View All Content | Butler Stories

View All Content


Meet the New Butler Aphasia Community


PUBLISHED ON Mar 21 2013

Students playing games using their non-dominant hands, partners working together to find locations on a map, students and their partners creating beautiful works of art—this is the new Butler Aphasia Community.

Members of the Butler Aphasia Community participating in a painting party

About 11 students in Butler University’s Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department began working with Indianapolis residents afflicted with aphasia—impairment of the ability to use or comprehend words, usually as a result of a stroke or other brain injury—on Feb. 14.

The clients come to Butler’s campus to meet with the students in the CSC clinic in Jordan Hall every Thursday evening. The Butler Aphasia Community provides a place for aphasia patients to practice the skills they have learned in therapy following a stroke.

“Usually there’s nowhere to go once therapy has ended, so this allows students to get experience working with patients,” CSD instructor Mary Gospel said. “They essentially help the patients re-enter their lives.”

A person with aphasia may have difficulty retrieving words and names or following a conversation, but their intelligence is basically intact. The Butler Aphasia Community offers student-run entertainment and learning activities that provide opportunities for 18-24 people with chronic aphasia to communicate in a comfortable and encouraging atmosphere.

Butler Art and Physical Education students and faculty also lead and organize activities with the clients.

Gospel received a $3,000 seed grant for the pilot program, as well as $2,250 from the Indiana Campus Compact, and $750 from Butler University, to begin developing the Butler Aphasia Center.

Over the past 10 years, close to 100 Butler CSD students have attended a local aphasia support group’s monthly meetings, to play games and converse with the clients. Gospel usually expects students to attend at least one support group meeting, but many have continued attending.

“The clients are the teachers of our students,” Gospel said.

According to Gospel, it is unusual for communication sciences and disorders undergraduate students to have so much hands-on experience working and interacting directly with clients. The Butler Aphasia Community allows more interaction between clients and students and gives students valuable experience with clients.

Every meeting also includes time for conversation when clients can tell their partners about their lives and their recovery.

“Clients’ honesty and bravery has added a new dimension to the students’ education,” Gospel said. “In return, students have given back by attending clients’ knitting groups, taking valentines to their nursing homes, and having dinner with them.”

Media contact:
Molly Kordas
(708) 691-8789



LAS Dean Jay Howard Receives Prestigious Teaching Award


PUBLISHED ON Mar 19 2013

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

Jay Howard


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

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

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

Howard’s contributions include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


U.S. News Ranks Butler Part-time MBA Program 67th in Nation


PUBLISHED ON Mar 12 2013

Butler Univesity's part-time MBA program ranks 67th in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools, 2014 Edition, a two-point improvement over its 2013 ranking at 69th.

BusinessButler is the top-ranked private school program in Indiana. This is the third consecutive year Butler has made the list; it placed 105th in the 2012 rankings.

College of Business Dean Chuck Williams said the ongoing national recognition can be credited to graduate faculty’s efforts to connect theory with actual business practice. “Working with area executives, our MBA faculty incorporate relevant, real business experiences into courses—activities such as our one-day immersion Gateway Experience and our FirstPerson Board Fellows program, which places our graduate students on the boards of local non-profit organizations.”

 Butler’s part-time MBA program combines evening classes with accelerated and weekend sessions; it offers concentrations in finance, international business, leadership, and marketing.

U.S. News rankings are based on four factors: average peer assessment score; average GMAT score of students entering in fall 2012; acceptance rate; and the program’s fall 2012 part-time enrollment.

The average peer assessment score—which accounts for 50 percent of a school’s overall score—is calculated from a fall 2012 survey that asks business school deans and MBA program directors at each of the nation’s 325 part-time MBA programs to rate the programs on a 5-point scale.

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


McGrath Named to College Sports Information Directors' Hall of Fame


PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Butler Students Perform Well in Model Arab League


PUBLISHED ON Feb 27 2013

Butler University’s delegation turned in a strong showing in its first appearance in the Model Arab League, held Feb. 21-23 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Kirstie Dobbs, Delaney Barr, Needa Malik

Individual honors for Butler include Delaney Barr (International Studies), who received Honorable Mention in Social Affairs; Needa Malik (International Studies), Honorable Mention in Joint Defense; and Kirstie Dobbs (International Studies and French), Best Delegate in Political Affairs.

Through participation in the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ Model Arab League (MAL) program students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world, and the arts of diplomacy and public speech. MAL helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders.

Universities and high schools from across the United States are invited to participate.

Robert L. Oprisko, visiting assistant professor in Butler’s International Studies Program, oversaw the Butler delegation and said it earned a reputation for innovative problem solving and mastery of parliamentary procedure. The Butler students were responsible for a number of firsts in Model Arab League history, including the first joint-session, the first use of the International Criminal Court, and the first use of protest to promote policy (in honor of the Arab Spring).

The Butler delegates received high praise by other faculty-coaches including Vaughn Shannon (associate professor, Wright State), Saleh Yousef (provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, Miami of Ohio), and Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi (director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Indiana University).



Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822

Student Life

A Freshman, and Also a National Champion


PUBLISHED ON Feb 22 2013

As a child, Ernie Stevens would watch figure skating on TV and skate around in his socks on the hardwood floor in his house. A decade later, the Butler University freshman is a national figure-skating champion, winning the United States National Championship on Jan. 22 in Omaha, Neb.

Ernie Stevens and Christina Zaitsev

Stevens and his skating partner Christina Zaitsev skate in the Novice Pairs division, the third highest level in figure skating below Junior and Senior levels. The pair won with a score of 124 points, a score that would have also put them in first place at the Junior level.

Stevens and Zaitsev are leading contenders for the World Championships next year. According to Stevens, Zaitsev, 13, will be too young to qualify for the Winter Olympics next year, but their hard work has set them up perfectly to compete in the Winter Olympics in 2018.

“2018 will be our year,” he said.

Stevens has been skating for 13 years. He began when he was a first grader living in Louisville, Ky. He was skating at a rink near his home when a coach asked him to try figure skating.

Stevens immediately loved skating and had been contemplating playing hockey, so his mother was thrilled when he decided to figure skate. As a child Stevens played almost every sport but always stuck with skating.

Unfortunately, during his training in Louisville, Stevens was injured and struggled with a growing pain in his knee.

“It was pretty bad. I really thought I was never going to be able to skate again,” Stevens said.

However, a coach in Indianapolis, Serguei Zaitsev, was confident that they could overcome Stevens’ knee injury with the proper hard work and training. Stevens began training in Indianapolis and became interested in pairs skating. Serguei decided to pair him with his daughter Christina.

When Stevens graduated high school he decided that he wanted to go to a college in Indianapolis so he could continue to train in skating and still get a quality education. Butler University just made sense.

“I wouldn’t trade that decision for anything in the world. It’s a great school with great people, so it worked out,” he said.

Because of the intense demands of training and being a student, “Not a lot of skaters choose to go to college,” he said. Stevens, a Strategic Communications major at Butler, finds it difficult to balance college life and training in ballet and skating Monday through Saturday, four hours per day. 

“But even though skating is so competitive and it’s a lot of pressure, school helps because it takes my mind off all of that pressure,” Stevens said.

Media contact:
Molly Kordas
(708) 691-8789



Professor's Study Links Over-the-Counter Drugs With Kidney Disease in Children


PUBLISHED ON Feb 22 2013

Three years ago, physicians specializing in kidney diseases at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis noticed a recurring problem in their patients: Children who had been given ibuprofen at home were experiencing kidney injuries.

Chad Knoderer, now an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Butler University, was a consultant for a physician group at Riley at the time. He joined researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine to study how often drugs like ibuprofen were causing kidney injuries in their patients.

“This is such an important issue because the drugs are over the counter, so they are easily available,” Knoderer said. “Even young adolescents could buy ibuprofen on their own without knowing about the risks.”

According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Jan. 25, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—drugs such as ibuprofen, Aleve, and naproxen—can cause significant kidney injury in sick children, especially those with dehydration from flu or other illnesses.

Researchers examined more than 1,015 cases at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis over the past three years using data as far back as 1999. The study is considered the first large-scale study of the incidence and impact of acute kidney injury caused by NSAIDs, according to a recent IU School of Medicine press release.

The team of researchers found that 3 percent of admitted kidney injury patients suffered kidney injuries due to having taken NSAIDs, and that these patients are likely an underestimate of the number of children affected.

Researchers also found that three-fourths of the patients were taking NSAIDs for less than seven days, revealing that the negative effects of the drugs happened quickly. Children under 5 years old are at a higher risk for needing dialysis and admittance to the intensive care unit of a hospital, the study found.

Three-fourths of the patients also took the correct dosage as indicated on the label.

“This tells us that the parents did everything right according to the label,” Knoderer said. “So now we have a problem that happens quickly and it happens even when the medication is taken as instructed.”

Researchers found that medical costs were driven up by these cases as well, with at least $375,000 being spent on the NSAID-associated kidney injury cases at Riley Hospital over the study period.

“Even though they are over-the-counter drugs being taken correctly, this study tells us that additional education might be necessary and extremely beneficial to parents and young teens,” Knoderer said.

Media contact:
Molly Kordas
(708) 691-8789


ChaCha Wins Butler Business Accelerator Test of Mobile Search Engines, Question and Answer Platforms


PUBLISHED ON Feb 21 2013

A new study by the Butler Business Accelerator found that ChaCha answered questions better than 10 other mobile search engines and question-and-answer platforms, including,, Google, Quora, Siri, and Yahoo Answers.

The Butler University Q&A Intelligence Index measured the likelihood that a user could expect to receive a correct answer in a timely manner to any random query using natural language. ChaCha’s mobile application for the Apple iPhone outperformed all the services tested, garnering the highest score on the Butler University Q&A Intelligence Index by responding to 99 percent of the study’s 180 randomly selected questions with the highest degree of accuracy.

The rankings are:










*Mean accuracy of responses originally graded on a five-point scale.

The questions were asked via mobile services and randomized to cover both popular and less common questions. The coverage score measured whether an answer was returned within a three-minute window and assessed the first non-sponsored search result in Q&A platforms. The accuracy score measured how correct answers were in relation to an objective third party’s answer key that accounted for logic and bias.

Questions asked were in the areas of advice (“What if a girl doesn’t want to talk to you?”), objective (“What are the 10 most common names?”), and subjective (“Who would win in a fight, The Hulk or Superman?”).

“ChaCha delivered the highest quality responses consistently across the largest group of categories and question types,” said Trent Ritzenthaler, operating director of the Butler Business Accelerator.

Other findings of the study: performed better than all others in the single category of questions labeled objective/temporal, such as “When does summer end?”

-Quora was proficient at answering difficult questions that require expert and extensive explanations, but it was generally unable to deliver answers within three minutes for most information searches on mobile devices. Quora answered only 24 percent of the questions at all, and often the match found did not include a viable answer.

-Siri accurately answered only 37.5 percent of the questions posed, but Siri’s biggest strengths are considered to be in local discovery and operating system commands, which were not highly represented in Butler’s study of more mainstream questions.

-Google’s response rate was 100 percent, but the first non-sponsored result on the search results page—which often times was not fully visible as an organic search result on the presented page on a mobile device—only presented an accurate answer about 50 percent of the time.

“Through our extensive study, ChaCha showed the highest level of performance,” Ritzenthaler said. “As the market matures, we anticipate that ChaCha and other mobile search companies will lift the standard of natural language processing and semantic understanding to enhance the user experience with mobile Q&A.”

For further information on the research methodology and analysis of test data, visit


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Six from Butler Named to IBJ's 40 Under 40


PUBLISHED ON Feb 05 2013

Butler is well represented in the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013, with five graduates and the director of the University’s Center for Urban Ecology among those selected.

The honorees with Butler ties are:

-Linda Broadfoot ’98, executive director of the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation.

-Tim Carter, director of Butler’s Center for Urban Ecology.

-Claudia Fuentes MBA ’07, Marion County treasurer.

-Chris Gahl ’00, vice president, Marketing and Communications, Visit Indy.

-Laura Henderson ’00, executive director, Growing Places Indy.

-Andrew Held MBA ’08, president, PCD Capital Group LLC.

To read their stories, go to and click on their photos.

Criteria for selection include the level of success a nominee has achieved in his or her chosen field, their accomplishments in the community, and the likelihood the nominee will stay in Indianapolis and build on those achievements.


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Professor Oprisko's Work is Getting Noticed


PUBLISHED ON Jan 29 2013

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

Robert Oprisko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Oprisko, this is a mistake.

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

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

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

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

Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


Butler Blue II Turns Over His Collar to Blue III


PUBLISHED ON Jan 24 2013

Butler Blue II, who served Butler University proudly as mascot for nearly nine years, turned over his collar to his successor, Blue III, during the University’s first “Changing of the Collar” ceremony on Saturday, March 9, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

President James Danko took the custom collar created by Reis-Nichols Jewelers from Blue II and placed it around Blue III's neck during halftime of the Butler-Xavier men's basketball game.

President Danko presided over the first "Changing of the Collar" ceremony.

The inscription on the collar reads: "This collar is dedicated to all bulldogs that proudly serve as the official Butler University mascot. May prosperity and good health be bestowed upon all dogs granted the honor of wearing this collar."

This new official custom collar features sterling silver elements, including the University seal, athletic logo, Butler Blue logo, and mascot names, on blue leather.

“Blue II is in good health, but 8 years old is getting up there for an English bulldog,” said Michael Kaltenmark, Butler’s director of Web Marketing and Communications and handler of the live mascots. “Blue has served Butler so admirably all these years, and we want him to go out on top. Retirement will mean fewer appearances and less official business for Blue, but he will continue to come to campus on a regular basis and post on his various social media profiles.”

Blue II will get an official sendoff from noon to 2 p.m. March 29 when the Butler University Student Foundation hosts a ninth birthday party and retirement celebration for him at the campus Starbucks.

The party, which takes place two days after Blue II's actual birthday, is open to the public and will be streamed live at Blue II will be on hand to greet the campus community, pose for pictures, and collect a few much-deserved parting gifts. Local artist James Kelly of Mad Lab Studios will be there to unveil a portrait of Blue as gift to the University.

All those in attendance who bring a donation for Indiana Bulldog Rescue or make a gift to the senior class campaign (the creation of the Bulldog Memorial outside Hinkle Fieldhouse to honor Butler’s live mascots after they die) will receive a coupon for 20 percent off any item in the University bookstore that has a bulldog on it.

The bookstore will be selling two limited edition pieces—a new poster of Blue and a tumbler with four images of Blue from puppy to now. In addition, there will be a Twitter picture and haiku contest. More information about those is available at

“This has been a really well-received event in the past, especially since it falls around the time of the Final Four,” Kaltenmark said. “The last few times we’ve done this, we’ve had upwards of 1,000 people going through. I think that will be true this time too. People want to see Blue one last time, the Xavier game is sold out, so this is their opportunity.”

An American Kennel Club-registered dog, Blue II became known as “America’s Dog” in 2010 and 2011 when Butler men’s basketball team played for the NCAA national championship. Blue II appeared on the floor of every Butler men’s home and Final Four basketball games, as well as some away games. Butler players touched him before each game for good luck as they were introduced.

Blue II was bred by Frank and Jeane King of Kong King Kennel in Lizton, Ind., and presented to Butler as a puppy. He was cared for by Kaltenmark, a 2002 Butler graduate and director of Web Marketing and Communications, who also served as his voice on Facebook, where he was liked by more than 7,500 people, and Twitter, where he had more than 11,500 followers. In 2011, Klout, a company that measures influence in social media, named Blue II’s Twitter feeds among the nation’s Top 10 most influential accounts representing a college or university.

The dog also had his own website, a vehicle provided by Don Hinds Ford, veterinarian care compliments of 1992 Butler grad Dr. Kurt Phillips, and a host of other sponsors such as the dog food brand Holistic Select.

Over the years, Blue II became a media sensation, hobnobbing with celebrities including Colin Powell, Jimmy Fallon and Jillian Michaels. During the Final Four in 2011 in Houston, Blue II also met the likes of former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.

Blue III, better known as Trip, made his debut on Feb. 18, 2012.

Kaltenmark said he thinks Blue II is looking forward to retirement.

“He’s still excited to go to basketball games, but I think he’s also tired,” he said. “So he deserves a break. I think he’ll get accustomed to taking it easy.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822


'Applying Course Material in a Meaningful Way'


PUBLISHED ON Jan 24 2013

Assistant Professor of Psychology Ali O’Malley wanted her “Humans and the Natural Environment” course to have an impact on both the students and the Indianapolis community.

And it did.

Ali O'Malley

Nine students from the class helped collect data that enabled the Unitarian Universalist Church, 615 W. 43rd St., to get an Indiana Office of Energy Development grant to install solar panels that will reduce the church’s energy use by 25 to 40 percent.

Students Brianne Taylor, Brianna White, Emily Drwiega, Sara Rose Smith, Katelyn (Katie) Breden, Jahi Gains, Marina Ito, Rachel Houska, and Lindsay Meyer worked with members of the “Green Team” at the Unitarian Universalist Church to help develop a strategic plan for energy conservation.

Then they walked the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood to gather residents’ opinions about various sustainability issues, including bike lanes, public transportation issues, the state of sidewalks, and access to parks. The church also wants to create a bigger community garden, so they tried to gauge interest in that as well.

That information was used in the grant application that the church filed in conjunction with Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that seeks to inspire and equip Hoosiers of faith to respond to climate change.

In the end, the state Office of Energy Development gave $150,000 to six congregations in Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Breden, a freshman from South Bend, Ind., said she was excited when she heard the grant was approved and happy to have taken a course that enabled her and her classmates to apply the course material in a meaningful way.

“The knowledge gained in this class is immensely useful,” she said. “I took this class because I'm passionate about the environment, and Dr. O'Malley taught me the psychology behind it. Why am I passionate? Why are others not? Why do some people simply not care? These are all important questions if I want to forge a career in advocating for a healthy earth.”

 O’Malley initiated “Humans and the Natural Environment”—which she called “conservation psychology”—in spring 2012. In fall, she taught it for the first time as part of Butler’s Indianapolis Community Requirement, in which students must take one course in any part of the University that involves active engagement with the Indianapolis community.

She said she’s proud of what her students accomplished.

"It was wonderful to watch students' uncertainty give way to commitment to our community partner's mission,” O’Malley said. “I'm so proud of their openness and their collective achievements." 


Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822