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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 (That decision was rescinded in mid-June, but not until after Kuhar had accepted her position with Washington Concert Opera.)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.

From MBA to CEO

Evie Schultz ’16

from Fall 2016

Jane Keller ’00 fills many roles. She’s a nurse, a wife, a mom… and she’s also CEO of OrthoIndy and OrthoIndy Hospital, Indiana’s largest orthopedic provider.

It’s a position she never imagined filling until she earned an MBA from Butler.

“My classes at Butler taught me a lot about servant leadership and networking,” she said.

Keller graduated from Ball State University in 1988 with a degree in nursing. Afterwards she worked for Methodist Hospital as a nurse, patient care manager, clinical manager, and the Director of Perioperative Performance.

Keller began working at OrthoIndy as the Executive Director/Nursing Director of the surgery centers while she was earning her MBA.

She was promoted to OrthoIndy’s Chief Nursing Officer in 2005, when the hospital was built. Just one year later she became the hospital’s CEO.

“I call it my child,” Keller said. “The hospital opened in 2005, and I really was in on it from the ground floor, helping design it and hire the staff that worked in it.”

In 2013, she was named the Chief Executive Officer of OrthoIndy and OrthoIndy Hospital. She’s busier than ever, especially with three kids and a husband at home in Zionsville. But, she said the connections she forges with patients and providers are worth it.

“I spend a lot of time building relationships with our physicians, talking to them about operations and strategizing going forward,” she said. “There is a lot of emphasis on our patients and making sure they get excellent quality care, as well as making sure employees get what they need to do their jobs well.”

Those physicians can perform up to 70 surgeries a day at the hospital. At its three main and three satellite locations, physicians see up to 1,000 patients a day. Keller said her ability to organize that many people is a reflection of her time at Butler.

“Team building, development, trying to pull people together, getting people to learn to work through conflict—I learned all of those things at Butler.”

People

From MBA to CEO

by Evie Schultz ’16

from Fall 2016

Read more

Butler Felt like Learning with Family

Marc Allan

from Fall 2016

JoAn Scott MBA ’05 works for the NCAA as Managing Director of Men’s Basketball Championships and, no, she can’t get you tickets.

“From airport check-in to bellmen,” she said with a smile, “it’s always about tickets.” Scott oversees the Division I, II, and III men’s basketball tournaments and post-season NIT. That means loads of logistics—arena preparations, arranging flights and hotels, overseeing the music and fan festivals, public relations and marketing, and so much more. Planning with her staff of 12 begins in June and continues in earnest into March.

In addition, she’s in the room when the selection committee creates the brackets, and she’s at as many games as possible, making sure everything goes as planned.

“I have a radio in my ear, I have a cellphone, I have instant messaging, I have email,” Scott said. “Sometimes you have friends telling you something sounds weird, sometimes you hear the radio telling you a thunderstorm is coming. I’m pretty good at handling approaches from 5–6 different directions.”

Scott grew up a sports fan and athlete in Ansley, Nebraska, population 550. She did her undergraduate work at Kearney State University (now University of Nebraska at Kearney), then moved to Colorado after graduation. After a year working for a brokerage firm, she answered a newspaper classified ad for what was then called Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (now USA Basketball).

She spent 10 years there, accumulating experiences that included traveling with the 1992 men’s basketball Dream Team and “seeing basketball practices behind closed doors that no one will ever see.” Then she took a job with Nike, where she spent 17 years moving among Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Denver, Colorado.

During that time, she decided to get her MBA at Butler.

“I knew a lot of the sports side and I knew personalities,” she said. “But once I got to Nike, I felt like I didn’t know the business side. I traveled a lot, but it was my one night (to devote to school) and I just absolutely loved it. I was there to learn and I soaked it in and I loved it. I’m not sure anybody could enjoy it more than I did, and I still talk to my Butler professors.”

At Butler, she learned from Executive-in-Residence Jerry Toomer about leadership styles (“You adapt to your boss; your boss doesn’t adapt to you”), and she recalled the camaraderie in Marketing/Management Professor Bob Mackoy’s classes.

“I could interact with my whole class and ask Eli Lilly folks what they thought and Guidant folks what they thought,” she said. “They were so approachable. It felt like family there. It made me want to go, it made me want to learn.”

Scott said she learned a lot, and she continues to soak up information wherever she goes. “When you deal with the best of the best, you learn how to be the best,” she said.

She’s three years into her role at the NCAA now, and she has one more goal when she’s finished there.

“I’d love to end my career on a college campus, teaching,” she said. “I love to learn, and I would love to teach my experiences and what I learned along the way.”

Bulldogish on Wall Street

Patricia Snyder Pickett ’82, APR

from Fall 2016

There are thousands of millennials working in the heart of New York City’s financial district and dozens at the J.P. Morgan Chase headquarters.

However, there are very few who’ve spent countless hours at Atherton, love a certain bulldog named “Trip,” or can burst forth with The Butler War Song. Butler graduate Michael Bennett ’09 is hopeful that changes soon.

Last year Bennett was instrumental in spearheading a program that brought eight Butler business students to his Manhattan workplace where he serves as an investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

“They were able to spend the whole day at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, sitting through rotating panels that focused on our four lines of business,” he described. “They networked and talked  with human resource staff, as well as spending time with other bank and hedge fund personnel. It exposed them to different elements of financial services and provided tangible take-aways that will hopefully help them choose a career.”

In Bennett’s mind, this closely follows suit with the Lacy School’s real business experience mantra. “There’s a ‘real-world’ business mentality at Butler where students are not sheltered so much in the classroom. That immediate introduction to the business community gives you a leg up. The sooner you can participate in that world, the better.”

Bennett, a native of Elmhurst, Illinois, started his academic career at Butler on the Liberal Arts path where he played football. Having enjoyed writing for his high school newspaper, he was pursuing a major in English when he found himself in business classes that were both enjoyable and fulfilling. “I really liked the professors I worked with and enjoyed the curriculum. I was fortunate that I was able to find a way to express myself creatively in a business environment,” he said.

A portfolio management class and internships in wealth management services provided a gateway to a job offer with J.P. Morgan Private Bank shortly after graduation. “Was it ever a dream to live in Manhattan and work on Wall Street? No,” he said. “I moved pretty much sight-unseen into a tiny apartment that was about six times what I was paying in Indianapolis. I feel very fortunate to be working at the company headquarters and exposed to a wide variety of work that’s at a very high level. It has been a great experience so far.”

While he spends long hours at the office, he does make time for some fun and games like an adult flag football league. In addition, he’s a repeat participant (and a member of the competitor board) for the Wall Street Decathalon/Wall Street’s Best Athlete competition which, since its 2009 launch has raised more than $6 million for Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigator’s Consortium (POETIC).

In retrospect, what’s the advice Bennett would give to future Butler graduates? “I wish I had known more about the entirety of the financial services world and the numerous opportunities it holds. I’m an advocate for more knowledge; knowledge equals power and better decisions. It’s unfortunate if doors are shut when a student doesn’t know what is out there . . . doesn’t realize how banks work, the different elements of the financial sector; when they don’t realize the skill sets they should hone or who they should be networking with to give themselves the best chance to succeed.”

People

Bulldogish on Wall Street

Butler Grad Michael Bennett ’09 finds his place in Manhattan's financial district.

by Patricia Snyder Pickett ’82, APR

from Fall 2016

Read more

Inside a 450-square-foot corner of the Lucky’s Market in Bloomington, Indiana, Lester Burris ’12 and his partners, Steve Anderson ’91 and Josh Anderson ’07, are working to turn the pharmacy business on its head.

This is Panacea Pharmacy, which offers a proactive approach to healthcare. Rather than worrying about doing a volume business, they concentrate on patient care. They check in with customers to make sure they’re taking their medicines.

And, if they’re not, the pharmacists try to find out why. If necessary, they’ll call a patient’s doctor to talk about alternative treatments, so the patient isn’t waiting months or even a year for an approved appointment.

When patients are taking medicine from multiple prescribers, Panacea tries to serve as a communication hub for the patient and the doctors, “which a lot of pharmacies either don’t have time to do or are not willing to do,” Burris said.

And although Burris is the principal pharmacist—the Andersons are busy operating four other pharmacies in Bedford, Indiana—he even makes deliveries from time to time.

“We thought this was a unique fit, being in a health food store, where we thought we could impact people who wanted to make healthy decisions,” Burris said.

So far, it’s working: The partners said they have about 500 patients—a number they’re happy with—and business has increased every month.

Starting an independent pharmacy in Indiana is relatively rare. The Indiana Pharmacists Alliance said there are 160 independents throughout the state, but only one or two new ones each year.

The opportunity for Panacea came when Lucky’s Market—which bills itself as “organic for the 99 percent”—reached out to Health Mart, a collection of independent pharmacies, about opening a pharmacy in the Bloomington store. In December 2014, that request got passed along to the Andersons.

Josh Anderson looked into the Colorado-based Lucky’s chain and found out that, in addition to being a natural organic grocery store, it also has a vitamin/supplement line called Natural Living.

“It was a dream of mine from the time I was in the Self-Care class at Butler: to mix modern medicine—traditional medicine— with more of a holistic care approach and put it all under one roof,” Josh said.

Josh approached his uncle Steve with the idea. They knew they needed another partner to run Panacea on a day-to-day basis.

They asked Burris, a running buddy of Josh’s, who had worked for CVS and Kmart. Burris jumped at the chance.

“Working for a chain can be very demanding of your time and energy,” he said. “Here, you’re your own boss. If I need help, I hire it.”

Burris went into the venture with “a little bit of business training, but nothing official.” He learned on the fly about licensing, insurance contracts, and things like how many medicines to stock. (Panacea keeps a couple hundred on hand and can get more or less anything they need in a day.)

He said the biggest challenge in their first year has been making people aware that Panacea exists. Jonathan Piland, 34, discovered Panacea by accident when he walked into the store. “Of all the pharmacies out here, it’s the best one,” he said. “Lester and the company go out of their way for you. If they don’t have something, they find it. If you need to have something made, they make it for you.”

“It was a dream of mine from the time I was in the Self-Care class at Butler: to mix modern medicine—traditional medicine—with more of a holistic care approach and put it all under one roof,” Josh said.

Panacea sits in the rear of Lucky’s, beyond the gourmet meats and cheeses and behind aisles of vitamins and nutritional supplements. A couple hundred medicines are stacked on taupe-colored shelves that span the far wall. There’s a computer, a work area, and a machine the pharmacists use to specially package medicines.

Steve Anderson said what they’ve created “has been a little bit of a learning experience for all of us,” but he thinks it’s important for the future of healthcare.

“We’re taking care of the whole patient, spending time with the patient—getting back to patient-oriented pharmacy,” he said.

 

Atherton Union
GivingPeople

Board of Trustees Adds Four New Members

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 18 2018

Butler University’s Board of Trustees welcomed four new members during its annual board meeting in June.

Jeffrey A. Blade ’83, Nick Musial ’02, Stephen Sterrett, and Amy E. Wierenga ’01 were appointed. The new trustees began their appointments at board meetings that took place June 7 and 8 on Butler’s campus.

“We are excited to welcome our new trustees to the board," Chairman Jay Sandhu said. "We look forward to their combination of talent, varied experiences, insights, and enthusiasm for Butler. We know these four individuals are extremely well qualified and well positioned to further strengthening our institution.”

In addition to welcoming new members, the board celebrated the service of three outgoing trustees. Craig Fenneman ’71 and Jim White retired after 15 years of service on the board. Outgoing Alumni Association President Beth Morris left the board, as her two-year appointment ended.

“We are grateful to Craig, Jim, and Beth for their service, dedication, and generosity to Butler University,” President Jim Danko said. “The entire Butler community has benefitted from their leadership and investment as trustees.”

Blade
Blade

Blade graduated from Butler with a B.S. in Accounting. He received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1991. While at Butler, he was the founding President of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. He is also a past member of the Lacy School of Business Board of Visitors and currently serves on the Advisory Board for Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business. Blade is the CEO of Matilda Jane Clothing LLC in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Musial
Musial

Musial received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Butler. As a student, the Indiana Certified Public Accountants Society recognized him as the outstanding senior accounting major. He served on Butler’s Young Alumni Board from 2007 to 2010, and he and his wife, Elizabeth ’05 MBA '08, received the Ovid Butler Society’s Foundation Award in 2013. Musial is the incoming Alumni Association President and serves as the Vice President of Finance at Allegion in Carmel, Indiana.

Sterrett
Sterrett
 

Sterrett earned a B.S. in Accounting and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University in 1977 and 1983, respectively. He serves on the boards of the Indiana Golf Foundation, the Indiana State Seniors Golf Association, and Tindley Accelerated Schools. He also is a member of the Advisory Board for IU’s Benecki Center for Real Estate Studies, and he is a former board member of the Simon Youth Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Christian Theological Seminary, Catholic Youth Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Sterrett retired as the CFO of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. in 2014.

Wierenga

Wierenga graduated from Butler with a B.S. in Economics and Music. She was a Top 100 Outstanding Student, as well as a member of Resident Life staff, Butler Symphony Orchestra, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, and the track and cross country teams. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is currently a partner and chief risk officer at Blue Mountain Capital Management LLC in New York.

Butler has a 35-member board. Trustees are selected by the committee on trusteeship, and then voted on by the full board.

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257

 

Atherton Union
GivingPeople

Board of Trustees Adds Four New Members

Board also says goodbye and thanks to Craig Fenneman, Jim White, and Beth Morris.

Jun 18 2018 Read more
AcademicsArts & CulturePeople

Playing the Long Game

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 05 2018

Annie Sullivan MFA '12 finds herself wearing a lot of gold-beaded jewelry these days. What better way to call attention to the release of her first young-adult novel, A Touch of Gold?

On this particular day, she's wearing a gold/orange beaded necklace that a friend gave her. Her bracelet is made up of strands of overlaid beads of gold, a gift from the Chicago Pearl Company to accent her outfits as she promotes the book.

A Touch of Gold, which comes out August 14, tells the story of King Midas' daughter, Princess Kora, 10 years after she'd been turned to gold by her father. She's now back to life, but with some lasting side effects—one of which is that she can sense other objects her father turned to gold. When those objects get stolen, she goes on a quest to find them.

Along the way, Kora faces off with pirates and thieves and discovers not only who to trust but who she is. Ultimately, A Touch of Gold is about a girl finding herself and becoming comfortable in skin that makes her unlike everyone else.

Sullivan—the first fiction writer from Butler's MFA in Creative Writing program to earn a book deal—said she and Kora have plenty in common, from their appearance (short in stature, with long, golden hair) to their adventurous spirit, toughness, and sticktoitiveness.

"I write strong female characters who can stand up for themselves," she said. "People who have a little Disney princess in them but also have that hardcore side where they say, 'I can handle this.'"

But while Kora battles in the fantasy world, Sullivan must deal with the real world: the often exasperating, slow-moving world of publishing.

"Writing," she said, "is not for the weak. You've got to have a strong constitution and be willing to never give up."

Sullivan, who grew up in Indianapolis and earned her undergraduate degree from Indiana University, began writing her book as an MFA student at Butler. She chose Butler's graduate program in creative writing because she found that it was open to many different styles of writing.

"People were writing ghost stories and middle-grade stories, and I'm over here writing fairy-tale retellings," she said. "And they were open to that. I know there are other programs where they really look down on genre fiction and anything that's not literary fiction."

Still, Sullivan started off unsure. The first assignment she turned in was a short story about an old man whose wife died in a car accident. She hated the story and so did everyone else in the class. "I'm sure I went back to my car and cried," she said.

Next came the breakthrough moment: She decided that next she submitted a story, "I'm going to turn in something that actually represents me."

That story turned out to be the first chapter of what became A Touch of Gold. Her classmates recognized her passion, she said, and they approved.

"Annie was obviously very talented," Associate Professor of English Mike Dahlie said. "But more important, she was wholly devoted to her writing. Her kind of unfettered and patient love of storytelling is always why people get book deals."

That was in 2010.

Over the next seven years, Sullivan continued writing. Finished the first draft of A Touch of Gold. Read about agents (she recommends literaryrambles.com for that) and sent query letters to more than 100 before she found one who appreciated her work. Wrote a second book. Then a third. Attended the Midwest Writers Workshop. Revised the first book based on feedback from the workshop. Received a rejection from one publisher saying the book was too dark. Received a rejection from another publisher the next day saying the book wasn't dark enough.

Finally, in August 2017, her agent called: She sold the book to Blink, a young-adult imprint of HarperCollins.

"You've got to be in this for the long game," Sullivan said. "And it is a long game. It's a game of timing and finding the right person who loves your work."

Now, while she continues in her day job working for Wiley Publishing as copy specialist on the content-marketing team, Sullivan is working on another book, writing articles for Young Adult websites to help publicize A Touch of Gold, planning to attend the American Library Association's midwinter conference to sign advance reader copies of her book, setting up school visits, and thinking about a book launch party in August.

She gives Butler's MFA program a great deal of credit for her success—from providing her time and motivation to write, to having professors and critique partners to guide her writing, to having the freedom to tell the kinds of stories she likes to tell.

"I can't describe how much they helped me," she said. "Everything fell into place through Butler to make my writing dreams come true."

Find Annie Sullivan on Twitter (@annsulliva), Facebook (Author Annie Sullivan) or on her blog (anniesullivanauthor.wordpress.com).

 

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

 

AcademicsArts & CulturePeople

Playing the Long Game

Annie Sullivan MFA '12 spent eight years on her book "A Touch of Gold." That sticktoitiveness is about to pay off.

Jun 05 2018 Read more
AthleticsPeople

President Danko to Chair Big East Board of Directors

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 04 2018

James M. Danko, President of Butler University, has been elected to a two-year term as Chair of the BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is comprised of the Presidents of the BIG EAST’s 10 member institutions.

Danko replaces Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of Providence College, who served on the BIG EAST Executive Committee since 2013 and as BIG EAST Board Chair since 2016. Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, President of Villanova University, will serve as new Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors. Fr.  Michael J. Graham, S.J., President of Xavier University, was elected to fill the third Executive Committee position.

Danko, who has served as Butler’s President since 2011, oversaw the school’s entrance into the BIG EAST in 2013. He has served on the conference’s Executive Committee since that time, most recently as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors. Danko also currently serves as the BIG EAST’s representative on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Presidential Forum. 

The Executive Committee appointments were made in connection with the annual spring meeting of the BIG EAST Board of Directors, which was held at the Conference’s offices in New York City. Agenda items included men’s and women’s basketball matters, transfers, esports, and strategic direction as the Conference enters the sixth year of its current configuration. Katrice Albert, NCAA Executive Vice President of Inclusion and Human Resources, made a presentation to the Board on the NCAA’s current initiatives in the area of diversity and inclusion. The Board of Directors also received a report on the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on sports betting and the potential ramifications for intercollegiate athletics.

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