students great training in design.”

Koharchik started working in theater in high school and in college at Ball State University. He got a work-study in the scene shop, and, in the spring of his sophomore year, scene design Professor Kip Shawger asked if he wanted to design a set.

“I don’t think I had a plan until that point,” Koharchik said.

He’d taken art classes and thought about architecture, but “theater had scholarship money, and that sealed the deal.”
Rob Koharchik

After Ball State, Koharchik went on to do graduate work at Boston University and become a freelance designer. He thought about moving to Los Angeles, but, while driving through Indianapolis in 1994, he stopped to see some friends. They suggested he move here.

He got work in Indianapolis theater, met the woman who would become his wife, Constance Macy, and put down roots. For four years, he taught at Purdue University. Then he came to Butler.

Koharchik, who teaches set and lighting design, said some scripts have detailed passages describing the set—or at least the atmosphere. Others allow the set designer to come up with whatever he can think of. He determines the look by meeting with the director, determining how he or she wants to approach the show, and seeing what the budget is for the set, props, and paint. Smaller companies might only have a few thousand dollars, while larger ones, like Walnut Street in Philadelphia, have many times that.

The bulk of his design work gets done during the summertime—especially the freelance jobs—because “after classes start, it gets harder and harder to find a four-hour block where I can get things done.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Elise Kushigian, Clowes Hall's Longtime Executive Director, to Retire


PUBLISHED ON Feb 14 2015

Elise J. Kushigian, the executive director of Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University for the past 20 years, will retire at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year after overseeing more than 8,000 performances. While at Clowes, Elise built 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.

Elise KushigianA national search for Kushigian’s replacement will begin shortly and is expected to conclude this summer. Her successor will oversee Butler’s entire performing-arts complex, including 2,200-seat Clowes Hall, the 450-seat Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, the 140-seat Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall and the 110-capacity Black Box Theatre inside Lilly Hall. This expanded position and new organizational alignment will inspire a new level of collaboration and efficiency, and will further improve the quality and consistency of the audience experience at Butler’s venues.

“Elise Kushigian has had a marvelously successful career at Clowes Memorial Hall,” said Ronald Caltabiano, Dean of Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts. “Her insightful work has helped to make Butler University a destination for arts and culture in the state. As we look toward the future, we hope to build from that strong foundation to further extend our reputation and our reach, bringing the arts at Butler to an even wider audience.”

Clowes Hall, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, brought more than 180,000 visitors to Butler’s campus during its most recent season. In a recent survey of the Central Indiana performing arts landscape conducted by Strategic Marketing and Research Incorporated (SMARI), Clowes Hall ranked first among the region’s arts organizations in experience and familiarity, and second in overall preference—trailing only the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

“Clowes is Central Indiana’s most versatile and professional performing arts venue,” said Matt Mindrum, Butler’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications. “When combined with our additional venues, leading degree programs, Arts Collaborative, and Community Arts School, Butler’s arts offerings are truly unparalleled in the region.”

Kushigian, who works with an annual operating budget of $4.5 million, describes her role as a curator of the performing arts—booking Clowes presentations and outside promoters and nonprofits, as well as overseeing the visual arts program. She also directs the nationally recognized Clowes PreK-12 Education Program, the largest comprehensive arts education program in Indiana.

“Since patrons see every event taking place in the building as a Clowes event, we have worked diligently to make all performances in the building consistent from front of house to backstage, so that patrons, artists and our users are treated as if all shows are presented by Clowes,”Kushigian said.

She said her proudest accomplishments at Clowes have been:

  • The recent multi-million-dollar restoration and renovation of Clowes, including new roof, restrooms, carpet, seats, sound systems, acoustical enhancement, and video production capabilities. The majority of the cost was underwritten by patron restoration fees and foundation grants—notably the Allan Whitehill Clowes Charitable Fund.
  • The commission of new artistic works by Béla Fleck and choreographers Donald Byrd and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. Also, the collaborations with local arts organizations such as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Butler Arts Collaborative in staging such events such as Holst’s Planets, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.
  • In 1996, Clowes was the first performing arts facility in the country to present live interactive teleconferencing with an education program by the Broadway touring cast and crew of The Phantom of the Opera to schools throughout Indiana.
  • The management of a three-year, $1 million dollar Lilly Endowment Grant (Creative Options for Reaching Excellence) through the endowment’s Indiana College Preparatory Program. This grant documented the need for arts-infusion programming in Indiana schools and communities with direct involvement by the faculty, staff, students, and families of IPS’ Crispus Attucks High School.

As for favorite moments, “there are too many.”

“I do know that when the house lights dim and the curtain goes up, something special will happen and will never happen exactly the same way again,” she said.

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.

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 Tony Awards 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. She recently stepped down as the National Co-Chair of the Education and Community Engagement Committee.

She has served as a member of the Board of Directors for Dance Kaleidoscope as well as the Community Relations Committee for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She was selected as a 2011 Creative Renewal Fellow by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Butler recognized her in 2014 with a Woman of Distinction Award.

She said her future plans include enjoying being a grandmother, gardening, volunteering and attending live performing arts events “with no worries or responsibilities.”

“It is hard to relax and enjoy the performance when you’re watching all production aspects, Front of House activities, and the bottom line,” she said.

Media contact:
Marc Allan


Meet Two COB Students With APPtitude

BY Sarvary Koller ’15

PUBLISHED ON Feb 09 2015

By Sarvary Koller '15

Andres Pena ’15 sat in his Intro to Marketing class at Butler University last year mulling over a prompt: change the world through a mobile device.
Andres Pena

Pena considered how the smartphone, with its seemingly endless capability, could be used as a tool to help those in need. He came up with a mobile app that would connect donors to people in developing countries.

“I couldn’t get the idea out of my head,” said Pena, who’s known to his friends as “Dre.” “I just kept thinking about this idea and how much everyone in class had liked it.”

He approached his friend and fellow College of Business classmate Matt Speer ’15, and the two began to conceptualize an app that would allow users to donate money to nonprofit organizations with the touch of a finger.

Two additional business classes in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program allowed them to further develop and plan what the app might look like.
Matt Speer

Over a year and a half later, their idea has become a reality. Speer and Pena launched their smart giving app, rippl, on the App store last week.

The rippl app enables an iPhone user to donate to select nonprofit organizations directly from their phone, similar to the newfound ease of transferring money on a mobile banking app.

“It’s just crazy to me because this idea started in a class exercise,” Pena said. “It’s something that happens every day on a college campus, but we were able to make it happen.”

With the simple tap of the “Give” button, a user can quickly make a donation to one of the nine featured nonprofit organizations: Wheeler Mission Ministries; US Dream Academy; National FFA Foundation; The Julian Center; Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis; The Oaks Academy; The Iris Foundation; Butler University Senior Class; and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.

These organizations paid $299 to participate in a two-month trial of the app, which began last week when rippl launched. Speer said the goal of the trial is to prove the value and the worth of the app to investors.

The full version of the app is expected for release next fall if the trial is successful. It would include more nonprofit organizations to choose from and additional app features and abilities, he said.

Deborah Skinner, Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business, helped Speer and Pena while they developed the app in her Leadership and Innovation class, a part of the Entrepreneurship curriculum.

She said their passion for the project was infectious, and she felt a strong desire to support them as they navigated building an app from the ground up.

“Although many students might have the capability to pursue a project like this, few jump on and do so with such enthusiasm and dedication,” Skinner said. “Nobody said these guys had to do this. They chose to pursue this idea and to do so with a high level of integrity.”app

But with the launch of this innovative app, the original question still exists: Why hasn’t a mobile giving app been created before?

Speer said he discovered the answer to that question on what he calls the worst day of his life.

Upon investigating the stipulations of using the App store as a vendor, the duo learned that Apple absorbs 30 percent of a donation if the money is given directly through the app.

“We didn’t think we’d be able to create this app anymore after we did all of this work,” he said. “It was pretty devastating.”

But Speer and Pena solved the challenge: Instead of donating the money through the App store, the donor is directed to an outside web browser that requires them to confirm their selected donation. Once confirmed, the user is brought immediately back into the app.

This process has made Speer and Pena pioneers in the realm of charitable giving.

“Why isn’t the donor the center of the whole process?” Pena said. “If I want to give $20 to, say, the Dream Academy, why can’t I do that quickly over my phone?”

“It cuts down the barriers to donate and makes it simple,” Speer added.

With success now in sight, Speer thinks back to his spur-of-the-moment 2:30 a.m. email to United Way of Central Indiana CEO Ann Murtlow to pitch the app.

Five and a half hours later, he woke to an email from an interested Murtlow. And just like that, rippl became more than just a great idea.

“When you’re presented with an opportunity, you don’t let it slip by,” Speer said. “When Dre told me his idea, I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.”