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LAS Dean Jay Howard Receives Prestigious Teaching Award


PUBLISHED ON Mar 19 2013

Jay Howard, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will receive the American Sociological Association (ASA) 2013 Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, which is given annually to honor an educator for his or her efforts to improve the teaching of sociology.

Jay Howard


Howard will receive the award—the highest award a teacher can receive in the sociology discipline—in August in New York at the ASA’s annual meeting.

“Jay Howard richly deserves this highly prestigious award, having made major contributions to teaching and learning at state, regional, and national levels and through service, workshops, and publications that have enhance the ‘college teaching movement,’” said Keith Roberts, Hanover College emeritus professor of sociology, who nominated him for the award. 

“In the entire history of the award, Jay is only the fifth person from a liberal arts college to be so recognized, and that in itself speaks to how he has earned national recognition despite being at smaller teaching-oriented institutions. It is a privilege to have him as friend and colleague.”

Howard’s contributions include:

-Starting a program for the North Central Sociological Association called the Future Faculty Certificate. “Graduate students, when they come to professional meetings, are often drive-by participants,” Howard said. “They present their research and leave after their session, often because they don’t have a lot of money. We were interested in getting them greater benefit from the meetings and getting them engaged in the organization.”

Howard led the effort to create the certificate, which graduate students earn by participating in teaching-related sessions. The certificate signals to potential employers that the individual is serious about teaching. The ASA has since established its own certificate program, which it modeled after North Central’s program.

-Authoring more than 35 teaching-related publications including, a book called First Contact:  Teaching and Learning in Introductory Sociology, with colleague Nancy Greenwood.  Howard has presented on teaching-related topics multiple times at ASA meetings.

-Writing, presenting, and publishing research about student participation and discussion in the college classroom. Howard presents faculty development workshops on this topic at institutions around the country.

-Serving as a member of ASA’s Department Resources Group, which trains sociologists to be external reviewers for college and university sociology departments.

-Serving as a key contributor to Indiana University’s Future Faculty Teaching Fellows and Preparing Future Faculty programs.

"Howard’s many contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning at the national level provide a blueprint for aspiring winners of this award," said Rebecca Bach of Duke University, chair of the ASA Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award Committee. 

Howard joined Butler in 2010 after serving in numerous positions at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, including interim vice chancellor and dean. He also has been a member of the graduate school faculty at Indiana University.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Indiana University South Bend, and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

 “I have been fortunate to be a part of a culture that values teaching on campus at Butler and at IU as well as in professional organizations at the regional and national levels , each of which provided me opportunities to contribute to furthering student learning,” Howard said. “I am deeply honored and humbled by this recognition.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


McGrath Named to College Sports Information Directors' Hall of Fame


PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2013

Butler University Associate Athletic Director Jim McGrath has been selected for induction into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.


This honor is presented to members of CoSIDA who have made outstanding contributions to the field of college athletic communications. McGrath will be inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame at a luncheon and ceremony on Thursday, June 13, in Orlando, Fla.

McGrath has served as Butler's sports information director since 1981 and assumed the title of associate athletic director in 1989 after four years as an assistant athletic director. In his current role, he is responsible for overseeing media relations for Butler’s 19 intercollegiate sports, and he’s the individual sport contact for men's basketball, football, men's soccer, softball, men's and women's golf and men's and women's cross country and track.  During his tenure, he has covered more than 2,000 Butler athletic events.

Since assuming his post at Butler, McGrath has served as the host SID for four NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Fours and one Women's Basketball Final Four, as well as nine NCAA men's first and second rounds tournaments.  He’s served on the NCAA Media Coordination staff for the Final Four since 2008, and he’s been a member of the NCAA Media Coordination Advisory Board since 2012.

McGrath has worked in press operations at amateur national championships in boxing, swimming and track and field. He was a press officer at the 1982 and 1983 United States Olympic Committee National Sports Festivals and the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and he served as a press officer for the United States team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis. He co-chaired the Media Center Development and Operations Committee for Pan American Games X and served on the media coordination staff for the 2002 World Basketball Championship.

McGrath arrived at Butler after a 10-year stint as sports information director at his alma mater, Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.). While at Augustana, he served as the host SID for five NCAA Division III national basketball championships. He was publicity director for the Ed McMahon Quad-Cities Open professional golf tournament for five years, and he served five years as the director of communications for the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.  While at Augustana, he received 30 publications awards from CoSIDA, including 10 Best in the Nation certificates.

McGrath received the “Helping Hand” Award from the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in 2010, and he was inducted into the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2012.  He also joined the Augustana College Tribe of Vikings Hall of Fame with the 1972-73 men’s basketball team in fall 2012.

A 1971 graduate of Augustana, McGrath and his wife, Judy, have three sons, Chad, Scott and Christopher, and five grandchildren.


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Professor Oprisko's Work is Getting Noticed


PUBLISHED ON Jan 29 2013

Visiting Professor Robert Oprisko thinks Butler students are good enough and smart enough to engage with any mind at any university. So when some students in his “Introduction to International Studies” class suggested that he’s too demanding—that they shouldn’t be expected to be able to do what their peers at the so-called top-tier universities do—he was incensed.

Robert Oprisko

“How are you suddenly inferior when you’re at one of the best liberal arts universities?” he said. “This mindset that they’re somehow less than students at other schools drove me absolutely batty, and I had to do something about that.”

What he did was to begin a yearlong research project that has been highlighted in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education—and perhaps has confirmed the source of his students’ feelings of inferiority: Where you come from plays an important role in where you are likely to get hired.

Working with Natalie Jackson and Butler student Kirstie Dobbs, Oprisko found that 50 percent of the political science academics hired at research-intensive universities in the United States graduated from 11 schools.

Writing in the Georgetown Public Policy Review (an article that's soon to be reprinted by The International Political Science Association), Oprisko reported that, among the top three private universities, Harvard has successfully placed 239 political scientists at 75 institutions—including 12 at Harvard. Princeton has successfully placed 108 political scientists at 62 institutions—including five at Princeton. And Stanford has successfully placed 128 political scientists at 51 institutions—including three at Stanford.

The highest ranked public university, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (ranked number four overall), has successfully placed 141 political scientists in 61 institutions—including seven at Michigan.

These four schools contribute 616 political scientists, roughly 20 percent of the total tenure-track lines in the discipline at research-intensive programs, Oprisko’s research found.

Meanwhile, “Excellent or not, students from less prestigious institutions are less likely to get an opportunity to showcase their talent,” he wrote.

To Oprisko, this is a mistake.

“We as an academy are doing the absolute wrong thing strategically when it comes to hiring,” he said. “And we’re reinforcing the idea that, if you come from Butler or Purdue – where I got my Ph.D. – that you’re inherently inferior. We see it all the time – people hire individuals from highly ranked institutions because they’re expected to be better.”

The solution, he said, is for schools to consider diversity from a number of standpoints and perhaps do a blind review in hiring, as is done in publishing, that focuses on personal excellence and achievement, rather than where someone went to college.

Oprisko is in his third year at Butler – and hoping for more, he said. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and his master’s degree and doctorate from Purdue. As good as those schools are, they’re not considered top tier when it comes to hiring, he said.

“In hiring, we value this affiliated honor to a substantially larger degree than individual prestige,” Oprisko said. “That’s a problem, because that’s too much focus on where you came from, not where [instructors are] at or what they’ve accomplished. But it should matter less where you come from than what you do. Good research should always trump being from a good pedigree.”

Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Smiley, Langston Join University Board of Trustees


PUBLISHED ON Jan 14 2013

The Butler University Board of Trustees has welcomed two new members: Joshua L. Smiley of Indianapolis, senior vice president of finance at Eli Lilly and Co., and Ronald N. Langston of Des Moines, Iowa, principal of Langston Global Enterprises LLC.

Both will serve three-year renewable terms as trustees.

Joshua L. Smiley
Smiley is senior vice president of finance at Eli Lilly and Company and the corporate controller and chief financial officer for Lilly Research Laboratories.

The finance function at Lilly is centralized with approximately 1,000 employees globally.

As controller, Smiley has responsibility for all the financial operations for the company’s business units and business functions. In his CFO capacity for Lilly Research Laboratories, he oversees an annual research and development budget of $5 billion.

Previously, he was employed by Lilly as a deployment leader for Six Sigma (2004‐2007); director of U.S. business‐to‐government operations (2002‐2004); and director of U.S. business‐to‐business strategic marketing (2000‐2002).

Prior to his work with Lilly, Smiley served as a financial advisor at Putnam Associates and Prudential Securities. He was also a board member for CGI Pharmaceuticals, a genomics-based drug discovery company, until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences."

Smiley was named in Treasury & Risk Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list of the country’s up‐and‐coming young finance executives in 2005.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Harvard University in 1993.

He is a past member of the board of Aspire Indiana, which offers mental health services, finds meaningful employment or affordable housing or those in need, offers an HIV/AIDS care program, and provides services for the deaf community.

His personal interests include reading, football, and spending time with his three children.

Ronald N. Langston
Langston is the principal of Langston Global Enterprises LLC, an entrepreneurial and business innovations consulting firm based in Des Moines, Iowa. The firm supports business-to-business relations in the United States, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and China.

He has served two U.S. presidents, Ronald W. Reagan and George W. Bush. As national director of the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, Langston led an agency reorganization and transformation that resulted in the MBDA receiving a Gold Medal Award for entrepreneurial leadership from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Under his leadership, the agency achieved more than $3 billion in procurement and financial transactions on behalf of business entrepreneurs.

His prior career included administrative positions with EMCO Manufacturing, the Institute for Social and Economic Development, Principal Financial Group, the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Federation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Senate, and Iowa General Assembly.

Langston is a senior fellow for Global Entrepreneurship Initiative of the United Negro College Fund Special Program Corporation, and serves on the Villanova School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council.

He is a past chairman of the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans, and state commissioner for the Iowa Department of Transportation. He has received the prestigious Iowa Literary Award; the Ronald H. Brown Economic Development Prism Award from Minorities Magazine; the Asian Business Strategic Thinker Award; and the National Diversity Gala Best Practice’s Government Leader Award.

Langston holds degrees from the University of Iowa, City University of New York, and Harvard University. He is a member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and a fraternal member of Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi. He is married to Inga Bumbary-Langston, Esq. of Washington, D.C.

He officially introduced his friend James M. Danko during Danko’s inauguration as Butler University’s 21st president on Nov. 17, 2011.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944


'05 Graduate Sees the World By Bike


PUBLISHED ON Jan 14 2013

Brendan Kay ’05 finished an 8,800-mile bike ride from Shanghai, China, to Dublin, Ireland, to increase awareness of hemochromatosis, raise funds to fight the disorder, and encourage blood screenings for the disease.

Brendan Kay at a stop in the Czech Republic

Kay and his friend Ben Shuker rode an average of 75 miles per day, six days per week, and funded the trip themselves. Traveling for almost seven months, updating friends, family, and many other supporters through their blog along the way, Kay and Shuker cycled across 20 countries.

The pair’s travels included stops in China, Kazakhstan, Romania, Austria, Belgium, England, and many others before they finally reached their destination, the Republic of Ireland. Read more about Kay’s journey at

Kay and Shuker began their “Great Ride” on May 21, 2012, in China and ended on Dec. 7 in Ireland. Soon after beginning their adventure, Kay learned of his uncle’s struggle with hemochromatosis, a genetic blood disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron. He decided to use the trip as an opportunity to raise awareness about the disorder and about $1,500 for the American Hemochromatosis Society. (To learn more about the American Hemochromatosis Society, visit

Hemochromatosis poisons the body’s organs and leads to life-threatening conditions. The disease is fairly common and afflicts one in every 100-200 people but often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Throughout the trip, Kay and Shuker had their fair share of troubles, including visa problems that separated the pair for three weeks. However, Kay said in a recent press release, from sleeping in tents or on couches of strangers, “The one fundamental thing I have learned on this trip is that all people are good. We encountered so many kind people and such hospitable people in every country.  There were countless acts of small and great hospitality.”

Kay and Shuker finally finished their “Great Ride” at the Dublin Castle, where they met Kay’s parents and cousins from Ireland and the United States.

Since graduating from Butler, Kay has spent his time traveling around the globe teaching English in Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Argentina, Australia, and China. He plans to return to the United States to receive a teaching certificate.

His advice for others?  “Get out and see the world,” he said in the news release. “It’s awesome!”

Media Contact:
Molly Kordas ’13
(317) 940-9332



New Book Provides Lessons in How To ‘Lead Like Butler’


PUBLISHED ON Jan 10 2013

Team unity, embracing the growth process, executing well-thought-out plays and demonstrating toughness in every circumstance—those are some of the traits required to play basketball at Butler University—and to succeed in life, according to the new book Lead Like Butler (Abingdon Press).

Through interviews with coaches, players, and alumni, Indianapolis clergyman Kent Millard and Judith Cebula, director of Butler’s Center for Faith and Vocation, explore the six leadership values taught by the entire coaching staff at Butler University. Each chapter of the book helps readers discover how these values form a solid foundation for anyone striving for success in life's journey.

Much of the attention is focused on head coach Brad Stevens, who coaches according to a set of six values-based principles broadly known as The Butler Way: humility, passion, unity, service, thankfulness, and accountability.

Millard, retired senior pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, holds up Butler men’s basketball as a model for others to emulate. He writes that whether you work with a leadership team at your place of employment, strive to build a strong family, or train with others to achieve your goals, the values of humility, passion, unity, service, thankfulness, and accountability can help you shape your group into a successful example.


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822