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Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

BY Marc Alan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

 Outstanding achievement inside and outside the classroom has propelled five Butler faculty members to be awarded Distinguished Faculty and Outstanding Professor designation.

These awards recognize inspiring presence in the classroom, achievement in research, community service, and exemplary achievements.

"As an educational institution, Butler strives to provide transformative educational opportunities to our students," said Provost Kate Morris, who handed out the awards on August 15 at the Fall Academic Workshop. "And faculty are on the front lines of that transformation. Simply put, without great faculty, our students would not have the success they have." 

"As an educational institution, Butler strives to provide transformative educational opportunities to our students," said Provost Kate Morris, who handed out the awards on August 15 at the Fall Academic Workshop. "And faculty are on the front lines of that transformation. Simply put, without great faculty, our students would not have the success they have." 

"It is critical to find ways to recognize faculty who have had outstanding years and outstanding careers to highlight the fact that their work truly makes a difference to students and to our academic community. I am delighted to be able to honor the five individuals honored this year, and believe they are excellent representatives of the impact faculty have on our students."

The Outstanding Professor awards recognize faculty members who excelled in all areas of their professional responsibilities and demonstrated outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship, and/or service and were given to Associate Professor of English Ania Spyra and Professor of Music Kate Boyd.

The Distinguished Faculty awards recognize exemplary achievement, accomplishments, and contributions across the length and breadth of the winner’s career at Butler and were given to Associate Professor and Chair of Arts Administration Susan Zurbuchen, Professor of Philosophy Stuart Glennan, and Professor of Religion Paul Valliere.

Spyra, who joined the Butler faculty in 2008, studies the influence of migration on the language of literature. She was recognized for high student evaluation scores and her ability to reach all of her students in core, departmental, and interdisciplinary settings.

Boyd, a Butler professor since 2005, played nine solo recitals and nine chamber music performances during the 2016-2017 academic year. In addition, her CD recording of the work of composer John Cage garnered much national and international attention.

Zurbuchen was commended for creating one of the most successful degree programs of its kind in the country. She joined the Butler faculty in 1989.

Glennan, whose area of specialization is in the philosophy of science, with particular attention to biology and psychology, came to Butler in 1992. He is a scholar of international repute and a widely acknowledged founder of an important emerging field in philosophy.

Valliere, who retired at the end of the 2017-2018 after 35 years at Butler, was called a great professor, an outstanding scholar and researcher and a remarkable contributor to the university mission.

 

Media contact:

Marc Allan
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

AcademicsPeople

Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

Five faculty members have been recognized for outstanding achievement inside and outside the classroom. 

Aug 16 2018 Read more
Jeremy Johnson
AcademicsThanksPeople

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 14 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened by accident.

Jeremy Johnson, Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry, was looking at images of acyl protein thioesterases, or APTs. Because proteins are smaller than the wavelength of light, they cannot be seen by eye, or even with a microscope. So, proteins are crystalized, and then static images are taken, revealing what they look like at one point in time.

But, when Johnson looked at the APT images closely, he saw something he had never seen before, and something, he says, that is quite rare – the protein in multiple states.

“Our image showed the APT in open and closed states or active and inactive,” Johnson says. “Normally, we think of proteins as static, or as staying in one position, and only recently have we started to appreciate the idea of natural movements of proteins.”

With an $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Johnson will be researching why we should appreciate that very idea. Seeing the image of the APT in a dynamic state enabled Johnson to hypothesize a whole new set of ideas about what this protein could potentially impact – cancer progression, neural deterioration, and immune functions, he says.

“Once we had this image and saw it was dynamic, we were able to start to hypothesize how this protein could be important within a cell,” he says. “All of a sudden new possibilities emerged that we knew we wanted to research more. Once we knew the structure, new alleys for research questions opened.”

APTs are a class of enzymes that are linked with cancer growth, neural degeneration, and bacterial infections. But, this photo revealed they are also dynamic – something that was not previously known.

Now, Johnson says, he is set to dive into what this dynamic function actually means, and how it could impact those important links. Some questions his lab will focus on include looking at how the dynamic nature of this protein could impact APTs as a future drug target, and how it might relate to cancer and immune functions.

After seeing the image, Johnson says his team will start to look into how that movement is related to the regulation of the protein and how that can impact the biological functions of APTs.

“You always hope there is relation to the big picture,” Johnson says. “We are going to be looking at the dynamic movement and if that movement is essential to biological function. You hope that movement is related to the big picture things that we know this protein is already involved in.”

Also, as part of the NSF grant, research occurring in Johnson’s lab will be integrated into undergraduate classroom laboratories, giving a wide range of students the chance to participate in the research. There will also be a new molecular biophysics laboratory added to the biochemistry major at Butler.

All of this, Johnson says, because of an accident.

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Jeremy Johnson
AcademicsThanksPeople

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

Butler Chemistry Professor Jeremy Johnson discovered something in his research that no one had seen before.

Aug 14 2018 Read more
People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 03 2018

 

Katie Hannigan '08 just got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic's career: She performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Her segment—which was recorded June 15 at the Ed Sullivan Theatre and aired on August 2—"went really, really well," she said by phone from her home in New York. "It was such a great experience for me."

Hannigan, who describes herself on Twitter as "just another wholesome Midwestern girl with demons" and in her act as someone who "looks like she owns a muffin shop," said a booking agent for the show caught her act in March and invited her to do the show. She was the first of seven comics who recorded their sets on that day in June, in front of an audience that was specifically in the theater to see comedy, as opposed to celebrities and musical acts.

The idea behind that is to make sure the comics get the best possible reception.

"It definitely is a huge career milestone for me," she said. "This is something I've been working toward for years and years and years."

Eight years, specifically. But at least 14 years, if you go back to her first year at Butler.

*

After graduating from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where she was fascinated by experimental theater, Hannigan came to Butler as a Theatre major and immediately found herself cast in Top Girls, a play by unconventional writer Caryl Churchill. Everyone in the cast was older, and "I felt quite distinguished and honored to be able to do that show."

In that production, she worked with director Constance Macy for the first time. They teamed up again two years later on The Underpants, and she credits Macy, an Indianapolis actress and director who works frequently with Butler Theatre, with helping her develop a critical eye for comedic timing.

Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman remembers Hannigan as "talented, intelligent, and curious. Her primary focus was acting and she was and is a gifted actress. She was always an extremely funny person with a terrific sense of humor. But while she was a Theatre Major, she was known primarily for her acting abilities."

At Butler, Hannigan also worked at the Holcomb Observatory for 2½ years, which "helped me develop my interests outside of performing, which is so important to be able to draw on." (She's now hosting a podcast called Apodcalypse about ends-of-days scenarios in pop culture and religious legend.)

*

Hannigan moved to New York a week after graduation. She moved in with her former Butler roommate Leah Nanako Winkler—who has also gone on to great success as this year's winner of the prestigious Yale Drama Series Prize—and they worked together in experimental theater.

"I felt that if I went to New York," she said, "I would find exactly what I was interested in focusing on for a long period of time."

But that took some time. Two years later, Hannigan started in comedy. She spent four years going to open-mic nights five to 10 times a week to hone her act. A couple of years in, she also took a job at a comedy club so she could get more stage time, and she began to hit the road to work at clubs and comedy festivals around the country. She also started posting jokes regularly on Twitter—and still does @katiehannigan.

She had other gigs too, including preschool teacher ("the kids were teaching me … that I hate kids," she says in her act) and New York City tour guide. She developed such an extensive knowledge of New York City that she's appeared in episodes of The Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum as an expert.

And even as her comedy schedule filled, she continued to act. This month, she shot two TV pilots, including one about city yuppies who decide they're going to live off the land but find they're woefully unprepared.

Hannigan said if she could choose, she would act all day and do standup at night. "I am someone who has the ability to write comedically. I also have the ability to perform and act. I have a skillset I would like to use fully in a number of different contexts."

In the near term, she appreciates that standup comedy is the skill that's bringing her the most attention.

"The weekend after I performed (for Colbert), it was quite a shock to my system to have accomplished that kind of goal," she said. "I was feeling kind of overwhelmed as far as what do I do next. The Late Show something that will help my career as a comedian, but I do have some big things ahead that I'm looking forward to."

Media contact:
Marc Allan MFA '18
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

Katie Hannigan '08 just got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic's career.

Aug 03 2018 Read more
ThanksGivingPeople

Honor My Father: Jay Sandhu and his Gift to Butler

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 01 2018

Jay Sandhu '87 wanted to honor his father, Chain. So when the opportunity arose to name the garden terrace in Butler's new Lacy School of Business building for his father, he and his wife, Roop, said yes.

"The reason I am where I am is in no small part due to his hard work and guidance," said Sandhu, chair of Butler's Board of Trustees and CEO of NYX, an automotive supplier his father purchased in 1989, which has grown from 30 employees and $2 million in sales to 2,400 employees in four countries and nearly $600 million in sales. "He allowed me to come to Butler even after I said I wasn't going to be a doctor. He was my boss, mentor, father, and his hard work since the family emigrated from India is reason we live the life we do. He loves gardens, he loves business, so the garden terrace space seemed like a beautiful spot."

Sandhu, a Biology and Physics major at Butler, got his first look at the new building during a tour in June. He found himself "totally blown away" by what he saw—from the majestic atrium to the serenity of the view from the top-floor garden terrace. He expects the finished product, which is scheduled to open in fall 2019, to be transformative for business education at Butler, and he hopes to inspire others to contribute.

"It's not so much the number," he said. "As a trustee and chairman, obviously I'd like the number to be as big as possible, but I think it's more about having that connection with Butler, supporting Butler, to the extent that feels good. I know supporting Butler in this way has given me more happiness than I can describe. It feels good to support the school that I think so much of."

ThanksGivingPeople

Honor My Father: Jay Sandhu and his Gift to Butler

Jay Sandhu, and his wife, Roop, wanted to honor Jay’s father through a gift to the Lacy School of Business.

Aug 01 2018 Read more

I Love Indy Because...

Morgan

MORGAN SNYDER, ‘07

One might peg me as someone with a bit of bias towards Indy. After all, as Director of Public Relations for Visit Indy, I’m paid to pitch to journalists what it is that makes Indy so special and worthy of ink in Forbes or AFAR Magazine.

I love my job. But, I love my job because I love the product I get to promote. One doesn’t come without the other.

I was closing in on graduation from Butler in 2007 and wanted one more internship to round-out my skillset. I landed a gig with the city’s tourism office and it was in the span of those four internship months where I was forced to learn a new product: Indianapolis. I learned that there’s more than an iconic motor speedway and 500-mile race. There’s a glimmering canal walk, 250 acres of urban greenspace with seven museums and a top ten zoo. I learned that less than a mile from Butler’s campus there’s the original, iconic LOVE sculpture and one of the most progressive art museums in the country. The world’s largest children’s museum. A restaurant that’s pegged for having the world’s spiciest dish and another restaurant that is named on Condé Nast Traveler’s World’s Best Restaurants list. A city that checks the boxes on just about any sporting event one can imagine. Hip and funky neighborhoods. And so much more.

After that internship, I was sold on the city that was going to be my home. The city where I would make my core group of friends, find my husband, and raise our family together.

What I didn’t know or even really care that much about as a college student was that Indy was super accessible and affordable. Friends can flee to bigger cities after college – some of mine did – but ask them how much they paid for that tiny studio apartment or what their meal cost even at the most casual of restaurants. Indy is continuously ranked as one of the country’s most affordable cities. Even better, Indy is a city that is led by listeners, believers, and visionaries. Did you know this city built a football stadium when we didn’t even have a football team? And look where we are now. If you have an idea, you can actually make it happen here. The guy that built an 8-mile, $63 million bike trail in the heart of downtown wrote his idea on a napkin and without any taxpayers’ dollars, he made it happen. Project for Public Spaces called his trail, “the biggest and boldest step by any American city.”

Fortunately for us, Indy loves their Butler Bulldogs. We’re a community that has a unique bond in the principles we learned through The Butler Way. And I am continuously grateful that our city operates under a similar mantra.

 

NATALIE VAN DONGEN, ’18

I love Indianapolis because it rejects expectation. Upon seeing our humble skyline, one may believe that Indianapolis is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill, midwestern, industrial city – this assumption would be incorrect. Indianapolis is defined by its residents, and therefore cannot be adequately defined by any given industry, belief system, socioeconomic status, or even basketball team. We are artists, agriculturalists, environmentalists, athletes, activists, techies, entrepreneurs, doctors, spiritual leaders, and civil servants. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and community members. We are hard workers, determined to do better and grow faster than any expectation would allow. We are our own city, made for each other, by each other.

Indianapolis is by no means a perfect city. In recent years, we have faced the same unrest many of our country’s cities have had to overcome. The issues we are facing currently will not subside in a day’s time. These challenges, be it an aging infrastructure or increased political tension, will require time, patience, and diligence. However, we do not claim to be perfect, nor do we claim to be complete. Indianapolis is a constant work in progress, wherein we must not only identify the adversity laid at our feet, but learn how to overcome as a community. We do not make excuses, we do not point fingers, we do not fall victim to hatred, and above all else, we watch out for all members of our community.

I love Indianapolis because it is limitless. In years past, Indianapolis has welcomed the victims of natural disasters, opened our hearts to refugees, and become a new home to disenfranchised populations. All who have come to Indianapolis, no matter if it was out of newfound opportunity or dire circumstance, have become an integral part of our city’s fabric. An engravement in the stone of the Old City Hall building in downtown Indianapolis reads, “I am a citizen of no mean city” – that is Indianapolis. A city proud of its people, the backgrounds of those people, and the accomplishments of those people.

 

JEFFREY STANICH III, ‘16

Indianapolis will sneak up on you - like how, during a random visit with a friend, it turned out to be a place I might actually like to call home.

Years ago, my high school buddy Elliot and I were down from Wisconsin for the day looking for some warmer golfing weather that we never found, so we had time to kill in a place we knew nothing about. Until he said: “Want to go check out that one small school that just made it to the Final Four?” So we did.

As reader has probably already picked up on, the institution in question was Butler University, and it turned out to be so much more than one small school. After leaving with more reasons to return than any other university visit had offered, Butler was choice number one when it came time to choose. And the following four years surpassed every expectation that I had built up in my head since first walking up the steps of Robertson Hall.

Beyond the ways that Butler integrated me into the surrounding city - such as statehouse visits with journalism courses, or learning that weekends begin on Thursday nights in Broad Ripple - it was on my peers and I to get to know Indianapolis beyond the bubble.

And for as much as we tried to get to know places, it wasn’t until the June following my ’16 commencement that I finally stumbled upon the downtown canal walk, and months more until I got to witness the leaves turn every September in Holliday and Garfield parks. Sure, nice places to spend some time are found in every city - but that autumn was when I learned how Butler University and Indianapolis are part of an entire community that has your back. 

I got my first real job out of college - writing speeches for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett - because his chief of staff somehow found my name on Butler’s website. This job (beyond a consistent paycheck) offered a chance to see the true dynamic identity of Indianapolis, that major-metropolis-with-small-town-charm people often speak to.

On any given weekend, hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood the town late into the night for world-class events like the Indy 500 and GenCon, and then by Monday you’re bumping into old and new friendly faces to catch up with during your morning routine.

You can meet residents whose families have lived in a neighborhood for generations, and then spend time with whole communities of Burmese immigrants who are just starting their lives in America through Exodus Refugee Immigration.

There are all the jobs you could want in the 80,000-strong hospitality industry that is to credit for Indianapolis’ ranking as the number one convention city in the United States, or you can pursue just as many careers in one of the many tech companies like Salesforce and Infosys that contribute to our reputation as the Tech Capital of the Midwest. (We’re not letting Silicon Prairie catch on, sorry.)

So Indianapolis will sneak up on you - for me, it transformed from a day-trip destination, to a place where I spent four years learning and living, to the place where I still intend on growing. My little cousin is starting at Butler in August, and she’s echoing that same sentiment I did six years ago: “this is a whole lot better than I expected.”

Yeah, it is, I tell her. And you’re only at the beginning.

 

I Love Indianapolis Because...
Summer in IndyPeopleCommunity

I Love Indy Because...

We know Indy is a great city; we asked 3 young alumni to tell us why. 

What She Did On Her Summer Vacation: Shakespeare

By Marc Allan

For the past 10 years, Butler Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman has spent her summers bringing Shakespeare to the masses in White River State Park—first as an actor and, since 2013, as Producing Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company, better known as Indy Shakes.

It's a huge commitment of time and energy, but Timmerman has a list of reasons that it's worth her time.

"There's a freewheeling joy to getting together and producing a Shakespeare play outdoors, where it was originally produced," she said as she prepared for this summer's production of the rarely produced tragedy Coriolanus, August 2-4.

Her list continues:

-Indy Shakes gives work to Butler alumni and interns. This summer's cast includes alumni Ryan Ruckman '06 and Joanna Bennett '08, and four current students are working as interns. "This project provides gainful, paying, artistically satisfying work for local artists. So that's a driver. I seem to have the ability to give a lot of other theater artists jobs, and I really like that."

-These free shows are an opportunity to expose more people to theater. Through surveys, Indy Shakes has found that as many as 12 percent of its audiences are seeing live theater for the first time.

-She gets the chance to work with so many talented people. "To have the professional quality of the actors, directors, designers, and everyone doing this work is incredible."

Coriolanus tells the story of a man who ends up seizing power and wielding that over the people. The story, Timmerman said, is easy to understand and dynamic.

"I think it's going to be our strongest production to date," she said.

Indy Shakes was founded as the Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre in 2006-07 by a group of equity actors. They began by doing mostly contemporary work, but Shakespeare in the Park took hold and became the company's primary activity. Timmerman was in the first Shakespeare production, The Merchant of Venice.

This year, the company launched a new traveling troupe that played a one-hour version of Macbeth in city parks, libraries, and community centers.

"What I love about this company is that none of us really have to do it," said Timmerman, who has been teaching at Butler for 25 years. "All of the artists are gainfully employed in other ways. But this project feeds everybody's artistic soul."

Coriolanus will be staged August 2-4 at 8:00 PM each night in White River State Park. Admission is free. Food trucks and beer and wine vendors will be on hand and pre-show entertainment begins at 5:00 PM.

 

In the photo: Grant Goodman and Constance Macy star in 'Coriolanus.' (Julie Curry Photography)

Shakespeare
Summer in IndyPeopleCommunity

What She Did On Her Summer Vacation: Shakespeare

Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman is Producing Artistic Director for Indy Shakes

A Career That's Off to the Races

By Elizabeth Duis '20

Name: Zach Horrall
Hometown: Vincennes, IN
Major(s): Journalism, Spanish minor
Anticipated Grad Date: Spring 2019
Career Goals: Become a NASCAR reporter; travel and cover motor sports

 

Maybe it’s the sound. Maybe it’s the crowd. Maybe it’s the speed. Maybe it’s all of the above. Zach Horrall loves racing and hopes to make a career of it. But his route to victory in the sport isn’t exactly what you’d expect.

Growing up only two hours south of Indianapolis, Zach Horrall watched countless NASCAR, stock, and Indy car races. Frequent trips to the city fueled Zach’s desire to become a part of the racing community. This passion quickly merged with his talent for writing, and he began to aspire towards sports journalism. When the time came to make a college decision, Zach knew exactly where he wanted to be.

“There are two major racing hubs: Charlotte, North Carolina and Indianapolis,” Zach explained. “From there, I felt like Butler was the best school in Indy.”

Zach describes Butler’s caring community as plainly evident from his first visit. Small details like someone going out of their way to hold a door or an advisor’s genuine interest in him contributed to Zach’s overall view of Butler as a place where he could succeed.

During Zach’s first and second years, Butler’s sports media program owned and operated a website. After convincing the director to let him write for the website, Zach handled all the racing coverage. Covering one race in particular would change the course of his career.

While covering the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016, Zach ran into his sports journalism idol Marty Smith. Smith was a general assignment reporter for ESPN who was also covering the race. Zach promptly introduced himself and explained his passion for sports journalism. It was then that Smith pointed to IndyStar’s table of employees and prompted Zach to reach out.

Believing he had plenty of time, Zach continued his coverage of the race in the hopes of approaching IndyStar later in the day. At the conclusion of the race, Zach looked back to see the table packed up and the employees about to leave. Practically running so as not to miss the chance, Zach approached the group, introduced himself, and inquired about a writing position.

Two years later, Zach Horrall is about to celebrate his second anniversary at The Indianapolis Star. This same interest in racing has transformed into a sports writing internship at one of the largest news sources in the state. His involvement with IndyStar began in a sports clerk role covering high school sports and has grown into the coverage of major motor sporting events such as the 2017 U.S. Nationals and this past spring’s Indy 500. A few of his stories have also been picked up by USA Today.

Zach attributes much of his academic and professional development to journalism classes and his time with the Butler Collegian. This experience provided real-world exposure that allowed Zach to learn in a hands-on setting. He will use these real-world lessons to serve as the Digital Managing Editor for the Collegian this upcoming academic year.

Moving forward, this successful senior aspires to continue working in racing, specifically as a NASCAR reporter. Zach maintains that as long as he can remain part of the racing community, he will be content and excited to go to work.

“I’m a very optimistic, happy-go-lucky person, and I want to maintain that attitude. I know the only way for me to do that is to do something I love,” Zach explained. “I want to be a person who says ‘I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work.’”

This enthusiasm springs from a desire to share live sports with people. Not everyone has the ability to see a race, and Zach’s aim is to make these quick getaways accessible for everyone. He believes that everyone deserves the getaway from everyday stresses that sports can provide.

“Even if it’s only for a two or three hour race, everyone deserves that break from time to time,” Zach shared. “Racing isn’t the most popular thing in the world, but I want to show people why I love it and why it’s so interesting.”

To aspiring writers, Zach would like them to realize that it is possible to pursue a passion. Though covering a NASCAR race might not often be associated with journalism, it’s important to know yourself and explore the variety of positions available.

“The way that I’ve lived my life is to never take ‘no’ for an answer and never be afraid. If I was afraid to talk to my idol Marty Smith, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Zach explained. “You have to take chances because if you don’t, you will never meet your full potential.”

Summer in IndyStudent LifePeople

A Career That's Off to the Races

Zach Horrall's route to victory in racing isn’t exactly what you’d expect.

A Career That's Off to the Races

By Elizabeth Duis '20

Midwestern Voice in the Capital

Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

During her six years at Butler—four as an undergraduate Arts Administration major and two earning her Master of Music Education— Ursula Kuhar ’05 MM ’07 often thought about moving to Washington, DC. 

In July, Kuhar took over as Executive Director of Washington Concert Opera, which specializes in performing seldom-heard operas. Kuhar calls it “one of the most revered companies in the country.” 

Getting to this point was a journey that began in Powell, Ohio, outside Columbus, where Kuhar had volunteered for her hometown symphony orchestra while in high school. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in music. After meeting with then-Associate Dean of the Jordan College of Fine Arts Steve Roberson, she discovered the idea of Arts Administration as a major. 

Butler’s undergraduate program allowed Kuhar to explore all avenues of music, from business to teaching to performance. She was so taken with what she learned from Professor Michael Sells (“He’s still a huge mentor and guiding force in my life, and a great friend.”) that she wanted to keep studying with him. So she stayed for a master’s degree, taking voice lessons and performance-based classes from Sells, as well as music education classes with another favorite professor of hers, Penny Dimmick. 

Butler led to Indiana University, where Kuhar earned her Doctor of Music in Voice. Three days after graduation in 2011, she was hired by Sweet Briar College as Director and Assistant Professor of Arts Management. She spent four years there—and would have happily stayed longer—but on March 3, 2015, the faculty was assembled and told that the school would be closing on June 30. (That decision was rescinded in mid-June, but not until after Kuhar had accepted her position with Washington Concert Opera.) 

At Sweet Briar, Kuhar had quadrupled enrollment in the arts-management program, helped secure foundation and individual gifts, and “had a wonderful time” there. Now, she enjoys presenting “exquisite music” like Rossini’s Semiramide “to a group of devoted patrons.” 

“It’s a niche that people love,” Kuhar said. 

Plus, there’s the benefit of being in the nation’s capital. The location is head-turning, she said, “but I’m still a salt-of-the-earth, Midwest girl at the end of the day.”

 

Bright Lights to Financial Heights

Evie Schultz ’16

from Spring 2016

 

When Renee Tabben ’94 arrived at Butler as a freshman, she dreamed of Broadway. She ended up— happily—closer to Wall Street. 

“All I wanted to do was perform,” the Cincinnati native said. “I was absolutely focused on moving to New York and becoming wildly successful in musical theater.” 

But she also wanted a backup plan. Encouraged by her parents and Owen Schaub, the Department Head of Theater at the time, Tabben declared an arts administration major with a concentration in theatre. During her time at Butler she performed with the Butler Chorale and participated in a variety of Jordan College of Fine Arts (JCFA), now currently named the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) productions. 

Her first job in musical theatre came two weeks after graduation at a summer stock theater in Maine (thanks to an introduction from Bernard Wurger, a Butler Theater Professor). That opportunity led to several others at theaters across the country, but by 1997, Tabben wanted a change of pace. 

Renee left New York, returning to her hometown of Cincinnati to consider going to law school. Before enrolling, she landed a temporary job at Fidelity Investments. The job required her to be a quick study and to communicate effectively—two skills she had honed while performing. 

From there, an unexpected career in finance took off. Tabben went on to start a financial planning practice and earn an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. 

Now she is the Market Executive of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in West Michigan. She is responsible for seven offices across the state in a role she said is incredibly dynamic, people focused, and personally rewarding. 

“Theatre has a human, emotional, raw core,” she said. “When I began engaging with clients around their financial lives, I realized the connection with the person—their emotions about money, was the essential element to helping clients achieve their purpose for their wealth. My experience with communicating with audiences and actively listening helped me to connect with people. My business education in Arts Administration reinforced my value in the business world.” 

That connection, Tabben said, is easier with the help of her Butler education. 

“There is no way I ever thought I would be a Market Executive at Merrill Lynch,” she said. “But so many of those skills I learned at JCA are highly transferrable.” 

“At Butler, what you’re learning can be valuable at a variety of careers. Stay open-minded—don’t limit yourself to what you think you can do with your degree.” 

People

Bright Lights to Financial Heights

by Evie Schultz ’16

from Spring 2016

Read more

Deeply Rooted

Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2016

“It's about time.” 

That’s how Patricia Brennan See ’74 reacted when she heard that Butler’s vision for its Arts Center is to become Central Indiana’s arts and culture destination. 

“Butler has had a stellar—and I mean stellar—arts program for decades, and it’s been under wraps. Now, we’re coming into our own,” said this alum and member of the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) Board of Visitors. “It’s time to get out there and show ourselves as the fantastic school we are.” 

See generously supports ArtsFest and the Butler Community Arts School. And though she wasn’t an arts major, her family tree is as firmly rooted in the arts as it is in Butler. 

Her father and mother were amateur actors during her childhood, and “Patsy,” as family and friends call her, was active in high school theatre. When it came time for college, she and her brother followed in dad’s footsteps by attending his alma mater; Robert Brennan holds Butler degrees in Music and Pharmacy. 

He also taught here for 18 years, some of which overlapped his children’s time as students. And nine years after her graduation, See joined him on Butler’s faculty. 

After a career focused on speech and communication, See felt the bite of the theatre bug once her three children were grown. 

“I got involved in the local (Zionsville, Indiana) community theatre. And because I can’t do anything halfway, I worked on 19 shows in a row and did everything except costuming,” she said. “I’ve relaxed a little bit now, except that this week, my husband and I are doing lights and sound for a children’s play.” 

“Relaxed” meant getting involved in Butler arts again when an old classmate popped up on Facebook: Howard Schrott, the arts supporter after which the Howard L. Schrott Center is named. 

“We're starting to have a coordinated vision for the arts together. Butler's arts center is just a gold mine of artistic expression."

“Howard introduced me to Ron Caltabiano (Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts), and I thought his vision for Butler was long overdue,” See said. “I don’t have relationships with institutions. I have relationships with individuals at institutions. So after talking with Ron and those who support him, I was glad to get involved.” 

See believes wholeheartedly in the quality of the arts at Butler and in the value of the arts in education. 

“There’s no other discipline on earth that teaches you who you are—not only who you are, but who you are in relation to other people. My friend Lynn Manning says, ‘Art is the ultimate team sport.’ You find out how to work with other people in intricate ways, and you learn so much about yourself,” she said. 

She pointed out that plenty of research shows the arts enhance every other discipline. 

“Teaching the arts is integral to the proliferation of artistic expression,” See said. “The arts are cut and cut and cut from schools, yet there has to be some place that will continue to offer them.” 

She believes Butler emphasizes excellence, expertise, and depth of knowledge to a degree no other school can match. 

“Even just building the Schrott Center has elevated all the arts at Butler. It’s one of those rare places where you can do music, dance, and theatre all in one place because of the adaptability of the space. Now, with Studio 168, black-box spaces, Clowes, the Schrott—whatever you want to do, you can do it in one of our spaces. 

“We’re starting to have a coordinated vision for the arts together. Butler’s Arts Center is just a gold mine of artistic expression.” 

People

Deeply Rooted

by Cindy Dashnaw

from Spring 2016

Read more

Creating a Workforce

Marc Allan

from Fall 2016

“Butler is my college,” Michael Bill is saying. “Right along with my college that I graduated from.”

That would be Syracuse University, where Bill played center on the football team—that included the legendary Jim Brown in the backfield—and received the grounding to begin a more than 50-year career in the insurance industry.

And while he’ll always love the Orange, the Chairman of the Board of Indianapolis-based MJ Insurance showed his Butler Blue streak last year when he, along with MJ Insurance, gave the University $250,000 to start a student-run insurance company beginning in May of 2017.

The Butler business, known as a “captive insurance company,” will insure certain programs at Butler, perhaps including the live mascot, Butler Blue III, or physical damage to University vehicles. The idea is to give students hands-on experience that will jumpstart their careers.

Bill learned his trade in the 1960s during a two-year training program at his first employer, Commercial Union Insurance Group. “When they trained you, they would not let you out in the field until they thought you knew everything you had to know in all areas,” he said.

Fast-forward 50 years, and colleges are expected to do the training.

That’s where his gift comes in.

Bill wants Butler students to learn insurance from the ground up, from the state of incorporation to actuarial work, claims, investments, and more—the way he did. He also wants them to zero in on the area of the business they like most so they’ll have fulfilling careers.

“We’re going to go out and create a workforce,” he said. “There’s a huge shortage of people in our industry. The average age at big insurance carriers is in their 50s. In the next five years, the students coming out of Butler University with a degree in insurance in a specific area will be highly compensated. You’re going to have a waiting list for people to get in there.”

Bill started MJ Insurance when he was 27. He’s 80 now, and said he still loves the business. He also appreciates the practical teaching approach taken in Butler’s Lacy School of Business.

“I fell in love with the business because I had great teachers,” he said. “That’s the key—great teachers and great mentors. This gift is my way of giving back to a great community and a great college. It was probably the easiest check I’ve ever written.”

People

Creating a Workforce

by Marc Allan

from Fall 2016

Read more

An Engineering dual degree from Butler is propelling Alyssa Setnar ’16 to infinity and beyond.

The Columbus, Ohio native headed to Los Angeles in June to begin working for Millennium Space Systems, a satellite manufacturing company, as a spacecraft structural engineer. She interned with Millennium previously.

“I’m a part of the team that goes all the way from the napkin sketch to the proposal all the way to manufacturing,” she said. “I’m really excited to be a part of the entire process.”

That process started at Butler, when she found out she could get an Engineering degree through Butler’s dual degree program with IUPUI. Setnar is Butler’s first graduate in the program’s Motorsports Engineering concentration. In her final semester, she worked with other students on a prototype race car for the International Society of Automotive Engineering’s student design initiative.

“I got that big-school degree from Purdue at IUPUI’s campus, but I really fell in love with Butler’s small campus feel and the people that I met here,” she said. “I feel really lucky that I got both.”

Setnar got involved early on at Butler. She arrived a week before Welcome Week her first-year for the Ambassadors of Change (AOC) program.

She was so impressed with and transformed by the program that she served as an AOC team leader for the next three years. It’s that passion for helping others that sets Butler students apart, Setnar said.

“Whenever I’m out, whether I’m volunteering, or at a restaurant, or just wearing a Butler shirt out while I’m shopping, the community recognizes that the people that are coming from Butler are really genuine and smart and interested in caring,” she said.

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