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Meet the Class of 2022: Maria De Leon

Maria De Leon
Major: Peace and Conflict Studies
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
High School: Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School


“I’m really looking forward to growing my professional network in my Butler experience.”

 


 

Incoming first-year student Maria De Leon is leading her family in a number of firsts.

She’s the first of her family members to graduate high school.

She’ll be the first to attend college. This fall, Maria will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler University’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

Maria is also the first in her family to travel to Washington DC to participate in a sit-in to persuade senators to vote “yes” for a clean Dream Act.

And—as a result of participating in that protest—she’s definitely the first to text her Butler  admission counselor to ask how getting arrested might affect her admission.

Luckily, Maria didn’t need to worry about the answer to her text. She was not arrested for her participation, although some of her travel companions were. But the protest was still an emotional experience for her.  While she isn’t directly impacted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation, her family and many of her friends are.

“My parents are immigrants, so they are affected by the immigration laws that the current administration is trying to put into place.Whatever happens with DACA will have a direct impact on my parents and my peers who want to attend college but might not be able to,” she explained.

Maria’s civic involvement began long before her DC trip. The Crispus Attucks High School salutatorian participated in last year’s nationwide “A Day Without Immigrants” rally.

“It was after this experience that I started asking more questions,” Maria said. “I asked, ‘How can I be more involved?,’ and ‘What can I do to help?’”

It was questions like these that landed her in contact with the Central Indiana Community Foundation, where she had the opportunity to be a Community Ambassador. In this role, Maria conducted in-depth research on a community of her choosing. As the daughter of two Guatemalan immigrants, Maria chose to research the Hispanic and Latino communities in Indianapolis.

“I wanted to know what my community was facing. Just because I’m Latina and have immigrant parents doesn’t mean I know everything,” she said.

Beyond rallies, Maria was also heavily involved in advocacy and raising awareness about various social issues at her high school. She founded the International Club at Crispus Attucks and was also a leader in her school’s NO MORE Club, designed to raise awareness about domestic violence. She’s interned with the Domestic Violence Youth Network and the Center for Victim and Human Rights (CVHR), and a teen dating violence policy she worked on will be implemented at Indianapolis Public Schools this fall.

These leadership efforts helped her earn the competitive Lilly Endowment Scholarship, which offers four-year, full-tuition scholarships to select Indiana students in all 92 counties. Candidates for the prestigious award must display “notable abilities, leadership skills, and civic potential through community service, exemplary school citizenship, and outstanding academic performance.” Maria is one of 20 Lilly Scholars in Butler’s incoming class this year.

Maria will continue her advocacy efforts at Butler, where she plans to double major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Political Science. She’s already lined up a gig on campus as an assistant in the Office of Health Education and Outreach Programs.

Butler’s Associate Director of Health Education and Outreach Programs Sarah Diaz believes Maria will be an excellent fit for their office.

 “She is coming in with this very solid foundation of knowledge around sexual violence, also some knowledge of the resources within our community because she done work with them, and she has had the experience of being a peer educator,” Diaz said. “She’s  the whole package of what our office does.”

Whole package, indeed.

Maria De Leon
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Maria De Leon

Incoming first-year student Maria De Leon is leading her family in a number of firsts.  

Meet the Class of 2022: Jack Kane

Jack Kane
Major: Accounting
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois
High School: Rolling Meadows High School

 

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and the new experiences, and all of the fun that comes with college and everything." 
 


 

Racing remote-controlled model airplanes has been part of Jack Kane's life for longer than he can remember. He was 2 months old the first time he attended a competition, and the hobby has taken him around the country (California, Colorado, Arizona, Florida) and the world (Australia, the Netherlands, England, Switzerland).

And now, it’s a hobby he hopes to continue in Indianapolis. Jack will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

"My dad's dad started doing this in the '60s and '70s," Jack said. "My grandpa was obsessed with it. Then my dad followed in his footsteps to be closer to his dad, and I followed to be closer to my dad too."

Jack and his dad fly Formula 1 and Quickee planes that are about 3 or 4 feet long and have a wingspan of roughly 6 feet. In competitions, they race against three other flyers at a time on a mile-long course. The first one to navigate around three pylons and get back quickest wins.

Winners take home trophies—there's no prize money—and in the past five years, since Jack's been an active participant with his dad, they've won about 20.

Jack said competitions are meant "to just enjoy yourself and have fun with your friends."

"But it's an adrenaline rush," he said. "These planes are going about 200 miles an hour around a mile course. It gets your heart pumping a little bit."

Jack said the biggest competition is held annually in Muncie, Indiana—and that, in part, is how he ended up applying to  Butler University. He would see Butler billboards on I-465 heading toward I-69 to Muncie, and that piqued his interest enough to investigate further. He liked what he found.

Like Jack, more than 25 percent  of this year’s class hails from Illinois. As an incoming Accounting major, he’ll be among the first Lacy School of Business students to enjoy the college’s new building. Set to open in August 2019, the new business facilities will feature a trading room, food service, and a rooftop deck.

When he's at Butler, Jack plans to try to continue racing planes.

"But," he said, "I'm putting school first."

Jack Kane
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Jack Kane

An native of Illinois, Jack has traveled the world racing remote-controlled airplanes.

Meet the Class of 2022: Kate Callihan

Kate Callihan
Major: Sports Media
Hometown: Austin, Texas
High School: Westlake High School

 

"I am most excited about the growing Sports Media program. It offers so many opportunities here and around Indy, and the professors show so much interest in the students already and classes haven't even started yet. Working with people who are likeminded and driven is going to be just incredible."
 


 

Like many high schoolers, Kate Callihan and her classmates studied the Vietnam war during their junior year.They read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, heard from veterans who visited their class, and, as a final assignment, researched an American soldier who died in, or as a result of, the war.

Unlike many high schoolers, though, Kate took this assignment to the next level–and discovered a passion for storytelling in the process.

The name Kate was assigned was Michael Meyhoff. Rather than do some cursory research, she tracked down his family in North Dakota and made a 20-minute documentary using home movies, photos, and recollections of family and friends.

"I absolutely loved every second of it," she said.

Kate said she'd always loved writing, but it wasn’t until this project that she realized how much she loved storytelling. She narrated the video, "and at the beginning you can hear how timid I was and by the end of it I really found my voice and confidence."

"I realized that by telling this story I was not only impacting my grade and my own agenda, but there was a whole community that benefited from it and it was an absolutely incredible experience," she said.

Kate's English teacher, Dr. James Moore, wrote this about her effort: "The work you put in with calls, interviews, and emails eclipsed that of your classmates tenfold at least. I can tell that you really delved into the material, too, mining it for any little detail that would help fill out your story. "

Kate will continue honing her storytelling craft as a Sports Media major at Butler this fall. She will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

Butler’s Sports Media program drew her to Indianapolis–and it’s drawn others, too. Since 2017, the number of first-year students enrolling in Sports Media has more than doubled. The program, an integration of Sports Journalism and Digital Sports Production, is the only degreed program of its kind in Indiana, and one of only a handful of degreed programs in the Midwest.

In addition to studying Sports Media at Butler, Kate plans to double minor in Marketing and Theology, with a focus on Monotheism and Biblical Studies. She hopes one day to combine her interests in sports media and theology to bring teams to third-world countries to teach the children there how to play sports.

But that's the future. For now, she said, "I feel blessed to be part of the young Sports Media program and blessed to be part of Butler."

Kate Callihan
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Kate Callihan

Butler's Sports Media program drew Kate to Indiana from Texas.

Meet the Class of 2022: Ben Varner

Ben Varner
Major: Engineering Dual Degree Program
Hometown: Metamora, Michigan
High School: Oxford High School

"What I'm looking forward to the most in my time at Butler is meeting new people and getting the opportunity to live and hopefuly, work in Indianapolis."

 


 

Ben Varner's dad took him to a local go-kart track when he was 7. That started his competitive fires.

And he’s counting on Butler University to keep them going.

For the past 11 years, Ben has been competing in go-kart racing—and winning. He has more than 60 career wins and a list of achievements that include: 2011 Great Lakes Sprint Series Season Champion; 2016 East Lansing Kart Track Season Champion; 5th Place US Pro Kart Series Season Championship; and WKA Manufacturers cup win.

In 2017, after 10 years of go-kart racing, Ben got enough funding to take a step up into Formula cars. The next step, he hopes, will be IndyCar. His dream is to win the Indianapolis 500.

Achieving that dream, though, requires finding financing, he said. In the complicated and expensive world of auto racing, it can take mid-six-figure investments just to get started.

"You could be the best driver in the country and not have any financial backing and you wouldn't be able to get anywhere," he said.

So while he works toward that, Ben also has a backup plan: He wants to be an IndyCar engineer. To achieve that goal, he chose Butler's Engineering Dual Degree Program (EDDP), figuring that attending school within seven miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a smart strategy.

“We were at the Indy 500 a few years ago, and my dad told me about Butler,” he said. “We went and visited during the 500 weekend. I really liked the campus, and we talked to Jessica McCormick (Academic Program Coordinator) about the engineering program. I knew it would be a really good fit.”

Butler’s 5-year Engineering Dual Degree Program integrates curriculum from Butler University and Purdue University. Students enroll at both universities, and courses are taught on Butler’s campus during the first three years. In the final two years, courses are held at Butler and at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Ben will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever. As a Michigander, he’ll be in good company on campus–76 other new Bulldogs are also from the state. Since 2015, applications for admission by Michigan high schoolers have increased by more than 80 percent.

Last May, Varner shadowed the engineers at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and he hopes to work with them again.

While he's looking forward to starting his college career, he also appreciates what he's achieved so far.

"It's been a ride, that's for sure," he said.

Ben Varner
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Ben Varner

 Originally from Michigan, Ben is a competitive Forumal car racer who is majoring in Engineering.

Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 20 2018

INDIANAPOLIS— It started as a friendly wager.

Teacher to pupil. Apply to as many colleges as possible, with the goal of earning at least $1 million in scholarship offers. But the accounts differ, a bit. According to teacher, it was a way for pupil to ‘explore his options.’ According to pupil, it was a way to get ‘$200 to take his girlfriend on a date to Buffalo Wild Wings.’ That’s a lot of wings.

Either way, pupil won the bet. Or, teacher won the bet. Well, those accounts differ, too, depending on who you ask.

Abiodun Akinseye applied to 32 colleges. He finished 28 applications. He was accepted into 30 colleges. Wait, what? Yes, two schools accepted him without a complete application. He has a heaping pile of acceptance letters to prove it, along with the multiple days it took to clean out the 2,000-plus emails he accumulated from different schools. There was Union College, Samford, Wittenberg, Central State, it’s hard for him to remember them all, but most states in the U.S. were covered. At the end of it all, Abiodun had more than $1 million in scholarship offers. And $200 from his teacher.

Genevieve McLeish-Petty wanted Abiodun to push himself. To explore his options. In her 17 years of teaching, she never came across a student quite like Abiodun. She knew the Northwest High School valedictorian was capable of getting into several colleges, but she wanted him to know it, too. So, she threw in a $200 motivator – earn the most scholarship money in the school and get $200. Next thing she knew, it seemed like Abiodun was coming up to her every day with another acceptance letter. And more scholarship money.

In the end, Abiodun chose Butler University. A campus he first stepped foot onto as a 10th grader, he was drawn to Butler’s location, size, Honors Program, and liberal arts education. But most of all, he was drawn to Butler because he knew it would challenge him. And though he made the college application process look easy, his road from Nigeria to Indianapolis was anything but.

“There’s definitely a reason I keep all of those acceptance letters at home in a big box,” says Abiodun, as he scrolls through pictures on his phone until he gets to the one he is looking for – a picture of all the acceptance letters and envelopes piled high. “I want to keep them to show how far I have come and how hard I have worked to get to where I am. I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler. So, it has been good, but challenging, and now I want another challenge.”

I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler.

From Nigeria to the U.S.

Abiodun grew up in Nigeria until he was five. He remembers it well. But he also vividly remembers why his family fled for America.

There was family tragedy. His aunt tried to kill him and his two brothers, so his mother and father moved the family to America. Abiodun still has nightmares about the pain he felt from being poisoned. He felt like he was on fire. About his mom crying next to him when he was laying in the hospital bed.

He also felt guilty for a long time. He was in charge of watching his younger brother when the hitman came and hit his brother with a motorcycle. He blamed himself.

They settled in Indianapolis in 2005. Abiodun remembers the cereal Corn Flakes and wondering what it was. He remembers the music. He definitely didn’t understand the music. The first song he heard was Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and he wasn’t a fan of all the heavy bass. He taught himself English by watching "Sesame Street" daily. His favorite character was Cookie Monster, he could relate to his appetite. Then there was the snow. His family had no idea what the white stuff falling from the sky was. His mom warned him not to touch it. He still prefers summer to winter.

“What’s crazy is I never expected life to be harder in America than in Nigeria,” Abiodun says. “When I came here, things got worse.”

Abiodun was bullied in school. Classmates called him an “African booty scratcher.” They threw paper balls at him, made him feel ashamed of being Nigerian, and made fun of his accent. They asked him if he was related to monkeys, if turning the lights off would make his skin disappear, and if he knew what deodorant was.

He told his mom about the bullying, so he changed schools. But the bullying continued.

“The bullying caused me to be depressed and for years I really didn’t know how to deal with my emotions or my feelings,” he says. “It’s still hard, because the depression turned into anxiety,  and it was all tough.”

The adjustment has been difficult, he says. His family lives in Speedway. His mom and dad are both nurses. He has an older brother and three younger brothers. And quickly, Abiodun realized, academics and art were his refuge.

 

His Escape

Abiodun’s mother told him when he was young that education would be his escape. He says that always stuck with him.

So, when the bullying persisted, and he was down, he would focus on his studies, he says. Education runs in his family. His mom got her Master’s Degree a few years after they moved to the U.S. His dad has his Bachelor’s Degree from Nigeria. His grandmother’s sister has a doctorate in education. His favorite aunt got her Bachelor’s Degree a few years ago in the U.S.

His best friends growing up?

“The characters in books,” Abiodun says. “I spent all my time reading and studying. I would read the dictionary to grow my vocabulary. I love fiction with elements of reality because those books give me the ability to jump from the real world, but not take the full leap to the stars.”

He loves “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and the Percy Jackson series. Usually, if he’s into a book, he will finish it in a few hours.

Drawing runs in his family, too. And it is something that has always helped him with his depression, he says. He started drawing when he was four. His dad taught him how when they lived in Nigeria.

Now, he fills up sketchpad after sketchpad. He makes sure to draw in pen, as opposed to pencil, to avoid overthinking. Pencil, he says, gives him the option to erase.

“Drawing helps me control my emotions,” he says. “It helps me take what is in my head, what is bothering me or what I am thinking about, and get it out and put it on paper in a creative form.”

 

The Last Valedictorian

McLeish-Petty knew about Abiodun before he ever enrolled in her sophomore honors English class at Northwest High School.

She ran the honors program at the school, so she had a whole lot of practice typing out his name. He broke test-score records, was known for his creativity, and of course, for how bright he was. At first, Abiodun was quiet, but as he became more comfortable, he started to challenge the class.

“We read some difficult literature and Abiodun was able to facilitate conversations when I couldn’t get the rest of the class on board,” she says. “He would stir up conversations by playing devil’s advocate, he would make everyone think in different ways. His fascination with certain topics were lightyears ahead of what a high school kid typically thinks about.”

Most students, McLeish-Petty says, just want an answer so they can put it down. Abiodun wanted to know why; he wanted to know what was the point. He was very refreshing, she says.

Then there was the time she tricked Abiodun into joining the drama club when he was a sophomore. It started as him working behind the scenes. She convinced him to design the sets for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Because he is so smart, after a couple days, he knew everyone’s lines and where everyone should be,” McLeish-Petty says. “By the time the show opened, we had some people quit and Abiodun filled in as Grandma Josephine and doubled as an oompa loompa.”

By the time he was a senior, he was the lead in the school play.

Abiodun would end up with a 4.1 GPA. He would deliver the school’s final valedictorian address – the building will shift to a middle school in the fall. He would discuss religion and politics with McLeish-Petty for hours. He won $12,000 when he wrote a two-page essay about his life for a Kiwanis Club scholarship that honors local high schoolers for their resilience.

It wasn’t just teacher helping pupil. Abiodun forever changed McLeish-Petty.

A high school teacher for 17 years, Abiodun got her thinking. If she had been in his life earlier, around the time he started being bullied, she could have tried to make it better much sooner. How many young people are there out there who just need someone to talk to, she started to wonder.

For the first time in 17 years, McLeish-Petty won’t be teaching high school this school year. She will be teaching at Coldspring Elementary School. Something Abiodun inspired.

“Every once in awhile you have a student come through who you know will be in your life way past graduation,” she says. “Abiodun is one of those people. He’s not just smart. He’s self-aware, he wants to have an impact, he will befriend the kid that is sitting alone. I am positive I will still be talking to Abiodun in 15 years.”

 

Change-Maker

It’s a few days before the start of his first year, and Abiodun is walking around Butler’s campus.

He says he feels excited about the start of classes, but definitely a bit anxious. He’ll be taking Spanish – his fourth language (he already speaks English, French, and Yoruba), Calculus, Honors First Year Seminar, and Introduction to Art.

Abiodun plans on majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art and English. He hopes to write a book, and also help others who are going through depression. He’s interested in child psychology, and also art therapy.

“Maybe I will be able to make a change and help,” he says. “I definitely want to write my own book when I’m done with college.”

But that is down the line. For now, he wonders if he will play intramural soccer, maybe join student government, maybe get involved in a video game club. He’s excited for the food on campus. He hopes to make some friends.

He remembers back when he was in 10th grade and came to Butler’s campus for the first time on a school trip.

“I wasn’t that impressed,” he says. “But that’s because I was a judgmental teenager. As I saw more and more schools, I realized how big they were, and crowded, and confusing, and I realized how much I liked Butler. It was a perfect size.”

Here he is, 30 acceptances later. There may be differing accounts about why Abiodun applied to so many schools. But, one thing is clear: he’s up to whatever challenges are ahead.

Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

30 acceptances later, Abiodun plans a psych major to help others.

Aug 20 2018 Read more
AcademicsCommunity

Planet Parade: Venus, Jupiter, Moon, Saturn, Mars to All Line Up this Weekend

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

For the first time in more than a decade, Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars will be lined up across the sky.

The best time for viewing will be on the evenings of August 17 and 18, according to Butler University Professor of Physics and Astronomy Brian Murphy—weather permitting, of course. Mars will be near its closest approach to Earth since 2003, and through a telescope, one should be able to see cloud-covered Venus in a quarter phase, the rings of Saturn, the belts and satellites of Jupiter, and Mars’ polar caps (if the dust storm has cleared).

Murphy, who is also the Director of Butler’s Holcomb Observatory, says the planets all orbit the sun in different periods, which means they are typically scattered along the zodiac. Some may be seen only before sunrise, only after sunrise, or not at all if they appear in the direction of the Sun.

"Being able to observe the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in a two- to three-hour time span is quite nice," he said.

Murphy encourages people to get out and see this "planet parade"—either by looking through the telescope at the Holcomb Observatory, which is the ninth largest telescope East of the Mississippi River, or simply by going outside and viewing the night sky.

"It's an ideal time to get out and see the planets," he said. "Usually, we don't have four planets visible at once in good viewing location, along with a quarter moon, which is the ideal time to view the moon. And they're all evenly spaced. If you ignore the sun, these are the four brightest objects in the sky we're talking about."

It’s hard to calculate when this lineup will occur again, Murphy says, but something similar will likely occur in two years. But after that, it will not happen for a long time.

In addition to telescope viewing at the Observatory, Planetarium shows will take place each evening.

 

Media contact:

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

AcademicsCommunity

Planet Parade: Venus, Jupiter, Moon, Saturn, Mars to All Line Up this Weekend

  

Butler astronomer says phenomenon likely won’t occur again for a long time

Aug 16 2018 Read more
AcademicsCampus

Butler Continues Trend, Welcomes Record First-Year Class

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened again.

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever, as 1,336 first-year students prepare to begin classes on August 22.

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever, as 1,336 first-year students prepare to begin classes on August 22.

The class highlights a nearly 10-year trend of application growth, represents a continued increase in out-of-state enrollment, and is more diverse. While the Class of 2020 was previously the largest class, with 1,255 incoming students, Butler has been experiencing an upward trajectory in applicants since 2009. 

“Butler’s enrollment goals have aligned with the University’s strategic plan, known as Butler 2020,” says Lori Greene, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “One of the strategic growth objectives is to increase full-time, undergraduate student enrollment. This is strategic growth complemented by an investment in the student experience. We see growth also reflected in new facilities, including two new state-of-the-art residence halls, and the new Lacy School of Business building, set to open in August 2019.”

This year’s growth is hardly a one-year anomaly.

Interest in Butler has been on the rise throughout the last decade. Since 2009, applications to the University have increased by 163 percent. For example, in 2015, Butler received 9,942 applications, compared to 16,431 this year. In the last year alone, first-year applications increased more than 12 percent.

This continued demand is due to a number of strategic initiatives, says Greene.

 

 

 

 

“Over the last few years, we’ve continued to refine and target our communications, and connect with prospects earlier in a student’s high school career. We’ve also focused on building a relationship with our prospective parents throughout the process,” Greene says. “We aim to support prospective students with the type of campus events and visit programs delivered, along with providing multiple options for a student to experience campus life, talk with current students, and hear from a professor in an area of interest.”

The increase in recruitment travel and targeted marketing efforts have paid off, Greene says, as the University continues to grow its out-of-state enrollment. Sixty percent of this year’s class comes from out-of-state, with nearly 20 percent of those coming from the Chicagoland area. Since 2015, applications to Butler from out-of-state students have increased by 68 percent.

And it’s not just applications. Since 2015, the number of students choosing to enroll at Butler from out-of-state has increased by 40 percent, compared to 17 percent growth in-state. Specifically, enrollment from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has more than doubled since 2015.

While this year’s class hails largely from other Midwest states, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas are quickly on the rise. Over the last few years, Greene says, Butler has embedded counselors in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in an effort to increase the University’s visibility.

This year’s incoming class is also the most diverse, as nearly 17 percent of the class are multicultural students. This represents a 3 percentage point jump from last year. While this is a percentage that Butler would like to see increase more, Greene says, partnerships with multiple Indianapolis-based organizations, as well as other community-based organizations throughout the Midwest, have helped multicultural recruitment efforts. The goal is to keep increasing this percentage, she says. 

Despite its size, Butler’s Class of 2022 is as academically inclined as previous classes. The average GPA is 3.86, up slightly from last year. This year’s incoming class features 44 valedictorians, 20 Lilly Scholars, and about 20 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.

The most popular majors this year are Pre-Pharmacy (136), Exploratory Studies (103), Exploratory Business (88), and Biology (72).

The University will also welcome 86 transfer students this fall.

 

Media contact:

Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

AcademicsCampus

Butler Continues Trend, Welcomes Record First-Year Class

For the second time in three years, Butler University is set to welcome its largest class ever,

Aug 16 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

BY Marc Alan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Media contact:

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

AcademicsPeople

Outstanding Butler Faculty Honored

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

Aug 16 2018 Read more
Jeremy Johnson
AcademicsPeople

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

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 14 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened by accident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 10 2018

It was never supposed to happen this way.

The goal was one, if that, and that alone seemed daunting, even impossible at times. Starting a school, and not just any school, was the dream for Ena Shelley, Dean of Butler University’s College of Education. But in reality, she couldn’t imagine the pieces coming together.

It was after a sabbatical in Italy in 1998. Between all the pizza, Shelley managed to fall in love with something else. A new style of teaching, the Reggio model, and she vowed to figure out a way to bring it back with her.

The idea of a Lab School was born, but it was very much just an idea, she says.

“I knew I had to change my curriculum, but I didn’t have any schools where my students could actually see what I wanted to do,” Shelley says. “My dream was to have a Lab School in Indianapolis that we could share with the community, but also use to teach Butler students. The dream was never to have two.”

About 20 years after her initial trip to Italy, Shelley’s seeing double. A second Lab School, born out of demand, success, and lots of work, is up and running at 54th Street.

And even though it was never part of the plan, well, it sure seems like it was.

Lab School 55’s campus happens to occupy the school building that is named after Eliza A. Blaker. Named after the founder of Butler’s College of Education. This was a complete coincidence and just happened to be a building that the Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent said was available and was in close proximity to Butler.

“The community has responded in ways I never anticipated,” Shelley says. “Being asked to open a second one is really an honor. The dream has gone way further than I ever thought it could.”

What is the Lab School?

It’s a couple weeks before school starts and Nicole Kent is talking on the phone, cradling it between her ear and shoulder, while she furiously types an email on her cell phone.

She’s at School 60, the original Lab School. But really, she is itching to get to School 55, the new Lab School. Furniture is about to be delivered and from the sounds of the conversation, there are a few hiccups with the delivery.

Kent, who graduated from Butler’s College of Education, will be the principal at the new Lab School. She used to teach at the original Lab School and was the assistant principal for two years.

That’s not uncommon. Butler graduates tend to flock to the Lab Schools. In fact, at Lab School 60, or the original, 69 percent of teachers graduated from Butler with either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree. At Lab School 55, or the second Lab School, 61 percent of the teachers are Butler grads.

Teachers receive continued professional development from Butler, and the Lab Schools also serve as a classroom to current Butler education students. Some also student teach at the Lab Schools.

But, says Ron Smith, the Lab Schools don’t hire just Butler grads. Smith is the principal at the original Lab School. He says they hire from wherever, but, because the Lab School program is different than a traditional learning environment, they need teachers who are able to teach that style, and, Butler grads are familiar with the Reggio model.

Learning at the Lab Schools is project based. There aren’t a lot of worksheets where students are mindlessly copying things down. The curriculum is teacher created. Art is infused into most classrooms. Inquiry, research, and exploration are the cornerstones of the Lab School curriculum, where there is a bigger picture behind each lesson. It is not about memorizing facts, but rather about communicating and collaborating and acquiring life skills.

“Of course, we want our students to do well on the standards you would find in the state curriculum, but beyond that we want our kids to become life-long learners,” Smith says. “We want them to find joy in learning, we want them to ask questions of their own and to find answers to those questions and projects help us get at that. That helps us get beyond the state curriculum.”

The Lab Schools are magnet schools. Students are chosen by random lottery from all who apply, with preference given to applicants who live nearby, have siblings in the school, and then children of either Butler or IPS employees. 

Lab School 60 has consistently been one of the two most requested elementary schools in Indianapolis since 2012. Students come from Broad Ripple, Butler-Tarkington, Meridian Kessler, to name a few, and the hope is that with a second school, even more of the city will be served.

“As a University, we value being a really good community member,” Shelley says. “We not only want to serve the community, but also learn from the community. We are not separate, but we are better together, and I think we are always striving to fulfill that mission.”

Is it working?

Amy Goldsmith vividly remembers the first time she met Ena Shelley.

Goldsmith was serving on the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee and Shelley was presenting on the concept of the first Lab School. Goldsmith, whose daughter was about to enter kindergarten, was planning on sending her to School 57, but after hearing Shelley speak, everything changed.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘wow, there really are people who think the same things as me about education,’” says Goldsmith, who lives in Irvington. “I was so excited that Indianapolis was going to have something like that for our community.”

Quickly, Goldsmith changed course and enrolled her daughter in the inaugural year of the first Lab School. And her family hasn’t looked back. She has a seven-year-old, 10-year-old, and 12-year-old who are all in the Lab School.

Prior to Shelley’s presentation, Goldsmith had never heard of Reggio Emilia. After doing some research, and listening to Shelley, she was sold. And now, three kids later, she is the one constantly pitching the Lab School to friends, and really, anyone who will listen.

“It’s hard when you find something you love, you can’t stop talking about it,” Goldsmith says. “I find myself making the sales pitch all the time, maybe too often. People are probably sick of hearing it from me. But I really do mean everything I say.”

And it is not just Goldsmith’s words. The statistics support her pitch.

By the end of second grade each year, about 75 percent of Lab School students are above grade level on the text reading and comprehension assessment. In language arts, the achievement gap between white and black students has been reduced by more than 25 percent.  

There are delegation days at the Lab School where groups from around Indiana, and outside of the state, come to visit and see what’s going on.

“It has been great to get a lot of interest and have the program be so popular,” Kent says. “But at our core we always want to be a place that is representative of our whole city. The second school gives us a chance to enroll more students and serve more students. The goal is to always serve our community as best we can.”

What’s next?

The original Lab School has grown to pre-K through 8th grade. It opened as pre-K through 1st grade and added a grade every year. This is the first year the original is at capacity, which is about 570 students.

The second Lab School opened with pre-K through 6th grade and each year they will add a grade until they have 8th grade. In its inaugural year, School 55 has around 300 students. Last year, about 180 attended the school.

Most families who had children attending School 55 prior to it becoming the Lab School this year decided to keep their kids at the school, Kent says. Of the 180 students that attended the school last year, about 150 are staying.

“I was asked early on, in year two or three, if I thought this was scalable and if we could replicate it and at the time I really didn’t think we could,” Shelley says. “But when I see the community response and the potential we have, I find myself wondering if a third is possible. But that is just me wondering. Right now there is much work to be done and we are just happy to be part of our community.”

 

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

AcademicsCommunity

Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School

Starting a school, and not just any school, was the dream for Ena Shelley.

Aug 10 2018 Read more
Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

Butler Makes Princeton Review's 'The Best 384 Colleges' For First Time

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 08 2018

Butler University is one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review, which has included Butler in its 2019 annual "best colleges" guidebook for the first time.

“The Butler community takes great pride in being recognized by the highly-respected Princeton Review for the exceptional education we provide our students,” said President Jim Danko. “It is particularly rewarding to have an independent, external endorsement of the effectiveness of Butler’s collaborative, student-centered educational approach, one that is supported by outstanding and caring faculty.”

Butler is one of five schools that the New York-based education services company added to the roster of colleges it profiles in the 2019 The Best 384 Colleges (Penguin Random House/Princeton Review Books). The guide is now available.

Robert Franek, Editor-in-Chief of The Princeton Review, said, “We are truly pleased to add Butler to our widely used college guide, now in its 27th year. Only about 15 percent of the four-year colleges in the nation are in this book. In our opinion, these are ‘the crème of the crop’ institutions for undergraduates in America."

Franek said Butler was chosen for 2019 based on three areas: a high regard for its academic programs and other offerings, institutional data, and visits to the University as well as feedback from students, educators, and parents.

The annual "best colleges" book has two-page profiles on each school. Butler's pages note:

  • Butler’s student-to-faculty ratio, teachers collaborating with students on research and professional endeavors, and a core curriculum that pushes students out of their comfort zones, and allows students to explore interests outside of their major, creating “an atmosphere of driven students.”
  • Professors who support student ideas and make modifications to lectures to support student interests.
  • Student life "is completely sustainable on-campus,” which means that students typically stay there for studying, food, and for socializing. On days with good weather, students can be found out and about on campus.

In addition, the book contains 62 ranking lists of "top 20 schools" in individual categories.

The Princeton Review tallied the rankings for the 2019 edition based on its surveys of 138,000 students (average 359 per campus) attending the 384 colleges in the book in 2017-2018 and/or the previous two school years.

The survey asks students 84 questions about their school's academics, administration, student body, and themselves. The format uses a five-point Likert scale to convert qualitative student assessments into quantitative data for school-to-school comparisons. More information on the ranking methodology is at www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/how-it-works.

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in the book hierarchically, 1 to 384, either on academics (the Company believes all 384 schools are academically outstanding) or on any other subject.

The school profiles in the book also feature rating scores (from 60 to 99) in several categories including Financial Aid, Fire Safety, and Green: a rating based on the colleges' environmental commitments. The Princeton Review tallies these scores primarily based on analyses of institutional data the Company obtains from the schools.

 

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

Campus in Spring
AcademicsCampus

Butler Makes Princeton Review's 'The Best 384 Colleges' For First Time

Butler is one of nation’s best institutions for education, according to The Princeton Review.

Aug 08 2018 Read more
People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

BY

PUBLISHED ON Aug 03 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People

Live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre

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

Aug 03 2018 Read more

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