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CampusStudent Life

After Facelift, Plum Market at C-Club Opens With Endless Options

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Nov 18 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—In a hurry, but hungry? Just in the mood for a quick snack? Looking for coffee from a local roaster? Want to order a freshly made sandwich and stay awhile?

The new Plum Market at C-Club meets all of those needs in one bright, newly renovated space. The latest dining option at Butler University officially opened on Monday, located at Atherton Union in the former C-Club location, and it aims to be all things to everyone.

“We conducted a campus dining study a year ago that was heavily influenced by student feedback,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross III. “We learned a lot, but one thing became clear: We needed a place on campus that was versatile. Our campus community is busy, and everyone has different schedules and needs. We wanted a space that allowed for more flexibility.”

Plum Market at C-Club is definitely flexible. Open weekdays from 7:00 AM–midnight, and weekends from 11:00 AM–midnight, the location accepts flex dollars, Dawg Bucks, cash, and credit cards.

In addition to the longest hours on campus, Ross says the variety of food options sets Plum Market apart.

“We have worked closely with Bon Appétit to make sure we are being really responsive to the needs and wishes of the Butler community,” Ross says. “Between the chef-driven menus, the new comfortable and inviting physical space, and the array of options, we have taken dining up a notch.”

There’s coffee and tea served by local roaster Hubbard & Cravens. Freshly made donuts are sold from local craft donut company General American Donut. There are fresh fruit smoothies with various protein mix-ins available. An extensive salad bar features various vegetables, as well as a section for prepared signature salads. Then there’s the sandwich and wrap menu. Options include grilled cheese, Impossible burger, grilled chicken sandwich, Nashville hot chicken tender sandwich, and a beef burger. There are cage-free egg sandwiches, all-natural chipotle chicken burritos, chicken tenders, and crinkle-cut fries.

And that’s just one area.

To serve the needs of all community members, there’s a variety of options from Bon Appétit’s go-program. Think prepackaged snacks or sandwiches. Go-program items are prepared each morning and delivered across Butler’s campus to each dining location, says Butler Dining General Manager Joe Graves. The difference is, Plum Market has nearly triple the to-go items than other locations around campus.

“The vision is always about fresh and on-trend foods,” Graves says, “and this allows us to do that but in a way that also accounts for people’s schedules.”

There’s watermelon, hummus and chips, a turkey and bacon greek wrap, and a yogurt parfait, to name a few.

Plum Market also features various chips, energy bars, Chobani yogurt, local eggs, Dandy Breeze milk, local apple cider, and frozen foods, such as Amy’s bowls and Caulipower pizza.

Deciding which items to feature took a combination of researching the most popular items, looking at other universities, and realizing adjustments will be needed as time goes on.

“We always rely heavily on student feedback,” Graves says. “As time goes on, we will see what sells. We also look forward to hearing what our students and community members like and maybe want to see that they aren’t seeing. We will adjust as we go.”

After construction started in June 2019, the former C-Club space was completed gutted. At one point, the space was just dirt. But now, Plum Market has really come to life, Graves says, fulfilling the vision of providing a variety of food options for a population on the go, as well as space to sit down and study or hang out.

“We wanted this space to do many things, and I think we achieved that,” he says. “It was well worth the wait.”

 

 

Plum Market is hardly the only new or updated option when it comes to dining on campus this year. Here’s a look at some of the other options available:

 

  • Chatham Tap offers craft and import beers, along with a menu focused on a wide range of sandwiches and starters. Offerings include soup, salad, wings, pizza, burgers, and fish and chips.
  • The Butler Brew is located in the new building for the Lacy School of Business and features local Julian Roasters coffee, Illinois Street Emporium pastries, and breakfast sandwiches.
  • ResCo Dining Hall has four stations featuring locally sourced burgers and chicken.
  • Trip’s Corner Market at Apartment Village has products you can cook back at your apartment, dorm, or house.
  • Nutrition Cafe at the Health and Recreation Center features a grab-and-go setup with an emphasis on protein-heavy items.
  • Marketplace at Atherton Union is an all-you-care-to-eat cafe that offers menus inspired from cuisine found around the world.

 

Media Contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Plum Market Butler University
CampusStudent Life

After Facelift, Plum Market at C-Club Opens With Endless Options

The grab-and-go dining space in Atherton Union offers flexibility in hours and variety.

Nov 18 2019 Read more

Butler's Move-in Day Experience

By Meredith Sauter

Jeanette Collier remembers arriving at Butler University to move her son, Cedric, into his first-year residence hall. The whole family was nervous, she says. Would things go according to plan?

Then the movers arrived, greeted the Colliers at Cedric’s residence hall, started unloading belongings out of their car, and delivered the things right to Cedric’s room.

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was,” Jeanette says. “There’s a lot of stress leading up to this day—the day you leave your child for the first time. I’d say I was at a stress level of about 100 when we arrived on campus, but Butler took it down to probably a two. Everything was taken care of, and we were able to relax. It was a great first impression.”

The Colliers were far from alone in their feelings of anxiety leading up to move-in day. In August, Butler welcomed 1,125 new students into three different residence halls. On top of the logistical tasks of moving into a new place, students face the stress of leaving home, meeting new people, and adjusting to a new schedule.

The goal of move-in, of course, is efficiency, but also to ease the nerves of new families like the Colliers, says Meg Haggerty, Director of New Student and Family Programs at Butler. But things weren’t always this seamless. It took one infamous move-in day to get to the systematic approach Haggerty says now appears to be second nature.

“It was pouring rain,” she says. “People were carrying their things around campus, and everything was wet. Everything was taking forever. It was sort of that moment you realize, ‘This is not working. This has got to change.’”

Now, families are assigned a specific time to arrive at the residence hall. They drive up to the unloading space, open the trunk of their car, and sit inside while a team of movers unload their belongings.

The movers then put all the items—pre-labeled with the student’s last name and room number—into a large rolling cart and deliver everything to the student’s room. Meanwhile, families leave the residence hall and drive a short distance to an assigned parking lot. By the time they take a short walk (or take a golf cart shuttle) back to the residence hall, all of the items are waiting in the student’s room.

Now, moving belongings from the car to the dorm takes minutes. The process also takes contingencies—like bad weather—into account.

In addition to implementing this new move-in process, Butler has planned the entire day around the first-year student and family experience. While moving into the residence halls is the highlight, there’s also a resource fair set up in the middle of campus where students and families are connected with campus offices, religious organizations, banks, and other entities. Food trucks visit campus, and student orientation guides serve as leaders of Welcome Wagons. The wagons are filled with temporary tattoos, bubbles, first aid kits, water bottles, maps of campus and Indianapolis, and schedules for the rest of the week.

Cristina Veraza, Family Council member and parent of Butler sophomore Jorge Veraza, has fond memories of her family’s move-in day one year earlier.

“It was very organized and very quick, especially when compared to my older daughter’s move-in experience at a different school,” Veraza says. “We spent the better part of the day unloading and carrying my daughter’s things to her room, but at Butler, that was all done for us in a matter of minutes. With Jorge’s move-in experience, we were able to enjoy the day and go out for dinner. It was a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience.”

Future prospective Butler families can expect to receive the same level of service—if not better—on their own move-in days. The University is evaluating its processes to see how else it can be improved.

“We know that this is already a time of heightened stress and great transition for families,” Haggerty says. “If we can help alleviate elements of this stress to make families feel like they're leaving their student in a safe place, that is what we want to do.”

Butler Move-in Day
CampusStudent Life

Butler's Move-in Day Experience

At Butler, there's no need to stress about move-in day. We make it easy, giving families more time together.

esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

Butler Ready to Launch First Esports and Gaming Space, but Much More to Come

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 24 2019

 

 

A new space on Butler University’s campus dedicated to esports and gaming is in the works. But it will be about much more than one of the world’s hottest industries.

The Esports and Gaming Lounge is set to open in late November. It will be located in Atherton Union, adjacent to the newly designed Plum Market at C-Club, which will open around the same time. Open to the campus community, the space will have stations dedicated to esports, or competitive, organized video gaming. There will be 16 gaming PCs, an area of gaming consoles, and an area for tabletop gaming.

But this is just the beginning. Plans for a much larger, 7,500-square-foot multi-use space in the Butler Parking Garage are in the works, says Eric Kammeyer, Butler’s new Director of Esports and Gaming Technology. The space is slated to open fall 2020, and it will build upon the Atherton Union space, featuring 50 gaming PCs, an area of gaming consoles, and room for technology-infused corporate trainings and events or youth STEM and esports camps. It will also have broadcasting production capabilities for live events such as podcasts or esports competitions, a coworking space, a cafe, and a small office space available for lease to support new ventures.

In addition to the Butler esports team that competes in the BIG EAST and will start practicing in the new space, gaming and innovative technologies are being incorporated into the wider Butler curriculum, as the new spaces will enable campus to serve as a sports hub for the greater Indianapolis community. These new spaces will foster student access, community partnerships, and innovations in teaching and learning—all key aspects of Butler’s new strategic direction.

“While competitive and recreational esports is a key driver of this new space, our vision is larger,” says Butler’s Vice President for Strategy and Innovation, Melissa Beckwith. “Our goal is to create a space that will ultimately support curricular innovation, serve the K-12 community, and align with two of the city’s economic engines—sports and technology. Integrating these efforts is the key to creating maximum impact for our students, faculty, and broader community.”

 

Future Esports & Technology space in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage, expected to open in fall 2020

 

Why invest?

In 2014, more than 70 million people across the globe watched esports on the internet or television, according to Newzoo, the leading provider of market intelligence covering global games, esports, and mobile markets. That same year, a single esports event retained viewership that surpassed the NBA’s Game Seven.

Newzoo expects that esports viewership will increase to 427 million people and top $1 billion in revenue in 2019.

“Gaming is extremely popular among students, and its popularity will only continue to grow,” says Butler’s Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross. “Universities must be responsive to students’ changing needs and interests, identifying innovative and meaningful ways to engage them on campus. This investment in Butler students is important as we continue to enhance the student experience.”

It is also an area exploding with job opportunities. 

Butler Assistant Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment Ryan Rogers just published a book on esportsUnderstanding Esports: An Introduction to the Global Phenomenon. The book explores the rise of the esports industry and its significance, and is the first comprehensive look at an industry that has risen so quickly.

Because of that accelerated growth, the industry needs employees.

“It is incumbent on us, as an institute of higher learning, to prepare students for jobs and get them thinking about new jobs they may not have previously thought about, or may not even know exist,” says Rogers, whose research has explored the ways video games influence their audiences and users. “It is imperative to serve students, and this is a growth field. There are opportunities for students in this field, from competing, to working, to conducting research. As a higher ed institution, we should work to understand why, like anything else, this is happening and how it is happening.”

 

Curriculum

Rogers teaches an esports class. He also teaches a class that works with FOX Sports. This semester, that class is working closely with Caffeine, a new broadcasting service that is mostly geared toward streaming video games.

But it is about much more than just integrating esports into the Butler curriculum. There is a much broader, cross-disciplinary effort being made toward integrating gaming into pedagogy across campus.

James McGrath, Professor of Religion and Classics, says: “There is real educational value in the mixing of gaming and learning because, I remember at one point in my life, learning was fun.”

McGrath says as educators, it is easy to fall into old habits such as talking at people, or doing “other boring things like that.” But, he says, there is a reason that students spend hours playing video games. These games give people the freedom to fail and try again.

“We often forget the need to incorporate failure in any educational experience that is ultimately going to lead to success and learning,” he says. “The only way to become good at something is to do it repeatedly, and fail, and if you get penalized for failing, you will never get the chance to ultimately get very good at it.”

Incorporating game-like elements, such as a point-based system, into higher education sparks learning, McGrath says. This is the gamification of higher education. 

For McGrath, this started when he was teaching a course on the Bible. The second day of class, he knew he had to teach his students, essentially, a history lesson about why Bibles are different and where the table of contents comes from, for example. He decided to create a card game, Canon: The Card Game

“People like to game,” McGrath says. “Faculty are starting to recognize the value of these types of things as part of culture and things we can harness for good in terms of learning outcomes. The fact that institutions such as our own are being more aware that people need to be well-rounded and that involves different things, even gaming, is a huge step toward true innovation.”

Jason Goldsmith, Associate Professor of English, quite literally studies video games. 

He offers a course called Video Game Narrative, which looks at how video games tell stories and what they can do differently from a standard novel or film. One iteration of the course studied Lord of the Rings. The students read the novel, watched the film, and then played online with people all over the world. The class looked at how the narrative shifted based on environment.

“These kids grow up playing video games much more than watching movies, so it is vital that we teach them to think about this medium critically with the same attention we ask of them when reading Shakespeare,” he says. “If they are playing these games, and if they will one day produce these games, we must encourage them to think more deeply about the relationship between story, game, and what players want out of a game.”

Goldsmith has also gamified aspects of classes he teaches, such as a course he recently taught on Jane Austen. Austen played many games when she was younger, and games play a crucial role in her novels. Students had to create a Jane Austen game, complete with a character sheet that reflected the characteristics Austen valued in her main characters.

Goldsmith says he looks forward to studying the broader cultural significance of gaming, while also making sure Butler continues to evolve and prepare students for emerging career opportunities. 

Butler is working University-wide to do just that. 

 

Future Esports & Technology space in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage, expected to open in fall 2020

 

Competition

When John George ‘18 started at Butler, he had two passions: sports and video games. But he had never heard of esports.

He was watching ESPN one morning and heard something about competitive video games and esports. His mind was blown. He started Googling like crazy, and he found there was this whole world out there with teams and leagues. He started playing League of Legends and was hooked.

By the time he was a senior, he heard about Rogers and his esports class. After the first class, he ran up to Rogers, and the two decided to start the Butler esports student organization. There wasn't much interest that first year, and George was the only senior at the meeting. There were a handful of others.

“I can’t believe we went from having some interest, to now being on the brink of an actual space on campus,” says George, who worked for Echo Fox, an esports organization in Los Angeles, running a podcast and producing video after graduation. “We used to all practice in our dorm rooms apart, so the chance to all be together will be amazing.”

Interest has grown quite a bit, too. In 2018, the esports team started competing in the BIG EAST. The team competes in two titles in the BIG EAST now—Rocket League and League of Legends

“The BIG EAST Conference and our members have been formally exploring the esports space since 2017,” says Chris Schneider, Senior Associate Commissioner for Sport Administration and Championships at the BIG EAST. “It’s exciting to see growth on each campus, and Butler University is certainly one of the leading programs in the conference.”

Growth on Butler’s campus over the last few years has really skyrocketed. There is discussion around Butler-sanctioned scholarships, Kammeyer says.

“Interest on campus has mirrored the explosion of this industry at the global level,” he says. “We continue to work with our partners at the high school level to develop advancement opportunities much like traditional sports. We want to provide an end-to-end solution for those that want to pursue anything that falls under the umbrella of esports and innovative technology, from music and production, to competition, to developing the games they are playing.”

 

Community

Butler is not the only member of the Indianapolis community active in the esports and gaming space. 

Ryan Vaughn, Indiana Sports Corp President, says esports is no longer an emerging phenomenon, but rather something that the wider community is very much engaged in. However, Indianapolis lacks the physical space to bring this sport to life.

“With basketball or swimming, for example, it is easy for us as a city to demonstrate we have the infrastructure here to compete with other cities to host major events. But for esports events, it is different,” Vaughn says. “It will be a game changer for us to now have a community space and a University to partner with.”

Esports also differ from other sports in their clear connection to STEM fields and tech, Vaughn says. To continue to grow in these areas as a state, it is important to recognize and develop that connection.

Scott Dorsey agrees. Dorsey, Managing Partner at High Alpha and Past-Chair of the Indiana Sports Corp, sees Butler’s new esports and tech space as key to developing Indiana’s workforce.

“Esports is an excellent example of the collision between sports and technology in Indianapolis,” Dorsey says. “We are a city that embraces our sports legacy and is well positioned to leverage our explosive growth in technology and innovation. Butler’s planned esports and technology park will be an important asset in our city as we build on our unique strengths and further develop, recruit, and retain top tech talent to the state.”

Potential partnerships with professional sports teams, other universities, K-12 schools, and start-up companies are all part of Butler’s larger plan, says Kammeyer. 

This past summer, for example, Butler partnered with NexTech, an Indianapolis-based organization committed to elevating the technical, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills of K-12 students, to host their Explorers Camp and provide programming for the Catapult Program—an intensive summer experience for high school students interested in exploring careers in technology.

“The investment Butler is making in innovative and transformative technology will be a tremendous asset for our city as we work to open doors for youth to explore opportunities in related fields,” says NexTech President Karen Jung.

Partnerships could lead to potential internship opportunities for Butler students, summer camps for community members, and mentorship programs for the esports team, for example.

Take the Indiana Pacers, for example. In 2017, Cody Parrent was hired to be their Director of Esports Operations. That year, they were one of 17 inaugural teams in the NBA 2K League. The league drafts players 18 years old or older from all over the world. 

Since that inaugural year, the league has added six new teams, including one from China. 

“We have seen interest grow exponentially,” says Parrent, who coaches the team, serves as the general manager, and works on partnerships.

As part of his partnership work, Parrent has spent time guest lecturing in Butler’s esports classes. And that has led to the Pacers having multiple Butler interns—a multimedia intern and a business operations intern.

“A lot of people know about the gaming side of esports, but there is a whole other side, which is the business side of things, and that is what I see as the most exciting part of what Butler is doing,” Parrent says. “The sport itself is open to everyone, as is the business side of things. We are ecstatic about finally having a hub that will bring everything together. The possibilities are endless.”

 

Media Contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

esports rendering
CampusStudent Life

Butler Ready to Launch First Esports and Gaming Space, but Much More to Come

The new space in Atherton Union will open in late November, with a second Parking Garage space planned for 2020.

Oct 24 2019 Read more
Ashleigh Doub

Of Funds and Food

Megan Ward, MS ’12

from Fall 2019

No one wants to need it, but when crisis strikes, you’re grateful it’s there. Butler’s Emergency Assistance Fund has helped students through hardships so they can continue to be successful both at Butler and in life. Established about a year ago, the fund has had 39 applications with 16 of those being approved.

Butler senior Ashleigh Doub shares she was one of those students when she and her husband found themselves out of work. “The emergency fund acted as a stop-gap for my bills. I was able to study during that time because much of the external stress was manageable.”

No stranger to food insecurity, Doub shares, “I was fighting food insecurity and working on improving food access in Indianapolis long before I needed the Emergency Assistance Fund.”

Now Doub is continuing that work on campus by collaborating with others to bring a food pantry to Butler. Of her many on- and off-campus cheerleaders, Doub credits Butler’s Dr. Margaret Brabant and the Center for Community and Citizenship for the initial push and support to move forward with the project.

With any project comes hurdles. For the food pantry, Doub believes it is location and donations. Ultimately, she says, “Wherever it ends up, I hope it is centrally located and easily accessible. This will help encourage students to use it when they need it.”

And that’s the goal of the Emergency Assistance Fund—for students to use it when they need it. Even if applicants aren’t approved for the fund, their circumstances may make them eligible for Federal gift assistance. Wrap-around support for applicants also is provided by the University to help address immediate and long-term needs of the students.

The Emergency Assistance Fund—just like the upcoming food pantry—is a valuable resource for Butler students.

As Doub states, “Using the pantry should be no different than visiting the Writer’s Studio when you need help writing a paper. We are better students when we aren’t hungry. This resource should be used by anyone who needs it, and it should be viewed just like every other resource we have on campus.”

Ashleigh Doub
Student Life

Of Funds and Food

Butler’s Emergency Assistance Fund helps students through hardships so they can continue to be successful.

by Megan Ward, MS ’12

from Fall 2019

Read more
Students in the new business building.

Designed for Collaboration

Katie Grieze

from Fall 2019

“I think if we ever do our students a disservice,” says Lacy School of Business (LSB) Dean Stephen Standifird, “it’s when we underestimate what they’re capable of.”

That value has built the foundation for LSB’s curriculum full of hands-on learning. The School’s focus on experiential opportunities sets it apart, and Standifird says faculty constantly adapt courses to add the complexity they know their students can handle.

But education also needs to shift with the realities of an ever-changing business world. In designing the building that gives a new home to the School this fall, LSB leaders wanted to create a space that inspired more meaningful connections with the people who can speak to those changes.

Standifird describes the building as “a living room for the business community.” LSB encourages Indianapolis professionals to visit and use the space, providing students more chances to immerse themselves in organic ways. Butler holds a unique spot in the city—right between Carmel and downtown Indianapolis—so Standifird says it’s a natural stop for business traffic.

“Collaborative collisions” between students, faculty, and professionals in the building’s creative spaces will enhance LSB’s already-robust program of learning outside the classroom. By graduation, Butler business students have completed two internships, received regular one-on-one career mentoring from people in the field, and had the chance to join several student-run firms that deal with real clients. And, perhaps the most unique distinction of LSB’s program, every student has launched and operated a real business.

During the Real Business Experience (RBE), a program most often taken during sophomore year, students work in teams to think up and prototype actual products or services. Throughout the semester, they learn about the different aspects of building a real business, from marketing, to accounting, to sales. Standifird says the program aims to help students understand the importance of each element, putting them in situations where they really feel the weight of running a business instead of just reading theories in a textbook.

“It’s not something that you can find at other universities,” says RBE Coordinator Jeff Durham, “especially with as many parts and pieces as we have.”

After students pay back loans from the University used to stock initial inventory, the course normally concludes with liquidating and closing the businesses. But Richie Berner, a 2019 Entrepreneurship & Innovation graduate, had a good feeling about his team’s Zotec-award winning project. He didn’t want it to end.

After Berner pitched his business idea during the first week of his RBE class, his team went on to sell more than 600 knit, branded scarves. Berner saw lasting potential in the product, so he bought out his partners’ shares and has continued to own and operate North Pole Scarves ever since. He says the experience gave him the confidence and know-how to try launching his own restaurant, which is already in the works just a few months after graduation.

Berner is still an outlier for continuing his RBE business after the class, but Standifird hopes the new building might help change that. The facility provides more workspace dedicated to RBE teams, housed at the northwest corner alongside a brand new showroom where students can display their products and services.

Two doors down, a recent partnership gives the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center a home at Butler. For students interested in taking their RBE business further, the resource they need could be just down the hall.

Students in the new business building.
Student Life

Designed for Collaboration

The new Business Building encourages “collaborative collisions” between students, faculty, and professionals.

by Katie Grieze

from Fall 2019

Read more
A scene from a Butler Improv practice
CampusStudent Life

Butler Improv Troupe Specializes in Unscripted Laughs

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Sep 26 2019

Sometimes there’s a payoff to not thinking.

For members of the Butler University Improv Troupe, not thinking tends to get the biggest laughs. The student organization—inspired by Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Second City, and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre—specializes in bringing the funny through off-the-cuff jokes in scenes and games on stage. The premises are fueled by audience suggestion.

“To me, at least, improv is not thinking too hard about it,” says Kitty Compton, a junior Theatre major. “If you think too hard, it won’t be as good. Every improv teacher ever will tell you, ‘Get out of your head. Don’t think about it too hard. Just say what comes to your mind.’ The worst thing you can do is try to be funny.”

Weekly practices help students relieve stress through creative performing. Formed in 2017, the all-female group of about 10, hosts shows on-campus at the end of every semester.

Kitty Compton gets laughs at improv practice.
Kitty Compton, second from left, brings the funny at Butler Improv practice.

Already, the improvisers have benefited from the chance to see touring and local acts that visit Butler stages. Performers from ComedySportz Indianapolis, Indianapolis’ only professional improv comedy group, offered expertise as guest mentors at past meetings. Members attended the August taping of the Hello from the Magic Tavern improv podcast at the Schrott Center for the Arts, and Clowes Memorial Hall will host a live performance of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with comedy actor Joel Hodgson, who made a living from using improv when riffing on bad movies.

Successful improvisations do require some thinking, of course. It just has to be lightning quick. Not all of the jokes land, but members provide one another with helpful feedback. Inspired by Tina Fey’s improv insights within her book Bossypants, the troupe’s first rule is to agree. Their “Yes and … ” mantra creates wide-open scenes and fewer trainwrecks on stage.

The experience of thinking on the fly has helped with the students’ academics. Kait Wilbur, a senior studying Strategic Communication and the troupe’s co-leader, says even bad ideas can inspire her academic work. Her years of improvisation have assisted in writing ad copy at her internship at Young and Laramore, a downtown Indianapolis advertising agency. The exploration has enhanced her creativity. Ideas flow easier. 

“This has been helpful in the generative process,” Wilbur says. “I’m not ditching any ideas because they’re dumb, but just letting them exist. You do that in improv because you have to think really fast.”

Funny women

Since its formation, the troupe has had an all-female cast, but not on purpose. Male improvisers are always welcome.

Wilbur believes the strong female cast members of Saturday Night Live and other comedy shows have inspired young women to take the stage, from Butler and beyond.

“I idolized Tina Fey,” Wilbur says. “I did a deep dive into comedy in junior high, and improv was a part of that. I saw it as a good way in.”

Compton is the only theater major in the troupe. Among the founding members, the Evansville, Indiana, native has honed her improv skills over the years. She considers improv an essential weapon in her performance arsenal.

“I think every actor needs to be able to improvise,” Compton says. “You need to at least be able to recover if something bad happens, and if you’re able to improvise, you can add a lot of personality to a role.”

Mae-Mae Han is a first-year Pre-Pharmacy student. Since middle school, she has successfully balanced theater, comedy, music, and STEM studies, and Han will continue to do so at Butler.

Mae-Mae Han leads a scene at improv practice.
First-year Pre-Pharmacy student Mae-Mae Han, center, leads a scene.

“When it comes to comedy and acting, it’s very energizing for me,” she says. “At the end of the day, being able to have fun, laugh, and bounce off of other people’s energies is super beneficial for my mental health.”

‘Bologna danger’

Troupe co-leader and senior Composition major Jessie Lause joyfully orchestrated a recent Monday night group meeting in Jordan Hall. During the “Conducted Story” game, Lause pointed to a performer to start telling a story using the phrase “bologna danger” for inspiration. After a few lines, Lause would point to another troupe member to continue the story, which included a man named Jack Danger and his crimes involving processed meats. Aliens were somehow in the mix, too.

“It helps me let loose,” says Lause, who is also studying Arts Administration. “I get really caught up in the sophistication level of my collegiate work. This is a way that I can step out of that.”

Another game saw the women giving their best impressions of The B-52’s Fred Schneider while singing about mowing the lawn and going grocery shopping.

Wilbur says she’s proud to have performed unscripted in front of friends and strangers, just like her heroes Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Catherine O’Hara did years ago.

“This is something that bonds me to the people I look up to,” Wilbur says. “We’re all participating in a similar tradition. It makes me feel self-actualized, in a sense. Sometimes it can be hard to have goals that you aspire to accomplish. Then you actually accomplish them. I’m engaging with that part of myself.”

And that is no bologna.

 

Great moments in improv, according to BuzzFeed.com

These iconic lines and actions are entrenched in pop culture, thanks to improvisation. 

  • Willy Wonka’s entrance, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — Gene Wilder walks like an old man before tumbling into an acrobatic somersault. Wilder said the stunt was meant to set up the mysterious nature of the character. Is the candy magnate lying or telling the truth throughout the film?
  • Jewelry box close, Pretty Woman — Richard Gere’s snap of the necklace box wasn’t planned, which drew the famous laugh from Julia Roberts.
  • “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Jaws — Roy Scheider’s cryptic line was not in the script.
  • “I’m walking here!”, Midnight Cowboy — Dustin Hoffman’s reaction was in real New York City traffic. The cab got in the way of the shot and Hoffman delivered the line your dad always says when crossing a busy street.
  • “You talking to me?”, Taxi Driver — Robert DeNiro’s intense scene was given with just the note “speaks to himself in the mirror.”
  • “Here’s Johnny!”, The Shining — Jack Nicholson tossed in the line, which made it perhaps more famous than Ed McMahon’s call for the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at the time.
  • “Tears in the rain” scene, Blade Runner — Rutger Hauer’s largely improvised delivery defined the late actor’s career.

 

Media Contact:
Tim Brouk
Senior News Content Manager
tbrouk@butler.edu
765-977-3931 (cell)

A scene from a Butler Improv practice
CampusStudent Life

Butler Improv Troupe Specializes in Unscripted Laughs

At meetings and shows, the student organization’s all-female cast thrives in creating comedy instantaneously.

Sep 26 2019 Read more
Scooter and Shana
CampusStudent Life

How Butler’s New Therapy Dog is Breaking Down Barriers to Seeking Support

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Sep 17 2019

Floppy black ears bouncing in the sunlight, Scooter trots down a busy sidewalk at Butler University. Students pass by, winding down from the chaos that comes with the first full week of classes. Scooter looks up at them from the end of his Butler-themed leash, giving that look that only dogs can give.

And for student after student, just seeing Scooter brings instant joy. Their faces transform as they smile back. While some walk away grinning after just a quick pet, others stop in their tracks for the chance to rub Scooter’s belly or feed him a treat from the bag Shana Markle carries with her on their afternoon walk through campus.

Scooter, a one-year-old Cavachon, joined the Butler University Counseling Center as a therapy dog in August 2019. He’s cared for by Markle, the Center’s Associate Director. Markle says it’s not rare for universities to offer this service, but it isn’t common, either, and the counseling staff at Butler wanted to stay ahead of the game when it comes to supporting student health.

“We talk a lot about being innovative and just trying to provide the students with the best experience we can,” Markle says. “For us, it’s an opportunity to provide a better experience for them, and also to remove barriers and be more accessible. There’s still a stigma related to coming to counseling, and this makes it a little easier for people to come in who might not otherwise.”

With depression and anxiety on the rise among teens and young adults, many university counseling centers have a hard time keeping up with the demand for care. Average counseling center usage increased by up to 40 percent between 2009 and 2015, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, while school enrollment only rose by 5 percent.

While adding Scooter to the mix won’t magically solve these issues at Butler, it does make the Center more well-rounded by introducing a new approach when it comes to this very real challenge of how best to care for mental health, Markle says. For students who don’t need clinical care, just petting a dog can be enough to reduce stress. And within regular counseling sessions, having a dog around will allow Markle to implement new forms of therapy for students with more serious illnesses.

Animal-assisted therapy goes deeper than just having a furry thing to pet. Interacting with dogs in a clinical setting can provide relief to students who’ve struggled with leaving pets behind at home, or who are going through trauma and other diagnosable mental issues.

According to Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization that trains and registers therapy animals and their handlers, humans and animals can bond in beneficial ways. Research shows that therapy dogs can help relieve pain, improve mood, encourage more social behavior, and lower blood pressure. Plus, by stimulating the release of endorphins, dogs usually just make people feel happy.

Plans to bring a therapy dog to Butler began taking shape during the 2017-18 academic year, when one of the Counseling Center’s doctoral fellows brought her expertise in animal-assisted therapy to campus. Student Affairs leaders at the University carefully studied the benefits and potential risks of such a program, considering what has worked best on other campuses in order to shape policies for animal-assisted therapy at Butler. Soon enough, it was time to pick a puppy and decide who would take the dog home each night.

Of the three full-time staff members, Markle was in the best position to take on a new pet. She says it took as much effort to convince her husband as it did to convince her colleagues, but after some time—and some begging from their teenage son—the couple decided to take a chance. On Labor Day 2018, they brought an eight-week-old Scooter home.

Over the next year, there was a lot of paperwork for Markle and training for Scooter. A therapy dog’s role goes deeper than that of an emotional-support dog—the use is more intentional and clinical, which meant Scooter needed to be certified with a pet therapy organization.

Scooter started taking obedience courses at just 12 weeks old, one of the youngest students in his classes. Despite having the extra playfulness of a puppy, Markle says he did a great job. He was trained and tested in a range of skills, from following basic commands like sit and stay to remaining calm in a crowd of strangers, before becoming registered with the American Kennel Club as both a “S.T.A.R. Puppy” and a “Canine Good Citizen.” He also passed an evaluation for dogs who demonstrate advanced skills in urban settings. After a little more practice interacting with other dogs, Scooter will likely become certified by Pet Partners, one of the most well-known and respected national pet therapy organizations.

But all the effort was worth it, Markle says, because when students interact with Scooter, she can see their stress melt away.

 

Scooter and Shana

 

During therapy sessions, it can be therapeutic for patients to breathe along with Scooter, or hold onto him to stay mentally grounded while discussing traumatic experiences. Students know Scooter will never judge what they say.

"Human connection is very important to our well-being, but relationships can also be a source of stress,” Markle says. “Even healthy relationships require effort to maintain and can be quite challenging.”

With a dog, the relationship will be genuine, accepting, and unconditional.

Students can play with Scooter or brush his curly black-and-white fur. They can try to teach him a new skill or just let him curl up at their feet. Or, for students who would rather not interact with a dog, he doesn’t need to be in the room. The animal-assisted therapy service will be carefully tailored to each student’s needs.

“To me, Scooter represents more than the day-to-day assistance he’ll be able to provide,” says Scott Peden, Executive Director of Student Health & Recreation. “It’s kind of a representation of our efforts to meet the students where they are and address whatever barriers they face when seeking out our services.”

Peden says Scooter has already had an unexpected impact on the Counseling Center staff. After a tough session, therapists can relax by rubbing Scooter’s ears or taking him outside for a walk.

“Therapists need therapists, because what they do is really a tough job,” Peden says. “So it’s nice to have Scooter in-house to be a support mechanism.”

But animal-assisted therapy isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Markle and the other counselors are more than happy to make any accommodations necessary. Scooter is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed, but there will still be some campus offices he never visits. A sign on the Counseling Center’s door also informs guests how to ask that Scooter be put away before they enter.

“It’s so important for us, as a Center, to be a support for everyone on campus,” Markle says. “We’re there for everyone. We would not want the presence of a therapy dog to be a barrier for others.”

The animal-assisted therapy program fits into Butler’s emphasis on mind and body wellness, one of the eight dimensions included under the BUBeWell student experience model that was introduced last year. This initiative aims to help students grow and learn, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Right now in higher education,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Ross, “there’s a significant movement looking at student wellbeing as the foundation for student success. We’ve taken that framework to heart here by creating BUBeWell. It’s comprised of eight dimensions that we feel are important holistically for student development.”

ScooterWithin the mind and body dimension, the Counseling Center will be expanding outreach in a variety of ways throughout the next year. Scooter is just one part of that. Staff members are also introducing a series called Let’s Talk, providing opportunities for groups of students to gather and share whatever is on their minds. Counseling staff will be visiting the Efroymson Diversity Center, too, hosting sessions that address topics specific to students of color.

Ultimately, the goal is to make resources for maintaining mental wellbeing more accessible to students. That often means getting out of the Counseling Center and meeting students where they’re at, whether that’s in another campus office or right by the sidewalk on a sunny afternoon.

Olivia Jacobs, a Community Assistant in her junior year at Butler, first met Scooter during a training about how to help fellow students find the best on-campus mental health resources.

“Having Scooter here shows me that Butler’s Counseling and Consultation Services is innovating,” Jacobs says. “It’s so exciting that they are looking at different routes for making student mental health a priority. And by the intentional ways they are implementing Scooter, it also shows me that they are still accommodating to everyone. I would just encourage people—if they see Scooter around campus—to go up and say hi, and to go pet him, because it’s his job to be a support.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager 
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

 

Student Access and Success

At the heart of Butler Beyond is a desire to increase student access and success, putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that is foundational to a Butler education, gifts to this pillar will grow student scholarships, elevate student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at beyond.butler.edu.

Scooter and Shana
CampusStudent Life

How Butler’s New Therapy Dog is Breaking Down Barriers to Seeking Support

This fall, Counseling Center staff introduce animal-assisted therapy. Meet Scooter, their newest co-worker.

Sep 17 2019 Read more

Students’ Summer Experiences Embolden Them for Future

By Tim Brouk

For Butler University students, summer is a time to learn, discover, inspire, and create. From analyzing viruses, to traveling for Fulbright programs, to interning in China, the Butler community didn’t let summer break go to waste.

Courtney Rousseau, a Career Advisor on campus, says the summer months provide great opportunities for students to explore new things and figure out what they want to pursue professionally. Whether through research or internships, students can work on building a network of connections while gaining hands-on experience.

Molly Roe in Glasgow, Scotland
Sophomore Molly Roe poses in Glasgow, Scotland.

Over summer 2019, Butler students spread out from downtown Indianapolis to Beijing. Some presented research for the first time, some boarded their first airplane flights, and others used the summer to focus on projects that turned into passions.

“I was very lucky,” says sophomore Molly Roe, who traveled to Scotland with the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes program to study the nation’s innovative technological advances at the University of Strathclyde. “It made me have a broader understanding of what’s going on in the world. After being in the same place my entire life, I was seeing things from different perspectives.”

Studying viruses

Senior Jenna Nosek spent more than two months with the Harvard University Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program, where she worked on analyzing viruses. Her summer research focused on the trichomonas vaginalis virus, which infects protozoa in sexually transmitted diseases. 

She also attended the Leadership Alliance National Symposium and presented a research poster on her findings after networking with faculty, graduate students, and fellow undergrads.

“It was, overall, an amazing experience for both an internship in research and understanding what it is like to do research at an R1 doctoral institute,” Nosek says. “This program also focused a lot on personal and professional development in regards to personal statements and application process for multiple programs.”

At Butler, Nosek is an undergraduate researcher in Assistant Professor of Biology Chris Stobart’s lab. Stobart loves giving students opportunities to expand their field experience.

In July, Stobart took seven young researchers to Minneapolis for the American Society of Virology annual meeting, where they presented talks and posters on recent lab findings on the respiratory syncytial and mouse hepatitus viruses. The students discussed the multi-faceted work, exploring the understanding and treatment of the viruses.

“This meeting is normally attended by graduate or postdoctoral students,” Stobart says. “So this was a great opportunity for them to both present and see how science is conducted and discussed in a real scientific meeting.”

Fulbright experiences

Roe wasn’t the only Butler student involved in a Fulbright summer program. Sophomores Josiah Lax and Emma Beavins explored the intersection of arts, activism, and social justice at the University of Bristol Summer Institute. This marked the fourth year in a row Butler had multiple undergraduates in Fulbright UK Summer Institutes.

Josiah Lax in Bristol, Enland
Dance Pedagogy sophomore Josiah Lax in Bristol, England

Dacia Charlesworth, Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, says there are only 60 spots for the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes. And thousands of people apply.

Lax described his Fulbright experience at the University of Bristol as one he will cherish forever.

During his June stay, the broad curriculum ensured no day was the same. He worked with a Bristol activist to create sustainable fashion one day, then attended a Pan-African conference about decolonization the next.

“The biggest takeaway from my time in Bristol is that everybody has the power to make an impact and create change,” Lax says. “What makes us individual, and consequently, the unique paths we each choose, allows us to tackle various issues from new and effective angles.”

Now that Lax is back on Indiana time and entrenched in a new schedule of dance classes, the Fulbright experience is still close to his heart. The fact that only about 1 percent of applicants receive such an opportunity was not lost on him.

“Earning this opportunity was one of the most exciting moments in my life,” Lax says. “I think I may have even cried. I felt as though it was one of the first times I had individually been recognized with such an honor. I rarely feel proud of myself, but I can’t help it with this.” 

A summer of firsts

It was a summer of firsts for Gwen Valles, a junior majoring in International Studies and Spanish. To get to her first internship as part of the Mingdun Law Firm in Beijing, she had to board an airplane for the first time.

“It was intense,” says Valles, who represented Butler thanks to the Asia Summer Internship Program. “When we landed, it was just incredible.”

After a 15-hour plane ride, Valles got to work conducting research on intellectual property laws, collecting data, and learning about intellectual property laws in China. Her favorite part was policing knock-off products that mimicked items from Huda Beauty, a cosmetics line by YouTube star Huda Kattan. Valles found these bootlegged items in Mexico, Brazil, and India.

“People were taking Huda’s logo and making their own mock products,” she says. “They were even impersonating her online and were registering for trademarks. But we found the names filing were not her.”

Valles enjoyed the chance to use her multilingual skills with international cases. A student of Mandarin since eighth grade, Valles was able to practice the language in a professional office setting. And she was one of the few people in the office who could navigate websites written in Spanish.

From learning Excel to maintaining the brand of a YouTube giant, Valles will treasure her Chinese internship experience as an early, but major, stop on her career journey.

“I’m very interested in working for the U.S. government,” says Valles, adding that law school or a master’s degree in Public Policy are on the horizon. “The dream is to one day become a Supreme Court justice.”

‘It really inspired me’

A Political Science and International Studies major, Ashely Altman broadened her worldview without leaving Marion County. From May to August, the sophomore interned for attorney Fatima Skimin in downtown Indianapolis.

Altman worked with Skimin and about a dozen other lawyers in the office and online. She focused on immigration cases—something very personal to her. When she was a child, Altman witnessed the complicated process of attempts made by her mother and other relatives to immigrate from Mexico to the United States.

“That’s why I decided to go into this field,” Altman says. “At every law firm I go to, it’s something different. It’s something that further emphasizes my want and my need to do something about this topic and these issues.”

Altman’s cases worked with citizens from India, Africa, and the Middle East. She noticed that Skimin could speak four languages in order to better communicate with her clients, which inspired Altman to take an Arabic class to add to her Spanish and English.

“I got to see the entire immigration process from beginning to end,” Altman says. “It’s a big deal and very rewarding in the end.”

And that wasn’t the only thing that kept Altman busy this summer.

She managed to collaborate with online news outlet BuzzFeed for a piece on immigration and asylum-seekers in the U.S., which will be published soon. BuzzFeed interviewed Spanish-speakers around Indianapolis, and Altman served as an interpreter for the two-week project. She was on-hand for every interview, and she later transcribed every quote.

“I was there to facilitate anything they were trying to communicate with the reporter,” Altman says about the June assignment. “It really inspired me to become part of the change.”

Gwen Valles visits the Great Wall.
Student LifeUnleashed

Students’ Summer Experiences Embolden Them for Future

From study abroad to internships, Bulldog undergrads made their mark on the world this summer.

Lambda Chi Alpha to Return to Butler This Fall
CampusStudent Life

Lambda Chi Alpha to Return to Butler This Fall

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Lambda Chi Alpha will return to Butler University’s campus this fall.

The fraternity will begin recruiting sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the fall, and then will participate in formal recruitment in January 2020.

“We are excited to rejoin the Butler community and are optimistic we will be a real asset to campus,” Lambda Chi Alpha’s international Director of Communications Tad Lichtenauer said. “Recruiting the right young men who are focused on academics, giving back, extracurriculars, and who understand the importance of leadership and service are what we are pushing.”

The international headquarters of Lambda Chi Alpha suspended the Butler chapter in January 2017 after a conduct review.

Lambda Chi Alpha will move to the former Tau Kappa Epsilon property in January 2021—they plan to tear down the existing house and build a new one. The former Lambda Chi Alpha house, located on Sunset Avenue, was sold to Butler by the fraternity’s housing corporation. The University has no plans for the property at this time.

“Butler emphasizes the holistic well-being of all students through BU Be Well,” said Butler’s Vice President for Student Affairs Frank E. Ross, III. “This was a perfect opportunity to bring back a fraternity that was a part of Butler’s community, while also underscoring our commitment to the high standards of academic and social integrity that we expect for all Greek organizations.”

"We are glad to hear they will be returning this semester," Interfraternity Council President and Butler senior Luke Rihm said. "We look forward to supporting Lambda Chi's founding class through this process."

Moving Lambda Chi Alpha into the former Tau Kappa Epsilon property will create synergy by being adjacent to other chapter houses located along Hampton Drive, Ross said.

“There continues to be significant student interest in Greek life at Butler, and fraternities and sororities contribute greatly to our robust student life,” he said. “I look forward to the positive contributions Lambda Chi Alpha will make to our campus community going forward.”

 

Media Contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656 (cell)

Lambda Chi Alpha to Return to Butler This Fall
CampusStudent Life

Lambda Chi Alpha to Return to Butler This Fall

Fraternity to start recruiting members in the fall, move to former Tau Kappa Epsilon property in January 2021

Aug 16 2019 Read more
Maddy Smith and her daughter Arabelle
PeopleStudent LifeUnleashed

A Mother’s Promise: Against All Odds, Butler Senior is Ready to Graduate

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON May 09 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Madeline Smith was in third grade when she attended her first college class. It was math. Finite, to be exact. And she loved it.

Her mom, Sarah Taylor, didn’t really have a choice but to bring her young daughter with her. She was a 30-year-old college student at Indiana University. She had returned to college years after giving birth to Smith and realizing, if she wanted to stop working 16-hour shifts and provide a better life for her daughter, a college degree would help. So, Taylor packed up her whole house, put everything in storage except for two tents, and headed to Yellowstone Woods in Bloomington, Indiana with Smith. They camped out for two months—Taylor and her 10-year-old. Taylor bused tables, saving up for an apartment. She had a friend watch Smith during most classes, but when she had to, Taylor brought an extra set of hands with her to class. Turns out those hands shot up in the air on more than one occasion when questions were asked. Especially during Finite.

“I knew I had to make a change to make Madeline’s life better in the long-run, and I am very thankful she was a resilient individual, because she powered through some tough times,” says Taylor, who has worked in Human Resources since graduating from IU. “She was my study buddy who would hold up flashcards for me during dinner, while I was doing laundry, everything. She took notes in her own notebook during Economics. She always loved learning and saw firsthand from those days that knowledge is power, and education can transform your life.”

That love of learning was always on display. In elementary school, Smith preferred reading to riding bikes with her friends. And when she brought home her first B at Southport High School in Perry Township, Smith cried hysterically, studying all night, determined to bring her grade back up to an A.

When it came time to make a decision about college, Taylor was biased. She took her daughter back to Bloomington where the two had many fond memories. Smith earned a 21st Century Scholarship—up to four years of undergraduate tuition at participating universities in Indiana—so Taylor knew her daughter had options. They also visited Butler University.

“After being on campus, Butler became a no-brainer,” Smith says. “I loved the atmosphere here. I loved the fact that just six buildings make up the academic section. There was such a community feel right away. With larger institutions, it felt like you had to walk across an entire city to get to class. I didn’t want to be in a department where there are 25 professors and you never meet half of them, and they don’t know your name, and you are just another face. I wanted to be Maddy, and at Butler, it became instantly obvious to me the I would have that type of experience.”

Then, one day during Smith’s senior year of high school, she sat her mom down. She needed to talk to her. Smith was pregnant. They had a long talk—both cried and were scared—but, Smith made one thing clear: her goals would not shift, and she would go to Butler as planned. Taylor explained that she would understand if Smith needed to take a slightly different route, or adjust her timeline. But Smith was adamant. Nothing would change.

Four years later, Smith is on the cusp of graduation. She will join nearly 1,050 other students on Saturday for Butler’s 163rd Spring Commencement. She will fulfill the promise she not only made to her mom, but to herself, and to her daughter, Arabelle.

The Anthropology major and History minor will walk across the stage right on time, just as she planned four years ago. She is a bit more tired, but also incredibly grateful—for the scholarships, support from faculty and family—and proud—for trusting herself and sticking to her plan.

 

‘I’m exhausted’

The timing, actually, could not have been better for Smith. She was determined to not miss any significant class time, and her daughter was due in December, when Butler was closed for Winter Break.

So, Christmas 2015 arrived, she went to the hospital, and Arabelle arrived on December 27, 2015. Two weeks later, school started, and Smith was in class.

“It was really hard. To be honest, second semester of my first year is a blur,” Smith says, “It is recommended that you have six weeks of bonding time with your baby, and I had like two. But, I would have had to take medical leave if I missed school, and I wanted to graduate on time. It was really difficult, and exhausting, and things you don’t think about, like nursing, were messed up, but I knew I had to get through it.”

On top of having a newborn, Smith had to move to Kokomo during her second semester—about an hour from Butler’s campus—because her mom was relocated from Indianapolis to Tennessee for work. She moved in with her aunt and uncle, and then made the hour-each-way commute every day for classes.

Maddy's daughter, ArabelleShe learned traffic patterns very quickly, she says. She also learned time management.

Each day she woke up at about 5:00 AM, got ready for school, got her daughter ready for daycare, drove to campus for classes, and would return home to pick up her daughter from day care at around 5:00 PM. Then it was dinner time, bath time, bedtime for Arabelle, homework time for Smith, and, hopefully at a reasonable hour, bedtime for Smith.

“The way she has juggled everything has amazed me. But that is Madeline,” Taylor says. “I have seen her up until 2:00 AM working on a paper, or sometimes asleep in a book, trying to finish assignments. Her determination is what has gotten her to this point, and her love of learning.”

It wasn’t always clear to Smith that she made the right choice, though. There were times, she says, she missed out on things like parent-teacher conferences, or making snacks for her daughter’s daycare. Or other things, like homecoming, Greek Life, and just a typical social life on campus. Between classes and taking care of her daughter, Smith has juggled several jobs throughout her four years, such as working at a gas station, working at a fast food restaurant, the Butler IT Help Desk, pizza delivery driver, to name a few.

 

Tight-knit community

Elise Edwards has an adult son, and, after a day of teaching Anthropology as an Associate Professor at Butler, she is drained, she says. So, to see Smith, a first-year student who can juggle being a mom and keep up with her studies, amazed Edwards.

“Maddy is an incredibly smart student. She writes well, thinks well, and despite all of the outside pressures she faces, has remained incredibly focused,” Edwards says. “She is very intellectually curious and, miraculously, hasn’t allowed any additional challenges to get in her way.”

Edwards worked with Smith on an independent study project looking at the Anthropology of Africa. The two handpicked ethnographies on Africa and met weekly to discuss the readings. After graduation, Edwards says, she will really miss these conversations.

But it wasn’t just that Smith was able to keep up, Edwards says. She was often ahead of the class. On more than one occasion, Smith would raise her hand and remind the class that rough drafts were due in a week.

Instructor of German Michelle Stigter was the first person on campus Smith told about her pregnancy. Stigter was her First Year Seminar professor, and the two instantly connected.

“I am the child of teenage parents, and I know the odds are stacked against young women who get pregnant in terms of college completion,” Stigter says. “Being a mom and something else is hard enough, but being a mom and a college student is really difficult. Maddy has a tenacity to move forward and make life happen for her and her daughter that has been incredible to witness.”

Most who know Smith, Stigter says, aren’t even aware she has a daughter. She has been determined to be like every other student and not let her family situation influence her college experience.

It was Stigter who nominated Smith for the Betty Murnan-Smith Scholarship—given to single parents enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Stigter nominated Smith in 2017, and since then, Smith has received the scholarship for the last three years.

“Without scholarships I never would have been able to come to Butler and receive the education I have received,” Smith says. “To have people that don’t even know you set up scholarships that you’ll eventually benefit from is something I am so grateful for. But, to then have professors looking out for you, and really advocating for you—it is all just so amazing.”

 

An education for everyone

Betty Murnan-Smith ’44 always loved to learn, too.

Born in Indianapolis in 1921, her father died of leukemia when she was 12. Suddenly left to raise Murnan-Smith alone, her mother moved them into the back room of a dried goods store to save money. The two shared a bed, her mother sewed their clothes, and a curtain enclosed their room.

Murnan-Smith rode her bike to school, always eager to get there, says her son, Timothy Smith. A high school English teacher of hers saw her talent as a writer and asked her if she planned to go to college. She said she couldn’t afford college, but her high school teacher told her she still could go, and introduced her to Butler.

“My mom worked her way through school. She had every kind of job you could imagine. She grinded magnesium for airplane parts, she was a soda jerk, an artist model, a Rosie the Riveter,” says Smith, who now lives in Los Angeles. “She was an uncommon woman of her time, one who was fiercely interested in women not following the well-traveled path but taking another option, and daring to do something great with their lives. She got that from her mother.”

Her favorite job, though, was on campus at Butler helping Professor of English Allegra Stewart grade papers. Stewart told Murnan-Smith that she had so much potential, and inspired her to become a professor, too. Murnan-Smith would go on to name her daughter Allegra, after Stewart.

“At a time when most women were becoming domesticated and looking for husbands, my mom went to Butler and had professors who showed her all the potential she had and all the options available to her—that she really could do anything,” Smith says.

Murnan-Smith would go on to teach at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. Later in her life she established the Betty Murnan-Smith Scholarship for single parents at Butler.

Her children didn’t even know about the scholarship until the end of their mother’s life, but it certainly doesn’t surprise them.

“It resonates with everything we understood about her. She would save pennies and dimes to help those who are trying to fulfill their dreams, despite challenges,” Smith says. “She taught us from a young age the importance of education. We were 12 and she was telling us the unexamined life is not worth living. She wanted to make sure she did her part to provide that for everyone. She actually sounds a lot like Maddy from the bit I have learned about her.”

 

‘A really special day’

Taylor will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, watching her daughter graduate. Arabelle will not. She would be bouncing off the walls during a long ceremony like that, Smith says.

But, the day will be an emotional one.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter,” Taylor says. “I have seen first hand all she has juggled with school, but also raising my granddaughter and being a wonderful mother, and sticking to her original goals and not wavering. She has always been so driven, but to see everything come to the final stages, it will be such a special day.”

After graduation, Smith is hoping to go into event planning, but she is still exploring her options. Whatever she ends up doing, though, she hopes to one day help others like her—sort of like Murnan-Smith.

Maddy Smith and her daughter Arabelle
PeopleStudent LifeUnleashed

A Mother’s Promise: Against All Odds, Butler Senior is Ready to Graduate

Arabelle arrived on December 27, 2015. Two weeks later, school started, and Maddy Smith was in class.

May 09 2019 Read more
Maria De Leon

A Lifelong Activist

Sarah Bahr

from Spring 2019

  

Twelve-year-old Maria De Leon was on the phone with a doctor 40 years her senior.

She was translating a pain-pill prescription from English for her Spanish-speaking parents—but struggling with unfamiliar words like ‘hydrocodone’ and ‘acetaminophen.’

The language is rife with false cognates; each an opportunity for disaster.

‘Intoxicado’ doesn’t mean intoxicated, but ingested. ‘Embarazada’ means not embarrassed, but pregnant.

“That was something my parents didn’t understand,” she says. “Even though I do know English, I don’t know all the words.”

She would translate insurance claims, doctor’s appointments, sometimes even conversations with lawyers.

It was challenging, she says—her parents, who moved to the United States from Guatemala before she was born and have the equivalent of elementary-school educations, don’t speak enough English “to survive,” in her words.

Which meant that in high school, she was on her own to navigate the FAFSA, scholarships, SAT, and college application process.

But she didn’t end up a dropout.

She graduated salutatorian.

And won a full-tuition scholarship to any college in Indiana.

 

“Will Getting Arrested Keep me From Attending Butler?”

Except she almost didn’t.

Butler admission counselor Whitney Ramsay’s phone buzzed one morning last winter.

Will getting arrested keep me from attending Butler?

De Leon, then a senior in high school, was planning to participate in a sit-in protest in Washington, D.C. in January to lobby senators to approve a “clean” Dream Act, or one that creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without adding additional stipulations.

Would being arrested for civil disobedience, she wanted to know, affect her eligibility to attend Butler—and her Lilly scholarship?

Ramsay talked to her supervisor: De Leon’s admission decision wouldn’t automatically be rescinded, but any disciplinary infraction would be reviewed by a committee. (Butler later issued a statement reading: “Applicants to Butler University who respectfully engage in meaningful and authentic discourse regarding important issues within our society will not be penalized in the admission process”).

“I told her to be safe, be smart, and listen to her gut,” Ramsay says.

De Leon ultimately decided to stop short of being arrested—though some of her fellow protesters were.

“I felt like me going and protesting was enough at that moment,” she says.

De Leon’s passion for civic engagement started at Crispus Attucks High School on the northwest side of Indianapolis. She was a community ambassador for the Central Indiana Community Foundation, researching Indianapolis’ Hispanic and Latino communities to discover their biggest challenges. She interviewed student DACA recipients, as well as police officers who worked in the Hispanic community.

She also volunteered with the Domestic Violence Youth Network and became a leader of Crispus Attucks’ NO MORE Club, which raises awareness of teen dating violence and sexual assault.

But De Leon wanted to do more than just join a club. Why, she wondered, did Indianapolis Public Schools not have a teen dating violence prevention and response policy?

According to a 2017 Indiana Youth Institute Report, one in eight high school students said they had been “forced to do sexual things they did not want to do by someone they were dating or going out with.” That’s higher than the one in 10 national average.

De Leon worked with Lindsay Stawick, the Youth Program Manager at the Domestic Violence Network, and three other students to draft a policy. It took eight months.

When the policy was enacted at IPS schools this fall, it was the first teen dating violence prevention and response policy in Indianapolis, Stawick says. It holds school staff accountable for preventing abusive behavior and punishes students who participate in it. It also mandates training for teachers and places a teen dating abuse advocate in every IPS school. 

That policy was possibly De Leon’s most significant achievement at Crispus Attucks, but she didn’t wait until her senior year to get involved with organizations she was passionate about.

She began volunteering at TeenWorks, an Indianapolis college-and-career readiness and youth employment nonprofit serving at-risk Marion County teens, her freshman year of high school.

TeenWorks President and CEO Tammie Barney says De Leon can reach the students in a way the adult volunteers can’t.

“It’s rare to see that level of boldness and leadership in such a young person,” Barney says. “She seizes the day to get the most out of every opportunity.”

Her go-getter attitude is one the reasons De Leon says Butler has been a perfect fit.

“I’ve learned that Indy is a city where if an opportunity isn’t there, you can create it,” she says.

 

A DIY Education

Just because her parents didn’t speak English doesn’t mean they weren’t her fiercest academic cheerleaders, De Leon says.

They accompanied her to the many college preparation programs she’d enrolled in as a show of support—even though they couldn’t understand what her instructors were saying.

When De Leon graduated from Crispus Attucks last spring—the first in her family to graduate high school—her parents, two younger brothers, and younger sister were all there to see her walk across the stage.

She gave the second half of her salutatorian speech in Spanish to honor her parents. She was proud to be a role model for her siblings, and the ear-to-ear smiles on her mom’s and dad’s faces said it all.

Her mom’s mantra growing up—and one that De Leon included in her personal statement for Butler—was that her daughter’s U.S. citizenship wouldn’t matter if she didn’t pursue an education.

So De Leon networked like her life depended on it in high school, printing professional business cards and job-shadowing mentors. She knocked out a semester’s worth of college credits from dual-credit courses before ever arriving on the Butler campus.

But sweetest of all?

A full-tuition, four-year Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, which 143 Indiana students from the state’s 92 counties receive each year. Scholars must be leaders, civically engaged, and academic all-stars—all boxes De Leon checked.

But she didn’t think she had a chance at the scholarship after she found out the valedictorian had also applied.

“We thought only one of us was going to get it,” De Leon says. “But then we both got it, which is crazy!”

 

Look Out, Joe Hogsett

When former first lady Michelle Obama spoke in Indianapolis last February, De Leon was in the audience. The quote that stuck with her?

“If there’s not a chair at the table, bring your own.”

That’s what De Leon is trying to do at Butler; The Political Science and Critical Communication & Media Studies double major recently established a Latino chapter of Butler’s Leading Women of Tomorrow initiative, a group focused on empowering women to seek public service careers. She applied to be vice president or secretary.

She was asked to serve as president.

And De Leon continues to volunteer with the organizations that triggered her passion for activism four years ago.

She’s a mentor with the Domestic Violence Youth Network, where she volunteers twice per month and during breaks, and she plans to continue to help with TeenWorks events this summer, from conducting mock interviews to providing resume advice.

De Leon’s goal is to work in politics after she graduates in 2022. She’d love to be the president of a youth-focused nonprofit organization like TeenWorks, but she’s also considering a run for mayor of Indianapolis.

Look out, Joe Hogsett.

Maria De Leon
Student Life

A Lifelong Activist

As a daughter, student, and mentor, first-year Maria De Leon works hard for herself and others. 

by Sarah Bahr

from Spring 2019

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Students playing video games

The Rise of Esports

Michael Kaltenmark ’02, MA ’16

from Spring 2019

As stereotypes go, it’s said that too much time with videogames leads to such things as poor social skills and long-term accommodations in the parents’ basement. However, the reality at Butler University is quite the contrary. Sophomore Luke Renchik and fellow members of the Butler Esports team represent a new generation of college students who are rapidly debunking these myths.

While Renchik and teammates might spend upwards of four to eight hours a day honing their gaming craft, they do so while successfully balancing the demands of a Butler education. “Playing a game at a high level and success in school go hand-in-hand,” Renchik says. “Your ability to problem-solve and learn effectively are important skills that can help improve your gaming.”

An Economics and Finance major from Clarkston, Michigan, Renchik is not only a member of Butler’s relatively new Esports team, but also a member of Butler’s quickly growing Esports Club, which now boasts more than 200 members in just two years. The rise in club membership is a microcosm of a broader national trend among Renchik’s peers with videogame prowess who are looking to supplement their college pursuits with gaming competition.

And with real money at stake, it’s no wonder why students like Renchik are making their college choice with gaming in mind. Forbes reports that esports industry revenues will exceed $1 billion in 2019, and higher education is piggybacking on that growth. Some schools are now offering esports scholarships to recruit students, and once on campus, esports competitors are playing for lucrative prize monies being offered by gaming companies.

Butler’s growing, yet modest, Esports team maintains affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, where they’re holding their own against counterparts from other member schools. Teams are playing popular gaming titles such as League of Legends (Renchik’s specialty), Rocket League, Call of Duty, and more. Meanwhile, fall and spring seasons feature different game championships, complete with live action broadcasts on Twitch and YouTube.

“We’re definitely very good for the size of our school,” Renchik notes. “It’s fun to be a part of it all at the ground level and to have that underdog mentality going into tournaments. There aren’t a lot of people expecting you to do well so it makes it especially exciting when we do win.”

So, what’s the next level for Butler’s esports scene? Hopefully more marquee wins like last fall’s BIG EAST Invitational victory for the Rocket League squad, engaging content for curious online spectators, perhaps a new academic curriculum, and even a dedicated physical space for this virtual enterprise.

Currently, team members compete on their own custom-built hardware from the confines of their rooms in campus residence halls. The dream for Renchik and his peers is a campus gaming center to foster community, competition, practice, and course instruction.

For now, these gaming pioneers will be feverishly wrapping up homework so they can hop online and practice for the next competition, all while redefining the perception of what it means to be a gamer.

Students playing video games
Student Life

The Rise of Esports

  

by Michael Kaltenmark ’02, MA ’16

from Spring 2019

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